Work is such an important part of our lives, given that we spend most of our time there and it can often pave the way for how we spend our remaining hours in the day, in terms of any money we have at our disposal.
But work can be a stressful place to be, with demands on our time, targets, deadlines and friction between colleagues that you may unwillingly get pulled into. This is why it is so important to be aware of how you feel and how you react, looking for signs that perhaps you are not coping or dealing with things and then acting before they escalate. If these issues are not addressed then your mental health and well-being can seriously deteriorate, leading to longer-term problems such as depression, that may affect your life outside of the office too.
We have put together some easy to follow advice on how to look after your mental health at work, which can also be followed if your office is home-based.
Take a break
If you're starting to feel a bit stressed out at your desk, or are becoming irritable towards colleagues who are face to face and on the phone, it is time to step away and have a break. A short time away from your desk can often make the world of difference to how you are feeling, giving you time to breath and clear your head. Find somewhere quiet, either outside or in your staff room, sit with your eyes closed for a moment and take deep breaths. The silence in itself can do wonders, making you feel more relaxed, calm and collected. Try not to think about work for those few moments and when it comes around to your lunch break, go outside and take in some fresh air. In that time eat a healthy lunch and perhaps think about plans that you can make after work that will make you feel happier.
Ask your boss for help
If you are feeling low or out of control because of your workload, then your manager is certainly the person to speak to. Ask for a private meeting and explain as best you can that you are struggling. If they are a good manager they will try to help you to find a solution, whether it's delaying some deadlines or asking other workers to take some tasks from you. It can be hard to open up to someone in charge sometimes, but this will be the time to tell them that your job is making you lose sleep and that you feel your mental health is starting to suffer. If your manager refuses to help, this could be the time to consult your union rep, as they will be able to liaise on your behalf and will strive to find a solution that you are happy with.
Staying fit and healthy is important at the best of times, but never more so that when you are feeling unhappy. Just a small amount of exercise can encourage good feelings through your body and mind, enabling you to process your thoughts and to release some of the pent up aggression that you may have been storing. Take some exercise before or after work, whichever suits you best, as well as taking time at lunch to go for a short walk to stretch your legs and clear the cobwebs away from your busy morning.
Eat correctly and don’t drink too much
If we are feeling out of control or depressed, food and alcohol are often seen as the easiest ways to make ourselves feel better. These effects are always short-lived and can lead to longer term issues that will make you feel even more out of control. If food is something that lifts your mood, try to eat healthily and experiment with a leaner diet that will help you avoid obesity. Healthier eating has the ability to lighten our mood, leaving us less groggy and with more energy, ready to face whatever the day throws at us. Alcohol can be a nice way to relax at the weekend or after a long day, but anymore than one glass has the risk of unbalancing our emotions and making us feel worse than before. If you think that you are starting to use alcohol as a way to block out work and are drinking every night, it is advisable that you talk to someone, a friend, colleague or even your GP, to try and deal with your issues before alcohol seems your only way out.
Find distractions outside of work
It is healthy to have hobbies outside of work as a way to relax and to switch off after a long, stressful day. You can enjoy this activity on your own or with friends, playing sports outside or getting crafty indoors. Whatever it is, it will make you feel that you are achieving something worthwhile, completely on your own terms and can help to ensure that you are going to bed every night thinking of something positive and fun, rather than what is going to happen at the office the next day.
Talk about it
We can’t stress enough that talking about your situation is the best way to start combating the problems you are having. Talk to friends and family, colleagues, managers and even a councillor if you feel that an impartial view would be of benefit. Saying your issues out loud can make them seem smaller and more manageable, as we often build them up to be cataclysmic when it is only going around and around in our own thoughts. Finally, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks if you offload to them. It is likely that they will have had similar issues in the past or even share the same problems now and the likelihood is that they will want to help you in finding a way to be happy and calm in your workplace.
We can help to keep your body healthy in the workplace. Click here for some ergonomically friendly products that will ensure you are comfortable and productive during your time working in the office or at home.