Your work and your mental health are intertwined aspects of your daily life. You may spend a large proportion of your time in work and your experiences there can be very important determining factors in your overall mental wellbeing. On the other hand, staying well and minding your mental health at work will in turn help improve your focus, concentration and overall work performance, and enjoyment.
Some tips for staying well at work
Reclaim your lunch break
Why not make the most of your breaks and allocate time away from your workspace. Get outside, make the most of fresh air and invite some colleagues to come along with you. Get some light exercise, enjoy the outdoors or organise a special group activity. This will help you get re-energised for the rest of your working day.
Participating as part of a team can give a communal sense of achievement, especially when you complete a particular challenge. Some workplaces have clubs or societies that you could become involved with. Others encourage team events such as fun runs or park walks. If there are none available in your workplace, why not take the lead and set one up?
Find some calmness
If feeling stressed, listening to a calming song on your earphones, can take your mind off work for a few minutes and help you unwind and refocus. Research has found slow, quiet music can encourage relaxation and reduce anxiety. Music can also help eliminate distractions around you. By blocking out the noise of your fellow workers, machinery or bleeping phones you can focus easier on the task at hand.
The journey home from work provides some people with a window of opportunity- to read a book, listen to music or just to have some time for themselves. Try using little actions like these to find stillness or tranquility after a busy day, and to switch off from work.
Work better, not longer
Getting the right work-life balance is an effective way of avoiding stress at work. At busier times, you may need to work longer or harder than normal, but try to make this the exception rather than the rule. Working long hours will quickly take a toll on your energy, concentration, productiveness and health.
It is also important to create clear boundaries between work and home. Try not to let work spill over into your personal life. If you need to bring work home, designate a separate area for work and stick to it - you’ll find it much easier to then close the door on work.
Ask for help
If you feel your workload is spiralling out of control or that your work-life balance isn’t working, find an opportunity to talk with a colleague, your manager, supervisor or personnel/HR department. In advance, make some notes of how you feel and what particular aspects of your work have been causing you concern.
Recent research indicates that almost 40% of Irish people would deliberately conceal a mental health problem at work, for fear it would have a negative impact on their career prospects or relationships with colleagues. Employers and managers who put in place initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who have mental health problems, see gains not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity at work.
- Read more on The Journal.ie on eight simple changes you can make to your working day, that will help boost your mental health.
- Read more on SeeChange in the Workplace, free workplace programmes available to support employers and employees in creating open cultures to protect mental health.