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  • Writer's pictureStephen Carter

7 Easy Ways to Create Emotional Resilience and Wellbeing

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

With October being National Emotional Wellness Month and National Positive Attitude Month, how do these two mindsets contribute to what psychologists call Emotional Resilience?

A second important question: Are there easy ways to enhance emotional resilience and live a happier life?

Let’s begin with emotional wellness.

What Exactly is Emotional Wellness?

The National Institutes of Health, or NIH, tells us emotional wellness is:

*“… the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times."

*NIH offers 6 strategies for improving your emotional health. Those are:

  • Brighten your outlook;

  • Reduce stress;

  • Get quality sleep;

  • Be mindful;

  • Cope with loss; and,

  • Strengthen social connections.

A key aspect of emotional wellness is maintaining a consistently positive attitude, e.g., "brighten your outlook", the number one NIH strategy.

There's a growing body of research that suggests having a positive outlook can enhance physical health. A combination of good physical and emotional wellbeing can create an upward positive outlook spiral that can support emotional resilience. 

Link Between Mental and Physical Health

According to NIH,

**"Research has found a link between an upbeat mental state and improved health, including lower blood pressure, reduced risk for heart disease, healthier weight, better blood sugar levels, and longer life.”

Positive Attitude and Emotional Wellness

There is substantial research pointing to the link between having an overall positive attitude and enjoying emotional wellness.

An important caveat: Having a positive attitude doesn’t mean ignoring or downplaying events or situations that may create feelings of anger, sadness, or other emotions some may label as negative.

The fact is emotions happen. Depending on circumstances, every emotion can be an appropriate adaptive response. The secret is balance.

Dr. Barbara L Fredrickson, a renowned psychology professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, commented, 

**“Positive emotions expand our awareness and open us up to new ideas, so we can grow and add to our toolkit for survival,” Fredrickson explains. “But people need negative emotions to move through difficult situations and respond to them appropriately in the short term. Negative emotions can get us into trouble, though, if they’re based on too much rumination about the past or excessive worry about the future, and they’re not really related to what’s happening in the here and now.”

So What Would a Positive Attitude Look Like?

Let’s meet a gentleman named Robert M. Hensel. Mr. Hensel was born with the birth defect known as Spina bifida. No one would blame Robert for accepting his disability and living a quiet, unassuming life. But Robert had an amazing positive attitude as evidenced by one of his guiding affirmations: 

“A positive attitude, can turn a storm into a sprinkle.” 

As a poet, Robert had a wonderful way with words. But that doesn’t begin to tell his story.

***Robert set the Guinness World Record for the longest non-stop wheelie in a wheelchair. His wheelie was measured at more than six miles. As part of setting his record, he raised money to build wheelchair ramps throughout Oswego, New York. 

No Storm Lasts Forever

The truth is no storm lasts forever. Yes, emotional storms will happen. Emotions arise, peak, and dissolve. Some emotions dissolve in seconds, others can take longer.

When you expect to succeed and you choose to focus on what you can control, a raging storm can become a sprinkle.

You Are NOT Your Thoughts and Emotions

Regardless of how strong a given emotion feels, remember, you are NOT  the emotion. You have emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations, but the true YOU is beyond all of those experiences. 

What we’re looking toward is the idea of emotional resilience. 

7 Actions to Help Create Consistent Emotional Wellness and Resilience

What simple, effective actions can you take to create consistently more emotional wellbeing and resilience? Here are 7 suggestions based on research and clinical effectiveness:

Ask a Key Question About Any Negative Situation: What can I control about this situation and what is out of my control? 

Write down what aspects of a situation you have control over and what aspects are out of your control. For those aspects you can control, identify where those points of leverage are and exactly what actions you can take. Take those actions and, based on feedback, make whatever refinements are needed.

For those aspects that are out of your control, verbally acknowledge those facts and recognize the only logical action is to release the negative feelings associated with those aspects. Get outside help if you need it, but once you articulate what is out of your control, your mind will likely release the negative emotions automatically.

If you don't notice a lessening of emotional reaction immediately, give it time. You may also be able to speed emotional release using the Energy Psychology tools such as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) tapping discussed throughout the website.

Create a Gratitude Journal

Sometime during the day, spend just a few minutes writing down three items you’re thankful for associated with that day. These gratitude entries can be major or miner.

For example, several entries from my personal journal include:

  • “Today I saw my first Robin of Spring”;

  • “It was inspiring seeing my neighbor pick up trash as she took her evening walk”; and, 

  • “I had a great conversation with my grandson about how he is doing in school”. 

When you engage in an act of kindness, record that event in your Gratitude Journal. Remind yourself regularly about those acts of kindness. This will enhance self-esteem and contribute to a more positive state of mind.

Research in a field of psychology called Positive Psychology points to the power of creating a Gratitude Journal as a way to change a negative mindset to a more positive mindset over time. When you’re having a challenging day, simply go back to entries from previous days and relive each of those positive moments. In just a few minutes, you’ll find yourself smiling and moving back into an empowering positive mindset.

Get Plenty of Good Quality Sleep

Turn off the TV and electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. You might choose to read something light or engage in other relaxing activities a few minutes before bedtime.

Exercise and Move Your Body

Your body is designed to move. Before engaging in strenuous exercise consult your physician. Avoid exercise late in the evening to ensure it doesn’t affect your ability to sleep.

Research tells us exercise can enhance brain function and mood. A well balanced exercise program that - depending on your personal health situation - includes aerobic, strength, and stretching, can be a major plus for creating a positive mindset. It's always a good idea to consult your medical doctor before embarking on an exercise routine.

Engage in Meditation, Energy Psychology Techniques, and Other Relaxation Activities

There are multiple forms of meditation such as Mantra, Mindfulness, Walking Meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Breathe Work, and many others. If you’ve tried one form of meditation such as Mindfulness and it just doesn’t seem to work for you, try a different type of mediation and give it several days. In the alternative, identify what relaxation activities you enjoy and engage in those activities, preferably every day.

I strongly suggest adding Energy Psychology techniques such as tapping and other methods explained and illustrated on the FREA.Support website, specifically have a look at the self-care techniques shared at

Engage Socially

Research tells us people who regularly engage with others socially are typically happier, healthier, and more emotionally resilient. Be careful, however, about who you choose to engage with. Depending on what you see consistently on social media, online activity can do more harm than good.

Select and interact with friends and family members who are positive, uplifting, and kind. Engage in person and by phone / video whenever possible. For many of us, social media interactions tend to be shallow and less than inspiring.

Engage in Hobbies or Other Activities You Enjoy

There is a state of mind called Flow. When you find yourself engaged in actives you love, you can loose all sense of time. You’re immersed and before you know it, an hour or more has gone by and it feels like only minutes. Engaging in activities you love can contribute to a sense of purpose and emotional wellbeing.

These are just a few suggestions for helping to create and sustain emotional wellness and resilience.

Pick Just One to Start

Anytime you introduce new habits into your daily routine, there may be some resistance as a result of unconscious behavior patterns taking over when conscious attention and control get distracted.

To more easily integrate positive changes in mindset and behavior, I suggest beginning with just one of the suggested actions. Incorporate that single action into your daily routine for two to three weeks. Once that action has become habitual, introduce a second action and repeat the process.

Select those actions that call to you, the ones that feel right.

It’s better to apply one or two actions consistently over time than try to implement all seven at once only to feel overwhelmed and then give up on incorporating any resilience building actions.

Recap of 7 Suggested Actions

To recap, the seven suggested actions are:

  • Ask a Key Question About Any Negative Situation: What can I control and what is out of my control about this situation? 

  • Create a Gratitude Journal

  • Get Plenty of Good Quality Sleep

  • Exercise and Move Your Body

  • Engage in Meditation or Other Relaxation Activities

  • Engage Socially, but Avoid People Who Drain Your Energy

  • Engage in Hobbies or Other Activities You Enjoy

Finally, if you would like to hear the companion, “Easy Stress Cures” podcast episode where I expand on the research and specific suggestions offered in this post, click the episode player below to listen.

Sources and Resources:

***Robert M. Hensel; Wikipedia; and additional information in his obituary;


Stephen Carter is a FREA volunteer and CEO of Stress Solutions, LLC, a company dedicated to helping people enhance physical and emotional wellbeing through stress mastery using mind-body methods. He hosts the, "Easy Stress Cures", and "EFT Tapping Junction" podcasts. Steve can be reached at

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