You may have noticed that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, as this information is being shouted at us from all over. For us at Applifting, however, discussing mental health and encouraging one another to take good care of ourselves comes easy. Why? Because freedom, flexibility, and mental health are so deeply rooted in our core values that we always put emphasis on feeling well, even if that means you need to do less and take it easy for a while.
That being said, that’s also the reason why we think we actually should jump on the train and share some of our knowledge with the world. We’ve selected four significant voices that have unique insights and approaches to mental health. We asked all of them one open-ended question and let them take it from there. The question was:
What tip would you give to someone who wants to work on their mental health, both at work and in their personal life?
Vráťa Kalenda, CEO, cofounder, and work-life flow devotee
My approach to work-life balance is a bit unconventional. I don’t really believe it’s about balance. Instead, I believe in practicing what I call work-life flow. You're not dividing your time between two things—you're alternating. You're busy, you push through, and you get work done. But then you have to let go and breathe. You have to be able to be in tune with things as they come and go.
This is something that I learned not so long ago when I was essentially kicked out of the company by my colleagues to take a three-month sabbatical. So I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago. It was a shock to be on a vacation for the first time in nine years. It took me a lot of time to settle into it.
I resembled an alcoholic who was locked in a room full of spirits, constantly reaching for the bottles—but fortunately without the means to open them. It really did feel like that. I got up every morning and immediately looked for the Slack icon on my phone. It was only then that I realized I'd uninstalled everything. But it was exactly the life side of my work-life flow that I needed so much.
Now I’m back in the game, ready to give it everything. But this time, I won’t be waiting another nine years to take a breath. And you shouldn’t either.
Vojtěch Šanca, marketing strategist and yogi
In the past two years, I’ve had to deal with some tough experiences, both at work and in my personal life. That made me start thinking about my mental health much more than I used to before. The first step I took—and that was a long while ago—was regular meditation. For that, I used the Headspace app. It’s not an overstatement if I say that it has radically changed my outlook on life and taught me how to find peace and grounding within myself in times of trouble.
I took it a step further when I added yoga to my practice. For many years, I have been doing various sports like hiking, swimming, cycling, and so on. But the idea of combining the spiritual act of meditation with physical exercise intrigued me. So a year and a half ago, I tried my first class, and I have kept up with almost everyday practice ever since. And I’d recommend everyone to at least give it a try too.
You can read up on tons of scientific studies about the positive effects of meditation and yoga, including some that point to the volume of gray matter in your brain growing in size when you meditate. From my personal experience, yoga and meditation have several benefits. They help me stay calm in tense situations. They help me relax my mind and loosen up. They help me be more open and less judgemental. And there are many more good effects.
If you were to follow my advice and try it out, I’d suggest you find a nice local yoga studio (in Prague, I can recommend Prague Yoga Collective) and set up a regular schedule. It doesn’t have to be every day, it can be just once a week, but consistency works wonders. It also helps to sign up for a MultiSport card if you are in the Czech Republic and if your employer provides this benefit—like Applifting does—as it will make your practice much more affordable. In addition to that, you can sign up for Headspace or a Czech alternative called Calmio and follow their beginner courses to start with meditation.
Jana Procházková, leader of the People Care Team and Terap.io promoter
First of all, I think it's important to appreciate that someone wants to do something with their mental health, that they have the willpower and willingness to invest some energy in it. That in and of itself can definitely shake things up in your life.
In my opinion, it's crucial to set aside some time to first reflect and do a bit of a check-in on how aligned my work life is with my core values. If I'm not sure what my core values are, then it's likely that I won't be able to set my priorities and follow through with the work-life balance I've set, which will have a negative impact on my mental health.
I would therefore recommend you find an expert to guide you on your journey. At Applifting, we do a little bit of in-house coaching, and Applifters get the benefit of online therapy. It’s been more than two years since we started cooperating with Terap.io, and it's one of our most widely used benefits.
Of course, you need to have the energy and desire for such a process, and it's good to start with anything you can think of, no matter how small it is. However, I'm convinced that when I'm a little clearer on what my values are, improving my mental health gets a lot easier.
My journey to better mental health has lasted several years—it started with what was probably my worst burnout, which was related to a death in the family. That’s when I first admitted to myself that mental health really was a thing. And for my own sake, I hope I will always try to put a little extra effort into this area.
Everyone’s journey with mental health is a little different. Some people need more sports, others need more nature, some people unwind with games. In any case, my personal advice remains: be kind to yourself. Mental health improvement is a process. Sometimes you have the energy to make big changes, other times you can only take small steps, and even then you stumble and go back to old habits. It's important not to beat yourself up about it. At the same time, it is good to appreciate what you have already done for yourself and, above all, to keep going and not expect the impossible of yourself.
Věrka Králová, business support specialist and psychology student
I believe every single one of us, you and me included, is capable of growing and learning. It can often seem like life’s throwing nothing but stress and challenges at us. But you can be sure that any such situation is just an obstacle on the road, something that will make you stronger in the end.
I like to keep in mind that it is us who is—at least partially—responsible for our lives, the environment we live in, and the people we surround ourselves with. So if there’s something you would like to change in your life or at work, verbalize it, be ready for the change, and act on it. Things don't just happen on their own.
Everyone talks about self-care these days, and you would do well not to forget about it either. It really makes a difference. Sleep and rest are an integral part of our mental health, if not its foundation. And last but not least, if you feel like you’re overwhelmed, ask someone for help, whether that be your mom, friend, mentor, therapist, or coach. It’s a powerful and healthy decision.
In other words, accept challenges as part of the journey, build up your resilience, keep things playful and creative, and try and see what works for you. Get to know yourself, and when you arrive at a point where you’re already doing everything you can and it’s still not enough, do reach out for help. And remember to be kind to yourself. Nothing happens overnight. Your mental health—and overall quality of life—will surely reward you for that!
Every step forward is a step in the right direction
And there you have it. We hope some of the things we mentioned in this article resonated with you and inspired you to either start your own journey to better mental health or—if you've already set off—to keep on keeping on. Maybe you are now going to ask for Terap.io to be added to your company's list of benefits, or perhaps you will give yoga a try and get some of that good hurt in. Whatever step you decide to take, regardless of how insignificant it may seem, will for sure make a difference. Coming back to the same place you started from isn't the same as never having left in the first place.