Your mental health matters, says everyone; but what do we do to address it when it really becomes an issue? When it starts to create the Sunday Scaries that stretch beyond Sunday; when doing your best doesn’t feel like an option because you’re so burnt out; when work-life balance is completely tipping the scales. How do we help ourselves out of something that feels deeper than just a rut?
Professional burnout is real, and thousands of Canadians experience it every day. “I just need to get through this week,” but it’s every week. It’s not always something that’ll just work itself out. No amount of yoga or mental health webinars will address the real problem. Sometimes, stretching yourself too thin takes its toll, and you’re left dealing with the aftermath.
Thankfully, a lot of employers are starting to recognize this. They’re taking steps beyond mental health webinars and putting in the work to make sure their employees are taken care of and don’t get to a point where their burnout starts to show in the quality of their work, or worse, affect the quality of their lives.
There are, however, some things you can do as an employee that will help your employer help you.
Start a Mental Health Movement
If your organization doesn’t have a committee or a task force devoted to wellness within your company, consider starting one. This could be as easy as reaching out to your Office Manager or Team Lead and letting them know you’d like to get the ball rolling on a team devoted to employee wellbeing, and this doesn’t have to be a whole job in itself. Start a step challenge, a water challenge, or an opportunity for employees to meet to have some no-pressure, casual downtime to discuss wellbeing or areas where you’re all struggling. Sometimes knowing that your peers are experiencing similar situations or feelings is a great way to take the pressure off yourself.
At Redstone, we have a Health and Safety Committee whose mandate is to improve the overall wellness of our team. We have regular challenges to promote a healthy lifestyle, integrating basic health functions into our everyday work schedule. Not only this, but our weekly internal newsletter consistently highlights news in mental health, along with information and infographics to support healthy living.
Take the Personal Day
Repeat after me – it is one day. Nothing will fall apart. I need to take care of myself, and actually, take that day to take care of yourself. Do what you need to do to feel somewhat okay, even if it’s just 24 hours. Make sure you’re taking a personal day, and not just a sick day – this isn’t food poisoning – it won’t just disappear tomorrow. Let your boss know you need a day to take care of yourself because it’s just too much right now. Close the computer, put it under your bed, sit on a park bench with your iced coffee, clean your kitchen, sit in bed and watch The Office for the 47th time, make some sangria and sit on your balcony. Do something for you that will quiet the anxiety in your brain wondering how many emails you’ll have in your inbox tomorrow morning. It’s just one day. Nothing will fall apart. You need to take care of yourself.
We’re fortunate at Redstone to have the option to take personal days, and recently, we’ve been granted COVID Wellness Days to tackle the additional mental strain of working in a new environment. Not only this but we’re encouraged to take these days. The only thing better than having a personal day is being part of an organization that promotes the use of them.
I did this. It took a lot for me to muster up the courage to send the initial email to book a quick Zoom meeting with my President. It was nerve-wracking, and it made me feel a little bit defeated – like, had I really gotten to the point where I needed to bring my boss into this? However, it was not only normal to feel this way, but also really turned the pink flag red, telling me it was actually very important for me to have this conversation.
Speaking to someone higher up in your organization not only sheds light on the issue but also shows your willingness to get ahead of any future issues that this could potentially raise. Any good leader will take this information and say, “what can I do to help you?” – and not as a sign of weakness. I was very fortunate in that my President, Bailey Roth, was extremely warm, understanding, and helpful in trying to tackle this wall I had built up in my mind. Not only this, but it just reinforced how appreciated I was within the company.
It feels scary in the beginning, and it is. History has showed us that speaking up about mental health hasn’t always been positively received. It’s not the same as just sending that 8:45am email to take a sick day. But like all things, professional interaction has evolved, and you need to take care of yourself – and sometimes the best way to do this is to flag the problem yourself so that you and your higher ups can work out a solution that’s right for you.
With this week, May 3-9, 2021, being Mental Health Week, I think it’s important we remain true to this year’s theme: “#GetReal about how you feel. Name it, don’t numb it.” Speak up to your employers and be honest about how you’re feeling, and more importantly, don’t bury these thoughts – they have a way of rearing their head even worse the second or third time around.
These few recommendations will not cure any long-standing mental health issues, and if your problem persists, it may be worth talking to a professional. That being said, it’s important to realize that your organization doesn’t want your job to consume you. They want you at your best, and if you’re not your best right now, that is okay. Do what you need to do to get there, and do what feels right for you in taking the steps to get there.
All organizations, now more than ever, should be supporting their employees’ mental health and wellbeing. What do you do to tackle professional burnout within your professional teams? If you or your higher ups would like to collaborate on a plan, consider reaching out to the Redstone Leadership team to discuss ways to prioritize mental health within your organization; already have some great ideas? We’d love to hear about them! Consider reaching out to us or commenting below. It’s important to remember, asking for help is not weakness, and providing support for your employees is the ultimate organizational strength.