Tips and advice for looking after your mental health during your MBA
18 May 2023

Kirsty, second year Executive MBA participant and Founder and CEO of The Creativity Clinic, shares her advice and tips for looking after your mental health during your MBA.

What are your top tips for staying on top of your mental health and wellbeing during your MBA?

Mapping every inch of my life has been my strategy. Recognising that organisation is a strength that I can leverage when trying to balance competing priorities, I insist on diarising my entire schedule. I book in everything from meetings to time for focused work, all the way through to podcast listening sessions and dog walking. I like to categorise my week into Business, Brand and Being, making sure that the being part is not forgotten. Honestly, there are times when an extra hour on an assignment is needed, but it is important to give yourself permission to take time out for you. I now have a fortnightly massage and book in at least two reformer pilates classes a week and try to do something creative. Whilst this might sound indulgent (to be fair, it is a little), I know that looking after both my body and mind enables me to not only be more productive, but also a nicer human!

What’s your advice for handling exams and deadlines?

Beautiful pastel colour coded tables for tagging my progress and holding myself to account in all aspects of my week works well for me. I also recognise that I am really productive late at night. I am most definitely NOT a morning person! I think this is why the evening Executive MBA was the perfect choice for me. I no longer feel guilty about staying in bed a little longer when I can, particularly if I have spent many hours working into the early morning.

I also like to plan well in advance to ensure that I have given myself sufficient time to meet my deadlines. So far, this has worked. I have yet to request an extension but know that if at some point I need it, the option is available to me.

Created using Midjourney

Exams have never been my strong point, but throwing yourself at the things you dislike and ensuring that you practice, in my opinion, is the best remedy. Consider the things you love to do and the hours, days, even years of commitment that you have given to the things you enjoy – it is no mistake that you become accomplished at these things. I think that it is only with practice and experience that we give ourselves the opportunity to succeed.

Do you have any advice for anyone who is struggling?

Take time to reset. Pause. Breathe!

Think about what is driving you? What is your passion and why did you start on this journey in the first place? Reflect on what you have achieved, gained, and learned so far and importantly, where you have failed and have been able to bounce back or even thrive. You will find plenty of examples where you have overcome challenges before, and your mental health is no different. Emotions are transitory, so feelings of self-doubt, overwhelm and anxiety will of course pay a visit during your MBA journey, but so too will elation, pride, gratitude and, in my case following financial management, relief!

Know that whilst your peers are on a similar journey, it is not yours. We all have both inherent and acquired diversities that are at play when taking on any new challenge and it’s important to recognise that. What works for one person, won’t work for another – not everyone can attack a challenge with the same approach, so what works for me, might be completely useless advice for you. Recognising where you can leverage your strengths to overcome challenges and understanding that the only competition is with yourself can hopefully enable you to take action. Something that people say, is ‘that everything will be alright in the end’ so in my mind, if it is not alright, it is not the end and there is still work to be done!

What support is on offer, as an MBA at Warwick Business School?

Of course there are the obvious solutions from talking with your peers or the teaching faculty as well as well-being support from the wider team at Warwick but don’t forget to utilise the huge network that is at your disposal. Connect with alumni and current students who might share the same interests or career paths. Follow thought-leaders on social media and join a community or create your own. Social media has been an invaluable resource for connecting with like-minded individuals, reading about their experiences both personally and professionally and finding authentic voices that chime with mine has been really cathartic.

I would encourage you to join some of the communities at Warwick. Not only do these help to broaden your knowledge-base but can again gather a network of people who perhaps are taking their career in a similar direction or have experienced some of the stumbling blocks that you are going through. Often others are happy to share their stories or offer support so that you can navigate the hurdles that they too faced.

If you want someone to talk to, there are plenty of people out there who are willing to listen, you just have to ask!

 

*Disclaimer – I also enjoy drinking wine, kicking off my shoes and singing along to loud music but am not in any way promoting alcohol for well-bring, but I do promote having fun! J