Looking after your mental health in work and life

Caring for your mental health is a crucial career skill, and with World Mental Health Day having taken place on the 10th of October this year, here are five critical aspects of your mental well-being that you can take care of in and out of work.

Mental health work life balance

1. Coping with stress and pressure

A survey by British charity MIND identified work as the number one cause of stress. Stress can manifest itself in many different ways, from racing thoughts to a strong sense of dread. Whatever work you’re doing at the moment, acknowledge what’s causing your stress.  Use breathing techniques, mindfulness and meditation to calm your mind and find perspective, and talk to managers, tutors, advisors, friends and family to help identify priorities and actions you can take.

2. Looking after your physical health

Although sugar, alcohol, and caffeine are the go-to solutions for most people when stressed, they can cause a crash in blood sugar levels that create feelings of irritability or even depression. A healthy diet of whole grains, vegetables, nuts and natural sugars along with good sleep and exercise will regulate your system, keeping you calmer and more centred.

3. Building positive working relationships

In a post-pandemic world, many of us are still feeling isolated. We need to remember that our relationships are precious, and when it comes to working, the positive relationships we have with our colleagues and peers can make all the difference to our state of mind. So, nurture those meaningful relationships in your life and work: show appreciation for others, avoid gossip, take a constructive approach towards conflict and focus on developing your own emotional intelligence.

4. Balancing work and life

More and more of us are working from home nowadays, making it hard to define a boundary between work and personal life. Prioritising your workload, avoiding procrastination, managing expectations and taking time for proper breaks throughout the day are all key to optimising your productivity, allowing you to finish on time. And when you’ve finished working, switch off completely.

5. Becoming more resilient

Resilience is about your ability to cope with challenges and change and to adapt to new circumstances. That attribute has been tested in the extreme for everyone worldwide in the last year and a half. Along with the above, having a cheerful inner voice and focusing your energy on the things you can change will help you bounce back from any challenges life can throw at you.

Whilst there are many things you can do to help take care of your own mental health, it’s important to remind yourself that help is out there if you need it, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for it. So, if you feel like it’s impacting your ability to thrive in work and life, speak to someone you trust about it and consider talking to a professional.

Noho ora mai,

Te Rōpū Rapuara | UC Careers Team

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