7 Ways To Manage Your Emotional Health & Your Career — Without Giving Up On Either

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Woman creating a bubble of self care and nurture around her work life

No one should have to choose between maintaining good mental health and fulfilling their work responsibilities. If an organization prioritizes anything above the well-being of its staff, it may be a sign of a toxic environment. Your mental health and your career can never be separated because they are both critical.

Experiencing stress at work is normal, but it becomes destructive when it's constant. It is a bad sign when you work for a company that expects you to do more than you can.

Prioritizing your mental health helps you become more productive, creative, and collaborative. A good manager or boss will always recognize the importance of having a team of mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy employees. Happy employees do better work.

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Seven steps to maintain good mental health and have a successful career.

1. Recognize how work affects your mental health

If you want to keep better track of your mental health, you will need some tools to help you be more present and grounded and allow you to recognize when you are feeling stressed out.

Explore different practices until you find one that works for you. This could be yoga, tai chi, breath-work, meditation, prayer, walking, gardening, and more.

There are so many great resources to choose from. One of my favorites is Insight Timer, one of many apps that provide you with various meditation and mindfulness practices.

2. Acknowledge and tackle the difficulties at work

Practice vulnerability. Whether or not you are new to your job, acknowledge your challenges. Work with your manager or boss to resolve any issues. Get help for yourself if you are facing mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. A good employer will support your healing work.

You are human and thus imperfect. When you are vulnerable, you will be at your best. You will be at your best because you are being fully honest with yourself, naming what needs to change in your life, owning what you need to do, and finding the courage to live out a new way of being. Your Mental health and career choice must be given equal importance.

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3. Ask for flexibility and working conditions to enable you to thrive

As an expert on yourself, don't hesitate to ask for what you need to be at your best at work. Even if you can't get everything you want, a good employer should be willing to listen to your concerns and work with you to find a mutually beneficial solution. It's a positive sign when your employer shows concern and collaborates with you to address any issues.

4. Take the time you need to care for yourself

Caring for yourself is crucial. What do you need to stay mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy? What are you doing right now? What is missing in your repertoire? What is preventing you from moving ahead?

You can improve your self-care by participating activities to help calm your mind and keep your body healthy. For instance, listening to classical music can help you quiet your mind while going for a daily walk, or practicing yoga in the morning can help improve your physical health. Remember, after initiating any new habit, you must consistently practice it to make it a regular part of your routine.

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5. Set boundaries to honor you and your colleagues.

It would help if you had healthy boundaries. Hopefully, your place of work sets the intention for mutual respect.

Where is the line between your personal and work life? Respecting the privacy of clients when confidentiality is necessary is a must. Building trust with your colleagues is essential to keep your team strong, whether small or big.

Create a work environment where it is okay to be yourself. Life happens so some days you come to work sad, upset, or any other strong emotion. Maybe a loved one has died, and you are not your usual cheerful self. You need space at work and home where you don't have to explain what is happening to everyone.

When you go to work, think of what you need from your colleagues at work, as they will be doing the same. Maybe you need help with a project. Perhaps you need some space because of something happening at home, or maybe you had a misunderstanding with a colleague and want to resolve the conflict.

6. Notice when you move into negative thinking and search for a different perspective

You have an inner critic who wants to keep you safe by preventing you from trying anything new. Often, when you are feeling negative, it means your inner critic has taken over.

The best way to deal with this is to be brutally honest with yourself and ask if there is any truth to your thoughts. Often, there is a pearl of reality, but most of it is a lie.

Let go of the lie, do some meditation, exercise or listen to music, and focus on what you need. What do you need to enrich your life?

You must ensure your mental health and career choices harmonize with each other.

7. Spot the red flags of a toxic work environment so you can change it or leave

As you get mentally, emotionally, and physically healthier, you will notice almost immediately when you enter a toxic environment.

You should be able to discern if this environment can be changed. Will this company change with its current leadership? If not, you may want to look for another job. No job is worth destroying your mental health.

You want to enjoy your life at home and work, so take some time to discern what are the issues and the struggles going on at your job, and if these issues can be overcome.

When you make time for a healthy lifestyle, you can pay better attention to the conversations in your head to see if there is any truth to what you are telling yourself. As you acknowledge what may be true, and you might also you discover you are amid a toxic work environment. You can try to seek change, but if the issues persist, you might need to look for another job.

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Roland Legge is an author, certified spiritual life coach, and teacher of the Enneagram. He helps people connect to their inner selves and find alignment with their highest purpose and values.