When we hear the word “health”
many of us automatically think of our physical wellness—going to the doctor for regular physicals, staying up-to-date on vaccines, checking in with specialists for ongoing care. While those are all important aspects of helping us to be our best selves, physical health is just one dimension of overall wellness!
In the last few years—particularly since the pandemic started—there’s been a major shift to recognize an important reality: Our mental health is a major part of who we are. When our mental health is doing well, we see the beneficial effects in our everyday life. But when mental health is suffering, the impacts can be far-reaching. And if we’re not tending to our mental health the same way we are to our physical, we risk it taking a downward turn—influencing everything from our personal relationships to our work life and career trajectory.
For instance, think about a time when you felt on top of the world! You were feeling put together, confident, in control of what was happening in your life. That positivity blends right into the workplace—you show up to work (on time!) feeling good, you enjoy healthy interactions with co-workers, you may even chase a new role or a promotion because you are sure you’re the right person for the job. But think about the opposite: You’re feeling unsure of yourself or unprepared, and the world feels like it’s spinning out of your control—something many of us experienced at the start of the pandemic. Those feelings certainly follow you through to the workplace, making you less comfortable, less attentive and less likely to be taking the steps you need to advance your career.
So, what can employees do to maximize their mental health? First, reframe how you think about mental health: It’s just “health”! You should be paying as much attention to how you feel mentally and how you show up to every day as you do to that pain in your knee or the sore throat. And if you notice some pain points, areas of stress or things you want to work on, be proactive! Seek support—through therapy or from your employer, who may be open to offering more flexibility or connecting you with resources—and make self-care a priority. Along with formal counseling, activities like meditation, yoga and regular exercise, along with healthy nutrition, all can help you balance and support your mental health.
Taken together, these strategies can promote an overall stronger mental health—and it can set off a positive cycle at work! When you feel good, you’ll work better, being more productive and engaged. And when you’re shining at work, you’ll likely get more recognition, boosting your confidence and giving you the energy you need to keep the momentum going.