How to balance work, mental health, friendships

Thema Bryant’s list of professional achievements is undeniably impressive.

She is the President of the American Psychological Association until 2023. Bryant is also Professor of Psychology at Pepperdine University where she directs the Culture and Trauma Research Laboratory.

Previously, she was coordinator at Princeton University’s SHARE program, which offered programming and support to those dealing with sexual assault and sexual assault.

And before that he earned his doctorate in clinical psychology at Duke University and postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical Center.

Her professional feats aren’t the only thing that brings her joy.

He also likes to dance. She listens to and writes down spoken poetry. And at least every other week she makes time for a phone call with her best friend of 30 years who lives across the country from her.

She says, “It’s time to let go of the false dichotomy, or the false choice, that we believe we must sacrifice ourselves in order to be successful.”

CNBC Make It spoke to Bryant about productivity, your mental health, and the importance of maintaining close friendships — and how to do it.

The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

‘Productivity isn’t always a sign of your overall or emotional well-being’

Aditi Srikanth, CNBC Make It: What is the common misconception people have about the maintenance of mental health?

Bryant: A common misconception is that people think “If I try not to think about it, I’ll get over it.” Suppression doesn’t really work. It can work in the short term, which I think is why people pick it up and say “I’m over it and I don’t want to talk about it.” But when we have challenging life experiences and avoid them, they tend to show up in other ways.

It can appear and affect our sleep. This can be reflected in our parenting. Abstinence is not the same as healing.

The second misconception is that “busy” or “productive” is the same as “heal” or “wellness” or “whole”. A lot of people get confused by this because they associate not working properly with depression and not being able to get out of bed, which is what it looks like for some people.

But for other people, they can throw themselves into their work. They can be workaholics or perfectionists. They constantly feel like they have something to prove but never feel good enough.

Your occupation or productivity is not always an indicator of your well-being or emotional well-being.

‘You want to be intentional. Wish you longevity in your success’

Shrikant: Also, being productive in your work is important and necessary. How do you balance excellence at work with taking care of your mental health?

Bryant: Thinking in terms of longevity and your own sustainability. Sometimes we are so driven to accumulate more, or get promoted, that we are not paying attention to our future.

This is a setup for burnout. It’s a setup for our own bodies that are failing us. Sometimes we are not physically or emotionally able to keep up with that pace.

You want to be intentional and not just a temporary success where you pull all night tomorrow to turn in this amazing report. Wish you longevity in your success.

Sometimes we are so driven to accumulate more, or get promoted, that we are not paying attention to our future.

Think: “How can I create a momentum that I can maintain and not miss my life where I have given everything, my time, my energy, my attention. Where I have neglected my health or relationships “

I want to name that for some people it is not even a pursuit of luxury. For some it’s trying to pay rent while in survival mode.

Even for those who are slim, you have you on you and your family on you and when we drive ourselves into a hole, it doesn’t work in the long run. It’s important to find little ways or little ways to create rituals of caring.

Shrikant: What is an example of a small ritual that anyone can do?

Bryant: It can be as simple as something you do when you wake up in the morning. Try waking up earlier.

If I set my alarm for the time I have to get out of bed, I’ve already started my day with worry. Give yourself a few minutes in the morning and decide what your morning ritual will be.

It could be a podcast. It’s probably that I’m going to get up and take a long shower. What are the things that feed you?

Another thing that is often overlooked is community care.

Healthy friendships and healthy relationships and healthy connections, whether in your family or even with co-workers, are the things that help us and remind us that we are alive, that we are not just robots or objects or laborers. .

It can bring some breath in our life and love and compassion in our life.

‘When it comes to friendship, you can think of quality over quantity’

Shrikant: Friendships are often relationships that fall by the wayside as people start having children or need to care for aging parents. How can you develop your friendships when you’re really busy?

Bryant: For very busy people or people with a lot of responsibility, when it comes to friendship, you can think of quality over quantity.

I can get past that phase of my life where I can talk to you on the phone for hours while watching TV. We may not get together very often, but when we do, it’s authentic, it’s mutual, it’s transparent.

It is very healing to feel that who you are, is known and accepted and cared for by someone. Most of your life, you have to perform or fit into various roles. This is an exhalation.

It is a gift to our nervous system when we are with someone with whom we can feel at home.

I would also say communicate to the person what your deadline is. I think sometimes we guess or don’t communicate. That’s when a friendship can fail because the person feels like you’re over with them or that you don’t really care. But you really do care.

My best friends are across the country. She lives in Philadelphia and I live in Los Angeles. It is not like we are going somewhere together every week but when we do talk it is very nourishing.

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