Mental Health In The Workplace

It can be difficult at times to maintain a balance. Things can pile on without you realising, causing stress and anxiety – especially in the workplace. It’s often the case, we don’t even realise we’re struggling and can find it difficult to recognise the early signs of burnout. Whether you need a little help yourself or are checking in on a co-worker, it’s important to act fast and put mental health first.

Unfortunately, there is still a stigma around mental health in the workplace, with many people treating the subject as taboo. It not only makes it difficult to discuss, it also slows the process of getting help, which is why it’s extremely important for us to educate ourselves, prioritise, and provide mutual support. So, in honour of Mental Health Awareness week, we encourage you to understand the most common signs of poor mental health, as well as work on things you can implement to improve your own mental wellbeing:

Signs to look out for

  • Changes in mood – everyone has their better and worse days, it’s inevitable that you won’t be happy all the time. But for most people, these dips in mood don’t last for too long or become a pattern. It’s important to note if someone’s change in mood persists for a long time, especially if it’s a stark contrast from their usual selves.
  • Problems with focus and productivity – many people who struggle with their wellbeing find it difficult to maintain concentration or to be productive. This is often particularly present in the workplace and can cause a lot of stress when attempting to carry out usual duties. So, if you see your colleague falling behind, it’s worth checking in on them. Likewise, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  • Changes in work pattern – when struggling with your mental health, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to even leave the house. This can result in absence from work or arriving late. If you notice that someone who’s normally punctual makes a new habit of showing up late, ask them how they’re doing. Similarly, if you’re regularly finding it difficult to be on time or make deadlines, make sure you’re looking after yourself.
  • Changes in sleeping behaviour – this one can be difficult to monitor in the workplace, but poor mental health can have a huge impact on our sleeping habits. It can prompt inconsistent sleeping patterns, making it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep or in other cases, cause oversleeping. However, in most scenarios, the result is usually exhaustion, jitteriness, and fatigue. So, if you notice that your colleague is consistently tired, or you yourself are experiencing any of the above, it may be a sign of compromised mental wellbeing.

What might help

  • Take a break from screens – a lot of us spend a good portion of the day using laptops and phones. So, when you take your lunch break or finish up working, it’s good to let your brain rest. You may also want to utilise readily available apps designed to lower screen time, or look into ways of minimising your exposure to blue light, which is often linked with eyestrain and headaches.
  • Moving around – taking a minute to stretch or take a short walk can help with your mental wellbeing. It helps by reducing muscle tension, increasing levels of serotonin, ultimately increasing your ability to focus. Working out or exercising before bed has also been known to improve the quality of sleep as well as providing additional benefits when it comes to your mental and physical health.
  • Take sick days – when we are feeling under the weather, it makes sense for us to take a break from work. It’s our bodies way of letting us know what it needs. But for those of us who work from home, the lines may feel blurred making it difficult to make that call. In fact, studies show that individuals working from home take fewer sick days, feeling less inclined to take necessary time off. Not only does this make our mental health suffer, it lowers the quality of work. Take a break and recuperate, so when you get back – you can give 100%.
  • Have a snack – eating something good can help boost our mental health. It can be something healthy, or an occasional salty or sweet treat. This can release serotonin, which is known to improve mood, as well as maintaining a steady source of energy to get us through the day. Make sure you’re implementing a balanced diet and getting all the nutrition you need. Experts suggest; if you’re looking to improve your sleep, eat foods high in vitamin B, for an antioxidant boost look for sources of vitamin E, and for stress management, balance your levels of magnesium.

These are just a few tips that can be used to improve your mental health, but it’s important to remember that everyone is different, what works for some may be ineffective for others. If you or someone you know is struggling, it’s important to reach out and seek the advice of your GP for optimal support.

We hope you’ve found this short read helpful. Why not share it on your socials, tagging us @mbsmih, and share your ideas and experiences too.

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