I’ve been working in the well-being and human sustainability space for over a decade, and it still amazes me how much I continue to learn. Mental health is complex: We know from research that 1 in 5 US adults experience mental illness each year, and 19% of Americans struggle with anxiety. So many of us are trying to manage our everyday stressors while supporting our families, showing up as our best selves at work, and finding purpose and emotional balance. It’s not easy — and it takes a lot of trial and error — but the truth is, it’s worth the work we have to put in. 

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to open up about a few lessons I’ve learned about my own well-being in the hopes that it can encourage you to take small steps to put your own well-being first. Because prioritizing our mental health is about so much more than feeling good. It’s about cultivating resilience, fostering inner peace, and nurturing a foundation of emotional strength that enables us to navigate life’s challenges with grace and clarity. It’s about recognizing that our mental health is the cornerstone of our overall wellness, influencing every aspect of our existence, from our relationships to our productivity and beyond.

Here are four powerful lessons I’ve learned about mental well-being:

1. Small steps do make a difference.

I’ve always loved the idea of Microsteps. Arianna Huffington describes them as “too small to fail,” and there’s so much power in that. When we set unrealistic goals for ourselves, we get overwhelmed, and we’re doomed to fail. It’s why 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fall through by February. In my own life, taking little, consistent steps to take care of my mental health has been imperative to my mindset, my stress levels, and my relationships. And I’ve learned that even a few minutes each day makes a difference. There’s science that shows the well-being benefits of being out in nature, for example, which is why just stepping outside for a minute can be such a moment of relief. Right now, I’m currently working my way through The Everygirl’s 50 journal prompts and affirmations for self-love, and it’s been so helpful to take a moment each day for a small affirmation. Taking a minute to reflect has been transformative for my well-being. 

2. Finding a support system is key.

I’ve always been fascinated by the research behind our relationships: how they can boost our mood, allow us to tap into our creativity, and improve our well-being. It’s something I delve into in my book, Work Better Together. If you’re feeling anxious or lonely, reach out to a friend. I love the idea of calling one friend each week. Maybe eventually you’ll graduate to one friend a day! I’m also a big believer in hand-written notes. I love writing a letter to a friend of mine just to say hi, or to update them on my life. It’s a small gesture that means so much to others, and can really strengthen your relationships. Give it a try! 

3. There’s power in setting boundaries.

I’ve come to learn over the years that boundaries are crucial: They give you the time and space to take care of yourself. What’s more, upholding your boundaries sets the tone of what you allow and expect from others. There are certain boundaries in my life that I am very good about keeping. I habitually protect time and space for exercise and sleep — it’s a core part of who I am and how I live my life. For me, these are non-negotiable. And if I let those boundaries down, I know that over a period of time I’ll feel exhausted and I won’t show up as the person I want to be. One boundary I want to be better about setting is my working hours. As someone who is very passionate about what I do, I find it difficult to unplug after work hours, and I find myself checking email after dinner. Being aware of our pain points is an important part of boundary-setting. When we can admit where we need to improve, we can take action to get there, instead of letting it fall by the wayside. 

4. There’s joy to find in our difficult moments.

I’ve opened up in the past about my caregiving experience for my mother. There’s no getting around it — elder care is hard. It’s demanding in every possible way — emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially. But one thing I’ve learned is that when you’re going through it, you need to give yourself grace. Find little moments of joy to recharge and reset. This can mean doing activities, even limited versions of them, that the two of you used to enjoy together, whether it’s cooking or going for a walk. Or it can even mean just finding joy in small moments. Caregiving can be exhausting and overwhelming, but it doesn’t mean your mental health has to move to the back burner. In fact, showing up for yourself only allows you to show up as a more complete version of yourself for your loved ones. 


  • Jen Fisher

    Human Sustainability Leader at Deloitte and Editor-at-Large, Human Sustainability at Thrive Global

    Jen Fisher is a leading voice on the intersection of work, well-being, and purpose. Her mission is to help leaders move from the legacy mindset that well-being is solely the responsibility of the individual to the forward-thinking idea of human sustainability, which supports the long-term, collective well-being of individuals, organizations, climate, and society.  

    She’s the co-author of the bestselling, award-winning book, Work Better Together: How to Cultivate Strong Relationships to Maximize Well-Being and Boost Bottom Lines, the Human Sustainability Editor-at-Large for Thrive Global, and the host of the WorkWell podcast series.

    As the first chief well-being officer of a professional services organization, Jen built and led the creation and execution of a pioneering holistic and inclusive well-being strategy that has received recognition from leading business media brands and associations.

    Jen is a frequent writer on issues impacting the workplace today, including the importance of mental health and social connection to workforce resilience, happiness, and productivity. Her work has been featured in CNBC, CNN, Fast Company, Fortune, Inc, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Harvard Business Review, among others.

    She’s a sought-after speaker and has been featured at events including TEDx, World Happiness Summit, Out & Equal Workplace Summit, Acumen Global Gathering, WorkHuman, The Atlantic Pursuit of Happiness event, and more. She’s also lectured at top universities across the country, including Harvard, Wake Forest, Duke, and George Mason.

    Jen is passionate about sharing her breast cancer and burnout recovery journeys to help others. She’s also a healthy lifestyle enthusiast, self-care champion, exercise fanatic, sleep advocate, and book nerd! Jen lives in Miami with her husband, Albert, and dog, Fiona.

    You can find her on LinkedIn or on Twitter and Instagram @JenFish23. You can also receive her personal insights and reflections by subscribing to her newsletter, "Thoughts on Being Well" @jenfisher.substack.com.