This week marks mental health awareness week, 9-15 May 2022. It marks an annual event when there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. With this in mind, it’s important that product managers, just as much as everyone else, are looking after their mental health. With health from Product Consultant and mental health speaker, Nicholas Jemetta, here are some ways that you can look after yourself in your product management career.
Nicholas believes that product leaders have a role to play in being a role model for mental health, he explains this further in the post: How to develop a positive mental health culture as a product leader.
However where this isn’t the case, you need to take responsibility for yourself, and we do all have a role to play. To do this requires a multi-step process, Nicholas believes.
Why it’s important
In a new study published in Forbes, it was revealed that seven out of 10 tech employees are considering quitting over the next year; 30% of those are because of burnout. Additionally, a report released by Lyra revealed that 51% of tech professionals have been diagnosed with a mental health condition over the past year. This showcases the importance of not only product managers to improve the mental health of those around them, but also their own.
Ask yourself how you’re feeling
The first step is to write down how you are feeling today. “Simple things like scoring your day out of 10 can go a long way,” says Nicholas. What things are nourishing well with your wellbeing and what things are detracting from it? It doesn’t take long to start picking up patterns. Once you acknowledge these, you can manage those triggers.
Creating routines and setting boundaries
With many product managers now working flexibly and from home, it’s important to create clear boundaries between work and personal time. “Try to limit yourself from working outside of your hours,” Nicholas says. It’s your personal responsibility to create those boundaries. It may seem daunting at first to be rigid around your working schedule, but when you enforce them, other people will start to respect them. If you don’t set these clear boundaries, then your team won’t know what they are and what your limits are.
For example, spending time with your family and children is important, don’t accept a meeting beyond five. Unless the world is ending, explain that you’re not available past then. Once you set these boundaries, you can then plot in blocks throughout the day that you enjoy doing to take your mind away from work. This can be waking up early to go to the gym or spending an hour at lunch writing poetry.
The strategies that you choose to inherit are unique to yourself—things that may work really well for you that don’t for others. “It’s important to figure out what routine works out for yourself. Experiment and iterate based on how you react to your routines and strategies.
Lobby for change
Finally, Nicholas explains how while caring for your wellbeing, you can also be an ambassador for change in your organisation. “You can look after yourself as well as be brilliant at caring for others” Rachel Hamlin, Career coach, says, “If we can increase our capacity to thrive even in challenging environments, we not only create more resilient wellbeing for ourselves; we will have more capacity to effect change for our colleagues and employees, as well. This is where our essential product management skills come into play.
Look for medical advice
Sometimes there is a limit to what you can do with your mental health. There are always external factors that affect how you’re feeling on a regular basis whether that is work, life, or world conflict issues. “Sometimes if you’re really overwhelmed, gaining medical advice is the best way to go,” Nicholas says. Speak to a counsellor or medical professional to find out what is creating these triggers and ask them for help on how to deal with them in the best way possible.
Nicolas closes by advising us to unleash the leader inside us and push wellbeing forward as an agenda if it’s not a priority within your organisation. Start thinking about what support your organisation can offer its employees and what impact it could have on the personal growth of yourself and your peers around you. The topic as a whole needs to be taken more seriously by product leadership teams and by owning this topic can be the catalyst for change that your company needs to address it.
Discover more insights on mental health within product management by accessing the articles below: