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Brandi's Getting Real...Let's Talk About Mental Health and How It Impacts Your Career

Spoiler alert!

You will probably face a challenging time in your career that can be attributed to a lower level of mental health.

If you live here in the PNW then you know this time of year can be especially hard on our mental health. Long stretches of cold, rainy (and snowy?) days with less daylight than we would like. That certainly doesn't help!

Or maybe work is incredibly stressful and you are teetering into burnout? Been there! Every day feels exhausting and you are just waiting for the workload to lift.

You aren't alone if you are feeling this way.

In fact, if I'm being completely honest, I'm in one of these slumps right now.

I am expecting our first child this summer (yay!), but I'm also one of those lucky people who pukes all day, every day despite being "over the morning sickness" phase of the pregnancy. It's taken its toll on my mental health and, in the midst of all that, I am struggling with feelings of inadequacy in being a female entrepreneur. I am learning I can't operate like I used to. I always thought I was this superwoman who can do anything she put her mind to - and I still am - but I'm also needing a lot of naps these days....

Hello, just grew a kidney and a kneecap today, thanks!

One of my greatest assets as a coach is being able to meet people where they are and work alongside them. I'm letting you in on this reality because I want you to know that you don't have to have it all together all the time. Life is one messy ball of yarn and I'm right there with you with my own messy strings in knots.

We are going to be ok!

So, if you are in this stage or you just want to arm yourself with strategies to help you the next time you find yourself in this place, here are a few of my go-to strategies!

1. Prioritize Self-Care: Many people spend so much time and effort taking care of others, both in their personal lives and in meeting deadlines at work, that it’s easy to push aside self-care. But hello, we can't pour from an empty bucket! Does this mean taking long, hot baths with cucumbers on your eyes? If that works for you - go for it! For me, I find taking short breaks to stretch or simply taking a few deep breaths outside is a great pause.

2. Establish Healthy Boundaries: Setting clear boundaries between work and personal life is vital for mental health. Technology has made it easy to be constantly connected to work, even outside of official working hours, and Covid shutdowns made that encroachment more acceptable. Work with your manager to establish acceptable boundaries that work for you and then communicate those boundaries clearly with your colleagues. And remember, this doesn't always look like a clean cut-off at 5 pm. For some people that works, but for you it could look like a midday break to spend the afternoon in daylight and then picking up emails again later in the evening. Communicating clearly with your team helps them understand that just because that schedule works for you does not require them to be responding late in the evening if it doesn't work for their lifestyle.

3. Foster a Positive Work Environment: Your work atmosphere has a big influence on your mental health. It’s important to create a positive and supportive work environment (managers, I’m looking at you). When managers encourage open communication, recognize achievements, and foster a sense of community, it contributes to a workplace culture that promotes mental well-being. A positive work environment not only reduces stress but also enhances overall job satisfaction and can prevent burnout.

4. Break Down Overwhelming Tasks: A common source of stress at work is feeling overwhelmed by a large project or an extensive to-do list. Try breaking down some of those tasks into smaller, more manageable components. This approach can make your workload seem less overwhelming as it allows you to focus on one step at a time. Use time management tools to help you. For example, use your online calendar to block out time to focus on the steps that require the most concentration. When you finish a task, you might want to celebrate to acknowledge your own accomplishment.

5. Seek Support: Don't hesitate to seek support when needed. Whether it's talking to a trusted colleague, seeking guidance from a mentor, or accessing employee assistance programs, having a support system is crucial. Sharing your concerns or challenges can give you valuable perspectives and coping strategies. If you have concerns about your workload, it might be a good idea to talk to your manager about it. There might be workload imbalances they were unaware of, so good communication is important.

6. Learn Something New: Continuous learning not only enhances professional growth but also has positive effects on mental health. Every time you learn a new skill you pull your brain into a different way of thinking which can help you mentally shift your focus. Embracing new challenges and acquiring new skills gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose. But remember, this doesn't have to be work related! Hobbies are a great way to get your brain mapping new neuropathways.

We all need to be intentional about maintaining mental health. When life gets busy and stressful, the first thing many people tend to do is put aside their own needs to make sure everything gets done. This works for a bit but isn't a great long-term solution!

Remember, this chapter won't be forever (even though it feels that way). You are not alone, you are stronger than you think, and you have so many people rooting for your success (me included!). Hang in there - the sun is coming soon!

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