It’s Wednesday and you’re stressed. It’s Friday and you can’t switch off. It’s Sunday and you can already feel Monday’s smirk. It’s a great reminder, but surely every day should be World Mental Health Day?
Whether you have clinical issues, or are just burning the candle at both ends to deal with the ever growing pile in your inbox, looking after your mental health is key to a successful life. First of all, because maintaining your equilibrium is going to make you more likely to achieve your goals, and secondly: once you achieve success you want to actually be able to enjoy it. In light of that we thought we’d give you some tips, from mental health and business professionals.
According to the University of Michigan health service, the most important thing to do (and perhaps the hardest) is, “To treat yourself with kindness, and avoid self-criticism.” In practical terms, this means making time for your favourite hobbies and people, trying new activities, and maintaining your skills. “Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language,” the health service suggests as examples.
“Leave your phone at the door when you arrive home, leave it at home when you are heading to the beach, or give yourself a half day on Fridays.” Stevan Premutico, tech entrepreneur and founder of Dimmi, told us implementing boundaries can be a useful way to respect your mental health.
We’d suggest something more fun, like downhill mountain biking, doing flaming shots of tequila or skiing off a cliff in the French Alps (yes, it’s a thing). Either way: work out who you are. If you’re an introvert you’ll need to dedicate yourself some “me time” each week. If you’re more outgoing you might want to catch up with friends instead.
Get Some Exercise
Researchers have found that exercise teaches you to keep your cool under pressure, helps you feel more creative, improves your ability to learn new skills (you’ll never have to Google “How to open a pdf” again) and provides an endorphin boost that demonstrably relieves stress. It doesn’t have to be a special forces workout, but could be as simple as a half hour jog—or even better, a 15 minute run (the higher intensity the better).
“If you want to dance with the devil as far as opening yourself up for stress, anxiety and no sleep, it’s essential to have personal outlets to zap the stress,” entrepreneur Patrick Kidd told us, in an exclusive interview.
Just, whatever you do, avoid “fitness snacking” unless you have a shower (and forgiving colleagues) at work. You should also, flaming tequila aside, take care of your body by limiting the amount of drugs (yes that includes coffee) and alcohol (put that whisky on ice—or rather, don’t) you consume, and by drinking plenty of water.
Surround Yourself With Good People
“People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network,” reads the University of Michigan health service. Guess what? They’re right. So, “Make plans with supportive family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as a club, class or support group.” You can thank the scientists later.
Take Three Day Weekends
If you’re under the pump at work and either can’t bring yourself to take a proper holiday, or simply don’t have enough leave accrued, this is the next best thing. In fact Stevan Premutico, founder of Dimmi, a restaurant booking app, credits it with enabling him to work for a decade—non stop—before selling his business to Tripadvisor.
“Having not taken a holiday for 10 years, this became my staple towards the end. It sounds so simple but it’s so powerful. A three day weekend away from the office to relax, recharge and re-inspire. Lots on reading, podcasts and thinking. I would do a lot of my bigger thinking here… for the biz, and for my life. It’s amazing what can happen when you just get away for a few days and let your heart and mind roam free.”
Get Help If You Need It
As we found in our collaboration with Queensland Health, there is no silver bullet when it comes to sorting stress and anxiety. So don’t be afraid to seek help and share the load with someone else. Whether you speak to your GP or contact beyondblue, it’s up to you.
“As with most major stresses that affect men in life, prevention is better than a cure.”
Simply telling your GP that you’re not feeling yourself is a good first step in addressing the problem. GPs are well trained in this area and will ensure they refer you to a suitable solution or specialist.
There are also a wealth of podcasts out there, like The Hilarious World Of Depression, where comedians share their stories of dealing with mental illness.
“It’s a great listen when you feel alone or ashamed, because a lot of the stories hit home and it’s encouraging to hear people talk openly about their struggles and how they managed to get to a better place,” (Reddit).
If you want to check out this podcast, or something similar, click here.