According to the CDC, 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year.
It is critical to prioritize your mental health every day, especially with how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many lives. Navigate joins the national movement to raise awareness about mental health.

Our organization has always been a huge proponent of focusing on mental health and prioritizing employee personal wellness. Last year, we compiled and shared with the industry our 5 key themes for maintaining happiness, along with book recommendations. This year we asked Navigators what specific things they do to protect their mental health and maintain their personal happiness. Below is a list our team has put together to share tactical ways everyone can use to improve their mental health. Although there are common themes throughout the recommendations – working out, reading, meditating – you’ll find some great, unique ideas!

Matt Balvanz:

  • Running has been a great outlet for me. I do workout plans on the Map My Run app, register for virtual races and real races, etc.
  • Doing some beginners yoga on YouTube for rainy/cold days in Iowa when I can’t run outside.
  • I rotate between reading business, self-help, and murder mystery novels on my iPhone at night right before bed, in Night Mode of course. Below are some of my recent favorites:
  • Taking mini breaks throughout the day, by either doing yard work, laundry, picking up the house, running errands, even sneaking in a few XBox games and/or hitting a few dozen golf balls in the yard.
  • Taking time off from work after a big push of project work, either just a day or a week to recharge.

Bailey Creager:

  • Start and finish every day with the 5 Minute Journal, practicing gratitude and reflecting.
  • Strength workouts and guided meditations / prayers on the Peloton app early in the morning. I wake up at 5:30 a.m. to jump start my day and prioritize myself first thing in the morning, which also means an early bedtime!
  • Going on walks with my Goldendoodle puppy, Winston, at least twice a day,
  • I try to read at least 10 pages a day in the book I am reading. Below are a few of my recent favorites:
  • I enjoy listening to podcasts, either on my walks or during the work day:
    • On Purpose with Jay Shetty
    • Whoa That’s Good Podcast with Sadie Robertson
  • No phone screen time for the first 30 minutes when I wake up, or an hour before bed.
  • Prioritize and focus on my word of the year. For 2021, my word is happiness.

Kelli Williams:

  • Taking a walk pretty much every morning (unless it is a torrential downpour in Chicago) with a podcast and coffee. Also use the time to ‘Marco Polo’ with out-of-town friends.
  • Putting my phone in a different room at night.
  • Reading every night before going to bed.
  • Cleaning/organizing a small area to feel some control when things feel out of control.

Tess McGivern:

  • I make a point to listen to our First Cup Morning Series (guided meditation) each morning while my computer is turning on and while I am having my first cup of coffee. Once I dive into work for the day my mind gets going and it is hard to slow down, but if I prioritize listening as I get settled in for the day, I feel much better getting into my work and since it takes a few minutes for my computer to boot up anyway, I feel like I’m making productive use of that time.
  • Depending on my meetings/workload for the day, I pick a 30-minute window to do an at-home workout or take a run/walk while the nanny is here with Finn. If I try to make it happen before or after, it just does not work out because I’m juggling too many things at once. Knowing I can take 30 min away from my screen to get active during the day makes me feel great and even more productive while I’m working. If I’m super busy with work, I skip it, but it’s nice that a majority of days I can make it happen with our culture/flexibility.
  • With our team in Chicago being fully remote, we encourage each other to get together if they are comfortable with it. Having a few lunches with Navigators is always a nice reset.

Julie Angell:

  • Sleep meditation before bed to help shutdown the brain and think about things other than to-do lists.
  • It has been difficult to shut off work and not just work all night. I started to block time in calendar to do things outside of work (workout, spending time with kids, etc.). Makes me feel like that is what I should be doing and not feel guilty that I’m not working.
  • At the beginning of the week, plan one productive thing to get done around the house each morning before work/night after work that week.

Kayla Ketring:

  • I enjoy weightlifting and going to the gym early in the morning to set myself up for a great day.
  • I dedicate every Wednesday morning to my yoga routine.
  • Stretching has become a part of my routine, and I prioritize 30 minutes to stretch a few times a week.
  • I love taking the time to cook a really great meal after a work day.

Jordan Bloem:

  • Exercise, specifically running. Often if I’m stressed about something with work or in my personal life, finding time to get outside and run for 30 minutes helps clear my head and improve my outlook. If I can find time to run in the middle of the workday I find the rest of my day is usually more productive.
  • Spending time with my kids. I try to protect my calendar to have time before I start work in the morning and then a strict time at the end of the day when I stop working so I can switch gears from work to play with my kids. Great for perspective that work isn’t everything.

AJ Maestas:

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