Work and your Mental Health

Your mental health refers to your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It impacts how you think, feel, act, manage stress, relate with others, and make decisions.

The link between Work and your Mental Health

Work can play a huge role in your overall health and welfare. In addition to the financial benefits, your job can add meaning, structure, and purpose to your life. It can also provide you with a sense of identity, boost your self-esteem, and offer an important social outlet.

However, working in a negative environment can have the opposite effect and take a heavy toll on your mental health and general well-being.

Effect of poor mental health at work.

  • Job performance and productivity.
  • Engagement
  • Communication with coworkers.
  • Physical capability and daily functioning.

Workplace risk factors or triggers of mental health

Some things that may trigger mental health issues in the workplace include:

1. Excessive workload could cause employee burnout. Burnout, or exhaustion, could also result from long, inflexible hours, and short-staffing due to cutbacks or unfilled vacancies.

2. Working remotely with no clear separation between work and personal time.

3. A toxic workplace that fosters discrimination, bullying, harassment, or abuse.

4. Lack of training or guidance for the role you’re expected to fulfill.

5. Limited or unclear communication from management about tasks, goals, or decision-making.

6. Lack of support, shortage of equipment or other job resources, or unsafe working practices.

7. Poor pay hence constant pressure to make more money.

10 Warning signs of mental health issues at work

1. Uncharacteristic behaviour such as turning up late, acting aggressively, being unusually quiet or an unhealthy or unkempt appearance.

2. Low levels of engagement due to lack of motivation and difficulty concentrating.

3. Decreases in productivity due to being disinterested, distracted or lethargic. Getting easily confused or struggling to complete tasks and make decisions.

4. Changes in sleeping or eating behaviour such as insomnia and difficulty sleeping, regularly missing lunch or refusing to eat with co-workers.

5. Disinterest in work or day-to-day activities particularly those that were previously enjoyed

7. Changes in working patterns such as taking regular, short-term absences, working more from home, arriving late or leaving early.

8. Irrational fears, paranoia or anxiety about co-workers and around job security.

9. Withdrawal from social situations and isolation from colleagues.

10. Substance use/misuse such as turning to alcohol, drugs or other addictions.

 Taking charge of your mental health at work

Your mental health like your physical health is your responsibility.

Talk about your feelings

Talking about your feelings can help deal with times when you feel troubled. It isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s part of taking charge of your well-being and doing what you can to stay healthy. Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone.

Keep Active

Experts believe exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep and feel better.

Eat well

There are strong links between what we eat and how we feel. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. Try to eat three meals each day and drink plenty of water.

Keep in touch

Supportive Friends and family can help you deal with the stresses of life. They make you feel included and cared for. They keep you active and help you solve practical problems. Give them a call or chat with them online. Always keep the lines of communication open.

Ask for help

None of us is superhuman. We sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things go wrong. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help from your manager, colleagues, family and friends.

Take a break

A change of scene is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause, a half-hour lunch break at work or a weekend exploring somewhere new. Give yourself some ‘me time’. Take a deep breath… and relax. Try yoga or meditation, or just putting your feet up. Listen to your body. When you’re tired, get some rest. Sometimes the world can wait.

Do something you’re good at

Doing an activity, you enjoy probably means you’re good at it and achieving something boosts your self-esteem. Concentrating on a hobby like reading or sports can help you forget your worries for a while and change your mood.

Accept who you are

We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Recognize and accept what you are not good at but focus on what you can do well.

Care for others

Caring for others is often important to maintaining relationships with people close to you. You can also share your skills by volunteering. Helping out can make us feel needed and valued, boosting our self-esteem. It also helps us see the world from another angle. That can help to put our problems in perspective.

How employers can promote good mental health

1. Make mental health self-assessment tools available to all employees.

2. Offer free or subsidized clinical screenings from a qualified mental health professional.

3. Provide free or subsidized lifestyle coaching, counseling, or self-management programs.

4. Communicate the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and opportunities for treatment.

5. Host seminars or workshops that address depression and stress management techniques, to help employees reduce anxiety and stress and improve focus and motivation.

6. Create and maintain dedicated, quiet spaces for relaxation activities.

7. Provide managers with training to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and depression in team members.

8. Give employees opportunities to participate in decisions about issues that affect job stress.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” – Carl Rogers

Where to begin…

Evaluate your feelings

Everyone has some awareness of how they function at work. If you start to notice the following, it’s an indication that something is off.

·      You are losing interest in your job

·      Your productivity and performance declines

·      You dread going to work each day

·      You feel so anxious that you have trouble thinking about everything that you are supposed to do

·      Your emails and messages are piling up

·      You aren’t communicating with people as much as you typically would.

·      You are feeling ineffective in your job.

·      You start to engage in more negative self-talk.

Think about what might be causing these feelings. Is there one aspect of your job responsibilities that is causing most of your distress? Do you have an underlying physical or mental health problem that is being aggravated by your job? Is it some combination of the two?

Get support

Once you realize you need help, seek out a trusted friend, mentor, co-worker, peer group, or therapist.

For many, work is a significant part of life. It is where we spend most of our time, make our friends, and get our income. Having a fulfilling job is good for your mental health and general well-being and vice versa.

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