Why the COVID-19 Pandemic is a Good Time to Develop Mental Fortitude
Cheruiyot got an internship a few months ago and since then he has put in a huge amount of effort to ensure that he can secure his position in the organization. As the child of a single mother, Cheruiyot is working to ensure that the degree he has will allow him to be able to help out his family. He worked hard in school to develop himself. From this self-improvement, Cheruiyot took on all the opportunities he could discover, and landed an excellent internship opportunity six months ago. At the time, the hiring manager assured him that if he put in the effort he would be sure to secure long-term employment at this company. Naturally, Cheruiyot put in the full effort in this job and he was able to ensure that he exceeded all his work targets while developing himself in the process.
Unfortunately, despite doing everything, Cheruiyot will now have to explore other options if he intends to succeed in his professional journey. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a destructive impact on the company’s bottom line, and hiring is on an indefinite freeze. Moreover, even the internship which he secured will no longer be available, and the company will have to let him go. Cheruiyot is therefore under extreme pressure with little in the way of meaningful solutions to deal with this situation. Instead of wallowing in the difficult situation, Cheruiyot secured a glowing recommendation from the hiring manager. Using this recommendation, he now has two interviews coming up this week despite the difficulty of the pandemic.
When faced with crisis or when you have your world turned upside down – how resilient are you? During this COVID-19 pandemic period some people have quickly bounced back from setbacks, depression, anxiety, job losses and income or change of plans. When life knocks you down are you quick to get back up or does it take some time?
Resilience is a skill that will serve you for the rest of your life. The American Psychological Association defines mental resilience as: “The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress.” Because we are bound to receive stressors and pressure at school, work, within family or among friends’ mental toughness and resilience is a skill you want to master.
Ian Turner writes about four important traits of mental toughness which he summarizes as the Four C’s – Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence.
Control is the extent to which you feel that you direct your life and emotions. When you are in this position, you have a good sense of who you are and what you stand. You are also are comfortable in your own skin. You are better able to keep your emotions in check and less likely to be distracted by the emotions and thoughts of others. Not being in control means that you will feel that events happen to you and are outside your personal control or influence.
Being committed means being able to effectively set goals and consistently achieve them without distraction. If you have a high commitment score you are an individual who is good at establishing routines and habits that encourage your success. Being low on commitment means you are more likely to fail struggle to set goals and targets and effectively prioritize. Such an individual would also find it difficult to focus and might be easily distracted by other people or competing priorities.
Challenge is an individual’s drive and adaptability. Being high on challenge means that you are driven to be as good as you can be and to always achieve your personal best. Such a person sees challenges, change, adversity, and variety as opportunities rather than threats. Being low on challenge means that you view change as a threat. You are likely to avoid new and challenging situations for fear of failure or wishing not to expend what you perceive will be a wasted effort.
Confidence is the extent to which you believe that you can perform productively and proficiently, and influence others. To be high on self-confidence means that you believe that you can complete tasks that other individuals with similar ability, but lower confidence would think are beyond them. Such individuals will view setbacks whether internal or external as a walk in the park. The flip side is also true, individual low on self-confidence will be unsettled by setbacks and have a low view of themselves.
What is your Mental Toughness Score?
Review yourself honestly using Turner’s Four C’s. How good are you when it comes to control – are your emotions dependent on others or are you comfortable within your own skin? Concerning commitment are you capable of setting goals, prioritizing tasks and meeting your targets? Are you a person who sees challenging time as opportunities or threats? And finally do you have high self esteem and confidence in your abilities?
These mindsets enable you to increase your quality of life, reduce stress and anxiety and enable you to weather any storm that comes your way. The four C’s are timeless and will serve anyone regardless of age.
Beyond the 4 C’s of mental toughness, there are some habits that would also contribute to your resilience and toughness. In 2014, US admiral William H McRaven delivered a commencement speech at the University of Texas that went viral. He told the 2014 class that if they wanted to change the world then they needed to make their bed every morning. Small and seemingly insignificant habits like making your bed, saying no to peer pressure, eating well could positively change the rest of your life. In the same way that a few small mistakes and toxic habits could harm you.
I would encourage you to watch the Commencement speech that US Admiral William H McRaven gave. In it, he gives nine principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome different challenges in his Navy Seal’s training, long Naval career, and also throughout his life.
In summary, here are a few daily habits that would also increase your mental resilience and toughness:
- Exercise and fitness
- Eating healthy
- Sleeping well
- Self-awareness – talking about your feelings or journaling
- Having a healthy perception of counseling
- Social interaction and having a strong support system
- Avoiding drugs and alcohol