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Protective Factor Framework:

Protective factors are attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and circumstances that build resilience. There are four main domains where protective factors can be identified and connected to kids. The presence of protective factors decreases the likelihood of potentially harmful behaviors such as substance abuse, school failure, teen pregnancy, violence and suicide. With resilience, individuals can flourish even under adverse circumstances.

Taking care of yourself keeps your mind and body primed and ready to deal with stressful situations.

Taking care of yourself can mean anything from paying attention to your own needs and feelings to helping others whose problems are more serious than yours.  It can mean finding the will to live well, engaging in activities that you enjoy and experience as relaxing.  It can mean slowing down and doing nothing at all for awhile.

Every one of us faces times of anxiety, stress and pain. These suggestions are ideas for ways to help you get through the tough times. Taking these small steps can help reduce even normal levels of stress that come with life as a young person. They won't help everybody all the time, but even a little can make a difference.

Your heart rate is beating faster and you feel better, today and tomorrow.

Any amount of exercise can noticeably boost your mood.

Helps the body:

  • Improves sleep
  • Increases energy
  • Decreases pain
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Manages body weight

Helps the mind:

  • Stimulates blood flow into the brain
  • Reduces stress, distress and anxiety by burning off stress-inducing hormones
  • Lifts mood by releasing feel-good hormonesdoodleskate
  • Improves self-confidence with better fitness
  • Relieves pent-up muscle tension

Belonging Matters

Your classmate gets you. Your team-mate gives you a chest-bump. You get a hug from your best friend. They may not realize, but each of them are all helping you reduce stress levels and boost well-being. Research shows that when we're stressed, we look for support from our friends and family first. Makes sense, right?

Healthy Eating Really Helps

You know this: You've got to eat well to function well. Each of us have different needs when it comes to food. But there are some universal truths.

Among other benefits, good food can:

    • boost your energy
    • lower the risk of developing certain diseases
    • provide fuel to your brain
    • counteract the impact of stress on your body
    • affect mood-related body chemicals

Ironically, in times of stress just when good nutrition can be so useful to us, many of us tend to eat poorly. According to a recent survey nearly half of Americans overeat or eat unhealthy food to cope with stress. In fact, it's not just that we're seeking creamy comfortour stress hormones actually give us the munchies.

Put a Little Lift in Your Step

Our species' ability to sense danger may have kept us alive, but our worry-filled thoughts can present dangers of their own. It is proven that negative thinking can drag down our moods, our actions and even our health. The opposite is also research supported: that positive thoughts make us happier and healthier. Try it!

Research about the benefits of staying positive says:

  • People who are pessimistic on average die younger than those who are optimistic.
  • People who express gratitude are generally more upbeat and have fewer physical complaints.
  • People who demonstrated negative thinking are less likely to change their unhealthy patterns.
  • People who dwell on negative thoughts actually change their brain activity and patterns to reinforce negative behaviors.
  • People who fixated on worrisome thoughts before a test performed worse than those who had a positive outlook on their task.

How many of the following statements are true for you?


  • People around me I trust and who love me no matter what.
  • People who set limits for me so I know when to stop before there is danger or trouble.
  • People who show me how to do things right by the way they do things.
  • People who want me to learn to do things on my own.
  • People who help me when I am sick, in danger, or need to learn.


  • A person that people can like and love.
  • Happy to do nice things for others and show kindness.
  • Respectful of myself and others.
  • Willing to be responsible for what I do.
  • Sure that things will be all right.


  • Talk to others about things that frighten me or bother me.
  • Find ways to solve problems that I face.
  • Control myself when I feel like doing something not right or dangerous.
  • Figure out when it is a good time to talk to someone or to take action.
  • Find someone to help me when I need it.
You know that life can be pretty tough sometimes. Problems that you face may be severe, ranging from significant changes at home, to being bullied, to the death of someone close to you. These things can be really painful to you and to others. Each person who suffers from really rough times responds differently. Some can get pretty low and stay there, while others seems to be able to bounce back. Why is that? Those who bounce back are using the skills of "resilience."

Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of hard times. The skills of resilience are used to bounce back from big, as well as little, stressors, by processing and managing tough situations and calling on available support. People who haven't developed strong resilience don't deal as well with challenging situations and can get pretty distressed by them. The skills of resilience can be learned anytime in life. Even if things seems to be going well for you, it's good to work on building your resilience skills for a time that you may need them. 

People who are resilient have:

  • Feelings of competence
  • A belief that there is always something one can do to manage one's feelings and cope
  • Positive social relationships
  • Impulse control
  • Problem solving skills
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • A healthy lifestyle
  • Goals, aspirations, dreams, a sense of purpose
  • Life-affirming spiritual, religious or cultural beliefs
  • Knowledge about when and where to get help
  • A sense of humor
  • Comfort with ambiguity
  • A sense of responsibility
  • A positive outlookrainbow
  • A sense of oneself as a survivor rather than a victim
  • A positive moral compass
  • Tolerance for differences in people, ideologies and beliefs

Protective Factors: The Building Blocks of Resilience

Every day you make choices that may seem inconsequential to you, but are actually building your core strengths in resilience by "cultivating protective factors". It sound complicated, but its actually pretty simple. Protective factors are the things around you, resources and conditions that are available to you. You might notice protective factors at home, at school, in your community, and amongst your friends. By increasing your protective factors and reducing your risk factors, you can start improving your well-being. 

Learn where to look for protective factors

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