10 ways to prioritize your mental health at work

Higher absenteeism rates, abandoned vacations, and reduced productivity are all byproducts of an overworked workforce. Prioritizing mental health has taken on new importance in today’s corporate world, though many wonder how to do it in the face of tight deadlines, unmanageable workloads, and crowded personal lives. . that the most productive employees are often the most supported and the least exhausted. These initiatives include robust wellness programs and educational offerings or expanded staffing to manage bandwidth.

But even if your employer doesn’t have such programs in place, each of us can take simple steps to protect our emotional, psychological and social well-being. The patient-focused telehealth company Ro has compiled a list of 10 ways employees can prioritize their mental health while working, using information from health experts, human resource managers and advisers.

These simple steps are designed to help prevent some of the major side effects of increased workloads and long workdays, whether it’s anxiety, stress, or depression. Read on to learn more about setting clear limits and time for yourself during each workday.

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Set clear limits and limits

In a survey of 7,500 full-time employees, 44% said they felt exhausted sometimes, while almost a quarter said they felt exhausted always or often, according to a 2018 Gallup study. in the workplace are particularly important for those who work from home, as the lines between work and family life often blur.

Setting limits can be as easy as making sure you don’t connect your phone to your work email or check your work email between certain evening hours to focus on family or personal time. Knowing when and how to delegate responsibilities is also a necessity when setting boundaries.

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Take a lunch break

Breaks are an important way to recharge your batteries during the workday, and no break is more important than lunchtime (or half an hour). A Tork survey published in 2021 found that nearly 40% of workers take breaks occasionally, rarely or never. There is also a significant gender gap: Women are twice as likely as men not to take a break during the work day.

Many say they feel guilty about walking away, but the benefits of a lunch break are clear and include increased productivity, increased creativity, and reduced stress. Not taking a lunch break can actually have a negative impact on employees and employers.

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Learn to say no

Learning to say no not only helps set boundaries and limits, but it also helps prioritize essential work tasks. Employees often go above and beyond at work by saying yes to everything, which can lead to burnout.

Those who have trouble saying no are more likely to suffer from burnout, stress and depression, according to a 2013 University of California San Francisco study. With so much work and so little time, employees need to learn that saying no can not only be OK, it can be one of the most effective ways to prioritize mental health in the workplace.

Here are some tips for saying no correctly: be polite and brief, but firm; be honest; offer an alternative; and remember that saying no doesn’t make you a lazy or bad employee.

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Get up from your chair and get moving

Many corporate workplaces have gyms or offer weekly workout classes like yoga. For those who work from home, there are apps that offer everything from tai chi to powerful five-minute workouts, and many offer free trials.

Sitting behind a desk is a sedentary activity, and the lack of movement has all kinds of negative effects not only on physical health, but also on mental health. Being sedentary can increase your chances of depression and increase anxiety levels. Getting a workout isn’t the only way to incorporate movement into your workday, taking a short walk around the block works just as well.

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Use your well-deserved vacation

Each year, North Americans are working harder and longer. Nearly 800 million vacation days were not used by American employees in 2018, up 9% from 2017, according to a study by the US Travel Association, Oxford Economics and Ipsos.

The same research found that those who plan their vacations use more vacation time to travel and are happier in several areas, including their personal relationships and overall well-being. Either way, vacations are an important way to recharge and find fun outside of the workplace.

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Decorate your workspace

A 2013 study published by the Journal of Environmental Psychology found a correlation between decorated workspaces and increased productivity and energy.

Bringing a small lamp from home or a few favorite books to display and read during your lunch break offers a way to make the office environment more comfortable. Inspirational quotes, color-coded props, family photos, or a plant can all help boost creativity and productivity while improving your mood and making your workspace feel more like home.

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Get to know your colleagues

While coworkers aren’t necessarily best friends, it’s important to foster positive relationships at work. According to a study published in 2010 by researchers at the University of Michigan, those who engage in small conversations do better on cognitive tests and have shown increased executive functioning.

Whether it’s chatting over morning coffee or chatting with a colleague while waiting for the 4 p.m. conference call to start, a brief chat can improve mood and even serve as a little break from the monotony of the working day. Building work relationships can improve overall quality of life, according to a study conducted by Globoforce and published in 2014. This study also found that having a work friend increased workers’ commitment to their employer.

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Listen to music

There are several advantages to throwing on the radio or playing a well-thought-out playlist at work. Listening to music helps focus, absorb information, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve mood, which in turn helps improve mental health. It also stimulates creativity and increases productivity, although not all music is suitable for all types of work.

Popular music can interfere with complicated tasks, while classical music can help focus. An important rule to remember when it comes to listening to music is that not everyone has the same tastes. Avoid disturbing coworkers by bringing headphones to listen at a respectful volume.

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Take advantage of educational opportunities

Whether it’s a professional development course offered online or at your workplace, or a college course that your company will reimburse, continuing education opportunities keep a sharp mind and help maintain interest. at work by offering additional knowledge. This increase in knowledge often offers opportunities for advancement.

About 50% of employers offer some type of undergraduate help, and 53% offer help with graduate degrees, according to a 2017 employee benefits survey from the Society for Human Resource Management. Many companies have corporate accounts with online services like Coursera, which offers educational enrichment through online courses and certifications. To understand what companies offer, employees need to turn to human resources.

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Get organized

Studies have shown that clutter can contribute to increased anxiety and stress, decreased productivity, and feelings of out of control. A few minutes a day spent organizing can do wonders in the workplace, and filing systems don’t have to be complex to be effective.

The effects of clutter on the body and mind are so great that they can even cause people to overeat and create other unhealthy habits. A study by Express Employment Professionals found that disorganization results in a significant loss of actual work time, with 57% of participants admitting to losing six hours of work per week due to disorganization.


This story originally appeared on Ro and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its content.

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