Resilience Pill #1

The Resilience Pill and Stress Tolerance

cognitive reappraisal emotional intelligence - stress tolerence emotional intelligence leader reframing resilience self-leadership Jun 03, 2022

Much of my work with clients involves developing emotional well-being and resilience. Many of my clients have needed to shore up their resilience and ability to thrive in work and life in the past few years. I include myself in that club.

Our focus on COVID-19 has been all consuming and while the world has been focused on vaccines, there have been incredible breakthroughs and advances in medical science1. These include advances that improve our personal and collective well-being and help us to thrive:

  1. Portable MRI machines. Smaller than a refrigerator. Financially and physically more accessible for health-care resources. The ability to “essentially democratize brain imaging”
  2. Cancer treatments. Radiation that is driven “directly into a cancer cell while sparing healthy tissue around it.” Many of us who have received radiation therapy can attest to the discomfort of the short term and lifelong side effects on surrounding healthy tissue. The stand-out key benefits: postponing death and improving patients’ lives.
  3. Sickle cell gene-editing treatment. A safe and effective alternative to bone marrow transplant.
  4. Childbirth and postpartum hemorrhage treatment. Saving mothers’ lives and allowing new moms to experience the physical and emotional pleasures of bonding with their child. Good for mom and baby and the start of a new life.
  5. Natural ACL. A better solution to surgery to repair the tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. Removing the risk of surgery and ongoing pain.
  6. Breakthrough in obesity medication. Wegovy is significantly more powerful than predecessors affecting 1.5 to 2 times the amount of weight loss compared to other medications. This new advance facilitates the education of primary care providers and their consideration of evidence-based obesity care that includes medication.
  7. The “first” Alzheimer blood test. Accurately detects the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of the disease. Reducing cost and complexity of PET scans and spinal taps, reducing misdiagnosis, and making a positive impact.
  8. Groundbreaking PTSD treatment. Controlled and therapeutic use of MDMA (Ecstasy) along with talk therapy has resulted in “amazing transformation” after 2 months of treatment for patients with severe PTSD.

These significant advances in medical science – particularly those in neuroscience - beg the question, “Is a resilience pill next?”

Imagine a Simple Pill - The Impact

Imagine a simple pill, like a daily vitamin, that can increase our resilience. No more struggle with setbacks from uncertainty, mistakes, or failure. Stress would be something we could choose or tolerate for its positive impact - what, when, where, how, and why - the epitome of “stress control”.

We know that some stress—eustress—is good for us. According to an article published by The American Institute of Stress, eustress is the experience of a challenging event2. Stress is a mindset that accompanies a challenge and stress helps us develop resilience. We know, all too well, that too much stress (intense and unrelenting) can be debilitating. 

Typically, we do become more resilient through challenging events, aka, “life struggles”. We adapt and grow. Neuroscience reveals that some of us are fortunate to be born with a bit more resilience that kicks in at the beginning of life and is sustainable throughout life. (Consider the long term impact of the birth and bonding experience described in #4 above.) For those of us who are less fortunate, a pill might just level the playing field.

Would our lives be more manageable with a pill that helped with stress tolerance? Would we feel more capable and confident in utilizing stress for positive outcomes? I believe we would at least have some emotional space and optimism as we navigate stressful events.

The Study of the Resilience Pill

I continue to “dig” into scientific publications on resilience and stress because my clients inevitably experience stressful events that threaten derailment in their business, their work, and during particular phases of their lives: Thriving After Cancer and Thriving After Sixty – Plus.

Mount Sinai Health Systems is a leader in resilience research and the study of the resilience pill3. According to their research, the most resilient people have the ability to defend, bounce back, and find ways to create “a sense of safety, control, and social connection.”

When examining seemingly adaptive behaviour, the researchers were surprised to find that genetics and neurochemistry played a role. They found differences in the molecular biology of resilient brains (as compared to less resilient). When stressed, specific genes in the nervous system become more active. In the more resilient brain, the genes are more regulated.

This has led to pilot clinical trials with specific epilepsy and/or anti-depressant drugs to boost resilience at the cellular level. At this early stage, it is too early to predict the outcome.

Reading this research led me to review my family tree for the connection between genes and stressful life events such as war, social change, and community health conditions.

In the meantime, we will need to recognize our current stressors and develop and cultivate our resilience in the more traditional ways. Coaching that is based on emotional intelligence is a good start.

Are you ready to work with a qualified coach to help you develop skills, techniques, and strategies that work best for you. Start with your 90-Day EQ Mini-Plan

Would you like to explore the connections I make with this topic and emotional intelligence? You can reach me on LinkedIn. Or click to Get in Touch


  1. 8 Medical Advances You May Have Missed During COVID-19, AAMC, Stacy Weiner, Senior Staff Writer, November 17, 2021
  2. The Good Stress: How Eustress Helps You Grow, The American Institute of Stress, April 23, 2021. Originally on Talkspace. Written by Jamie Wiebe, October 5, 2019
  3. Can a Pill that Boosts “Resilience” Treat Depression? – Scientific American, Gary Stix, April 11, 2018

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