Emotional resilience: how to combat stress

Stress affects everyone. Even if not you personally, then someone close to you. 74% of adults in the UK said they felt so stressed at some point in 2018 that they became unable to cope. 15.4 million working days were lost that year as a result of it. Over half of all working days lost due to ill health are because of stress, work related anxiety, and depression.

Dr Derek Mowbray, an Organisational Health Psychologist and chartered Psychologist, spoke to Alison Hinde (CEO Proactively, Chair IOSH Swiss Network) about how individuals can build emotional resilience, to help target stress.  To listen to the full presentation, click on the link at the bottom of this post. 


Derek describes thee steps that you go through before you reach Stress. Pressure, the first stage, is important; it acts as a stimulant and makes you more productive, but when it gets too much you descend into Tension. Strain is the third level, and is when performance begins to become impaired. Stress can lead to serious health problems, including but not limited to headaches, skin conditions, high blood pressure and heart problems, and sleep deprivation. It isn’t invincible, though. You can avoid it by strengthening your personal resilience.

Personal Resilience is defined by Dr Derek Mowbray as “Making a conscious effort to overcome extremely stressful situations without experiencing any stress.” Here is a list of the ways he gives for becoming more resilient:

  • Talking positively to yourself out loud:  Even just telling yourself that ‘today is going to be a good day’ when you wake up in the morning can make it come true.
  • Imagining what the day will be like so that you know what to expect : Don’t worry if you get it wrong; none of us can tell the future. This just makes you feel better about going off into the unknown.
  • Writing things down You may have the most amazing memory in the world, but writing stuff down means you only need to remember where you put it. Losing sticky notes is all very bad, but you write it on your phone in a place where it will never, ever get lost. It will find you… and it will remind you.
  • Triple loop learning, which is going over things three times so that they sink in.

            Similar to writing things down, we don’t remember much the first time we hear something

  • Working in small chunks with breaks in between: This means that your brain can look forwards to having a break but you are still under enough pressure to get things done.


Resilient people know themselves, are determined, have a vision for the future, are self confident, organised, enjoy and are good at solving problems, can interact with others and nurture strong, mutually beneficial relationships.

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