Prioritizing mental health amid increasing workload

To understand how to prioritize mental health, we reached out to the winners of Social Samosa 30 under 30 from previous years to know their mantra for mental health, managing stress, and implementing self-care practices. 

The advertising and marketing industry is known for its fast-paced and high-pressure environment, which can take a toll on mental health. In this field of creativity, the constant rollercoaster of emotions between the cycle of approval and rejection, can be mentally exhausting and lead to self-doubt, and creative blocks.

According to a study by Workfront, one in four marketing professionals said that they experience high stress on a daily basis. 71 per cent of the marketers claimed that they experience the feeling of burning out while 66 per cent said that they are expecting an increase in their stress level in the near future.

Moreover, the industry’s growth and competitiveness often come with layoffs and job instability, which can further impact mental well-being. It’s no wonder that maintaining mental health has become a top priority for individuals seeking success and fulfilment in their careers.

In recent years, even more and more brands have released campaigns that remind consumers to take care of themselves. Brands have stepped forward to initiate conversations, reduce stigma, and promote mental well-being.

Gladly, due to these factors, there’s an increased awareness, especially amongst working professionals. And to understand the state in the advertising and marketing industry and to take some cues we turned to #SS30under30 winners from previous years who have not only achieved professional success but also prioritized their mental well-being along the way. These winners shared their mantra for mental health, maintaining balance, managing stress, and implementing self-care practices.

How to Achieve Balance Amidst a Full-time Job?

Maintaining a balance between work and personal life is essential for physical as well as mental health. Overworking and neglecting personal needs can lead to burnout, increased stress levels, and various health issues.

Pranav Agarwal, co-founder of Sociowash, highlighted the significance of alternating between periods of deep work and rest to optimize performance and prevent burnout. He also emphasized taking the time to hype oneself up and explained that celebrating accomplishments is an essential aspect of maintaining balance and promoting overall well-being and success.

Agarwal said, “Creating a balance between humility and self-belief is also crucial. While it’s important to stay humble and grounded, it’s equally important to recognize your own worth and capabilities.”

Taking time for relaxation, hobbies, engaging in activities outside of work, and spending quality time with loved ones promotes overall well-being increases focus, and enhances creativity. It allows you to approach your work with a fresh perspective and perform at your best.

According to a study by Utah State University, participating in activities during leisure or spare time has been shown to reduce stress levels. Approximately 75% of participants’ cortisol levels (one of the most widely studied hormonal markers of stress) were lowered after making art. 

Aman on mental health

Aman Jain, Digital Marketing Specialist, Global Marketing Team at KTM AG, Austria, believes that finding balance involves pursuing hobbies outside of work. For him, engaging in activities such as hiking and cycling has been crucial in rejuvenating his mind and preventing burnout. He views it as a marathon rather than a sprint.

Jain said, “For someone with a full-time job that is one’s source of joy and fulfillment, it is easy to think all life’s gratification comes from work. In my experience, I have discovered having a life outside of work by pursuing hobbies.”

Need for Regular Breaks

Breaks can be utilized as an opportunity to detach mentally from work. By taking time away from work-related responsibilities, individuals can recharge their energy and mental resources, reducing feelings of exhaustion and burnout.

Joel on mental health

Joel Thottan, Associate Manager – Marketing and Communications, Nykaa, suggested taking small breaks as a way to achieve balance. Whether it’s conversing with colleagues from different teams or engaging in non-work-related conversations during lunch, these breaks help him find equilibrium. By stepping away from work-related matters, he refreshes his mind and maintains a healthy work-life balance.

Thottan said, ”For me, it’s always been taking small breaks. Whether it’s talking to my colleagues from different teams. Or having lunch where we discuss everything except work. It helps me find a balance.”

According to the GOQii India Fit Report 22-23’s Stress & Mental Health Study conducted among 10,000+ Indians, the current workplace environment has become the one of the top two major factors affecting stress levels among Indians.

Akshay on mental health

Akshay Gurnani, Co founder and CEO, Schbang, explained that stress often arises from a heavy workload or being in unfamiliar territory. He takes regular breaks throughout the workday, which provides him breathing space and opportunities to interact with colleagues and serves as a stress reliever. Additionally, he ensures to take a 4-5 day breaks every few months to gain mental clarity.

Gurnani said, “Taking 4-5 days off every few months helps me rejuvenate and gives me the mind space to think and come back with a clear focus to build on from.”

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The Power of Setting Boundaries

In the advertising industry, where high-pressure environments and demanding clients are a norm, setting boundaries becomes a crucial aspect of navigating through such challenges while maintaining one’s well-being and enhancing creative productivity.

Tanvi on mental health

Tanvi Bosmia, Associate Account Director, SoCheers, emphasized the importance of discipline and maintaining a schedule. By following a structured routine, including planning the day’s work and maintaining a positive mindset, she finds a better work-life balance. She stresses on the need to set boundaries and establish a clear schedule.

According to her, this helps create specific working hours, separate work-related stress from leisure time, and foster a positive mindset and productivity.

Bosmia said, “Considering the fast-paced industry that we are in, the boundary line between work and personal life is often blurred and leads to burnout. I believe that achieving work-life balance requires setting boundaries and consciously striving for equilibrium.”

Additionally, establishing clear boundaries can allow advertising professionals to save their time and mental energy, helping them to focus on creative thinking and ideation. Setting boundaries in client relationships may enable advertising professionals to establish realistic expectations and deliverables.

Renita on mental health

On similar lines, Renita Pinto, Content Partnerships Manager, ShareChat, emphasized the importance of setting healthy boundaries between work and personal life. She believes in prioritizing personal time and finding ways to detach from work-related worries. By setting realistic goals, delegating tasks, and engaging in activities that bring joy, she maintains balance and prevents work from overwhelming her personal life.

Highlighting the importance of boundary setting, Pinto asserted, “You got to set healthy boundaries between work and personal life.” 

Embracing Therapy

As the first generation to grow up in a world saturated with technology and social media, Generation Z has had more exposure to conversations on mental health. Based on the Deloitte Indian GenZ Survey Report for 2022, approximately 35-40% of the corporate workforce in India belongs to the Gen Z demographic. Within this group, 49% of Indian Gen Z individuals and 43% of Indian Millennials experience consistent feelings of anxiety or stress.

Source: Deloitte Indian GenZ Survey Report 2022

According to a recent study by Ogilvy, 70% of Gen Z individuals believe their mental health requires significant attention and improvement. 

Sejal on mental health

Sejal Kumar, a content creator, and past winner, incorporates therapy into her journey towards maintaining mental well-being. While she appreciated the benefits of having a coach or mentor to provide guidance and support, she also acknowledged that coaches can be expensive. She explained that online resources can provide solace until we find our in-person guiding stars.

She believes that accessing professional help and guidance can positively impact mental well-being and contribute to personal growth and self-care. 

Kumar said, “I know that coaches like this are expensive, but if somehow you can get access to resources that will be very, very helpful.”

From the pressure of constant online connectivity to the influence of carefully curated flawless online profiles, Gen Z is navigating a complex digital environment that can contribute to feelings of anxiety, stress, and isolation.

Brands and various communities are now taking initiatives to understand and address the specific mental health needs of Gen Z for promoting their overall well-being and supporting them in building healthy relationships with technology and social media.

Anusree on mental health

Anusree Menon, Senior Director – Influencer Marketing, Mindshare India, emphasized the importance of therapy, explaining that it took her time to accept the need for help. She also highlighted the importance of having a trained therapist who can provide guidance, strategies, and understanding, even when others may not relate or fully understand one’s experiences.

Menon said, “Therapy is still stigmatized, but there’s absolutely no stigma, and sometimes not everyone can relate to what you go through or not everyone can help you and it’s perfectly okay, and not everyone should understand what you’re going through. Having a trained therapist who can guide you and help you with some strategies is very important.”

In the A&M industry that glorifies busy schedules and endless productivity, it’s refreshing to hear from the ones who prioritize their well-being and understand the impact it has on their overall success. The insights and perspectives shared by the past winners of the #SS30Under30 awards provide a valuable roadmap for navigating the often-challenging terrain of balancing mental health with a full-time job.

Disclaimer: The winners are not mental health experts and have only spoken about their personal experiences and coping methods.