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Mental Health Resiliency Planning

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

Resilience is the ability to withstand or recover from life’s difficulties. Many things impact our ability to adapt to challenging experiences including our coping skills, view of the world, availability of resources, and awareness of ourselves.

When our mental health is slipping it is often difficult to recognize the signs and symptoms until things are really bad. Creating a Resiliency Plan can help increase your awareness and implement a plan of action when you are in distress.

Download the free Resiliency Plan Worksheet to help you create a resiliency plan for yourself:

Creating a Resiliency Plan

Warning Signs

Warning Signs your mental health is slipping

In creating a resiliency plan, the first step is to take note of the warning signs that your mental health is slipping. Examining your behavior, thought processes and physical symptoms can increase your awareness.

Behavior changes are common when we experience depression, stress, anxiety, or other challenging emotions. Take note of what you do differently when you are slipping compared to when you are feeling your best. For example, do you sleep more often? Isolate yourself? Shower less?

Thought process changes are also common in distressing times. For example, if you are depressed you may be more likely to take things personally that you wouldn’t normally, have increased negative thoughts or be more critical of yourself. Take note of any thought-process changes you experience.

Depression, anxiety and stress are sometimes felt physically in the body. Take note of any physical symptoms you experience such as increased tension, pain, stomach aches, heart palpitations, fatigue, etc.

What to Avoid

The next step in the resiliency plan is taking inventory of what makes your symptoms worse. Substance or alcohol use, social media, and isolating yourself are all common things that may negatively impact your ability to recover, and therefore maybe should be avoided or limited when you are not at your best.

Improve Your Mental Health

Now that you are aware of your warning signs and know what to avoid so things don’t get worse, it is time to create a plan so you know what to do about the problem.

First list all the positive things that make life worth living. Taking inventory of the positives can help you focus on the good parts of life, which can be difficult when it feels like your whole world is crumbling. Your favorite foods, activities, and people may go on this list.

The way we talk to ourselves can have a big impact on how we feel and our behaviors. List some things that you can tell yourself to make yourself feel better. Personal mantras, quotes, cheerleading statements or positive affirmations can all have an impact on how you feel in the moment. Try to find some ways to be compassionate with yourself when you are distressed. If you are struggling, think of what you would say to a friend.

In addition to our self-talk, certain activities can help us feel better (even if it is just temporary). List all of the things that you can do to make yourself feel better. Trying to think of what you did in the past can be helpful in addition to adding all your favorite hobbies and coping skills.

Social connection is vital for our mental health. In the final step, list all of the people you can potentially reach out to in times of distress. The Canadian Mental Health Association of Edmonton Distress Line is already listed on the worksheet for your reference, as this can be a great resource in times of crisis. The Distress Line is open 24 hours.

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