There are little-known, highly-effective methods that can transform the automatic stress response.
Practicing these methods daily, you can go way beyond "stress relief" and achieve a (temporary) stress-free state.
In the stress-free state ("The Eye of the Storm"), nothing whatsoever you can remember or imagine can make you feel anxious, angry, sad, depressed, etc.
Returning to this state at least once daily can radically improve the quality of your life.
Stress. Everyone seems to have more than enough these days.
Blogs, YouTube videos, and magazines offer endless advice for stress relief. But most of this is quite superficial like "take up knitting," "pet a cat," and "try yoga." I'm not against knitting, cats, or yoga. But such advice is unhelpful as it fails to provide the step-by-step methods for transforming the stress response at the unconscious level.
I used to be extremely stressed most of the time and now I experience virtually no stress. I achieved this through deliberate practice of specific methods that involve stress prevention or what I call "resilience training." These methods reprogram the stress response so that calm becomes as automatic as stress used to be.
Most people, including many therapists and coaches, have no knowledge of these methods and thus think this is impossible. But subcommunities of hypnotists, neuro-linguistic programmers, and tappers have been practicing them for years, on themselves and with their clients, and getting reliable results. Such methods do not rely on insight, conscious understanding, non-stop mindfulness, extensively rehashing your personal history, or even communicating the details of your life to anyone else.
The Ultimate Goal
At first, practicing these methods helps you get out of bad moods quicker. Then over time, you can achieve a temporarily stress-free state I call "The Eye of the Storm," where nothing whatsoever you can remember or imagine can disturb your tranquility. Training this state on a daily basis creates a baseline of zero stress, making recovery from stressors easy and fast, greatly improving resilience.
This can be done without any loss of empathy, assertiveness, connection, concern about justice, or other negative side-effects. In fact, it allows you to fully cultivate and express positive states such as joy, peace, gratitude, love, creativity, flow, and natural confidence. Those who have achieved something like this do not generally end up egocentric, but experience themselves as quite ordinary.
In this article, I will cover some of the fundamental ideas and techniques involved in becoming The Eye of the Storm, so that you too can develop a very high level of resilience. Practice of such methods should not take most people more than 15-30 minutes a day, although you might enjoy them so much you decide to do more.
The goal is to cultivate the stress-free state independently of external conditions. Like the eye of a tropical storm, you are calm inside even if the outside world is chaotic. Being this way will help you to make the right choices and do the right thing, freed from cognitive distortions that result from "fight-or-flight." In these times we are living in, I believe such practices are essential to individual happiness if not the very survival of our species.
The stress response is the body's automatic reaction to something it interprets as a deadly threat (a "stressor"). Often this is summarized as "fight-or-flight," as it prepares us to physically fight or sprint for our lives. There's also "freeze" where an animal plays dead, hoping the predator ignores them long enough to escape.
This stress response of the autonomic nervous system kept us alive for millions of years. But it evolved to deal with concrete risks to our lives, usually from a predator like a saber-toothed tiger. The stress response is very physical, beating our hearts faster so we can run or fight, releasing a cascade of hormones from epinephrine (adrenaline) to cortisol, and shutting down blood flow to digestion and other "inessential" functions so we can have more blood for running or punching.
Acute vs. Chronic Stress
Until very recently in human history, deadly threats were typically short in duration, leading to "acute stress." But we are smart monkeys. We were able to kill off all our predators.
With our big brains we can think abstractly and plan far into the future. This lead to the development of language, money, civilization, nation-states, and technology. We are very unlikely to be attacked and killed by a shark, tiger, or other predator anymore. Our stress response remains the same however, even in response to imaginary or abstract threats. So now we both experience needless stress, like a car alarm going off without anyone trying to steal it, as well as "chronic stress" where the alarm stays on all day every day.
As scared monkeys living in the world today, there are very few stressors that are useful to punch or sprint from. When a person is anxious about a big upcoming presentation, running screaming out of the room won't help. We can't punch taxes in the face, and playing dead won't make the traffic jam go away. Chronic stress contributes to insomnia, obesity, heart disease, relationship problems, irrational thinking, addiction, mental health problems, and more. It also just plain feels bad.
So it would be great to be able to turn off the stress response when it is not useful. But how do we do that?
Brain as Computer
The stress response is automatic. That means it's not in our conscious control. It's almost as if our brains are computers, programmed to react in certain ways. Many lines of code in a computer program use a "if this, then that" format. When the "if" condition obtains, the "that" happens automatically.
We might imagine a line of code in a human like so:
IF see traffic jam, THEN feel angry.
In response to the cue "see traffic jam" you automatically feel angry. There's little you can do about it.
You can try to not get angry in traffic, but it doesn't help. You might do some slow breathing, or be mindful that you are angry, or reframe your anger as "caring about being on time," but you still feel angry. Even if you resolve to not let it bother you, next time you are just as angry, automatically.
In order to turn off the stress response, we need methods that can work at the automatic, unconscious level. We need to change the code, to reprogram our nervous systems, so that we automatically feel calm instead in response to the same cue. But how?
Pavlov's Drooling Dogs
I've met people with Master's Degrees and PhD's in Psychology who don't believe it is possible to deliberately reprogram automatic responses like anger or anxiety, and certainly not in a reliable fashion. But in Psychology 101 they, like me, learned about Ivan Pavlov.
Pavlov trained dogs to drool on command so he could study digestion. He did so in a very precise and reliable way. Importantly, he didn't do it by teaching the dogs mindfulness, asking the dogs about their childhoods, or challenging their irrational thoughts. His approach was much simpler: he created an association between an arbitrary cue and what he wanted to happen.
Drooling is an automatic response to food, so in order to get dogs to drool on command, this is what he did: Pavlov rang a bell, presented a dog with food, and then the dog ate the food. Then he repeated this process over and over. After a number of repetitions, all he had to do was ring the bell and the dog started drooling. He installed a single line of code into the brains of the dog:
IF hear bell, THEN drool.
So Pavlov was a doggy programmer, a doggrammer if you will. Unfortunately his method was not called doggramming but the more boring "classical conditioning." The drooling is known as a "conditioned response," but more accurately Pavlov called it a "conditional response." The if-then statement in logic is also called a conditional, for the "then" happens in response to a certain condition ("if").
The problem with Psych 101 however is we learned about classical conditioning, but we never actually did any. We never doggrammed any dogs to drool, nor any humans to feel happier and less stressed.
Imagine taking a math class and never actually doing any math, just reading about the history of math and the people who once upon a time did math. That's most Psychology classes in college. So people can graduate with advanced degrees in Psychology and never actually do any psychology. I took 5 Psych classes as an undergrad and did exactly one experiment in my experimental design class. I learned a lot about p-values and regression analysis, but never once programmed myself or anyone else. In my perfect world, Psych 101 would involve many homework assignments where you program yourself and others to feel great on command, and reprogram unhelpful states in yourself and others too.
Interestingly, Pavlov used a number of cues, not just auditory ones like bells but also visual cues and even painful electric shocks (terrible!). He was actually doing doggramming, not just talking about it or thinking about it. We can do this too, programming ourselves to respond in the ways that are actually useful for us.
And in fact there is a field of weirdos like me who do this for a living. We call it "neuro-linguistic programming" or simply "hypnosis."
Post-Hypnotic Re-Induction Training
For many years, hypnotists have been training people to automatically go into a deeply relaxed state known as "trance." Typically this is done by entertainment hypnotists who do performances in front of audiences, getting people to do silly things in front of their friends. When performing as a stage hypnotist, it is too boring to do a 20-minute progressive relaxation induction, so many stage hypnotists have adopted rapid or instant inductions, along with something called post-hypnotic suggestions.
A post-hypnotic suggestion is a suggestion to do something, after the hypnosis is over. One of the most common is a suggestion to go back into trance instantly. So for instance a stage hypnotist, after inducing trance the first time, might say, "and in a moment I'll bring you out of trance, and when I point at you and say the word 'sleep,' you'll close your eyes and automatically go back into a deep trance."
This kind of training is not just for entertainment purposes but can be useful for therapeutic hypnosis too, and even just for relaxation. A hypnotist in the UK named Graham Old has perhaps the best book on the subject, called Revisiting Hypnosis. He calls it Post-Hypnotic Re-Induction Training (PHRIT).
Here's how he does it: first the hypnotist guides the person into a relaxed state, and then instructs them to practice going out of the relaxed state and back into it. Rather than pointing and saying "sleep," PHRIT puts the control into the hands of the individual by having them do a short ritual before putting themselves back into a relaxed state. With Graham's method, I've successfully trained myself and many clients to go into trance in under 60 seconds.
Relaxation on Command
There are two keys to training relaxation on command. The first key is that you do a simple, unique ritual (the cue), then immediately go back into the relaxed trance state. Graham's ritual is to take four deep breaths, on the 4th exhale close your eyes, and then say the word "relax" inside your mind. But as Graham points out in his book, you could use any unique ritual. Going back into the relaxed state immediately after doing the ritual links up the cue with the relaxation. If this, then that.
The second key is that each time you go back in, you suggest it becomes gradually easier and more automatic to return to the relaxed state. This happens anyway due to repetition, just as Pavlov's dogs learned to drool on command. But suggesting it becomes more automatic also smooths things along.
Ultimately what you are programming yourself to do is this:
IF [ritual], THEN feel relaxed.
The goal is to make it automatic, just as automatic as a person might get angry when seeing traffic. The repetition and gradual progression from deliberate to automatic found in PHRIT help tremendously to make it feel like it's just happening.
When I was first taught this basic process, called "anchoring" in neuro-linguistic programming, I could get the desired state back, but it felt deliberate, like I had to use willpower. That's probably because how anchoring is typically taught is that it ought to work in just one repetition. By training it in Graham Old's style, I found I could finally make it feel automatic, just as automatic as any other feeling I experience, usually in just 5-10 repetitions!
Training Any Feeling on Command
PHRIT is a very basic and very useful format for training any desired state, not only relaxation. Call it classical conditioning, hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming, or whatever else you want, but it works and quite quickly. I use this as my main trance induction with hypnosis clients, and it is very effective. By the second session, my clients can go into deep trance in under 30-60 seconds, just by using that simple ritual. Total training time is about 15 minutes.
With Graham's permission, I created a guided audio for this purpose I call Rapid Relaxation Training which is included in my Free Resilience 101 7-day email course. (I renamed it to remove the hypnosis jargon for the non-hypnotist, but it is the very same process.)
Any state you can get yourself into, you can program to get on command. For instance you can use your memory to vividly remember the details of being in a situation where you felt joy, confidence, being loved, peace, feeling motivated, or anything else you've ever felt including feeling drunk or high (another classic stage hypnosis bit). In hypnosis this is called "revivification" and is a very basic hypnosis skill.
Or you can use your imagination to imagine what it would be like. One of my favorite versions of that is to imagine you have a time machine and you can go into the future and meet your future self who already has this state available to them. First watch them from the outside and see how they move, breathe, speak, and so on. Then step into the scene and become that person and feel how it feels to be them.
Then simply create a unique cue such as pressing two fingers together, or saying a word or phrase silently to yourself, or picturing something in your mind. And finally link up the cue with the state by doing the cue and then bringing yourself back into the state, each time doing it faster and suggesting to yourself that it is becoming more automatic, repeating it 5-10 times until you automatically enter your desired state upon being exposed to the cue.
I think everyone could benefit from having 5-10+ positive resource states on command like relaxation, joy, motivation, confidence, gratitude, compassion, and so on. It only takes 15-30 minutes to create a semi-permanent "anchor" like this, and having half a dozen positive states on command would radically change most people's lives.
Once you have a few such states available, you can then do interesting things like go from one to the other quickly, compare states to each other, create "blended" states like "calm confidence," increase the intensity of the states with an imaginary volume knob, or even see how long you can maintain a positive state. Can you feel joy for a full hour? Or how about 2 minutes of happiness 5 times in one day? How would having that kind of "emotional choice" (as the great hypnotist Michael Watson puts it) make a difference in your life?
You can also then link up positive states to neutral cues in the environment. So instead of pressing your fingers together or saying a phrase to yourself, you can feel calm whenever you see a stop sign, or feel happy whenever someone says your name. Pavlov did this too. Once he installed an "IF hear bell, THEN drool" command, he linked up the drooling to a second cue simply by associating the bell with it. This is also how a specific fear becomes "generalized anxiety," by being in an anxious state and then linking up other things to that state.
Re-Programming Unwanted States
Relaxation on command is good to train for relieving stress. Joy and other positive resources are also good to have on hand. But it's also not enough if you want to be stress-free. Natural cues in our environment set off the stress response automatically throughout the day and throughout our lives.
So now that we have a reliable method of creating positive states on command, how do we re-program unwanted or unresourceful states?
In classical conditioning what you'd do is called "extinction." If you doggrammed a pup to drool at the sound of a bell and wanted to have the good boy go back to not drooling at bells, you'd simply ring a bell over and over and never follow it up with food. Eventually the dog would figure out that the bell no longer is the dinner bell. The sound of the bell once was meaningful, but now is an empty signifier. It has been rendered meaningless.
Basically you are programming in...
If hear bell, then [null].
This is why you should make your cues for your positive resource states unique. Otherwise you might accidentally extinguish them. You should also use them frequently, like once a day, if you want to keep these positive states available forever.
Extinction requires you are extremely consistent. You can't ring the bell and once in a while present food. That will actually strengthen the if-then linkage through something called "intermittent reinforcement." A bell goes off and it might mean food, so better be ready! This an example of how our brains aren't exactly computers.
People sometimes deliberately use intermittent reinforcement to create bad habits in other people. Gambling machines use intermittent reinforcement by once in a while having a bigger payout, all the while making sure the odds favor the house. Social media does this by having the news feed sometimes have something really cool to share with your friends. And narcissists in relationships use intermittent reinforcement by sometimes being very nice and sweet.
Intermittent reinforcement can even occur after extinction. If you wanted to train the same pupper to drool again at the sound of a bell, the training process would take much less time after extinction than the first time you doggrammed it. Like riding a bike, bell drooling would come right back. This is why ex-addicts often say things like "once an addict, always an addict," even after years of not using their drug of choice. This is also why you probably shouldn't get back with your ex. Those pruned neural pathways can grow back quite quickly. They can even happen without additional training, called "spontaneous recovery."
This becomes a problem when the unwanted state is triggered by an environmental cue, or even a random thought. We cannot get extinction if we can't control the cue. So how do we effectively reprogram unwanted states?
Basic Reprogramming Format
The basic format for doing so is quite simple. In NLP this is sometimes called "The Meta Pattern" and applies to many but not all reprogramming techniques.
First we'll bring up the cue in imagination or memory in order to get a little of the unpleasant feeling going. Then we'll do something to transform the feeling, applying one of many techniques. Finally, we'll take the transformed feeling, for instance "calm," and link it up to the original cue(s) by remembering or imagining it again, over and over until it's automatic, just like we are programming a positive resource state...because we are!
This basic format is faster and more reliable than "exposure therapy." Instead of extinction, we are going for reprogramming. Ideally the feeling doesn't occur ever again in response to that cue, period. In reality it may take a little training still, but much less than standard exposure which can take 10-20+ hours of training for a single cue. Doing it this way sometimes takes as little as a few minutes.
So the goal is to go from...
IF [cue], THEN feel [negative state].
If [same cue], THEN feel [positive state].
Going back to the traffic example, all you have to do is vividly imagine being back in traffic again, and you'll start to feel angry. Maybe you won't feel quite as angry as if you were really there, but it will be sufficient.
After doing some technique (we'll get to what specifically in a moment), you think about being in traffic and you feel calm, or maybe even empathetic with everyone else who is also stuck in traffic, just like you. You think about past traffic jams and imagined ones and all of them now feel calm. You're not trying to feel calm through gritted teeth, you actually, automatically feel calm.
After the reprogramming is complete in imagination, you can then test it out in reality, in this case by actually driving in traffic. Does it still hold up, or is there more reprogramming to do?
Now we'll discuss two simple methods for transforming negative states. There are many more, but we'll start with two that are especially beginner-friendly.
Integrating or Collapsing Anchors
There are many ways to transform an unhelpful or unwanted feeling. One involves the use of a positive resource state you already have on command, such as joy. In NLP this is called "collapsing anchors," or as I prefer, "integrating anchors." An "anchor" in neuro-linguistic programming is simply a special kind of if-then command:
If [cue], then feel [state].
Internal vs. External Cues
The cue can be internal or external. You hear a song that brings back memories of a first love. Smell is often a very potent cue, like the smell of something at your grandparent's house. Standing in front an audience who are all looking at you and waiting for you to speak is a potent cue for anxiety in many people.
Those are all external cues. But a cue can also be an automatic thought, something you say to yourself or picture in your mind, or even some physical sensation like pain or sleepiness. That's why it's possible to sit and try to meditate, or lie in bed and try to sleep, and have all sorts of negative feelings come up.
Cue vs. Context
The goal of re-programming for transforming stress will be to neutralize the lines of code that we no longer want. Let's return to our original example:
IF see traffic jam, THEN feel angry.
A cue always occurs in a context. A context is the where, when, and with whom. A cue is the sensory-specific thing that let's you know it's time to feel something, think something, or do something. A context is the environment in which that cue happens.
In this case the cue is seeing the traffic jam. The context might be driving on the interstate, in morning rush hour, by myself.
For reprogramming purposes, it helps to know the exact cue, such as the tone of voice your partner uses that makes you angry, or seeing the people in front of you that makes you anxious. But if you don't know the exact cue, usually just putting yourself back into the context in imagination will be sufficient because it will include the environmental cue. The key is to be very concrete -- this is not the time for abstract thinking, philosophizing, or asking "why?" Just the facts, ma'am.
Creating a Variable
To do integrating anchors, first create a temporary cue for the context that brings up the negative feelings. In computer programming, we would call this a variable, a temporary storage location for the information we want. In this case, the variable will "hold" the thought about the negative context.
Note we are not trying to anchor the negative feeling itself, but the context which generates the feeling. That's because the goal is to have the context link to a positive state rather than a negative state.
A very simple variable is to make a fist with your left hand, thus temporarily programming this:
IF make fist, THEN think [about context].
var leftFist = "thought about the context"
But for our purposes, we'll treat it like an if-then statement.
Squeezing the fist causes thinking about the context, which itself automatically triggers a second line of pre-programmed code:
IF think [context], THEN feel [negative state.]
That's the line of code we are actually trying to change, so that the THEN part is a positive or neutral state.
Test that this line of code is already installed in your nervous system by imagining being back in the context. Do you automatically feel the state? When you imagine it, do so from first-person perspective, as if it's happening now. That's what we call Self Position. Observer Position is when you see yourself over there, as on a video of yourself on a TV screen, or as if you are a fly on the wall. We tend to feel our feelings more in Self Position.
Next, to create your variable, simply think about the negative context, then squeeze your left fist to "hold" the context there. Since you aren't trying to make a permanent anchor, repeating once or twice should be sufficient. You will know because you squeeze your left fist and you instantly remember the context and feel the undesired state.
It's important that after each time, you leave the context and negative feeling and come into a more neutral state. In NLP we say "break state." Often this is done through distraction, such as asking someone, "what is your phone number backwards?" or shaking your body for a moment.
If you don't have a permanent positive anchor to use, you can also create a variable for the positive resource state, such as squeezing your right fist when you think about a happy memory. This is how integrating anchors is classically taught in NLP, for instance in Michael Ellner and Alan Barsky's "Emotional Detox." But I find it works just fine to use a more permanent anchor you already have instead a new variable.
(Note that The Ellner/Barsky Emotional Detox uses the right hand for the problem state and the left hand for the resource state. I reverse them because the left hand already has many cultural associations with negative things. Apologies to any left-handed readers.)
Integrating the Anchors
Finally to integrate the anchors and reprogram the "IF think about context THEN feel bad" code, do this:
First bring up your good feelings from your resource anchor (e.g. joy) and continue to hold onto those good feelings as you also make the fist with your left hand. (This works best if your resource anchor is based on a touch or behavior cue, like touching two fingers together, or another variable like squeezing your right hand.)
Then hold both anchors at the same time for 1-2 minutes as you think about the context and allow your feelings to settle. This may feel quite weird, perhaps alternating between the good feeling and the bad one before finally feeling neutral.
Break state for a few seconds, then again use your positive state anchor and again hold it as you squeeze the fist. This time will be far easier. Repeat 2-3 more times and then finally break state and squeeze the fist and think about the situation now, without the positive anchor. It will feel totally different now. You won't be able to get the feeling back at all when you imagine being in that context. You might very well instead feel the positive state, or it may just feel neutral.
Generalizing (Find and Replace)
To take it further, think of any other examples of this kind of context, either in memory or imagination. Think of as many examples as you can. If any examples bring the feeling back, repeat the integrating anchors process to reprogram them. Doing this will help generalize the reprogramming, so you don't have to reprogram dozens of cues individually but can do them all at once. It's like "find and replace" on the computer, saving you tons of time in the long run.
If you already have positive resource states programmed in, and have some familiarity with the steps, this whole process can take as little as 5-10 minutes, and can completely reprogram a certain context. A person can for instance go from having road rage in traffic to never again getting angry while driving after doing this just once or twice.
But why only use it once in a while? You can easily practice this every day. Simply pick something to work with today, and go through the whole process until it's complete. Then tomorrow pick something else, and keep working daily on reprogramming yourself to be stress-free. After several months of this, you may be on your way to becoming The Eye of the Storm.
Tapping Away Stress
In my free Resilience 101 Training, I mention a different way to reprogram and resolve stress that is even more beginner-friendly than integrating anchors. It simply involves tapping on the face and body in a specific pattern. Hypnotists love tapping because it is very easy to teach to new clients, and it is so generally useful.
The basic structure is to think about a context which brings up a feeling, then tap in a specific sequence for about 2 minutes, then again think about the context. If the feeling is completely resolved, you then go onto the step of thinking about other examples to generalize ("find and replace"). If not, you do one or more rounds of tapping until calm.
There are a number of different tapping methods, but the one I like best for its simplicity is The Trauma Tapping Technique. The full instructions can be found on the self help for trauma site. It seems too silly to work, but it has been field tested with people with severe PTSD after surviving the Rwandan genocide. So it will probably work for you too.
It not only works for traumatic memories however, it can also work for anticipatory anxiety, such as an upcoming speech, or for anger in the moment, or for grief or sadness and many other stressful emotions. But it's best not simply as a stress "relief" tool but as a stress "prevention" tool, using it daily for a while and trying to generalize it to all instances of the same context. Don't wait passively for stress to come to you, proactively transform it before it becomes a problem.
Transforming a Specific Feeling
For instance, if you suffer from a lot of anxiety, try this: every morning, sit down and try to make yourself anxious. If you can get some anxious feeling going, notice what you have to think about to get yourself anxious, and whether you are remembering or imagining something, whether you are talking to yourself or picturing something in your mind. Then do the tapping until you think about the same thing and are calm.
Try to get the anxiety back. Try as hard as you can! Maybe you can get it back but only by thinking about something new, in which case repeat the process. If you have time, keep going until you have nothing whatsoever you can think about that makes you feel anxious. This might take a while at first, maybe 45 minutes or an hour, maybe even 90 minutes or more. But it's worth it, because what an experience! You are, at least for the moment, completely free from anxiety. You are fearless. And yet this is just the beginning.
Becoming The Eye of the Storm
After several weeks of this practice, you might sit down one day and not be able to get yourself anxious at all. Or maybe you clear out all anxiety in just a couple minutes. Now you can try bringing up anything that can make you feel angry, irritated, annoyed, or frustrated and repeat the process. After several weeks of getting to zero anxiety and zero anger, go for sadness, depression, regret, or some other negative feeling.
Later, after months or years of practicing this, you'll sit there trying to rack your brain for anything -- any memory or imagined scenario whatsoever -- that could make you feel any stress at all. Nothing will upset you. This is what I call The Eye of the Storm, a state of complete freedom where you are avoiding nothing and yet still stress-free. Remarkably, it doesn't feel like anything special, especially as it becomes your new "normal." It's not an altered state or a temporary "high," just an ongoing sense of OKness or well-being.
Now you can do powerful loving-kindness meditation, rest in the present moment as Awareness, or bring up your positive resource states without any interference from stressful thoughts or feelings. You now have an unshakeable joy. Or at least you can recover very quickly from anything that might jostle it, especially if you continue to practice daily. And you can go out in the world and do things that challenge you, like learn public speaking, start that business you've been dreaming about, or raise awareness about climate change and wealth inequality, all without losing your center.
For this general practice, you can use integrating anchors, tapping, or many other methods. I used a variety of things but especially Core Transformation, which is much more involved and takes more time, but also conveys more benefits. Other great choices are The Wholeness Work, Eye Movement Integration, or my Rapid Centering Technique. There are dozens more too.
The key is that you find something that works for you and you use it, proactively, to seek out stress and reprogram it before it becomes a problem. Waiting to deal with stress until you have a nervous breakdown is like waiting to change your oil until your car breaks down. Best to do a little every day.
I used to do 1-2 hours a day, but I was also a hot mess. Most people don't need as much resilience training as I did. Now I do just 15-30 minutes or so a day of this, and it is more than enough. My goal is to reach The Eye of the Storm every single day for the rest of my life.
This is how I became resilient. I wasn't born this way, quite the opposite! You can learn more about my story in my free Resilience 101 Training.