Ways to Build Your Own Mental Resilience During Times of Uncertainty

Businesses around the world are starting to see the mental health effects associated with isolation and working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we’ll be covering some of the talking points covered by Aspect Group Psychologist Yasmin Schaefer during her workplace talk on building mental resilience during times of uncertainty.

Find a balance between pressure and performance

“Human beings have this interesting relationship with pressure and performance.”

Humans perform best when they are looking after their wellbeing while also experiencing some degree of pressure. Too little pressure results in a lack of motivation (i.e. rust-out), while too much pressure results in burning out and putting productivity and well-being at risk (i.e. burnout). Balancing the two is key to staying productive and building mental resilience, especially during times of uncertainty.

By being more mindful of the things that can contribute to an improvement in your mental health, you can start to develop better habits while working from home that will stabilise your mental resilience. This involves identifying the signs and symptoms of excessive pressure. This can include physical or behavioural changes but could also be related to emotional changes and differences in thought patterns.

Build healthy habits

“So our brain loves consistency and patterns and routine”

Physical health and wellbeing are linked to mental health and resilience. By establishing healthy habits and patterns in your life, you can build mental resilience even during uncertain times. The main points to focus on for stress management are:

  • Sticking to a routine that helps establish a sense of consistency in your life
  • Setting up a workstation that becomes your area of work at home
  • Getting up and moving to introduce physical activity to make up for your commute
  • A healthy diet by cooking at home and relying less on convenience foods
  • Challenging unhelpful thoughts to strengthen your mind and resolve
  • Stay connected with your family, friends and colleagues to build strong relationships
  • Reach out early and communicate if you’re struggling to find support

Challenge unhelpful thoughts

“Our brain is kind of trained to look for the negatives in our environment.”

Look out for anything that starts with must, should, have to, always and never.

Some examples include:

  • “I should be working long hours”
  • “I should be more productive”
  • “I have to be a dad, employee, and teacher”

Challenge these unhelpful thoughts and do a little reframing. Humans have a negativity bias, meaning that it’s trained to look for negatives in the environment as part of our survival instincts.

Reframing is all about being more conscious of your thinking. It involves creating alternative rational thoughts and challenging your inner monologue. When we’re acting unconsciously, we automatically associate negative images and emotions with our daily life, fueling negative feelings. By being more conscious and mindful, we can build mental resilience that involves arguing our own negative thoughts and developing positive thoughts as an alternative.

Focus on the things that you can control

“We can’t control what happens to us. Nobody could have predicted COVID happening.”

Uncertainty is something that we cannot control. However, what we can do is choose how we respond to that uncertainty. To establish mental resilience, it’s important to be mindful of these facts. With limited energy during these uncertain times, we must carefully choose how we react to negative or frustrating situations. This is the key to stress management during times of uncertainty.

  • Accept uncertainty and respond accordingly for the most productive outcome
  • Separate your actions into things that drain you and things that energize you
  • Focus your energy and time on doing things that have a positive lasting impact

Some final words

The techniques in this article are all based around things you can do to support yourself and others out of the deep end of the mental health spectrum. It’s also about embracing uncertainty and investing your energy wisely to reach productive outcomes.