A Mental Health Checklist for Professional Success
Everybody—even the most badass and ambitious people—should cool down every once in a while in order to center themselves. In my opinion, this should be more than every once a while. I did some research and found a few things that everybody (including you) should be doing on the daily to keep themselves continually focused, satisfied and motivated at work. You’re probably aware that you should be doing these things, but that doesn’t make it any easier to interrupt your daily grind and actually commit to them.
Here’s a quick reminder of the things you should be doing for YOU so that you can be your best self for your customers, partners and managers:
EXERCISE. Working out reduces stress, boosts happy chemicals (and brainpower) and even prevents cognitive decline that can lead to such diseases as Alzheimer’s. Best of all is that working out gives you immediate gratification. “Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect,” Michael Otto, PhD, professor of psychology at Boston University explained to the American Psychological Association in an interview.
“Exercise may be a way of biologically toughening up the brain so stress has less of a central impact,” Otto added. Wake up earlier than you normally would and get in a bike ride or a jog. Or take time after your workday to hit the gym and do some machine work. Make exercise fit your schedule. Your body and mind will thank you for doing so.
EAT BREAKFAST. They say that if you want to lose weight (and keep it off), be sure to never skip breakfast. According to a survey recently conducted by Kellogg, more than half of adults say they’d like to eat breakfast every day; of course, that doesn’t mean they actually are. “The top excuse is that there isn’t time,” said Keren Gilbert, MS, RD, president/founder of Decision Nutrition in a 2011 interview. “The next is that they’re just not hungry. These are simply excuses.”
Considering the cognitive benefits of eating breakfast, it’d be wise to stop making excuses. According to Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, a clinical associate professor at Boston University, eating breakfast can enhance memory, improve cognitive ability, and help increase attention span. “Some studies point to correlations between vitamins B and C and higher intelligence test performance,” Gilbert added. “This makes sense, especially since vitamin C is required to make brain neurotransmitters. So berries, oranges, and grapefruit are all great breakfast sides.”
TAKE “YOU” TIME, NO MATTER WHAT. Take time to give yourself your complete undivided attention. Use this time to block out all distractions, thoughts, concerns and worries. This doesn’t have to be meditation; it could be the time you take to bike or jog in the morning before work (who doesn’t like killing two birds with one stone?) It could be your time out on the back porch sipping your favorite tea, listening to the birds chirp. Whatever it is, you need to give yourself time to reflect on who you are, what great achievements you’ve accomplished thus far and to reflect on your own inner light during the moments where stillness surrounds you. I’d advise taking your “you” time in the morning before the craziness of the day kicks in!
I understand that finding the time to fit all of these “To Do’s” into your already jam-packed schedule may be a bit too much to bear. Trust me—this time last year I was working 10-12 hour days in corporate and had barely any time to eat dinner, let alone nurture my mental health. I learned the importance of mental health after pretty much having a career-fueled mental breakdown last year. Today, I feel so lucky that I have the freedom to take advantage of these things without constraints due to my job as an independent content marketer. Just take one day at a time and you’ll get to where you want to be…I promise.