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Resiliency the secret to better health, living

Want to know a key to staying healthy? Live a resilient life.
Resiliency can mean many things, but the umbrella term means healthy living.
November 24, 2015

Talk to 10 doctors or academics and you’ll get 10 different definitions of what the word “resilience” means.

One might say it is the ability to bounce back from adversity. Another might argue it has to do with self-discovery.

What they all can agree on is that resilience is a key ingredient to health and wellness, and that the concept needs to be implemented into their areas of practice.

The Mayo Clinic's Center for Humanities in Medicine and the ASU Institute for Humanities Research hosted “The Art and Science of Resilience” at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale earlier this month as part of the Imagining Health series, an initiativeThe goal of the Imagining Health initiative, which launched in February, is three-fold: enhance medical humanities research, generate more permanent ties with the Mayo Clinic and grow research capacity and visibility at ASU to make it a flagship institution in this interdisciplinary field. that promotes university-clinic collaborations that transcend the borders of disciplinary knowledge to encourage advancements in our health and approaches to health care.

In other words, they encourage outside-the-box thinking — such as ASU teaching barbers to help their customers identify health issues or working with cancer-stricken kids to share their stories.

“Resilience is not something you’re born with, but it’s dynamic and you have to develop it over time,” said Larry R. Bergstrom, an assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. “You can be resilient most of your life and have one incident change all that. My job is to try and help patients redevelop their resilience, and it mainly becomes a question of ‘Who am I?’ I try and help them get that back.”

If patients are cleared through medical tests, Bergstrom said he’ll test them holistically by asking about the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of their health. He said he looks specifically for cases of burnout or where people are no longer challenged in their lives and work. Once he can help patients identify trouble spots, they usually bounce back and resume normal lives.  

Olga Idriss Davis, an associate professor with ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human CommunicationThe Hugh Downs School of Human Communication is part of ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences., said she views resilience through the prism of community, not as an individual approach.

“I’m particularly interested in how do we develop community-academic partnerships and create ways in which we can create connections, liaisons, partnerships and collaborations to bring about quality health to raise the consciousness of health in various communities,” Davis said during the panel. “Communities matter as we try and navigate ways to bring quality health to people that have been underrepresented.”

And like almost every aspect of health care, resiliency can be made or broken by a variety of external factors — including gender, childhood education, mentoring, structural conditions and lifestyle choices.

“If you had a heart attack and you went home and wanted to be resilient, you wouldn’t necessarily go back to the place or lifestyle that brought on the heart attack — diet, exercise, smoking or whatever that may be,” said Sally Kitch, director of the Institute for Humanities ResearchThe Institute for Humanities Research is a research unit of ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. at ASU. “Are we going to accept the new conditions we have or are we going to create better ones?”

Panelist Cythia Stonnington, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic, believes early childhood adversity can help develop a person’s resilience as they get older.

“Sometimes those earlier hardships are actually helpful in developing the resilience skills because it shows them what they’re capable of and they’ve become less anxious as a result,” Stonnington said. “One of the skills is knowing whether your initial adaptive process is relevant to the current situation … even though they are going through a hard time, they don’t become the illness.”

Part of promoting resiliency in health care is encouraging its development in other aspects of life. Building resilience in young artists is what Stephani Etheridge Woodson does in her role as associate professor and director at ASU’s School of Film, Dance and TheatreThe School of Film, Dance and Theatre is part of the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts..

“We look at resilience as asset building instead of looking at risk management in a way that young folks do,” Woodson said. “There will be trauma, there will be conflict, and there will be tension — both academic and aesthetic — and that is part of the art-making process. So we build capacity for resilience within the process.”

ASU isn’t just talking a good game. Researchers and staff members are implementing their work in a variety of ways.

Woodson said in 2008 that she partnered with the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Child Life Program and started a digital storytelling project called iCreate. The program embeds an artist in the hematology/oncology units and provides medically fragile children an opportunity to play and create digitally, posting their stories on

Video: One of the stories to come out of iCreate.

“We have helped children ride dinosaurs, travel the world, look inside a volcano and connect with their friends,” Woodson said. “Play matters. Joy matters. Creative capacity is an asset.”

Through her work with the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center, Davis helped design a community-based collaboration with Phoenix-area barbers to form a health intervention program called the African American Cardiovascular Health Literacy Exploration. The program is designed to help barbershop owners to determine the health concerns of their customers.

“African-American men are often at the highest rate of mortality in terms of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. The list goes on,” Davis said. “The barbershop is a safe place where men can ask questions and get information they need to understand how they can improve their overall health.”

Reporter , ASU News


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Sun Devil Stadium 2.0: ASU seeks ideas, support for new uses of home field

Sun Devil Stadium 2.0: ASU seeks ideas and support for new uses of stadium
Beyond football: what would you like to see Sun Devil Stadium used for?
November 24, 2015

Arizona State University’s 52-37 victory in Tempe over archrival University of Arizona provided an exciting finish to this year’s home games.

In years to come the excitement on the university’s home field may extend to more than just big games as ASU seeks to transform what today is primarily a football venue into a community and cultural hub available for use year round.

Sun Devil Stadium has previously hosted a pope and a president, rock concerts and local events, but the location is usually unused for much of the year.

So to coincide with the kickoff this week of Phase II of the stadium renovations, which will focus on fan experience, accessibility, and will incorporate a 360 degree walk around the entire stadium, an open house was held to solicit ideas about other activities that could be hosted at the facility.

“We want Sun Devil Stadium 2.0 to weave together athletics, student life and the vibrant community that surrounds ASU,” said Colleen Jennings-RoggensackJennings-Roggensack is the Executive Director of ASU Gammage and Associate Vice President Cultural Affairs for ASU., who will program and manage additional events at the revitalized facility. “The stadium-between-the-buttes can play host to competitions and celebrations of academics and the arts and community success.”

The community seems to have embraced the idea. At the open house, guests were invited to suggest the types of events they would like to see held at the new stadium once renovations are complete. Playing host to the X Games, Shakespeare plays and Cirque du Soleil were just some of the ideas offered up as possibilities.

“It would be cool to see this place as more of a hangout,” said graduate student Sasha Grabovac. “Seeing the stadium used for, like, a concert or a Super Bowl [party]. It’d be great to see it filled for that reason.”

The extent to which the facility becomes a multipurpose venue will depend upon creative thinking and philanthropic support, but Jennings-Roggensack is no stranger to big events. She co-chaired the 2004 presidential debate at ASU, served as a Super Bowl XXX vice-chair, is a current Tony Awards judge and has held a host of leadership roles in local and national civic and arts organizations.

Now, with her attention turned towards the stadium, she sees the possibility of great things with the support of the community.

“The stadium should be infused with life and learning as never before,” she said.

Ray Anderson, the vice president for university athletics and athletics director, agreed.

“The process of renovating this iconic gathering place for Sun Devils of all generations has opened our minds to the potential for this space to be reinvented in such a way as to serve as a resource for other student, alumni and community activities when this real estate is not being used for football,” he said.

“Sun Devil Stadium can be an asset for much more than just football games during the fall.”