Power Up Your Mental Health

Whens the best time to focus on your mental health? It isnt when youre feeling too depressed to get out of bed, or when your chest is about to implode from anxiety, or when youre so burnt out at work, you feel like an empty husk of a human.

How to Power Up Your Mental Health

Its right now.

Theres a lot you can do to optimize your mental health before it ever becomes an issue. Get thee to a therapist. Ask your doc about medication. Find a supportive community, online or IRL. Take a break at work. The idea is to treat your brain like the rest of your muscles-something to be cared for and strengthened so you can flex it when you need it.

This package will help you invest in your mental health before you hit that crisis point-specifically so that you dont hit that crisis point.

If you can, find a midworkday physical activity, like jogging or walking, says psychologist Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D. That's because working the body can help relax the mind. If you can't get active, use visualization techniques. He says 20 minutes is ideal, but even 10 minutes may be beneficial. Find a private spot and imagine being somewhere that makes you feel comfortable-say, a beach. See the water, hear the waves, feel the breeze. "Doing this for just five minutes, your body will throttle down and you'll start to relax," Lazarus says. Though coworkers might not appreciate you humming Jimmy Buffett.

Lead off by telling your boss something like "First, it's nothing very serious, but I'd really appreciate a bit of time off to deal with some personal and family matters." Start vague and then get more specific as needed, says psychologist Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D. Bringing up family may seem disingenuous, Lazarus adds, but sometimes complete honesty isn't psychologically healthy. If your manager presses for more info, simply say it's a "private matter" but that "I really appreciate your understanding." Mentally rehearse the conversation by picturing every detail-the room, our manager. Visualize success, but also run through different variations, like your manager asking you for specifics. Rehearse with a friend or a partner before you do it. Some managers may be okay discussing a mental health day, but you might need to give it a different conversational frame if yours isn't.

We partnered with Women's Health and SurveyMonkey to see just how much stress the American man is dealing with at work, and how we're all managing it. (Take a vacation already!)

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