Easy ways to protect your mental health at work

Mental health is the way we think and feel and our ability to deal with ups and downs. Mental health is something we all have. When we enjoy good mental health, we have a sense of purpose and direction, the energy to do the things we want to do, and the ability to deal with the challenges that happen in our lives. When we think about our physical health, there’s a place for keeping ourselves fit, and a place for getting appropriate help as early as possible so we can get better. Mental health is just the same. Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand and there is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive.

Even at a job you absolutely love, the pressure to perform at your highest level while balancing personal and home life can be extremely stressful. Oftentimes, the impact that a demanding week has on our mental health is swept under the rug. However, work can seriously and negatively affect your mental health if you aren’t able to recognize the signs and symptoms of overwhelming stress. Being aware of the signs of work stress and anxiety and then devising ways to combat these feelings can help you can thrive — both mentally and physically.

Creating a workplace that promotes mental health and wellness is imperative for both employers and employees. A healthy workplace is one where everyone actively contributes to a positive environment by promoting and protecting safety and well-being.

Here are some strategies to promote mental health at your office for being a better you:-

Practice mindfulness:
Recognize the signs of stress or anxiety building up. Relieve them by practicing yoga, for example, which can often ease depression and anxiety.
It’s no surprise that a balanced nutrition can be a mood booster. Avoid foods high in sugar that can lead to an afternoon crash.

Take a walk:
If you have a standard lunch hour or afternoon break, set aside that time to get outside. 15 minutes of sun and light exercise can help you clear your mind.

Get the full 8 hours:
The most stressful work days often follow nights of restlessness. Lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on your productivity at work (in addition to negative impacts on your physical health). To ensure you’re working to your full potential, make sure sleep is a priority. 

Focus on Relationships:
Dedicate time to building a positive relationship with your supervisor, as well as with direct reports and peers. Healthy relationships will allow you to share your thoughts and feelings more easily with those around you.

Take breaks:
Incorporating regular breaks into your day can help you manage stress levels by enabling you to refocus and get a new perspective when returning to a task.

Make wellness a priority:
Exercise, healthy eating, and participation in leisure activities are a few simple ways to build mental strength and improve mental health.

Calm down your commute:
Whether it’s because of ridiculous traffic or delayed public transport, getting to work can often be quite stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. Often there’s no avoiding a commute, so make the time yours by listening to a playlist of your favourite songs, a podcast that inspires you, or reading a book you love. Use the time to prepare yourself for the day ahead or unwind as you travel home.

Do something you’re good at:
Concentrating on a hobby, like gardening or doing crosswords, can help you forget your worries for a while and can change your mood. Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem.

Accept who you are, Value yourself:
Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. 
We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn. Be proud of who you are. Recognise and accept the things you may not be good at, but also focus on what you can do well. 

Care for others: Give yourself:
Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it’s a great way to meet new people. Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. Working life can provide opportunities to care for others – contributing through vocational jobs like nursing or care work can be hugely significant for mental health. In most jobs, you can choose to be there for colleagues – either as a team-mate, or as a line manager, when strategies like coaching and training are good ways to support others.

Take full advantage of your lunch breaks:
Instead of eating at your desk while you work, always remind yourself that your lunch break is YOURS. It’s your time to step outside of the office and take a walk, drive to the mall and get yourself a smoothie or just sit outside in the sun and eat your lunch in peace. Taking some time away from your work desk and computer can be a great way to re-energise and burn off some of the stresses from the first half of the day.

 Surround yourself with good people:
People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans with supportive family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as a club, class or support group.

Set realistic goals:
Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals. Aim high, but be realistic and don’t over-schedule. You’ll enjoy a tremendous sense of accomplishment and self-worth as you progress toward your goal

Break up the monotony:
Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule. Alter your jogging route, plan a road-trip, take a walk in a different park, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant.

Learn how to deal with stress:
Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills: Try One-Minute Stress Strategies, do yoga, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journal writing as a stress reducer. Also, remember to smile and see the humour in life. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress.

When you can effectively and holistically create a thriving workplace for yourself, seeing you your colleagues will also be motivated to have a healthier workplace. You can also look forward to productivity, engagement, profitability and many other benefits which helps you to grow more.

Written by Shwetha Bharadwaj

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