Let’s face it — even if you love your job, work can be stressful. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or like you just don’t have enough time to yourself anymore. As a result, both your personal and professional lives can suffer as you sacrifice too much of one for the other.
Fortunately, there are ways to cultivate wellness and help you thrive in the workplace. But regardless of what stage of your career you’re in, the answer isn’t more meetings, longer hours or tighter deadlines. The key is to find a sense of balance and take care of your mental, emotional and physical needs first so you can always feel on top of your game.
At Sokya, we’ve asked three of our licensed Therapists to provide their biggest tips for thriving at work and staying happy, healthy and grounded no matter what comes your way.
When it comes to work, most of us are concerned about getting our hours in, meeting deadlines and completing important projects. However, we often forget that taking a break is an important part of the formula. Even the seemingly indefatigable need a moment to rest; otherwise, you’re more likely to lose focus, make a mistake or feel burned out.
Sherese Ezelle, LMHC, LCPC, one of Sokya’s licensed Therapists and a state-approved Clinical Supervisor in Washington, says that acknowledging when it’s time for a break can be just as crucial to your success as any other aspect of your job.
“Listen to your body and take note if you are feeling physical tension, aches, fatigue or an inability to complete your regular tasks,” she suggests. “Create a list of things to do to support your needs in the moment.” She also points out that practicing this list even when you’re feeling well can help create healthy habits that you can return to when you need it most.
Another thing we tend to do because we’re too stressed or busy is ignore our daily successes. But that’s a mistake, because recognizing our achievements on the job can provide a boost of confidence, increase our engagement and enhance our motivation to do well.
That’s why acknowledging your accomplishments is another tip that Ezelle shares with us for thriving at work. “Each day, there are things we do that are great but we may overlook because of the hustle and bustle,” she says. “So take a moment to celebrate those things.”
Some of the ways she does this are by creating a ‘kudos’ folder within her inbox to store positive emails from colleagues or writing celebratory messages for herself when she’s not feeling her best. “It’s an instant mood boost that is attainable in just a click.”
However, other ways to share your successes might include posting on social media, creating a channel for shoutouts in the company’s messaging app, discussing wins during meetings and encouraging peer-to-peer recognition among your teammates.
Dr. Michael Falcone, PsyD, LMFT, CADC-II, a Therapist and California Regional Therapy Program Director with Sokya, knows that sometimes our personal and professional lives can mirror each other, so it's important to care for ourselves to succeed in both. To do that, he has an important tip for dealing with stressors that occur at home and in the office.
“In order to thrive,” he says, “I ensure that I’m physically, emotionally, and spiritually grounded to help me face the challenges and rigors of life, family, and work. As these areas parallel one another, balance in my life affords me the sustained energy and mental clarity I need.”
Much like plants, we need to be rooted and stay grounded to connect with our thoughts, feelings and values. By keeping in touch with ourselves and focusing on the here and now, we’re able to pay attention to what brings us joy in trying moments.
Dr. Falcone also shares some advice regarding an oft-neglected aspect of work life: community. We spend a large part of our days away from home in the office or on the go, so it makes sense that your colleagues can become an important source of support.
“Embrace your work community,” he says. “Know you are part of a collective group of brilliant individuals who offer support, ideas, and energy. Remembering this will help you when your tank is empty or full.” In other words: teamwork makes the dream work.
That’s because a community at work can provide you with a sense of purpose and belonging while fostering a more friendly ambiance. It can also be educational and provide you with access to expert knowledge, resources and collaboration opportunities.
Additionally, a sense of connection and camaraderie with your co-workers can raise morale and help protect you against feelings of social isolation or loneliness. And when you’re feeling stressed or burned out, you’ll have others to turn to in your time of need.
Having a routine that you’re familiar and comfortable with can help set you up for success. Even if you don’t typically operate on a strict schedule, implementing structure before, during and after your workday can help you combat stress and give you a sense of control.
Sheena Jain, LMHC, a licensed Sokya Therapist, expands on the benefits of developing a routine, schedule or system that works for you.
“Once we have a system in place that we know works for us, we often feel more secure, confident and motivated in our role,” she says. “Every job is different and every person is different, so sometimes discovering what that is can be tricky.”
According to Jain, you can start by identifying emotions associated with the routines or systems you already implement to get started. For example, do you feel calmer at work with a cup of tea in your hand? Do you notice that you’re more focused in the morning after going to the gym? Or do you feel more motivated by checking items off a to-do list?
“There’s no wrong way to find what works best for you, so get creative!” she emphasizes.
We often think of work/life balance as a trade-off between the time we spend at the office and the time we spend on non-work-related activities. Ideally, the lines between our personal and professional lives would be clear and we’d have enough free time each day to feel recharged, but that isn’t always the case. So how exactly do we maintain a healthy work/life balance?
“One of the most important ways to thrive at work is by looking at your life outside of work,” Jain says. “If our whole life becomes engulfed by our job, we can begin to feel unhappy at work, even if it is a job we enjoyed at one point. When we leave work, if our mind is still back at the office, it can be difficult to enjoy our hobbies or time with friends and family.”
She shares some tips on how to find and establish the ideal work/life balance. For example, you can start by reviewing and setting your professional boundaries, whether that means not answering emails or phone calls during certain hours, not taking on more than you can handle or reminding yourself to leave work behind when you’re done for the day.
You should also communicate these boundaries with your boss, co-workers and clients to make sure they’re clear. “This way, you can be fully engaged in other important parts of your life and come back to work refreshed,” Jain advises.
Work is an important part of life, but it isn’t the only thing that matters. Your personal health and relationships are also essential to your overall well-being. If you’re having trouble finding and maintaining the ideal work/life balance, Sokya can help. Our team of Therapists, Clinicians and Coaches can help you develop the tools and strategies you need to feel fulfilled in everything you do. To learn more or connect with a Care Coordinator today, click here to complete our online contact form or call 866-65-SOKYA. Together, we can build your personal mental wellness circle with support that’s available online, in person or through our mobile app to help you thrive in all aspects of your life.