How to maintain your own wellbeing at work
According to MIND, a leading UK mental health awareness charity, right now 1 in 6 workers is dealing with a mental health problem, such as anxiety, depression or stress. This can have a significant impact on your work, and if untreated, can develop and create further problems or more severe symptoms. It’s important for workers to be aware of the options available to them, and the ways they can seek support when they need it.
Here are a few simple tips for improving your day to day mental wellbeing. However, if you are struggling, or have noticed a colleague struggling with their mental wellbeing, there are several resources at the bottom of this article for confidential advice, help and support.
Connect with others
There is an enormous amount of research that proves that feeling close to, and valued by other people is a fundamental human need. As such, this contributes towards your self-perception, and helps you to function well in your life. It’s easy in the workplace to get caught up in the deadlines and targets, and put aside the human desire for social interaction. To counteract this, try to take steps to engage with people more face to face. Perhaps you could:
- Head over to a colleague’s desk instead of sending an email.
- Introduce yourself to the new starter, and help them to feel welcome.
- Ask how someone’s weekend was and actually listen to their answer.
- Take 5 minutes at lunch to catch up with a colleague and see how they’re doing.
Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being, and can help you to reaffirm your life priorities.
- Introduce meditation as part of your morning routine. The benefits of taking 10 minutes every day to clear your head can be substantial.
- Change your route on the way to work, so that you’re not following the same routine every day.
- Get a plant for your desk.
- Clear the clutter off your desk. It might not seem important day to day but a chaotic desk can contribute to feelings of stress or workload frustration.
Exercise has consistently been associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. But, it’s all too easy to let exercise slip out of our weekly routines. A combination of tiredness and too many things to do, leave us feeling drained and with no desire to work out. But it doesn’t have to be high-impact exercise for you to benefit – even adding a 30-minute walk into your day can give you an endorphin boost. It’s also important not to stay inactive for huge chunks of the day, by finding ways to get up from your desk and still be working.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift- this also has the added advantage of not having to wait for a lift, or cram into a full lift.
- Organise a sporting activity through work – a weekly football game or charity match will also encourage socialising with your colleagues.
- Increase your walk into work by getting off a stop early or take a stroll at lunchtime, a gentle stroll into work can help to get your blood flowing and can help counteract stress or depression.
- Go to the gym before or after work – a quick run before your train can set you up for the day or a gym session after a long day can be the perfect way to unwind and take your brain out of ‘work’ mode. Many gyms also offer early classes if you like a structured approach.
Learning throughout life enhances self-esteem, and encourages social interaction and more activity.
In particular, setting goals related to adult learning has been linked to better mental wellbeing. So if you’ve always been interested in something but never satisfied that curiosity, why not?
- Sign up for a class – either academic or something like yoga or a martial art. This can also give you something to look forward to consistently, as well as an outlet for any stress or frustration.
- Read a newspaper or book.
- Complete a crossword/Sudoku
- Set up a book club in your workplace.
Giving time back to your community has attracted lots of attention amongst wellbeing researchers. The main finding is that people who are more interested in helping others, are more likely to rate themselves as happy. But not everyone has the time to volunteer for charitable endeavours, or has a consistent schedule that they can plan things around. With that in mind, you could:
- Organise charitable events through your workplace, such as a 10k run or a charity bake-off. The added team effort can also provide more social interaction.
- Set aside some time each weekend to volunteer. Many charities looking for volunteers, so try to help out somewhere that interests you.
- Get involved in community events.
If you are struggling with your mental wellbeing, the most important thing is not to do so in silence.
If you don’t feel comfortable speaking about your mental wellbeing to a friend, a colleague, your manager or your HR department, there are a number of resources available to support and guide you, such as chat-rooms or helplines. It’s always beneficial to seek support from those around you, but if this isn’t an option, here are some useful resources:
Time to change – Information about your rights at work, and links to more resources.
Samaritans – confidential emotional support
Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
Mind Infoline – Confidential mental health information and services.