Work is stressful, and when already faced with pressure to succeed, some may feel that speaking out about their mental health will make them seem weak or unable to handle their workload. 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.
Thankfully, discussions around mental health are becoming much more common in the workplace and as a result many companies now see staff wellbeing as an extension of their HR function.
If you are looking for ways to improve your mental wellbeing in the workplace, research by the New Economics Foundation for Mind recommends these 5 steps:
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 - 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.