Work/Life Resources

Caring for your Mental Health

woman talking her dogs for a walk

Stress is universal

No matter your employment status, the working world is full of stressors that can decrease your happiness and quality of life. However, each position brings its own questions and uncertainty that can keep you feeling stuck or keep you up at night. Some common frustrations include:

Job searching

  • Sending countless resumes without hearing back from hiring managers
  • Not seeing job postings that interest or excite you
  • Feeling like you don't have the skills needed to get the job you want
  • Not getting offered a job after what you thought was a successful interview

Difficult work environments

  • Co-workers that are not pleasant to work with
  • Customers or clients that are rude
  • Rigid work schedules or shifts that change constantly

Juggling responsibilities of work and home life

  • Finding dependable and quality childcare
  • Caring for elderly relatives
  • Finding the energy to cook, clean, and keep your finances in order after a difficult day

Stress reduction strategies

These feelings are normal reactions to the difficult circumstances we can find ourselves in.  However, research has produced a number of strategies that can reduce the impact theses stressors, or things that cause us stress, can have on our lives.

  1. Look for ways to relax. Find activities that bring you joy and rejuvenation. Consider deep breathing, stretching, exercise
  2. Get other points of view. Talk with trusted family members, friends, or colleagues about the issues you're facing. They might be able to provide solutions or strategies for coping. Also, simply talking about a stressor can sometimes bring relief.
  3. Take a break. This is especially tough for working parents, but it is necessary for recharging. Taking just a 5 minute break during a busy day can be refreshing. Use that time to relax and not think about your to-do list.
  4. Have an outlet. To prevent burnout, set aside time for activities you enjoy — such as reading, socializing or pursuing a hobby.
  5. Take care of yourself. Be vigilant about taking care of your health. Include physical activity in your daily routine, get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy diet.

Look for a pattern in your stress

Since stress will always be present, it can be helpful to look for a pattern to the sources of stress that make you most uncomfortable. We adapted the following strategy from Mayo Clinic's article on coping with stress in the workplace.

  1. Identify your stress triggers. For a week or two, write down situations, events, and people that caused you to have a negative emotional response. Write down a description of each situation that answers questions like: Where we you? Who was involved? What was your reaction? How did you feel? 

  2. Find a pattern. There many be situations that happen regularly that are more impactful on your mental health. For example, your commute may be long and filled with frustration and that puts you in a bad mood for the rest of your morning. Finding patterns to your stressors is key to finding ways to resolve that stress.
  3. Find ways small ways to change your stressor. While getting rid of your stressor might not be possible, small changes might help reduce the overall impact. Following our earlier example, one small way to change the outcome is ensuring you have your favorite playlist or podcast ready for your commute may make it more manageable.

Reach out for help

If none of these steps relieves your feelings of job stress or burnout, consult a mental health provider — either on your own or through an employee assistance program offered by your employer. Through counseling, you can learn effective ways to handle stress.

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The Job Connector by MIT was created as part of the community benefits package of the VolpeMIT rezoning.