3 Way to Build Emotional Resilience at Work

guest post by Neelu Kaur

Have you been feeling emotionally and mentally drained at work?  Perhaps it’s due to something a co-worker said that rattled you to your core, or you received bad news from your manager about your year-end performance review. Whether you are an individual contributor or leading a team, emotional resilience is key to performing well at work. But how do you tap into it?

As a corporate trainer, leadership and NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) coach, and wellness expert, I fuse concepts of Ayurveda, yoga, and mindfulness into all aspects of my daily life.  Professionally, I work with individuals in organizations like Facebook, Google, Capco, E&Y, and Deloitte, to be more productive, peaceful and purposeful by infusing leadership development with wellness. Through these experiences and my own journey as a corporate employee, I have created three best practices that help build emotional resilience both personally and professionally.


Throughout my deep journey into Ayurveda, I have been obsessed with the concept of ojas. Ojas is a Sanskrit word that can be defined in many ways. In the context of physical health, it means vitality or resilience, which stems from the ultimate energy reserve of the body and mind. Produced from the plants and other vital essences we consume — ojas is sometimes also described as the body’s natural honey. The more ojas we have, the more satisfied we are with life, and the better we are at shielding ourselves from the negative energy of others.

As a corporate burnout survivor, I can say without a doubt my ojas was depleted due to the negativity of the team and organizational dynamics. The organization culture weighed so heavily that I felt emotionally and mentally drained, negatively affecting me both professionally and personally. I woke up feeling a heavy weight on my shoulders, questioning my purpose, which impacted my energy level. My stress levels impacted my chronic Urticaria. I would end up covered in hives so frequently that I had to take so much time off on sick leave.  

As you might suspect, many organizations are chronically low in ojas. The good news is that ojas can be revived, unlocking the door for maximum enhanced daily performance.


Recognize Your Emotional Home

Out of the five core emotions: happy, sad, angry, scared, ashamed, we all have an emotion that is most familiar to us and we tend to live in that place when triggered. For me, my emotional home is sadness. Before I can make sense of the trigger, the first emotion I feel is sadness, because it is the most familiar. Even if anger is the appropriate response, I feel sadness before I can get to the emotion of anger. The key to building resilience is to know your emotional home. Ask yourself, in a stressful situation, what is your first familiar go-to emotion?

Change your Physiological State

In NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) to break a stuck state (a way of being that is not resourceful to you), the first thing to do is to change your physiological state. Often referred to as the NLP Shake – where you literally shake everything out. Change your body, move! Because motion changes emotion and once you move your body, your emotional state shifts. Take a walk, practice calming/invigorating (depending on the situation), pranayama (breath control).

Let’s revisit your manager sitting across from you delivering bad news. If your emotional home is anger before you say something you will regret, be aware that you are returning to your emotional home, hit reset by getting up and ask to be excused. Take a moment to yourself by walking to the restroom or cafe. The act of walking will break the emotional pattern of anger. Take a few deep breaths and then proceed with the conversation. You’ll notice by moving and returning, you will proceed with more caution than if you sat stationary without moving. In that moment when we are triggered, our amygdala is hijacked. The amygdala is the part of our brain that is responsible for fight, flight or freeze. When we are triggered by difficult feedback or a difficult conversation, all of the blood leaves our brain and goes to our extremities to fight or flight. In those moments when the blood is no longer in our brain, we can act irrationally. We can say or do things that we might regret.

This may be the time you have a knee jerk reaction and say something completely inappropriate.

Do you know how long it takes the blood to return to the brain? Take a wild guess???

It’s actually six seconds. In six seconds, if you can avoid reacting, the blood will return to your brain and you will be able to respond rationally. What can you do for those six seconds?? Yes…it all comes back to the breath. Take some deep long abdominal breaths and give yourself the gift of six seconds to be silent.

Understand Your Desired Outcome

Once your emotional state is altered, ask yourself, ‘What is my desired outcome from this interaction?’ If your manager is delivering news about your bonus/lack thereof, what would be the desired outcome? It likely isn’t a decision that your manager made on his/her own, so there is no point trying to negotiate or prove why you should get the bonus. What would be a more resourceful outcome? Perhaps it’s to gain more clarity on the reasons why you didn’t receive your bonus and then figure out next steps. Once you are clear about your desired outcome, you are likely to steer the conversation in a more resourceful direction.

Thinking of ojas as a container that holds abundant resourceful energy, it’s important to have daily practices that help create and sustain this subtle energy. Ayurveda gives us so many tools to restore ojas. Ojas can be restored through the five senses and we have only touched the surface. I invite you to notice the internal strategies you use to restore your ojas.


Neelu Kaur is a Leadership Coach, a Corporate Trainer,  a Yoga Instructor and Ayurveda Wellness Counselor. She holds a BS from NYU Stern School of Business, an MA in Social & Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, and is a certified NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Coach and Master Practitioner from the NLP Center of New York.

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