Nurturing your mental well-being: Part 2


In commemoration of World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10), ARVO is providing tips and resources to help you thrive in caring for your mental well-being. For the second part of this series, we focus on techniques for dealing with imposter syndrome and handling interpersonal relationships.


Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome (IS), also known as imposter phenomenon, is the state of doubting one’s skills, intelligence and achievements despite having many accomplishments and being qualified. Imposter syndrome is common among high achievers, especially individuals in academia and healthcare. While it shows up differently for each person, individuals may experience:

  • Self-doubt
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fear of failure
  • Feelings of inadequacy/being seen as a fraud
  • Burnout

There are many ways to work on overcoming imposter syndrome, but the main tip is to combat your negative self-talk. For example, if you feel like you did not deserve a promotion, analyze what you did to get it, write down all your accomplishments or review your résumé/CV. Continuously remind yourself of your skills if those negative thoughts come hurtling back.


These articles provide additional guidance on coping with imposter syndrome:


Interpersonal relationships

Dealing with interpersonal relationships in any environment can be complicated, challenging and exhausting at times. Some struggles researchers may face include ineffective communication among team members, lack of support, microaggressions or bullying.


It is imperative to not only take care of ourselves, but to be mindful of the welfare of those around us as well. Here are some suggestions:

  • If you are in a senior-level position, make time to check in or be there for your colleagues. It is important they have confidence in knowing their concerns will be heard and acknowledged.
  • Commit to spend time getting to know your colleagues and building relationships. You will learn about each other’s work and communication styles, cultural beliefs/values, and more.
  • Conflicts can arise due to differences in communication styles and misreading/missing non-verbal cues. Before you react, pause for a minute and then ask questions to help clarify the issue.
  • Develop your feedback skills and consider strength-based approaches when interacting with others (i.e., building a collaborative, unique person-centered relationship).
  • Set boundaries for youreself and respect the boundaries of others

This seminar series on becoming a resilient scientist, developed by the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Intramural Training and Education, provides information on how to build resilience, wellness and foster healthy relationships. 

It is important to note that one size does not fit all when it comes to nurturing your mental health. Various recommendations you can explore include:

  • Be gentle to yourself and make sure you put aside self-care time
  • Identify signs of stress and ways to counter it
  • Create healthy routines to support you (e.g., setting aside time to exercise).
  • Talk to friends, family and colleagues that you trust, or reach out to support groups
  • Seek professional help if you are struggling:
    • In the U.S., you can dial 988 to reach the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
    • New or expecting mothers can call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS for confidential professional advice.
    • Contact your healthcare provider
    • Contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP or visit  

Also, take a look at some ways ARVO members are taking care of their mental well-being. 


Know other helpful mental health resources? Share them by posting in the comments below! 


NOTE: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.


Children's HopeChest (2022, December 12). Global Mental Health Statistics. Retrieved April 14, 2023.


Huecker, M. R., Shreffler, J., McKeny, P. T., & Davis, D. (2023, July 31). Imposter Phenomenon - statpearls - NCBI Bookshelf.  


National Institutes of Health, Office of Intramural Training and Education. Becoming a Resilient Scientist (BRS) series.


Melinda Smith, M. A. (2023, February 24). Burnout Prevention and Treatment.


Boone A, Vander Elst T, Vandenbroeck S and Godderis L. (2022, May 27). Burnout Profiles Among Young Researchers: A Latent Profile Analysis. Front. Psychol. 13:839728. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.839728