Work can sometimes be really stressful. And in many cases, the stress can be caused by things that you simply can’t control, such as a demanding client, a difficult coworker, or a tight deadline. But there are still things you can do to alleviate your stress. For instance, you can work on developing your “mental toughness.”

According to Lin et al. (2017), mental toughness helps people to cope with difficulties. People who are mentally tough are able to keep moving forward, despite the obstacles that they encounter. They’re resilient. They adapt to changing situations. And they don’t let stress get the better of them.

Mental toughness isn’t an innate quality. It’s something that can be learned and enhanced. So even if you don’t feel very tough right now, you can get stronger! Here are a few things you can do to develop your mental toughness:

  • Stay focused – Try to stay focused on your goal or the task that you need to complete. Try NOT to be distracted by the negative things that might happen as you work towards your goal. For instance, if you try a certain approach and it fails, you should brush yourself off and move on. This can sometimes be easier said than done, but if you practice, you can get better at maintaining your focus and always moving forward.
  • Create milestones – Sometimes a project can seem large and overwhelming. But you can make it more manageable by breaking it down into a series of smaller tasks. Instead of focusing on the overall goal (which can be stressful and intimidating), you should focus on achieving each successive task. As you complete each task, you’ll make steady progress, and you’ll feel more confident in your abilities.
  • Get feedback – Sometimes a job can be stressful because you may not fully understand what’s expected from you. Make sure to ask for regular feedback from your manager and coworkers. Receiving honest feedback from others will help you to alleviate feelings of confusion and uncertainty, and will help you to produce higher-quality work.
  • Embrace change – The workplace is always changing. New people get hired, new software is adopted, and new processes are implemented. Unfortunately change can sometimes be upsetting and stressful. But try to be flexible and embrace those changes. Remember that change can often be a good thing. And trying to fight it is usually frustrating, stressful, and futile.    
  • Learn from your mistakes – Everyone makes mistakes. So don’t torture yourself if you make a misstep. Mistakes give you an opportunity to learn. They’ll help you to get stronger, better, and more resilient.

6 ways to develop mental toughness at work, according to Harvard (2019, March 4). Workfront. Retrieved from: https://www.workfront.com/blog/mental-toughness-at-work-harvard

Lin, Y., Mutz, J., Clough, P. J., & Papageorgiou, K. A. (2017, August 11). Mental toughness and individual differences in learning, educational and work performance, psychological well-being, and personality: A systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology. Retrieved from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01345/full

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