7am: Wake up, make breakfast, relax.
8am: First meeting of the day.
9am: Write your to-dos from updated emails over the weekend.
9:30am: Second meeting of the day.
10am: Begin your first task of the day.
11am: An unexpected situation arises that requires your immediate attention.
12pm: Finally back to your to-do list and still working on your first item, your stomach growls; there’s no time to eat.
1:30pm: Third meeting of the day.
2:30pm: On to your second to-do of the day.
3pm: A last minute request comes through that’s deadline is in two days.
4pm: Groan from tired hands and dried eyes. Eat lunch.
4:30pm: Back to your to-do list; finally on the third to-do.
5pm: You look at your watch wondering if you should continue to work because it needs to be completed or if you should stop to take time for yourself. Now you’re stressed. If you don’t continue you’ll be behind tomorrow, but if you don’t stop working you’ll be too tired tomorrow to have a productive day. It’s only Monday. You open up your computer again and continue to work. Your anxiety is controlling you.
6pm: You finally shut off the computer. You can rest. *Ding*. Emails arrive in your inbox on your phone. Anxiety resumes.
Depending on your job, the work environment can be infested with constant stressors and anxieties – internal and external. We work hard to ensure that we succeed and gain money or status or however else we ubiquitously define success. But, oftentimes, we put our career over our mental health, which can have tremendous negative side effects.
It’s easy to keep working and grinding, telling ourselves that it’s “part of the job”, or “it is what it is.” We make excuses for our mental health because we have placed a job towards the top of our pyramid of importance. But after a while we realize that our mental health is the only thing allowing us to perform well at work. If we stop taking care of our brain, we’ll be unable to perform at that same level.
In the midst of work it can be difficult to know when you’re overworking yourself. Sometimes I don’t stop moving the entire day, and only after do I realize how exhausted my body and mind are. When I repeat this process multiple times per week, I know that it’s time to reevaluate my work style.
I find that releasing my hands from the keyboard and taking a deep breath helps me realize how I’m feeling at that moment. This strategy helps center me and helps me realize my current state of mind. This mental break is incredibly important for me because my job is fast-paced, demanding, and requires being detail oriented. This type of environment has actually manipulated my body to react to stress in new ways that I identify as being calm. This may sound positive given my job, but it’s not healthy for my body because I can’t always tell when I’m stressed or need a break.
Since COVID has kept us detained in our homes for work, it can be difficult to actually have breaks. I try to take recesses at the same time every day in order to maintain a healthy routine. This helps me not burn out, and I’m able to center myself more easily.
Sometimes, however, our anxiety, stress, and personal lives can’t be handled by a 10 minute break. Sometimes they can cripple us. At these moments, it can be important to let your supervisor know. They don’t need to know why or what exactly you are feeling, but letting them know you need a small break or you’re feeling mentally unwell is important. This type of communication can lead to your bosses requiring less from you that day, or at least they will know that you are doing your best, given the circumstances. Regardless of the outcome of informing a coworker, saying it out loud can also be effective for knowing what type treatment is needed.
Additionally, we may find that we aren’t alone in our anxious thoughts. In telling a coworker, you may find that they are stressed about the same issue. That is the type of understanding that helps unify coworkers, allowing both of you to be able to lean on each other from comfort.
Work is arguably one of the most stressful parts about being an adult. It’s an environment that breeds its own anxieties which can manifest in many ways. If we’re not careful, they can take over. It’s important to recognize that we need to help ourselves by understanding when we are working in healthy ways versus when we are letting our work control our lives.
About the Author
My name is Cole Swanson, I’m a young creative who loves to follow my passions and aims to make a mark on the world around me. Through my love of writing, I have paved myself a path that allows me to always tell stories. With each blog post, I desire to share a story in hopes that it allows others to find the courage to share their own.
I’ve been actively working on my own mental health for the past three years. During that period, I learned of the struggles of wanting to give up trying to improve myself, as well as of the joy I feel when I know I’m becoming healthier.
At NAMI, I act as a volunteer for their Ending the Silence program where I talk to students about the power of vulnerability, empathy, and self-advocacy, so they can find the power to redefine the stigma of mental health.
The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of NAMI Eastside. NAMI Eastside will not be held liable for false, inaccurate, inappropriate or incomplete information. The content should be used for general information purposes only.