For many of us, work is a major part of our lives. It is where we spend much of our time, where we get our income and often where we make our friends. Having a fulfilling job can be good for your mental health and general wellbeing.
We all have times when life gets on top of us – sometimes it is work-related, like deadlines or travel. Sometimes it's something else – our health, our relationships, or our circumstances. The value added to the economy by people who are at work and have or have had mental health problems is as high as £225 billion per year, which represents 12.1% of the UK's total GDP. See link for more info.
It's vital that we protect that value by addressing mental health at work for those with existing issues, for those at risk, and for the workforce as a whole. A toxic work environment can be corrosive to our mental health.
We believe in workplaces where everyone can thrive. We also believe in the role of employers, employees and businesses in creating thriving communities.
Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand and there is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. Addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12%.
Looking after your mental health at work
We can all take steps to improve our own mental health, and build our resilience – our ability to cope with adversity. Self-care is a skill that needs to be practised. It isn’t easy, especially if we feel anxious, depressed or low in self-esteem.
Try looking through the 10 evidence-based ways to improve your mental health below.
There’s bound to be one or two you do well. These can be your assets – your go-to methods for working on your wellbeing.
Look for one or two you find hard. These can be your challenges. It may be that these areas are the ones you neglect under stress
Finally, look for one or two areas that you feel you could work on or try. These can be goals. Your goals and challenges can be the same but it's sometimes kinder to yourself to have some goals that you can meet more easily.
1. Talk about your feelings
Talking about your feelings can help you maintain your mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.
2. Keep active
Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better.
3. Eat well
What we eat can affect how we feel both immediately and in the longer term. A diet that is good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
4. Drink sensibly
We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary.
5. Keep in touch
Relationships are key to our mental health. Working in a supportive team is hugely important for our mental health at work.
We don’t always have a choice about who we work with, and if we don’t get on with managers, colleagues or clients, it can create tension. It may be that you need to practise more self-care at these times, but you may also need to address difficulties. There are more tips for doing that in The Mental Health Foundation's guide to investing in your relationships.
6. Ask for help
None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan.
7. Take a break
A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health.
It could be a five-minute pause from what you are doing, a book or podcast during the commute, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some 'me time'.
8. Do something you're good at
What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem.
9. 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. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn. Be proud of who you are.
10. Care for others
Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you.
Working life can provide opportunities to care for others – contributing through vocational jobs like nursing or care work can be hugely significant for mental health. In most jobs, you can choose to be there for colleagues – either as a team-mate, or as a line manager, when strategies like coaching and training are good ways to support others.
Helping can make us feel needed and valued, and that boosts our self-esteem.
Employer checklist for creating mentally healthy workplaces
Value mental health and wellbeing as core assets of your organisation
- Commit to developing an approach to mental health at work that protects and improves mental health for everyone, whilst supporting those people who experience distress. Designate board champions, and ensure senior leaders and middle managers are responsible for implementing mental health programmes.
- Commit to reviewing the way you do business to ensure your everyday working culture is as mentally healthy as possible. Make evidence based mental health promotion tools like mindfulness and exercise available to all staff.
- Regular staff surveys and other research to build data about staff mental health, using findings to plan and deliver action and inform workplace policies. Recognise and celebrate the impact of existing employee benefits and corporate social responsibility activities on the mental health and wellbeing of staff.
Mindfulness coaches can also help
We have all heard of therapists, this is not therapy. Mindfulness coaching is a thought provoking and creative process that inspires you to maximise your personal and professional potential. What would you be doing right now if there was literally nothing stopping you?
Mindfulness coaches offer a range of services to, you, your team or your wider business in order to maximise how you feel and what you can acheive with the right mindset. There are a range of solutions on offer ranging from communication seminars, private coaching packages, corporate bundle packages, life coaching pop up shops and many many more.
If this is something you belive could benifit you and your business then we have a reccomendation of someone we have personally worked with, the benifits are truly incredible and help not just productivity but also mental wellbeing.
Nicholas Smith Coaching
"I’ve always strived to be a valuable and dependable friend and discovered the worlds of CBT and NLP almost accidentally but soon realised how many of my friends had benefitted from some the core principles once we had discussed them.
From a lot of these moments I decided to become a professional life coach, to make a positive impact in the lives of people from all ages and backgrounds.
I offer a truly personable experience, no stuffy office, no judgement, just coffee and the desire to understand you and help you achieve your personal goals."
Nicholas offers a range of services, should you wish to get in touch then you can do so at:
References: Mental Health Foundation, Harvard Business Review, Nicholas Smith Coaching,
Visit our knowledge base here for more helpful and insightful articles