5 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health at Work

For the majority of Americans who have been diagnosed with a mental health condition(s), they are not able to openly discuss their mental health status at work as they fear stigmatization, rejection, and termination if they open up about their mental health condition(s). Closeting one’s mental health status upon entering the professional world is a hard reality to face as it can lead one to experience isolation and sadness.

60% of Americans do not disclose their anxiety condition at work due to being seen as “weak”.

For many of us, work is a place that can flare up symptoms due to heightened stress, workplace politics and less than ideal management. A few years ago, my anxiety started to surface at work due to a supervisor who first teared up my work at a 3-month review. I felt sad, anxiety and a lack of confidence after that meeting as felt like I was not living up to my potential at this particular position. My relationship with this particular supervisor did not improve and after months of dreading work, coming up with excuses for calling out, I handed in my two weeks and left. To this day, I have workplace anxiety around meetings and working with supervisors as my past has led me to believe all supervisors are rigid and unapproachable.

We often put up with unfit managers, hostile work environments, and too much work because the pay is better than our last job, or the benefits are excellent. I am not saying to quit your job, but your mental health and preservation of self is more important than any job.

5 Ways to protect your mental health at work:

Set boundaries:

From working relationships to the time, you leave the office. Sticking to clear boundaries will help maintain your mental health. If your working hours are 9-5, leave at 5 and don’t feel guilty about it.

Eat healthy throughout the day:

We get busy with deadlines and meetings, but your health and wellness should always be a priority. Pack a lunch and healthy snacks the night before to persuade you from grabbing snacks in the vending machine. Healthy snacks such as fruits, nuts, and seeds will help maintain healthy blood sugar throughout the day and won’t send you into a 3 pm mental crash like donuts and cookies do.

Move:

If you work a regular desk job, sitting at a desk for 8+ hours a day is stringent on your physical and mental well-being. Being in the same position for too long builds up stress and tension in the body. Get up every 40-50 minutes take a short walk around the office or to the restroom.

Talk to HR:

If you are having an issue with your workload, a colleague or the culture advocate for yourself and talk to human resources. Speak to them about the issues you are having, and offer a sensible solution. You never know, they maybe of great help!

Know when to leave:

You know the dread and pit in your stomach you experience first thing in the morning? This may be one of the signs it is time to look for another job. Trust yourself and your intuition, your body, has a way of telling you something is not working, listen.

No workplace is perfect, we all have aspects of our jobs that are less than ideal. If your job and the workplace is keeping you up at night stressed, leading to symptoms of anxiety, depression, or another mental health condition, please reach out and seek help from a therapist, or trusted family member or friend.