6 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health at Work

6 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health at Work

Mental and emotional health are always important to monitor, but the current challenges in the world make it crucial. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association created a whole guide regarding mental health while working remotely due to COVID-19.

Poor mental health can negatively affect job performance, productivity, communication, engagement, and daily functioning. Like any other aspect of our health, our minds need to be deliberately cared for in order to thrive. Here are a few ways to do that while at work.

Notice How You’re Actually Doing

Do you tell your coworkers that you’re doing well just out of habit? 

We often ask, and answer, “How are you doing?” as a greeting instead of a serious question. Take a minute to reflect and be honest with yourself: how are you actually feeling? This personal check-in develops emotional self-awareness and can help you recognize which habits are healthy and which are harmful to your mental health.

If you’re concerned about your mental health, there are many free screening assessments you can take online for some insight, such as for depression or anxiety. These tools do not diagnose illness, but can help you recognize if your symptoms may be related to one. You can then seek further help from a professional.

Practice Mindfulness

The Mayo Clinic defines mindfulness as “a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.” 

We spend a lot of time focusing on intangible thoughts and ideas, especially at work. Practicing mindfulness means taking some time to really engage with the world around you. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation lowers stress, improves memory, boosts ability to focus, and increases emotional stability. 

There are many meditation and mindfulness apps available to help you learn this skill, as well as many ways to practice it on your own. By taking just a few minutes a day to be mindful of your body, feelings, and surroundings, you can increase your personal health and ability to work well.

Take Breaks to Refocus

Humans have notoriously short attention spans. Our brains are not designed to focus exclusively on one thing for long periods of time. So, taking short breaks periodically throughout your workday will actually make you more efficient! 

We naturally spend time daydreaming, and scheduling in those breaks will help you focus when you really need to. So stand up, move around, and recharge for a few minutes! If you spend your work day sitting down for long periods, consider investing in a standing desk to give your body a break.

Eat a Nutritious Lunch

You have a lunch break: take it!

Your mind and body need the break, but they also need nutrition. As noted by the Mental Health Foundation, the food you eat can immediately impact your mood and energy levels. 

Find ways to eat balanced meals with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. (Which might mean replacing that candy in your desk drawer with dried fruit and nuts.) 

Try to get away from your desk. Lunch is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness by focusing on your meal and how it tastes. That means not eating while working! 

Engage Your Support Network

Having a support network is a huge aspect of maintaining mental and emotional health. We all face challenges and difficulties; it’s easier to cope when we talk about them together. 

Social distancing guidelines have changed the way we interact with one another. Many people are working remotely, and that can get lonely. Luckily, the same technology that allows us to work remotely, such as Microsoft Teams, also allows us to stay connected remotely. 

Having meetings and discussions over video provides some of that “face-to-face” interaction we need. As appropriate, talk about more than work. Checking in and building friendships with your teammates and coworkers will help them, too.

Ask About EAP Resources

Employee Assistance Programs provide free, confidential support for many work-related and personal struggles, including mental health. EAP professionals can give you tools and strategies to manage your stress and protect your mental health.

Mental illnesses are best treated by a professional. Finding the right doctor or therapist may feel daunting, so an EAP is a great place to start.

At adNET, we care about technology, but we also care about people. We hope you will take time to care for yourself and your mental well-being. Then, we can all have the strength, focus, and energy we need to do our best at work and build businesses together.

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