Focusing on Your Mental Health In The Workplace; A New Quarterly Series Hosted By Lilli Higgins With Together Just

We’ve started a new quarterly event at The Root Coworking: a collaboration with local mental health non-profit, Together Just! Their executive director and lead therapist, Lilli Higgins, CTRS/L, started her first event here with the topic of work/life balance. Hey, we know what you’re thinking. “Work/life balance? I hear about that all the time and know what it means.” Before Lilli presented—we thought we did, too. Turns out, we still had a lot to learn!

We started with really defining what work/life balance means. It’s not just how much time you spend at work and at home. It’s much more complex than that. We have to consider relationships, kids, hobbies, self-care, and more. There’s a lot more nuance and perspective that comes with this—and this is where we do some self-reflection and discovery.

 

 

Lilli then asked us to think about two questions:

  1. How well do you feel you’re able to balance your personal and professional life?
  2. Are you reaching satisfaction with your profession, health and wellness?

 

An important distinction Lilli pointed out: health is NOT wellness. Health is taking yourself to the doctor when you feel sick or going to the gym; think physical health. Wellness is your mental health, like doing self-care, religious practices, or seeing a therapist.

In order to answer the posed questions fully, we need to evaluate two different components: What Lilli calls our Basic Human Rights + Boundaries. 

These are our innate rights as a human—rights that each person is entitled to, but also come with responsibility. Our basic human rights boil down to respecting yourself and respecting others. Some examples:

  • I have a right to say “NO” without feeling guilty.
  • I have a right to be treated with respect.
  • I have a right to not meet others’ expectations of me that are unreasonable.
  • I have a right to set healthy boundaries and limits with others, even if they do not like it.
  • I have a right to set limits with my boss, family, and friends and make them more accountable.

 

After spending some time talking through each right, people spoke up and mentioned which of these they have the most trouble with. Lilli told us that she once struggled with some of these; so, she decided to focus on one right per week, over and over, until she felt like she was respecting both herself and others. These are small changes we could all make!

 

On to part two: Boundaries. Now these are always a crowd favorite, since as we all know, boundaries are hard to set, stick to, enforce later in a relationship, or know when to be flexible. There are three types of boundaries: rigid, porous, and healthy. These three boundaries apply to all aspects of your life: physical, time, sexual, emotional, intellectual and material types of boundaries. 

Think of a prison with high brick walls, barbed wire on top, with alarms—this is a rigid-type boundary. Rigid boundaries allow no room for exception. For instance, if your boss texts you after 6 p.m., you never answer. Even if it’s an emergency or time-sensitive. 

Next, think of a sponge; you run water over the sponge and squeeze. Most of the water falls right through the sponge, but a little gets stopped. This is a porous boundary, and it can allow others to walk over you and your feelings. For example, if you’d rather spend your lunch hour alone and decompressing, but your coworkers always invite you out with them and you go.

The last type of boundary is a healthy one! These can look different for each individual. It’s important to mention that what may look like a rigid boundary to someone on the outside can be a super healthy boundary for you, personally. This is where more of that self-reflection comes in. 

Let’s talk about how to set those healthy boundaries. We can break it down into two steps: be realistic and implement. Be realistic with yourself, ask the hard questions and answer honestly. Next, implement small changes. Change is hard and scary, even when positive. Where can you make small changes to improve your happiness? 

 

 

Lastly, Lilli had us complete the Balance Clock exercise. Think of what you do during a typical waking day: divide your clock into pie slices of how you spend your time. You might be surprised by your pie slices! See an example from one of our members here: 

 

 

We loved the first part of our series with Together Just and Lilli, and are looking forward to continuing to provide wellness + emotional learning events at The Root. We invite everyone to join us, whether you are a member or not. Be sure to check out our upcoming events calendar to see when we will hold our next wellness talk, and please RSVP!

A little more about Together Just: a local mental health non-profit that provides free and low-cost therapy to kids and teens, as well as advocacy, school programming, caregiver education, and corporate wellness. We’re involved in their corporate wellness program! Together Just was founded in 2020 with a mission to end the stigma attached to mental illness by providing treatment, education, and advocacy for all members of our community. 

 

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