Feeling burnt out? You’re not alone. In a LinkedIn poll
we conducted on common mental health and stress triggers faced by our readers, burnout came out on top (53%), followed by blurred work-life boundaries (28%) and finances (17%). Between Zoom fatigue and adjusting to life in this ‘new normal’, it’s evident that the pandemic has taken a toll on our collective mental health, causing what many has even coined the “burnout epidemic”. With World Mental Health Day happening this month, we think there’s no better time for a mental health check in. We think that true self-care shouldn’t cost you an arm and leg, so if you’re looking for low-cost mental health tips to keep in your toolkit, read on.
Bad days vs. Burnout
Granted, we all have bad days – but how can we tell if what we’re feeling is something deeper to look into? “Everyone experiences emotional highs and lows, but what you need to look out for is when chronic stress affects your day-to-day activities. Some mental health red flags to look out for include extreme irritability, exaggerated responses, and loss of interest in activities you previously enjoy,” shares psychotherapist Navroop Sood, in our recent Autumn Conversations webinar titled “Mental Health is Wealth: Reframing How We Prioritise Our Mental Wellbeing”.
1. Embrace mindfulness
Studies have shown that mindfulness can help beat job-related stress and burnout – even improve job satisfaction.
Mindfulness refers to the practice of staying present in the moment, and focusing your thoughts on what is happening in the here and now. “We live in a distracted, fragmented world where we’re multi-tasking all the time. Our attention these days is very much thrown outwards – we’re looking at our phones, other people,” shares Singapore-based mindfulness coach and practitioner Erin Lee during our October webinar.
“Mindfulness is simple, but not easy. We just need to know where our attention is, and how to use it.” For a start, Erin suggests that something as simple as being present during your mealtime (as opposed to mindlessly scrolling on your smartphone) or taking a one-minute pause within your day can go a long way.
2. Set boundaries
Working from home, coupled with our constant connectivity, means that the lines between work life and home life have become blurred. It can be all too easy to hop on to your email and respond to work messages after-hours. But over time, this inability to disconnect can lead to burnout.
Setting professional and personal boundaries around your time and learning to say ‘no’ can help. “You set the tone for your relationships and how people draw from you,” shares Navroop.
Read more: 14 Effective strategies management tips
3. Spend time in the outdoors (at least two hours a week)
A wealth of studies proves that escaping to the outdoors – whether that’s a jaunt about your neighbourhood park or a short hike – can lower a person’s stress levels, decrease blood pressure, boost your mental health and increase life expectancy. In fact, doctors frequently prescribe time in the outdoors to improve their patient’s overall well-being.
But just how much time do we need to clock in for better well-being? The answer: roughly 120 minutes. According to a 2019 study, those who spent two hours a week or more outdoors reported having greater sense of well-being than those who don’t spend time in nature.
4. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is proven to help relieve stress, build positivity, and gives you a better outlook on life. People who practice it are found to be consistently happier. Simply taking a few minutes each day to reflect on something you are grateful for can be beneficial to your mental health.
5. Remember that it’s OK to ask for help
Lastly, remember that it’s alright to ask for help. Unfortunately, talking about mental health still remains a stigma for many. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone or seek professional help for your mental health. Contrary to the stigma around it, seeking help is a sign of strength and resilience.
“When it comes to mental health, you’re never alone. Many of us suffer from our own challenges, in both small and big ways. The feeling of shame, guilt and loneliness around your struggles is very common,” shares Angela Ng, senior lecturer of SIT. “Take the courage to ask for help and reach out for help.”