After experiencing periods of significant stress, seize the opportunity to build self-awareness, writes LaRae Quy, who also recommends maintaining a positive attitude and using mild exercise to boost the body’s immune system. “You can choose how to respond in the face of stress to maintain perspective and manage your emotions,” Quy writes.



Major FBI investigations are intense and usually slow-moving because of the case’s complexity. For example, I was among many agents assigned to interview witnesses after the terrorist attack of 9/11; supervisors told us to show up seven days a week and work 12-hour shifts.

Our new schedule didn’t go on for a few weeks — it continued for several months. The stress was so acute that I could feel and smell the tension as soon as I stepped into the Emergency Operations Center. My prolonged work schedule didn’t allow me to explore the de-stressing techniques thrown out by self-help gurus.

Advice such as sticking to regular workouts, adhering to everyday routines, eating healthily and finding humor was shelved as nice to have but useless when you’re in the middle of chaos.

It didn’t take long to discover that most of the people who wrote about how to bounce back after periods of stress and got rich from it were just that — writers. They had never been in the trenches themselves and could offer nothing more than anecdotes and weak platitudes that I could find in a magazine.

We need mental toughness in the face of COVID-19, economic upheaval and adversity.Mental toughness is not something we’re born with; it’s something we can all learn. Are you mentally tough? Take this evidence-based, free Mental Toughness Assessment.

As an FBI agent, I learned that while theories are nice, evidence is better. Neuroscience and psychology can help us understand how our brain and body can hijack us when we’re under pressure, face short deadlines and feel overwhelmed.