Stress, anxiety and depression are three very common mental illnesses as a result of work getting on top of us. According to HSE annual statistics in 2019, 602,000 workers in the UK suffered from work related stress, depression and anxiety and as a result of this 12.8 million working days were lost.
What’s provoking these mental struggles? The main reasons for mental issues related to work were workload, lack of support and violence, threats or bullying. Getting professional help should be the first port of call, however sometimes after getting help it can be easy to slip back into a dark place and relapse. Therefore, finding ways to become resilient acts a survival technique and becomes an habitual coping mechanism.
The dictionary definition of resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”, learning how to do this will mean you not only growing in your career but also evolving even further as a human.
I am by no means a professional when it comes to mental health in the workplace, however from personal experiences and from what friends and family have encountered- there are ways to train yourself to adopt a strong mind set (however I am aware the following steps may not work for everyone.)
1. Seek understanding for your set- backs
Stress at work can be a result of getting criticised by your superior, this can be unexpected and disheartening to your efforts that you may have felt you did to the best of your ability. Feeling frustrated and succumbing to despair is a completely normal initial reaction which can be irrational. However, you need to overcome from this by processing your emotions whether it’s sadness, anger, confusion or all of the above. This is called having mental agility, which is instead of reacting to stress it’s responding to stress. Responding to stress to show your superior you’ve digested the feedback and taken it onboard into your work will mean show you’re hard working and want to achieve the best.
All successful people have set- backs, we’re all familiar with the second richest man in the world- Bill Gates? The Microsoft co-founder who reportedly earns $114.16 every second he is alive so realistically if he dropped a $100 – would he pick it up? A famous quote from him states “It’s fine to celebrate success but it’s more important to heed the lessons of failure” Bill Gates was a Harvard University dropout and co-owner of a failed business called Traf-O-Data, Bill Gates devoted 6 years of his time to a business which he made an overall loss on to then pull the plug . He then went on to make the company every tech geek wants to work for – Microsoft.
2. Build a strong support network
In every situation that occurs in life getting a outside perspective or detached observation on something helps your reaction to stress become more rational. If I’ve had a tough day at work going home to my house mates to talk about my day who I don’t work with gives me a form of release and vice versa. Obviously, we aren’t all lucky to have a strong support network at your beck and call, even if it is one person who you feel you’re closest to speaking about it helps more than you think. There is always someone to talk to whether it’s in your network or outside help, there is always someone willing to listen.
3. Establishing a work-life balance
This term is a term that may have been drilled into you at college or University , I was told it should be 60% work 40% life when studying (do society socials every Wednesday count as work?). When entering work, the more involved you get into your projects the harder it is to establish a healthy balance. You’ve most probably heard the term which is commonly used on Love Island “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, if you’re purpose in life is ties to one thing then when problems occur to do with that purpose you’ll be worse off. Find hobbies outside of work that take your mind off your day to day business, whether it’s knitting your worries away or taking it out on a football, it will make you resilient because it sheds light on the fact there’s more to life.
4. Health is wealth
Sitting at a desk staring at a screen can make you burnout at work. In my first two months of this job I started experiencing back pain, headaches and constant tiredness regardless of how much coffee I drank. I overcame this by joining the gym and going to the gym on my lunch breaks, or a half an hour walk by the River Aire. So instead of having a break and having a KitKat- have 20 minutes on the running machine instead!
5. Create a responsive comeback plan
If Britney can come back after her 2007 meltdown – so can you! Brainstorm your responses and the potential outcomes to make a narrative of your career and show your superiors what you’re worth, if you spiral into feeling defeated this will only create more problems for your progression.
6. Time will tell
Unfortunately, you can’t flick a switch and develop resilience overnight, it’s a mindset that you will train yourself over time – it’s a journey not a leap. Be kind to yourself when you react as you won’t feel anger, sadness or frustration forever and you will move forward from this tough period in your life. Focus on your likes, interests and the positive aspects of your life and you will start seeing light at the end of the tunnel in no time.
Written by Sophia Ghahramani