Mental health habits that can boost your career

Whether dealing with the daily demands of your job or looking to make a big move up the ladder, you’ll be better equipped to meet any challenge that comes your way when you’re at your optimal health. That’s why we’ve partnered with SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU.—Putting Women’s Health Firstto provide tips and advice that will help you achieve health and balance in mind, body, and spirit. Because you’ll be at your best, in your personal life and your career, when you LOVE.YOU.


Often we only think of mental health as mental illness, but there’s far more to it than that—it’s about how we all think, feel, and act in our everyday life. It includes how we cope with adversity and balance daily pressures and challenges; how we engage with our friends, family, coworkers, and community; and our enjoyment of the many different aspects of our life, from personal to professional.

Numerous studies have linked emotional well-being to work performance, but it’s really about the whole picture: your mental health is an important pillar of your overall health, and taking steps to reach your optimal health enables you to be at your best—whether for work or play.

So how do you go about boosting your mental health? These basic habits are a great place to start.


Manage stress before it becomes an issue.

Stress is only one aspect of mental health, but it’s an important one: according to Statistics Canada, employees who considered their work to be quite a bit or extremely stressful were more than three times as likely to suffer a major depressive episode, compared with those with low general stress. And even if your main source of stress isn’t your job, studies show that outside stress gets taken into the workplace, where it can affect your ability to perform. There are several self-care tools you can use for managing stress, many of which will have a positive impact on your overall mental health.

Keep your social networks going.

Limiting your social activity is a sign that you’re suffering from poor mental health, but it’s more than just a symptom—isolation can actually lead to serious mental health issues. Why? Because our social groups offer support and a much-needed sense of belonging. Whether it’s your family, friends, coworkers or a community group, cultivating relationships is integral to your well-being.

Be mindful of your diet.

It’s no surprise that anything that falls into the category of “comfort food” is generally high in fat, sugar, or both. Numerous studies have shown that stress and other negative emotions lead us to reach for less than healthy options, or, for some people, to not eat enough. But it’s at these challenging times that our body needs its best fuel. Try these strategies for mindful eating to help keep yourself back on track.  

Make time to exercise.

Exercise causes us to release endorphins—brain chemicals that literally make you feel good. More than that, it’s a great way to alleviate some of the symptoms that are associated with mental health issues, such as fatigue, lack of energy, anxiety, and poor concentration. Hand in hand with a nutritious diet, you’ll see it proves the saying: healthy body, healthy mind.

Get your best sleep.

Even if you aren’t able to fit in the recommended amount of sleep each night (the suggested range is seven to nine hours), you can still take steps to ensure you are getting the highest quality of sleep possible. There are several strategies you can try for improving your sleep, like avoiding caffeine late in the day, and sticking to a schedule for going to bed and waking up.

Give back, and you’ll get back.

Studies have shown that generosity has a side benefit: it positively impacts your own mental health. If you’re looking for an opportunity, the SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. Run for Women is a great choice. Not only is running statistically proven to improve mental health the event also combines support of local for women’s mental health programs with some fun socializing and exercise. There are races in 15 cities and distances to suit every ability, so sign up for a day of awesome inspiration for your mind, body and spirit.

Know when to seek help.

Women are three times more likely than men to suffer from depression, and research indicates that one in four women will experience some form of depression in their lifetime. If you think you might be suffering from a mental health issue that you can’t alleviate with self-care methods, it is important to seek help from a trained professional. Talk to your physician, a counsellor or a mental health professional to get the care you need.


What is SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. all about?

We truly believe that when you put your health first, you’re giving the people close to you the best gift of all—a better you.

SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. – Putting Women’s Health First – is our commitment to helping you stay focused on being your best in body, mind and spirit. It shares the expertise of our partners and connects you with others in support of local, community-based Women’s Health initiatives across Canada. Find one that moves you and join our journey to strengthen Women’s Health across Canada!

If your charitable group has a program to help women in your community lead stronger and healthier lives, we may be able to help.


This information is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about mental health concerns.



Meet Dr. Christine Sow: President and Executive Director of Global Health Council

Dr. Christine Sow is the first woman to take the helm of the Global Health Council (GHC), a leading membership organization supporting and connecting advocates, implementers, and stakeholders around global health priorities worldwide. Over the span of her career, she has led numerous initiatives to strengthen health systems and increase access to lifesaving drugs and services, working for non-profit, academic, bilateral and multilateral agenciesincluding more than 15 years in West Africa. Her current role as President and Executive Director of GHS is based out of Washington, D.C., but has a worldwide impact. We asked her about being one of the few female leaders in her field, and the GHS Women Leaders in Global Health initiative.


By Stephania Varalli, Co-CEO, Women of Influence


Stephania: What inspired you to go into your field?

Christine: The way that I got into women’s health and global health was around the idea that women are caretakers, whether they like it or not. And if a woman has to worry about her own health, and she has to worry about the health of her children and her family, typically she’ll be the first person responsible for that. And while she is struggling to get the money to pay for the care they need, or while she is sitting up at night with a sick kid, all that is taking her away from being able to mobilize around her rights and the rights of her community and around exercising her potential. And so I see health as a fundamental building block in letting women meet their potential, in terms of their professional engagements and community engagements, and in terms of speaking for their rights and the rights of their community.

You have more than 20 years of global health leadership experience on your resume. When you started your career, did you see yourself going into leadership roles?

I don’t know that I’ve had that ambition as such, but I’ve definitely not held back from taking leadership, whether it’s on initiatives or projects that I’ve been involved with. And no one would say that I don’t like to express myself. I like the challenge of being in the front of an organization or the front of an initiative and setting the vision.

What drew you to your current role as President and Executive Director of Global Health Council (GHC)?

Although we’ve been around since the 1970s, the previous board actually closed the organization in 2012 and the membership took over and relaunched the organization in 2013. That looked like just the kind of challenge that I enjoy, and really a chance for me to put my mark on the organization which represents actors in global health across the spectrum—nonprofit, for-profit, research, academia, philanthropy—and to help craft an organization that would be pertinent and influential for years to come. It was a bit of a leap into the dark because it was taking over an organization that was without resources. We weren’t bankrupt, but we were without resources, except a very determined Board of Directors. That was really exciting, and it let me do something that was an immediate, hands-on experience.

Christine_400x400_v2You are one of the few women leaders in healthcare. Have you ever felt hindered or discriminated against because of your gender, and if yes, how have you handled it?

When I was a young professional I was actively targeted by a male colleague who wanted to have what I was trying to do discounted, and made it very clear it was because I was a young woman, and he felt threatened by that. Over the course of my career, because I’m just really stubborn and stuck through it, and because I’ve had people really supporting me in the background, I’ve tried to take on—how’s the diplomatic way to say this?—a “screw you” attitude. I know how good I am and I am going to go forward and show how good I am and influence things for the better.


The Global Health Council launched a Women Leaders in Global Health initiative in November of 2015. What brought this about?

It’s coming from the Global Health Council but we worked with four amazing young professional women that are passionate about this to put it together. What we all came together around is that if you look at the global health workforce, it’s about 75% female. But, as with so many other industries, as you look at the presence of women and the voice of women going up the leadership chain, when you get to the highest levels in terms of global governance and national governance, and when you look at who is speaking on high-level panels and events and conferences, it flips completely and it’s more like 75% men. We started digging down a bit. If you look at who is on the steering committees putting together these conferences, again, frequently it’s male-dominated. There’s an inherent problem there because that means that already the global health field is limiting our talent pool, when we think about voices that we’re bringing to the leadership table.

What do you hope to achieve with the initiative?

It’s focusing on advocacy, pushing these messages, and providing tools around how conferences and events and steering committees can speak more proactively around making sure they have an appropriate gender balance. It’s going to be around networking, helping women connect with other women working in these areas, as well as mentors and leaders. Building up not an old boy’s but a dynamic women’s network, knowing how much influence those networks can have on somebody’s career path. Through target activities around those areas, we’re going to be working both in the US and to the extent that we can, globally, to be pushing this idea and making it more visible.

And I assume you’ll continue partnering with passionate people on this?

Yes, we’re not going to be doing the work necessarily ourselves. GHC is an organization that is really committed to the idea of connecting advocate and actors, facilitating conversations, and providing opportunities for engagement. We’re really going to be looking out broadly at the different initiatives that are taking place. We know there are things out there going on, but they are not necessarily well mapped or well connected, and what we’re going to be trying to do is really build off of the individual initiatives that are already started and making them more powerful by bringing them together to create momentum.

What advice would you give to women starting out in their career?

Don’t assume the path is going to be linear. And don’t hesitate. You have to take risks. You can’t hold back till you’re ready. There is no perfect time.

What was your first job?

Scooping ice cream. I think that everybody in the world should work at least once in the service industry, because it teaches you so much about people, and about working quickly, and being responsible, and dealing with jerks.

If I googled you, I still wouldn’t know…

I’m a long-distance runner and that keeps me sane.