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You can see people’s behavior, performance and results, but what’s going on below the surface? According to physician and neuroscientist Alan Watkins, thoughts influence behavior, feelings influence thoughts, emotions influence feelings and physiology influences emotions. To succeed at the top levels, you must master the levels below. Luckily, Watkins has some immediately applicable tips on how to regulate your physiology and shift your emotional state – just in time to combat those COVID-19 blues.


Mental health is rooted in physiological and emotional regulation. 

Many people use the term mental health incorrectly, because most of the problems that fall under the mental health label – such as anxiety or depression – occur in people who have perfectly normal cognition. Their problems aren’t mental. They stem from an inability to regulate emotions. Most children learn some degree of emotional regulation around age three to four, but development often stops there.

“Emotional well-being” would be a better term for what people commonly refer to as mental health. To regulate emotional well-being, individuals must learn to control their physiology first, which, in turn, will help them manage emotions, feelings, thoughts and behavior.

Many people don’t differentiate between thinking, feelings, emotions and physiology. Instead, they label all of these invisible forces as “thinking,” and try to address emotional well-being using cognitive behavioral therapy or other cognitive methods.

Rhythmic breathing helps improve your emotional well-being.

To improve your emotional well-being...

About the Speakers

Physician and neuroscientist Alan Watkins is the CEO and founder of Complete Coherence, a professional training and leadership coaching company. Host Katie Ledger is a former journalist for the BBC. She now coaches leaders and speakers at Complete Coherence.

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