Meet Arabella Peterson and Lilith Hardie Lupica of The Foreword, an online platform and weekly newsletter featuring (career) advice, recommendations and insights from people you admire, want to know or don't know yet. Here, the duo behind the brand share the strategies they've developed to look after their mental health while working towards achieving their goals.
This might seem obvious, but when you sit back and take stock of how many times a day you feel frustrated by a lack of respect, an incursion on your time or someone's demand to get a task done within their timeframe, you might find it's more than you're happy with. Setting realistic boundaries in a work context can be challenging. Still, simple acts like not replying to emails after hours or reminding clients not to use your personal phone number are significant moves to activate those boundaries swiftly. Otherwise, start practising saying 'No' within your personal life and see how good it feels to wield that powerful word in all contexts. These small boundary-setting acts can have a considerable impact on your mental health over time.
It's tempting to place a tremendous amount of stress on ourselves to excel, but if we make our achievements at work the be-all and end-all, when we inevitably make a mistake, it can feel monumental. Trying to find a healthy level of self-awareness about our abilities is key; recognise and accept the things you may not be good at, but also appreciate and give time to what you do well. Measuring our self-worth against vocational success creates a risk of spiralling when things don't go to plan. Investing in other parts of your life—your friendships, your hobbies, your self-development and your community—can take the pressure off our career ambitions and allow us to take things less personally.
Find a like-minded confidant.
While friends and family are great to vent to regarding work, sometimes only someone with an intimate knowledge of the role, the people or the organisation might truly 'get' your frustrations and have realistic advice on how to navigate certain situations. A mentor is great, but finding someone like-minded, with similar goals and experiences can be beneficial for our mental health long-term. Having someone to confide in and rely on, to share highs and lows of work and career can help you to feel less alone. If there's no one you feel comfortable sharing with at work, research podcasts or platforms that cover your field (there's a podcast for everything). Find where that community hangs out on the internet (an Instagram page, comment section), you'll be able to find a community, even if you're just there for the memes.
Minimise before you maximise.
Whether it's a dopamine hit from notifications, a caffeine buzz or a few glasses of wine in the evening, these seemingly harmless comforts can contribute to underlying feelings of anxiety. You don't have to go cold turkey off the things you love, but try cutting out certain habits and see if it has a positive effect on your mental health. We can buy all the facemasks and scented candles, and download all the meditation apps in the world, but if something you rely on could actually be holding you back, why not find out? Deactivate one of your social media apps, switch to decaf or spend an hour each morning and night away from a screen for a few weeks and see what feels right for you.
So simple and effective, yet so hard to prioritise. Don't underestimate the power of making yourself unavailable by logging off and out. If you can schedule a weekend to log out of all your social accounts, hide your emails and actively be present with your loved ones, you (and this is the crucial part) will feel refreshed and excited to jump back into work. If you're feeling harried and pressured by work all evening, weekend or even on your day off, you might begin to feel resentful, and burnout will be just around the corner. Make time to log off and distance yourself from your job, no matter how much you love it. The two of you need space!
Keep track off your goals in our 2021 diaries or make 2021 the year you start journaling with one of our notebooks.