10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health at Work

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So much of your day is spent AT WORK!

Taking a look at how you prioritize your mental well-being while you are there can increase your productivity, your mood, your energy AND sense of purpose. It can also improve the connection you have with your coworkers and make work a place you look forward to going to every day!

We compiled ten ideas and suggestions to help you towards achieving and maintaining good mental health.

1. Sloooooow down

Rushing from place to place, Zoom to Zoom, or task to task can spur stress and exhaust you mentally throughout the day. SLOW DOWN! Even just a five minute breather in between things where you close your eyes, close the tabs on your computer to close out the project you were just working on, or close your door for a little “me time” before you change gears can make all the difference. There’s always five minutes to claim as your own - be firm about it! Slowing down has all sorts of benefits – it can help us lower our blood pressure, enhance cognitive functions and restore emotional equilibrium. 

2. Talk about your feelings

You may think this might be hard to do at work, but talking about your feelings can help you maintain your mental health and deal with times when you’re struggling. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s part of taking charge of your well-being and doing what you can to stay healthy. If you have colleagues you can talk to, or a manager who asks how you are at supervision sessions, it can really help. You could identify someone you feel comfortable with and who will be supportive… and be there for them as well to make the relationship reciprocal!

3. Give your workspace a facelift

Refreshing the things that surround you in the space you are in for 8+ hours a day gives you a great boost! Take everything off your desk or cubicle, give it a good cleaning and purposely place things back in that bring you joy, spark nostalgia or even that remind you what you are working so hard for – photos of family, pets, vacation are great! Having files and piles organized and your desk orderly will absolutely help you mentally and get your ready to work creatively and productively! 

4. Feel the negative 

Studies that suggest “feeling okay about feeling bad” benefits mental health. Accepting negative emotional experiences, rather than judging them, can lead to fewer harmful emotions when confronted with daily stressors. Have a tough meeting? A rough review? Conflict? Take the time to FEEL that, regroup, reflect on what you learned from it and use that to move forward.

5. Away with weaknesses! Switch the focus to your strengths…

Because most of us view our weaknesses as something we can work on or change, we tend to focus on improving these traits and skills. Numerous studies show that people grow faster when they work on developing their strengths rather than improving their weaknesses. They’re also often happier, more confident and less stressed when they use their strengths.

6. Get involved!

If there are company wide events, employee committees or event a casual department get together, consider joining in! Aside from the many benefits that socialization and connection can bring, you never know where a conversation could take you. Find something in common, discover new friendships, increase your understanding of others or even develop or new skill…. just by taking part in something!

7. Set realistic targets 

Goals do more than define our success and failure – they give us reason to celebrate our wins. It’s inevitable that we aren’t going to hit every target we aim for and that’s completely okay. Goals should stretch us, but should also be achievable, so be realistic when you set them so you (and those working alongside you) don’t feel like you’re failing all the time. Then find moments to celebrate when you do hit your goals!

8. Do things for others 

People who consistently help others experience greater calm, fewer pains, better health and less depression. Being purposeful in doing things for others promotes listening to hear their likes and needs, and it is very fulfilling to help or surprise them with a small gesture! One study found that students who completed five acts of kindness per day significantly improved their levels of happiness. 

9. Keep active

Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better. Exercising doesn’t just mean doing sport or going to the gym. Experts say that most people should do about 30 minutes’ exercise at least five days a week. Try to make physical activity that you enjoy a part of your day. 

You may have a physical job like construction or teaching – you’ll notice if you are out of  work because of injury or physical illness how quickly your mood starts to be affected by the change in activity level. If you work in an office, it can make a huge difference to get out for a walk or do a class at lunchtime, or to build in exercise before or after work to ease you into the day or create a space between work time and personal time.

10. Eat well

What we eat can affect how we feel both immediately and in the longer term. A diet that is good for your physical health is also good for your mental health! Regular meals, plus plenty of water, are ideal. It can be hard to keep up a healthy pattern of eating at work but try and plan the best you can, including bringing food from home or choosing healthy options when buying lunch. 

Also, try and get away from your desk to eat - a change of scenery and an escape from your computer screen can make a big impact, especially if you can get outside!

How about trying a lunch club at work? Rotate and share meals to try new things. For busy times, or times when you are feeling low or stressed, try reducing or giving up caffeine and refined sugar. 

Bonus tip: LAUGH!

Though it can be hard to lighten up during difficult circumstances, the benefits are no joke. The Mayo Clinic reveals data that suggests laughing stimulates organs like the heart, lungs and muscles while it leads the brain to release more endorphins. Laughing and positive thoughts can also improve the body’s immune system over time and help control pain by causing the body to release its own natural painkillers. Break up the day and share a joke with coworkers or watch something funny at lunchtime. It would make a big difference!

Each person has their own unique personality, strengths, weaknesses and circumstances that will affect what they need at any given time. Understanding that is critical for employers who seek to empower their workers to be their best selves.

Remember, mental health is something we ALL have and having good mental health is something we can strive for, even at work! 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.