5 steps to help manage your emotional wellbeing at work

Flowers-keyboard-3.jpg#asset:6528

How we feel about work can influence our quality of life across many different areas – home, relationships, and it can even impact our physical health1. In particular, 2020 has been an unprecedented year of uncertainty and change, especially with regards to how the workplace operates and functions.

In light of this, it’s important to focus on maintaining a positive and balanced approach to work, in order to function at your best both in and out of the office2. This World Mental Health Day, we’re looking at how to manage your wellbeing in the workplace, so check out our top five tips below:

1.  Find a role and organisation that suit you

Happy-work.jpg#asset:6511

We’re all different, and with this comes different personalities, work styles and preferences. If you find yourself in a work environment where you don’t feel you “fit in”, it can be easy to blame yourself. However, it may well be that this current role and company just aren’t right for you, and in a different work environment you could find yourself thriving.

When considering a new workplace, find out as much as you can about the culture and environment. Check the company’s values to see if they align with your own. Find out about the benefits and perks it offers that might appeal to you – does it offer meditation opportunities if that’s your thing, or does it have a great volunteering program? Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the interview to get a full picture of the organisation – after all, it’s an opportunity for you to decide whether the company is right for you, as much as it is the other way around.

This is particularly important in light of recent times. Now that we’ve all had this opportunity to stop and think about our lives during COVID, while watching the culture and physical environment of work significantly change,  it’s even more important to find a work environment that suits you. And this may be something very different to what you were looking for before, as your views and priorities may have changed over the course of 2020.

2.  Avoid burnout

Burnout2.jpg#asset:6521

Burnout is now officially recognised as by the World Health Organisation as an occupational phenomenon, defined as “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”3  It’s therefore something that needs to be taken seriously with regards to workplace health, particularly as we navigate our new working environments, and the lines between work and home continue to blur.  

In order to mitigate burnout when working remotely, the Harvard Business Review suggests establishing healthy boundaries between home and work life, through tactics like dressing appropriately for the “office” and creating a “work commute” via a short walk before you start and after you log off. Be honest with your team members about when you’re available for work or when family commitments may mean your time is divided, so that expectations are clear. Finally, prioritise your work tasks and don’t feel obligated to constantly demonstrate output in order to “prove” that you are working – solitary research can be a critical component many projects, so it shouldn’t be pushed aside in favour of tasks that are less important but more visible4.

3.  Reach out when you need to

Confide.jpg#asset:6508

There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “a problem shared is a problem halved”, so consider opening up to someone you trust if there are things about your day that you need to talk through. Sometimes is can really help to get a different perspective on something, or to work through a strategy to address a challenge.

For times when things are tough, take advantage of any employee assistance programs that your work offers. If your body is unwell, you probably go to the doctor, so give your mental wellbeing the same care and consideration.

4.  Nurture your wellbeing

Breath.jpg#asset:6506

Looking after your own wellbeing is a really important part of managing workplace health. It’s no secret that exercise helps reduce stress5 and just 30 minutes of brisk walking five times a week is enough to meet the World Health Organisation’s recommended levels of physical activity6. If you find it hard to fit movement into your schedule, put some time in your diary at lunchtime or mid-afternoon, so it’s a regular commitment, and consider using a movement app or fitness watch, to help track your day and encourage you to move more.

Meditation and breathing exercises are a great way to maintain balance during your working day. Consider trying “box breathing”7, where you inhale to the count of four, hold your breath for four, exhale to four, and then count to four before breathing in again. Doing this a few times is a great way to promote a feeling of calm and to help focus your mind clearly.

5.  Explore your personal creativity outside of work

painting.jpg#asset:6505

Although we spend a huge amount of our life at work, it’s important to make sure that you have a focus outside of it. Taking up a hobby or interest, or even making it into a “side hustle”, can be very satisfying and enriching. In fact, it’s actually been shown that employees who are able to explore their own passions outside of work can be more creative and content in their main roles, as they can transfer skills between roles and also feel comfortable that all their talents are being nurtured8.

We spend so much of our life at work, that it’s important to make it a positive and enjoyable experience, so consider employing the above tips to help manage your wellbeing. Not only will it make you more productive in the office, it will also help improve your overall experience of health and happiness.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062016/
  2. https://hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive
  3. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en/
  4. https://hbr.org/2020/04/3-tips-to-avoid-wfh-burnout
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax
  6. https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_adults/en/
  7. https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2019/05/30/how-to-de-stress-in-5-minutes-or-less-according-to-a-navy-seal/#2e9b5343046d
  8. https://assets.henley.ac.uk/defaultUploads/PDFs/news/Journalists-Regatta-Henley_Business_School_whitepaper_DIGITAL.pdf?mtime=20180703154430&_ga=2.98227736.683304917.1600418769-255029061.1600418769