Work is stressful, and when already faced with pressure to succeed, some may feel that speaking out about mental health issues will make them seem weak or unable to handle their workload - or that it could hinder their career progression. According to research by Accenture, 9 in 10 UK workers have been touched by mental health challenges (whether that be directly or indirectly), while 66% have personally experienced mental health challenges.
As it’s Mental Health Awareness Week it’s a great time to openly talk about the importance of looking after your own mental wellbeing in the work place.
Research by the New Economics Foundation for Mind recommends these 5 steps to wellbeing:
Social relationships are very important and a fundamental human need is to feel connected, valued and understood. So ask how your colleague’s weekend was, start conversations and build relationships with your co-workers and become part of the work community.
Exercise and physical activity are known to help depression and anxiety, so try a lunchtime walk to clear your head and create distance from your workload for a while. Walk to work if you can or take the stairs rather than the lift! Why not also try a new exercise class with a work mate or join the office football team?
Be present in the moment and appreciate what is around you! Heightened awareness also enhances your self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivation.
You could make your desk surroundings a more enjoyable environment by putting up photos or a nice plant, or have a declutter to help give your mind some thinking space! You could go a new route to work and enjoy your commute in a new way and appreciate your surroundings more.
You should also be present and take notice of how your colleagues might be feeling.
Setting challenges and learning new skills can make you more confident and keep you focused on something positive. You could learn a new language, improve your coding skills or join a new fitness class. At work, you and group of your colleagues could learn something new together to make it even more fun! This will also help you to engage and connect with your work mates and give you shared interests to chat about!
People who have a greater interest in helping and making others happy, are more likely to be happy themselves. So join in any social events at work, make your colleagues a drink, bring in cakes, or do some other random act of kindness around the office. Support your work community and they will support you too.
Looking after our own mental health is so important, we all need to prioritise looking after our minds in the same way we do our bodies, but also don’t be afraid ask for help and utilise the support structures around you at work as well as at home.
If you feel like you need help, don’t be afraid to speak out, you are not alone.
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)
Rethink Mental Illness
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 4pm)