Financial struggles, deadlines, a neverending inbox.
You constantly feel like you’re behind and can’t seem to get ahead.
You’re doing everything you can to try to manage it all. You show up to work early and stay after your normal working hours. You don’t seem to have a good work-life balance anymore.
There’s a shift in the office. People keep their heads down and keep pumping out work. You almost feel like a hamster on a wheel. You keep running and running, but you’re almost to the point of burnout.
Your employee handbook doesn’t mention anything about mental health days, taking care of yourself, or focusing on your needs. You’re not sure what to do or where to turn with how you’ve been feeling lately.
Here’s how to deal with mental health being an off-limits subject in your career.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your mental health at work or if your job doesn’t seem to have the most welcoming approach to mental health, there are things you can do on your end to help manage how you’re feeling and get your mental health back on track.
Identifying your stressors is a great place to start. Start keeping track of your thoughts and feeling by writing them down in a journal. This is a great way to get things off of your chest and into the pages of your journal.
Jotting down your thoughts and feelings can help you determine what’s causing you stress and anxiety. It’s also a great tool to look back on to help you find out what the best ways to cope may be.
Make Healthy Choices
It’s easy to turn to unhealthy choices when you’re feeling stressed. Try to avoid turning to sugary drinks or sweets, fast food, alcohol, or other substances. Making healthy choices in your day-to-day meals is a great way to make sure you feel good from the inside out. Aim to eat 3-5 meals a day, and make sure each is filled with an appropriate amount of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Sleep is just as important for managing stress, as well as for rest and recovery. You need to make sure you’re fueling your body properly with food, but fueling also meals giving it time to recharge so it’s ready for whatever the next day will throw your way. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
A great way to help manage stress naturally is by getting your body moving. Hit up your local gym, take a walk around your neighborhood, or hop on your bicycle. Do whatever works for you as long as your body is moving and your heart is pumping.
In today’s world, it’s easy to feel like you have to be available 24 hours a day. Even outside of your normal working hours, you have a laptop and a cell phone where you may be receiving emails, phone calls, and text messages relating to your job.
Establish some work-life balance boundaries for yourself. Make a rule to not check your email or answer work-related phone calls when you’re at home. Setting clear boundaries for yourself can help cut down on the stress you may be feeling.
Take Some R&R
If you’re able, take some time to rest and recharge. Take a sick day or use one of your vacation days to take some much-needed time off.
Depending on what your work offers you and the funds you have available, take a day for yourself. If you’re able to put a little more money towards relaxing, plan a staycation at home or vacation in a different city or state.
If you’re unable to take a day off, make sure you’re using your weekends wisely. Turn off your phone and dedicate your weekend to your personal life. Allow yourself to rest and relax every now and then. You don’t have to constantly be on the go 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It’s important to reach out for help if your mental health is on the decline. If you feel comfortable, discuss how you’re feeling with your direct supervisor or your human resources team. If for some reason you don’t feel comfortable discussing your mental health in your career, you may want to reach out to a therapist for additional support.
It’s important to know that you’re not alone. Stress and anxiety can affect anyone from time to time. If it’s starting to have an impact on your daily life, it’s important to reach out for help.
About the author(s)
Karen is the founder and Clinical Director of Cohesive Therapy NYC. She earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has extensive training in Hypnosis, Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and DGBI. She is a member of the Institute of Certified Anxiety Treatment Professionals, The Rome Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and the American Social of Clinical Hypnosis.