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10 Oct 2022


Workplace mental health

On World Mental Health Day, we take a look at some ways to maintain your mental health in the work place, which includes some links to external resources, so that you can get further information, if you need it.

We’ve all had days where we have become stressed out at work, but it’s important to learn how to manage it. If you often experience feelings of stress, you might be at risk of developing a mental health problem like depression or anxiety. If you are already experiencing mental health issues, stress can make things worse.

You don’t need to cope with stress at work alone. Here are some general ideas you can try to help you manage:

  • Understand more about stress. Recognising the signs of stress and learning about the causes of stress is good place to start.
  • Figure out what you find stressful and helpful. You could make a Wellness Action Plan to map out what causes you stress and what keeps you well. Once you know what’s best, talk to your employer. They may be able to make some changes to help you.
  • Learn different coping techniques. Everyone deals with stress differently, so take time to find methods that work for you. Use them as soon as you start to feel pressure building. Check out the guides from the Stress Management Society for ideas.
  • Try practicing mindfulness: Focusing on the here and now may help you to find calmness and clarity to respond to stressful situations.
  • Look after your physical health. Eat well and try a gentle activity like going for a walk or doing a chair-based exercise. Make sure you are taking regular breaks.

Managing common stressful situations at work:

If you feel stressed by a certain problem at work, you might not be alone in this, so it is always good to talk.

  • Ask for help. Discuss your workload with your manager, if you have one, a colleague, or peer. Set aside some time at the beginning of each day to prioritise what you have in front of you and set realistic targets. Make sure you are managing other peoples expectations, too.
  • Try to balance your time. You might be doing too much at once. If you don’t give each task your full attention, it can take longer. Try to claim your time back if you ever need to work extra hours to get something done.
  • Reward yourself for achievements. Rather than only focusing on work that needs to be done next, reward yourself for ticking something off your to do list. This doesn’t have to be anything big, it can be as simple as taking a break to go for a walk, or having a chat with a colleague. Something to break the day up.
  • Be realistic. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. You might find that you’re being more critical of your own work than you need to be!

Switching off:

It is so important to mentally switch off from work, even during the day.

  • Give yourself short breaks. Take these throughout the day, as well as at least half an hour away from your desk at lunch, to give yourself time to regroup and refocus. Spend some time outside if you can.
  • Take some time off. Try to use any holiday you’re entitled to. If things get too much, a few days off or a long weekend can help you feel refreshed. This can even increase your productivity in the long run.
  • Focus on your life outside work. Nurture relationships with people you don’t work with. Develop interests and skills that you don’t use in your job to help set a clear distinction between your personal life and your working life.
  • Develop end-of-day habits. Finish your working day by tidying your workspace, or making a to-do list for tomorrow. This can help you switch off from work, especially if you’re working from home.

Support in your workplace

  • Tell someone that you feel unsupported. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your job, you should be able to discuss this with your manager and work together to find a solution. However, if you do not feel this is possible, talk to your HR Manager.
  • Develop good relationships with your colleagues. Having connections with co-workers will not only make work feel more enjoyable and a happier place to be, but will also provide you with a support network, during the day.

One in four of us in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, so it is important to remember that you are not alone. If you are struggling and need some support, talk to someone; be it friends, family, your colleagues, a medical professional or even the Samaritans. There is always someone who will listen. You can find a list of support services by clicking here.

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