Managing Mental Health in the Workplace

By: Alissa (Disability Specialist & Guest Author)

Editor’s Note: Today’s post continues the year-long collaboration we are doing with the Disability Resources office on the UMD Campus.

One of the biggest and most pressing topics in higher education at the moment is the mental health and wellbeing of our college students. It is estimated that around 1 in 3 students have or will experience a mental health condition during their academic career. Currently, our office serves the biggest population of students with mental health conditions compared to any other disability population and that number seems to be rising. With that growing population of students, many of them will, of course, be entering the workplace after graduation and we want our students to be as prepared as possible as this is a very common and normal thing to experience.

We all have mental health and we all need to take care of ourselves. So hopefully, this piece will give you some good tips on managing your mental health and stress better in the workplace and ultimately be as successful as possible.

Managing Mental Health

In this blog post, I will talk about 10 awesome and very helpful tips for better managing mental health and stress in the workplace and ultimately help you be more successful.

  • Know what you do well and your interests. What do you do well? What interests you? Your answers are important because the more you love your job, the more you will want to wake up and go into work every day. This is very important. The more your skills are needed, the more you’ll feel appreciated and valued by your co-workers which in turn will make you feel good. It is also helpful to know the things you need to or would like to improve on as well as this can be helpful.
  • Develop a good routine. Routines make everything much easier. Develop a routine for getting ready for work each morning so you start each day as productively as you are able to. To help you manage your time, use a weekly routine for at work and in your personal life. Make sure to include social time with friends, family, and possibly that cute little furbaby of yours.
  • Physical health is just as important. A healthy body contributes to a healthy mind. Going for walks or to the gym can be incorporated into your weekly routine. Involving your friends or making new ones is a great way to make it fun and a great stress reliever.
  • Stay organized. Being organized is a great way to reduce stress. Investing time thinking about how to organize your work is smart. Being on time and continuing to use a planner or calendar to keep track of your appointments is key. I am a huge fan of to-do lists as they can definitely keep you on track and way ahead of a deadline so you don’t get stressed out. Prioritizing things using post-it notes or highlighters for color coding is also beneficial. It takes practice to find out what tips and tools will work best for you.
  • Reward yourself. Work can be hard, so reward yourself. Buy yourself something special you have been wanting or go see a new movie. Take a break. You’ve totally earned it.
  • Take time for YOURSELF. Along with staying organized and rewarding yourself, an important way to reduce stress is to make time for relaxation and YOU TIME. Whatever it is that helps you calm down after a stressful day or week, keep it high up on your list of priorities. It is the best way to stay refreshed and motivated. These are often called coping skills so develop a good list of them and keep it available to you at all times!
  • Use resources available to you. There are some resources available to you which help level the playing field. These are just a few:
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Do not waste time and energy on people who bring you down. Research shows that positive people are more effective and happy, and so hanging out with positive people can help too. Having a strong support system can make all the difference at your place of employment and in your personal life as well.
  • Maintain a stable and organized work environment. Your physical work environment can have a huge impact on your mood. Things that help you through the day could be snacks, a good playlist and headphones, a warm sweater, a plant, a stress ball; really anything that will make you feel more comfortable throughout the day. Keeping a clean and orderly desk or workspace will help you focus on your work and present a professional image to coworkers.
  • Understand that nothing can be perfect. Some days will be harder than others and that is totally okay. You will have support as long as you reach out to people and use your resources. Some days will require a little more work than others. Don’t be discouraged. Stay confident – you’ve got a job to do. You can totally do it!

This information was adopted from: https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/10-Tips-for-Managing-Mental-Health-in-the-Workplac#sthash.g5By5UTw.dpuf

Other posts/resources about Disabilities in the Workplace

 

Multiple Internship Advantage

By: Kirsi

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Astronaut user testing in ISS Mock-Ups, by Kirsi.

Besides the obvious increased likelihood full-time employment and extra spending money, there are several advantages for interning more than once.

Where Do I Like To Work?
If you have determined you like the organization you have interned with before, you can participate in additional internships there and hone in on what division you enjoy working with the most. There could be many departments your education qualifies you to work with. For example, at my Rockwell Automation internship, my technical education qualified me to work with the robotic, firmware testing, or software development. You may find you enjoy the work you do at each of those departments equally but find the department’s work values, team synergy, and personal development opportunities are very different. It was a lesson learned about who you work with in your first internship at a department may be different people by the time of your second internship at the same department. Team dynamics can change. (I still had a good experience, fortunately.) It is important to base your opinion about an experience on short and long-term characteristics of the workplace. At my four (going on five) NASA internshipCo-Op experiences, the departments I have worked with have been so different and would lead to different career trajectories. For example, I have worked in groups that work with human factors engineering, propulsion engineering, International Space Station (ISS) network support, and ISS stowage operations. Jumping around different departments gives you the opportunity to identify the trajectories full-time employees took to get where they are, especially if you find a higher level position you admire. Even if you don’t end up working at this organization full-time there are likely a similar hierarchy of departments at other organizations within your discipline.

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View of aurora and stars from ISS, by NASA.

How Much Can I Contribute?
If you intern more than once you can skip the mechanics of new intern orientation, getting used to the workplace and dive right into your project. As a returning intern, your mentors may trust you with a more complex project or let you continue on a project you already started. In Fall 2015, I developed astronaut training for a device that was sent to the ISS. Astronauts used this training and learned how to use the device during their mission. This semester, Spring 2017, I am working with a sister department developing a new app for the device which could make stowage operations easier for the astronauts. My previous knowledge working with the device and familiarity working with the team gives me an advantage to complete meaningful work. Even if you return to the same organization, but work with a different department, you are already familiar with the organization’s goals and mission statement.

Multiple Internship

Source: Unsplash | Tim Gouw

What is this Organization’s Culture?
Likely you were preoccupied with your getting your project done at your first internship opportunity to absorb the organization’s work culture. Larger organizations often have pockets of personal development groups. Repeating internships at an organization can give you a feel of annual events the organization hosts to boost moral, re-familiarize employees with the organization’s mission, or just have fun. At NASA Johnson there is an imperative Health and Safety Day that employees prep months for, contribute to by volunteering and enjoy. The Health and Safety day provides free flu shots, hosts a blood pressure station, shares changes in space center safety improvements, and encourages personal health improvement. Additionally, NASA hosts pre-screenings of space movies, organizes STEM volunteer opportunities and award ceremonies following successfully competed ISS missions. If you participate in multiple internships at varying organizations you can get a flavor for each company’s culture.

Consider starting your internship/ Co-Op hunt before your junior and senior year of college so you can participate in more than one!

Read Kirsi’s other posts

How StrengthsQuest Taught Me Who I Am (Again)

By: Cassie

In the Career and Internship Services office we offer different assessments. They are personal inventories that allow you to ask questions about yourself and find out who you really are. We have the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Strong Interest Inventory, and StrengthsQuest. I have taken all of these and they have really taught me a lot about myself. I took them all my freshman year when I first started working in the office. The results of these assessments have become a part of me and they are how I describe myself and what I put on my resume. Recently for my Principles of Marketing class, my professor told us that we were going to take the StrengthsQuest to be able to better work with our group members for our semester project. I, of course, tried to get out of paying the $15 fee by saying that I work at Career and Internship Services and I had already taken it. However, much to my chagrin, he said I would have to take it anyways.

I got the assessment and I plugged the code into my computer. I was in my own space and was thinking “ugh, I already know all about myself what do I have to do this again?” I put in all the required information and started answering the questions. The assessment gives you two spectrums and you are supposed to pick if you lean more towards one option or the other. I started clicking through, having a hard time picking whether I was more one way or the other on a lot of questions. Was I more caring or analytical? Do I like group projects or do I like to work independently? Even though I knew what to expect, I still struggled my way through the process and about thirty minutes from my start time, I was finally finished. My results popped up on the screen and they were positivity, focus, developer, strategic, and achiever. I was shocked, I didn’t think I was some of these things at all. I decided to go back to look at the results of my first StrengthsQuest and to my surprise, they were almost all different. My first results were communication, strategic, individualization, woo, and activator. I almost felt cheated. I felt like I had to have answered the questions wrong and that I should get a redo.

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I came into Career and Internship Services after I took my assessment and I mentioned that I retook the StrengthsQuest and that all my results were different. The counselors explained to me that even though my top 5 weren’t the same, they were probably still in my top 10 out of 34. They also went on to explain that these new strengths show how I have grown as a student and as a person over the last two years. I started out with strengths that identified me as a people pleaser who wanted to win everyone over and made quick decisions. Now I am a positive worker who likes to analyze situations before making a decision by coming up with plans to get things done by focusing on my goals. It wasn’t bad that I changed, it just showed that I am a normal college student who is growing into the person I really want to be.

If you’ve already taken the StrengthsQuest, I really encourage you to take it again. Especially if you took it in a prerequisite freshman or sophomore level class. If you are a junior or senior who is preparing to go into the “real” world, this is something that can be of huge value to you. Yes, it is $15, but I think it’s worth it to cut out the two trips to the food court to find out about who you really are and how you have grown. If you haven’t taken the StrengthsQuest, then I would absolutely tell you that it is a valuable experience and I would HIGHLY recommend taking it. If you have any questions come down to Career and Internship Services and we would be happy to help you!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Cassie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Kari Shea

The Job Searching Process

By: Logan

Being that I will graduate from UMD in May, I have shifted my focus from strictly schoolwork and internships to finding an actual job upon graduation. This is an exciting and scary time for many graduates. Many people have never had a “real” job before, so once they get to this point they are unsure of the best practices. In this post, I will discuss my own journey and the steps I am taking to lock down a job before May.

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Sometimes it is difficult to gauge when you should begin applying for jobs. January may seem too soon since you will not be able to work for several months, and if you wait until April you may have difficulties finding a job since many will already be filled. From what I have learned from my Career Counselors and my own experience, I have found mid-late February to be a great time to begin the search. It is early enough that many positions should still be open, and you are getting your name out early so you can begin making connections and exploring opportunities. One superb resource I took advantage of this year was attending the U of M Job & Internship Fair in Minneapolis. This job fair exceeded my expectations and introduced me to many great opportunities I was not aware of before. A job fair is a great place to make connections with companies, network with recruiters, and explore multiple career options all in one day. By conducting a bit of research before attending you will be prepared to succeed. We have multiple posts about job fairs here on the blog. There are posts about how to prepare, what to do when you’re at the fair, and what to do afterward.

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Logan at the UMN Job & Internship Fair

One important piece to remember is to not be afraid to really put yourself out there. Personally, I have applied for a large variety of jobs, even some jobs I did not expect to be interested in. It is important to put yourself out there and explore all of your options because you never know what might catch your interest. If your job search is too narrow you may find yourself having trouble finding opportunities. I’m not saying you should apply for jobs you are not interested in, but be sure to explore many opportunities. Your first job out of college is rarely your dream job, and sometimes you just need a few years of experience to add to your resume before you can land your dream job.

Right now, it seems the most common form of job searching is through internet databases. These can include sites like Indeed.com, Monster, GoldPASS, and many more. Last Spring, I wrote a blog post about different job searching sites and their pros and cons. What I have learned from applying to multiple jobs online is it is helpful to include as much information as you can. On sites like Indeed, you can supply minimal information, no cover letter, and a very simple resume. Although this is the fastest and easiest option, I have found applying to jobs using the bare minimum very rarely results in calls back. If you are going to use these services, make sure your resume is updated and current. Personally, when I apply for a job I am very interested in I attach my resume, cover letter (even if they do not ask for one), references, and sometimes a letter of recommendation if there is a space to add one. Adding these extra credentials will show you are really interested in this job and you put in extra time to apply for the position.

I have more tips on how to navigate your job search which I will continue in my next blog post. These tips can also be used by students looking for summer jobs or internships, this information is all relevant! Be sure to be professional and thorough, and apply early enough so the position you want isn’t filled. Good luck with your search!

Read Logan’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Mari Helin-Tuominen

Meet McKenzie

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Hey, I’m McKenzie and I am a double major in Cultural Entrepreneurship and Hispanic Studies. After this semester I will have completed my sophomore year at UMD. I moved to Duluth in Fall of 2015 and I found my favorite place soon after moving here my freshman year. There is a spot on the rocks near Lake Superior that is a bit of a hike, but well worth it. During the day you can dip your feet into the water and during the night you can set up a fire and gaze at the stars. I enjoy going into the woods and exploring new areas. I like to take my friends along with me since it is a great bonding experience when you discover new places together. I began working at Career and Internship Services Fall 2016, and it has been an amazing experience. Some of the best career advice that I have ever received was when I was told, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” My advice to peers about careers is an addition to the best career advice I have ever received. My advice is that our lives and the things that we love are constantly evolving, therefore our paths do not remain fixed, so always be open to opportunities and dabble with the ideas that grasp your curiosity.

10 Lessons We Learned from The Office

By: Willow

I love The Office. I think it’s hilarious and I have watched it a million times. I think The Office can teach us a lot about how to behave, or not behave in an office setting. The following blog post is to show us the lessons we can learn our favorite characters.

Don’t be an idiot.
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Know how to use technology.powerpoint

Have people you look up to professionally, and try to be more like them.
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Have big dreams.
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Never stop trying.
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Don’t start a fire in your office. We learned this one two different episodes.
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Office Safety is important. Don’t do this:

Know that you’re not perfect. Don’t be full of yourself.
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Always be positive and look ahead to the exciting things in coming up in your life.
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Remember that you spend a lot of time at your office so no matter what happens, make the best of it.
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Read Willow’s other posts

Meet Whitney

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Name: Whitney
Majors: Psychology & Communication
Year in School: Senior
Length of time worked at UMD Career & Internship Services: January 2017
Favorite Place in Duluth: Dannie Duluth’s Consignment
Hobbies: Thrift shopping, kayaking, traveling, bargain hunting, and working on DIY projects

Best career advice I have received: What you want to do for the rest of your life isn’t a fill in the blank, it is a paragraph or essay question. (Basically, life does not need to be figured out all at once, you choose what you do, and you are not required to do one thing for the rest of your life.)

Career Advice: Branch out, discover new things about yourself, skills you have, and things you are interested in. You have many skills and strengths you can bring into anything you do. Put your time, effort, and energy into activities you enjoy and find valuable.