The pandemic, inflation, political unrest and many other stressors have made workplace mental health a top priority. In Mind Share Partners’ 2021 Workplace Mental Health Report, the authors found that mental health problems, unsurprisingly, increased over the previous two years. In the 2019 study, 59% of respondents reported at least one symptom of a mental health problem in the previous year. But in 2021, that number has risen to 76%.
While companies still have a long way to go in prioritizing employee wellbeing, here are ten ways to improve your mental health at work.
Start your day mindfully
Studies show that checking your phone right after waking up primes your brain for distraction. Think of it this way. Looking at your cell phone first thing in the morning is like having a hundred people in your room yelling at you. Not the best way to start the day! Instead, improve your mental health at work by starting your morning with a yoga or meditation practice so you can relax in a healthy way during the day.
Focus on your strengths
Rather than focusing on your weaknesses, focus on being more of who you already are. Capitalize on your strengths and look for projects that give you satisfaction. Because when we use our strengths, activity feels natural to us and we are more likely to experience accomplishment.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Teddy Roosevelt asserted that “comparison is the thief of joy”. When we compare ourselves to others, it leads to low self-esteem and sadness. Instead, compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Focus on healthy improvements, like measuring yourself against specific goals. This way you focus on who you are rather than who you are not.
Start a Culture of Gratitude
Workplace Gratitude Studies link it to less stress, fewer sick days, and greater satisfaction with our jobs and colleagues. One way to start a gratitude practice is to write down one thing that went well that day and why. Another idea is to simply write a note (or email) to someone you’re grateful for. You can even start your team meetings by going around the room and asking each person to share one thing they’re grateful for.
Talk it over
The late Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than carrying an untold story inside of you.” One of the best ways to improve mental health is knowing you’re not alone. First, find someone you can trust, such as a friend, family member, therapist, or coach. Then share your story. You can also go to social media platforms like Facebook and look for groups that focus on workplace mental health. By joining the conversation, you can also help others.
Accept rather than judge feelings
Fluctuating emotions are part of life. But what worries us is not the emotion itself. It is the judgment of emotion. When we feel fear, sadness, or shame, our first reaction is to dismiss that feeling. Instead, accept them. It just means being aware of your emotions and accepting them for what they are right now, knowing they won’t last.
the average american spends more than seven hours in front of a screen every day. Unfortunately, that means we spend more time indoors than we should. Instead, make it a point to get outside every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Research shows that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological well-being. For example, a study from the University of Chicago found that exposure to nature improves attention, memory, and cognitive flexibility, while exposure to urban environments is linked to attention deficits.
Do things for others
There are so many ways to do things for others at work. For example, you can volunteer to help with a special project, hire a mentee, or offer to train a new recruit. Plus, evidence shows that helping others can also benefit our own mental health. For example, it can reduce stress and improve mood, self-esteem and happiness. And the best part is that an act of kindness usually doesn’t require a huge investment of time or money.
Find the humor
Have you heard that laughter is the best medicine? Well, it’s not a joke. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter has short-term benefits like stimulating organs, improving your oxygen supply, and increasing endorphins released by your brain. It also has long term effects like boosting your immune system, relieving pain and improving your mood.
learn something new
Often we feel depressed or anxious when we are unchallenged. That’s why learning new skills can improve your mental health at work. By learning something new, you build a sense of purpose, increase self-esteem, and boost self-confidence. Some things you might try include enrolling in a course, getting certified in a new skill, or shadowing a senior executive.
To slow down
Overall, slowing down will help you make better decisions and connect more deeply with people. Take time to reflect on yourself. Some helpful methods include journaling, meditation, and simply taking breaks. Remember that even if you go slower, you will go further.
The massive societal changes of recent years have left many of us feeling stressed and vulnerable. By adopting these strategies, you will take a proactive approach to improving your mental health at work and pave the way for others to do the same.