How to improve your mental health in the workplace

We spend so much of our time at work, it takes up most of our lives, so if we are not in the right environment it can very easily begin to affect our mental health. It’s not just about the physical setting, such as an office, but the mental headspace that we find ourselves in and how we take care of ourselves when working.

Whether your career involves you being in an office, working from home, or travelling to meet clients, there are ways that you can take care of and improve your mental health in your workplace.

How can work affect mental health?

Workplace stress can lead to a variety of common mental health issues that many experience, such as anxiety, depression, and burnout. We may not realise that we are becoming burnt out before it’s too late, but common signs to look out for are:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Not being able to switch off and stop thinking about work
  • Feeling uninspired or losing your passion for the role
  • Dreading going to work
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Regular headaches or stomachaches

When work affects your wellbeing or personal life, that’s when you know it is an issue and time to do something about it. Here are our top tips for how to improve your mental health and how to get help when you need it.

How to improve mental health in the workplace

Set boundaries

Shutting off at the end of the day can be one of the hardest things to do, yet switching off your mind and taking time for yourself is key when trying to avoid burnout.

Try to work in a dedicated space so that when you leave this space your brain knows to leave work at the door. Other ways to manually switch off are closing a laptop or turning off email notifications and not checking them after certain times.

Take breaks

Make sure you take regular breaks throughout the day. Every hour get up to stretch your legs, even if it’s just to go and grab a drink. Take longer breaks at lunchtime - make sure you take the time to have something to eat, and don’t just rely on coffee to get you through the day!

Also give your eyes a break from the screen – every hour look into the distance for at least 20 seconds, to help refocus your eyes. It may seem counterproductive, but having breaks throughout the day actually makes you more productive and you will notice that you do get more done after having a break than working flat out, as your brain has had time to recharge and refocus.

Move your body

Sitting in an office chair all day isn’t good for anyone. Daily stretches can release tension building up in your shoulders and back, improve your posture, and prevent aches and pains.

Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, try to get outside for a walk or another form of physical activity at the start, end, or middle of your day. This releases endorphins and serotonin to help you feel happier, gives you a break from the screen out in nature, is a great chance to get fresh air and vitamin D, and will allow you to unwind and release your thoughts.

Have a holiday

The only way to have a proper work-life balance is to not always be at work. Make sure you are taking time off when you need it and use up all your annual leave days. If you run your own business it can be harder to take a step back, but imagine you are any other employee and give yourself time off throughout the year. If you’re tired and burnt out you won’t be the best version of yourself, so take time for yourself and care for your mind – you deserve it!

Reach out for help

Remember that you can always reach out for help when you need it. If you are overwhelmed and struggling at work, speak to a trusted manager or HR about managing your workload and hours better to suit you. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, book an appointment with your GP to discuss the best treatment and ways to help you cope at work.

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