Ambitious professionals rarely stop to consider their mental health. They have companies to run, corporate ladders to climb—they don’t have time to think about their mental wellness.
Maybe this is why 20% of adult Americans experience mental health disorders, while 1 in 25 adult Americans deal with serious mental illness on a daily basis.
The truth is, you can’t afford not to think about your mental health. It’s a serious issue. Not to mention, you won’t be able to grow your company or level up your career if your mind isn’t in a healthy place. That’s why I’m trying to raise awareness with this article.
Keep reading to learn what mental health really is, why it’s so important for business owners and other professionals to think about, and five ways to improve one’s mental wellness ASAP. Your work life balance depends on it.
What is Mental Health?
According to the CDC, the term ‘mental health’ encompasses our:
“Emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
It’s important to remember that poor mental health and mental illness are not the same thing, though the terms are often used interchangeably in modern society.
A person with poor mental health may not have a mental illness. And a person with mental illness can experience periods of well-being. Put simply, mental health reflects the current state of one’s mind. Mental illness refers to diagnosable mental health conditions.
Why is Your Mental Health Important?
So, what’s the big deal? Do business owners and other professionals really need to pay attention to their mental health? In a word: absolutely!
Mental health problems can have serious side effects. You may become subject to wild mood swings. You may become increasingly stressed and have panic attacks. Poor mental health can affect one’s physical health, too, which can lead to many other issues.
Here’s the good news: there are treatment options available to those suffering from poor mental health. A qualified doctor will be able to help you pinpoint whatever causes your mental state to plummet and develop a plan to help you overcome those challenges.
Of course, there are things you can do to improve your mental health without the aid of a doctor. We’ll talk about them in the next section. But never feel ashamed to seek help from a professional if you need it. We’ll talk more about that at the end of this article.
5 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health
Now that we know what mental health is and why it’s important to your personal and professional life, let’s talk about how to improve it. Here are five tips to help:
1. Practice Gratitude
Start by practicing gratitude. What does that even mean, you ask? It’s pretty simple: take time to think about the good things in your life; the things that you’re thankful for.
Better yet, write them down in a journal so that you can refer back to them in the future.
Studies show that practicing gratitude can lead to higher levels of happiness. And people who are happy tend to experience fewer mental health conditions.
2. Enjoy Your Career
Are you excited to go to work in the morning? Or do you dread your daily trips to the office? Sadly, 85% of people hate their jobs. Since the average person spends about a third of their adult life working, it’s no wonder that the need for mental health services has skyrocketed.
It’s incredibly important that you actually enjoy your career. If you don’t, consider applying for a new job. Here are a few qualities to look for in your next gig:
- Work For a Company You Admire: Do you connect with your company’s mission? Ideally, you’ll feel like the work you do has some higher purpose or goal.
- Work on Projects That Excite You: Do the projects you’re asked to complete everyday engage you? You should enjoy performing your work.
- Work With People Who Inspire You: Do you like your coworkers? If not, even the best working environments won’t matter, and you’ll likely feel depressed in your career.
Now, don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to love every aspect of your career.
You’ll be asked to complete projects you don’t want to do every now and again. Your coworkers might drive you bonkers on occasion. There will be days when you’d rather sit on a beach in Cancun than go to work. (Okay, you’ll probably feel that way most days.)
Just make sure that, generally speaking, you enjoy the work that you do and the company you do it for. This will improve your mental health by leaps and bounds.
3. Prioritize Your Physical Health
You may be surprised to learn that your physical health can affect your mental health. That’s why you should pay attention to your eating habits and partake in physical exercise.
It wouldn’t hurt you to get a good night’s sleep once in a while, too.
According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise causes the body to release certain endorphins, which help ease feelings of depression and anxiety. A healthy diet can reduce these feelings, as well. And a good night’s sleep? When your brain experiences every sleep stage and the benefits of each, you’ll think, learn, and memorize better, leading to greater mental health.
Your mental state and your physical body are connected. By taking care of one, you can help the other. By the same token, neglecting one can harm the other.
4. Get Out of the Office From Time to Time
Just because you own a business, or manage a department for a Fortune 500 company, doesn’t mean you should work 80 hours a week. You need to take time to rest.
This is something most Americans have a hard time doing. Recent stats suggest that 768 million vacation days go to waste every year in the States. That’s a lot of PTO! Unfortunately, all work and no play leads to stress, burnout, and, possibly, a crisis of mental health.
To keep your brain sharp and engaged, get out of the office from time to time. Take your significant other out to dinner. Get out of town for the weekend. Book that dream vacation you’ve been dying to go on for years. Your time away will energize your mind.
Don’t forget to take breaks from you notifications to. Pausing notifications can be a nice way to get deep work done and improve your daily habits.
5. Adopt a New Hobby (Or Take Up an Old One)
Remember what we just said about getting out of the office? Well, you don’t have to flee the country to do that. Time spent on a cherished hobby can be equally beneficial.
So, what do you like to do? Are you a scrapbooker? A bicyclist? Maybe you’re one of those larpers, and your perfect weekend takes place in a park, wielding a wooden sword, attempting to slay a dragon or achieve some other goal. Hey, to each his own.
It doesn’t matter what your hobby is. Do it regularly and your mental health will improve.
Experiencing Mental Health Problems?
Anyone can experience mental illness. But business owners and other highly ambitious professionals are more likely to experience mental health conditions than others.
Why is this? Because these individuals tend to push themselves to the brink, which can lead to elevated stress levels, erratic mood swings, panic attacks, and other serious issues.
A few of the more common mental health challenges you may experience include numerous anxiety disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Life threatening conditions like bipolar disorder and even suicide are possibilities, too.
If you feel like you have experienced, or are currently experiencing, any of these problems, I encourage you to contact your primary care physician. They should be able to help you—or, at the very least, refer you to a knowledgeable expert who specializes in mental health.
(Note: Federal law requires insurance companies to treat mental and behavioral health disorders the same as physical ailments. This means your health insurance provider should provide coverage for mental health programs and related treatment, when necessary.)
If you ever feel depressed, don’t hesitate to call the suicide prevention line. Just dial 988.
Don’t Let a Mental Health Issue Derail Your Career
Poor mental health will keep you from achieving your career goals. It can have other, more serious side effects, too, that may manifest themselves into life-changing physical ailments.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to prioritize your mental wellness and make sure your mind is in tip-top shape. Start by practicing gratitude, making sure you actually enjoy your job, taking time for yourself on a regular basis, and the other tips we mentioned.
Speaking of mental health tips, here’s one more for you: offload business tasks that you don’t enjoy to capable professionals. Hate marketing? Check out Scorpion where I work. Its a great spot if you are a small business and need some extra help with your home services marketing , legal marketing, or franchise marketing. Can’t stand sales? Partner with an independent group of sellers. Find customer support to be boring? You get the idea…
Whatever you do, make sure your mind is right. That way everything else can fall into place.