Mental health is a real epidemic in the workplace.
In fact, 1 in 6.8 people experiences it at some point, equating to 12.7% of all sickness absence days.
The problem is, when undiagnosed and untreated, mental health problems can lead to unemployment and poor productivity.
There are a number of reasons you may suffer from mental health-related issues at work, including:
- High expectations of the job you’re in and of your own career goals
- A poor relationship with colleagues and managers
- Job insecurity and ongoing concerns over your performance
- Not getting any recognition for your effort
- Too much work on and failing to notice the symptoms of poor mental health
If you’re noticing some of the warning signs of declining mental health, you need to take action before the problem worsens. To give you an idea on how to improve your mental health, here are a few top tips.
Talk to a colleague
One of the easier ways to tell someone about your mental health is to confide in a close colleague. Communication and interpersonal relationships will help you feel less like you’re alone.
Reaching out to a friend at work isn’t a weakness, it’s an act of bravery. Sometimes venting and sharing your frustrations will help free up your mind and make you feel a lot better.
Don’t be surprised if your colleague is suffering from the same issues, as a lot of people mistakenly bottle up their feelings.
Keeping active and doing exercise releases feel-good endorphins, which makes you feel happier. Get up early in the morning and go for a run.
Or if you’re not an early bird, organising yoga and other lunchtime exercise groups is a brilliant alternative. Your employer will probably like this idea, as it promotes wellbeing, boosts teamwork and can act as a perk of the job.
It’s a win, win for both parties.
Limit your alcohol
While an odd beer or glass of wine is always nice, don’t overdo it. Alcohol can impact your mood and increase anxiety.
Instead of choosing an alcoholic beverage at a work party, try something soft. If it’s the taste you like, fruit-based cocktails, non-alcoholic beer or even drinking tonic without the gin are clever ways of enjoying a similar taste.
Take a break
When you feel stress, anxiety or anger coming on, leave the area you’re in and take a break. Whether this involves you making a brew or just stepping outside for a breath of fresh air, do what works for you.
The UK law states that workers have the right to have an uninterrupted rest break of 20-minutes during the day if you work 6 hours or more a day.
If you’re stuck in front of a screen all day, it’s recommended to take a 10-minute break away from your screen every hour.
Make positive habits
Adopting daily habits of activities and particular tasks can help give your day more structure. By simply watering the plants in your office or making a cup of coffee at the same time of the day, your mind can become familiar and comfortable with your routine.
If you want to challenge your mind, doing a crossword or Sudoku puzzle on your commute to work is another top option for you to consider.
Interestingly, helping your colleagues complete a project can help with mental health illness. Your brain benefits from the satisfaction of helping others and will give you a feeling of self-worth.
It doesn’t even have to be work-related. Just paying a colleague a compliment can make their day and bring a smile to their face.
Trust me, you’ll feel better for it.
Speak to your manager
Telling your employer about your mental health issue isn’t the end of the world. They can’t fire you and they shouldn’t make things hard for you.
- How and when you’re going to do it – having a note from a doctor will make explaining your situation easier and doing it during a quiet period of the day is better than early in the morning and later in the evening.
- How much information you want to share – if you don’t feel comfortable sharing all of the personal details, you don’t have to. Focus on how your mental health impacts your job instead.
- Who you should tell – telling a representative from HR and your manager doesn’t mean your colleagues or other people in the business need to know your situation. They can give you the support in confidence.
If you need any further guidance on your rights within the workplace, it might be worth checking out this handy guide by Mind.
The main thing to remember about mental health at work is to speak out. It’s a topic that’s being addressed on a daily basis by businesses from all over the world.
So, you really aren’t alone.
Share your feelings with a close colleague and the right manager, they might just help you reduce the symptoms and get you heading in the right direction.
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