How to: Recover From Mistakes at Work

No one likes mistakes at work, but we’ve all done it. Dwelling in the past is a huge cause for anxiety, which if not dealt with can impact your ability to do your job and lead to long term health effects.

Healthy coping mechanisms are a key part of developing into a mature worker, and it’s vital for your wellbeing.

So here are some quick tips to get back on your feet as quick as you can.

 Time to trick your own brain. It’s like chess.

Time to trick your own brain. It’s like chess.


1) Distract yourself


Distraction, according to most neurological studies, is a great way to calm down your amygdala- that’s the part of your brain that manages fear responses. Even once you’ve fixed your mistake, and you’re no longer facing an issue to resolve. it can take a little bit of time for the amygdala to chill out.

If you find yourself in a catastrophizing cycle, where you’re dwelling on your mistake and getting more het up, distract yourself for a little bit. Take a walk, make a snack, or call a friend. Your brain will thank you for it!

 In through the nose, out through the mouth.

In through the nose, out through the mouth.


2) Breathing exercises


It’s not exactly meditation, but breathing properly is a sneaky trick to fool your brain into calming down. This is because stress makes you breathe shallowly, which reduces oxygen intake, which makes you more stressed, which…

Bodies are weird, OK?

So teaching yourself how to manage your breathing is actually a pretty nifty skill. Here’s our three-part primer:

  • Sit in a quiet spot, with your hands over your diaphragm, just below your navel.

  • Inhale for three seconds, hold for three seconds, and then release slowly.

  • Repeat for about a minute.

Avoid thinking about the problem if you can, you’ll find it much easier to manage your breathing.


3) Let yourself complain about it

 Tea. Biscuit. Friends. Easy as Pie.

Tea. Biscuit. Friends. Easy as Pie.

So, obviously dwelling on your mistakes is a terrible idea, but let’s be real sometimes you need to release that pressure. Find a sympathetic mate, or an even more sympathetic journal, and write down your feelings about a specific issue. Keep it specific, and don’t keep bringing it up once you’ve done this.


4) Make a plan

 Conquer your fears!

Conquer your fears!

Instead of wallowing, now you’ve got to think about how to fix the problem. Write down how you plan to move forward. Focus on small steps that aren’t realistic, and make sure you have an understanding of what caused the problem in the first place.
Your supervisors will want you to move forward, so don’t be afraid to ask them for advice on how you can develop from this. See mistakes as learning opportunities!


5) Change how you think about yourself

 It’s hard, but start rethinking how you see yourself.

It’s hard, but start rethinking how you see yourself.

When you think about your mistakes, what sort of voice does your brain offer up? Do you call yourself useless? Or a failure?

Instead, try and rephrase how you think of yourself. ‘I failed at this task, and I can do better,’ or ‘I feel inadequate, how do I fix that,’ are much better ways of looking at ourselves.

This is a long term plan- no one can overcome toxic self-deprecation in a few easy steps, but setting in healthy thought patterns will help

Nobody’s perfect, be kind to yourself!


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