By Tiffany Longjohn, MS, NCC, LPC
Tiffany is the Clinical Case Manager with the University Counseling Center at Wake Forest University.
We all know that transitions can be hard on everyone. While it is exciting to jump into starting a new career–potentially in a new city away from your loved ones–it is easy for you to get completely engulfed in your work, forgetting to maintain a balance between work and wellness. The one thing that I wish I knew before jumping into the professional world is how important it is to make time to care for my wellbeing as a young professional. Below I’ll share with you four tips to finding your balance and taking charge of your wellness.
- You can’t pour from an empty cup. Simply put, you cannot give what you don’t have. Be mindful of the different “hats” you may wear and the energy that you are giving out. We spend a majority of our time at work, often doing something that we are passionate about. Imagine the amount of energy you are consciously and subconsciously expending. Self-care is vital when navigating a new environment, potentially new stress triggers, and a new phase of life. Find ways to refill your cup. This can look like a trip to the spa, going for a quick run, setting some firm boundaries, or disconnecting from the world a little bit. One of the most important points to remember is to take care of yourself with the same care that you give to other people and things. This requires you to check in with yourself regularly be sure to assess how full your cup really is. Be sure to find ways to refill your cup. Ignoring this is a sure way to hit burn out and welcome exhaustion.
- Don’t fix the roof while it’s raining. Imagine trying to fix a roof on a house in the middle of a storm. While you may be able to see where the water is leaking, it can be almost impossible to patch it up as the water continues to pour. The same applies for your wellbeing. Why wait until you are in the middle of a crisis to take action? Simply put, I want to encourage you to be proactive regarding your mental wellness. Notice the signs of distress. Common signs of distress are low motivation, low mood, changes in your eating habits and sleep patterns, fatigue, and irritability. Listen to what your body is telling you. Does it need your attention? Do you need a mental health day? Do you need to connect with a mental health professional? Take the time to do whatever you need to do to improve how you feel and manage your stress levels. Paid time off is your friend! Don’t be afraid to use your time to take care of you before your body forces you to do so.
- Find your tribe. Connecting with others socially looks very different as an adult in the working world. In the past, we generally made friends by connecting with people in our classes or people involved in the same extracurricular activities that we are involved in. Easy peasy, right? Finding your social group as an adult may require you actively seeking ways to connect with others. Websites like Meetup.com, Facebook, and even BumbleBFF offer opportunities for you to meet people in your area to develop a social support network. There is power in connecting with others in a meaningful way and it can help make your new environment and new phase of life a pleasing experience.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. What works for others isn’t guaranteed to work for you. Finding the recipe that works for you may take some time. With diligence, the results can produce the greatest reward. Be open to trying different strategies or skills to find the balance between giving your all to your career and maintaining your wellbeing.
There are many ways to take care of yourself. Figuring out the right balance can prevent burnout and exhaustion. Cultivating the skills, establishing a support system, and being aware of your needs are all steps in a positive direction.