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Mental Health and Your Career: What You Need to Know

Believe it or not, your mental health has a big impact on your career

The National Institute of Mental Health states that one in five people will develop a mental illness at some point during their lifetime. While this may seem shocking, the truth is that life’s complexities and challenges can be hard to navigate. Without proper support, medical conditions or circumstantially-induced mental health challenges can happen to anybody.

You probably already know you should take care of yourself. After all, we’ve talked about the importance of self-care before. And chances are, you make an effort to exercise, eat right, and get enough sleep.

While these things are important, taking care of your entire well-being includes more than just your physical body – it also encompasses your mental and emotional wellness. While this type of health is less obvious, it’s no less important than physical health.

It’s not always easy to address mental health. It can be uncomfortable or intimidating to do the inner work and get yourself into a better headspace. If you’re tempted to muscle through your struggles, here are a few reasons why pushing through without treatment can negatively impact your career.

Consider these the next time you’re nudged by your inner self, and listen to your mind and body’s needs.

You can get sick more often

When you live with a hidden mental illness, you carry a weight around with you every day. Over time, the weight of that burden can wear you down physically. You can even end up with a compromised immune system.

For example, a person living with depression may deal with symptoms such as low energy, lack of sleep, and body aches. Over time these physical symptoms are draining and can make you feel worn out. In this state, you’re much more likely to get sick and need to miss work.

Productivity can suffer

Mental illness can be very distracting. The physical and emotional symptoms can result in a poor mindset that is not work-oriented. When this happens, productivity suffers. It is difficult to concentrate and approach your job with passion if you are distracted by illness.

There is a body of scientific literature that shows the financial costs to businesses from lost productivity because of untreated mental illness.

You may have difficulty relating to your coworkers

Some mental illnesses can make it difficult to process negative feedback or deal well with change – two very common occurrences in the workplace. If you have a condition that causes you to react poorly to normal business operations, it can affect your relationship with your colleagues.

If you find that you’re consistently throw off course by feedback, reviews, or unexpected changes, take time to consider if these are symptoms of a more significant problem.

How to take care of your mental health at work

So, what should you do if you believe you may be dealing with a mental illness at work? First, recognize that healing begins when you accept the problem and take action.

Although mental illness can be scary, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, mental illness is treatable. Most conditions can be treated effectively with tools like medication, behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and peer support.

Relief from the symptoms of mental illness is accessible, available, and attainable. Once you’ve received medical treatment for your mental health, you can stay peaceful at work with a few simple strategies:

· Recognize your triggers. If a certain situation commonly triggers your mental illness, learn to recognize and respond instead of simply being overwhelmed by the moment. For example, if you struggle with anxiety, a presentation may trigger your feelings of butterflies and cold sweats. Recognizing your triggers won’t necessarily eliminate the problem, but it can give you peace of mind to know ahead of time that you’ll need to think about how to take care of yourself. If you’re anxious before a presentation, you can take steps like getting extra sleep, avoiding caffeine, and scheduling a massage for when you get off of work. When you take steps like these to get ahead of a trigger, it can give you the boost you need to get through it.

· Make lists to avoid overwhelming feelings. Most of us feel overwhelmed at work sometimes, and if you live with a hidden mental illness, that feeling can drag you right down. Keep your anxiety at bay by keeping thorough to-do lists, to help you stay on track.

· Avoid office gossip. We’re all guilty of occasionally telling a funny or provocative anecdote. But some people use workplace gossip as a constant form of entertainment. Gossip can be fun at the moment, especially if you’re bonding with your coworkers over a salacious rumor or venting about a problem. In the long run, though, it causes stress and creates a very toxic environment. This isn’t good for your health or the health of your team, so steer clear.

Get help when you need to

If you are living with a mental illness, you don’t have to continue to suffer in silence. There are a wide variety of treatments available to you, and taking care of your mental health can free up your mental space to focus on what really matters – your career, your life, your relationships.

If you or someone you know needs help, reach out to your doctor or the National Alliance on Mental Illness by calling 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

If you would like to learn how to become unstoppable like Gigi and find out how to get beyond your limits and fears to really start living with fulfillment, contact her today.

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