COMTO Emerging Leaders Sub-Committee June 2021 Challenge: Prioritize Your Mental Health

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The ongoing pandemic, social justice issues, and a large-scale unemployment. Many of us have been dealing with enormous challenges over the past couple of years that have created a lot of stress and emotional toll on our daily lives. Among those of us that have been able to maintain employment, many have been working longer and harder while having to confront and cope with the new challenges posed by our new “normal”. In this world where burnout has become a global health issue, caring for your own mental and emotional health is more important than ever before to promote and sustain a healthy personal and professional career.

This month’s management challenge is: Prioritize Your Mental Health. Many of us know mental and emotional health are important but feel like we do not have time to deal with it. We talk-the-talk but many times fall short on walking-the-walk. Taking time to reflect gives a chance to take a breather and figure out what is important, especially when we are dealing with a difficult professional or personal issue, making us better managers.

The challenge will take place from June 7, 2021 to July 2, 2021. You can join at any time. Visit our Management Challenge FAQs page for more information.

Pre-Challenge Activity – Discuss on LinkedIn: Are you doing anything in particular to strengthen, sustain or repair your mental health?

  • If so, what are you doing and how has it impacted you?
  • If not, why not?

This month’s management challenge will center around a few tips to be more proactive -in prioritizing mental health in your personal and professional life.

Week 1Take care of yourself

With over a year into the pandemic more people have worked or studied remotely than every before. Recent data from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggest that a typical pandemic workday was on average 48.5 minutes longer than a typical pre-pandemic workday (caused by increased meetings, etc.). With people getting accustomed to longer hours, it is even more important to set boundaries and make and protect time for yourself to recharge. Step away from your work to cook, exercise, go for a walk, or listen to music. If you don’t have much time, see if you can walk to work, grocery stores, or to run an errand (or anything that is a part of your to do list or plan).

 “Prioritize personal time the same way you would prioritize an important meeting”

Challenge: Schedule 30 minutes to an hour in your week where you are stepping away from work and doing something that helps you to recharge yourself. Plan, schedule, and protect that time without any interruptions. Let us know what you did, how it felt, or any impact it may have had in your day or week.

Week 2 – Disconnect, even if for a little while

Today’s “always on” culture can make us believe that we have to constantly be thinking or planning about or next steps in order to be successful. Constant reminders, concerns, and expectations can distract us and produce anxiety, which in turn can prevent us from being able to focus and be 100% attentive (available) on the important things that face us in the present moment. Good management requires us to be aware and attentive of what is going on in front of us, which makes it even more crucial to remove distractions when we want to be our best for a specific task.  Turn off notifications, close your email app, step away from your computer, or put your phone aside.

Take a breather and practice mindfulness exercises or take few minutes to allow yourself to reflect on what’s going on in front of your or what occurred during the day.

“Remember to stop and smell the roses (or coffee)”

Challenge: Take a breather during your workday – disconnect yourself from your computer and your phone. Unplugged and disconnected, downshift your mind (start with 5-10 minutes; try longer if you are able to) and reflect what’s going on around you and how you are feeling (e.g., what is creating stress or anxiety, what makes you happy, etc.). This could be taking a slow walk outside, sit outside and people (or nature) watch, or even meditate.

Let us know when you decided to take a breather, how you did it, how it felt and/or impacted you that moment of the day.

Week 3 – Build courage and fight the stigma

Although there are more and more studies and researches indicating the importance of your mental health in both your personal and professional life, surveys indicate that there are still a lot of stigma and misconceptions regarding the subject matter that inhibit people from taking care of themselves.

Acknowledging and talking about your mental health is not a weakness. It will only help you get to know yourself better, and become a better person, professional, and manager.

Challenge: Schedule some time during the week and take that first courageous step and create the space and opportunity for you or others to talk about mental health. Create the time and the space to allow yourself and/or others to be able to talk about things beyond the day-to-day work or life tasks. This space or platform does not have to always be formal, it could be combined with a (in person or virtual) coffee break, lunch, book club, or happy hour. Here are few tips on how to talk about mental health with others.

Let us know how you created that space and time, how it went (e.g., did you face any obstacles?), and how it felt.

Week 4 – Build a meaningful support network

Building on the courageous step you took in the Week 3 challenge, find an individual (or a group of people) that you trust at work and/or outside work. Find a person or people with whom you can talk authentically and honestly about how you are feeling; this could be a mental health professional, your partner (or a close friend), a family member, or a trusted coworker or colleague. Slowly start building a support network – building these kinds of relationships can take time but it will not only help your mental health but it will also help your productivity. Furthermore, don’t only search for someone that will listen to you but also offer yourself up to listen to others.

“Building a support network is a two-way street. See how you can be of help to those you’re looking to lean on.”

Challenge: 1) Find someone that you can trust and talk to about your how you are doing and how you are feeling. 2) Offer yourself to listen to someone that could use your listening ear and support.

Whether it’s with someone you have a personal relationship with (e.g., partner, confident, etc.) or whether you talk to someone in your professional life (e.g., manager, coworker, employee, or work colleague), schedule a time and have a conversation. Let us know how it went (e.g., did you face any obstacles?), and how it felt. 

Post-Challenge Resources

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