Techniques for strengthening resilience


Type of Intelligence


What it does



Somatic Intelligence


Using touch





Releases oxytocin - the brain’s direct and immediate antidote to the stress hormone cortisol.


Cortisol is released in stress and damages brain cells in the hippocampus (area used for long term memory) and lowers immunity.


When you notice distress or discomfort try:

  • Either being held by someone; being physically near someone; remembering someone or imagining being with someone you feel safe with.
  • Massaging your own hands, back of neck or feet.
  • The Hand on heart exercise to calm you down within a minute:
  • Place your own hand on your own heart  - the warm touch activates the release of oxytocin.
  • Breathe deeply – this activates the parasympathetic or calming branch of the nervous system.
  • Breathe a sense of peace or ease or goodness into your heart centre to restore the heart’s coherent heart rate variability.
  • Then take a moment to remember an instance when you felt safe, loved and cherished by someone eg. partner ; close friend; spiritual figure ; teacher; or pet.


Using body posture



Changing body posture can alter mood. For example:

-     Frowning causes you to feel disgruntled and less likely to think of creative solutions to problems.  It starts a downward negative cycle. 


-     Smiling creates a mood of happiness or joy. It starts an upward positive cycle of empowerment.


When experiencing negative emotions towards things, try:

Power posing
Stand tall, feet planted firmly on the ground, chest and head lifted up, perhaps arms raised straight up over your head.  This generates a feeling of strength and stability in your body.  It helps you feel empowered before you walk into a meeting or a confrontation with a stakeholder.


Forcing a smile
Clench a pencil between your teeth to create a smile.  It will generate a more positive mood.

Emotional Intelligence

Concentrating on positive emotions




Kindness, compassion, generosity, gratitude, delight and love emotions trigger more neural activity in the left hemisphere of the brain. The left hemisphere has more of an approach stance toward experience.


Concentrating on positive emotions and experiences, antidotes the

negativity bias of the brain so we stay more open to learning and growth.  We get less anxiety, depression, loneliness and more friendships, collaboration with others, better sleep and health and greater optimism, creativity and resilience.


Taking in the good

At regular points throughout the day install positive experiences you’re grateful for into your long-term memory by either noticing a positive experience in the moment, or remembering one from the past

  • Feel the sense of gratitude for the experience in your body.
  • Focus on that sense for 10-30 seconds, long enough for the brain to encode the experience in your long-term memory.

The brain rewires itself from repetition of experience, if you remember one experience six times a day for 30 seconds that is just three minutes of practice. You will have created a resource of support and resilience you can call upon forever after.

Relational intelligence

Implementing Self compassion



Evoking kindness and care toward ourselves exactly at the moment we are experiencing stress and pain shifts us into a brain state from which we can solve the problem.


Compassionate self talk
When experiencing a stressful situation, try:

  • Pausing and noticing the experience of the moment. The awareness helps bring the functioning of the higher brain back online
  • Say “Ouch! This hurts! This is painful.” Acknowledging the experience of the experiencer gets the brain to be receptive to activating your own  care-giving system.
  • Say “Oh, sweetheart! I’m here. I care.” This activates the
  • care-giving system and releases oxytocin in the bodybrain, returning you to a sense of safety and trust.
  • Say gently, quietly to yourself:

May I feel safe.

May I be aware of this moment, exactly as it is.

May I accept myself, exactly as I am, in this moment


The positivity portfolio

You can create quite a resource of appreciation for yourself, too:

  • Ask 5-10 friends to send you a card, email, tweet, text or facebook message with one or two sentences of acknowledgement of what you mean to them or appreciation of who you are.
  • Collate onto one piece of paper.
  • Stick this to your bathroom mirror, computer or or carry it with you in your purse / wallet or diary.
  • Read the items on the paper three times a day for 30 days. Repetition rewires your self talk.


Reflective intelligence




Helps us see clearly what’s happening in the moment and our reactions to what’s happening in the moment.  This allows us to disentangle ourselves from previous patterns of response, change  gears and make a different choice in the next moment.




Finding the gift in the mistake

This practice of ‘catch the moment; make a choice’ allows you to turn a ‘regrettable moment’ into a ‘teachable moment.’ Then you  can Find the Gift in the Mistake. Reflect on:

  • This is what happened
  • This is what I did
  • This has been the cost
  • This is what I learned
  • This is what I would do differently going forward.