If you work in tech, chances are you’ve seen someone struggle with mental health issues. It can be hard on both the person and their colleagues. I’ve witnessed this first hand. Thankfully, we’re more open today than 10 years ago. We know it’s ok not to be happy in the workplace, and that it’s even ok to take a break. But it doesn’t end there. It’s important to keep good mental health habits so that you can cope with your daily routine at work and have space for a healthy private life outside work. Here are some tips that I have used throughout my career to help stay on top of my mental health.
Set boundaries with others on what you will and will not do at work. Learn how to say no and do not take on roles and responsibilities that are not part of your job description. Also, set boundaries for yourself with how much work you’ll put into your work. If you’re about to burn out then stop yourself from working for a while. Set focus times and non focus times to give yourself a screen break. I like naps and working from home has really made this easier to do.
Control your schedule
Your time is valuable so use it wisely. If your job requires you to be in an office from 9am-6pm, then so be it. But if you have the flexibility to control your schedule, make sure you do so in a way that helps you stay healthy and productive. I block off at least one to two hours a day personal growth and lunch. Sometimes its hard but say no to meetings that you will not contribute to or that does not have an agenda but treat your time like you would if you were self employed. Make sure others in your workplace value it, set boundaries, disagree and commit.
Take time off
Working from home, has meant that some of us have never stopped working. And while it’s easy to fall into a pattern of working all the time and not taking time off, it’s important to do so. Even if you’re not taking a vacation right now, you can take a day off. You don’t have to go anywhere or spend any money — just take time for yourself and your family. I love vacations and think everyone should try one at least once in their life. It gives you something to look forward to and work towards. When off, disconnect completely, I like to go to my deer camp, the mountains, the lake, or the beach. Find a hobby and go all in, life is too short not to have fun.
There are many ways to give back and volunteer more, whether it be spending time helping others or doing good for nothing. Being altruistic not only helps others, but also gives you a sense of purpose and well-being. I like to go volunteer at the food bank at least once a month and multiple times during the holidays. I was taught at a young age about service work through boy scouts and continue to keep it fluid in my life.
Take time to reflect and practice gratitude
Look inward and reflect. Spend time thinking about what makes you happy and what you’re grateful for. Write down specific things or events that bring joy into your life. Think about your passions and what drives you to succeed in both your professional and personal life. You’ll begin by creating more positivity in your life, which will make it easier to overcome any stressors that come your way.
Practice self care
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others. Seek therapy, Exercise more, Sleep Longer, these are things that are good for yourself.
Build a solid support system and TALK
Build a solid support system at home. This includes your family, close friends and partners. They are your first line of defense when you need help or advice. Talk to them about the things you are struggling with or seek therapy. I have been seeing the same therapist for over 10 years now every other week and its nice to have a bi partisan view of my shit. He calls me out on things and also helps me dive deeper into issues and what the actual root cause of my emotions are. Therapy has helped me cope with PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, an ugly divorce, and other major life events. I truly believe that everyone should have a therapist, even if your life is perfect.
I hope that by sharing my personal experience, some of you reading this might find the courage to seek help if that’s something you need right now. I’m not an expert on mental health, but I’m an expert on how I work best. And after years in tech, I’ve managed to create a routine that balances my work, my private life, and my mental health needs so that I can be as happy as possible both professionally and privately.