Psychology At Work: How To Manage Stress And Other Mental Health Concerns In The Workplace
Stress is no joke. Even as we live in a workaholic culture that often glorifies stress and how much work you have to do, science is very clear: chronic stress can lead to depression, anxiety, and even heart disease, among many other ailments.
Stress is just one of the many mental health issues that you’ll encounter at the workplace. Given that many people spend half of their waking hours every weekday at work, it’s important to be able to manage these mental health problems as they appear.
Follow these tips to help you get started on improving your mental health in your work environment.
1. Get enough sleep!
One of the pillars of healthy living is more and better sleep. Many mental health and performance issues at work are related to not getting enough sleep. Losing as little as one hour of sleep compared to the recommended seven hours a day is associated with depression, anxiety, increased stress, and impaired cognitive function. Chronically having even less sleep may lead to plenty of diseases, and even a reduced lifespan.
The steps to getting enough sleep require discipline, because sleep is governed by circadian rhythms – biological cycles that are affected by a combination of nature and nurture.
You need to sleep at more or less the same time every day, because sleeping at irregular times will throw off your cycles and make it harder for you to fall asleep.
You also need to avoid looking at electronic displays about an hour before your bedtime, because the blue light from these devices tricks your brain into thinking that it’s still daytime, once again affecting your rhythms.
2. Spend time with friends at work
If there’s one thing worse than stress at work, it’s lonely stress at work. Not having anyone to talk to and share your feelings with can enhance the effects of stress and make you feel isolated and even depressed.
Reach out to your co-workers and establish relationships with them. Don’t just stick to your computer during lunch break – hang out with them, go have lunch, and get to know them. They may prove to be very helpful during stressful times, and provide you with an outlet to help reduce your stress.
Of course, friendship is a two-way street. Remember to be there for your co-workers, just as they’re there for you!
3. Commit to good work-life balance
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” This proverb has been around for centuries, but it still holds true today. In fact, in a world of intense, stressful workloads, “dull boy” is closer to “dying boy.” You need to be able to choose your life over work!
Start by improving the way you make use of your time. If you have tasks that you don’t work well with, take too much of your time, or are simply too much for you to handle, find out how to cut them out of your life, or at least offload some of the work to others.
You should also learn how to reject additional tasks or increased workloads if it’s beyond your abilities to do so.
You also need to realise that overtime isn’t a good thing! It points either to overwork, or an inefficient use of your time.
Finally, remember to leave work in the office. Stop checking your work emails when you get home, and don’t even do any work if you opted not to take overtime. If you work from home, establish a hard limit of how many hours to work a day, and don’t go beyond it.
4. Eat healthy
This article is about mental health, but this is pretty much inseparable from the quality of food you eat. Eating healthy means improving the way you feel, physically, when you’re up and about, and that can translate to reduced stress. Healthy eating can also lead to weight loss and lower blood pressure, which can help reduce the impact of stress on your body.
On top of all this, an ever-greater number of studies are showing that there’s a link between gut health and your mental health. Eating healthy is a good way to improve your gut health and possibly provide benefits for your mental health.
5. Take vacations
You’ll be spending a huge amount of your life at work. While yes, work is essential in your life, it’s also important to be able to live even a couple of consecutive days every year without having to think about work.
Combine good time management with taking time off. Use your vacation days and rest days whenever you feel like you need them. Get off work to reconnect with friends and family. Doing these can help break the cycle of stress and give you time to recover.
Ask for help!
Sometimes, the stress can be too much to handle by yourself. When it gets to that point, there’s no shame in going to therapy or counselling. Mental health professionals and trained psychologists are there to help you improve.
This is a guest post by The Neighbourhood Clinic.
Has it come to that point for you? Are you looking for an integrated medical centre in Fitzroy North? Our team of trained psychologists and therapists combine Western, evidenced-based approaches with traditional medicine for a holistic way to help you with your mental health needs. If work’s getting you down, we can help you back up.