I’ve struggled with severe anxiety and depression over the years. For me, it’s been something that I can control fairly well. However, when I jumped into the world of a professional chef, those fronts I put up in every other place of work ceased to exist. Anxiety and depression hit me hard. During those months, my confidence plummeted and so did my overall self-worth and well-being. I began to notice myself spiraling into a state of repetitive depression and was experiencing unhappiness in many ways.
This does not have to be the case for everyone! Living with a mental health condition is definitely not easy but it can be manageable. After working in a make or break type of workplace, I have identified many things that I did incorrectly that were causing me more and more grief. Consider the following tips as my way of sharing what I learned through this process.
Take your breaks, even on your busiest days.
No matter how busy you are, it’s important to use all of your break time. Realistically the harder you work, the more your mind and body need a break. I used to work up to thirteen-hour shifts at restaurants without taking a break.
I tried to justify this to myself because I worked at such a busy restaurant. BIG mistake on my part.
Don’t let a busy day get in the way of your own well-being. Breaks are legal entitlements, so don’t be afraid to step away. If you are experiencing difficulties, sometimes the best course of action is a change in your environment, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Allowing yourself to recuperate is refreshing. Try taking a walk around the building you work in. If it’s possible, go outside every day. It’s amazing how refreshed a person can feel by simply shifting gears for a moment.
Keep in mind that mental health affects physical health.
Have you ever noticed the link between feeling mentally ill and physically sick? Ever heard that timeless phrase, trust your gut instinct?
There is a strong connection between the brain and the gut. Take the time to analyze how you feel, and determine whether or not it’s a hindrance on your mental and physical status. Mental symptoms impact our physical health, so this concept should be held with high regard.
Establish a ‘go-to-work buddy’.
Whether directly or indirectly, mental health illnesses impact just about everyone in the world. We do our best to work and lead comfortable lifestyles, but oftentimes mental health illnesses make work less manageable.
Do you have a friend at your job or a person of contact that you truly trust? Maybe it’s an individual that is also facing mental health issues?
Having a workplace friendship that allows for a lending ear can be a lifesaver some days. It’s incredible how just venting or gaining someone else’s insight can really make a negative experience spin a complete 180 degrees.
Try to not feel alienated.
One in four adults experiences a mental disorder at some point in their lives. Interestingly enough, there is evidence that even young children and toddlers need treatment for mental illnesses in some cases.
What’s important to realize is that you are not alone. Do your best to avoid feeling alienated because odds are that other people around you are facing similar situations.
Stigmas are barriers to productivity and pitfalls to recovery.
One unfortunate reality is that stigmas of all kinds still exist in work settings. There are approximately eight million people with severe mental illness, it’s estimated that about half of those cases go untreated. Social stigmas attribute to the problem and halt progress. It’s important to move past stigmas; no one needs to feel shamed by their illness!
Your workplace can help you seek treatment.
When issues arise at work related to mental health most people try to mask their problems. Alongside stigmas, shame is a negative influence that many people feel when their personal life and work mindsets meet.
If you feel comfortable around your superiors at work, they can be very helpful in identifying a plan to getting you back on track. This is something that I could have utilized when I was working in a kitchen setting. I oftentimes felt completely overwhelmed and taken advantage of at work. It also seemed like there was no way for me to get help and treatment for my anxiety and depression.
I’m willing to bet that if I would have gone to the general manager of the restaurant I worked at, things would have panned out differently. Managers need to work through these types of issues with their employees. If that’s not important to your superiors, then it may be time to reevaluate where you work. If they can’t help you seek help, someone in the company’s HR department can help you.
Is there anything I missed? Do you have a specific way you cope with balancing work and mental health? Add to the discussion by commenting below, and let’s get a conversation rolling!
Disclaimer: Unless otherwise specified, authors of The Work at Home Woman are not licensed legal, financial or medical professionals. The information on this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice on any subject matter. If you need specific medical advice, consult with your doctor.
Robert Parmer is a blooming, independently motivated web writer. He is a student of Boise State University, an avid musician, and a cat lover who frequently lets black cats cross his path. Follow Robert on Twitter @robparmer.