Mental health can hold the best of us back, both at work and in life. And with mental health conditions costing organisations and individuals more and more each year, it’s time to tackle psychological well-being head-on.
You can start by managing workplace stress with these practical strategies.
Take steps to manage work/life balance
A healthy work/life balance is crucial for your happiness in your job and at home. When you allow your work to spill into your private time, you can become frustrated and run down, and your mental health and personal relationships can suffer.
Balancing your workload and your downtime can start with a few simple steps:
- Give yourself a cut-off for answering emails and phone calls. Chances are your job doesn’t require you to respond to emails overnight. If you like to stay on top of communications after work hours, allocate a specific time to turn off the work phone and stop checking your emails. This will ensure you have time to relax, unwind, and get out of ‘work mode’ before you go to sleep.
- Say no if you need to. Sure, exceeding the expectations of your role can help you progress from your current position, but if you’re already inundated with work, taking on more can only lead to burnout.
- Get into a routine. Creating a schedule can help you set habits that encourage balance. From getting your 8 hours sleep to not checking your emails until you’re out the door in the morning, a routine can help you achieve the work/life balance you need.
Learn the difference between negative and positive stress
While stress is generally seen as a negative, positive stress can be used to your advantage. So, how do you know whether your stress is helping or harming you?
Positive stress is generally caused by good news or an unexpected advantage, or when a stressful event is met with a positive attitude. Benefits of positive stress can include increased motivation, productivity, and creativity.
Negative stress, on the other hand, usually occurs when you’re unprepared or simply don’t have the capacity to deal with a stressful situation. For example, if your deadline is unachievable or your workload is unrealistic, this can lead to exhaustion and impaired performance.
Knowing the difference between the two types can help you identify when you need to make a change, and when you need to make the most of it!
Get some fresh air
Lowering your stress levels at work can be as simple as stepping outside. But it’s not just stress relief that fresh air offers – there are many other benefits of taking a break from the office to get back to nature. Studies have shown some of these positive effects include improved short-term memory, restored mental energy, and improved concentration.
A break outdoors is not only great for de-stressing, it can also help improve your productivity when you get back to work. Like you needed an excuse to take a break from your computer screen.
Stretch it out
Does your job require you to sit for prolonged periods of time? Sure, sitting for hours can cause muscle aches and tension, but did you know it can also increase your chance of anxiety? Research suggests there is a link between sitting time and anxiety risk, which gives us even more reason to get up out of the chair, have a stretch and get moving.
If the idea of doing lunges and star jumps at work makes you uncomfortable, try these inconspicuous stretches at your desk.
Take a breath
Breathing exercises can be done anywhere, anytime, making them great for work environments where you may not always have the chance to get outside and take a break.
Being mindful of your breathing can help tame the fight-or-flight response and regain control in stressful situations. Whether you’re mentally preparing yourself for an important meeting or you’re trying to recover from an upsetting phone call, breathing techniques can help bring your stress levels down.
Deep-belly breathing is a simple one; simply sit comfortably, inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your stomach to rise, and exhale through your mouth, allowing your stomach to fall. Do this several times to relax your muscles and slow your heart rate to promote a feeling of calm and control.
Communicate with a manager
Talking openly about mental health is key. If you’re experiencing stress in the workplace, the best way to address these issues is to speak to someone.
By communicating with your manager, you can work together to determine what might be contributing to your stress and highlight any changes needed. Bringing these issues to your manager’s attention can also encourage an improved or more active support system for all employees experiencing stress in the workplace.
Source: Chandler Macleod