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 employees mental health, it’s also detrimental to organisational culture.
Different work pressures affect people in different ways, but it is possible to reduce stress in the workplace. With help from the Mental Health Foundation, 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 make some time for you. On my morning commute, I actively avoid looking at my phone and enjoy getting lost in a good book!
Also 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 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 meditate.
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 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 in 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.
With today being World Mental Health Day, it’s a better time than any to promote mental health in the workplace. With the 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!
The Mental Health Foundation is the UK’s leading mental health research charity, championing good mental health for all. In order to support their invaluable work, donate here.