The office can exacerbate any issues that individuals are struggling with. This article contains five ways that we can all improve our mental health at work.
Being at work is a major part of our lives. We all feel pressure in our jobs which can lead to stress that can subsequently stay with us when we’ve left the office. There is no prescription cure to resolve stress and other issues such as work related anxiety, but there are a few steps we can all take to improve our mental health at work.
As the old saying goes ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. In many instances, opening up about your feelings is no longer considered a sign of weakness, in fact quite the opposite - by confronting your issues many people will consider you as strong for taking steps to gain control of your mental wellbeing.
In the workplace it has generally been the case that an individual keeps their problems close to their chest. Attitudes are changing and it is relatively common nowadays for employers to encourage their workforce to open up by offering support via dedicated mental health initiatives. If your organisation doesn’t have arranged sessions and you don’t have any colleagues that you feel comfortable talking to, speak to your manager or someone in HR - it can really help.
By no means does this mean you should be training for hours every day and signing up to next year’s Marathon (although if you want to, go for it!). The most important part of this is engaging in some form of enjoyable physical activity that you can do on a daily basis.
If you don’t have time to exercise before or after work, use your lunch break to get out and about for a walk - the fresh air alone can reinvigorate your mental wellbeing. Once you get into a consistent routine, you will start to notice an improvement in your mood and your performance at work as a result.
The links between what you eat and drink to both long term and short term physical wellbeing are obvious, but there is also a strong correlation between your diet and your mental health. It can be tricky to sustain a healthy meal routine at work - the thought of pre-preparing lunches for the week makes many people shudder but it’s a great habit to get into (and you’ll probably save a lot of money). If you can’t quite stretch to making your own lunch every day, try and go for something healthy when buying from a shop or restaurant - be adventurous and try different things, it may change your diet forever!
Avoid sugary snacks. Whilst they may give you a short energy boost, the inevitable low that follows will worsen your mood. Try and keep a ready supply of healthy snack items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts or trail mix.
Not to sound too much like the lifestyle police, but we all know that drinking alcohol can affect us well beyond the merriment of consumption. If you struggle the day after a few drinks, try to avoid going out often during the week - we all want to be on top form in the office. Everything in moderation is the key here!
As mentioned before, we spend a lot of time at our place of work and therefore many hours during the week with our colleagues. Relationships are integral to our wellbeing, so ensuring you are part of a cohesive and supportive team is crucial for stable mental health at work.
Work politics can be challenging and it is likely that you won’t get on swimmingly with every single colleague, manager or client. But this said, it reflects incredibly well on you as a person if you are seen to be making a conscious effort with all of your peers. If you don’t branch out, it will be harder to speak to someone if you ever need help.
Top tip: Find a mentor in the office who you can confide in and discuss your feelings about work with.
This leads on directly from the previous point about investing in workplace relationships - regardless of your role or seniority, being there for your colleagues can be incredibly fulfilling. Helping others gives a feeling of being needed and valued. Not only will you be improving your relationships and helping others, but it will also do a world of good for your own mental wellbeing. You don’t have to be the dedicated office counsellor, but other people will really appreciate a willing pair of ears who will respect their privacy.
It’s not going to automatically turn you into the happiest person in the office, but if you consider the five points above, it will positively influence your mental health at work. Attitudes are changing towards being emotionally open in the workplace - talking about our issues is so important to overcoming them.
If you have any concerns about your mental health wellbeing, it is important that you speak to someone as soon as possible. There is help out there, look at some of the services available to everyone by clicking here.