Maintaining your mental health into the New Year
Many workplaces start back this week, and as the New Year starts kicking off so too comes the stress of balancing work, study, family and a social life. Because of this, it’s important to start making decisions that support your mental health and wellbeing – and not just for yourself, but your workplace too.
In 2015, PwC created a mental health report that looked at how much mental health conditions cost businesses each year, highlighting the importance of employers taking positive actions to support those suffering from such conditions. According to their findings, mental health-related sick leave cost employers $4.7 billion, and ‘presenteesim’ (where staff are present but are unable to work at full capacity because of a mental health condition) cost $6.1 billion in a loss of productivity (x).
The report also highlighted the fact that only 52% of employees surveyed believed their workplace was ‘mentally healthy’, further emphasising the importance of making time to take care of yourself and your mental health.
So, what can you do this year to start setting up new habits to support your own wellbeing during any tough periods that may be coming your way?
If your calendar is already filling up with meetings, study sessions, and evening catch-ups then it’s likely you might start feeling a little overwhelmed. Take back control of your calendar by booking in time for yourself. Try for at least 30 minutes a day during the week, and at least a few hours on the weekend around your other commitments.
Spend this time giving back to yourself, either through something like meditation or a fun group class, taking time to enjoy a hobby, or simply go somewhere you can unwind without having to worry about anything (or anyone) else. Whatever leaves you feeling rejuvenated and gets your mind off of whatever is stressing you is a good idea.
A new year can bring about changes that leave us feeling a little off kilter. If you have some big decisions to make, such as a career change (or even a career start), it’s important you first make sure whatever result you come to first aligns with your core values.
There’s a simple exercise you can do to really narrow down your core values, and it involves something that resembles arts and crafts, which is always a fun throwback to childhood. Atlassian developed a set of cards you can print out that lists core values which you can sort into three categories: ‘not important’, ‘important’, and ‘hell yeah’. Print them out and try it for yourself.
Then, when you’re faced with making one of these big life decisions you’ll have a solid foundation on which to support your answer, which should hopefully lead to a more personally fulfilling and mentally healthy career choice!
Reflect on it
Self-reflection may not be the most fun pastime, but it is important when taking steps to make more mentally positive choices.
It’s easy to get bogged down in detail, to ignore signs of stress and emotional fatigue when things get hectic. Setting aside some time – even if it’s just a half hour every 3 months – to check in with how you’re feeling about the way the year is going, what has been making you happy, and what areas of your life and career need work can help you stay proactive.
Self-reflection is also a good way to start recognising patterns, either situational or behavioural, that cause stress and make you feel down. Once you find these triggers, you can more easily work to avoid them, remove them from your day, or address them directly. Being more mindful about how you’re moving through life, and more specifically your career, can lead to better informed choices and a more well-rounded approach to your own mental wellbeing.
Talk about it
While it’s not always easy to open up to others when your mental health is flagging, it can be a very healthy step in moving through this down period. Speaking about how you’re feeling can also help you establish a solid support network that you can lean on if things get rough again in the future. Whether it’s reaching out to friends and family and sharing your troubles, or chatting with a professional, talking about what’s going on can be really beneficial.
UTS offers a free and confidential counselling service for its students, if you are hoping to talk to a professional. There are also a number of more specialised support groups you can get in touch with.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
By Mia Casey