When you’ve got a fast-paced and demanding job, carving out time to focus on your own mental wellbeing can be a challenge.
Whether you have lots of deadlines that you’re trying to hit, calls to make, or you’re simply trying to focus on your tasks so you can keep up with everything you need to do, attending to your own self-care can sometimes end up at the bottom of your list of priorities.
Whatever the reason for not focusing on your mental wellness, if you neglect it for too long, it can catch up to you. It could be seriously affecting your daily life, and by extension, your performance at work. And often, this can happen completely outside of your awareness.
Many professionals suffer from exhaustion, burnout, and fatigue – in fact, a recent survey found that over 52% of respondents reported these feelings. So, if this sounds familiar, you’re certainly not alone. Much of the time, these issues can be attributed to getting out of balance by becoming overly focused on your professional obligations and not taking enough time self-care.
Taking time to nurture your wellbeing may seem like yet another obligation when you have so much else on your plate, but really, it’s all about putting yourself first and keeping the long game in mind.
With that in mind, here are five tips that I encourage you to implement to improve your mental wellness.
5 TIPS FOR BETTER MENTAL HEALTH
1. CONNECT WITH OTHERS
Being close to others is a basic human need that we all share. When we start to feel isolated, ignored, or undervalued by others, it can really affect our own well-being and sense of worth.
The relationships that we have with others are an important part of who we are. We all need people to talk to when we face challenges, to support us when we need extra encouragement, and people who can help us to feel happier when we’re down. Research consistently highlights the protective role that having social support can make in terms of our mental and physical health.
Going out of your way to cultivate relationships, or even talk to someone, can make a big difference with respect to your feelings of connection, so why not try:
- Talking to a colleague in-person or by phone rather than just emailing them,
- Starting a conversation with someone new
- Having a meaningful discussion with someone you work with, rather than just the usual small talk
- Calling a close friend or family member after work and really finding out how they are
- Suggesting going to a restaurant or coffee shop with a co-worker during your lunch break
2. GET OUT AND EXERCISE
Regular exercise is another way to build vitality, as it is associated with increased energy levels. When you work out,
Being stuck inside an office or sitting at your desk in the home office all day can often mean you don’t have the chance to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Therefore, it’s critical to be intentional about trying to find ways to regularly incorporate exercise into your day.
Research has found that being sedentary has a negative impact on physical and mental and physical health. On the other hand, not only can exercise help to slow down age-related cognitive decline, it can also act as a serious mood booster.
Whether it’s going for a short walk on your lunch break or going to the gym after a day’s work, you should find that your mental health starts to improve the more regularly you get your heart rate up.
You don’t have to be running marathons to benefit from the feel-good effects of exercise, why not try:
- Taking the stairs up to your office instead of the elevator
- Walking to your favorite coffee shop on your lunch break
- Walking or cycling to work instead of driving
- Booking a tennis court for you and a friend after work
- Trying out a new exercise or yoga class at your local gym (or enjoy virtual instruction at home)
3. LEARN A NEW SKILL
Once we leave school, many of us stop focusing on learning new things, which is such a shame!
Continued learning throughout your life can work wonders for your mental wellbeing, keep your brain agile and ease feelings of depression or anxiety.
Learning doesn’t mean that you need to take a demanding course that will add to your stress levels. Instead, learning during your adult life can be fun, as you can choose exactly what you want to learn, and when you want to learn it.
Why not try:
- Signing up for a creative class like pottery, painting, or dance, or something else that you’ve always wanted to try
- Subscribing to a new magazine or podcast on a topic that you don’t know much about
- Starting a book club with some friends or work colleagues
- Buying a crossword or Sudoku book
- Downloading an app that helps you learn a new language
4. FOCUS ON THE PRESENT
Our laptops and smartphones provide us with convenience and flexibility, however, they also make us available
When you’re getting stressed out, it’s easy to focus on things that have happened in the past, or things that you’re expecting to happen in the future.
While planning and reflecting are essential for making effective decisions, when they become worry or catastrophizing, they can get in the way of your mental wellbeing. In those moments, it can often be helpful to make a conscious effort to focus on the present moment through mindfulness.
Taking a moment to breathe deeply and consider your thoughts, feelings, body, and the physical world around you can be a grounding practice that can help you to move from making knee-jerk reactions to intentional choices. With practice, mindfulness can help you to be more aware of your feelings and can positively change your outlook on life.
To pull yourself into the present moment, ask yourself the following questions and write the answers down:
- What emotions am I feeling right now?
- How am I responding to these emotions?
- What’s going on around me? Describe in as much detail
- How does my body feel? Do I feel strong, in control, tired?
- How might I reframe my thoughts to look at the situation differently?
5. IMPROVE YOUR MORNING TIME
Your morning can often set the tone for your entire day. Therefore, if it gets off on the wrong foot, you might find yourself playing catch up for the remainder of your time devoted to work.
On the other hand, having a slow, mindful, and relaxed morning routine can give you time to ease yourself into the day, while avoiding the unpleasant feeling of being stressed and harried, as you rush to get yourself (and your kids) started on time.
If you want to create a mindful morning routine that prioritizes your mental wellbeing, here are some steps you could follow:
- Wake up 30 minutes before you normally would so you have time to take things at a more comfortable pace
- Make yourself a healthy breakfast that nourishes your body (or you could prep it the night before)
- Drink a big glass of water
- Have 15 minutes of ‘me-time’ which could be meditating, writing in a journal, or reviewing your priorities for the day
- Try to get outside or get in some exercise, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
If you need more help improving your mental wellness, why not take one of my courses? With topics ranging from mindfulness, to emotional intelligence, to leadership, they can help you to be happier and more productive.
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