Mental Resilience In A Crisis: How To Deal With Bad News
July 14, 2020

COVID-19 has taken its toll on employment. Many have unfortunately been made redundant as a result of the pandemic, and are now struggling to maintain their mental resilience.

If you feel like your whole world has been turned upside down too, know that there are ways you can come out the other side stronger than ever before. We explore a few of these coping strategies here.

Accepting the situation

At this time, it’s likely you’re feeling overcome by emotions that you’d usually associate with the loss of a loved one. It’s important to remember that, regardless of what you’ve lost, it’s only human to feel grief.

And it’s also good to know the likely flow of emotions – the five typical stages of grief – so you can identify how you’re feeling, begin to move forward, and build better mental resilience.

  1. Denial – The person is in shock, so buries their head in the sand and hopes the situation will resolve itself.
  2. Anger – This may be towards their manager, colleagues or the business. Blame is focussed on them too.
  3. Bargaining – Often accompanied with guilt, the individual attempts to find a solution that is usually unrealistic.
  4. Depression – The person feels despair, grief and severe sadness, and may be withdrawn.
  5. Acceptance – The individual accepts the situation for what it is and recognises that they need to take action.

There are no timescales when it comes to passing through all five stages. You may also skip a stage, or experience them in a different order. But if you have coping mechanisms in place, you may be able to more quickly and appropriately respond to each emotion as it arises.

Understanding rational detachment

Whilst it may feel difficult to force yourself to remain calm during a crisis, acting irrationally or making any knee-jerk decisions could potentially harm your future career prospects. The art of rational detachment will help with managing your emotions.

First, try not to take redundancy personally. By separating yourself from the situation at hand, you can see how it could have happened to anyone – in fact, some of your colleagues may have been made redundant too. You’ll also be able to recognise that there are various factors that contribute to a decision like this, and many of them may have been outside of your control.

Another key aspect to rational detachment is healthily releasing any negative energy that has built up. You could exercise, meditate or talk with someone that has no involvement with the issue, for instance.

Distinguishing between compartmentalisation and decompartmentalisation

A great tactic for coping with bad news is to put your emotions into different ‘compartments’ in your mind. When you’re in the right place emotionally, you can then address the feelings you’re struggling with. This is a particularly good strategy if you’re feeling overwhelmed and have multiple issues to deal with.

However, it’s important that you don’t end up denying your emotions altogether. Whilst compartmentalising avoids ruminating about recent events, there can be long-term negative consequences on your mental resilience if you attempt to leave these emotions ‘trapped in a drawer’.

Your subconscious never truly ignores emotions, and so they may resurface in the future. Therefore, you should decompartmentalise too – making the time to address these emotions when you’re ready.

Moving forward

Struggling with your mental resilience during the current circumstances is only natural. By accepting the situation, and implementing these key tactics, you may feel more able to emotionally and mentally re-enter the job market.

Part of this involves being open, honest and pragmatic with your employer, so you can find a way forward together. Outplacement Services is that way forward. We have several modules designed to help you at this crucial time, including one dedicated to shifting your mindset and taking care of your wellbeing.

This, along with other modules such as those related to job searching, will enable you to take action and transition successfully to a new position. So, if you’d like to chat to someone and find out more about our support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


If you are an Employer and would like to find out more about how Outplacement Services can help support your outgoing employees, please visit our website

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