Are You Looking after Your Mental Health?

By on April 6, 2014
happy mature woman

By Sharon Hurley-Hall –

Mental health days – we all need them, but when you work for yourself it just doesn’t happen. Writers, bloggers, authors, designers and other creative solopreneurs – I’m talking to you. We spend a lot of time juggling multiple business tasks and we don’t get a day off even when it seems too much.

Beyond the screen, we’re doing even more juggling, as parents, careers, volunteers – maybe all of them at once. Wearing so many hats is bound to be exhausting and overwhelming sometimes. Creative types can suffer even more when they get burned out and experience that mind-numbing feeling of lassitude and incapacity that’s way beyond overwhelm. Something’s gotta give – and you sure don’t want it to be you. So here’s a public service announcement on the subject of mental health: you owe it to yourself to look after it. And that means a shift in attitude to your business and your life.

I really love the Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

Maybe it’s how my mind works, but that simple three step structure provides a good guideline to moving to a healthier, more balanced life, both physically and mentally. All you need is three simple steps:

1. Recognize that you can’t do everything (that’s the serenity part)

2. Prioritize what’s most important to you (courage)

3. Give yourself permission to release the rest (wisdom).

Here’s how that works in practice.

1. Recognize Your Limits

It’s tempting to behave like Superwoman or Superman with boundless energy and strength (but sadly no power to fly), because most of us were raised to think that we could have it all and do it all. That’s simply not true. Both time and energy are finite. As you get older, you start making trade-offs, like not staying out late on Saturday because you have to get up early Sunday, or making sure you have a nap in the afternoon so you can party all night. These may be boring choices, but they’re also sensible ones – and they’re the choices we have to make. Recognizing our mental and physical limits helps reduce overwhelm and also helps with the next step.

2. Prioritize What’s Important

What’s important to you? Think about everything you do – what would you regret not doing? Some things have to take precedence if you can’t do everything. In a work setting, maybe you want to focus on the work that gives you pleasure and not just the things that pay your mortgage and bills. In your personal life, you might avoid scheduling meetings at certain times so you can have family time at the end of the school day. Nourishing your family and emotional life is important – I never schedule commitments that would stop me from collecting my daughter from school. The conversations we have then are an important part of our relationship. Only you will know what’s most important – identify those things and give them the time they deserve.

3. Release the Rest

Once you know what’s a priority, make a list of everything that’s left. Break these down into:

1. essential tasks that you have to handle personally.

2. essential tasks that someone else can take care of for you.

3. non-essential tasks.

Here’s an easy fix for overwhelm – get rid of the tasks in that third section. If they’re not essential, why do them?

Then give yourself another break by outsourcing the tasks in the second category. If something soul-destroying but necessary is still getting done, but you don’t have to do it yourself, then you are guaranteed to feel better immediately.

Then all that’s left is the first category – the things you must do – and you can spread those out to fill some of the time you’ve freed up so that your days are more balanced.

Setting the Context for Better Mental Health

Follow these steps to help avoid burnout and overwhelm, but don’t stop there. If you’re running your own business, be a good boss and give yourself an occasional mental health day. You can schedule it in the same way as you do everything else to regroup, recharge and return to balance. Aren’t you feeling better already?

How do you look after your mental health?

This article is based on an article originally published on Get Paid to Write Online.

About Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall has been writing professionally for almost 25 years, and she does it because she loves it. She is a word nerd, a Scrabble fiend, fanatical about grammar, and is fascinated by learning new things. Since 2005, Sharon has mentored other writers at “Get Paid To Write Online” to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Sharon subscribes to the 'fine wine' theory of aging - getting older also means getting better! Connect with Sharon on her website.

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  1. Pingback: Sharon Hurley Hall, Professional Blogger and Writer - Write on time and write on target

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Are You Looking after Your Mental Health?