These are stressful times we are all facing in the age of COVID-19. This past year has taught us more than ever how important our mental health is. Our mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.
There has been a social stigma in our society around mental health for far too long. In 1992, the World Federation for Mental Health declared October 10th World Mental Health Day. This day has brought awareness to mental health education and mental health issues around the world. The biggest benefit has been helping people connect in efforts to support mental health. This cause has also enabled people to talk about it more and realize mental health struggles are more common than you might think. In the US alone, 1 in 5 adults have a mental illness.
Regardless of where you work, jobs can be stressful, and it’s normal to be overwhelmed at work from time to time. Some common causes of feeling overwhelmed at work can be due to having numerous assignments without the capacity, tight deadlines, staff cutbacks, and work overload. It’s the nature of employment that every job comes with its good and bad days. How you choose to handle those days though are up to you.
For your own mental well-being, I strongly recommend being kind and patient with yourself through trying times because feeling overwhelmed affects our mental health in many ways. Here are 3 examples that have personally helped me feel calmer and more grounded during overwhelming times at work.
- Tip #1: Go for a walk – If people understood all the benefits that came from walking, I think we would have the same reaction as a dog when hearing the word “walk”. In our home, my husband and I must spell the word W-A-L-K when communicating when we’re going to take our dog on a walk. Research has proven time and time again how many benefits we get from walking. Walking fights dementia, boosts your mood, reduces stress, and strengthens your concentration. Not to mention it strengthens your heart and can also help you live longer. Sometimes your mind needs a mental break with some physical activity and some fresh air too! Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you need to disconnect, step away from your desk and go for a walk. Your mind and body will thank you.
- Tip #2: Create a To Do list – If you are anything like me, you live off your To Do list. When your mind is going faster than you can keep up with, take a minute, and write everything down that you need to get done. This will give you a better understanding of your workload and help you prioritize what duties are more pressing than others. Once you have your priorities listed in front of you, it really helps to get a grip on where things are at and how much you really have going on. When creating your To Do list:
- Be sure it’s impossible to lose! The last thing you want is to take all that time creating and implementing a To Do list, and now you can’t find it or possibly threw it away. I keep my To Do list in a notebook that specifically says on the front To Do list.
- Create separate To Do lists. Instead of piling everything together, why not separate it by work. For example, marketing to do’s, business development to do’s, financial to do’s, etc. That way, you can be clear about what areas need the most attention.
- Set due dates! Your to do’s don’t mean much if you don’t complete them in time. Be sure you allow yourself enough time to complete these critical tasks without rushing through them. Be realistic with yourself, but also remember to create some clear expectations and deadlines.
- Tip #3: Be honest about your workload – Instead of always saying “Yes,” be honest with yourself. The more honest you are with yourself and what your workload is, the better outcome you will produce. Your Boss can help you prioritize which of your responsibilities hold the greatest value. Going back to why a To Do list is important in stressful times, you can review your To Do list with your Boss and get input on how to handle everything going forward. Talking to your Boss about your workload also shows that you do value your job and that you want to give your best day in and day out.Even if there isn’t a speedy solution to your concerns, it can be a big relief to know your Boss understands your situation and supports you. Take the initiative and schedule the meeting yourself, send your Boss a calendar invite, and prepare for the meeting in advance. Keeping the lines of communication open can help the problem from becoming worse. Just be sure your Boss knows you take your work seriously and that you want to meet their expectations by managing your work!
As the famous Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” How will anyone know if you’re overwhelmed at work if you don’t communicate? How will you know how to manage your workload if you don’t listen to what is being communicated to you? Speak up, listen, and learn. Do you feel a little lost at work? Are you getting overwhelmed by your many competing priorities and the continuing volatility in your environment? Give us a call at 310.589.4600 or email us to discuss how best to address your most critical business issues and develop a plan. You can also visit the Executive Coaching page of our website to learn how we support clients like you in being resilient and focused leaders to produce better results.