The Price of Neglecting Mental Health
When I started my career in architecture, I was all about the designs, the deadlines, and the day-to-day challenges.
I was a hard working hustler.
And I never thought much about mental health.
But over time, I realized this oversight came with a big cost.
I saw many colleagues, and even myself at times, feeling worn out and less enthusiastic about our work.
I once read that people in high-pressure jobs like ours are more likely to feel mentally exhausted and even burned out.
Engineers, architects, designers… we all have these kinds of problems.
But we often keep going, thinking it's part of the job.
I thought that way too until I realized that it not only affected my work, but my life outside of work as well.
This article is about my wake-up call and how I learned to pay attention to my mental health.
It's about realizing that taking care of our minds is as important as meeting a project deadline.
I want to share what I've learned, to help you find that balance and bring back the joy and creativity in our work.
Recognizing the Signs: When to Pause and Reflect
Back when I was fully immersed in my projects, I often missed the signs that I was pushing myself too hard.
It's easy to do in our field, where long hours and tight deadlines are the norms.
But over time, I began to recognize certain signs that told me I needed to step back and take care of my mental health.
The first sign was constant tiredness, no matter how much I slept.
Then there were moments when I felt less excited about designs I usually would have loved working on.
I was not enjoying the design process.
I also noticed I was getting irritated more easily, both at work and at home.
These were clear signals that I was neglecting my well-being.
What I learned is that it's crucial to listen to these signs.
They are like red flags warning us that we need to slow down.
Ignoring them doesn't just affect our health, it impacts our creativity and productivity too.
For me, recognizing these signs was the first step towards taking better care of my mental health.
Many architects face similar mental health challenges.
But there's a problem…
They don't talk openly about it, which makes them scared to seek help.
They worry that other people might see them as weak or not good at their job.
Remember that taking a break or seeking help isn't a sign of weakness.
It's a necessary step for our long-term success and happiness.
So, if you're feeling overwhelmed, it might be time to pause and reflect.
Your mind, like any valuable tool, needs proper care to function at its best.
Tools and Strategies for Mental Wellness
I realised that taking care of my mental health required more than just recognizing the need for it.
It needed practical tools and strategies.
Here are some that worked for me and might help you too.
1) Mindfulness is a game-changer
Taking a few minutes each day to meditate helps me clear my mind and reduce stress.
It gives me a fresh perspective, especially when I feel overwhelmed.
The best way for me to clear my mind is to connect with nature.
Spending a couple of hours is enough for me.
But when I really connect the most is when I take three to four days.
These are days that should be mandatory in every architect's calendar.
2) Exercise became a non-negotiable part of my routine
Whether it is a quick jog or going to the gym, moving my body helps in releasing tension and boosting my mood.
Plus, it gives me a break from thinking about work.
So I hit the gym 4-5 times a week.
Every time I go I do the full tour: gym + pool + spa + sauna.
And when I leave the club I feel like a renewed person.
It is definitely a life upgrade.
3) I also found it helpful to keep a journal
Writing down my thoughts and worries allowed me to process them better, instead of letting them swirl around in my head.
This habit also sparked some creative solutions to problems I was facing at work.
Day One is a journaling app that helps me organize thoughts, document progress, and reflect on my life.
I unload all worries and try to have a clear mind.
I totally recommend it.
4) Time management techniques are crucial
Learning to prioritize tasks and break down big projects into smaller, manageable steps makes my workday less chaotic and more productive.
It also helps in reducing the feeling of being constantly behind schedule.
My advice: Learn to prioritize tasks
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5) Lastly, connecting with peers in the industry for support and advice is invaluable.
Sharing experiences and learning from others who understood the pressures of our profession makes me feel less isolated in my challenges.
Implementing these strategies doesn’t happen overnight.
It takes time and consistency.
But the positive impact on my mental wellness and work is well worth the effort.
My advice: do not hesitate to ask for help
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I realize that paying attention to my mental well-being was one of the best decisions I made, both for my career and personal life.
As architects, we are trained to create sustainable and functional designs, but often, we forget to apply these principles to our own lives.
Building a sustainable future in our profession isn’t just about the projects we design; it’s equally about maintaining our mental health.
So, I encourage you to take the lessons shared in this article to heart.
Start small if you need to, but start.
Prioritize your mental health just as you would a crucial project.
The benefits will not only be evident in your work but in every aspect of your life.
Your future self will thank you for it.
Let's build a healthier, happier community of architects dedicated to their well-being, together.
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See you around ✌️