Flex your mental strength for 2021
2020 has been quite a year. For some of us, it was a year of reinvention, for others a time of sorrow and loss, and for almost all of us, more than a bit disorienting. What we learned at Resili supporting thousands of Canadians and Americans through their mental health journey is that each of our journeys are unique to us and our lived experience, but that there are some common things that we all need in order to feel mentally strong.
As you move into 2021, you probably have some new goals and commitments for surviving this pandemic with your wits still intact, and for what you’ll finally do afterwards. We know that you’ve got this, and like always, our team at Resili has your back. In the spirit of the new year, we’re bringing you three brand new tips for improving your mental strength. After surveying hundreds of research papers and talking to almost as many mental health experts, here are our top three tips for making the most of 2021:
Start with compassionate self-talk
Dig deep into what you need (and what you don't)
Don’t wait to be happy
So let's dive in!
1) Start with compassionate self-talk
The next time you’re frustrated with a part of yourself or your context, something you did or said, imagine what you would say to a good friend who found themselves in the same situation and was stressed by it. Likely, you would tap into empathy and compassion and offer encouragements (“you can do it”), comfort (“I’m here for you”) or validation (“what you feel makes sense”). Often, we’re much harder on ourselves. Instead of giving ourselves the encouragement, comfort, or validation we need, we sometimes slip into critic mode (“how could I be so dumb”).
While learning from feedback and failures is valuable, criticizing ourselves like this is not. When you notice yourself slipping into critic mode, try saying those supportive phrases to yourself in your head, or even out loud. It may feel silly or awkward at first, but over time, positive self-talk can improve our sense of self-acceptance, and even change our natural reaction to adversity and setbacks.
2) Dig deep into what you need (and what you don't)
In times of reinvention or turmoil, there is usually a lot going on. At times, we’ve got it covered, and in other moments, it can all get a little overwhelming. In these moments, it helps to have a written list of what’s important, what usually takes us off track, and what helps us stay on track.
To do this, we like to draw a simple 4 box chart like the one below. In the bottom right box, answer the question “Who and what are important to me?”. These could include people or pets, as well as things like “having a home that I feel safe and comfortable in” or abstract values like “honesty” or “hard work”. In the bottom left, answer the question “What are thoughts, feelings, or experiences that get in the way or bring me down?”. Knowing these is important to preparing yourself to react in a healthy manner.
Next, in the top left, write down how you react to avoid those unwanted experiences in the previous question. This may include unhealthy coping like ignoring the problem or unhealthy snacking (but it could be many things, you know your habits and vices best). Finally, in the top right box, write down what you do already and what you could do in the future to live true to the “who and what are important to you”.
3) Don’t wait to be happy
Keep a running list of things that you enjoy and that make you happy. Especially during weeks where you’re busy or stressed, or down, it can be easy to forget to do things that make us happy. Alternatively, when we make time to take a break, sometimes we can’t even come up with anything we’d enjoy doing and default to something just to pass the time, like scrolling through newsfeeds or playing short little games on our phone.
Keeping a list of positives does two things: 1) it helps you have an easy way to sneak a bit of happiness in each week, and 2) it helps you load tons of happiness inducing experiences into weeks when you have the time. Remember, if emotional wellbeing is like a bank balance of your positive and negative emotions that you experience, doing things that give you even more positive emotions when you have the time can only help your future self. Research tells us that having this sort of “positives toolbox” is one of the most effective ways to increase your emotional wellbeing.
These three activities increase our mental strength by tapping into its components. Want to learn more about mental strength? Read on!
Mental strength comes from tending to your Psychological Strength, Social Strength, and Emotional Strength. These may sound like big and challenging ideas, but they’re actually really simple. As a matter of fact, you’ve probably already spent time thinking of them. Here’s a quick reminder of what each of them are.
Psychological Strength: Knowing what’s important to you and aligning your actions and life to it.
Social Strength: Having strong connections with the people close to you, your communities, and the world (don’t worry, this is less daunting than it sounds).
Emotional Strength: Give yourself a lot of opportunities to feel good, and minimize the number of times you have to feel bad (pretty simple right? Although a bit harder to do in practice, the positive toolbox is a good start)
At Resili, our mission is to democratize mental health through our free Resili App, and our workplace burnout predictor called the Resili Report.
If you’ve read this far, you probably want to learn more about mental strength and how to build it. Join us on Resili for free here for a full toolbox of skills!
Want to predict burnout at work and bring the Resili Report to your workplace? Connect with us today!