Most of us know a thing or two about feeling stressed or anxious at work, whether it’s caused by colleague conflicts, looming deadlines or an unrealistic workload. As an employee, entrepreneur, freelancer or CEO, you’ll no doubt be dealing with pressures to perform at your peak, juggle your personal and professional life, manage work politics and expectations – not to mention the challenges that come with simply getting things done.
This push-and-pull in different directions can impact our wellbeing: a major study by Mind charity revealed that poor mental health at work is widespread, with half (48 per cent) of all people surveyed saying they experienced a mental health problem in their current job. Work-related stress and mental health problems can often go hand-in-hand and symptoms can overlap. So this Mental Health Awareness week, we want to talk about cultivating a resilient mindset as one way of helping with stress and anxiety in the workplace.
Contrary to popular belief, resilience does not mean to just plough ahead, move on and break barriers. Resilience is more about the ability to recharge, reflect and refresh in order to take care of our mental wellbeing. There is a huge body of research that shows how being adaptable, managing your energy, focusing effectively and playing to your strengths leads to a reduction of stress and anxiety.
The more confident you are, the more likely you are to deal with challenges effectively and to take bold steps to overcome roadblocks that threaten to throw you off-course. But where do you start when your confidence at work is low? The trick is to focus on the good. What are your strengths and natural talents or superpowers? Take a minute to note these down and remind yourself of your powers every day as a little ode to yourself.
Hone in on the understanding that you can’t always change the scenario you find yourself in, but you can change how you respond to it. You may have heard this one before, but we can’t stress the importance of flexibility enough. Adopting an adaptable mindset and seeing other perspectives when you come across tricky situations will help you to cope more effectively. So next time, try to challenge yourself to see alternative perspectives so you have a more rounded overview of the situation.
Perhaps this excerpt from a Harvard Business Review article sums it up best: “People who are confident that they will succeed, and equally confident that success won’t come easily, put in more effort, plan how they’ll deal with problems before they arise, and persist longer in the face of difficulty.” In order to move forward you need an objective understanding of where you are now, so the key is to be realistically optimistic. Even if you’re not naturally a positive or optimistic person, there are ways of enhancing your optimism levels, enabling you to take steps towards improving your performance and happiness in all areas of your life.
The power of perspective will encourage you to be open to new ideas, boost your creativity and view challenges as part of normal life. Yet, it’s not an easy thing to switch on in one’s mind. There are two parts to cultivating perspective – understanding that you can’t control everything and putting yourself in other people’s shoes to see situations from various points of view. Over time, if you continue with this mental exercise, it will enable you to be objective and respond to situations in a way that creates a favourable outcome for you.
Honing your skills and mastering your mindset will help you to take control of how you think and behave, improve your performance and reach your potential. Of course, some organisations are better than others in giving you time to learn, but you can also seek out opportunities to learn from peers, colleagues, bosses, and mentors in a bid to boost your skills. Set aside time to work on your craft and as you become an expert, you’ll feel in control and you’ll cope effectively in difficult circumstances.
Increasing your stamina will enable you to build the momentum required to ‘bounce forward’ when you hit a roadblock. Understanding and accepting that you will hit roadblocks along the journey and that your stamina is the key to keeping you moving, will help you to achieve more despite facing challenges.
Being a little more resilient can help to enhance mental wellbeing in the workplace and reduce the psychological impact stressful work circumstances have on you and your life. But there’s so much more to it. Boosting your resilience helps you to thrive, perform better, achieve more and reach your potential. Think about some of the steps above and start asking yourself ‘how can I be more resilient at work?’ today.