David Press, Managing Director - DMJ Recruitment
A few months ago I wrote my article Supporting mental health in the workplace - consistency is key, which examined the role an employer can play in helping to improve the wellbeing of their staff. Now I want to focus on how employees can take their wellbeing into their own hands and take proactive steps to improve their mental stability in the workplace.
Work takes up a lot of our life. Many of us spend the majority of our time in the office and it can heavily influence our lifestyle, our friendships and even our romantic relationships. Our job can impact our mental health in both positive and negative ways – it can be fulfilling and motivating as well as bringing lots of stress and anxiety.
Work-related stress can aggravate an existing mental health problem, making it more difficult to control, or it can rear up for people who have never struggled before with their mental health but find suddenly that a bad incident at work, a toxic relationship with a colleague or manager or perhaps too heavy a workload can all take its toll and bring about stress, anxiety and depression.
With so many triggers that can affect your mental health, the best thing to do is be pro-active and take steps to invest in your wellbeing on a regular basis – don’t wait until you are already struggling to take action.
A good way to do this is to analyse your daily routine and identify the areas in which you are good at taking care of yourself and also the places that you could improve. Get a pen and paper and write down your Assets – these are your current go-to methods for improving your wellbeing, so perhaps you do things like going for a calming walk at lunchtime, or you make time for a coffee and a chat with a colleague. Then there are your Challenges – these are the things that make it difficult for you to concentrate on your Assets, such as drinking too much alcohol on a weeknight, or unhealthy eating, or isolating yourself from your team. And then there are your Goals – the targets you set yourself so that you can combat your problematic Challenges.
Here are some suggestions of Goals you might like to set for yourself to improve your workplace wellbeing on a daily basis:
Instil an active lifestyle. Physical health and mental health are equally important and related. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem, keep you motivated and improve your sleep and feeling of wellness, so try to do something active every day to help you enjoy your day more. At DMJ, we encourage each other to go for a walk, run or to head to the gym during our lunch break.
Drink water, eat healthily and sleep well. It can be tricky to always eat healthily in the office but planning ahead and perhaps bringing in food from home or seeking out the healthy options near work can all help. Sleep is closely connected to mental health and linked to stress, anxiety and depression. Try to maintain a regular sleep pattern, avoid electronic devices before bedtime and too much alcohol consumption. An evening walk or doing some yoga can be a calming ritual before bed.
Talk about your feelings. Sharing how you feel isn’t a weakness; it’s essential to staying mentally strong. Seek out conversations with your manager to talk through your progress in the company, your professional growth and any challenges that you are facing. Opening up to colleagues might also encourage others to be more open with their feelings and improve relationships within the team.
Engagement. Relationships in the office are key to mental health. It’s important to spend time with the people who motivate you and make you feel good about yourself. We don’t get to choose the people we work with and if you aren’t getting on well with your colleagues or manager it can cause a lot of problems, so it’s good to tackle any challenging relationships head-on – finding a mentor to share your problems with can be helpful, as can making the effort to attend company events and socialising after work to bond with your team.
Take a break. You can’t be work work work all the time. Getting a coffee, going for a walk and having a nice conversation with your colleagues will positively improve your wellbeing and make your job more fun. Also make sure you take your annual leave and use it well, spending time with family, friends and even colleagues outside of working hours.
Accept yourself and appreciate your skills. It’s good to remind yourself regularly what you’re good at and what hobbies you enjoy, and to find time to invest in your wellbeing. Incorporate activities and hobbies into your day that make you feel good, so that your whole routine doesn’t just revolve around office and home. Accept yourself and try not to compare yourself to others because this can be the cause of many mental health issues. Being proud of yourself and celebrating even ‘little wins’ will improve your self-confidence and feeling of worth.
Work on self-improvement and setting goals. Every day should be about looking for new opportunities and finding something new to learn. Speak to your manager about the areas in which you’d like to improve and set goals for the short and long term. Personal life goals are also great because they give you the feeling that you are on the right track to success and happiness.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the ideas I’ve set out here so please feel free to get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org