It's mental health awareness week. As the conversation surrounding mental health grows, the stigma reduces - that's not to say there's a quick fix, but it does mean we're hearing more stories, personal experiences and advice on how we can navigate this (sometimes) scary world.
One of the most important pieces of advice I can give is that it's okay to take a mental health break. What do I mean by this? Well, if you're feeling overwhelmed, anxious, stressed or just plain exhausted, it's okay to take some time out for yourself. If you just need a break, that's perfectly normal. In this blog post, we will explore some tips for strengthening your mental health at work.
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There is no health without mental health - World Health Organisation
Understanding Mental Health
The World Health Organization defines mental health as follows:
"Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community."
When it comes to mental health and wellbeing at work, it's important to first recognise and understand the different aspects that can affect it. In general, mental health refers to our emotional and psychological well-being, while wellbeing encompasses our physical, social, spiritual and occupational states.
There are many things that can affect our mental health. Poor physical health can lead to a person developing mental health problems. and poor mental health can have a negative impact on our physical health and wellbeing.
Good mental health is essentially about your behaviour - what you do. Good mental health is when you care about yourself and you care for yourself. You love yourself, not hate yourself. You look after your physical health – eat well, sleep well, exercise and enjoy yourself.
You see yourself as being a valuable person in your own right. You don't have to earn the right to exist. You exist, so you have the right to exist.
You judge yourself on reasonable standards. You don't set yourself impossible goals, such as 'I have to be perfect in everything I do', and then punish yourself when you don't reach those goals. In other words, good mental health and well-being is a state of being where an individual realizes their own potential and is able to cope with the stresses of life and work.
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How Work Impacts Our Mental Health
While it's important to recognise and understand the different aspects that can affect our mental health, it's equally important to understand how work can impact our mental health. In general, work can be a major source of stress, anxiety, burnout or possible trauma and can have a negative impact on our mental health and wellbeing.
There are many things at work that can cause stress, such as unrealistic deadlines, heavy workloads, job insecurity, office politics, conflict with colleagues or clients, and the list goes on. If you feel stressed by a certain problem at work, you might not be alone in this. Many of us may experience these common stressful situations in the workplace. The important thing is understanding how to manage them.
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10 Tips to Strengthen Your Mental Health at Work
There are a few things that you can do to help strengthen your mental health at work. These can be simple behavioural changes that you can implement in your day to day life. Learning how to care for yourself and manage the symptoms of many mental health problems is an ongoing journey. Firstly, make sure you take some time for yourself every day. This can be something as simple as taking a few minutes to meditate or relax each day. Below are some more tips that you can implement:
1. Take care of your physical health by eating healthy and exercising regularly.
2. Get enough sleep - most people need around 7-8 hours per night.
3. Try to balance your time. Make time for yourself - relax, read, take a walk.
4. Spend time with positive people who make you feel good about yourself.
5. Set realistic goals for yourself and strive to accomplish them.
6. Take breaks when you need them - both mental and physical breaks. Give yourself short breaks.