A workplace can be like a roller coaster ride with daily ups and lows. Everyone experiences work stress at some point in time. This is why supporting your mental health at work is essential not just for the longevity of your career but for your well-being as well.
Almost 71% of individuals experience some kind of mental discomfort, such as headache or anxiety, at work.
Dealing with stress at work may not always be easy, especially when you are dealing with any mental health disorder.
But the good news is that by following a few tips you can have good mental health at work.
So, without any further ado let’s begin.
Overview of Mental Health
Before getting to the tips, let’s quickly understand about mental health at work and its importance.
Mental health is your ability to deal with ups and downs and the way you feel and think.
You enjoy good mental health at work when you have a sense of direction and purpose, ability to deal with daily challenges, and energy for the things you want to do.
What comes to your mind while thinking about physical health?
It means keeping yourself fit so that you can be healthy, right?
Mental health is really similar. It helps you to deal with daily life challenges and enjoy it fully.
However, your mental health doesn’t stay the same and may alter in response to circumstances in your life.
Discomfort and distress is a condition where you are unable to cope up with your environment for any reason. For instance, it could be the pressure of work or a mental health problem that may make you feel distressed.
So, what does a positive workplace look like?
What is a Mentally Healthy Workplace?
A mentally healthy workplace includes the following features:
- Promotes a positive working culture.
- Boosts a positive and productive working environment.
- Supports mental health.
- Minimal workplace risks.
- Avoids discrimination.
Now that we know what a healthy workplace atmosphere looks like, let’s understand how you can achieve it.
How Can You Support Mental Health at Work?
While you may not be able to control everything at the office, you can manage your mental health at work.
Here are some techniques that will help you to take control of things or cope with them.
1. Talk about Your Feelings to A Co-Worker
Getting relief from stress can be as easy as pouring your heart out to a co-worker. It can also help to deal with negative emotions at the office. Besides, listen to their problems whenever possible.
In case you are not comfortable sharing your feelings with a colleague, you should do that with your friends or family members.
Furthermore, talking to someone who had previously handled your role can also be a great idea. It may help you understand more about work and even if some problems have always been existing with the profile handled by you. For instance, a difficult manager or higher workload.
Whenever possible, it is also an excellent option to share your work-related problems with your manager. If you cannot confide in your manager, you can choose to talk to any member of the higher authority.
So, during your next office break, have a friendly chat with your co-workers instead of giving all the attention to your smartphone.
2. Prioritize Your Work
Work smart instead of just working hard.
There may be a time when your plate is too full. At that time, you should categorize your work into the “musts” and “shoulds.”
Cut the cord with other less important work, which will allow you to focus on priorities.
Besides, tackle the most important tasks by breaking them down into smaller ones. Now, focus on smaller tasks instead of bigger ones.
You can also assign your tasks to others whenever needed.
Prioritizing work will help you in improving your focus and efficiency at work
3. Take Breaks
Taking breaks in between is the best recipe to prevent burnout. You can engage in a quick conversation or a short walk with your favorite colleague.
Furthermore, also try to have lunch away from your desk. Breaks allow you to relax, recharge, and boost your productivity.
Any tension can alter your breathing pattern, causing you to take shallow breaths. This impedes the balance of oxygen and other gases in your body, resulting in anxiety.
So, try taking deep breaths during breaks, which will stabilize your breathing and lower the effect of stress on your body.
4. Set Your Boundaries
On the edge of burnout? Lack of boundaries could be the cause.
Many of you may feel obliged to work around the clock. You may also tend to check messages and emails from work during non-working hours.
For optimal mental health, it is a good idea to set boundaries and define hours when you will not be working at all.
Setting boundaries will help you in preventing burnout and stress, enhancing your mental health at work.
All in all, do not immerse yourself in work all the time and try to limit reply to emails or calls during weekends.
5. Laugh Your Heart Out
Try using humor to improve your workplace environment. While laughing, you allow more oxygen to enter your body, which improves the functioning of lungs, muscles, and heart.
Furthermore, laughing also improves the release of endorphins, increasing your overall sense of well-being.
According to researchers, a good laugh aids in relieving stress and keeps you relaxed for 45 minutes.
6. Keep in Touch With Your Social Circle
It is no brainer that relationships are key to your mental health. While working in a supportive team is really important, and you do not always have a chance whom you work with.
If you are not getting along with your colleagues or managers, it may cause stress and discomfort. Work politics can significantly influence your mental health.
So, it is great to have a mentor outside work, with whom you can discuss your problems and help you to sense check.
Besides, certain events may require you to practice self-care, and your family members or friends can help you in such cases.
Try and maintain relations even with intense work. Research has proved that loneliness is as harmful to your health as obesity or smoking.
Overall, a work-life balance is essential and aids in improving health and preventing mental health disorders.
7. Exercise Daily
Your body and mind are intrinsically linked. So, it is no brainer that keeping yourself fit will boost your mental health.
Regular workouts will improve your concentration, boost self-esteem, and help you feel and look better.
Physical activity releases “happy hormones,” endorphins, which are chemicals that boost your emotional and mental well-being.
Besides, regular exercise aids in relieving stress, improving memory, and boosting your performance.
Extensive research has shown the risks associated with sitting; hence, it is recommended that you spend a small portion of your day engaged in some type of physical activity.
According to studies, aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming, and running, for at least 30 minutes for five days a week, aids in improving mental health.
8. Do Not Skimp on Sleep
Cutting back on sleep may seem like an obvious solution when you lead a busy life. But when it comes to mental health, rest is a necessity and not luxury.
Skimping even an hour of sleep may take a toll on your energy, mood, ability to handle stress, and mental sharpness.
Furthermore, long-term sleep loss may harm your outlook and health.
9. Eat a Healthy Diet
As you may have guessed, what you eat also affects your physical and mental health.
Maintaining a healthy diet involves regular meals and sufficient water, which may not be possible for everyone, especially at work.
Try to get lunch from home or selecting healthier options while getting lunch from outside.
As discussed before, avoid having lunch at your desk. Besides, try and have a lunch club at work – sitting together and sharing meals.
If you are feeling stressed or low, curb the intake of refined sugar and caffeine. Also, try and carry fruits and nuts with you as they provide ready and healthy nutrients.
Of note, many individuals may find public eating really stressful, which could be because of current or past eating disorders.
So, in case any of your colleagues do not prefer to share a table while having a meal, or have different food choices, refrain from putting pressure or commenting on them.
10. Accept Yourself
All of us are different. So, it is healthier for your mind that you accept that you are unique instead of comparing yourself with others.
Introspect and check if there is anything that you would like to change and whether your expectations are realistic. Later work on it step by step.
Self-care and self-acceptance can be hard, especially if you have mental health problems.
Also, try and avoid investing everything and building self-esteem around work success. Doing so may increase the risk of mental health problems.
You can also practice mindfulness – a form of meditation that helps you to focus on present activities and help you accept things the way they are.
Accepting yourself and feeling good about it boosts your confidence to visit new places, learn new skills, and make new acquaintances.
11. Care for Others
Caring for others is an essential part of maintaining relationships with anyone you are close to.
The same applies to the working place.
Your work can provide you with an opportunity to care about others. You can be available as a line manager or a teammate and help others by training and coaching them.
You can also offer to volunteer a few tasks if your co-worker is unable to cope with it.
Helping others will give you a sense of satisfaction and makes you feel that you are needed and valued.
12. Ask for Help
Let’s accept the fact that none of us are superheroes. Understandably, you may get overwhelmed or tired, especially when things don’t work as per your plans.
Besides, your company may also be providing an employee assistance program. So, you can contact your HR or line manager and ask for medical help when required.
Alternatively, you can also visit your GP and explain any discomfort faced by you. If required, they may refer to a counsellor or a psychiatrist.
Talking to a physician will help you in getting rid of the burden you are feeling.
Supporting Your Colleagues
The easiest thing you can do to help a colleague at work is being available for listening to their problem whenever needed.
Listening is the crux of any relationship, and active listening is a practice that keeps you engaged and present in the conversation.
Active listening can be practiced to help a co-worker.
While doing so, try and maintain eye contact while talking, unless they seem uncomfortable with it.
Besides, acknowledge what they talk by appropriate gestures and nods, and repeat any information that they may have asked to check if you got the problem right.
You can ask appropriate and direct questions, but avoid asking any questions that may probe them to give more details than what they are comfortable with.
Take a quick recap at the end of the conversation and discuss what you both agreed on, Make sure that you do things that you may have promised to do.
Here are some other things you can do to help anyone with a mental health disorder:
- Spending some time with them.
- Make them realize that you have noticed some changes in their behavior.
- Motivating them to make a doctor’s appointment.
- Help them find a doctor if you can.
- Trying to understand how their appointment worked.
- Speaking openly about mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
- Motivating them to improve their diet.
- Encouraging them to get involved in sports or exercise.
- Appreciating if they open up about their problem with you.
- Try to cheer them up whenever possible.
Workplace stress or discomfort may be inevitable, but responding to it and managing your mental health at work is under your control.
Try all or some of the techniques mentioned above and see the benefits for yourself. However, the key to it lies in being consistent. Take control of your health and help others whenever possible.
Try the techniques and let us know how they worked out for you. Feel free to comment below.
See you on the calm side!