It’s no secret that many people make their careers a priority and pivotal aspect of their lives. While work is important and allows us the freedom to do the things we enjoy and pay our bills to survive, the lines between our personal and professional lives can quickly become blurred. While deriving worth from our professional success isn’t inherently a bad thing, it can quickly turn into a major stressor in our lives if you’ve been neglecting your wellness and haven’t had much practice in compartmentalizing your work life for the rest of your life.
Neglecting our mental health can be a byproduct of allocating too much of our lives to work, which can in turn cause our career and work to suffer due to burnout and spreading yourself too thin. To avoid burnout and find that professional and personal work-life balance, check out these tips from some folks who have experienced this firsthand.
1. Don’t Forget To Take Breaks
“Taking breaks during the day is extremely important to destress. A change of pace is good for your mental health. Taking breaks can sometimes feel like a task for people who aren’t used to it. However, I have found that there are many ways to make the breaks not feel like you’re just wasting time.
One of my favorite things to do while I’m on break is listen to my favorite podcast. I also try to walk to lunch instead of getting it delivered, or driving to a restaurant. Those walks can help break the monotony of the workday and clear my head.”
2. Set Boundaries
“Having clear and set boundaries for yourself is important in any situation, so you must have those boundaries in work. Often it can be easy to get lost in the daily motions of work and stress yourself out in the process. Because of this, you need to keep in mind the boundaries you set between yourself and your work.
This can look like taking a break every day to pull away and go for a walk or not doing anything related to your job after a certain time each day. No matter what, having these boundaries in place will be beneficial for both your mental health and your career growth.”
– David Ring, Senior Marketing Manager at MCT Trading
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
“Never assume that you can tackle everything on your own. Rather, you should get comfortable with getting any help that you need by asking for help. Oftentimes, your job will provide you with mental health resources and therapy that you can take advantage of.
It’s not always easy to seek help from a mental health professional, especially if it’s your first time, but taking the first step will always be the hardest part. You will find that the whole process is worth it once you get to hear a different perspective on what you’re struggling with and gain knowledge on how to deal with your struggles.”
– Doug Crawford, Founder of Best Trade Schools
4. Set Time for Personal and Professional Development
“To stay mentally healthy and have a healthy work-life balance, you need to take time to invest in yourself both personally and professionally. Take note of what professional skills you want to develop and anything you would like to work on personally so you can build a schedule around the time you need to take to do so.
Anything you do with this time should be done to better yourself, not just make yourself better at your job. At the end of the day, investing in yourself will ultimately help you be more mentally healthy, and as a result, more successful at anything you do.”
– Adrian Pereira, CEO, and Co-Founder of Eco Pea Co.
“Mindfulness in the workplace is crucial for reducing stress, building resilience, and gaining self-awareness. You can use mindfulness as a tool to maintain a healthy mental outlook and increase your productivity. It also gives you space and permission to ask yourself what you need in each moment.
A mindful approach in the workplace means being patient with yourself and others, remaining open and curious, and practicing acceptance of the present moment. Cultivating more presence through mindfulness will help you excel in your career by improving your work-life balance, communication, and confidence.”
– Jarrid Raney, Director of E-Commerce and Marketing at Shop Blends
6. Listen To Mental Health Podcasts
“Listening to mental health podcasts throughout the workday can positively impact your stress levels and ultimately allow you to get more done at work. Oftentimes we resort to music at work, which can lead to distractions, higher heart rate, and failure to remain on task.
By locking yourself in and listening to a mental health podcast, you’ll notice your attention span has improved and that you’re able to focus for longer periods. Listening to mental health podcasts can also boost your mood and get you out of a slump. There are so many podcasts that encourage positivity, motivation and living a stress-free life, so listening to these words of inspiration while working can put you in a successful work environment.”
– Sam Rogers, Outreach Manager for Ziebart
7. Create a Routine
“Having a routine in place can make you feel like you are taking control of your workday and your life overall. While it may not feel ideal to do everything according to schedule, having a routine will give you a sense of normalcy and alleviate any stress or anxiety you may have about getting through your day.
If it’s easier, try taking baby steps so instead of creating a routine for the entire day, try creating a routine for your morning, afternoon, or evening. Prioritizing your time and taking control over how you use it will put you more at ease.”
– Kate Lipman, Sales & Marketing Consultant of Embrace Scar Therapy
8. Build Personal Relationships
“The workplace can be a much more stressful place when you feel alone. When you don’t have anyone to chat with, you have fewer opportunities to clear your mind and enjoy not thinking about the task at hand for a bit. Building strong relationships with your peers can be great for your mental health because a nice laugh or thought-provoking story can turn a bad day around. If you have something that’s bothering you, it is also nice to have someone to take a break from work with and talk to you about whatever is bothering you.
– Kevin Mako, founder of Mako Design + Invent
9. Take Time Off When Available
“Taking days off when available is a great mental health tip that a lot of employees in today’s workforce tend to be afraid to do. Most employees will have quite a busy regular day schedule and will fear that they will fall behind, miss important meetings or events, or think that their managers or bosses will be offended or disapprove of taking any sort of time off.
If you can have even one planned day of paid time off to unwind, recharge, and relax, you should always take it! Go as far as planning a couple of PTO days each year designated for your mental health. Even staying at home for the day and relaxing can have positive results and you will go back to the office feeling much better. Mental and physical burnout is very common if employees don’t take the time out of their work years to relax.”
– Bill Lyons, CEO of Griffin Funding
10. Get Creative
“Doing the same thing repeatedly isn’t good for anybody, and can harm your mental health. Feel free to switch up your routine every once in a while if you feel like you constantly find yourself doing the same thing over and over again. You do not want to feel like the days are passing you one by one because before you know it 3 years will have passed and you’ll wonder where the time went.
Take some time to go find a nice farmer’s market during your lunch break or instead of waking up at 8:00, wake up at 7:00 and go for a run. These small changes to your everyday routine will have a positive impact on your mental health. Keep your mind thinking, “what will happen next.”
– Sacha Ferrandi, CEO and Co-founder at Source Capital
11. Lean on Your Support Network
“Getting enough social interaction can have a dramatic impact on mental health which can ultimately help you succeed in your career. People with quality social connections have a group of people they can look to for support and help when they need it or are feeling down.
However, if you’re used to secluding yourself, creating those social connections can be scary. Investing in your social life can boost feelings of self-worth and help overcome negative thoughts and hardships in life. Try making an effort to connect socially every day and see the positive effects it can have on your overall mental health, wellbeing, and career!”
– Gregg Dean, CEO, and Co-founder of Layla Sleep
12. Stay Active
“A lot of jobs require you to be sitting at your computer all day, which can be hard on both your physical and mental health. It is important to make room in your busy schedule for any type of physical activity. You can take time in the morning to go to the gym, go for a walk during your lunch break, or run in the evening.
Making exercise a regular part of your day-to-day will not only make you feel stronger and more confident, but it will also boost your mood, decrease your stress, and clear your head to help you concentrate. Physical activity is actually a great way to release your stress from work or personal life, so set some time aside to do something active that you enjoy.”
– Megan Jones, Community Outreach Manager for NutraSweet Natural
13. Stay Organized Mentally and Physically
“Work can be stressful, especially when it gets busy and you don’t have an organizational system in place to help keep track of what needs to get done. A good first step when work starts to pile up is to set aside some time to prioritize and plan out your next move. This can often increase productivity which can help relieve work-related stress and anxiety that can harm one’s mental health.
Using a calendar or reminder app to help you define your workday and organize what you’ll be doing and when can help clear things up in your head and make your workload seem less overwhelming. Once priorities are set and a plan is put into action, the work in front of you will seem much more manageable and hopefully will lead to a healthier mindset and less stress.”
– Daniel Kane, Founder of The Ridge
14. Separate Your Work From Your Home
“With the rise of remote work, so too comes the blurring of our job and home. Without clear boundaries between the physical spaces used for your work and that for your leisure, it becomes significantly more difficult to differentiate the two mentally as well. If you’re always thinking about working off-hours due to this, it can become a source of stress that compounds over time.
Therefore, taking steps to physically divide your workspace from everywhere else in your house is an important part of properly maintaining your mental well-being. Consider setting up a workstation outside of your room in a living room or dining area. Additionally, spending time outside in a café or coffee shop or something similar is also a good idea as it is a physical space completely outside of your home.”
– Adrien Dissous, Global SVP of Marketing at Babo Botanicals
Here is the last bonus tip.
15. Block out time for self-care
We create schedules for ourselves daily with what can feel like a never-ending to-do list, but it’s crucial we schedule in time for self-care. When you are blocking your schedule for meetings or focus time, block out time for self-care too. I suggest creating a calendar for your whole day, not just your workday. Whatever self-care looks like to you, whether it’s a midday walk, an after-work massage, specific time set aside to journal, or even errands you need to run, schedule these into your day as if they were meetings.
This way even if you have to cancel something due to work, you have the reminder on your calendar of what you want to get done and you can always move it to later in the week. Utilizing your calendar and blocking out time will force you to take care of yourself outside of work allowing you to be more present during work hours.
– Jacob Dayan, CEO, and Co-founder of Community Tax
Your mental health and work can affect one another. If you prioritize one too much, it can cause the other to suffer. This is why work-life balance is such a hot topic in media because it is clear the significant negative impact it can have when you neglect to care for your mental health. Creating and setting boundaries between your work and personal life can make a huge difference. Try some of the tips laid out above and remember to switch up your routine every once in a while, go out for a walk, and step away from your desk occasionally. If you do even one of these tips every once in a while, you’ll be just fine.