When I worked as an Army psychologist, I would often joke with Soldiers that there were only two authorized emotions in the Army: "pissed off" and "f'ing pissed off." I used this joke to illustrate that constraining our emotional experiences was absurd and that neglecting the broader range of emotional experiences leads to misinterpretation of thoughts. The danger of misunderstanding emotions and thoughts is that it leaves us open to falling victim to the behavioral reactions caused by those emotions and thoughts. Learning to understand and manage emotions is especially important for leaders because their decisions and reactions have such an impact.
As we leave 2022 in the rearview and embark on 2023, we may consider resolutions that will improve all aspects of our lives. This holistic approach to improvement may also include focusing on our emotional and mental health. One thing I've observed from working with leaders in a wide range of industries is that leaders, even good leaders, often do not engage in self-care as much as they should. Good leaders are often so focused on caring for their people that they can sometimes neglect their own needs. This blog post will discuss the benefits of good emotional and mental health and provide tips for harnessing these benefits in your life!
The general benefits of good emotional and mental health
We refer to our overall well-being when discussing emotional and mental health. This well-being includes physical health, mental state, relationships, and environment. We all have times when we feel down or stressed, but when these feelings last for a long time or start interfering with our everyday lives, it's time to seek help.
There are many benefits to maintaining good emotional and mental health. For one, it can improve your physical health. For example, emotionally healthy people are more likely to care for their bodies, eat right, and exercise regularly. This approach to wellness leads to more robust immune systems and lower rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Another benefit of good emotional and mental health is that it allows you to cope better with stress. When you can effectively manage your emotions, you are less likely to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking alcohol or overeating. Changes such as these can improve work performance and decision-making and reduce conflict in personal relationships.
Finally, maintaining good emotional and mental health can improve the quality of your relationships. When you are emotionally healthy, you are more likely to be open and honest with those around you. You will also be able to handle conflict constructively and build more profound, meaningful connections with the people in your life.
Why emotional and mental health are essential for leaders
Leaders need to be able to think clearly and make decisions quickly. If mental or emotional health issues bog down a leader, it can hinder their ability to lead effectively. When we think about being a leader, we often think of someone strong and confident. But being a leader isn't just about being tough – it's also about being emotionally and mentally healthy. An emotionally and mentally healthy leader can make clear decisions, be adaptable and resilient, have a positive outlook, and empathize with others.
Mental and emotional health issues can significantly impact a leader's ability to function. Depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues can lead to impaired decision-making, decreased productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. In fact, mental health issues are one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Leaders dealing with mental health issues may find it difficult to motivate themselves or others, have trouble concentrating or making decisions and feel overwhelmed or hopeless. Therefore, leaders need to be aware of the signs of mental health issues so they can seek help for themselves or others if needed.
Tips for leaders who are learning to manage their emotional health
Leaders need to be extra mindful and intentional when managing their emotional health. Here are some tips to help them stay on top of their game:
1. Make time for self-care: It can be easy for leaders to get caught up in the demands of their roles and neglect their care. However, making time for activities that help you relax and recharge, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature, is essential. When you take care of yourself, you'll be better equipped to handle the challenges of your role.
2. Be aware of your triggers: Everyone has certain things that can trigger negative emotions or thoughts. It's important to be aware of your triggers to manage them healthily. For example, if you know that specific topics tend to upset you, you can prepare yourself mentally before discussing them.
3. Communicate openly with your team: Leaders must set the tone for open communication. If you're uncomfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings, your team members won't feel comfortable doing so either. Creating an open and supportive environment will help everyone feel more comfortable sharing their challenges and successes.
4. Seek professional help when needed: There's no shame in seeking professional help when you're struggling to cope with the demands of your role. A therapist can provide valuable support and guidance as you navigate leadership challenges.
As we go into the New Year, here are some things for organizational leaders to keep in mind:
1. Good emotional and mental health is essential for many reasons. They can improve our overall quality of life, help us better cope with stress and adversity, and increase productivity and effectiveness in our personal and professional lives.
2. As leaders, it is especially important to maintain good emotional and mental health. Doing so can help us to be more effective and successful in our roles while also setting a positive example for those we lead.
3. We can do many things to nurture our emotional and mental health, these include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing mindfulness and meditation, and seeking professional help when needed.
From the team here at Psyince, we wish you all a relaxing holiday and a great start to 2023!