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How to safe proof your mental health if you work in the tech world

Workers in tech have been struggling with mental health issues in the pandemic - but what can you do if you work in tech to protect your mental wellbeing?

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Since the start of the pandemic, tech companies have been seeing unprecedented demand for services and products. In order to fulfil this demand, those working at technology companies have been under immense pressure to over-deliver and quickly adjust to a new way of working. Women in tech specifically have been hit the hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a global report, which is having a significant negative impact on mental health.

Although some companies are offering mental health resources and support to tackle burnout and boost productivity levels, our mental health is also a personal responsibility. What can you do, as an employee of a high growth company, to protect your mental health? 

Working in a high-pressure environment is like running a marathon. If you don’t train, conquering smaller distances gradually, you might suffer from an injury, not complete the marathon or give up. So, to prevent burn out or other mental health issues, here are my tips for achieving mental resilience this Stress Awareness Month:

  • Don’t Let Things Fester 

Dealing with issues as soon as they arise is probably the most important thing you can do to achieve or maintain good mental health. Stress and anxiety can develop into more serious issues over time, as they can become embedded in the brain through repetitive behaviour if it goes untreated. 

Prolonged periods of stress or a traumatic event can lead to changes not only in the brain, but in the body as well. Every cell records memories, and every embedded, trauma-related neuropathway has the opportunity to repeatedly reactivate. In other situations, the changes evolve into readily and apparent symptoms that impair function and present in ways that interfere with jobs, friendships and relationships. In fact, too much stress can lead to insomnia and irritability, and chronic stress can also dampen the immune system, making people more prone to colds and flu. Bodily tension can also lead to aches and pains. 

So, in a nutshell – when you feel stress infiltrating, don’t let it build up. Take steps early and address challenges head-on.

  • Working Hard Doesn’t Make You More Efficient

Start-up culture tends to reward working long hours and being ‘always on’. But this is a culture we  have to challenge. Working hard doesn’t necessarily mean that you are more productive, and burnout is an increasingly worrying problem in well-funded start-ups. We shouldn’t advocate growth at the expense of our people, but rather balance the focus on investor-driven deliverables and whilst taking a long-term view on employee mental health.

As we continue to work from home, it’s crucial to remember that you can take control of your schedule and make your days work for you. You can manage expectations and share your availability early on, providing deadlines that work for your responsibilities, in these uncertain times. Communicate with your employer and help them understand that supporting you will be of mutual benefit in the long term. Good talent is hard to find! 

  • Get Your ‘Me-time”

Work from home, changes to our daily lives and lack of social interaction, mandated by the pandemic, have had a massive impact on our mental health. We can’t do the things that ordinarily provide us with emotional relief, and as small as that may seem, it can extrapolate to something much bigger. These mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic are in-tune with how the body responds to stress or anxiety – our body’s fight or flight response is activated by triggers. If you are stuck in a negative loop of emotions and stressors, there can be long term implications. But on the bright side, there are loads of tools available to help you deal with how you might be feeling.

 Find time to reflect on your day, tune into any negative emotions and try to refocus on and spend time on anything that gives you joy.

And above all, remember – you are not alone. Stress, anxiety and PTSD are treatable, and they can  be resolved with the right treatment and support.

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