4 Tips for Improving Your Mental Health at Work

While still reaching your goals.

Have you ever considered… your work can go on without you?

*GASP*

If you are a “C” on the DISC Assessment, your first thought is probably “Not if you want it to be good!” I hear you! As a high D, my first instinct is to get things done NOW and to do them personally because my ego is so high that the thought of someone else doing it (ineffectively) sends me into a downward spiral. I know my fellow high achievers can relate. It’s easy to fall into this mindset, and it’s not without its consequences.

Let me share an example… A few years ago, flying from one coast to another, I found myself exhausted, struggling, and frustrated. It was late at night, and I just wanted to get home. As a young momma and a corporate working warrior, I found myself drowning in diapers, data, and deprivation from all things healthy.

I realized as life happens, work still goes on, but I couldn’t keep going along with it unless I made some changes.

On that late-night plane ride, I got very real about what was truly important. For me at that time, a number of things made the list, and one of them was that if I wanted to reach my goals, I needed to better prioritize taking care of myself and my mental health. I needed more space in my week to lead better for my team.

More candidly, I understood at the surface level that mental health is important. As a leader, I would preach awareness and balance, but it took me years to truly understand the impact of what a “lack thereof” could truly cause.

I’d like to share 4 tactical tips I’ve learned in the years since that flight that have helped me have better focus at work. These, coupled with therapy, a coach, a workout routine, and even medication, if appropriate, should all be welcomed as viable options for your mental health to thrive in the workplace.  And, let’s be clear… the goal is to thrive!

 

My 4 Tactical Tips:

1. Prioritize time to ponder and plan

2. Picture a poised presence

3. Practice. Practice saying “Yes!” and practice saying “No!”

4. Progress over perfection

1. Prioritize time to ponder and plan

If your schedule is chocked full of meetings and tasks, there’s a good chance that one of the tasks you aren’t accomplishing is thinking and planning. (And you’re leaving an opportunity to grow on the table.)

Leaders take time to think. You and those around you need you to do just that.

This deserves time in your schedule, and not as a one-time event. Put it in your calendar and honor that time commitment. Create this as a new habit.

I have found the challenge doesn’t start with the what or the how, but when do I even have time to think about strategy regarding my role and company? If not now, when?

Block off your calendar – your mental health, and your career, will be better for it.

2. Picture a poised presence

I read a book once that asked me to picture the very best version of myself. This version of me is calm, poised, assertive, not aggressive – she may also have longer hair and wear a smaller pant size, but that is for another conversation ;o).

This poised persona creates impact and adds value to every single person she engages with. She is present and engaged. She knows what she wants, goes for it, and helps others do the same.

The first thing you do when your calendar pings with the time allotted for you to plan and prioritize, is to ponder what the very best version of yourself looks like. Then we plan out not only where you want to go, but how you want to get there.

3. Practice. Practice saying “Yes!” and practice saying “No!”

To quote Jen Hatmaker: “If it isn’t a hell yes, it should be a hell no!”

I have historically struggled to say no because I wanted to keep up with the standards I thought I needed to maintain to stay at the top of my game in the workplace “I worked really hard to be here and no way would I be willing to sacrifice that.”

Sound familiar?

The truth is, if you say yes to everything, most likely, something is eventually going to suffer for that decision, and usually, your mental health is at the top of that list.

Now, I know if you are in business, you are voluntold for tasks. I would challenge you to flip your perspective to be “Awesome, that is one less decision I have to make, this will go on the list of important – the ‘yes’ list!”

Where you truly do have authority, despite having a boss or board, is most likely around “how” to accomplish those items. Where is the highest and best use of your time? Who can you delegate needed items to, without sacrificing the space you need to thrive?

Understand that if you do not also include your own personal loves and goals in your calendar, you will burn out. It is not if, it is when. Do not wait for your boss to understand this fact, the responsibility lies with you to own it for yourself.

(Note, if you are a leader, allow space for prioritization and passion on your team. Your results will be better for it!)

My advice is to get clear on your “Yesses” so when you need to articulate your “No thank yous,” you can do that effectively and with confidence.

Action item: Practice saying, “That is a wonderful idea, unfortunately, I do not have the space in my calendar for it this week. I think “insert qualified name here” would be a wonderful option to reach out to.”

Find out what makes sense for you and put it into practice.

4. Progress over perfection

Let me let you in on a little secret… no one, and I do mean no one, is perfect.

So, embrace the fact that you aren’t perfect. Smile knowing the co-worker 3 years ahead nor your boss carries the title of perfection either. What is that cliché? Oh yes, the journey of 1000 miles starts with a first step. Take the first step, baby (and expect to trip along the way)!

You can’t commit to always getting it right, because… you won’t (none of us do!), but do you know what you can commit to? Learning from any mistakes you make so you can be better next time. John Maxwell describes it as Failing Forward.

Some final thoughts for you…

(This one is worth repeating) Progress > Perfection

Have clear priorities and set boundaries to protect them. Everything you do is a choice.

Taking time to think and plan deserves time on your schedule. Put it on your calendar and honor it!

Keep growing,

Coach Stef

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