Mental fitness, or mindset, is key to building resilience 

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How to recognise, challenge and release ‘mind traps’ to pave the way for greater resilience. Anita Guru shares the helpful habits and behaviours you need to succeed

Our mind is like Teflon for positive thoughts – we don’t tend to gravitate towards or recall positive thoughts. For negative thoughts, however, our brain is like Velcro. Negative thoughts tend to stick to our brain and can be on a loop. When we are in a negative thought pattern, it can have a significant impact on our mood, mental health and our resilience.  

Building resilience can be achieved, and starting with small steps today can make all the difference 

Mind traps, also known as ‘thinking errors’ or ‘negative automatic thoughts’, are mostly incorrect, highly critical, or simply detrimental. Mind traps tend to show up when you are not at your best, can consume your thinking, and impact how you feel or respond, and your decision-making.  

Mind traps can hinder building of resilience and impair our mental health as they evoke a strong emotional response – some examples include mind reading, rumination, catastrophising and ‘should’ statements.  

An example is replaying an argument and dwelling on what was said to you, what you should have said and how you are not appreciated. In this scenario, the interpretation of the event will also impact your mental health.  

A solution could be to verbalise your grievance or even write it down as it takes it out of your mind so it’s no longer on replay. Sometimes, you just need to get it out! 

How you can manage mind traps   

  • Recognise – become familiar with and name your common mind traps. 
  • Acknowledge – the more you try to stop it, the more it gains power, so welcome the thoughts as passing clouds. 
  • Understand and challenge it – where has it come from, how can I shift this feeling? 
  • Talk about it or write it out – use this mechanism to release it. 
  • Reflect and identify potential situations – what are your triggers? 

In addition to managing mind traps, you can build resilience by adopting helpful habits and behaviours linked to what I call the four M’s – move, mindful, manage and meet.    


Any form of movement – walk, dance, play a sport – will increases blood flow to the part of brain responsible for emotions, giving its more ‘fuel’ and allowing it to function better. Studies have shown a positive relationship between exercise and mental health: 

  • There is a 20 to 30% lower risk of depression and general feelings of distress for adults participating in daily physical activity (Start Active, Stay Active). 
  • People who exercise regularly have 1.5 fewer ‘bad days’ a month on average than those who don’t exercise (The Lancet Psychiatry Journal). 
  • The odds of getting depression for people managing 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week is 22% lower than those who don’t (NHS). 


This is all about managing your nervous system – breathing techniques, guided meditation, journalling. These allow you to focus on the present moment and no dwell on the past or future.  

Your brain has an alarm system (amygdala) and when this is overactive you can be in constant fight or flight mode. Mindful activities help to dial it down, so you feel calm. An overactive alarm system will flood your system and deplete your ability to be resilient. 


This is about how you juggle life – delegate, manage your time and collaborate or ask for help! It’s so important recognise when you are reaching burnout – know your signs as this will help to build your resilience! 


As humans, we are not built to exist in silo, so develop and foster close relationships based on trust and being there for one another, through both the good times and bad. Connecting with other people can help you release stress and unwind. A sense of belonging improves mental health, in a society where loneliness is a problem, social isolation can contribute to depression, insomnia, and cognitive decline. 

Building resilience can be achieved, and starting with small steps today can make all the difference. You’ve got this! 

Anita Guru is Founder of The Mind Coach and coach, occupational psychologist and motivational speaker 

Anita Guru

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