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over 3 years ago by Debbie Lloyd

5 tips to safeguard your mental health at work

Mental Health

It was #StressAwarenessDay earlier this week so we wanted to share this article by our friends at Total Jobs with some simple ways to reduce stress and increase happiness.

Your mental health can be greatly affected by your daily experience at work. In fact, a recent CIPD survey found that 40% of UK managers noticed an increase in stress-related absences and mental health problems in 2015.

Heavy workloads, lengthy commutes and bad relationships at work can quickly add up and damage workers’ mental health. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to safeguard your mental well-being.

We teamed up with leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to share some top tips with you.

1. Take breaks

We’ve all heard that taking breaks is vital, yet many of us avoid them in order to get those precious extra minutes of work in. But stepping away from your work will actually boost your well-being and productivity, according to Chloe Grass-Orkin, Media Officer at Rethink Mental Illness.

“Incorporating regular breaks into your day can help you manage stress levels by enabling you to refocus and get a new perspective when returning to a task.

Going outside at lunchtime can help separate yourself and your mind from work. You could also read a book, or listen to music to help make your break more relaxing.

For shorter breaks, why not make yourself a drink in the kitchen, and chat to a colleague while you’re there. Building relationships with colleagues is an excellent way to improve well-being.”

2. Leave work on time

Work-life balance often seems like an elusive concept that no one actually achieves. However, Chloe explains why it’s worth making the effort:

“Creating boundaries between our job and life outside of work can make a big difference to our mental well-being, allowing time to maintain relationships and engage in activities we enjoy.

We all have to put in extra e sometimes to meet those urgent deadlines, but this should be the exception not the norm. Extra hours may cause a drop in concentration and ultimately take a toll on your well-being.

Chloe suggests that “if you’re a manager, lead by example and encourage a good working culture.”

Just before leaving for the day, Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Well-being at Mind, advises planning your day in advance to stay on top of your workload so you feel less stressed:

“At the end of each day, go over your to-do list and write up one for the next day. When your thoughts are down on paper, you’ll find it easier to not think about work in your personal time.”

If you do need to work at home to complete an urgent task, Emma suggests “designating a separate area for work and sticking to it, as you’ll find it much easier to close the door on work when you finish for the day.”

3. Get talking

In a survey by Time to Change, the anti-stigma campaign run by Rethink Mental Illness and Mind, 60% of employees said they would feel uncomfortable discussing a mental health condition with their employer, according to Chloe.

However, she says that “discussing any problems you may be experiencing with your manager can be helpful. There are a number of simple adjustments that can be made, such as moving to a quieter part of the office, working from home sometimes, or travelling in later to avoid the rush hour commute. But if no one knows there is a problem, it can be difficult to find a solution.”

Emma agrees: “If you feel like your workload is spiralling out of control, discuss it with your manager or supervisor. If you can’t resolve the problem in this way, you can also talk to colleagues in HR, a trade union representative or other relevant members of staff.”

4. Use your commute to unwind

Commuting after a long day at work can be a stressful experience in itself. However, Emma suggests that you can still use this time to relax before you get home.

“Use the time on your commute home to wind down from work – read a book or listen to music.

Maybe try cycling part of your journey or getting off a stop early to take a shortcut through a park or quiet streets. These little actions can really help you to switch off.”

5. Get moving

Chloe describes how making physical activity an integral part of your work days can combat stress:

“Research has shown that exercise has a positive impact on our mental health, and it can be easier than you think to fit it into your working day.

For example, you could go for a short walk on your lunch break. This has the combined benefits of exercising, clearing your head, and getting some important time away from your computer screen so that you’re more alert and focussed once back at your desk.”

Source: Total Jobs 

About the experts:

Chloe Grass-Orkin is a Media Officer at Rethink Mental Illness, a leading UK charity that believes a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness. They directly support almost 60,000 people every year to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone. You can find more advice on mental health in the workplace here.

Emma Mamo is Head of Workplace Well-being at Mind, a leading UK charity working to improve the lives of all people experiencing mental health problems for more than 60 years. Read more of their mental health at work tipshere.