Maintaining Mental Health: Staying Stress-Free in the Workplace

mental health awareness week

As we mark Mental Health Awareness Week, it's important to take a step back from our industry-focused discussions and talk about something that impacts us all: mental health in the workplace. Stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues do not discriminate; they can affect anyone, regardless of their job, industry, or rank in the organisation. This week, let's shift our focus towards understanding how we can stay stress free in the working environment.

Understanding Workplace Stress

Workplace stress is not just about feeling overwhelmed or anxious about a specific task. It's a chronic condition than can lead to conditions such as insomnia, high blood pressure, heart disease, and weakened immune system. Moreover, it can exacerbate mental health issues like depression and anxiety disorders.

It's also important to note the impact of chronic stress on a person's overall quality of life. Chronic workplace stress can spill over into personal life, affecting relationships, and personal well-being, leading to a poor work-life balance.

Workplace stress is multifaceted and can stem from a variety of sources. It may be triggered by excessive workload, long hours, lack of control over job responsibilities, unclear job expectations, or toxic work relationships. In some cases, it may arise from a lack of job security or fear of layoffs. Even the physical work environment - inadequate lighting, noisy workspace, or ergonomic problems - can contribute to increased stress levels.

Tips for Staying Stress-Free in the Workplace

  1. Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance: Set boundaries for your working hours and make sure you have time for activities that you enjoy outside of work. Don't feel compelled to be 'always on' – it's important to disconnect and recharge.
  2. Organise and Prioritise Your Work: Being organised can significantly reduce stress levels. Prioritise your tasks based on their importance and urgency, and tackle them one at a time. Consider using productivity tools and apps to stay on track.
  3. Take Regular Breaks: Taking short breaks can help reset your mind and lower stress levels. Stand up, stretch, or take a quick walk – it can make a significant difference to your mental well-being.
  4. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: Mindfulness can help reduce stress by keeping you rooted in the present moment. Regular practice of mindfulness exercises or meditation can help manage stress and improve mental health.
  5. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep are crucial for managing stress. Exercise releases endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters, while a healthy diet and enough sleep can improve your energy levels and resilience to stress.
  6. Seek Support When Needed: If you're feeling stressed, don't hesitate to seek help. Reach out to colleagues, supervisors, or mental health professionals. Remember, it's okay to ask for help and it's a vital part of maintaining mental health.
  7. Promote a Positive Work Environment: Cultivate a positive work culture that encourages collaboration, appreciation, and support. A positive work environment can go a long way in reducing workplace stress.
  8. Educate Yourself and Others: Understanding mental health and recognising the signs of stress can help in early detection and intervention. Encourage open discussions about mental health in your workplace.

Further Help

Never hesitate to seek support when stress becomes unmanageable; reach out to colleagues, supervisors, or mental health professionals. In addition, there are many UK charities that help people to manage mental health issues; here are some of the most active and widely recognised:

  1. Mind
  2. CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably
  3. Young Minds
  4. The Samaritans
  5. Anxiety UK
  6. Rethink Mental Illness
  7. Mental Health Foundation
  8. Together for Mental Wellbeing