Mental health affects how you think, feel, and act. On the job, your mental health needs to be in good, solid shape. If you suspect your mental health has been taking a toll, there are ways to boost your mental energy. Here are 7 essential tips on how to improve your mental health at work.
The greatest factor affecting stable and satisfactory mental health is stress—both at work and at home. Whatever the cause, your experience of stress can negatively affect your employment, relationships, and physical health. In order to improve your outlook and consequent behavior, you’ll need to pinpoint your stressors.
Some factors that lead to stress on the job (at the job) are:
- Work overload (more work than your hours or skills can manage)
- Lack of training (feel unprepared, left unsupported)
- Lack of appreciation (no “thank you’s”, no bonus, perks, or raises)
- Poor physical environment (no air, no natural light, tight quarters)
- No autonomy (micromanaged, never get to make any decisions)
- Role ambiguity (unsure of responsibilities or chain of command)
Unfortunately, many workplaces do not understand the importance of employee mental heath. There are definite psychosocial risk factors that impact the health of an employee. If your company or organization ignores these factors and you want to keep your job (and stay sane), you’ll need to utilize personal stress management tools.
Some factors that lead to stress on the job (from external circumstances) are:
- Lack of available or affordable child care
- Relationship struggles
- Personal or family illness
- Lack of proper rest
Whatever is causing your stress, you will need to use some of the tips listed to help manage your mental health.
Improve Stress Management
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Decreasing your stress level is key. Here are 7 tips you can use to improve your mental health at work:
1) Take a walk. If you don’t have an official break, you can get up and walk around your desk or the office. Moving your body will help you get out of your mind. During your lunch break, try to get outdoors. According to Urban Greening Research at the University of Washington, adult office workers report less illness and more enthusiasm for their job when there’s opportunity for access to nature during the workday.
2) Improve communication skills. Using your clear words to express your feelings can help any situation. Discussing (in a calm manner) your needs and/or concerns can open a positive dialogue. The objective is to solve problems, relieve stress, and improve mental health. Certain suggestions to human resources could potentially affect positive change for you and your workplace. Be open about your struggles. Consider proposing solutions rather than just complaining.
3) Focus on something that lets your brain rest. Whatever your job, when done well, requires 100% of your attention. It’s an effort to attend to any task fully for long stretches of time. That’s one reason we become mentally exhausted. Take a couple of minutes to focus on something that requires no thought. For example, look at pleasant images—perhaps a painting, a flower, a picture of an animal, or a view out the window. Looking at images doesn’t require brain effort and allows our mind to rest.
4) Personalize your environment. Making your workspace a friendly place will boost your mental health. Placing photographs, your child’s drawings, or inspirational quotes nearby can help. Adding color is also uplifting. Indoor plants work wonders, adding a calming effect and more oxygen to your space. Just be mindful not to create clutter.
5) Zone in on the Inner You. When you’re at work and finding yourself too stressed out, you can always take a moment for some deep breaths. Shut your eyes and take long, full breaths. If you are adept at meditation, taking a few minutes to zone-in can instantly improve your mental state. Also, while taking time for “you,” consider “unplugging.” (Put your phone on mute, shut off your computer screen and allow the silence.)
6) Give yourself the gratitude talk. Find that spot in your being where you feel authentically grateful. Have a conversation with yourself. Remind yourself of all the things you’re thankful for. If you need help, some work reminders can be gratitude for: a) a paycheck; b) being able to help your children; c) a place to learn; d) a place to be around others; e) a feeling of usefulness, etc. A sense of gratitude leads to improved mental health.
7) Clean up your workspace. Clutter is stressful. You can justify it by saying you know where everything is, or, you don’t have time to clean up. The truth is, once you tidy up, even a little, you will feel a sense of relief. Mentally, organization will always trump chaos.