A lot of workplace wellness tips focus on the importance of physical health, and while that’s undeniably crucial, taking care of your mental health is just as important. There are many work-related factors that may contribute to mental health issues among employees. These may include:
A heavy workload
Poor support from management and colleagues
Long hours with insufficient breaks
Workplace discrimination or bullying
Unrealistic targets or deadlines
Issues with coworkers
Dissatisfying or mundane tasks
With all of these potential factors in the mix, it’s not hard to see why work is a source of stress for many people. In fact, one in four Americans say work is a major source of anxiety. So, what can you do to reduce the impact of workplace stress? Here are five tips for staying mentally healthy at work.
1. Take regular breaks for fresh air and movement
For many people, sitting at a desk in front of a computer for hours at a time is part of the job. Studies show that sitting for longer than six hours a day at work not only carries a physical toll, but may also increase the risk of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
To counter these effects, take regular breaks to get up, step outside, and take a lap around the building or do a few stretches. Use part of your lunch break to take a walk or do some type of physical movement, preferably outdoors. Physically getting away from your workspace and breathing in the fresh air, even if it’s just for ten minutes, can give you a mental break, soothe your nerves, and refresh your body and mind.
2. Take time to plan and organize
Is your work desk covered with Post-It notes, assignments, days-old wrappers, or papers that you need to file? Being disorganized can add to stress levels, which can make your workload seem even more overwhelming. Studies show that the more clutter you can see, the more easily you’ll find yourself distracted and overwhelmed. That’s why it’s important to take a few minutes each morning to organize your workspace and plan out your work for the day. Use this time to file papers, dispose of notes and other things you don’t need anymore, declutter your workspace, and make a prioritized to-do list for the day.
3. Eat healthy and stay hydrated
While it can be tempting to grab quick, unhealthy snacks and fast foods when you’re busy at work, this is not beneficial for your physical or mental health. Caffeine, sugar, and junky foods may provide a temporary boost of energy, but this quickly wears off, leading to a “crash” that can make you feel tired and on edge. Instead, aim to keep your blood sugar balanced by eating slow-release carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole grain bread, and fresh fruit and veggies.
Oh, and don’t forget water! There’s evidence that dehydration can increase anxiety and stress levels. Taking a quick trip to the kitchen for a healthy snack or glass of water is a great excuse to stretch your legs and get away from your desk for a few minutes.
4. Practice meditation
If you think meditation is New-Age nonsense, think again. Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve memory, focus, and decision-making skills. You don’t need to spend hours meditating to benefit, either. Practicing for just a few minutes a day at home, at your desk, or while on a break can make a big difference. Apps such as Calm and Headspace can help get you started.
5. Ask for help if you need it
If you have too much on your plate, there’s no shame in asking for help. Talk with your manager and let him know that your workload is becoming unmanageable. Hopefully, you can come up with a strategy together to reduce your workload to a more manageable level.
If you need help coping more effectively with work stress, don’t hesitate to reach out to the SoundMind Wellness team for guidance and support. We’re here for you and happy to help.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of mental healthcare, wellness and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional mental health advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for a relationship with a licensed mental health practitioner. Always seek the advice of your therapist, physician or other licensed mental health professional with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional mental health advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.