Increasing Resilience in the Four Domains

Mind_Body_Emotion_Spirit Three weeks ago, I taught a class on stress management and resilience to a group of 26 Senior Service College Fellows (GS-14 and GS-15 Army civilians) who recently began a very intensive and demanding 10-month training program to prepare them for future senior leadership roles. This class is based on the effects of stress on our four domains: mind, body, emotion and spirit, as well as resilience techniques for each of these domains.

Effects of Stress in the 4 Domains:

  • Mind – When we experience stress, it is because of what we are telling ourselves about the situation that we perceive as stressful. (“I’m not going to be able to get all of this done on time, I’m letting my team down, I’m not going to get that promotion, etc.”)
  • Emotion – When we say these things to ourselves, it increases our stress level and we experience heightened anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, etc.
  • Physical – These intense emotions are experienced physically in the form of headaches, stomach aches, sleeplessness, and possibly illness and even severe disease (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.).
  • Spirit – Spirit is what gives meaning to our lives. We are not at our best when we are under chronic stress or distress. We lose our sense of purpose and act out of fear and protection rather than from a place of confidence and power. This can also impact our other three domains, as they are all interconnected.

Resilience Techniques in the 4 Domains:

  • Mind – Be mindful of what you say to yourself. Is it increasing your stress level or decreasing it? Is it really true? Is there another possibility? What’s another alternative?
  • Emotion – Work to increase your emotional awareness and regulation. When you find yourself feeling stressed, fearful, anxious, or angry, focus on something that you are grateful for that makes you feel good (child, loved one, pet, etc.). Feel this sense of gratitude and love as intensely as you can while breathing deeply. This positive emotional shift will lower your heart rate and decrease the negative effects of stress.
  • Physical – Take care of your body by eating healthy, exercising regularly, and most importantly getting enough sleep. We are more resilient and better equipped to handle stress when we are in better physical shape.
  • Spirit – Nourish your spirit by engaging in activities that you enjoy such as taking a walk in nature, playing a musical instrument, painting, etc. You can also try yoga, meditation and other mindfulness activities where you simply focus on the activity that you are engaging in and are just present in the moment. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, mindfulness helps in coping with depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. It decreases blood pressure, hypertension, and stress levels, and increases energy, immune system, happiness, well-being and enjoyment.

My next couple of newsletters will go into more detail about what you can do to reduce stress and increase resiliency in each of these four domains.

If you would like more information about my Conquer Stress training course, please send an email to

Mindfulness improves social relationships, resiliency and task performance and is associated with learning, memory, emotional processing and regulation, perspective taking, self-regulation, and attention. – The Center for Creative Leadership

“Resilience is the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity”HBR – What Resilience Means, and Why it Matters

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