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The president of the American Psychological Association reveals the secret of balancing success and mental health

Despite clinical psychologist Dr. Thema Bryant’s list of impressive career accomplishments, this success is not the only source of her happiness.

As of 2023, she is President of the American Psychological Association, and is also Professor of Psychology at Pepperdine University where she directs the Culture and Trauma Research Laboratory. Prior to that, she earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Duke University, and completed her postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical Center.

Despite all these successes and tasks, they maintain a balance between productivity andher mental healthAs well as maintaining close friendships, she explained to CNBC how it all works.

Bryant said that a common misconception is that people think that avoiding thinking about some of the things that make their lives difficult will lead them to overcome them, explaining that “suppressing the problem cannot work.” But when we have difficult life experiences and avoid them, they end up manifesting themselves in other ways.”

She stressed that avoiding confrontation is not a solution, as it can appear and affect our sleep, and it can appear in our parenting habits.

She also said that believing that the word “busy” is synonymous with “productive” or that they are the same thing is another misconception, as many people are deceived by this because they associate poor performance with depression and the inability to get out of bed, which is the way it appears for some people .

But for others, they can succumb to action. They may be workaholics or perfectionists. They feel they always have something to prove, but they never feel good enough.

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Your work or productivity is not always a sign of your perfection or psychological and emotional wellness.

So, how do you balance excelling at work with taking care of your mental health?

Bryant explains that thinking about your own longevity and success can affect your mental health. Sometimes we are so motivated to collect more, or to get a promotion that we don’t pay attention to ourselves in the future.

This behavior, Bryant stresses, is nothing more than setting yourself up for burnout: “Our bodies let us down.” Sometimes we end up physically or emotionally not being able to keep up the pace.

The problem, she notes, is the desire for temporary success, which will drive you to work all night to deliver an amazing report the next day, with an unquenchable desire to “continue success for a lifetime.”

She called for thinking about adopting a model that balances preserving time, energy and focus without neglecting health and relationships.

“Your success depends on you and you have a family that depends on you,” Bryant said. “It’s important to find short ways to maintain rituals of nurturing ourselves and our relationships.”

And you think waking up earlier than the specified time can give you a few minutes in the morning to practice your ritual, without feeling anxious since you open your eyes.

Another thing that is often overlooked, she said, is community welfare. Having healthy friendships, relationships, and healthy connections with your family or even with your co-workers helps and reminds you that you are alive, and that you are not just a robot or a machine.

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When thinking of friendships, it is necessary to think of quality over quantity, as one does not have as many friends.

Bryant explains why it’s so important to maintain good friendships that it’s so cathartic to feel known by someone and accepted and cared for, for who you are.

It is a gift to our nervous system, she said, when we are with someone we feel like home.

In order for the friendship knot not to break through the pressures of time and neglect, Bryant advises the necessity of communicating with your friends and clarifying your time restrictions to them, as some build assumptions that your lack of communication with him is because you have finished his friendship or you do not care about him.

“My best friend lives in Philadelphia and I live in LA,” she said. “It’s not like we go somewhere together every week, but when we talk, it’s really nourishing.”