Work

How To Care For Your Mental Health And Build Your Career At The Same Time, According To Dr. Lauren

Sara Tardiff
6 min read
October 15, 2019
How To Care For Your Mental Health And Build Your Career At The Same Time, According To Dr. Lauren

Caring for your mental health is one of the few ways to improve all areas of your life, yet it’s something most of us tend to neglect. According to the Office On Women’s Health, more than 1 in 5 women in the U.S. have experienced a mental health condition like depression or anxiety during the past year. And a study conducted by psychology professors at University of California San Francisco and UC-Berkeley found that 49 percent of surveyed entrepreneurs reported having a mental health disorder.

It’s not often that someone has expertise in both mental healthcare and entrepreneurship. Dr. Lauren, a psychologist and founder of NOT THERAPY, has built her life and mission around helping women work through their trauma and learn healthy living habits, in both their work and personal lives. She recently hosted one of our Digital Firesides, where Girlboss members asked questions about everything from imposter syndrome to alleviating stress for her to answer in real-time.

Catch the highlights from her very informative Q&A sesh below, and sign up for Girlboss to take part in the next Digital Fireside.

Identifying the difference between stress and anxiety

“Stress and anxiety often have many of the same symptoms but are very different things. Most of us experience both at some point. Stress is a response to something external. For example, ‘I have this paper due tomorrow and I don’t have enough time to complete it to my expectation.’ Whereas, anxiety comes from internal stuff and is often triggered, when there’s nothing threatening on the outside at all. The way to deal with both stress and anxiety is pretty much the same. First, it’s important that we identify the trigger (real or imagined). If it’s imagined, change the irrational thought to a more rational one, first. Remember—thoughts aren’t facts. Once you know which thought patterns cause the anxiety, you can change them! If you change how you think, you can change how you feel and how you behave.”

Checking yourself on imposter syndrome

“No one expects you to know everything— they are interested in what you know, not in figuring out what you don’t know. The way I always think of it is this: I’m being invited to offer my thoughts, my perspective, use my voice. I mean, if whoever invited me to speak wanted someone who knows everything there is to know, they’d still be looking. The way your mind works based on your frame of reference is what people are after. That’s what you have to give. So, give it! If people are more established, cool. There’s no way that with five years experience you’re going to have the same POV as someone with 15. That doesn’t make yours’ less valuable, it makes it different. A different perspective is the goal, that’s why they asked you!”

“Perfectionism has no pros. Start to do things simply to cross ’em off your list with no expectation of quality. Get shit done.”

Actively combatting self-doubt

“1. Mix up your rituals: Often times those who feel like a fraud engage in rituals that perpetuate the unwanted feelings such as, over-preparation and projecting into the future. Instead of doing more work than is necessary to ensure success regardless of innate talent and engaging in a good dose of “what if” thinking (what if my instincts are off and I fail?), take the risk of completing tasks, trusting your gut, and accepting the results. 2. Accept positive feedback. Many of us attribute success to things outside of ourselves and failures to internal causes. In turn, we tend to deflect positive feedback, so it doesn’t have a shot of sinking in. Unsurprisingly, men are shown to do the opposite. Try the opposite starting today, regardless of comfort level. When someone says, ‘Nice job!’, you respond, ‘Thanks for noticing. I was confident it would work out well for all of us. I’m glad it did!’ 3. Become a mentor. It can be helpful to spend time showing a newbie the ropes. There’s no finer way to realize what you do know than offering your experience, strength and hope to a young woman who can benefit both personally and professionally from your insights. The bonus—the benefits for your own esteem and confidence is tenfold! 4. Re-define perfect. What is perfect anyway? Your new definition of ‘perfect’ must be: done and by you.”

Ditching perfectionism for action

“I come from a belief that we don’t procrastinate for the sake of procrastination but instead, it’s secondary to perfectionism and fear of failure. If you’re like most of us, you put things off, so that you don’t have to try to meet your ridiculously high standards that create anxiety just yet. Perfectionism is a legit issue, yet people around us treat it like a choice we make—’She’s just so hard on herself.’ The truth is that perfectionism, which is a big ole messy mix of ridiculously high standards for oneself, served with a double-dose of self-criticism, is on the rise in teens and it is a real problem. In my experience, both personally and professionally, it seems that most of us girls and women assume the struggle gives us our edge and is the driving force that we need in order to succeed. The truth is that perfectionism in girls is rooted in the internalization of the social messaging that tells us we’re not enough—not smart enough, interesting enough, savvy enough. For the 70 percent of us who struggle with low self-esteem, our negative thoughts feed right in to this and throw fuel on the fire. Perfectionism has no pros. The unattainable goal of achieving perfection keeps us stuck and incapable of achieving much of anything long-term. Start to do things simply to cross ’em off your list with no expectation of quality. Get shit done. And, then see if you’re still making excuses. I bet not.”

Stepping into your power, regardless of others’ opinions

“In general, people (especially, the ones who you are super close with) have a really hard time when we grow. It’s just fear—not that we’ll do well, but probably more so a trigger for their own abandonment fears. We must: Keep. Moving. Forward. The only way for us to call bullshit when others project their fears onto us, is for us to be confident in ourselves and how we relate to others. Basically, you’ve gotta do right by you and yours, so that you don’t question yourself when the people you love (who are at their own place in their personal growth process) attempt to pin their shit on to you. The only way to confidently move on in the face of, ‘You’ve changed, Lauren,’ is to get good at four things: honesty, accountability, responsibility, and integrity. Bolstering your character strengths is the best way to keep your side of the street clean, hold on to yourself in the face of the awkward changes in relationship dynamic, set healthy boundaries and increase your readiness to contribute to your little piece of earth in the right way.”