5 Ways to Improve Mental Wellbeing at Work
How do you feel about your job? If you are stressed and unhappy but feel stuck with no options, you’re not doomed to misery. There are ways you can improve mental wellbeing at work, whether your job is somewhat stressful or rife with conflict and problems. You can achieve mental wellbeing when you remember you are separate from work, and that means you can be mentally healthy no matter what your external work environment is like.
In addition to the below ways to improve mental wellbeing at work, developing a healthy perspective is important for wellbeing: even when it’s stressful, work itself isn’t a bad thing. On a practical level, paid employment provides the necessary income for living. It can also create a sense of fulfillment. Satisfaction in a job well done contributes to a positive self-concept. People benefit from their work financially and psychologically.
What happens, though, when work stresses are overwhelming? You can still thrive amidst conflict and stress.
Here are ways to do it.
How to Improve Your Mental Wellbeing at Work
You can take charge of your work environment, yourself, or both. Sometimes working for significant changes in your workplace is successful and helpful. In other cases, though, changing things at the organizational level isn’t possible. If advocating for changes causes more problems than it solves, you can turn your attention to yourself and do things to increase your own mental wellbeing at work in spite of work issues around you.
These ideas address both changes in the work environment and within you. Select the ones that fit your situation.
- Decide if you can make changes to your workplace, then make action plans to do what you can.
Enlisting involvement and help from coworkers increases office cohesiveness and positive relationships, key components of workplace mental health. You might rearrange the space, change the décor, brighten up a break room—anything that improves the environment (think plants and peaceful colors) improves mental wellbeing at work. And if you can’t make sweeping changes, you can at least spruce up your own area.
- Be proactive with your stress level so you maintain a healthy balance.
Too much stress at work takes a toll on mental health, while too little zaps mental and emotional wellness by decreasing motivation and drive. Work hard, but take frequent, short breaks. Stretch, walk around the office or outside (just move somewhere, somehow), breathe deeply, drink water, eat a nutritious snack. Doing small, healthy things rejuvenates you in big ways. Also, if you can listen to music while working, do so, as music has been proven to influence mood and decrease stress.
- Create and manage daily goals.
Start each day by making an intentional, focused plan. Determine the best way to approach your tasks efficiently. Procrastination, disorganization, and lack of direction decrease mental wellbeing. Solidify your focus initially and check in with it as your work. Mindfulness is very powerful in increasing wellbeing at work, for when you are mindful, you are focused on what you are doing in the present moment rather letting your brain run away with distracted, anxious, or other negative thoughts.
- Form connections.
Sometimes, work makes people feel more isolated even though there are others around. Stress can make everyone impatient and irritable. Anxiety, too, keeps people apart. Studies, though, highlight the importance of strong social connections on our mental health and wellbeing. If you feel disconnected, change that. Start by reaching out to just one coworker. You don’t have to host office parties to form good relationships that foster mental wellbeing at work.
- Intentionally develop your values and sense of purpose.
While all five of these tips are important and effective, if you had to choose only one, this one would be it. Knowing your greater purpose makes many things much more tolerable. You can journal your thoughts, create a vision board, represent them with a photo collage, or list them neatly on an index card or in a program like Evernote. Getting your values and purpose out of your head and out in front of you makes them more real. You can see why you’re going to work day after day. When you know your reason, you can cope with situations you can’t change because you know you’re doing it for a greater purpose in your life. Not only does this improve your mental wellbeing at work (and everywhere else), it is mental health and wellbeing itself.
A final thought to add to your repertoire of strategies to improve mental wellbeing at work: develop a solution-minded outlook. Negativity feeds off of negativity and grows large, looming over an entire office. When someone complains, others join in. It keeps things stuck, even toxic. Excuse yourself from negative conversations, and pay attention to your own words. Being solution- rather than problem-oriented makes a big difference in your mental wellbeing at work and beyond.
Peterson, T. (2018, May 12). 5 Ways to Improve Mental Wellbeing at Work, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/self-help-information/5-ways-improve-mental-wellbeing-work