Work + Mental Health | #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth

October is dubbed Mental Health Awareness month, with 10 October being the World Mental Health Day – recognized by the World Health Organization. We can all agree that this year especially, has been a tough month for South Africa more specifically… with the civil unrest, looting and 3rd wave of the pandemic negatively affecting many South Africans – resulting in job loss, salary reduction, and work hours cut. 

This is not only affecting businesses and entrepreneurs, but EVERYONE. Work stress is quite common and can lead to bigger problems, such as depression and anxiety – if left unchecked. This does not only affect one emotionally, but it reduces productivity. 

Some of the common factors that can contribute to people’s mental health problems include:

* Hectic work schedules,

* Lack of support from seniors/management,

* Unhealthy work environments.

There’s ways to combat this without quitting your job – however sometimes it leads to that. Considering the amount of time we spend on work, it’s important to be in a stress free workplace. Stressful times will be there because of deadlines and other pressures, but that shouldn’t take up so much of your peace. 

The following 5 tips can help you improve your overall mental health at work. 

1️⃣ Identify the root of the problem 

 The first thing to solving a problem is understanding it, and where it roots from – notice the signs of the problem. Sometimes the problem doesn’t stem from work, it could be a more personal issue that’s affecting your work performance, relationships, etc. When our mind, body/soul doesn’t have balance, things go south. 

2️⃣ Take frequent breaks & harness your leave days 

Breaks are so important, let’s not romanticize hard labour and overworking. It’s good to put in extra effort in your work, but it’s just as important to get some rest. Whenever you get a chance; take a breather, take some time off. Listen to your body. 

3️⃣ Set small, manageable goals 

A to-do list can be so overwhelming really. Looking at all the stuff on the list and your mine is already telling you “we’re never going to finish this today”, that already kind of breaks your spirit. Break down bigger goals into smaller tasks, it saves you the anxiety and possible procrastination. Do what you have energy and enthusiasm for first: depending on brain power. Use all the help you have by delegating where you can, sharing tasks, and theme your day/week. 

4️⃣ Talk to human resource 

It is important to exercise your rights in the workplace, respectfully. It is said “If organizational or management issues are creating mental distress, it is important to alert a human resources professional at their organization to discuss”. You are not steering trouble, you are prioritising your mental health and that’s a good move. HR professionals are required to have this “on the record” if an employee is under emotional distress, by law required to address the issue. Sometimes it might not be problems you are experiencing in the workplace per se, but they need to know so the organisation can best support you. 

5️⃣ Knows your triggers and get help 

Unfortunately, expecting everyone to tiptoe around what triggers you is unrealistic. Learn to work through your own triggers, whether it’s work or personal. If need be, seek professional help which will help you figure practical solutions to deal with triggering moments. Journaling your thoughts and situations which lead to stress can also help you identify them so that next time they show up, you may quickly shut them down by doing breathing exercises, stretching, etc. You can also try setting boundaries, expectations, and any other way to protect yourself/your mental health. 

A bonus tip would be adding personal items to a workspace. This can help you feel better when you’re having a hard time. When people can look at reminders of their loved ones, favorite moments or hobbies, it can help them feel centered and positive as they think about the things that make them happiest.

Let us know how you combat mental health at work if you’ve experienced it, we’d love to hear from you!

Also if you missed this, we previously shared on How To Keep Employees Motivated and Productive around this time of the year as the manager. Find it here: https://accasesolutions.co.za/2021/08/28/how-to-keep-employees-motivated-and-productive/