The main contributor for mental illness in the workplace is something we have all suffered from time to time.
It appears when you’re up to your eyeballs in tasks and that all important deadline is hanging over your head.
It’s there when your overwhelming to-do list just keeps getting longer and longer without ever being able to cross tasks off, and it rears its head with the inevitable fear of making mistakes in a new role.
You guessed it, STRESS!
Mental health is the number one cause for sickness absence at work and one fifth of workers believe that ‘powering through’ stress is part of organisational culture. Pushing aside and ignoring stress on a regular basis is not only bad for employee’s mental health, it’s also detrimental to organisational culture.
According to Linkedin stats, the biggest drivers for workplace stress are;
Work-life balance/workload - 70%
Confidence in job future - 64%
Sense of purpose / direction - 64%
Colleagues/work politics - 63%
Access to tools to do your job - 62%
Different work pressures affect people in different ways, but it is possible to reduce stress in the workplace. With help from the Mental Health Organisation, there are some handy tips to not only help you avoid stress in the workplace but make sure you take care of your mental health at work.
Top tips to reduce stress and help support your mental health at work include;
Eat and drink well
When we’re feeling low, run down and stressed out its very easy to turn to caffeine, junk food and alcohol and all those unhealthy things that we think make us feel better. Try and resist and instead opt for healthy, nutritious meals at regular times in the day alongside upping the amount of water you drink.
We’re all guilty of eating our lunch at our desk or grabbing a sandwich on the go when we’re busy but try and avoid doing so! Physical health makes a big impact on your mental health.
Take regular breaks
28% of us feel less productive at work because of stress, and an effective way of increasing your productivity is taking a step back from what you are working on and taking regular breaks throughout the day.
From your morning commute to your usual breaks in the working day, take advantage of all of them and do something different. Use these times in the day to take some time for you. On my morning commute, I actively avoid looking at my phone and enjoy getting lost in a good book! However, if you're working remotely from home, as most of us now are! It can be hard to separate work from home life; there are some great tips for how to achieve a good work-life balance while working from home here.
Top Tip: be sure to plan and use your holidays and always make time to recover if you’re unwell.
Sleep is the holy grail
We all have different sleeping patterns, be you a night owl or an early bird sleep is SO vital to your not only your physical but mental health too. 32% percent of us find ourselves thinking about work in our personal time, and often this can be the cause of disrupted sleep. If you feel you’re not getting enough shut eye or find it hard to drift off, avoid thinking about work before you hit the pillow. Before bed, get lost in a good book, take a long relaxing bath or mediate.
I will openly admit that I’m guilty of not exercising enough, creating excuses of ‘not enough time’ or ‘I don’t have enough energy’ but making time for some exercise in your day is a great way to improve your mental health. You don’t have to run a 5k mile or sign up to your local gym, a short walk around the block or in the local park can really help lower stress levels.
Keep in touch
A quarter of us compromise our health to get work done, but that also means we even compromise our relationships (16%). It can be hard work maintaining friendships and keeping in touch with family when you’re busy and constantly on the go which is why keeping a work-life balance is vital. Relationships are KEY to our mental health and sacrificing them and having a poor work-life balance has even shown to be as detrimental to our health as smoking or obesity!
So, make sure you take some time to call your mum/dad/sibling/best mate once and a while!
Always ask for help
We’re not perfect and we’re certainly not superhuman! Everyone gets tired and overwhelmed with work at some point and there is no shame in asking for help. Speak to a work colleague that you are close to and trust. Your employer will also have services available or for help outside of work your local GP is always there to suggest and offer help in various ways.
Stress in recruitment
Working in recruitment can be great, but it can also be extremely stressful.
Life as a recruiter comes with its ups and downs, one minute you’re celebrating accepted offers and placements, the next day you’re dealing with interview no-shows and counteroffers.
With Eligo consultants having to deal with these pressures on a daily basis, we asked them how they relax, let go and unwind after a particularly stressful day.
For years I never used to take a break but as a weathered recruiter I have learned how valuable taking a break is. I often go for wellbeing walks on my lunch break – here in Birmingham I have been all over exploring the city, the canal being my favourite place to go at the moment. In London I used to find the nearest park to the office and head in that direction and just walk and breathe, I once found myself just enjoying the fallen leaves and the snap in the air cringey as it sounds. I used to encourage my team to get away from their desks too because it does help. Also if I’m enjoying a good book I find a good spot at lunchtime and get involved for half an hour indoors or out.
Spending time with my wife and Girls is what helps my stress levels. I get home and my wife and I do the CBeebies bedtime song with the girls, we then have cuddle time followed by story time and put them to bed and that relaxes me.
Lying on a lounger in the sun helps me feel less stressed generally, but sadly that’s not always possible! After a a long stressful day in the winter months I like to have a soak in a bath with lavender oil and some nice skin soothing bath products then light some scented tea lights and sit down to watch an episode of the latest good Netflix or TV drama I’m following. In the Summer I find daily watering of pots of plants I’ve planted strangely calming and just love looking at them too! Year round I also find putting together some great Spotify playlists and playing them out loud is really good.
Failing all that…. wine is often the solution but sadly never the answer!
Would it be really bad if I said, “drinking wine”? Just joking – to de-stress I usually go for a run by the river, with no music, and that really helps to clear my head.
For me it can be a few things that help me destress; a good gym session, taking my dog on a walk to get some time in the fresh air to think things through, spending time with my kids and re-assessing the values of life.
I like to go for a walk outdoors to relax and I also find keeping hydrated and drinking lots of water helps me focus.
I enjoy playing football and it really helps me unwind. When I’m particularly stressed, I try to take control of the situation (if possible) and manage/prioritise my time and workload accordingly.
A good gym session or exercise class really helps to significantly lower my stress levels.
Usually, if I feel really stressed, I write down on post-it notes all my worries and tasks to do and I order them in terms of importance or ‘silliness’. It helps me organise my feelings and workload. Also, I love walking in nature to relax and to reconnect with the environment.
If I'm having a bad day, belting my heart out to the office playlist is always a good laugh!
A quick walk outside tremendously helps, especially if there is a park around- green relaxes my eyes and recharges me with energy.
With April being Stress Awareness Month it’s a better time than any to promote mental health in the workplace. And with news that the economic and social cost of mental health problems in the UK amounts to more than £100bn every year and with around 70m work days lost due to sickness absence, companies can’t afford to ignore mental health issues in the workplace!