If the pandemic taught us anything it should be that as a society we have got to pay attention to our mental health. While the hospitalization numbers were shocking to most what will prove to be staggering over the next decade is the amount of mental health issues that will need to be addressed across the generational set. Even though at the time of this writing there are vaccines and better treatments available there is a lingering lethargy for many, gnawing anxiety for others, and outright indifference for yet others in regard to their professional life. A great many will be unwilling, or unable, to return to the types of grinds that many careers were producing. NOTE: There is most certainly a spectrum here in what people are dealing with. This article is aimed toward the more day to day malaise many are feeling. Clinical anxiety and depression are true heath issues and should be treated by health care professionals.
The truth is we’ve got to take care of all aspects of our lives. Careful attention to our mental, physical, social and spiritual health is a vital part of a flourishing life. While we can’t always control what goes on around us there are ways one can be proactive in setting up some healthy practices. It takes a mix of intention and humility but with the right approach one can be set up to head off a potential tailspin.
Find someone to shoot straight with you. First key is to find someone who will be direct and honest with you. We all love a cheerleader in our life but this is the time for more of a coach figure. Find someone who’s desire for your best interest doesn’t include possibly hurting your feelings. If there are unhealthy practices they see they need to know they’ve got the freedom to call it out and to know that they are going to be heard.
Reflect on gratefulness. You’ve heard of an “attitude of gratitude” and there is a lot of truth in that old platitude. Many days are going to have their struggles and the days can creep into a season. As Christians however we believe God is at work, even when (or sometimes especially when) things don’t seem to be going our way. There are always things to be grateful for, first and foremost that we understand God is on His throne and at work. Taking intentional time each day to reflect on this, capture these, and praise God for them works its way into our hearts and dispositions despite the circumstances that sometimes surround us.
Focus on what brings energy. All of us have tasks in our roles that we like more than others. While we often don’t have the choice to totally drop all the parts of our job we don’t like we can take a look at what does bring us energy. How do you need to structure your day around it? Are you a get the hard things out of the first or last person? There’s no wrong answer, maybe you like to start your day with a win or maybe you prefer to end the day with one. Talk to your peers or your supervisor and see if there are ways you can do more of these tasks and less of the others. It may be that someone else likes what you don’t and would happily trade off some tasks. Even being able to exercise a little bit of control of the day can help.
Set dates for self-assessment. Know yourself well enough to know if this is just a short-term funk or if this is something more. Look at the calendar and set some short-term dates to ask yourself some hard questions about where you are and if things are improving. Talk to trusted friends. Gauge how you are at designated dates to assess if this is something that is getting or can get better.
Sometimes deep in the mix it’s hard to see beyond tough days but time gives perspective. Sometimes the answer might be that this isn’t getting better and professional help or a career change is needed. The key is making informed decisions and don’t let a false urgency push you into a bad decision. Prayer, self-awareness, and the counsel of trusted friends can and will help anchor your life while navigating the turbulent waters life often brings.