Maintaining Mental Health at Work
“Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there should be no distraction.” – Michelle Obama
“Mental health” seems like a trend recently and for good reason, it factors into every aspect of our lives from work to personal relationships and the relationship we have with ourselves. With different circumstances and factors that change throughout our life, it can be a challenge to maintain good mental health habits.
1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England and 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England. Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide and are the major contributors to suicides, heart disease, and disabilities.
A study by Mind cited that work was the biggest cause of stress, in fact for one in three Brits.
So with that in mind, how can we manage our mental health at work?
Causes of Poor Mental Health
We’re seeing more focus on employees mental health from companies which is fantastic, however, there’s still a way to go. Some workplaces can harm your mental health rather than help. Reasons such as workplace bullying, unrealistic expectations, and poor workplace habits affect your productivity and state of being.
Unhealthy workplaces bring people down instead of increasing staff satisfaction that can lead to exhaustion, low self-esteem, and depression.
“Burnout??” I hear your cry, “But we’ve only recently come out of lockdown?” Well, lockdown burnout, or sometimes called pandemic burnout, is also a real thing. Usually defined as ‘resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’.
Psychologists are reporting a rise in pandemic burnout as many people found the current phase of lockdowns harder, with an increasing number feeling worn out and unable to cope.
60% of people in the UK are finding it harder to stay positive daily and many don’t find a way to channel the anxiety and stress caused by a very uncertain and difficult period in our lifetime.
If not handled it can lead to taking more time off later down the line, but there are multiple ways you can combat the effects of burnout which we will come to shortly!
Sleep is a powerful stress reducer that calms, restores, and heals the mind and body from the days tasks. Which is why if you’re burning the candle from both ends, your body won’t get the opportunity to reset. Sleep regulates your mood, concentration and sharpens your decision-making and judgement.
Research states lack of sleep renders you more emotionally reactive, more impulsive, and more sensitive to negative stimuli which in turn can give rise to stress in all aspects of life, from creating difficulty in relationships to causing problems with job performance.
Get Out In Nature
One of the biggest advocates from The Mental Health Foundation states more than 4 in 10 people state being close to nature makes them less anxious and two-thirds of people said being in nature made them feel more positive emotions. Nature can’t help all our problems but can really put things into perspective and give us space to breathe and think clearly.
Whether it’s spending time in a park during your break, having a little plant on your office desk, or just soaking up some sun after work, research cites people who are more connected with nature are usually happier in life and more likely to report feeling their lives are worthwhile.
Adjust Work Load
It’s sometimes hard to master the art of saying “no” when it comes to work and typically people get swamped under a gigantic work load. Adjusting your workload or hours can help you monitor the signs for burnout and ease you into a routine if you’re already feeling sapped of energy. If you have a workplace that is supportive, make sure to you talk to your employer about needed to ease off your hours until you feel ready, a good workplace should always factor the welfare of their staff.
We understand the importance of a job, it can provide a purpose to part of your life, but sometimes it can become all consuming and take up the majority of your time as override other aspects of your life. No doubt, there is praise to be earned for a strong work ethic; however, expecting too much of yourself and employers expecting too much from you will leave you discouraged and overwhelmed. Chasing perfectionism, whilst noble, will do you know favours in the long run.
Remember, your job does not define you. If you look after yourself better results and outcomes will follow in your work. Mistakes are more likely to follow if you are already in a negative headspace and in turn, will send you down into a spiral. Make a life for yourself whilst you make a living.