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How Business Leaders Can Prioritize Mental Health

Integrative and interventional psychologist, coach, radio host and founder of The Center For Integrative And Functional Health And Wellness.

Mental health is often one of the most overlooked aspects of a human’s life; mental health services can be one of the least understood forms of healthcare, yet I think mental health is the most vital area of our well-being. Not communicating the importance of taking care of our mental well-being could cost us considerably.

As a business leader or an entrepreneur, when we are burdened with too many responsibilities, it can affect the way we conduct our business. We may neglect an important detail that could end up costing the company a lot of capital — an asset none of us want to lose.

To perform our best, we need to be sure we are not overloaded with concern for every problem we encounter and be willing to pass the baton to someone else when needed. We need to train our minds to stay focused. There are times when multi-tasking is okay, but there are also times when we need our full attention to stay on the task at hand. If interruptions are inevitable, do your best to handle each one respectively; then resume your focus. Be circumspect with your time; allocate a certain amount of it to focus on a task. When that time is up, do your best to not think about it. The outcome will surprise you.

Prioritizing health and wellness is like keeping the oil changed in your vehicle. It requires regular check-ups to keep things running smoothly.

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Invest in what matters most.

Our brains are not a separate part of our bodies but a very integral part of it. You can’t bury a nickel in the dirt and pray for a return on your investment; likewise, we need to invest in our mental health and view it as part of the whole. Work to ensure that your HR department has an engaging atmosphere; encourage openness. Invite speakers in to address employees and vary the topics. Humor is always a good idea, and laughter is a great stress reducer, so look for those who inspire laughter from the group.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help when needed. Recognize when your batteries are running low. Get more in touch with your mind so that you instantly know. Allow others to take on more responsibility.

Take a step back and relax.

If you find yourself irritated by simple requests — perhaps instead of calmly answering questions, you find yourself snapping — then it may be time to step back and let someone help you out for a bit. Many people can’t understand why they feel this way, and I’ve found that it’s usually nothing more than needing to step away and get some fresh air.

We rush to work in the morning, mentally going over the day in our minds before we even walk through the doors. We grab a cup of caffeine, greet a few people, sit at our desks and start crunching numbers. Lunch time arrives and we order food in, then eat at our desk. We have a meeting to attend, so we don’t even have a full break or enjoy our food. After that, we’re back at it again. Soon it’s time to go home, and the drive has us pondering every event that occurred. We begin second-guessing ourselves. We get home and go through our daily affairs there in much the same way. Tomorrow is the same, so is the day after that, and the day after that. Stress begins to build.

I have found that if you change simple things, you can reduce your stress significantly. For instance, have breakfast in your own home and interact with those around you; engage in their happenings and invite them into yours. If you are able and would prefer to eat breakfast out, then do that, but make sure you have time to sit down and let someone wait on you. Give yourself enough time so you are not rushing in the restaurant and then back out again. Consider paying for a leisurely company-wide breakfast at work periodically. It’s amazing!

For lunch, refuse to eat at your desk or to have food delivered. Get outside. Fresh air and sunshine do wonders to rejuvenate us.

Encourage breaks and time away from the office.

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Create a buddy system at work. Know who everyone can tag-team with on certain areas. Post a schedule for breaks so everyone knows when someone is on theirs, and make sure everyone knows breaks are mandatory, yours included. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, implement a no-company-overtime policy.

Create a culture that lends an inspiring view of staying mentally fit and not being ashamed of how we get there, because if we are struggling with our mental health, we’ll likely have a hard time going further in any direction. Therefore, elevate your mood on purpose. Start by taking vacations. If you can’t trust your staff to do their jobs, then you may want to rethink the way you’ve been doing yours.

I suggest designating a wall in a prominent place for everyone to post pictures of their loved ones, vacations, dream homes and/or their goals. Stop to look at the board often, and have positive comments ready for everyone. As a leader, your participation can encourage everyone else to participate.

Try not to contemplate all the things that can go wrong in your business or life; you totally miss the joy of living in the now and can create unnecessary stress. Life can be hard on all of us, but if you let go of the things you have no control over, I think you’ll do fine.

Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?

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