Mental health is a growing crisis facing the health industry. The ONS reported that the number of adults suffering from depression since the Coronavirus pandemic has doubled. To cope with challenges and stress successfully, we need to become more mentally resilient.
It involves finding mechanisms to protect us from potentially overwhelming situations that could cause us anxiety or other mental health struggles. If we can respond positively to high stress and trauma – something we’ve all dealt with since the outbreak of the pandemic – we can live happier lives.
On an average day, GP Zoe Watson, founder of Wellgood Wellbeing, says 60-70% of her patients present with mental health problems. “The mental health crisis was definitely happening before the pandemic but this has accelerated it in some people, unearthed it in others and triggered it in others,” she says.
We will almost inevitably face stressful situations throughout our lives. From job uncertainty and financial worries to health concerns and the world at large, we have recently faced a collectively stressful period. Working at home means we often have to deal with a lot of that stress alone in the first instance, particularly if it is work related. It is why a remote workforce also needs to be a mentally resilient one.
In this article on improving your mental health, we look at the importance of getting the basics right by adopting a healthy lifestyle. The following ideas will also help you to develop mental strength and resilience.
Nurturing a positive mindset
Keeping our negative self-talk in check is important to prevent us spiralling into a very negative frame of mind.
We can improve our mental resilience by keeping ourselves feeling positive, confident, and assured about who we are and the direction we are going in.
Read some tips here on techniques to promote a positive mindset.
Read our interview with renowned life coach and author, Simon Alexander Ong on the five ways to sustain a positive mindset in challenging times. It is inside volume 2 of The Homeworker magazine print edition.
Developing clarity of purpose
A good way of helping foster positive self-talk and better mental toughness is through having a clear purpose.
Neuroscientist, Brad Reed explains in The Homeworker magazine how a strong sense of purpose helps us make better decisions, feel more motivated, work better as a team, and improves overall cognitive function. He points to a study on the effect of purpose on life.
“The research indicates that people with a stronger score for ‘Purpose in Life’ found negative stimuli less salient. In short, people with a stronger sense of purpose are more relaxed, mindful, and resilient in the face of strong negative emotions. This, without question, allows people to enhance overall success.”
Connection with others
Meaningful connections with others are important to develop better mental strength. Studies have shown how positive social relationships can enhance our resilience to stress.
Zoe Watson says, “You need to be more proactive about checking in with your team because it’s not going to be so obvious if someone is struggling. Whereas in an office, you’ll pick up on whether someone is not quite right from their body language. Those nuances are lost.”
Psychologists from the mental health platform, MYNDUP say, “Often, we can feel so isolated with our worries and as though we are dealing with them alone. This can, in turn, lead us to pull away from social events and isolate ourselves during times of increased stress and pressure.”
“But connecting with others can help to remind you that you aren’t alone in anything you do. Socialising, volunteering or pursuing an activity you enjoy, will increase your sense of belonging and purpose. And often, by focusing on these events, you’re able to busy your mind from overthinking.”
Tuning in to triggers
To help us cope better with anxiety, psychologists often recommend journalling exercises. Noting down your thoughts and feelings can help you to pick up on patterns in your behaviour.
By making journalling a regular practise you can start tuning into triggers that cause you more anxiety or stress. This can help you become more mentally resilient by being prepared and proactive in limiting your exposure to your stress triggers.
Taking mindful pauses in the day to reflect, and taking deep breaths are also good ways to combat anxiety. In fact, breathing correctly is hugely beneficial to our physical and mental wellbeing as we explore in The Homeworker magazine.
Psychologist and workplace wellbeing consultant Stephanie Fitzgerald also found our posture can give our brains signals to feel anxious or afraid. By correcting our posture to sit upright and more confidently, we may prevent our bodies triggering a fight or flight response. Read more about this in issue 11 of the magazine.
Creating work-life balance
Growing your own business, and working for yourself as a freelancer can be mentally exhausting. While the flexibility is an advantage, in the early stages, many small business owners find themselves working long hours and sacrificing a good work-life balance.
In a survey by NerdWallet, 92% of business owners feel guilty about their work-life balance. Only 2% claimed to have never had to prioritise work over family.
Work-life balance or harmony can help prevent burnout. Better balance ensures we are nurturing different aspects of our lives that are important to our overall wellbeing. It means we focus on the social, mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional sides of our lifestyle, which help us become more rounded and happier.
In the study, to manage struggles with work-life balance, 40% of respondents said exercise helped them pick themselves up; 37% opted for wellness and self-care; and just over a third (34%) regularly take time away from the business to reset. Adopting these sorts of habits can prevent you from draining your mental energy and so become more mentally resilient
For more ideas, read ten simple ways to improve your mental health when you work from home.