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On December 19, 2021, Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix announced new COVID-19 public health restrictions taking into effect on December 20, in response to the surging spike in cases driven by the Omicron variant. A day after, the province announced another round of restrictions. Omicron cases increased from less than 100 in mid-December to 9,000 in the first weekend (3 days) of January in BC. And Canadians are now going back to follow restrictions and physical distancing, which seems to be the usual norm after almost 2 years of practicing.


Looking back on the big events that British Columbian had encountered in 2021, it was not an easy year. Starting with the continuous threats from COVID-19, summer wildfire, extreme heat wave, BC floods, mud and landslides on highways, a rare tornado that lasted under an hour, winter snow storms, ridiculously high real estate market price, increase food price, and then came the Omicron variant at the end of year 2021. British Columbians had a more than full plate in 2021.

How were British Columbians able to adapt to all these challenging events?

Mental Health Research Canada conducted a national poll from April 22, 2020 (Poll 1) to November 3, 2021 (Poll 9) to understand the mental health effect through the pandemic. A total of 9 polls were performed. Both depression and anxiety has steadily decreased in the 9th poll in British Columbia (as seen in the figure below). However, the suicide ideation remains high, and the level of high anxiety and depression have not yet back to levels seen at the start of the pandemic. Anxiety and depression are still having a negative impact on the lives of Canadians. Positive findings from Poll 9 indicated that the newly mandated proof of vaccination that has been implemented in some fashion by all provinces has had a positive impact on the mental health of nearly half of Canadians, and 68% of Canadians responded that they are more hopeful about their future, which is a 13% increase from Poll 8. Social isolation continues to be the leading stressor on mental health, while going outside and reading books continues to have a positive impact on mental health.












As mentioned earlier, even with all these undesirable events happened, 68% of the Canadians are still hopeful about their future. How so?


According to Connor and Davidson (2003), human beings have a homeostatic biopsychospiritual balance point that allows them to adapt their bodies and minds to the circumstances of the life they are living through. However, this ability may be interrupted with previous unsuccessful experiences. Rutter (1985) defines protective factors which play an important role in resilience, as well as coping with stress (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Holahan and Moss, 1991). With different factors that can help foster resilience, it is hopeful that we are able to cultivate it and thrive.




Resilience is defined as ‘the ability of a person to adjust to or recover readily from illness, adversity, major life changes, etc.’ (; ‘an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change’ ( According to Wikipedia, psychological resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. All in all, a simple definition can be ‘the psychological capacity to adapt in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or any stressful circumstances, and to bounce back from adverse events’.


Resilience is important because it helps people to stay mentally healthy with the strength to process and overcome hardship. Being resilience doesn’t mean the person won’t experience distress and challenges. As human being, we all experienced adversity, suffered from emotional pain and stress, and it is where this ability of resilience can make a difference.


Resilience is not an inborn characteristic. It can be learned and cultivated through continuous intentional practice. To increase the capacity for resilience, we can focus on the following elements.​


  • Wellness: Including physical and mental wellness. A study done by Antonini Philippe, Schwab & Biasutti in 2020 looked at the effects of physical activity and mindfulness on resilience and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Its finding indicated that the practice of mindfulness would make it possible to increase one’s level of resilience, which plays a preponderant role in coping with adversity. Being physically active would allow a high level of resilience that remain stable over time and a decrease in depression score.

    • ​Mindfulness: mindfulness journaling, meditation, and other spiritual practices like praying or chanting can help build connections to hope.

    • Physical activity: Regular exercise (walking, swimming, tai chi…) can strengthen the body to adapt to stress and reduce depression and anxiety.

  • Locus of control: Able to have the sense of control reduce the sense of helplessness and increase the sense of hope. Factors that contribute to the sense of control and hope can include: 

    • Cognitive flexibility: ability to adopt a more balanced and realistic thinking pattern

    • Acceptance: ability to tolerate highly stressful situations to ultimately assist in our growth

    • Adaptability: ability to ride over changes

    • Courage: able to act despite fear. It is an important aspect that allows one to overcome personal limitations and pursue a full life (Seligman, 2011)

    • Optimism: capability to take suffering as an opportunity of learning, which will strengthen our ability to better deal with any future pain.

  • Purpose and Meaning: things that motivate or inspire us. Research studies indicate that if we live with purpose, we tend to live longer, have a better health, and make better lifestyle choice. How to find meaning and purpose then?

    • Ask yourself: What do I do that is deeply satisfying? What can I contribute?

    • Are you able to interpret adversity moments to meanings?

    • Be open and wiling to try different things, such as volunteer work

    • Identify and recognize your own values, interests and beliefs

It may not be us finding purpose, but sometimes, purpose has a way of finding us.

  • Connections: Being connected with people and community enhance sense of belonging, security, love, being loved, caring, and self confidence.

    • Personal connection: We not only show our empathy toward other, but we need to be compassionate and kind toward ourselves.

    • Interpersonal relationships: Maintain your present social circle and re-establish your past social connections. Prioritize social connections in your schedule and spend quality time with your loved ones.

    • Community and social support: Attend social gatherings or cultural events can help us keep contact with our community. Participating in community projects also keep us closer to the community we lived in. Social support reduces anxiety and stress, and increase the strengths to face adversity knowing your loved ones and your community are behind you.

  • Emotional Regulation: Emotions are our normal reactions to incidents that happened, and there is no right or wrong emotions. Regulating our emotions is to recognize our emotional response, understand the causes of it, and manage our appropriate behaviours to cope with the situation.

Lastly, I would like to share with you a story of resilience (

The Farmer and the Donkey


One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway - it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.


He invited all of his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down.


A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.


As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!


Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off, and take a step up.

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

- Kahlil Gibran​



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