Learn ways to cultivate your mental strength so that you can cope with stress better
Job stress poses a huge mental health challenge to the 21st century workforce. According to a recent survey by The Regus Group, as many as 60% of workers worldwide experience stress, with the number reaching as high as 86% in China! These figures do not even take into account the COVID-19 pandemic, which has unequivocally triggered or aggravated tensions in the workplace.
If left untreated, stress can lead to increased levels of anxiety and burnout, which in turn will translate to chronic absences, low productivity, and low morale.
While you may not be able to eliminate the daily pressures that come with holding down a job, you can respond to the stressors better by becoming more mentally resilient. Mental resilience is defined as the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or return to pre-crisis status quickly.
“Resilience is not tenacity,” clarifies Cat Trivino, Chief Marketing Office of MindNation. “More importantly, resilience is not about bouncing back and going back to our normal selves. It is about moving forward and becoming better versions of who we are.”
Resilience can make you more motivated, better equipped to cope with setbacks, and become less susceptible to burnout.
Here are some ways you can build better mental resilience at work:
- Try to establish good work-life balance. Self-care is an essential strategy for building resilience and helps to keep the mind and body healthy enough to deal with difficult situations as they arise. So pay attention to their own needs and feelings, and to engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Examples include:
- “Listening to what your body needs, whether that’s extra time to breathe or a little stretch in the mornings,” advises Cat.
- Making time for fun and relaxation outside of work. If physical distancing is an issue, remember to at least get some sunlight periodically instead of staying cooped up in the home office all day. “If you can, and only if it’s safe, open the window and bring in that vitamin D,” Cat adds.
- Meditating. “No need to stress if you don’t do it right the first few times,” Cat assures. “The simple act of breathing, grounding, and of being aware of their surroundings can make them less anxious and bring them back to what they need to address.”
2. Maintain connections. Having friendships outside of work can provide you with a safe space to express pent-up frustrations and anxieties. “Social distancing does not mean emotional distancing,” Cat reminds. “Please do keep connected, and as much as possible, call. Hearing someone else’s voice, especially someone we love, can give us the instant calm that we need.”
3. Be thankful. When something bad happens, always remember that things could be worse. “Be grateful for anything and everything good. Starting or ending your day with a grateful mindset will only set us up to see things in a better light,” cays Cat.
5. Ask — even if you won’t receive. Many of us are afraid to ask –for help, questions, or anything — because we fear hearing the word “No,” looking inadequate, or coming across as unintelligent. “But constantly avoiding rejection will not make us resilient,” counters Cat. Instead of staying away from the “No’s,” get your mind used to the feeling of being rebuffed to build your resilience threshold. Start with small things like asking for an officemate to help with a task, or requesting a manager to repeat a point raised at a meeting. “You may get rejected or rebuffed for various and legitimate reasons, but the point is to get used to hearing no!” she advises. “Once you realize that rejection is not debilitating, you build inner strength and become confident enough to ask for bigger things.”
6. Cultivate positive self-talk. “The next time you face challenges or adversities, identify how you’re describing them and see if you can reframe the words in a more positive way,” instructs Cat.
A. Instead of: “ I feel like a failure for not being able to lead my team through this pandemic.”
Say: “Being a leader during this pandemic is an obstacle, but not one I will face alone.”
B. Instead of: “Working from home is horrible.”
Say: “Working from home is challenging.”
C. Instead of: “I asked for a promotion, and got rejected.”
Say: “I asked for a promotion, and got redirected.”
Just like other traits, resilience is something that can be learned and developed. All it takes is an awareness of the bad thoughts and actions that you may be doing, learning about the good ones, and having the discipline to enact them when the need arises.
But if the situation continues to be difficult for you and you are finding it hard to cope, always seek the help of a professional. A good place to start will be MindNation’s chat helpline on FB Messenger, available 24/7. The service is free, completely confidential, and the staff is trained to ease your anxieties.
— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation