Career Woman

How to work hard and still look after your mental health


A lot of us would love to have success in life, particularly with our careers. But working hard and looking after your mental health at the same time can prove a challenge. How do you balance them both? Here’s how to work hard and look after your mental health.

There will always be challenges that we have to face when it comes to our career. From the very beginning, right up until we retire. If there’s a chance for a career progression in your role, there’s always a need to impress, and that can sometimes take its toll on our mental health and wellbeing. But it is possible to have the best of both worlds, and it’s all about having the right balance. A lot of us aim to have a great work, and life balance and fortunately more businesses are starting to recognise the need for flexible working and benefits to factor in life events that may affect our lifestyle.

So when it comes to striking the right balance, what advice is beneficial to achieving this?

Learn to say no

It’s easy to say yes to people for fear of letting them down. You can be a people pleaser but that only works well to an extent because you can’t please everybody. This is both in relation to your personal and work life of course. When it comes to your work, you may be asked to take on more than your fair share or increase your workload because a staff member has left or the company is taking on a little too much. Sometimes it’s ok to say yes, but when it comes to your mental health, it’s important to consider what this extra load will do to you. Will you continue to function well under the added pressure of another project? Can you offer the same amount of hard work and dedication towards this, as you do with your other daily tasks?

If the answer is no, then it’s good to say so when asked. But, we tend to say yes and then deal with the stress silently. Learning to say no is a little daunting but once you know yourself and what you’re capable of, it’s silly of you to try and push yourself over the limit knowingly. After all, you do want to impress and succeed, and that might not be possible if it’s going to tip you over the edge. You also have to think about how that could hinder other aspects of your work.

Get plenty of sleep

Sleep is one thing that can’t be missed out on because we all need a good amount of it to function. Yes, some people may be able to cope with five hours sleep, but that might not be the case for yourself. We’re all wired and made differently, so if you know you can only function with several hours sleep, then you have to give yourself that as often as you can. When you’re working hard, and in a stressful situation, your sleep is the first thing that’s going to be affected. Disrupted sleep or lack thereof, is only going to worsen your health overall. Sleep helps the body to recover and repair itself and without it, your body isn’t functioning at it’s best.

If you find yourself going through a period where you don’t feel your best, let your body rest. Try and get your body into a routine of sleep if you haven’t already. That means leaving all electronic devices away from you at least an hour before you go to sleep, otherwise your brain will be wired. Don’t drink caffeine after 3 pm and try to keep the intake low, rather than knocking back several coffees a day.  If the amount of light is a problem in your bedroom, there’s always eye masks and investing in some blackout blinds to help you fall asleep faster. Experiment with sounds and also essential oils in diffusers to calm your mind.

Never keep quiet about problems

It’s important to make time for socialising, no matter how busy you may be. Not just to continue building relationships but also to have others who you can turn to when you’ve got something on your mind. Talking is crucial because it helps you process what you’re going through by hearing your thoughts out loud. It doesn’t particularly matter if they don’t give advice, just having someone listen to you may be enough. When it comes to mental health, a lot of those who are struggling will tend to just keep quiet and bottle up their emotions and how they’re feeling. That can be a dangerous thing because you can be your own worst enemy and your biggest critic.

So going forward, make sure you are surrounding yourself with people that matter to you and those who love you and care for you. Sometimes, a stranger is needed when it comes to our personal issues and there’s plenty of professionals out there who will lend an ear and give you the guidance and advice needed. Individuals like Cynthia Telles are around to help understand and treat mental health so that going forward, there’s less of a stigma surrounding the subject. No matter who you are, your mental health is really important, so don’t neglect to talk about it.

Eat healthily and exercise

What we put into our bodies and how we treat them is going to directly impact how we feel on the inside. You could be getting a great night’s sleep every night, but if you’re eating junk food all the time and not exercising, you’ll wake up feeling like you’ve not slept a wink. Eating healthily should be important no matter what age you are, so get those vegetables and plenty of fruit into your diet. Think about what’s going onto your plate and that portion sizes too. Try to reduce your carb intake and anything that’s fatty or full of sugar.

A balanced diet also goes hand in hand with exercise. It is hard to get yourself into a routine when it comes to exercise, especially if work is busy or you work long hours. The last thing you want to do is exercise, but it is good for your mental health and for your physical fitness overall. Find something you enjoy doing and try to twenty minutes of exercise per day. Even if one of those days you go for a fast walk around your local area, that’ll be better than nothing.

Organization is key

When everything feels like it’s getting on top of you, a good to-do list can help you prioritise everything from urgent to not so urgent. To help manage your social and work life, organization is paramount. Keeping yourself organized is going to make sure that everything gets done and that your workload doesn’t feel too stressful. It can be as simple as doing a list of tasks to complete every morning when you get out of bed or into the office. Or perhaps you can get yourself a diary or an online calendar to lay out all your plans for the entire month. Find what works for you and perfect that routine until it becomes second nature.

It’s knowing to take control of your life and that you hold to power. You can only help as much as you want to help yourself, so by putting in the effort to stay organised, you’ll be making your life much easier and less stressful.

Believe in yourself

‘I can’t do it’ is a phrase a lot of us tend to use. It’s an instant put down and instead of the negativity, believe in yourself. Have the confidence to tell yourself that ‘yes I can do it’. Believing in yourself is something only you can do, and that can sometimes be the hardest challenge of all, especially when you may be mentally questioning yourself. When self-doubt starts to creep into your mind, stop it and challenge it. Remember what you’ve achieved in your life and tell yourself that you are capable of anything you put your mind to. And it’s completely natural to feel like you can’t do something, especially if it’s new to you. Putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is what’s going to help you build yourself and your confidence. So, find those moments or challenges in your work life and believe that you can do it.

Having a balance of working hard and having positive mental health and wellbeing is possible. It’s all about giving yourself a break when needed and not taking on too much. Believe that you can do it and if you’re struggling, don’t close up. Speak to someone and never feel embarrassed or ashamed for doing so. Keep your body healthy and get the well-deserved rest you need when you need it. Hopefully, these tips will help you move forward so that you can have a good work-life balance alongside positive mental health.

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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