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Strategies for coping with stress and redundancy in the financial sector and emerging stronger

Strategies for coping with stress and redundancy in the financial sector and emerging stronger



By author and leading authority in Mental Toughness, Penny Mallory, who delivers keynotes and workshops to the financial sector 

The combination of a turbulent UK economy alongside fears of a financial crisis means that redundancies in this sector are somewhat inevitable. Indeed, a recent survey suggested that 3 in 10 employers are likely to make redundancies over the next year.

More and more people in the financial sector are in fear of redundancy and that fear, as well as actually being made redundant, can be extremely stressful. Although some amounts of stress can be a good thing, as it can push us to an optimal level of alertness and performance, for many people stress can be hugely debilitating. I see first hand through my work as a speaker in the Financial Sector how it can render people unable to eat, sleep and function properly, it can affect their ability to be part of a relationship and can result in burnout. Stress can impact a person’s physical and mental health. The impact that stress can have on a person’s physical and psychological wellbeing should not be underestimated.

I believe that the key to managing stress in the Financial Sector – both the stress of redundancy but also the stress of working in that sector in general – and helping to protect mental health is to develop mental toughness.

Mental toughness isn’t about being aggressive, strong and macho. Some of the quietest, gentlest people are mentally tough. Mental toughness is being able to manage the stress, chaos and pressure either facing redundancy or being made redundant. The better we can manage this, the better we can enjoy life, remain optimistic and go on to secure a new and better position. For the mentally tough a challenge or a setback such as a redundancy can be managed by taking a new perspective.

Here are some strategies for developing mental toughness in order to cope with working in the Financial sector and also for anyone facing the risk of redundancy:

Don’t wallow

Resilience is our ability to adapt, recover quickly and bounce back when things don’t go as we had planned or hoped. Resilient people don’t wallow or dwell on failure; they acknowledge the situation, learn lessons from mistakes and move forward. They are mentally tough and they are more likely to thrive.

Start to think of redundancy as ‘learning’

A lot of people get so caught up in their fear of failure that it prevents them from taking risks and learning new things. Changing the way we think of redundancy is key to mental toughness.

Instead of thinking of redundancy as a negative thing, change your perspective so that you see it as ‘learning’. No one ever started out being brilliant. Everyone learned their skills through exploration, deliberate practice, hard work, endeavour and resilience. Your actions and behaviours come from what you think, and how you think. To behave differently you have to think differently.

Pe prepared to leave your comfort zone

Playing it safe and refusing to leave your comfort zone may be a recipe for failure,

but risk is scary. Champions learn to open their minds to possibilities, managing risk and leveraging it to their advantage. By stepping outside your comfort zone there is no loss; you’ll succeed or learn from it, and both are big wins.

Remember that it’s not all about academic success

A lot of people get caught up in the fact that they didn’t do as well at school, college or university as they wanted to and worry that this may impede their future career choices. Penny urges people to remember that academic qualifications are not the biggest factor in success, in fact, far from it.

Only 30% of any achievement you make will be down to your skill, talent and intelligence, but 70% of your achievement will be down to your mental toughness, focus, resilience and determination are what create success. Think about anyone you admire in business, sport, politics, media – they’ve all achieved their success because they remained determined, committed and mentally tough. This is the game changer that will set you apart from the rest.


Try and regain a sense of control

Feeling like you’re in control of your life rather than a passenger is key.

Start to visualise how things could be if everything went your way. Create a picture of what you’re after. Set aside the things you can’t control and focus on the things you can.


Give 100% commitment

Some people avoid goals for fear of failure. Others get bored or divert their attention away from them. 

People think they are committed to doing or achieving something, but it is rarely a 100% commitment. You need to give 100% commitment, this is what will make all the difference to an outcome. For example, something like taking an ice cold shower every day offers surprising physical and mental benefits to the way you think and behave. This is an exercise that is designed to practice tolerating discomfort, which helps to build discipline, resilience, commitment and determination.

Look at redundancy  as an opportunity

See redundancy as a chance to learn something new. Remember that things won’t always go your way but there is always something to be learnt from whatever happens. Taking learning from every experience is so important. For example in rallying they say, if you’re not crashing you’re not trying hard enough. Sometimes you need to ‘crash’ to find your limit, and discover what is possible.’


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