A bill recently introduced in Florida would allow students to take days off to focus on their mental health. Florida is not alone; Oregon and Utah also have similar laws in place. These laws allow for a certain amount of days for students to rest, reflect, and recover when they and their parents agree the break is necessary. While some may argue this would lead to abuse or is not needed, what does this say about the state of society….the state of our public schools? Are we doing too much? Are we overworking our kids? Are we applying insane amounts of pressure to ourselves? Our families? Our students? Thinking about it, if students are stressed out and need to pause for mental health what do we think is the mental health status of their teachers and administrators? What about their parents?
We are all overworked. You, me, your barista, your banker, your doctor, all of us. We are expected to run like computers, mere machines. Humanism is disappearing. Empathy, compassion, and understanding are vanishing from schools and workplaces. I, nor any advisor can force or restructure a workplace staffed with executives and leaders who don’t value humanism and successful work life integration. I can coach and develop, give sound strategies, and create blueprints, but I can’t change mindsets and selfish behaviors. I can, however, encourage you to take care of yourself and those whom you love. You must know your worth and their worth. You must value yourself and them and then demand those whom you work with to meet your expectations and value you too as you simultaneously value others. However, you have to take care of yourself, first and foremost, as it begins with a healthy you: A mentally and emotionally healthy YOU.
It is so important that you protect your mental health at all costs. It must be deliberate and intentional. No one on this planet will prioritize your mental health needs. You must do it. This is personal to me as I have struggled with mental and emotional health, and, at times, I still do. But, there are things I did, and I want to share during the following quick mental health check.
Have a trusted partner
Find a confidant. A neutral, unbiased, friend, family, or colleague who will not judge you and will help you deal when you are not feeling well or mentally fit. This person knows what solutions help bring you back to peace and a safe place. They are genuine and respect your privacy. And, in many cases, they will be there just to listen.
Most stressors can’t be “coached” away. If something is consistently putting you under a dark cloud, you have to walk away. Low paying job, high paying job, bad relationship, best friend, negativity, etc. it doesn’t matter. Nothing and no one is worth a decline in your mental health or to make you feel less than. Quit anything toxic in your life, including sometimes people. Know the difference between a challenging moment that you can overcome and a toxic attachment that will rob you of your peace and the ability to thrive personally and professionally.
Sometimes our mental health issues are due to overworking and overbooking and we have no one to blame but ourselves. What’s that saying? Just because you can do something does not mean you should. You don’t have to be everything to everybody. You do not have to achieve all of your goals today. Learn to prioritize what matters and what is pressing and how to say “no” or reschedule the tasks that don’t require your immediate attention.
Find your happy
It seems simple but take the time to do what you love – what drives your passion. Too much time is spent on obligations instead of personal time, family time, and creating memorable life experiences. Find your joy. Invest in what makes you happy. If you want to be an impactful leader and create happy, positive, and efficient workplaces, find your own happy first. Spend time discovering, if you do not already know what that “happy” is. Make you an appointment for a massage, manicure, pedicure or whatever and you’ll be surprised how soon you may realize what “happy” and happiness is.
As leaders we wear masks and do our best to separate our home and work life. I know I used to do this. This separation is necessary but within sound reason. It is idealistic to believe we can keep poor mental health from impacting our work life or our personal life. You will be a better leader, professional, person, and a better you when you routinely invest in your mental health. Mental health focus is not taboo. We need to keep talking about it. We need to keep advocating for our own mental health needs. We must make the work culture that we establish a safe place for mental health awareness and support.
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