Millions of adults across America experience some form of a mental health disorder. These disorders, including depression, anxiety, and more, do not discriminate when it comes to race, class, gender, or ethnicity; they are equal opportunity offenders.
As mental health awareness becomes mainstream, employers are becoming more mindful about accommodating employees in the workspace. Accommodations can include on-site wellness programs that identify risks and offer supportive resources to employees who need them. There are also other practices to help manage stress which is a great way to improve employees’ health and overall productivity.
How Does Mental Health Affect Businesses and Employees?
Life is full of stressors, some of which may come from the workplace. In our culture of hustle, there is tremendous pressure that we feel from our superiors and that we put on ourselves to succeed. Many people work themselves past a point that is considered healthy to reach their definition of “success,” sacrificing sleep, hobbies, and relationships in the process.
It feels good to earn awards, a bonus, or praise from our bosses. However, when mental health is neglected, it can cause subpar job performance and productivity. Relationships with co-workers and group morale could suffer. In extreme cases, poorly managed mental health could result in job loss. Depression, in particular, is one mental illness that is associated with high rates of unemployment or disability. An estimated 57% of employees experience clinical depression, with this disorder being why employees struggle to complete work tasks about 20% of the time.
How Can I Manage Mental Health at Work?
Depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders can be challenging, but they are treatable. Following a treatment plan, such as receiving therapy and using medication, is a great way to manage symptoms. In addition, here are some suggestions for staying mentally healthy in the workplace:
Recognize the Signs That Indicate a Problem
Sometimes our bodies recognize challenges before our brains do. For example, a person may experience worsened depression symptoms around the anniversary of a personal loss. There tend to be warning signs when this happens, like dark clouds hovering before a storm. Potential signs could be increased fatigue, taking longer to complete tasks, or difficulties with communication.
How does your mental health disorder affect you? If you start to notice your symptoms worsening, you may want to bring this up with your doctor or employer. Pushing yourself to work harder may seem like a good idea but may aggravate these symptoms.
Make a To-Do List
Organizing tasks into manageable lists can make a mountain of work much more manageable. Prioritize it from “most important” to the less urgent things. You’ll feel better as you physically check items off this list and have an easier time staying on track.
It may seem counter-productive to take breaks if you’re under a deadline, but it’s good for your mind. Perhaps go on a short walk after finishing a few tasks, read a chapter of a book, or relax in some other way. Your brain will be refreshed when you return to your desk.
This suggestion may seem obvious, but we often don’t realize how dehydrated we are while working. Only after the headache sets in do we remember that we forgot to drink. Keep a water bottle on your desk and make a goal of finishing it over the course of your day. Hydration goes a long way toward helping you focus and reducing stressors.
Avoid Workplace Gossip
The allure of office gossip can be hard to resist and can even be a bonding technique with our co-workers, but it can increase stress and lower morale. You can express your frustrations with a co-worker in a healthy way that doesn’t involve bad-talking someone else and feel better for it.
Try Not to Take On Too Much
If possible, talk to your employer if you start to feel over-extended. Consider your time and current mental health before committing to new projects or job roles. If you want to take on more work, consider the resources you may need to take care of yourself.
Set Manageable Goals
Work can pile on us at times. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by a long list of tasks with short deadlines. You can feel more in control by breaking up these tasks into smaller lists of goals, so your duties don’t feel quite so daunting. Increase your motivation by giving yourself a small reward for completing your goals, such as a piece of candy or lunch at a favorite sandwich shop.
Personalize Your Space
Do you have an office or cubicle? Consider bringing a small plant, a photo of a loved one, a stress ball, or some other small token that makes you feel happy or peaceful when you look at it.
Talk to Your Human Resources Department
Human resources are there to help employees. If there is a situation that worsens your mental health, it’s essential to bring it up. Human resource professionals are obligated to address employees’ mental health conditions by law.
Know Your Triggers
Different people have different “triggers” that can kickstart a panic attack or depressive episode. Perhaps it’s a mandatory staff meeting, a presentation, or a one-on-one dialogue with your boss. Know what your triggers are to engage in a self-care routine beforehand to relax. You could take a walk outside, listen to soft music, have a cup of herbal tea, or do deep breathing exercises. Your doctor may have additional suggestions.
Seek Help When Necessary
Many people with mental health disorders unnecessarily suffer in silence. Keep your employer or doctor in the loop if you feel your symptoms worsen. They can provide you with the tools to cope to do your best work.
Given the amount of time most of us spend at the office, managing our mental health is extremely important for peak job performance. While work can be naturally stressful at times, those with known conditions or disorders must take care to keep themselves safe, mentally and emotionally. Self-care can look different from person to person as some may benefit from medication, therapy, or both. At Crownview Co-Occurring Institute in Oceanside, California, our licensed mental health professionals can work with you to find a treatment plan and a self-care routine throughout your day. Knowing the safeguard measures can help you feel more confident and in control. To learn more about how you can succeed in the workplace with depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions, call us today at 760-231-1170. You can also fill out a contact form through our website.