How to Remain Emotionally Healthy

Practice Emotional Hygiene

Lisa Mitchell-Bennett

So often we focus on our physical, not emotional health. As a parent I am made to feel that teaching my children dental hygiene is much more important than helping them build emotional resilience.

In fact we provide our kids with knowledge about band aids, seatbelts, stranger danger and the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, but it is rare that we teach them how to be emotionally healthy. In fact most of us adults don’t even know what that means and we take our emotional health for granted until we face a crisis.

Everyone wants to wear pink to support those battling cancer, but there continues to be stigma around mental health issues. I have heard many judgmental comments about people who are depressed or having emotional problems, like it is a weakness of character. Yet there is a scientifically proven connection between emotional and physical

For example, chronic loneliness can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol, suppress your immune system and can increase your likelihood of early death by 14 percent. That’s about the same risk as smoking, yet cigarettes come with all manner of warnings.

Dr. Guy Winch is a clinical psychologist who focuses on helping people become emotionally resilient, and has coined the phrase “emotional hygiene”. He says that loneliness, negative thoughts and failure can do as much or more damage to the human mind and body as illness and injury. Just as hygiene, hand washing and clean water revolutionized our health outcomes a century ago, he believes emotional hygiene can change our world for the better. He has written books and speaks around the world about the need to focus on our psychological health as we do our physical health, and the clear connection between the two.

So how do we do this? We are not taught this in school. I was never taught by my parents. They were good parents and perhaps modeled some features of emotional wellness, but we never once had a conversation about how to remain emotionally healthy. This doesn’t come up naturally in our culture, and definitely not among men and older folks.

When I talk to my friends and family about taking my kids to a pediatrician for an illness or even for preventive exams, there is no shock at all. But when I mention that I have sought the help of a licensed counselor, for myself and my children, the reaction is shock or a quick change of subject. I’m not sure why the difference, when it is just as important to me that my kids grow up to be independent, well-adjusted, and emotionally healthy, as it is that they are physically healthy.

Just as we have to learn and work hard to make lifestyle changes to be physically healthy, it does take some intentional effort and skill, and sometimes consultation with professionals, to maintain emotional health. This applies to all of us, children and adults. The American Psychological Association recommends some tips for parents summarized below:

Make connections—Teach your child empathy, the importance of friendship, build a strong family network, social support and spiritual connection through a place of worship or in other supportive environments.

Help your child by having him or her help others—Provide kids with opportunities for volunteer work, helping family members and classmates. This is very empowering.

Maintain a daily routine—structure can be comforting and help build a sense of security.

Take a break—Build in unstructured play time, particularly outside, to your schedule every day.

Teach your child self-care –Make yourself a good example, and teach your child the importance of making time to eat well, exercise and rest. Balance will help them better deal with stressful times.

Move toward your goals –Teach your child to set reasonable goals, break them into small steps, and then to move toward them one step at a time.

Nurture a positive self-view—Talk about hard times and how your child has overcome a hardship or survived a hard circumstance. Celebrate successes, and their hard work.

Keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook –Talk about the future and hopeful, positive goals and events, don’t just focus on the past.

Accept that change is part of living—Talk with your child about changes, and reflect on past changes and how they got through what might have seemed scary at the time.

Winch summarizes these steps well in a quote from a recent Ted Talk: “By taking action when you’re lonely, by changing your responses to failure, by protecting your self-esteem, by battling negative thinking, you won’t just heal your psychological wounds, you will build emotional resilience; you will thrive.”

It’s not always instinctual given the environmental pressures around us, just as eating healthy and exercising isn’t easy. But it’s worth the effort as parents, and as human beings, to care about our minds as much as we do the rest of our bodies, because Tu Salud ¡Si Cuenta! (Your Health Matters!).

Photo credit: <ahref=”″>September 22, 2013 at 10:46AM</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>


Geetu-High Quality Res     Geetu Bharwaney

Geetu is the Founding Director of Ei World Limited, one of Europe’s thought leaders in the application of emotional resilience and emotional intelligence in business.  She is Author of Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best (published by Pearson Education, 2015 with audiobook recorded by Ei World, 2015).


Don’t Loop on Something Useless

Emotional-FreedomThe Value of Daily Emotional Workouts

Laura Coe:

Last summer my emotional workouts were paying off, life felt easier, freer even in the face of stressful work deadlines or busy, over-scheduled days. But this fall a whole new level of emotional stress came my way, testing the value of emotional resilience training.

Over the summer, I’d wake up and check in with myself.

I always ask the same questions: “Where am I coming from? Am I coming from a good place or somewhere that needs to be investigated?” Or in really basic terms, is my mind filled with any negative thoughts or am I relaxed and centered?

I found this check in to be one of the most valuable moments of my day. Because sometimes a bad night of sleep or a weird dream could kick off my day in the wrong direction. After my check in, I’d get up brush my teeth, shower, dress and spend a few minutes with my family before heading out to work.

When I’d sit down to work, I would check in again. I know it was only 8 a.m., but after rushing to get out of the house, sitting in traffic, being bombarded with emails and text messages, my emotional tailspin could start without my awareness of it.

Most of the time I would realize that I was looping on something useless: an email that rubbed me the wrong way, a task I needed to get done, how Donald Trump said something painfully stupid and now I can’t stay at the Trump Hotels any more.

Whatever was looping in my mind was typically an unconscious choice and slowing zapping my precious energy for the day. My actual goals, what I wanted to get done, were being drowned out by my unconscious mental clamoring.

Emotional Workouts Saved My Life

My emotional workouts saved me from wasteful noise, unwanted mental chatter and brought me back to my real goals. My work productivity went up, but more importantly my happiness went up. The unconscious noise was often stressful. And that stress overtook my happiness, my sense of contentment, throughout the day.

So I would check in… a lot.

Because the more I checked in, the more I lowered risk that my mind had taken off in a direction that I could not come back from, catching the unconscious thought loops early is critical because you aren’t so swept up by your emotions and you can refocus quicker.

We have all done it — gotten so swept up by an unconscious narrative that we cannot remember how we got home because we were completely lost in thought.

But the thoughts were not conscious, not intentional, they were just an old tape we took out and played on auto-repeat.

Unconscious thoughts are like elevator music — they get stuck in your head and never shut up.

How to stop unconscious loops?

  1. Check in a lot
  2. Ask, “Where am I coming from?” “Do I feel stressed, anxious, afraid, sad?”
  3. What is the exact sentence(s) you are repeating? This is key: say the sentence out loud or write it down.
  4. Scan your body. Ask, “How does my body feel?”
  5. Breathe into the stressed part of your body.
  6. Are the thoughts useful or are you just repeating and repeating the same point?
  7. Replace your thoughts or just let the looping thought go. You are wasting your energy.
  8. Write it down if it is a task and do it. This way you won’t forget and you can stop fixating.
  9. Call a friend if something is really upsetting you and you have to get it off your chest.
  10. Focus on what you are doing now. Notice the sounds in your room. Come back to what is going on presently.

But what do you do if none of this works?

I had a great summer. Nothing out of the ordinary was going on.

But this fall has been really difficult. And by difficult I do not mean the kinds of problems that we create by taking on too much. I mean the real kind of difficult — a serious health issue was diagnosed in my family.

What do you do when something is on your mind and it is serious. The world iskicking your ass. You are not just fixated on something that is fixable or self-inflicted?

Here is what I discovered: You have to do the same thing.

Check in. Notice your thoughts. What is looping? Even if it is a real concern, it never helps to worry. When I can’t do anything to make my difficult circumstances better, overthinking is pointless.

So my emotional workouts have tripled. I was working out before as if I was training for a 5K. Now, I upped my workouts because life signed me up for a marathon.

And I cannot stress enough how important it is for me to know what types of emotional stress I create in my life. Some of us worry about what others think, some of us become judgmental, some of us become self-abusive, and others get super angry. Or we flip flop between several emotional states.

If you know your emotional tendency, you can be on alert. Just like if you are dieting and Thanksgiving comes along, you put down the fork when you reach for your second slice of pie. If you are working out emotionally and difficulties come your way, you put down the thoughts when you reach for the same thought over and over.

It’s up to you. Most of us won’t do it because it is hard and it takes time. But if you want to be happier, less stressed, you have to work because life is always moving, throwing us punches, unexpected twists and turns. It’s up to you if you are going to sit down and give up or put up a real fight and workout.


Geetu-High Quality Res     Geetu Bharwaney

Geetu is the Founding Director of Ei World Limited, one of Europe’s thought leaders in the application of emotional resilience and emotional intelligence in business.  She is Author of Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best (published by Pearson Education, 2015 with audiobook recorded by Ei World, 2015).

Emotional Resilience on School Curriculum

Resilience classes aim to improve mental health of a generation

The capacity to thrive in the face of adversity is at the heart of resilience and educators hope teaching students to bounce back will help the mental health of tomorrow’s adults.

What is happening?

unhappy childAccording to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental illness affects around 20 per cent of the world’s children and adolescents. The organisation further predicts that depression, considered the leading cause of youth suicide, will become the world’s primary health concern in 2020.

Over recent decades, research into emotional resiliency — the capacity “to thrive in the face of adversity” — has promoted understanding about the factors that assist in the development of children into healthy adults. This body of knowledge has filtered into resiliency education programs that are a growing feature of primary and secondary school curriculums around the world.

Why is resilience being taught?

Resiliency programs have largely arisen in response to alarming mental health statistics that exist for children and young people worldwide. Evidence shows such programs are effective in reducing mental health risk factors as well as emotional and behavioural problems, and that by cultivating the ability to “bounce back” from hardship, children learn to live happy, productive lives.

Researchers say all children — advantaged and disadvantaged alike — have the same need for care, self-esteem and autonomy. They say emotional resilience can be taught to everyone, wherever they may appear on the “spectrum of adversity”.

Some say that resiliency education is needed now more than ever before: that young people are uniquely exposed to a faster-paced society; the bombardment of technology, social media and persistent, aggressive marketing strategies; an increase in academic testing and exams, and more family breakdowns.

Where is it happening?

Resilience education features in many schools across Europe, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and the United States. In Britain, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan recently allocated significant funding to projects that focus on resilience, self-confidence and respect. Similarly in Finland, recent reforms of the education system promote character, resilience and communication skills.

In the United States, school resilience programmes have been operating for over a decade; with public debate on the subject invariably reignited after violent incidents, including school shootings. However, while the trend has largely developed in response to mental health concerns, there is evidence that “emotionally literate” children also perform better academically.

One successful initiative adopted by schools across the country and overseas is the “RULER” program. Designed by the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence, the program has been effective in teaching children how to “recognise, understand, label, express and regulate” their emotions.

What are some benefits of resilience education?

Outcomes of resilience education include improved problem-solving skills; a more optimistic outlook; the ability to set realistic, achievable goals; a healthy sense of independence; social competency and enhanced academic performance. Resiliency in schools has also been found to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, bullying, substance use and aggressive, or reckless behaviour.

By teaching resilience, experts say children learn how to identify, articulate, differentiate and manage their own feelings as well as become more empathetic and sensitive to the feelings of others. Importantly, they come to understand that feelings of disappointment, sadness and frustration are a normal part of life.

What is helpful in building resilience?

Experts say that the most effective schools are those in which the principles of resiliency are embedded within the school culture rather than as stand-alone curriculum additions: schools where strong, supportive connections between staff, students and parents are forged; where empathy, optimism and positive self-image are nurtured and where success rather than failure is the focus.

Resilient schools also encourage healthy sleep, diet and exercise habits; promote supportive relationships including mentoring and “buddy” schemes and train staff in resilience so they may lead by example. By adopting a “whole of school” philosophy, they say every teacher-child interaction becomes an opportunity to encourage resilience.

What doesn’t help?

Professor Peter Gray, from Boston College in the United States, is among several researchers to have noted a marked decrease in resilience among tertiary students; asserting that they are increasingly afraid to fail, take risks or act with autonomy.

While acknowledging the serious effect mental illness can have on some students, he says a growing number have difficulty managing everyday “bumps in the road” such as “bad grades, breakups [or] being on their own for the first time”.

It is argued that overprotective parenting is to blame for this phenomenon: that although well intentioned, many parents feel pressured to “smooth the way” for their children, thereby denying them responsibility and preventing them from developing autonomy, emotional coping ability and the capacity to solve their own problems.

Research suggests that children of so-called “helicopter parents” tend to be more anxious, depressed and emotionally dependent than those who have been permitted more independence throughout their childhood. They argue that experiencing failure is important — even necessary — because it is in making mistakes, children learn how to adapt, improve themselves and emotionally handle setbacks.

In Conclusion

American author Naomi Wolf is quoted as saying: “Obstacles … are developmentally necessary: they teach kids strategy, patience, critical thinking, resilience and resourcefulness”. The evidence concurs: resilience education for children — learning to positively adapt to life’s “obstacles” — holds great value for children and for their communities.

Colleen Ricci :

photo credit: <ahref=”″>Try Sail Day Carenne Special School Bathurst 20 May 2014</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>


Geetu-High Quality Res     Geetu Bharwaney

Geetu is the Founding Director of Ei World Limited, one of Europe’s thought leaders in the application of emotional resilience and emotional intelligence in business.  She is Author of Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best (published by Pearson Education, 2015 with audiobook recorded by Ei World, 2015).

Playing Mind Games

children play stationsOnline Game and Video to Promote Positive Mental Health for Kids

A film and an interactive game have been created to support parents and children to promote positive mental health.

The game – Lanterns Written on the Wind – has been created by the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s children’s mental health services.

It is aimed at children aged 4 to 11, to play with their parents and geared to encourage children to think about how they are feeling and to tell their parents.

It is available on the trust’s health for kids website.

Rachel Turner, developmental primary mental health worker at the trust, said: “We want parents to use the health for kids website to encourage their younger children to talk about their feelings and understand it is acceptable to share feelings, even if they don’t understand them.”

A video has also been created for the website.

Called Five Ways to Build Resilience, it talks teenagers through creating their own emotional resilience and keeping positive mental health.

Ms Turner said: “We know teenagers and young people experience a range of emotions and feelings as they grow up, which can be confusing and sometimes a little scary, so the video takes them through learning and applying tools to maintain a healthy mind. These might be going out with friends, reading or exercising.

“We want to empower young people and communicate how everyday ordinary activities can be part of building and maintaining their mental wellbeing.

“No other NHS trust has created a video on this topic for teens, so we hope other young people as well as those living in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland find it helpful.”

The game and the video are supported by an online social media campaign.

To comment on or share the Lanterns game use the hashtag #RUok and #healthforkids and to comment on or share information about the video use #ThisIsResilience and #healthforteens.

For more information on young children and feelings or for more information on feelings and resilience, visit:



Geetu-High Quality Res     Geetu Bharwaney

Geetu is the Founding Director of Ei World Limited, one of Europe’s thought leaders in the application of emotional resilience and emotional intelligence in business.  She is Author of Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best (published by Pearson Education, 2015 with audiobook recorded by Ei World, 2015).


Resilience in a Recession

BB18F3365D 2Resilient personality of cities could help in a recession

Society for Personality and Social Psychology

In recent years, psychologists established that regions and cities differ in their prevalent personality make-up. The resilient personality of a city’s residents could help determine whether cities bounce back or languish during a major recession, according to new research published in the peer-reviewed journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

In a large-scale two-country study that is the first of its kind, researchers examined whether the severity of the economic downturn of the 2008-09 recession depended on regional personality profiles. To this end researchers studied the personality traits of more than 1.3 million residents from more than 700 cities in the United States and regions in Great Britain. Cities fared better, with more businesses starting despite the recession, in places where residents displayed a more resilient personality, characterized by stronger emotional stability and entrepreneurial personality profile. This entrepreneurial profile is defined as persons scoring at the same time higher on extraversion, openness to new experiences, emotional stability, and conscientiousness, and lower on agreeableness.

“Cities seem to respond quite differently to major economic shocks in terms of their economic behavior, and the personality of a region may play a critical role,” said lead researcher Martin Obschonka, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Saarland University in Germany. “Much research on economic resilience has focused on regional economic infrastructure, but the entrepreneurial personality and emotional stability of a city’s residents may be just as important in determining whether cities suffer or thrive during a recession.”

Low emotional stability (or high neuroticism – the opposite of emotional stability) is characterized by anxiety, fear, envy and frustration. People high in emotional stability often respond to challenging situations, such as a recession, in a more positive, pro-active way than people low in emotional stability. The northern stretches of the East Coast, including New York City and Boston, bucked the trend found in the study by being more neurotic and less emotionally stable but still faring well during the recession.

In the U.S. cities, high regional scores for extraversion and low scores for agreeableness contributed to an entrepreneurial spirit, but that connection wasn’t found in Great Britain. The researchers note that the study findings are correlational so that they cannot prove causal effects. Nevertheless, the researchers think that it is more likely that the regional personality affects the region’s economic resilience than the other way around. “It probably would be difficult to boost a city’s entrepreneurial personality and emotional stability because a city’s personality is an ingrained element of local culture”, Obschonka said. “Cities differ in their regional personality because of a wide range of patterns that have developed over decades or centuries, including formal and informal institutions such as local norms and attitudes that can’t be changed overnight.”

However, government economic programs could be tailored toward the specific personality of cities. “We may need to re-think the concept of regional economic resilience by considering the personality differences of cities instead of just focusing on infrastructure,” Obschonka said.

Society for Personality and Social Psychology


Geetu-High Quality Res     Geetu Bharwaney

Geetu is the Founding Director of Ei World Limited, one of Europe’s thought leaders in the application of emotional resilience and emotional intelligence in business.  She is Author of Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best (published by Pearson Education, 2015 with audiobook recorded by Ei World, 2015).

Thrive in Challenging Times… Learn How to Build…

How to Build Resilience Every Day

Resilience is not just the ability to survive challenging times; it’s the ability to thrive in them. Those who learn to build their own resilience can enjoy their work, their relationships, and the daily bustle more than someone who gets knocked down by stress over and over again.

Shell on beach

Anyone can learn to do this. But it takes practice. And stress is the ultimate catch 22. The more stressed you are, the less able you are to make the changes that would alleviate it. That’s why we view building resilience as a practice–something that you do daily, a little at a time, until the wellspring of resilience is part of you. That steady practice is what provides the big payoff.

Here are three ways to make resilience a practice in your life right now — and reap the benefits of being able to ride out any storm (or surf through it).

1. Put resilience on the calendar. The late Steven Covey said, “don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities.” When you want to make something consistent in your life, you want to build your life around it rather, than trying to shoehorn it in.

What activities make you feel good? Energized? Positive? A friend of mine loves taking her dog to the local park every Saturday and doing laps around the track, rain or shine. It helps her clear her mind and get a little movement in. A co-worker spends 10 minutes in the morning at a cafe journaling. Whatever activity loosens the grip of stress should be part of your weekly routine.

2. Practice tuning into your emotion radar. When something in your life goes badly, what emotion do you tend to feel first? For example, if you’re in a long line at the grocery store at the end of the day, do you feel frustrated? Angry? Sad? Or guilty, thinking you’re a bad parent because you’re missing dinner time with your kid?

When you regularly feel a negative emotion, you likely have what we call an “emotion radar” for it. You’ve learned to scan for that emotion, even if there’s not really a reason to feel it! The good news is that awareness breaks their chokehold. Ask yourself: Is this a habitual response I’m having, and is it making the situation worse? This will help you pause and see if it’s truly warranted.

3. Use mistakes as a chance to practice resilience. Ironically, the very moments when you feel your resilience waning are the perfect times to practice it. The next time you lose your cool, snap at your spouse, stay up too late, or start emotional eating–resist spiraling into self-blame or disgust, and instead, choose to do something that will ease your stress and feed your resilience, such as taking a walk or calling a supportive friend.

Of course, there will be times when stress gets the best of you. The key is to remember that practice makes perfect. Every single action your take towards feeling more resilient and positive, however small, is a win.




Geetu-High Quality Res     Geetu Bharwaney

Geetu is the Founding Director of Ei World Limited, one of Europe’s thought leaders in the application of emotional resilience and emotional intelligence in business.  She is Author of Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best (published by Pearson Education, 2015 with audiobook recorded by Ei World, 2015).


Let’s Play…

… Building Emotional Resilience

Little boy croquet

following a decade’s worth of scientific research, shows how we can cultivate new powers of recovery and resilience in everyday life simply by adopting a more “gameful” mind-set.



Being gameful means bringing the same psychological strengths we naturally display when we play games—such as optimism, creativity, courage, and determination—to real-world goals. 

By completing this quest, you’ve just strengthened your emotional resilience.

Emotional resilience is the ability to access positive emotions at will. It doesn’t matter if you’re stressed, or bored, or angry, or in pain—when you have emotional resilience, you can choose to feel something good instead.

Emotional resilience is a particularly important strength. Research has shown that if, on average, people experience more positive emotions than negative ones, they gain a huge range of benefits. They’re more creative at solving problems. They’re more ambitious and successful at school and at work. They’re less likely to give up when things are hard. People around them are more likely to offer help and support them in their goals.

To achieve emotional resilience, you don’t need to eliminate negative emotions—that’s obviously impossible. You just need enough positive emotions, over the course of a day, to beat out the negative ones.

Both options in this quest are scientifically validated methods for provoking a specific positive emotion. Looking through a window provokes curiosity—the positive emotion that psychologists define as “a desire to gratify the mind with new information or objects of interest.”(Hopefully you saw something interesting through the window!) Meanwhile, researchers have demonstrated that looking at photos or videos of baby animals is all it takes to make virtually anyone feel the emotion of love. (Baby animal cuteness brings out our nurturing instinct!) Better yet, this quick burst of love from looking at baby animals doesn’t just feel good, it also improves attention and productivity.

Even if you felt the curiosity or the love for only a few seconds, you just got emotionally stronger. Enjoy it.

Full article:



Geetu-High Quality Res     Geetu Bharwaney

Geetu is the Founding Director of Ei World Limited, one of Europe’s thought leaders in the application of emotional resilience and emotional intelligence in business.  She is Author of Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best (published by Pearson Education, 2015 with audiobook recorded by Ei World, 2015).




Build Bounce Backability

Building Resilience to Cope with Times of Crisis

Resilience is a skill that all of society needs to learn says Dr Eddie Murphy

Image courtesy of tuelekza at
Image courtesy of tuelekza at

Following Suicide Awareness Week its timely that we look at ways to ensure that people avoid or overcome crises.

We need to develop a society that is resilient, a skill that can be promoted for young, adolescents, adults and our wise seniors who often have it in abundance.

Resilience does not mean that people do not experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain is common in people who have suffered major trauma. New behaviours, thoughts, and actions can be learned and developed in anyone.



Factors in resilience

Studies show that the primary factor is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family. These create love and trust, provide role models, and offer encouragement and reassurance.

The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out.

A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities.

Skills in communication and problem solving.

The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses.

How to develop it

Developing resilience is a personal journey. People do not react in the same way to the same stressful events.

Imagine resilience as a muscle – here are some strategies to strengthen it:

Build bounce backability.

Develop a sense of optimism. Can you imagine wearing glasses that actively select optimism? Just as a person has physical fitness, so too there is mental fitness. Train your brain.

Volunteer. Do you have the energy and the heart to help others? There are lots of opportunities.

Nourish your Soul. Faith, prayer and spirituality play an incredible role in some people’s emotional life. Research shows that this acts as important stress buffers.

Live a life with meaning and passion. Get beyond yourself: find meaning and passions and fill your life with them. I think of Penny, a woman who experienced depression. Having lost many family members through cancer, she wanted to raise money for hospice services. She has swum, walked, run, climbed mountains and had her hair shaved. Her life is full of meaning and passion, and her depression is now at bay.

Learn to laugh at yourself. Laughing at yourself when you do something foolish can release negative emotions. Humour can help to pull many through the most horrendous traumas.

Find role models. We all need wise people in our lives – people you can look up to and from whom you can get advice. Sometimes you can also pick ‘parts’ of people to emulate – someone’s assertiveness, another’s sensitivity.

Get out of your comfort zone. We need to challenge and to stretch ourselves; otherwise our world only gets smaller. You only live once.

Adopt new approaches to challenges and setbacks. Rather than seeing failure, or stress, ask yourself ‘what is the best thing I can do here? What options have I got? Is there anything I can learn from the situation?

Nurture friendships and relationships. Having a network of friends or family provides us with social support that is incredibly important for both happy occasions and challenging times. It is true a problem shared is a problem halved.

Take control. Nobody is responsible for your life except you. By believing that you have some control, your confidence will shift in the right direction. This means taking control of all parts of your life, particularly your physical and emotional health. Tackle things straight on. Don’t ignore or wish away your problems.


Geetu-High Quality Res     Geetu Bharwaney

Geetu is the Founding Director of Ei World Limited, one of Europe’s thought leaders in the application of emotional resilience and emotional intelligence in business.  She is Author of Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best (published by Pearson Education, 2015 with audiobook recorded by Ei World, 2015).

Emotions are in the Driver Seat

What the most resilient people have in common, according to one of America’s most beloved authors

Drake Baer

For her new book Rising Strong social worker and bestselling author Brené Brown set out to determine what resilient people have in common.

Her discovery, after many hours of interviews?

It’s all about a “tolerance for discomfort,” she says.

People who healthfully navigate firings, divorces, and other super difficult situations are able to do so because they’re aware of their emotional worlds — which are often uncomfortable places.

“What I’m talking about is an acceptance that our drive, this insatiable appetite for comfort and happiness, does not reconcile with who we are as people,” she told Tech Insider in a recent interview. “Sometimes we have to do tough things and feel our way through tough situations, and we have to feel tough emotions.”

There’s that word again: emotion.

Before the advent of “emotional intelligence” in the 1990s, emotions had a pretty bad reputation when it came to “serious” discussions about how people function. Emotion, and its adjective form emotional, were (and largely remain) derogatory charges to be levied at people when they’re “irrational.” It’s also a fun disgusting way to belittle women when they’re performing traditionally feminine behaviour or men when they’re doing the same.

As in: You’re being so emotional.

But here’s the thing.

Despite an intellectual history that tells us “I think, therefore I am,” contemporary neuroscience reveals that we’re emotional beings first, thinking beings second. Down to slugs, caterpillars, and the most basic of invertebrates, animals emotionally respond as a way of navigating their environments, and humans are no exception. The thinking comes after.

“It wouldn’t work if thought had the wheel — what you think of a dinosaur isn’t going to help you get away from it,” she says. “Taking 20 minutes to think about whether or not you were prey wouldn’t have been very adaptive.”

Like behavioural economists show again and again, emotions drive thinking and behaviour. They get the first crack at making sense of what’s happening, Brown says; they’re in the driver seat, with cognition and behaviour riding shotgun.

So when something difficult happens — a colleague shoots you an awful look at a meeting, a partner breaks up with you, you fail on a project — there’s an emotional response. Before you can articulate why, you have the urge to punch somebody or devour a dozen doughnuts or hide in bed for a fortnight.

And that’s the spot where, Brown says, you need to wade into the discomfort of that reaction. You have to get curious about it, Brown says, and ask what is going on? what am I feeling? what’s driving it? how am I responding to it?

But this doesn’t come naturally, she warns. Some brain hacks will help: write it on a Post It note, type it into your phone, send yourself an email with what happened. Then, over time, you can actually have enough notes on your own unhelpful behaviours so that you can spot the places where you participate in creating your own suffering before you act out those same destructive or avoidant behaviours for the zillionth time.

Brown puts it simply:

“Resilience is more available to people curious about their own line of thinking and behaving,” she says.


Geetu-High Quality Res     Geetu Bharwaney

Geetu is the Founding Director of Ei World Limited, one of Europe’s thought leaders in the application of emotional resilience and emotional intelligence in business.  She is Author of Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best (published by Pearson Education, 2015 with audiobook recorded by Ei World, 2015).



Emotional ‘Warfare’

Doctors need ‘emotional resilience’ training like soldiers in Afghanistan

The head of the GMC says doctors must undergo ‘emotional resilience’ training to cope with mounting pressures – in the same way that soliders do before Afghanistan

Laura Donnelly, Health Editor, Daily Telegraph:

Doctors will have to demonstrate that they have “emotional resilience” before they are allowed to practice – as the head of their watchdog likened modern medicine to war in Afghanistan.

The chairman of the General Medical Council (GMC) said medicine needs to learn from the army, in the way that soldiers are coached in coping strategies before they come under pressure.

Professor Terence Stephenson said doctors needed to learn to develop “emotional armour” to protect them from growing levels of “burnout”.

Doctor - stethoscopeHe told The Telegraph: “Doctors see things that many other people will never see in a lifetime. Just as when soldiers go to Afghanistan, you don’t want the first time they see at somebody who has suffered terrible injuries to be when they’re dealing with an emergency in the heat of the moment.

“We need to try and prepare them for that in advance,” he said.

“Army personnel have told me that they would not begin resilience training just as they’re about to deploy and I fully understand that. The army discovered some time ago that soldiers under pressure aren’t helped if they are just told to keep a stiff upper lip. It’s time medicine reached a similar conclusion – and acted on it.”

Training for future medics will require them to show they have developed psychological coping techniques, as well as clinical knowledge and professional skills, under the new GMC proposals.

The paediatrician said doctors were under growing pressure from an increasing workload, and the demands of a “less deferential” society.

He said doctors needed to be prepared to cope with the emotional strain of devastating situations, and face the likelihood that some decisions would face complaint or investigation during their career.

“During one day last week seeing emergencies, I cared for a child of seven with an incurable life-limiting condition who will not survive until 17, and a 17-year old who took a life-threatening paracetamol overdose because she cannot face the next day,” he said.

“Without developing a psychological ‘carapace’ or some ‘emotional armour’ which allows one at the end of the day to hand over care of patients to the night team, to go home and not agonise over these worrying patients, doctors can burn out,” he said.

Earlier this year, the senior doctor, who has twice faced a GMC investigation, said medics needed help to cope with the pressures of such complaints.

In December an internal review by the GMC identified 28 cases between 2005 and 2013 in which doctors committed suicide while under investigation by the regulator.

The report called for the introduction of “emotional resilience” training for trainee doctors, and more support for those alleged to have failed in their duties.

The new proposals, which have gone out to public consultation, until September, set out the core knowledge, skills and behaviours that the GMC expects doctors to demonstrate including “effective communication, team-working and patient-centred decision making.”

Under the plans, medical schools will have to ensure that emotional resilience training is a “regular and integral part of the medical school curriculum”.

Trainee doctors will have to demonstrate that they have such skills by the end of their postgraduate speciality training.

Prof Stephenson said doctors did not need to learn to be less empathetic or caring, but to find ways to cope with the demands on them.

Emotional resilience is the ability to adapt to stressful situations. What it means is that you need some protective mechanisms and coping strategies,” he said.

”The Army invests significantly in emotional resilience training. We want doctors to feel as prepared to deal with whatever comes their way as soldiers do and this is one way that this can be achieved.”

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association council said: “Developing emotional resilience in the medical workforce is important, but it should be a joint responsibility that the NHS plays a key role in delivering.

Employers need to put in place an environment that supports doctors and establishes a culture where hospitals and GP practices have the resources to ensure high quality patient care.”

Dr Maureen Baker, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs are working harder than ever to meet increasing patient demand with limited resources and this unrelenting workload pressure undoubtedly puts our physical and mental health at risk.”

For more see:


Geetu-High Quality Res     Geetu Bharwaney

Geetu is the Founding Director of Ei World Limited, one of Europe’s thought leaders in the application of emotional resilience and emotional intelligence in business.  She is Author of Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best (published by Pearson Education, 2015 with audiobook recorded by Ei World, 2015).