Talking about mental health, especially at the office, used to be taboo. However, in the last few years, discussing emotional wellbeing and stress management has (thankfully) become much more common, both in and out of the workplace.
That said, we often talk about managing mental health as a response to recovering from burnout. But proactively prioritizing mental health long before the point of burnout has countless benefits, including boosting our performance and happiness, allowing us to be better leaders, and more effectively supporting our teams.
To learn more about why prioritizing mental health at work is so crucial—plus glean tangible advice on how to do it—we tapped into the Dreamers & Doers collective to hear from 25 trailblazing women who are currently walking the walk. Whether you’re running a startup or working for a large corporation, here are the tips you can use to start (or continue!) investing in your mental health and that of everyone around you. We’ll all be better for it.
Founder and CEO of Hire Breakthrough™, helping founders take the breakdown out of their hiring breakthrough.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: Mental health is essential to thrive personally and professionally. When you’re struggling with mental health, it affects the way you communicate, your physical well-being, productivity, engagement, and decision-making. When we make mental health a priority, I believe it allows us to cope with stress effectively and reach our highest potential.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: I start my day with meditation and practice fire breathing on my breaks. This has been a great way for me to cope with stress and maintain my overall well-being.
Clinical psychologist supporting clients in managing anxiety, challenging limiting beliefs, and accepting themselves fully.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: Mental health isn’t meant to be compartmentalized. We spend huge amounts of time at work, so ignoring mental health during all that time leads to unnecessary suffering.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: Schedule regular self-check-ins—each being about two minutes a few times a day—in which I do some conscious breathing, look inward, and ask myself, “What’s happening now?” This provides the space to become aware of my present moment and to experience and notice what’s working and what’s not.
Founder at m times v, a strategy execution company that works with founders who are overflowing with work to expand business capacity while protecting their well-being.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: Work shouldn’t come at the expense of our well-being. When workplaces make mental health a priority, it shows they value the people they work with. It’s a necessary part of creating a safer working environment—virtually or in person.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: As a founder, I’ve taken advantage of my unique opportunity to factor mental health into our systems and processes by design. For example, we allocate work across the business by weeks instead of specific days. People don’t work the same way every single day like machines do. Assigning work by the week gives me and my team room to organize ourselves based on our energy and honor our mental health.
Founder and CEO of Recruit Rise, a program to start your career as a tech recruiter.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: It’s crucial to make space for yourself so that your identity isn’t completely entwined with work. When you have a healthy balance and make space for “you” time, it becomes much easier to bring your full self to work every day.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: Having gone through burnout on more than one occasion, I now take preventative strategies by time-boxing my calendar. I schedule time on my work calendar so that nothing will conflict with the time that I need to set aside for myself separate from work. I set healthy boundaries by not working on weekends and shutting off my work laptop by a certain time every day. The world isn’t going to end if we don’t answer an email until the next day.
Founder of Pluvrichor Studio, a boutique sustainability advisory and brand strategy studio.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: Without a sound mind, you don’t have much else. I studied organizational behavior during undergrad and spent most of my career in human resources. I’ve found that mental health has been the No. 1 reason for employee attrition and poor performance because, for a very long time, being “human” at work was taboo.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: I’ve focused on releasing guilt over mundane tasks or deliverables that can wait one hour or a day.
Founder and CEO of Everviolet, a company creating functional and beautiful intimate apparel for the special needs of women after cancer and other meaningful life events.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: Mental health informs everything we do, from the quality and efficiency of our work to our ability to connect meaningfully with others to how we perceive our own worth. Taking care of our inner mental and emotional state is critical to balancing the more difficult aspects of what we do with the purpose around our brand.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: I take breaks and get outside many times a day to give my body, mind, and spirit time to reset and refocus. Going for quick walks or sipping a cup of tea outside for 15 to 20 minutes in between tasks does wonders for my mental health and helps frame the work I’m doing within the greater context of life and community.
Head of Community at Grid110, providing entrepreneurs with access to community, mentors, and critical resources through no cost, no equity programs.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: You are not just an employee or a number on a spreadsheet; you are a human being with feelings and emotions. Your mental health is just as important as the work you produce. By taking care of your mental health, you can be at your best self, which helps you become a better employee.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: When people ask me how I find balance in everything happening in my life and work, one of the biggest secrets I share is self-care. Whether journaling or taking a yoga class, take some time to do something every day just for yourself that makes you feel good. For me, that looks like taking a relaxing bath and calling friends and family.
Founder of 13thrive, a business infusing mindfulness into organizational cultures to create healthy and inclusive workplaces.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: Everything we do at work is rooted in our mental well-being. When we’re in a healthy, calm, and clear state of mind, we’re able to fully show up for ourselves and for others.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: Every week I choose a one-hour window on my calendar, and let people know they can show up to talk about anything for 10 or 15 minutes, and I will listen. I won’t solve problems. I won’t brainstorm. I am just a sounding board. Employees feel heard and it gives me the opportunity to understand where people are at.
Founder and CEO of OTITỌ Executive Leadership Coaching, where she coaches high-achievers and ambitious entrepreneurs to confidently accelerate into impactful leadership positions.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: For me, mental health is mental strength. It can be easy to look at mental wellness as something I am always trying to overcome—an inconvenience to cure or a weakness to prevent. Instead, I know that my ability to lead confidently, realize my potential, and perform to my best is tied to being strong in all areas of my being.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: My daily mental health strategies include starting every morning strong with a routine that includes yoga, my Bible readings, and a fun song. In the afternoons, I always have a good lunch away from my desk and have a chat with a loved one.
Founder and CEO of Martha, an organization building brands from the inside, out.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: Taking care of your mental health at work can be the difference between a job being fulfilling or a job being a drain. Even if the job you have will never be fulfilling to you, making your mental health a priority will ensure you have the energy for the things that do fulfill you, and, maybe even the energy to find the job that does, too.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: Taking time away from my work is key to me feeling like I want to come back to it. I also strive to work with only respectful and kind people, which can be easier said than done since people aren’t exactly wearing red flags.
Founder and CEO of Rooms and Words, a boutique marketing, content, and strategy agency, led by a driven team of storytellers, writers, and marketers.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: I believe mental health will become a priority whether we like it or not. The smart and caring thing to do is to prioritize our health before our bodies and minds make us do it. Leaders need to remember that we are all human. It’s simply not sustainable to work for a long stretch of time without paying attention to your mental health.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: I block off two hours for lunch each day. I’m allowed to nap, watch a show, spend time on TikTok, or dance with my son—as long as it doesn’t involve eating in front of the computer.
Founder and CEO of Gabrielle Thomas Consulting, a business consultant for health and wellness leaders.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: When my mental health is in good standing, I evaluate myself and the people around me differently. When we all get an “A+,” that expands my boundaries to take more risks.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: Practicing conscious awareness and somatic exercises at my lowest risk times is the best primer for when stress vulnerability increases. Too often we want to practice when we are in a crisis. Practice isn’t the prescription there—crisis intervention is.
Mindfulness Guide at Mindfulness With Dani, helping risk-takers and creatives clear the gunk from their minds so they can bring their inspiration into reality.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: When mental health isn’t a priority, it’s like your mind is a radio station just out of tune, coming in fuzzy. You get used to it and don’t realize you’re bogged down, and you don’t realize that your conversations, work quality, and inspiration could all be running on a higher level. When mental health is a priority, you produce better work, you enjoy it more, and things just feel easier.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: What’s been most powerful for me is learning my own triggers. If I become irritated by something seemingly minor, then I know something deeper in my psychological system is off. I take a break to sing, to get up and move, or eat a snack. For me, it usually goes back to self-love, so I do meditations or practices that affirm my inherent value as a human.
Co-Founder of Curated People, a virtual event company uniting remote teams and clients through unique and high-end entertainment experiences.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: Mental health needs to be a priority at work because our well-being translates to how we think, act, and feel about ourselves and those around us. To show up as our best self has to take precedence for everything else to fall in place. Having a workplace that encourages and supports an employee’s mental health journey truly sets the tone for a positive environment and company culture.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: Implementing healthy daily habits to ensure I am set up for a successful work day has been key. Daily morning meditations and starting the day off with a calm and open mindset has been crucial at being easy but instant mood boosters. Everyone’s needs are different and tapping into which positive habits your body and mind thrive on is essential.
CEO at Prism Brand Advisory, a firm with a mission to empower founders and CEOs who are daring to go big and bold as they grow revenue and scale their CPG brand at retail.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: Your mental health is closely related to your physical and mental well-being. Having any of these components out of sync will affect your performance and your outlook. If you are a decision-maker at work, making effective decisions can be compromised.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: I continue to take “mental health” days off. One of my former bosses encouraged this. She was the first leader to openly discuss the cost of working at your peak and how creativity suffers from it.
Founder and CEO of Tandem Consulting Group, providing strategy and organizational development consulting, executive coaching, and training.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: To say that an organization runs like a “well-oiled machine” is considered high praise. However, casually extending this expectation of pure efficiency to individuals results in the very real and understated phenomenon of burnout. Humans are not machines. We are, well, human! If we don’t provide our teams the chance to get ample rest, the space to be innovative, or the trust to own their piece of the work, we will get as little as we gave.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: I actively incorporate rest as part of the workflow, not a contingency. For example, I built and mandate the use of an out-of-office plan for my team, which lets people know who is taking over for the person who is out of the office and what to do in the event of an emergency.
Founder and CEO of The Path, teaching meditation for the modern mind.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: People are under so much stress—and that includes your team members. When we are stressed, we don’t make strategic decisions, and we’re harder on ourselves and others. It can be more challenging to work on a team and to give others the benefit of the doubt.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: I take my mental health very seriously, and that means doing two things each day. First, I set aside time in the morning to not have my phone on and to run, do yoga, tai chi, and meditation. Second, I try to do something fun each day, even if that’s just going for a walk or enjoying a song I love. This practice keeps me equanimous enough to not be thrown by the ups and downs of whatever is happening in daily life.
Founder and CEO of BetterMe, a leading Ukrainian healthcare company, taking care of the physical and mental health of 100 million people worldwide.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: Anxiety, fear, and worries stimulate a body to release adrenaline and other stress-related hormones. Persistent surges can cause great damage to a person’s health. So to stay in good health, to focus on tasks, to be inspired to find innovative solutions and create new products, an employee needs to feel mentally stable.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: I use practices, like meditations, affirmations, breathing exercises, and physical activity, to relax, de-stress, and clear my mind to have an ability to work well.
Founder and CEO of Superbands, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) dedicated to promoting positive mental health for teen music fans through wish-granting opportunities.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: It can be easy to get caught up in going full force toward your goals, but I’ve learned the importance of taking pauses in my day and week to evaluate how I’m feeling and what I’m needing. I believe that I cannot be a strong leader if I do not prioritize caring for myself and my mental well-being. In turn, sharing with my team that it’s OK to prioritize their own mental health gives them feelings of comfort to do the same for themselves, which results in a happier, more productive team.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: I like to start my day by staying away from electronics and taking things slow—journaling, reading, and sipping on my coffee without the interruptions of my laptop or phone. My slow mornings allow me to listen to myself and my needs. I have built-in time every day that I schedule to do something for myself—whether it’s taking a walk outside, taking my dogs to the park, working out, or getting my nails done.
Founder of Moodally, a workplace wellness company that provides evidence-based solutions to improve employee well-being, morale, and performance through mood management.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: Our mental health is really at the center of our ability to feel well, perform well, and relate well to others. The average person spends at least 50 percent of their waking hours at work, which means that our work has an enormous impact on every aspect of our life. We can’t just compartmentalize mental health as something we handle in our free time, especially since we spend so much of our free time thinking about work. Mental wellness should be considered as a core element in any organization’s occupational health and safety policy.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: I prioritize acceptance and detachment. Acceptance is learning to accept what is happening without expecting it to conform to my vision of how things should be happening. Detachment is practicing the skill of being able to not let the situation occupy any more of my mental space than it deserves.
Founder and CEO of LightWorks, serving companies and their teams’ well-being needs through advisory work, innovative workshops, and individual coaching.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: I strongly believe that our most precious resource is our people. A company can only truly thrive in an ongoing, consistent way if it ensures that its people are well in every sense of the word. The pandemic helped to amplify many leaders’ understanding of, and their subsequent investment in, employee’s well-being.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: I support leaders striving to provide implementable well-being tactics to their teams, and the best way I can do that is to prioritize my own mental health. I constantly emphasize that small changes can lead to big growth. For example, simply turning notifications off for an hour or two can empower you to focus better for a short period, and that will likely lead you to do so for longer and longer over time.
Founder of The Lane Collective, an anti-agency agency for future-focused startups.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: As a founder, I know how valuable it is to treat yourself as your most important asset. Last year, I experienced burnout, even while doing work I loved. Prioritizing my mental health allows me to deliver the best quality to clients, while staying connected to and invigorated by my work.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: To protect much-needed focus time and ensure that I have enough mental space, I keep a few days free of meetings. I’ve also found the four-day workweek allows me to de-stress and return to work rejuvenated.
Public Speaker and DEI Consultant at Blindish Latina, working with companies and organizations to advance workplace disability awareness, inclusion, and accessibility.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: We are all human, and it’s important to remember that our productivity does not equal not our worth. Prioritizing mental health helps us show up as our whole selves and feel psychologically safe and supported at work.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: As a solopreneur, I reach out to supportive communities and friends to stay connected. When I’m struggling, I encourage myself to share it with someone else so that I don’t feel isolated. Those conversations really do help.
Co-Founder of The SHE Mark, offering a suite of certification marks that make women-led businesses easier to identify and support.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: By prioritizing mental health at work, many aspects of a business are positively impacted, including company culture, productivity, team morale, and work product. It also signals that a workplace cares about you and recognizes that you are a full person, as opposed to just an employee.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: A strategy that has been successful in ensuring mental health remains a priority at The SHE Mark is our four-day work week policy. While it can be implemented in a variety of ways to fit an individual company’s needs. We’ve chosen to take Mondays off, which has had a positive impact on our team’s mental health without any loss in productivity.
Author at Penguin Random House, committed to publishing books and connecting readers and authors globally.
Why prioritizing mental health is important: Having worked on Wall Street for the past six years, I’ve personally felt the toll that the 24/7 work culture plays on mental health. I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks during my first job at Goldman Sachs, and I’ve seen many friends spiral into depression and work-related mental illnesses. During my first year on Wall Street, a college friend died by suicide while she was working 100-hour weeks at another investment bank.
How I’ve prioritized my mental health: A few years ago, I started sending a weekly “Joyous Souls of GS” email to a few colleagues in brightly colored fonts with lots of exclamation points to bring a bit of sunshine to people’s day! It grew to be several hundred people by the time I left and helped me keep perspective beyond the daily grind.
All individuals featured in this article are members of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community and diverse ecosystem amplifying extraordinary entrepreneurial women through PR opportunities, authentic connection, and high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to its monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.