We have all faced a situation where something bad happened in our personal lives and we needed to keep working. It may have been mild or severe depression, a relationship breakup, or even a conflict with the neighbour. The amount of different factors that can negatively impact our mental health is vast. As a result, they may influence our output during our everyday jobs and even raise the concern of being fired.
I was actually faced with a challenge where I couldn’t meet my career goals because of my poor mental health. The reason for this was that within a six month timespan, a family member was admitted to the hospital, another got divorced after years of marriage which led him to clinical depression, and on top of that, I was left by the person I had decided to spend the rest of my life with.
As you would expect, my focus during that time was on different things rather than trying to feel good. However, this may have also been my biggest blunder.
If faced with personal adversity, avoid going into mental loops and ruining your career – among other life aspects – by taking care of yourself. The pain will most probably remain for some time and that’s absolutely normal since we are human beings.
Neglecting your mental health can cause a number of serious performance issues at work and affect how our employer, clients or colleagues perceive you.
Let’s see what the mistakes one can make are and how to avoid them:
1. You will repeatedly make mistakes
Have you ever tried to get out of the car with your seatbelt still on? Well, that’s because your mind was probably wandering somewhere else. Imagine however how severe this would be at work.
In fact, a study surveying nurses with sub-optimal mental health, showed that they were 26 to 71 percent more likely to make a medical error when compared to their healthier peers.
Constantly thinking about your personal situation or life hardships will most naturally result in making mistakes one after another. Your boss or clients will eventually start questioning the quality of your work.
2. You will be inconsistent on how you apply yourself
Consistency is key when it comes to career progression. This is because we are required to show the same level of character, technical expertise and even business acumen on a daily basis.
For example, what would the impact be if the performance of a top football player fluctuated between games? Consistency essentially translates to three main things: credibility and reputation of your name or business, accountability of your actions and measurement of your performance.
In case something goes wrong, try to be mentally strong and maintain the same level of output from day to day until the storm passes.
“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” – Dwayne Johnson
3. Your productivity levels will plunge at a dramatic rate
Productivity is often associated with high motivation and mood levels. Hence, poor mental health will most certainly translate into insufficient amounts of work and low performance levels.
In fact, a UK report from the chief medical officer for England, revealed that the number of sick days taken due to stress, depression and anxiety, increased by 24% between 2009 and 2013.
Being productive when having to deal with personal problems is indeed an extraordinary trial. The important thing to remember though is that with time, you will get back to your previous norms and produce the same results as before.
4. You will become moody and difficult to communicate with
Another change you will notice when neglecting your well-being is a foul mood and poor communication skills. Have you ever been in a situation where someone was too harsh on you because they had a bad day? This somewhat unexpected behaviour could exponentially increase from day to day unless you set your mind to solve what’s wrong.
In times of personal adversity, you may see changes in how you support your arguments, collaborate with others or even receive feedback. This kind of attitude may even cause some kind of inconvenience or even awkwardness in the team. Remember to focus not only on smiling but also on what and how you articulate your opinion.
“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer
The good news is that all of the above can be somewhat dealt with. Maybe not entirely, as the pain will still be there, but everyone can increase their mental strength through difficult times – the relevant situation may even be the precursor for self-development.
My top 5 tips to follow when faced with hardships and still have to progress in your career include:
- Ask for help and mental support
- Let your colleagues know of the situation
- Embrace your relationships with friends and family
- Engage in relaxation activities like deep breathing, yoga and reading
- Practice acceptance of the events