Mental Health Matters! Eat Lunch. | Leader 411

Mental Health Matters! Eat Lunch.

Mental health is important as leaders. Whether implicitly or explicitly, people expect us to have everything together. On the surface, we try to look calm, cool and collected, exhibiting excellent leadership at all times and in every situation. Below the surface, we are going crazy with looming deadlines and discussions both inside and outside of work. This has only been exacerbated with many of us working from home dealing with many, many, many (too many manies? Not enough? ) interruptions. With all the craziness, we need to take care of ourselves. A quick note for #mentalhealth while working from home: Eat lunch doing something other than work.

Think of yourself as having an emotional bank. You make daily deposits and withdrawals. If we keep the balance healthy, we handle life much better. If we go into the red, we may experience a brief outburst. We stay in the red long enough, we may experience a burnout-like scenario.

Mental Health: Emotional Deposits

Deposits are made into this bank when you participate in low-stress activities such as enjoying time with family, watching your favorite show, hanging out with friends, or going for a walk. These activities reduce strain and increase emotional strength or, in other words, make deposits in your bank. Notice I did not mention video games. Some can be stress-free indulgences, used just to take our mind off the world for a minute before we jump back in, but many games are insanely intense and can induce as much if not more stress than the workplace. If you’re looking to replenish, video games, while awesome in many ways, may not be the best answer.

Mental Health: Emotional Withdrawals

One of the ways withdrawals are made from your emotional bank is when stressful situations require you to act. Life is full of such situations. Some of them we cause ourselves, like many of our favorite-but-annoying TV characters causing self-inflicting harm, but a major stress/strain on your emotions could be your job. A common habit of many hard-working, dedicated individuals is to eat lunch while working. It makes sense, right? I mean, we’re stressed because we feel behind, so if we spend more time by skipping lunch then we’ll catch up, right? In some large workplaces as many as 3 out of 4 people skip lunch. Well, science says to break this habit for better mental health.

Encourage others to be healthy.

Do something else to put more deposits into your emotional bank. Lunch is a great, midday time to take a break and refresh. Have other employees with you. It is an excellent time to connect and encourage others to refresh as well. It will help you finish out your workday strong and keep you emotionally “fresh” for post-work activities. 

In summary, make deposits, limit withdrawals. Sometimes extended emotional withdrawals are necessary, but we should do what we can to limit these situations.

About the author: John is a recognized professor, public speaker, trainer, author and entrepreneur. Business is his passion and his hobby. He started as a 7th grade history and English teacher (loved it), then produced musical events (loved it) followed by a long stint at a Fortune 100 manufacturing company (miss it sometimes). He eventually earned his his PhD and currently resides in Indiana teaching and researching leadership and entrepreneurship at Indiana University. You can reach him directly at

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