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Career skills, practical experience, and professional network contacts are all things you can expect to gain from an internship. However, internships can occasionally come with stress, burnout, anxiety, and imposter syndrome as well. Internships abroad can bring even more strains on mental health while traveling too. That’s why knowing how to take care of mental health during an internship is so important.

Whilst the priority of any internship is advancing your career, for many, an internship is a chance to push themselves outside their comfort zone, and try something new—it might be their first experience of the world of work. This is where another, hugely beneficial, utility of internships comes in. They’re a fantastic opportunity to establish strategies for self care while interning, ensuring you come out stronger and more prepared for your professional journey.

In this blog, we’ll offer some tips on taking care of mental health while interning, as well as how to deal with mental health issues while traveling, giving you the tools you need to maintain your mental wellness as an intern.

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health During an Internship

1. Manage Time in Your Work Day Effectively

A big part of how to take care of mental health during an internship is managing your time effectively.

This starts by managing time for the internship itself and making sure your work days include regular breaks. Whether it’s a five-minute stretch or a short walk outside, these moments of rest can significantly boost your productivity and mental clarity. Planning tasks and breaks in advance to maintain a balanced workload will make your day feel more manageable and provide a sense of control.

Another important part of this is not taking your work home with you and ensuring you have time to unwind at the end of each day. It can be tempting to use your downtime to get ahead with work, it also leaves you vulnerable to burnout.

2. Establish a Daily Routine Outside of Work

Once you have your work routine in place, it’s a good idea to plan time outside of work hours to manage self care while interning. Making a daily routine and sticking to it is one of the best ways to maintain structure and stability during stressful periods and maintain mental wellness as an intern.

This could be establishing a morning routine, keeping a proper sleep schedule, or making time in the evening for activities you enjoy like reading, meditating, or exercising. A well-rounded routine is crucial for balancing work commitments and personal time, ensuring you don’t feel overwhelmed and avoid burnout.

3. Keep in Touch with Friends and Family

Maintaining a strong support network and keeping your loved ones close is vital for taking care of mental health while interning, and especially taking care of mental health while traveling abroad for an internship.

Regularly communicate with friends and family to share your experiences, seek advice, or simply unwind. These interactions can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging, which can be incredibly comforting during stressful periods.

4. Stay Active and Eat Healthy

The best ways to take care of mental health during an internship are the same ways to take care of mental health at any other time.

Physical activity and a balanced diet are powerful tools for improving mental health. Regular exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a gym session, or a yoga class, find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your routine.

Alongside staying active, eating a balanced diet is essential. Nutritious food fuels your body and mind, helping you stay focused and energized. Avoid excessive caffeine and sugar, as they can lead to energy crashes and negatively impact your mood. Staying hydrated is equally important and can prevent fatigue and improve concentration.

5. Manage Your Own Expectations

Setting realistic expectations is key to avoiding unnecessary stress and challenges to your mental health during an internship. First, make sure you know as much as you can about the internship, what it entails, and how it works before the program starts. During your internship, remember, that the goal of an internship is to learn and develop skills, not to perform flawlessly. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to be perfect and always take time to celebrate little wins.

It’s also important to communicate with your supervisors about what is expected of you. Learning to say no when necessary can be difficult for an intern, but it’s essential for taking care of mental health during an internship. Clear communication can help align your understanding with their expectations, reducing any potential stress or confusion.

6. Practice Positivity and Resilience

Sometimes taking care of mental health during an internship is simply deciding not to let the little things get to you. Mental preparation is one of the most vital steps to preparing for an internship abroad.

Adopting a positive mindset and building resilience can help you navigate challenging situations. Develop resilience by viewing setbacks as opportunities for growth rather than failures. These practices can improve your overall outlook and help you bounce back from difficult moments.

The reason this is one of the best tips for taking care of your mental health, and especially taking care of mental health while interning is that positivity and resilience are skills that can be cultivated with regular practice. So the effort you put in during your internship will benefit you throughout your career and the rest of your life too.

7. Take Advantage of Available Support Systems

Perhaps the most useful thing to know about how to take care of mental health during an internship is that there are systems in place to help you. So, don’t hesitate to reach out for help when needed.

Your host organization can offer valuable support and guidance regarding mental health while interning. These resources are there to support your well-being and can provide valuable assistance during challenging times. Taking advantage of these support systems can enhance your internship experience and help you cope with stress more effectively.

As we’ll get into, one of the reasons to join Roots is for the support we offer participants for their mental health while interning.

4 Ways Roots Supports Internship Participants

1. Vetting Our Partners

Roots ensures that all partner organizations are thoroughly vetted to provide a supportive and enriching internship environment. This vetting process includes evaluating the company culture, support structures, and learning opportunities to ensure a positive experience for interns. By partnering with reputable organizations, we help create a safe and supportive environment where interns can thrive.

2. Helping You Prepare

We provide comprehensive preparation resources to help you get ready for your internship. This includes pre-departure orientations, skill-building workshops, guidance on setting realistic expectations, and a wealth of blogs and informative resources on useful topics like how to take care of mental health during an internship. Being well-prepared can reduce anxiety and help you feel more confident as you start your internship.

Our preparation resources also cover cultural awareness and adaptation, helping you to mentally prepare for an internship abroad. We provide insights into the workplace culture, expected etiquette, and tips for effective communication.

3. Arranging Safe, Comfortable Accommodation

Roots arranges safe and comfortable accommodation for all of our interns, ensuring you have a secure and pleasant place to stay. A comfortable living situation is crucial for your well-being and can significantly impact your overall experience. We carefully select accommodations that are conveniently located and offer necessary amenities.

4. Comprehensive Logistic Support

We offer comprehensive logistic support, including assistance with travel arrangements, visa applications, and local transportation. Handling logistics can be stressful, but our support ensures everything runs smoothly, allowing you to focus on your internship. Taking care of mental health during an internship is a lot easier when you receive the necessary safety and support. Our logistical assistance helps you navigate the practical aspects of your internship with ease.

Have a Great Internship Experience through Self-Care!

Taking care of mental health while interning is essential for enjoying and making the most of your internship experience. By following these tips and utilizing the support available, you can maintain your well-being and make the most out of your internship. Remember, mental health is just as important as your professional growth.

Learning how to take care of mental health during an internship will not only enhance your experience but also equip you with valuable skills for your future career. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch with our team to talk through opportunities and how we can support your self care while interning.

This blog was written by Tom Rusbridge.