How to Improve Mental Health at Workadmin
Three in ten people admit that they are embarrassed to talk to other people about their anxiety, depression or workplace stress. Considering the amount of time we dedicate to our jobs, it’s important for us to be able to navigate the workplace in a way that reduces stress, rather than exacerbates it. Of the workers who have gotten treatment for their mental illness, 80 percent report that their workplace satisfaction and productivity increased. The following tips can help you and your coworkers alleviate the effects of the stressors we experience at work in order to improve mental health at work.
Know the signs of a problem.
When people begin suffering from depression or anxiety, there will be changes in their behavior they should pay close attention to. Some of those signs may include taking longer to complete routine tasks, having difficulty communicating with coworkers and feeling the need to call in sick more frequently. As people experience these problems, they may begin to push themselves to work harder, which may eventually aggravate the issue.
Make a to-do list.
Feeling overwhelmed from a mountain of work can contribute to anxiety and depression, so making a to-do list can help people stay on track. Not only does this help people prioritize what needs to be done, it also allows them to feel better every time they check an item off.
Take frequent breaks.
“People can make sure that they take time out of their workday for ‘wellness breaks,’” says workplace consultant Michael Klein. “For some folks, this can be short walks during their lunch hour, breaks with colleagues or even five minutes of relaxation (or guided mediation using various free apps) at their desk or elsewhere.”
People who are suffering from anxiety and depression often neglect basic self-care activities, including drinking water. Staying hydrated at work can go a long way toward helping people concentrate and stay centered, which may reduce the effects of stressors in the office.
Avoid workplace gossip.
Although some people use workplace gossip for entertainment, a way to bond with coworkers or to communicate their frustrations, in the long run, it can cause more stress because it lowers morale and strains relationships with colleagues. Venting about problems with a coworker, however, can be healthy as long as the conversation is done directly with that person and not third parties.
Avoid taking on too much.
“Think before you commit to a project, assignment or committee position,” says Phillip A. Ginter, Regional Director of Community Initiatives at HealthlinkNY. “Consider your needs and available resources, and evaluate whether it will lead to overextending yourself.”
Set small, manageable goals.
When a workload seems unachievable, it can make people feel helpless and contribute to their stress and anxiety levels. Setting manageable goals can help break down big tasks into smaller ones so the work doesn’t feel so daunting.
Add personal items to a workspace.
Adding personal items to a workspace can help people feel better when they’re experiencing stress. When people can look at reminders of their loved ones, favorite pet or enjoyable hobbies, it can help them feel centered and positive as they think about the things that make them happiest.
Talk to human resources.
“If organizational or management issues are creating mental distress, it is important to alert a human resources professional at their organization to discuss,” Klein says. “This can feel like a risky move to make. However, once an HR professional is told ‘on the record’ that an employee is under emotional distress, they are required by law to address the issue.”
Everyone has different triggers for anxiety and depression in the workplace — from doing a presentation to writing reports to going to a company function — so it’s important for people to track the situations that make them uncomfortable in order to prepare. Workers who aren’t sure what their triggers are can keep a journal of the things that have led to stress in order to identify them. Next, they should do things to relax before these triggers come up, such as stretching, doing breathing exercises or taking a quick walk.
People who are having problems don’t have to suffer in silence. Mental health professionals can help those struggling with anxiety and depression develop the tools they need to cope with their stressful workplace, as well as prescribe appropriate medications as needed.
Don’t feel ashamed.
“Accept that there is no shame to experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder,” Ginter says. “A national survey found that 1 out of 5 working adults reported having experienced a mental health disorder in the previous month, so you’re not alone.”