For women leaders, I think there is a huge tendency to take on tasks that are overwhelming without even fully realizing it. Everybody wants to be their best and accomplish as much as they possibly can. But sometimes we can be so determined to take charge of our lives that we can forget to take care of our mental health.
For the past few years, I have been getting more and more involved in the field of mental health. I have been learning and trying to spread awareness about it. In that time I have encountered many different lists of ways to stay “mentally healthy.” I pass these lists on to my family and friends. I also give out any information I can find about my campus counseling center to students who are struggling. And yet for some reason, I’m not very good at practicing what I preach.
I’ve been paying more and more attention to these mental health dos and don’ts and realizing that I in fact do a lot of the don’ts.
- Don’t overload yourself with work.
- Don’t avoid confronting situations that make you uncomfortable.
- Don’t spend time with people who are emotionally harmful to you.
- Don’t always put your own needs after everyone else’s.
- Don’t try to be a superhero and save everyone from all of their problems.
- Don’t push people who love you away, because you’re afraid of getting hurt.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
And this list goes on forever! I do so many things that are damaging to my mental health because I think it will make me a stronger or better person, or I think it will avoid conflict, or I think it will make people like me. And then I look at people who actually follow these “rules,” and you know what? They actually seem to be happy with the lives they’re leading.
Of course there is a healthy balance. While you should not overload yourself with work, you do still need to work hard to get to where you want to be. But lately I have been thinking a lot about what I can do to find these balances. I have been thinking about what changes I can make to improve my daily happiness and mental health.
Personally, I have started setting aside some time for myself. In that time frame I don’t check my phone, answer e-mails, etc. While isolating yourself to an extreme can also be unhealthy, it is important have some time dedicated to just YOU. I have also been trying to stop feeling so guilty when I can’t do everything my friends want me to. I just tell myself that they’re not going to hate me because I can’t go to one party or go grocery shopping. I have always had an overwhelming tendency to put myself last, and so putting myself first has been a big hurdle for me, but a rewarding one.
So take a little while to think about what you do and how you live your life.
What do you do that is really great for your mental health, and what could you improve? Do you do these don’ts too? What steps can you take to find a happy balance between not doing enough and overwhelming yourself?
If you’re finding that you are a leader who is struggling with keeping a balance, or if you are leading a group of students who are, there are so many ways to find help. Encourage visits to the counseling center. It’s perfectly fine to go even if you’re “just stressed!” Talking to someone can really help. Another option that offers so many useful tips not only on maintaining positive mental health, but on how to be an overall stronger and more successful leader is Campus Calm’s LeadHer Success Kit. This kit is divided into several portions, one of which is mental health, and offers great ways to work on your leadership strength!
Remember to actively notice what you are doing that is helpful to your life, as well as what is not as beneficial. Even just thinking about these things can help you move toward a healthier way of living. Once you realize what could be damaging to yourself, you might find that it’s not too hard to ease your stress a little!
LeadHer™ Intern, Campus Calm™
Learn more about Allie here.