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Leadership Development, Career Success, Personal Growth, NSLS Blog

How to Protect Your Mental Health

Mental health continues to be one of the most important topics of our time. With more than 50% of people being diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their life, it's a crisis we're facing as a society.

That's why it's important to ensure we're protecting ourselves from falling into the traps that catch so many. The good news is, there are ways to improve your mental health, and it starts by prioritizing your happiness.

Mental Health at Work

Entrepreneur and Marketing Professor Scott Galloway has written extensively on career happiness and urges us to embrace boring.

"Nobody starts their career passionate about tax law," he writes in "The Algebra of Happiness."

When it comes to one's career, it's important to reset expectations and lean into subject matter that may not be that exciting.

Start With Mindfulness 

Part of embracing boredom is, unavoidably, being bored at times. That's why it's important to focus on mindfulness.

By setting aside time for something like yoga, or any practice you're interested in, you'll be sharpening and improving cognitive function.

When you wake up, focus on mindfulness and wait before looking at your phone.

double down on your strengths

The idea of a dream job is a bit of a myth. A better way to describe landing a job you'll love is by finding something you're great at.

Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck responds with this one question when someone asks him the key to loving what you do: "What is your biggest strength?" When the person answers, he usually says, "Do more of that."

By doubling down on what you do best, you'll be putting yourself in a position to succeed and your mental health will thank you for it. 

Go Outside

We all think we know this one, and then another day goes by and you still haven't left the house or office. Being in the zone is a good thing, but set reminders for short breaks and step outside.

When you come back, the work will be there waiting for you. Fresh air has several benefits for your health. It can: 

  • Improve your concentration when you return to work.

  • Release serotonin to improve your mood and sense of well-being.

  • Help you breathe better and more efficiently.

  • Reduce the risk of illness and infection.

Mental Health at School

School is stressful almost by design. If higher education institutions are doing their job well, they're setting students up for the real world.

Though there are still signs of a skills gap between college and career, students would probably all agree that they have a full workload in both.

How can you protect your mental health and recover from burnout when you feel like you have too much on your plate at school? 

Start Setting Goals

By setting goals, you'll create a plan of attack and a roadmap for your future.

Set short-term and long-term goals and stick to them. If you fall short, learn to pivot to the next goal you set for yourself.

There are a range of goal-setting techniques you can use to stay on course. A lot of the stress we feel is associated with not having a plan in place. 

Learn to Say No

A quick way to reach the point of burnout in school is by saying yes to too many things. Remember to always be a self-advocate and have the willpower to say no. 

Ask for Help

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Seek out your campus counseling center if you're struggling with something larger than coursework, and contact your professor if you're looking for help with a class.

Most professors and instructors are always ready to help.

Mental Health ONLINE

It's no surprise that about two-thirds of Americans say social media has had a negative impact on their lives.

The online landscape can be a wasteland, with the negative outcomes outweighing the positives.

To navigate this world and ensure a positive experience, you'll need to be intentional.

Set Limits

The amount of screen time has a direct impact on your level of happiness. It's science. Too much computer time increases your level of anxiety.

By prioritizing time away from the screen, you'll see a range of improvements in your life, including better sleep, which leads to less:

  • Sick time

  • Stress

  • Combative relationships

  • Poor decision making

Use Special Glasses

Too much time online does a number on your eyes. The negative physical ailments from excessive screen time will manifest into a negative mental state.

A simple way to protect them is by wearing blue light-blocking glasses, which helps filter blue light, increasing melatonin and leading to better sleep.

Choose the Right Friends

Friendliness goes a long way; however, in an online environment, it's easier to see negative content. Individuals become users, and are quicker to attack through the veil of anonymity.

Surround yourself with people who keep things positive. Since our physical lives are melded so much with our online lives, that may mean reconsidering your circle of friends.

Ask yourself if your friends are positive or negative influences. If it seems like a negative relationship, have a conversation with them or surround yourself with a positive support system.

Mental Health AS A LEADER

As a leader, it can be easy to put others before your own mental health. When managing a team, it's almost in the job description. But there are ways to focus on both the people you lead and yourself.

Cultivate a Happy Team

By leaning into a happiness-first mentality, you'll not only elevate your team's mental health, but also your own, while producing high-quality work.

Happy teams work harder, get more done, and feel better in the process. To lead a happier team, be transparent, communicate effectively, and offer praise.

Treat Mental Health as a Leadership Skill

Instead of seeing mental health as a separate issue you also have to think about as a leader, treat it as any other skill you'd work on improving.

Research it and continue to learn about it. Embrace a growth mindset and seek new ways to improve the mental health of you and your team.

Take Time for Yourself

As a leader, you may feel like you can’t take time off but you should. Take those PTO days and set aside time every week for your hobbies.

Sometimes, the work you're doing can wait. You need to prioritize time away but also be transparent with colleagues about it.



As a wrap up, here are some things you can start doing right away to boost your mental health.

Celebrate Small Wins

Once you get in the habit of setting goals, remember to celebrate milestones you hit along the way. It could be something as simple as rewarding yourself with a treat or concert tickets.

Call That Friend

Continually think about leaning into friendliness. Empathy is a two-way street. Being generous with others and showing gratitude pays dividends on your own happiness.

Go for a Walk

Set your status to away and go for a walk or jog around the block. Besides the physical benefits, doing cardio boosts mental health and self-confidence.


Close your eyes, put on noise-canceling headphones, and listen to some meditative music. Or you could read a book or take a quick nap. This will generate greater brainpower later.

Take a Personal Day

You don't want to get in the habit of taking every other Friday off, but when it's time, take it. Recharging the batteries with a full-day disconnect has the power of a hard reset.


Besides the fact that empathy pays you back, volunteering also puts you in social situations, reducing loneliness and building bonds.

Stay Mindful of Your Mental Health

Champion your mental health and the mental health of those around you. Give back to get back. Live with gratitude. Stay focused on your goals but disconnect when necessary. Forgive others instead of holding a grudge. Your mind will thank you.

Learn more about leadership's impact on health and wellness and how to solve the burnout problem.