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We know some days at work are harder than others and dealing with them can be challenging. We were lucky enough to have Laala takeover our instagram story earlier to touch on this topic and she’s answered all your mental health related questions in this article.

1. How do you avoid being passive aggressive? And can you give us some tips on learning how to communicate your feelings better?

There is always going to be some irony when it comes to answers like these, because clear communication often is the best way to avoid being passive aggressive. In general, a passive aggressive reaction can be linked to a few different causes. One is upbringing, which would be dif-cult to address in this kind of scenario or quick article. But others are situational characteristics, such as the workplace, where displays of aggression are not encouraged or else not easy to display.

Being assertive is the answer, as it skips past passive-aggression and places us in a stronger position to be able to get the best out of a situation. Feeling like you’re being not understood, not appreciated or ignored is often why we want to lash out, so trying to ensure as much as possible that you are clear about your wants and needs, and being as insistent as possible on receiving what you deserve is the easiest way to avoid this.

Of course, sometimes this is easier said than done, and we are saddled with bad business practices or unsympathetic bosses. In these situations, I would recommend consistency in how you act and present yourself. You’ll know as a result when you’re acting more erratically, and be able to bring yourself back in, and it’ll also make it clear to others that your discomfort and irritation is very specifically tied to a situation, rather than being lumped as a personality trait.

When it comes to communicating in the workplace, I hate that I have to say this, but honestly, an email is your best option if it’s about a serious issue (especially a disagreement with someone in a more senior management position). Try to talk to the person first, and then send an email that is a brief overview of your conversation, so that you have a record. Often,these emails will result in quicker action (especially in cases of an audit)than a simple conversation. However, if you think the issue can be re-solved with direct communication with an individual, that’s always your first course of action.

2. How does one stay motivated for work?

If we are working a job that we are not passionate about, I think motivation can be hard to come by sometimes. But I think it’s honestly just like the gym – motivation can get you started, but it’s not what keeps you go-ing. That’s habit, or routine. If you tell yourself you don’t or won’t accept working at a lower standard, I honestly find that’s the standard you’ll continue working at. Try not to let others around you affect your motivation or willingness to work. I sometimes find that there are individuals who can affect others’ motivation through negative talk about themselves, remuneration or the company, and this can affect your own motivation. Try not to let this be the case.

If you are truly unhappy in your current position, then you do need to find a new work opportunity. Try to be smart about saving, instead of spending your salary, and build yourself a nest egg. This will give you the opportunity to perhaps quit if you really do find yourself backed into a corner, but it’ll also give you the opportunity to perhaps take on a less-well-paid role in order to be in a new and better environment, or a new career direction.

3. How to feel that you’re enough or doing enough at work?

I would be careful not to over complicate certain things. You should have a job description (if you don’t, ask for one) and you need to make sure you’re hitting your targets. Do you have KPIs or Smart Objectives set at your office? If you don’t, it might be a good thing to suggest to your line manager in order for you to have a set of guidelines that you need to achieve. This will also put you in a stronger position to negotiate payraises or other benefits if you’re consistently hitting all your targets.

I wonder if part of this question comes from a feeling of imposter syndrome. For anyone who may not have heard this term before, imposter syndrome is a feeling of inadequacy despite obvious success. It affects predominantly women, even women at the very top of their respective fields. ‘Imposters’ can suffer from chronic self-doubt or feeling like a fraud.If this is something you’re suffering from, please remind yourself of all of the things you’re capable of, write a positive attributes list, and really celebrate your wins at work. This likely won’t be something you shake off over night, but it is 100% possible to feel confident in your ability without that nagging feeling.

4. How to avoid getting burned out from your job?

Like most things in life, make sure you’re setting yourself boundaries. For myself, when I was a journalist, I was often working past midnight several days a week. One of my personal boundaries was to ensure I had a work phone that was completely separate from my private phone, which meant that if I wanted to destress for an hour or even on a day off, I would just ignore the work phone and have me time without the stress of seeing notifications pop up. Another example is setting boundaries (preferably early on) about what hours are feasible for you to work. If you’re a young graduate, you’re going to have to grind and work harder than you’d perhaps like to – but there is a difference between putting in an extra 50% and be-tween not giving yourself a break. Find out what your happy medium is,and do that.

I’d also focus on something else you love with quite a lot of commitment.If you love to read, make sure you read at least one book a week; if you’re an athlete, don’t let go of your sport; if you’re a social person, make sure you’re getting a good night out a week. Try not to let this slip for more than a week or two, so that you are giving yourself time to yourself.

5. How can you balance a full-time job and a side hustle while still taking care of yourself?

I’m not entirely sure how to answer this, to be honest, because most peo-ple who do both tend to just put their all into it. I do and have done this with several side hustles, once even working two full-time jobs for six months in addition to a side hustle (that’s not something I’d encourage).

The only real advice is that I’d try to as much as possible schedule in my side hustle like my day job, and set certain hours to it instead of letting it bleed into all the hours of the day. As previously mentioned, boundaries are important – is this side hustle yours alone? Are you doing something with friends? Make sure you’re not taking on more than you can handle.Importantly, what you can handle changes from month to month and year to year, so while I would say start your hustles as soon as you can, I’d also warn against doing it when you already know you’re close to burning out.

6. How do you actively rest and recover from work?

For me this is predominantly cooking, reading, working out, scuba diving,driving around listening to music, meet friends for coffee, learn a new skill, or have long, random phone calls with my best friends. Think to your-self what three or four things really make you happy, content or make you smile when you do them, and try not to let too many weeks pass before you do this. I also personally love taking a day or two off and stay in Bahrain, go to the beach or to the movies, sleep in and have brunch, and so on. This can be especially great if you have a friend who takes the same day off.

Travel is also important for me personally. I recognize that many people aren’t necessarily in a place of privilege where travel is easy (whether financially or socially), but if you can travel, I would suggest doing so. Early in my career when I was barely making above minimum wage, I was still traveling quite often. Find cheaper destinations that you’d love to visit –mine included incredible trips to Thailand (where I shared a beach hut for£2 or BD1 per night) or a visit to Ethiopia to see a friend but also the UN-ESCO World Heritage site Lalibela, where I also shared a hotel room with two friends (we paid a total of BD3 for the room per night). Be safe, but bedaring.

7. How do you ask for a day off if you’re not feeling mentally ok?

Remember that it’s your right to. Bahrain’s Labour Law allows us 15 fully paid sick days a year, 20 days at half pay, and 20 days without pay. If you’re aware enough of your mental state to know that you’ll frequently need days off for mental health, then I would highly suggest you have a psychiatrist that you see – both for your own well-being but to also be able to get the relevant sick leave.

There are bosses that are really understanding about this, and if you’re someone who has anxiety or depression, for instance, it might be a good idea to sit down with your boss and explain that there will be days where you’d need personal time. You can also offer to work from home, if your job allows you to do that, and if you are in a mental health state where you can. If you are really uncomfortable with the idea of using your sick leave, you can also just take an annual day off.

In short, it’s easier when you’ve been clear about it from the start (goes back to communication question). If you believe that your boss will truly not understand and cause you difficulties, then just get a sick leave for something else. Make sure you are taking care of yourself. That said, there are days when we have mental health wobbles but we can keep going. Try to be able to differentiate between when you really need the time off, and when you can push through.

Laala Kashef Alghata

Laala Kashef Alghata has led a multi-hyphenate career since her teenage years. She published her first book at 13, and worked for an international poetry festival with Nobel Prize-winning authors by the time she was 20. After graduating with a double masters in English Lit and Psychology, she worked as a national journalist for five years before moving to her most recent position as a digital and internal communication specialist at a conglomerate.

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