How to Put Your Mental Health Ahead of Your Job

Mental health issues are a common occurrence in the workplace today, and seem to be on the rise. Since 2014, there has been a rapid increase in people suffering from mental health issues in the workplace in the United States.

A lot of it has to do with workers just being overwhelmed. People work hard to get their jobs done, even when it is sometimes unattainable. This can be extremely stressful and people often don’t show it, as this is a way to lose credibility.

Hiding the negative toll that work has on its employees is commonplace, however, this is not good for the mental health of employees or any workplace culture.

Finding ways to put your mental health ahead of your job can help you maintain the mental health that you need to succeed at work.

Below are some tips and ways that can help you put your mental health first and refrain from compromising it to succeed at work.

1. Practice more healthy habits

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average American works 8.8 hours every day. This means that they spend more time at work than they do at home. This makes it easy to comprehend why so many people eat fast food for lunch or snack a lot at work.

There is a ton of research to support that food and eating habits play a huge role in mental health as it does physical health. Recent studies have shown depression to increase by around 50 percent for people who have terrible diets, compared to those who eat healthy foods. Also, the risk for ADD (attention-deficit disorder) is increased.

Although it is easy to just get food out of the vending machine, or run over to the local convenience store, you should consider preparing your own healthy lunches and snacks. This is a good way to practice in improving your eating habits and in turn will help to improve your mental health.

2. Set Realistic/Attainable Goals

As humans, we try to do the best we can and sometimes can set unrealistic goals for ourselves. Setting goals can be a good thing, however, not when they are nearly impossible to reach. Studies have shown that setting unrealistic and unattainable goals are actually detrimental to health.  

This is important to consider when setting deadlines and scheduling assignments at work. Do not put more on yourself than what you can do. If something needs to be done, ask for assistance. Across three studies, all of them showed that getting away from setting unattainable goals is associated with better health and normative secretion patterns of cortisol.

3. Take Breaks

There is a reason why employees get so many breaks during the day. The reason is to help our minds refocus and retain information. It is scientifically proven that breaks help us regain focus, motivation, and sharpness.

People often don’t understand the importance of breaks on the body. When they are busy or trying to get a job done, they want to stay focused and work on getting it done, however, this is not a good thing. You have to take breaks, your body needs it.

A study of office workers revealed that although 66 percent of employees work more than eight hours per day, about one third of them do not take a break other than lunch time. Of these workers, one in five said guilt was the reason they don’t want to step away from their workplaces. Meanwhile, 86 percent of employees agreed that taking breaks helps them become more productive.

So, don’t let yourself feel guilty taking a break. It is your right as an employee. Take a walk around the office, or eat a healthy snack. In the end it will make you a happier worker and help you become more successful, even if it may not seem like it.

4. Get Support

If you are experiencing mental health issues, then make sure to get support. Get support from your friends, family, and co-workers around you. Create an open door policy where people can come in for a chat.

It’s been widely reported that talking about your mental health issues will make you feel better, and this applies to how mental health is dealt with in your workplace. Employers that prioritise mental health have happier employees. Happier employees are more productive.

However, if you work somewhere where your mental health isn’t prioritised and it’s causing you stress, there are options apart from quitting. Anxiety, depression and other mental health issues are considered disabling conditions under Social Security Disability.

You can file for benefits if your condition fits the criteria, especially if your condition was caused by or worsened by your stressful work environment.

5. Practice Mediation

Many studies have shown the importance and great effects of meditating on mental health. It will help to reduce your stress your stress levels and overall improve your well-being.

Studies have found that the best time to meditate is early in the morning or right before bed. If you are having a stressful day, even try meditating during your breaks. Sit cross-legged and work on your breathing techniques. It has helped others and is definitely worth a shot.

Don’t let your mental health issues put you ahead of your job. Chances are, others are in the same situation as you. Try the techniques and tips listed above and improve your mental health before you think about losing it to your job.

Ify Mustard

About Author:

Ify Mustard is an enthusiastic professional covering African startup related news updates. She is the Founder of Neshprint, a leading printing company in Nigeria.