9 Strategies to Protect Your Mental Health at Work
Mental health at work has, thankfully, become a priority for many companies. Workers have been buffeted by Covid-19, lockdowns, the cost-of-living crisis, and the changing workplace.
Leadership has realized that the last two years have taken their toll on the spiritual and emotional wellbeing of employees, and moved mental health to the top of the agenda. Unfortunately, this is of little comfort to many workers, many of whom are struggling with their mental health in a world of work that is changing at a breakneck pace.
Things Are Different in the Workplace Now
What a change in the workplace we’ve seen. Brainstorming sessions sat in a huddle around the white board have been replaced by Zoom meetings. Casual passing conversations at the water cooler are now conducted by WhatsApp. Managers are no longer a few feet away.
Even at companies that now have their full staff back at work, things feel… different. There are new ways of working. People are a little more distant than before the pandemic. Modern technologies have changed how we work, even in the office. It’s stressful.
There Is Still a Stigma Surrounding Mental Health
It’s great that companies are treating mental health with greater urgency and seriousness. But there is still a stigma surrounding mental health, which stops many from seeking mental health care. In a study conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, titled ‘Stigma Free Company’, it was found that 8 in 10 employees won’t seek help for their mental health issues.
While we would urge all workers who have mental health issues to seek help from their employer, there are things that you can do to protect your mental health.
Strategies to Protect Your Mental Health at Work
Work can be stressful at the best of times, but particularly so at this time of year. After the euphoria of the holidays, the winter gloom sets in. If you don’t protect your mental health, workplace stress can spiral into anxiety, depression, and even affect your physical health.
Here are a nine brief tips to help you balance your mental health in the changing workplace.
1. Destress the Commute
Commuting can be stressful. We spend a lot of time in our car, on a bus or train, so it’s important to make this time as stress-free as possible. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Put on your favorite playlist. Wear noise-canceling headphones. Whatever it takes to make your daily journey more restful and relaxing, do it.
2. Stop Multitasking
We are all guilty of multitasking. We think that we can do more by doing two things at once. But this is not true. Research has shown that multitasking is a myth, and it leads to inferior performance. It’s not just work that can be affected, but also your mental health too.
The constant switching between tasks and trying to juggle too many things at once can lead to stress and anxiety. The trick here is simply to focus on one task at a time.
3. Take a Break
We are all guilty of forgetting to take a break from work. But it’s important to remember that we need to take care of ourselves as well. Get away from your desk and:
- Take a walk around the office or around the block
- Stretch for 10 minutes
- Have time to yourself with no distractions
- Chat to someone you care about for a few minutes
If you can’t get away from your desk, practice a few exercises at your desk or take a short power nap.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Another way to relieve stress and reduce mental health effects at work is to practice mindfulness. This means being aware of what you are doing in the moment and understanding how your thoughts are influencing your feelings.
5. Eat Healthily
A healthy diet is also important for mental wellbeing. Make sure that you are eating the right types of food:
- For breakfast ─ high-fiber, low-sugar cereal or porridge.
- For lunch ─ soups, salads, or sandwiches on wholemeal bread with salad fillings, without mayonnaise or salad cream.
- For dinner ─ fish, meat, or chicken with vegetables, pasta dishes with tomato-based sauces and rice dishes with plenty of vegetables.
A balanced diet full of good nutrition will help boost your mood. Have a couple of healthy snacks in your desk drawer, but avoid high-sugar treats.
6. Build Good Workplace Relationships
The relationships you have with your colleagues, supervisors, and managers have an enormous impact on your mental health. By actively developing these relationships, you will feel happier at work and be better integrated into your team.
Deeper workplace relationships may also offer you a listening ear when you become stressed ─ someone who understands the pressure of the job and the office.
7. Talk to Someone
A problem shared is a problem halved. if you have a good relationship with your boss or a co-worker, consider talking to them. If you aren’t comfortable doing so, then discuss your feelings with a family member or close friend. It might be difficult to begin the conversation, but once you get over the challenge of doing so, having a good listener on your side makes a real difference.
8. Sleep Better
We all know that sleep is important, but it is often overlooked in the workplace. It is estimated that over a third of people don’t get enough sleep during the week and this can have a negative impact on their mental health.
Almost half of Americans say they feel drowsy during the day, and more than a third get less than seven hours’ sleep each night. Go to bed earlier. Switch off your cellphone. Ignore Facebook after you get into bed. And sleep.
9. Keep a Stress Journal
A stress journal is a way to document and track your stress levels throughout the day. It’s a fantastic way to see how your stress levels change over time and identify patterns. By keeping a stress journal, you can track your activities and feelings at work, so that you can identify what causes you the most stress. This will help you prioritize your time and energy, as well as find ways to cope with the things that are stressing you out.
Are You in the Right Job?
Don’t neglect your mental wellbeing.
The workplace is becoming more demanding. It is common for people to work longer hours, take fewer breaks, and be constantly connected to the office. This can have a negative effect on mental health. The workplace can become an environment where employees feel stressed, overworked, and under-valued.
If this sounds like you, it may be time to review your situation. A new job could be the positive change you need.
Do you need to talk about your job?
Submit your resume to TECHEAD, and let’s get the ball rolling.