An Economic Developer’s Pocket Primer: Tips and Tricks For Managing Your Mental Health

An Economic Developer’s Pocket Primer: Tips and Tricks For Managing Your Mental Health Main Photo

6 May 2024


Economic development professionals confront significant challenges in their roles. Sometimes, it feels like they have the weight of the world – or at least their region – on their shoulders. They’re a group with a noble mission who often truly put their heart and soul into what they do. But sometimes, this can take a toll on one’s stress levels and state of mind. With Mental Health Awareness Month upon us, here are some strategies for maintaining mental upkeep, preventing burnout, and handling stress during challenging times.

#1 Implement boundaries. Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Dedicate specific times for work and leisure activities, and stick to them as much as possible. Disconnect and unplug outside of working hours. 

#2 Connect with your team. Have check-in points with your colleagues often to touch base and communicate any challenges early as they arise. Practice open and honest communication, speaking up and holding safe space for each teammate to share.

#3 Practice Mindfulness. Use mindfulness techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation to clear the mind, stay grounded, and practice emotional regulation. Apps like Headspace and Insight Timer allow for focus resets and stress relief in as little as one minute, with guided meditations of varying lengths.

#4 Exercise healthy habits. Incorporate lifestyle practices that set you up for long-term success. Nourish your body by eating a diet consisting primarily of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Move your body. Yoga, rapid walking to get your heart rate up, and stretching can all be effective ways to promote physical well-being. Get enough rest and implement self-care practices that bring you joy and fulfillment. Be sure to also spend adequate, quality time bonding with friends and family.

#5 Stay organized. Finding a routine that works for you and sticking to it can help you avoid overwhelm… and the panic that comes with not being on top of tasks. Staying consistent with a task management system—whether it’s scheduling everything into your calendar or keeping a complex checklist—can save you time and mental energy, keeping track of many moving parts and figuring out what to prioritize.

#6 Take breaks. Make sure you give yourself some time throughout the day to reset and recharge. Go for a walk outside, grab a snack, or even stare into space. Stepping away from your work, even for a short time, can boost productivity and creativity.

#7 Be careful about what you consume. If you’re familiar with the expression “you are what you eat,” the same concept can be applied to the content your brain absorbs! Your mental diet includes what you watch, listen to, and read, the social media you browse, and the individuals you spend time with. Limit your exposure to negative sources whenever possible.

#8 Find a therapist or counselor to talk to. If you're struggling with persistent stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues, don't hesitate to seek support from a mental health professional. Therapy or counseling can provide tools and strategies to manage your well-being effectively. 

#9 Try journaling. Research consistently shows how journaling, reflecting, and setting goals on paper can make an enormous positive difference to our mental health. Studies show that time spent journaling about our thoughts and feelings can even reduce the number of sick days we take off work (Sohal, Singh, Dhillon & Gill, 2022). Implementing gratitude journaling has also been shown to help shift your perspective toward the things that bring you joy and fulfillment, even during challenging times.

#10 Celebrate successes. Finally, don’t be afraid to acknowledge your wins! Economic Development professionals work hard to bring positive change. Recognizing your accomplishments can boost confidence and motivation, helping you stay resilient in the face of challenges.

As Mental Health Awareness Month continues, it's crucial to recognize the importance of maintaining mental well-being. By prioritizing self-care and implementing these strategies, Economic Development Professionals can safeguard their mental health and continue their vital work with resilience and determination. In doing so, they not only nurture their own well-being but also enhance their capacity to contribute positively to their communities.