How to Maintain Good Mental Health at Work
Work can cause high stress levels, and the recent pandemic only exacerbated this problem. The American Psychological Association found 67% of surveyed Americans faced heightened stress in 2020. As life shifts and Americans begin a new normal, chronic stress still lingers. Today, I’ll share eleven tips for maintaining your mental health at work—and in general.
1. Develop Boundaries
When work bleeds into home life, it creates imbalance and tension. Create healthy boundaries like detoxing from your work email after hours. Once you clock out and leave the office—whether it be a room in your home or a cubicle—let that be the end of the workday.
2. Get Enough Exercise
Exercising releases endorphins—a feel-good chemical our body creates to reduce stress and increase pleasure. Endorphins enhance your mood and increase your overall well-being. Experts suggest 30 minutes of exercise per day.
3. Eat Well
Your diet affects both your mental and physical health. You should eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats while cutting out sugary and processed foods. During work, it’s tempting to grab a quick snack from the vending machine or a fast food meal. Don’t do it! Plan ahead and pack healthy snacks like almonds, apples, and carrot sticks.
4. Nurture Relationships
Humans need social relationships; we thrive from interactions with others. Maintaining healthy relationships with coworkers, friends, and family can help you cope with work stress.
5. Lower Blue Light Exposure
Americans love television, video games, and other online activities. However, blue light from screens can harm your eyes and cause mood swings. These problems became especially pronounced when working from home. If you’re on your screen all day, make sure you look away from the screen every twenty minutes at an object twenty feet away for twenty seconds (the 20-20-20 rule) and detox from blue light once the workday is over.
6. Get Outside
Fresh air does wonders for mental health. A quick walk through your neighborhood or a stroll through a local park may be exactly what you need during a stressful workday.
7. Think Positively
Positivity decreases stress while increasing your lifespan. During stressful times, you may find yourself frequently resorting to negativity. However, negativity only exacerbates chronic stress—which, in turn, affects your mental and physical health. When you experience negative thoughts, try counting your blessings or looking for silver linings.
8. Take Breaks
Everyone needs time to reset their mind and recharge. Make the most of your lunch breaks and consider taking ten minutes throughout the day to quiet your mind.
9. Request Help
When projects and deadlines become overwhelming, ask for help from coworkers and managers. No one should operate alone. If you’re struggling, it isn’t productive to continue slogging along, stubbornly isolating yourself. Companies have multiple employees for a reason—to support one another and ensure a smooth working day.
10. Don’t Suppress Your Feelings
Suppression is the most common—and the most ineffective—way to deal with stress. Don’t tamp down your feelings. Call a loved one during your break or after hours and discuss what’s bothering you. If you don’t have access to friends or family, consider appointments with a therapist.
11. Find a New Job
Sometimes, your work environment may be toxic, or you might find yourself trapped in a stifling career. When coping techniques aren’t working, examine your current position and determine if a change is necessary.
Final Thoughts on Mental Health and the Workplace
Work is a necessary—and often stressful—part of life. Luckily, you can combat work stress by maintaining healthy habits. However, sometimes you may need to remove yourself from a toxic work environment or pivot careers to alleviate chronic stress. If this is the case for you, book a call with a career expert Robert Braathe today and find your dream job!