Hero image courtesy of Nohat.
Let’s face it corporate America is stifling. It may be hard to balance how you feel and your authentic self in the name of professionalism. It is important to allow your creativity, ingenuity, and Black magic flow. You may be feeling sad, grief, anger, and confusion about events that are going on currently. The clock may feel like it’s punching you, but that ends here. Here are some tips to look at professionalism differently and to show up as yourself because all of YOU is an asset to the company:
Self care should exist naturally in your workday. It starts in your work set up. Make sure to take time to write down what you would like to accomplish that day. Goal setting focuses your mind, but give yourself grace if the workday takes an unexpected turn. In all things, make sure to honor the value of your time, money, effort, and all that goes into your productivity.
After setting the tone of your day, by deciding to work with purpose, change your habits. It takes 21 days to create a new habit and here are some ways to rejuvenate your workflow: aestheticize your workspace, make sure where you work has good lighting, wear comfy shoes and clothes, bring a water bottle to stay hydrated, surround yourself with positive people, debrief often to talk out the good and bad parts of the project, and keep in tune with your energy and know when to recharge. You can revive your work area by using new organizers, finding ergonomic technology, and include art that motivates you.
According to Harvard Business Review, remember to take inventory on how you are feeling. For instance, if you are neglecting healthy habits, dealing with imposter syndrome, micromanaging yourself excessively, procrastinating often, and feeling anxiety, radically institute self care. Immediately. These are signs of being overworked, stressed, and is the perfect formula for a breakdown.
Get your groove back. Some ways to show up as your authentic self is by sprucing up your outfits (There are many ways to infuse personality in professional wear and ways to express yourself in a uniform), releasing your own internal pressure to be something else, allowing fluidity of your languages rather than always code switching, and asking for what you need. You got your facade down to a “T.”
Unlearn toxic notions of survival through code-switching. You may mask your ideas and personality, detract attention at all costs, refrain from talking about your hobbies and ideas, and grip a language that is not yours to make others comfortable. Stop. This is how you lose yourself and become emotionally drained. The language you put on is “an imagined model of personhood.” Comfortably fit within your own vernacular. There are many successful people that do not code switch--this is why they are successful because they bring all of themselves to the table.
Your workplace may be a site of trauma or an accommodating setting at best. Your body and mind can feel this. Some professionals report getting hives, headaches, nausea, panic attacks, aches and pains induced by workplace trauma. If this is you, make sure to take the space that you need. You may not know where to start or how to communicate this to your boss or human resources. Here is a template that is sure to get you through:
Dear HR Manager,
This letter is a formal request to have time off for [duration]. I would like to request this time to take medical leave for my mental health. I will be back by [date]. In the meantime, are there any resources available to me through this company that I can explore?
My team has agreed to cover my responsibilities while I am away. My team leader has approved my vacation request (please find an approval letter from her attached).
If you have any questions or concerns, I can be reached at my cell phone number if urgently needed. However, due to the nature of my request, I ask that you contact me if absolutely necessary. After my leave, my therapist will outline ways that I can proceed in the workplace to work in a way that is healthy and efficiently.
Thank you for considering my request.
It is important to ask for what you need. In the event of an emergency, call the mental health and substance abuse hotline 1-877-726-4727. Make sure to make a plan with your therapist on how to make your work more conducive to your wellbeing. Overall, take a holistic approach to your work by creating a space that values your health and productivity. If your work does not value that, approach your HR director with concerns about workplace culture or find a new job. We are confident that you will find a solution specifically tailored to you.