“When I was with my friends and family- I was never completely present”
Mental Health Month explores multiple topics underneath their 2019 theme of #4Mind4Body, including Social Connections & Recreation
Finding other people to relate to and doing things that bring you enjoyment are great ways to improve your mood and overall mental health.
This article contains a personal experience from a member of the UNCrushed team.
“find an activity that you love that allows you to completely clear your mind”
My girlfriends mother is a grief counselor (an angel of a human being), who over extended periods of time, listens to and helps people cope with extreme tragedy.
Like her, many professionals who work in health and social services that are emotionally stressful, cite compartmentalization as both a key coping technique and as a skill that allows them to avoid burnout and live happy & healthy personal lives.
To clarify, the “skill” of compartmentalization I am referring to, refers to the ability to draw a sharp distinction between your work and personal life-leaving your work at the office and not bringing it home.
Over the past year, compartmentalization has been something I really struggled with and for a period of time I gave up on this work-life coping technique & just assumed it was a skiIl I completely lacked.
I genuinely believed I wasn’t capable of compartmentalizing my work life from my personal life.
This assumed incompetence was something that hurt my personal life and my relationships.
In short, when I was with my friends and family- I was never completely present. I was either thinking about work, checking my phone for work emails, looking at work documents, etc.
Even if I was working out, going out to dinner with my girlfriend, or going for a run - keeping work off my mind was never attainable.
Finding a Personal Connection in Recreation
Over the past year, I returned to a sport that I love. About 4-5 days a week, I train high school aged kids in wrestling to help them accomplish their goals and dreams- something I was able to in high school (I was a NY State Champ and Division 1 Wrestler).
What that means is that my day to day is working from 8:30 AM to 6 PM and giving lessons from 7 to 9 PM everyday-not getting home until after 10 PM.
But it’s worth it- the end result of this activity allows me to completely clear my mind both during and after the activity and it allows me to be completely present for my personal life.
I am not the only person I know who would diagnose themselves as a workaholic with the inability to compartmentalize. However, I highly recommend to any workaholic who struggles to be completely present with their family, find an activity that you love that allows you to completely clear your mind- that doesn’t have to be meditation and that doesn’t have to mean exercise.
I was always under the impression that activities that are not work related, family related, or directly related to physical and mental health (working out and meditation) are a waste of time. But in my experience, finding and enjoying recreational activities has allowed me to perform better in the workplace, have better relationships, and live a mentally sound life.