Mental Wellness In The Workplace
Working in an office, or a fast-paced environment can feel like a taxing experience. So much of the time we are surrounded by people, faced with deadlines, and the work itself can sometimes feel monotonous or demanding. Of course, not every job is perfect and a certain level of work-related stress is unavoidable, but too much pressure can have a negative impact on your mental wellness. Luckily, there are ways to stay happy and healthy so you can thrive at work — and none of them involve quitting your job!
There are various factors at work that may contribute to a high-stress level. These may include:
- Excessively high workload
- Poor support from management and colleagues
- Long hours with insufficient breaks
- Job insecurity
- Unrealistic targets or time pressures
Identifying what is causing your stress at work is the first step towards helping yourself combat it. The important thing to note is, any of these factors (or other work related stressors) can be improved and you have the power to change your circumstances in order to foster and maintain mental wellness in your workplace.
Be Open And Receptive To Help
Ever heard the saying “A problem shared is a problem halved”?If you're navigating through a difficult time at work, be open to receiving support if things feel overwhelming. Everybody needs a helping hand sometimes so try not to feel embarrassed. Your manager or colleagues will more than likely respond compassionately and want to understand where they can assist you. You may even find the problem results in a better outcome with more hands on deck. Take advantage of any opportunity available (an office meeting or lunch break) so that everyone can discuss the issue together and come up with solutions as a team.
Work demands can make us all feel overburdened at times, so if you’re feeling as though it’s taking a toll on your mental wellbeing, there’s absolute wisdom in asking for help. Talking with your manager to let him or her know the pressures you’re facing is important and you may be able to come up with a strategy together that will help.
If you find yourself struggling to prioritise work tasks, don’t be afraid to communicate with your manager or a colleague and request an extra pair of hands. There is no shame in saying, “I need some help with this project.”
Many people are hesitant to ask for help — they don't want others to think they're not capable at their job, or that they aren't confident enough in their abilities. But what tends to happen when someone doesn’t ask for help is that projects get delayed and work quality suffers. Asking for help is actually a positive thing for everyone involved; it allows employees who may not be able to do certain tasks themselves (due to workload) to take on smaller pieces of a project so as not to overwhelm themselves unnecessarily or burn out before deadlines arrive!
Take Time To Plan And Organise
Being disorganised can add to stress levels and reduce your productivity, which then inevitably leads to falling behind, making your workload seem even more unbearable (Xeinadin Group, 2020).
By taking a few minutes at the beginning of each morning to plan out your day, you're going to feel better. Take this time to organise your tasks to ensure you have everything prioritised before starting your first task. Not only is it important for your mental wellness to be organised in a work setting as it will help you feel more in control, but you’ll notice your stress levels and responses will be more balanced when additional or unexpected things pop up (like emails or notifications).
Organising your work deliverables can also make it easier for you to prioritise your tasks in order to focus on the most important jobs first. It may seem like allocating this time to organise your day would take too much time in itself but you’ll find that you’re setting yourself up for a successful day ahead. You’ll be more productive throughout the day as you hold yourself accountable to your set schedule and you’ll avoid the potential for making unnecessary errors (such as forgetting things or working on things twice). Don’t worry, we have all been there!
A great way to plan out your day is by listing all the things that need to be completed, separating them into different categories (eg projects vs emails vs meetings vs phone calls), and then working out when they should happen (eg ASAP/By Noon/By 5pm). This provides a visual representation of what needs attention and when, so there are no surprises when deadlines come around and you can rest assured knowing you are accomplishing each responsibility.
Get Regular Fresh Air And Exercise
In addition to eating well, sleeping enough and being mindful of your stress levels, it's important to get regular fresh air and exercise. Studies show that physical activity can lower stress levels in the body, improve mood and energy levels, boost self-confidence and even increase productivity at work (Mayo Clinic, 2022).
It's easy for those of us who sit behind a desk all day to forget how good it feels to stretch your legs after an extended period of sitting down. Getting up from your desk every hour or so will help keep your muscles limber and prevent stiffness or soreness later on in the day. If getting away from your desk isn't an option (or even if it is), try some simple exercises like stretching or sitting on an exercise ball rather than a chair to maintain movement.
Spending time in nature has also been proven to reduce levels of cortisol – the ‘stress hormone’ – as well as boosting your concentration, creative thinking skills, and reducing mental fatigue (Business Insider, 2016) - all of which contribute to mental wellness. Getting outside on your lunch break, even for a few minutes, will certainly refresh your mind and body for the work hours remaining in the day.
Stay Hydrated With H20
It has been suggested dehydration can lead to headaches, decreased concentration, and mind fog which can lead to reduced job productivity (Healthy You Vending, 2018). So, it goes without saying that it is important to stay hydrated in order to maintain optimum performance levels and keep your mind sharp by nourishing your brain and body.
According to The Wellbeing Group, these may be signs you are dehydrated.
- Feeling sleepy or fatigued
- Feeling thirsty or hungry
- Dry mouth
- Dark yellow or amber coloured urine
- Struggling to focus
- Feeling restless or irritable
As a general rule, men need about 10 cups of fluids every day and women need about 8 cups (Heath Direct, 2021). One way to reduce the potential for dehydration is to try to avoid sugary drinks such as soft drink or sweetened coffee (which can also lead to a spike in blood sugar levels followed by a crash shortly afterwards). Instead, opt for water or herbal tea; both are good sources of hydration that will keep you feeling alert and focused throughout the day without any nasty side effects.
Practise Mindfulness And Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation are two of the most important practices you can incorporate into your workday. Mindfulness is the art of being present in the moment. It's about being mindful of your thoughts and emotions, as well as what's going on around you. Meditation is a way to train your mind to focus on one thing for an extended period of time — typically 5-20 minutes — allowing you to achieve better self-awareness.
While there are many different types of meditation, most involve sitting or laying down (preferably in a quiet space) while using either mental imagery or focusing on your breath coming in and going out through your nose. Many choose to listen to guided meditations such as the ones found in our Empowerment Series or Thriving Minds as they are designed to help you develop awareness, relieve stress, and enter into a relaxed, meditative state with proper guidance.
By doing this regularly during the workday, you'll be able to manage stressful situations, switch off after work, and turn off distractions more easily when they arise. Further, this will help you maintain focus throughout the day by allowing for greater absorption into tasks at hand.
In the workplace, we often undervalue the importance of prioritising our mental wellness. And while it’s necessary to place importance on achieving big goals in our work lives, it’s vital to ensure we are equipping ourselves with the tools that foster mental wellness so that we can thrive at work, and in our personal lives.
Become the best version of you by starting our Empowerment Series today. Comprised of over 60+ empowerment practices using meditation, mindfulness, positive psychology, subliminal strategies, you can begin your wellness journey now. Get started today or try our mini series, completely FREE at iswara.life
Stress Management (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469)
14 Tips on Staying Hydrated At Work (https://thewellbeinggroup.co.uk/14-tips-on-staying-hydrated-at-work/)
4 Ways To Stay Hydrated At Work (https://www.healthyyouvending.com/4-ways-to-stay-hydrated-at-work-and-why-its-important/#:~:text=Proper%20hydration%20helps%20boost%20metabolism,thirsty%2C%20it's%20already%20too%20late.)
11 scientific reasons you should be spending more time outside
Drinking Water And Your Health (https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/drinking-water-and-your-health)