Constructive responses

25 February 2021

Everyone faces challenges. Having strategies to help overcome these is vital for maintaining our mental wellbeing. A constructive challenge response is the ability to focus on actionable steps, as opposed to dwelling on criticism. You might also call this as taking a solution-focussed approach. Remember negative emotions don’t last forever and there is usually something we can do to help ourselves in that moment. It could as simple as going for a walk to clear your head or calling a friend for a chat. 

How can I develop more constructive challenge responses? 

Being constructive in our day to day lives is something we can all practise.  If you routinely work in this mind set your ability to respond to a difficult situation will become second nature. 

Top tips for success: 

  1. Recognise negative thoughts will not last and look to find more realistic, balanced thoughts based on facts and not our emotion or interpretation of the situation 
  2. Make clear achievable plans 
  3. Develop a toolbox of strategies. For example, 8 weeks of mindfulness practice has been found to help people see challenges as opportunities rather than threats. 


  • If you receive a piece of work back that needs a lot of alteration, don't see this as a criticism of your work but appreciate that your colleague is trying to help you improve.
  • Make a list of the changes you need to make.
  • Draw on past experiences to help you best overcome the situation.
  • Reflect on what worked well and what will be beneficial in future situations.


External resources for more information

5 steps to mental wellbeing: 

Mind for better mental health 


Kinderman, P., Schwannauer M., Pontin, E., Tai, S., (2013). Psychological processes mediate the impact of familial risk, social circumstances and life events on mental health. Plos one 8(10) 

Mahoney, M.J., & Granvold, D.K., (2005). Constructivism and psychotherapy. World psychiatry,4(2) 74-77. 

Williams, M., & Penman, D. (2011). Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world. Hachette UK.