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Mental health at work

mental health at work

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Everybody has mental health, and everybody’s mental health goes up and down depending on what they are dealing with. Generally hard phases pass and people have their own ways of supporting themselves to stay feeling mentally healthy. One in four of us will experience something a bit more extreme in the area of mental health, this can show up as longer or more intense periods of depression, higher levels of anxiety or any number of other symptoms that show that your mind is under pressure. Mental health at work has been linked as two factors in life that have knock on affects on each other. Working can support our mental health through giving us structure, purpose, and a sense of belonging and contributing. It can also be an area of life that presents challenges to our emotional well-being through pressures, unforseen difficulties and tricky work relationships.

Keeping as stress free as possible

If you are someone who experiences mental distress more commonly than others it can be helpful to spend some time thinking through ways of approaching your work that will keep your job as stress free an experience as possible and therefore reduce the possibilities of putting extra pressure on yourself.

Do I tell work or not?

One of the first things to consider is whether or not you want to share information about your mental health with your place of work. Remember that your health and how you deal with it is your business. You don’t need to give out personal information about yourself once you are in a job unless it is for your benefit. If you are someone who does experience mental health difficulties at times, you may decide that it would be beneficial for you if one person in your team knew some of the details about what you are dealing with in order to give you a feeling of a support person at work.  Alternatively you may be very sure that this is not something that you wish to bring into your work space, either choice is fine.

mental health at workStress

One of the main causes of mental health distress is stress. Stress is a modern word that is used to sum up anything that puts a person under more pressure than normal. Signs of stress can be physical such as tiredness, headaches, appetite or weight change and indigestion; psychological which could include anxiety, feeling low, indecision and increased sensitivity; and behavioural that may be increased smoking or drinking, withdrawing socially, being repeatedly late and having difficulty concentrating. There are also common work experiences that can add to a persons stress levels such as poor communication from colleagues; deadline pressures; redundancy or restructuring threats and poor working conditions such as lighting, noise or inadequate equipment.

Set yourself realistic daily routines

Some of the pressures at work can be resolved by you taking control and making certain changes. It is really good practice to build regular breaks into your day so that you don’t overwork yourself or burn out by spending too much time in front of a screen or in busy and demanding meetings.  Have regular lunch meetings with friends who have nothing to do with work so that you can enjoy a change of perspective during your day. Make sure that you are sitting properly and have things around your work space that inspire you to relax and stay calm such as pictures of nature or a favourite quote.  Make sure that you eat and drink healthily during the day and that you book up all your holidays. Be aware of your workload as taking too much on is one of the most common ways that people overwhelm themselves at work. It is very important to be assertive and state clearly what level of work you can and cannot do. On a bright day consider whether you can persuade any of your colleagues to come away from work and do something different like having a picnic outside or a lunchtime game of football! The enjoyment from these activities will filter back into the workspace and help create a more relaxed atmosphere.

Take time out

If you are going through a stressful time at work and noticing it impacting on your mental health, it is important that you put in some extra forms of support in your home life too. No matter what is going on it is essential that you make time to slow down, unwind and recharge. Simply walking in nature a couple of times a week or doing something strenuous like playing squash will help release built up tensions and stress hormones like adrenalin. Similarly booking a massage or a spa afternoon or giving yourself a couple of hours to browse in a charity shop can all help in balancing out how you are feeling.





About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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