May is Mental Health Awareness Month—a national event that spotlights the significance of mental health. At BNO, we remain committed to supporting the mental health and well-being of ourselves, our loved ones, and each other. That’s why we were happy to host Dr. Brynna Farbod, a licensed psychologist with rich expertise in helping her clients effectively manage stress and cultivate mental strength.
During an interactive lunch and learn, Dr. Farbod brought together BNOers across our vast network with a resounding message: Our thoughts are powerful. What’s more, they directly influence our feelings and actions. When we build our mental strength muscles, we cultivate greater peace, focus, and contentment—at work and throughout our lives.
When we adopt a mental strength mindset, we learn to objectively observe, reflect upon, and reframe our thoughts for positive results.
Adopting a Mental Strength Mindset
In its simplest form, mental strength is the ability to build our resilience by thinking realistically, acknowledging our feelings, and taking productive action. It’s the capacity to perform at our best in the face of challenges, pressure, and stress. When we adopt a mental strength mindset, we learn to objectively observe, reflect upon, and reframe our thoughts for positive results.
Mental strength is anchored in four Cs: control of our emotions; commitment to our goals; welcoming and embracing a healthy degree of challenge and risk; and having confidence in our abilities. Dr. Farbod noted that we’re all capable of developing our mental strength muscles. Furthermore, we have good reason to do so: Mental strength not only helps us to become more resilient and better able to face and overcome challenges, it also reduces anxiety and provides greater emotional stability.
After introducing us to the concept of mental strength, Dr. Farbod offered four practical strategies for applying it. We hope you find these strategies helpful in your professional and personal lives.
Set and Sustain Boundaries: Many of us fear saying no, but boundaries are necessary for all relationships. While setting boundaries may feel intimidating, tools exist to help you shed the fear. First, don’t apologize or overexplain your boundaries. Understanding and defining them is a positive step for your identity and your personal development. Second, take a moment to reflect on your boundaries. Are they not firm enough or perhaps too rigid? Could you become more flexible while also staying true to your needs? Lastly, be sure to communicate your boundaries both openly and respectfully. Knowing that they’re in place will help you harness your mental strength and bring you greater peace of mind.
Be Aware of Burnout: At some point, all of us are prone to burning out. It’s an intense, emotional response to the many facets of our lives that we juggle daily. Remain vigilant to the signs of burnout, which include feeling disconnected, overwhelmed, and critical of yourself and others, as well as difficulty concentrating. Apply mental strength by taking a cope-learn-know approach to burnout. Cope by having healthy strategies to help you through a period of burnout. Dr. Farbod shared that painting is her go-to strategy for coping. Learn by understanding and leaning into your emotions rather than running away from them. And finally, instead of trying to fix your feelings, know when it’s time to pause, observe your emotions, and simply let them pass.
Stop Imposter Syndrome in Its Tracks: Even the most successful among us have faced imposter syndrome: self-doubt about our intellect, skills, and achievements. Despite our accomplishments, imposter syndrome results in a nagging sense of being a fraud. It can cause us to over-prepare, sabotage our best efforts, and become hypersensitive to constructive criticism and feedback. How do we effectively face and overcome it? First, take a step back. Remind yourself that you are in your role at work for a reason. Flex your mental strength muscles by separating your feelings from facts. Acknowledge your strengths (You have many!) and accept your weaknesses. Pro tip: While it’s easier said than done, resist the urge to compare yourself to others. Relish the idea that we are all perfectly imperfect.
Seek Out and Share Support: People need people. We’re all social creatures and should utilize our support networks—both in and out of our work environments. During COVID-19, many of us experienced dramatic shifts in our workplace relationships and routines. Now that we’re getting back to a place of togetherness, take the time to nurture your connections. With an average of 90,000 hours of our lives spent working, it’s crucial to foster healthy and supportive workplace relationships. Dr. Farbod shared that strong work relationships lead to greater mental and physical health. So don’t be afraid to speak up if you need support. Likewise, be there for your colleagues and commit to developing a sense of camaraderie and community. After all, we’re all in this together.
Dr. Farbod closed her presentation by reminding us that our mental health is vital to our well-being. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, we hope you apply the strategies she shared. We encourage you to seek support when you need it and offer it to others. Together, we can help each other shed the stigmas related to mental health and help ourselves and each other foster our mental strength, peace of mind, and happiness.