Tips for building mental resilience  

The ever-evolving workplace creates a range of stressors for employees to face. Whether it’s heavy workloads, tight deadlines, long hours, adopting new technologies, or experiencing periods of organisational change, these are all situations that can induce feelings of stress.  

Stress can also be exasperated by external, personal stressors relating to family, grief, physical illness, or financial circumstances. Any combination of these can detrimentally impact both physical and mental health, and overall wellbeing. 

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the estimated number of workers in Great Britain suffering a work-related illness is 1.8 million with stress, depression, and anxiety making up around half of these cases.  

Although there are measures that can be taken by employers to minimise the impact of stressors on their employees, some personal and professional challenges are at times inevitable, and often unexpected.  

What is resilience?  

Pressure and stress can affect us all. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to change, and maintain a positive outlook in the face of challenges. 

It's the mental and emotional strength that empowers you to hold steady and conquer the storms of work and life. Resilience is not just about handling the challenges of today but building a solid foundation to adequately prepare yourself against the unexpected challenges of the future.  

The exciting thing about resilience is that we all have natural mental resilience, which is partly determined by our genetics and personality, however, many aspects of resilience can be learned.  

By developing effective strategies for reducing vulnerability to stress and the impact of adversity, it is possible to strengthen and develop personal resilience over time.  

Developing your resilience can:  

  • Help to maintain positive mental wellbeing  
  • Enable yourself to work to your full potential and improve productivity  
  • Improve your problem-solving and decision-making skills  
  • Allow you to embrace change and be more adaptable and flexible 
  • Improve communication skills and strengthen interpersonal relationships  

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As resilience is a skill that can be cultivated and learned, here are some top tips to help bolster and improve your mental resilience: 

  1. Prioritise self-care   
    You may be spending too much time on work or others at the expense of your own time and health. Focusing on maintaining a well-balanced lifestyle can help rejuvenate and better prepare you to tackle life’s challenges. Things like learning to say no, listening to music or doing activities you enjoy, avoiding complex relationships and interactions that bring you further stress, taking breaks, and setting personal and professional boundaries can all help to achieve better life balance.  
  2. Practice mindfulness and gratitude  
    Start your day with a positive affirmation or a gratitude practice. Focusing on the good can help you navigate even the toughest of days with poise. Practicing mindfulness is also beneficial in reminding you to take regular notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and the world around you. Rather than letting life pass you by and worrying about future or past difficulties, you learn to observe your current emotions and thoughts in a way that improves your ability to process difficult or stressful situations. 

  3. Improve physical resilience 
    Physical resilience is the stamina and energy to keep going, even when under pressure. Without physical resilience, it can be challenging to employ mental coping strategies. Things like keeping physically active and fit, eating nutritious and well-balanced meals, and getting plenty of quality sleep can assist in building solid physical resilience.  

  4. Talk and seek help from others when it’s needed  
    Talk to a friendly listener who remains calm and listens in a way that makes you feel understood. To help reduce stress, develop a network of friends and family members to turn to when challenges threaten to overwhelm you. Reach out, call, and catch up with these people. If you don’t feel comfortable with leaning on friends or family, don’t also be afraid to seek professional support.  
  5. Employ positive and proactive coping strategies 
    It’s about realising that there will be things outside of your control. People with established resilience get better at finding ways to change their thinking and manage their own expectations. Activities like thinking positively and trying to see the opportunity or potential for growth in any situation; laughing daily and using humour to keep tension at bay; being flexible, and not biting off more than you can chew are all great growth mindset tactics to help alleviate stress and build resilience.

Resilience is just one of many mental health tools. By embracing some of the tips above, you’re not only building resilience for current challenges but also setting yourself up for future success to cope and conquer whatever life throws at you. If you need further support, don’t forget to see your Doctors Clinic Group GP or Occupational Health specialist to help support you with any stress or mental health challenges you are experiencing. 

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