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The Achiever’s Guide to Protecting Your Mental Well-Being

Why making your mental well-being a priority matters to your success

If you’re a go-getter, doing is a way of life, and you constantly find yourself with a never-ending list of things that need to be done.

But how does all this doing affect your mental health?

We live in a world where we’re encouraged to hustle, grind, boss up, and “just do it”. While ambition and success aren’t bad, our incessant need to achieve is often met at the detriment of our psychological well-being, leading to increased anxiety, burn out, depression, overwhelm and stress as we struggle to return to mental equilibrium.

The reality is that protecting your mind isn’t an option on your path to success … it’s a must, and I’ve found that these three powerful strategies have made a world of difference in prioritizing my own mental health and for my high-achiever clients’ paths to well-being: just say “no”, play and just … be.

Just say “NO”.

Yes, I know … much easier said than done. As a recovering overachiever and people-pleaser, I’ve responded with “yes” to requests without even batting an eye and found myself staring wide-eyed at the mile-high tasks and responsibilities piled on my plate. The inevitable result? Increased stress, frustration and resentment. Decreased focus and productivity.

Sound familiar?

For the overcommitted or the scattered, use Derek Sivers’ “Heck Yeah or No”* strategy to combat your inability to say no: when deciding whether or not to do something, if the proposed task excites you or is in alignment with your goals and needs, it’s a “heck yeah”. Otherwise, it’s a “no” … plain and simple. I’ve successfully used this strategy countless times and even added a third category: “heck yeah but not now” as my “yes but later”.

Ready to sort your way to sanity? Make a list of everything currently on your plate, and write “heck yeah”, “heck yeah but not now” or “no” next to each item to prioritize the necessary and remove the unnecessary.

Another effective strategy is to take a brief pause before responding or say “let me think about it and I’ll get back to you” to actually give yourself time to make the best decision. Remember, you’re entitled to give real consideration to what you choose to sign on for and what you don’t, and don’t let anyone else’s demands make the choice for you and your psyche.

Play.

What did play look like for you as a kid? Were you hiding and seeking in your neighborhood or slipping and sliding through muddy waters in your backyard? Whatever the adventure, I’m sure you conjured up some amusing moments where you freely escaped into your happy place without a care in the world.

So why do we as adults forget the need for play? Unfortunately, we get stuck in the routine of “adulting” and forget to play despite the many benefits that it has on our overall well-being including a reduction in stress.

It’s time to stop taking yourself so seriously, and get back to the basics. Break out the coloring book; take an improv class; learn to play the ukulele; or bounce to your heart’s content on a trampoline. Make time for your playful escape to have fun, be carefree and play the stress away.

Just … be.

As achievers, we’re used to … well, achieving. But when was the last time you took a moment to be still? No scheduled plans, no distracting technology in hand. Just you, being present in the here and now and enjoying life.

Sounds simple enough, right? Not so much. This is actually one of the hardest strategies for go-getters to carry out. Our nature by default is go, go, go so when we’re not doing that, it feels … unnatural. Our need for speed in our everyday lives, however, puts us on the fast track to burn out and overwhelm.

Being still might feel uncomfortable at first but sit with and embrace the discomfort; you’ll get the hang of it (and will probably even look forward to it) over time. Meditation, technology-free moments and spending qualitytime and being fully present with family and friends are just a few ways to get started on your path to simply being.

Ironically, I suggest scheduling your “moments of being” because I realize that for many achievers, “if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist”, and even though, we know the importance of self-care, we usually have to hit the wall before prioritizing it is even an option.

Your Challenge: Choose one strategy to implement in the next week (just say no, play or just … be), and let me know how it worked.

*I substituted the word “heck” for younger readers.

Photo Credit: Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Originally published at cachetprescott.com

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