Wellness in the Workplace: 4 Tips for Prioritizing Self-Care & Mental Health as a Young Professional

Published by Day & Zimmermann's Young Professionals Employee Resource Group (YPRG)

Every generation faces its own set of unique challenges in the workplace. For young professionals, managing mental health and self-care can feel like a balancing act. Yet, it's widely recognized that prioritizing self-care and mental health is invaluable for overcoming daily hurdles, sidestepping burnout, and fostering rewarding careers and personal lives.

In a 2023 survey, 51% of young professionals reported that they needed help for emotional or mental health problems in the past year. As May is Mental Health Awareness month, it's a good time to explore the specific challenges young professionals face at work and some practical tips for navigating them to promote personal and professional growth.


Unique Challenges for Young Professionals in the Workplace

Mental health and well-being are influenced by factors like our relationships, physical health, stress management, and work-life balance. Additionally, workplace pressures can take a major toll on us, affecting our overall wellness and career growth. Young professionals, in particular, are up against hurdles like performance pressure, burnout, and charged office politics.

  • Heightened Pressure to Perform: Starting a new job often puts a lot of pressure on young professionals to prove themselves right from day one. This pressure comes from the expectations set by supervisors, peers, and sometimes, self-imposed high standards.

  • Higher Levels of Burnout: Young professionals experience higher levels of burnout. The combination of long hours and demanding workloads can result in stress, exhaustion, and an unhealthy work-life balance, affecting both performance and overall job satisfaction.

  • Charged Office Politics: Every organization has its share of office politics. Understanding and navigating these unspoken dynamics can be confusing for young professionals and hinder their ability to form relationships and gain access to growth opportunities.       

Young professionals who manage to overcome these challenges find fulfillment both personally and professionally. Similarly, companies that take steps to address these issues and support their young talent effectively can reap many benefits.


4 Ways Young Professionals Can Prioritize Workplace Wellness

The good news is, there are several strategies that can be implemented to overcome workplace hurdles and focus on your mental health and well-being. This includes prioritizing self-care, setting boundaries, tapping into resources, and fostering a healthy workplace culture. Let's explore these strategies here.

1. Prioritize Self-Care

Understanding the importance of self-care is the initial step in centering your well-being and improving your daily work performance. It's crucial for young professionals to realize that neglecting self-care can affect their self-motivation and work ethic, preventing them from reaching peak performance.

To prioritize self-care, set aside time for activities that help you relax, such as exercising, pursuing hobbies, and spending quality time with loved ones. These practices can reduce stress and boost your overall satisfaction and fulfillment both at work and at home.


2. Know Your Limits

Taking on new challenges and stepping out of your comfort zone can help you advance in your career. However, pushing yourself excessively can impact your ability to handle your usual tasks. When you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or unable to perform your daily responsibilities effectively, it might be a sign that you've reached your limit. If you're considering taking on stretch opportunities at work, try to schedule them during periods when your personal life is relatively stable, with no major planned events. like returning to school, attending a wedding, or taking an extended vacation.

Moreover, it's healthy to establish boundaries at work with your colleagues and managers. This could involve setting specific times for work-related activities and personal time – and sticking to them! While your employer may not always meet all your needs, open and honest communication with your trusted leaders can ensure everyone is supportive and aligned.


3. Take Advantage of Wellness Resources

Many workplaces offer programs that support wellness, and young professionals should absolutely take advantage of them. These programs can range from dedicated initiatives to having a supportive mentor or colleague. You can also use your voice to advocate for additional wellness initiatives like flexible work models, mental health resources, or mindfulness programs.

At large companies like Day & Zimmermann, employee resource groups (ERGs) – such as the Young Professionals Resource Group (YPRG) and Abled and Disabled Advocates Working Together (ADAPT) – can enhance both your professional growth and well-being through organized programs and events. Working for a company that promotes mental health can improve your workplace experience, fostering a supportive environment that enhances your engagement and productivity.

4. Lead by Example

Prioritizing self-care not only improves your overall well-being and productivity but also sets a positive example for your colleagues. You can lead by example by encouraging them to get involved in workplace initiatives or wellness events. Another effective approach is organizing regular midday walks or coffee chats, which provide a relaxed space for connection.

Leading and advocating for these activities can boost your mood and foster a culture of wellness in your workplace. Investing in your well-being and mental health now will lay the groundwork for long-term success in your career.


Practicing Self-Care for Success

Understanding and overcoming workplace challenges is key for those early in their careers. By putting self-care and well-being first, young professionals can impact their success and career progression, ultimately improving job satisfaction, productivity, and relationships in the workplace. Additionally, establishing boundaries at work and utilizing company resources such as ERGs can significantly benefit them. Combined, these strategies enable young professionals to thrive in a supportive and productive environment.


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