Burn Bright, Not Burn Out: How To Manage Your Mental Health

With nearly half of all Australians aged 16-85 expected to experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, mental health is a big issue. But it’s an area of health that’s overlooked. One-fifth of Australian workers have taken time off work in the past year because they felt mentally unhealthy. This leads to 3.2 days per worker lost each year due to workplace stress.

Mental health problems can feel isolating and personal, but they’re creating a public health crisis. Economists estimate that mental health conditions are costing Australian businesses almost $11 billion each year.

It’s not just total collapse you need to watch out for. Experts are warning of a brownout crisis. The stage before burnout, symptoms include feeling rundown, tired and unable to concentrate – but still getting work done. It’s not quite at blackout levels – but it could tip over.

Your mental health is an important part of your life, outside of work as well as in.

Prevention is easier than cure

You need to learn to understand your mental state, and pay attention to it before things get too bad. Try to interrogate your feelings. Start to spot patterns in your mood and behaviour. Learn your triggers, as this will help you take proactive action, like leaving a situation that could anger you.

In understanding what affects you, you can begin to build resilience. Inoculate yourself against the external factors that impact your inner peace.

Create healthy habits for your mind

As a preventative measure, you should also be taking steps to fortify your mental defences, so to speak. It takes time, but building healthy habits into your routine can help you stick to them, even in times of trouble.

Exercise is a particularly important, as it releases endorphins that help to reduce cortisol, the stress chemical.

Other health habits include yoga, pilates or meditation. These all help you slow down and focus on breathing, whilst also encouraging a mindful awareness of how you feel.

Healthy body, healthy mind

Being mindful is important, as your environment (even your body) impacts what’s going on inside. Your diet can impact your health either way: bad food can drag you down, whilst taking care of yourself can pep you up. Healthy sleep habits can make you more resilient. But did you know that the weather impacts your mental health? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SADs) is more prevalent in the Northern hemisphere than down under, but with most jobs denying us the chance to be outside, it’s beginning to seep into Australia.

Switch off to switch on

This is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself stable. Find your work-life balance. That said, avoid making self-care a chore: make me-time a treat that is good for you. Try volunteering, to find meaning in something bigger than yourself. Focus on taking up a hobby or activity where you can lose awareness of time. These help your brain to relax, reset and find peace.

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