Looking after your mental health at work
Laura, from a leading graduate recruitment agency, discusses the importance of taking care of your mental health at work, and she suggests some simple strategies you can put into practice.
Caring for your mental well-being in the workplace is essential for your overall health and wellness. With a significant portion of our day spent at work (often 8 hours or more) it should be a priority to follow effective strategies to protect your mental and physical well-being. It’s inevitable that there will be times when challenges feel overwhelming, whether it’s due to deadlines, interactions with colleagues, or even a stressful daily commute. Nevertheless, there are several straightforward actions you can take to nurture your mental well-being:
Take your lunch break
Are you guilty of working through your lunch break because you’re afraid of falling behind? In most roles, you’re permitted to take a break of 30 minutes to one hour, depending on your contract, so be sure to make that time for yourself.
Giving yourself some headspace and simply unwinding should allow you to return to your desk more positive and productive, rather than feeling drained. Also, be sure to take short, regular breaks throughout the day to give your eyes and brain a rest from screens – even if it’s just popping to the coffee machine.
Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash
Talk about your feelings
Got something on your mind? Talking about your feelings can be the first step to putting things right – especially if it’s work-related. Bottling it up will only leave you feeling more isolated and stressed. Remember that opening up about your problems isn’t a sign of weakness. You’re making a brave attempt to make changes in your life for the sake of your own happiness – and it may even encourage others to do the same.
It can be difficult to talk to those in authority – especially if they don’t know you on a personal level. So, you may find it easier to chat to a colleague, who could help you put strategies in place to deal with the issue. Or talk to a friend or family outside work – they might offer a fresh approach to the problem.
Create work/life boundaries
Those who work remotely often find difficulty in separating their workload from their personal life, which can have a major knock-on effect on stress levels. If you work from home for most of the week, it’s recommended to create a separate office space, which will help you properly switch off at the end of your workday.
Check what support is available
If you’re concerned about your mental health, it would be worth seeing whether your workplace offers support options. Employers have a duty of care to employees, so they must do everything in their power to ensure that your health, safety and wellbeing is top priority.
Some companies offer mental health benefits including:
- Mental health support groups
- Flexible work options
- Mental health training
Look after your physical health
Did you know that your mental and physical health are connected? The body’s response to stress involves the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which sets off the ‘fight or flight’ response. Chronic stress can negatively impact your mental health by contributing to anxiety and depression. It can also lead to physical health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and compromised immune function.
However, staying active can have the opposite effect. Regular physical activity has been shown to have positive effects on mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that promote feelings of happiness and reduce stress. Therefore, whether it’s during your lunch break, or after work, making time for exercise can work wonders for a clearer and happier mindset.
Consider changing your job
Being stuck in a job that doesn’t align with your interests or values can significantly impact your mental health. Spending a substantial portion of your time in an incompatible work environment can lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness. The mismatch between your job and your personal preferences can create a sense of disconnect, which may contribute to increased stress and even symptoms of depression.
If you believe that you’re in the wrong job and you’re looking to make a change, it may be worth browsing graduate job vacancies, to pave your way for a brand-new opportunity.
Find out more:
More from Laura:
About Inspiring Interns & Graduates
Inspiring Interns is a leading graduate recruitment agency in the UK, connecting graduates with top companies worldwide. We work with everyone from innovative start-ups to the largest multinationals, including Virgin, Lloyds, and M&C Saatchi Mobile. Take a look at our website for the latest graduate jobs vacancies, internships and careers advice.