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Let’s Talk About Working, Working Out, and Your Mental Health

Everything in life has an impact on your mental health.

On the one hand, that probably seems pretty obvious. On the other hand, that might sound a little overwhelming. 

But whether you find it obvious or overwhelming, it can be useful to think about it. 

Of course, we can’t cover everything in a single blog entry (or even in an infinite number of blog entries), but we can take a look at a couple of things. This time out, we want to look at two aspects of life—one that might be taking up too much of your time and one that might not be taking up enough.

Let’s talk about working and working out.

Working Hard is Good. Burning Out is Bad.

Most of us take a fair amount of pride in our work. We want to do a good job for our employer and the customers our companies serve. Not only that, we know that working hard can lead to promotions and other opportunities that might allow us to build a more comfortable life for ourselves and our families.

All of that is well and good. But sometimes working hard can bleed into working constantly. It might start as an effort to impress your boss (particularly if they are quite demanding) or to help your coworkers. But as time goes on, you might find that you are always eating at your desk, working on the weekends, or checking your email late into the night. Maybe you find yourself doing all three of those things.

If so, you are putting yourself at risk of experiencing burnout. Symptoms of burnout include feelings of unrelenting stress, which can make it all but impossible to relax. Burnout can also lead to sleep issues and can rob you of a sense of purpose or satisfaction in your work and in your life in general. Those issues and others like them can take a toll on your mental health. 

We also should note that excessive work can be connected to substance use disorders as well. Burnout can lead to substance use as an attempt to feel better or to have more energy to keep working. Alternately, a person in recovery from a substance use disorder could find themselves dealing with a substitute addiction–with work filling the role drugs or alcohol used to play in their lives.

The key, then, is to set boundaries at work. While there may be times that you need to burn the midnight oil, try to work a reasonable number of hours—and include breaks throughout your day. Leave work at work and use your evenings and weekends to relax and recharge. Avoiding burnout protects your mental well-being.

Working Out is Good. And it Doesn’t Have to be That Bad.

While some people truly enjoy working out or are sufficiently goal-driven to keep at it even when it is hard, many of us don’t count exercise among our favorite activities.

But exercise supports not only your physical health but your mental health as well. And the good news is that you don’t necessarily have to join a gym to get the benefits of exercise. Small changes in your daily activities can have benefits for your overall health.

What sorts of changes? How about adding a 10-minute walk to your daily schedule? Two 10-minute walks would be even better. Even easier? Park a little further from your destination. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk down the hall to ask a coworker a question rather than sending an email. Adding more movement to each day is a great way to get started.

Of course, weight or resistance training, aerobic activity, and flexibility exercises are all valuable as well. The key is to find activities you enjoy so that working out is more of a pleasure than a chore. Don’t like lifting weights? Give body resistance exercises a go. Don’t care for jogging or running? Consider swimming. Don’t like stretching alone at home? Try a yoga class. 

Finding a few exercises you really enjoy can lead to significant benefits for your mental health over time. 

We Make It Easy to Work Out How to Get Help Improving Your Mental Health

Whether you are dealing with depression, anxiety, a trauma-based disorder, or another mental health challenge, Peak View Behavioral Health can help. We offer personalized treatment because we recognize that each individual we serve is unique. At our Colorado Springs facility, we will help you improve your mental health and maintain those improvements. When you are ready, we are ready to get to work.

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