Taking a “mental health day” has become the go-to quick fix for many workers facing imminent (or ongoing) burnout. The idea is that a 24-hour booster can help to turn our mood around and help us recharge the way a power nap does.
Instead of addressing rising stress levels and work-life imbalance, many organisations choose to implement things like open floor plans, team outings, stocking the pantry with healthy snacks, and encouraging employees to take a day off. But while we should appreciate companies that offer and encourage time-off, long-term mental wellness is more than what a day off work can achieve.
What we need is a comprehensive look at mental wellness at the workplace.
Workplace stress is pretty common, but when it can result in bigger problems such as depression and anxiety if left unchecked. Stress can not only create negative emotions, it can also lead to lower productivity, inability to focus and tense relations with co-workers.
Employers everywhere emphasise so much on productivity, but that often only pressurises employees to perform well at the expense of their happiness, mental health and overall job satisfaction.
While employers need to be more flexible and empathetic toward each employee, we can also take charge of our own mental health with these productivity tips.
Stress can arise from a lack of control over our work, resulting in anxiety and depression. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed and pushed to the brink of breaking down at work because there just seems to be so much to do, here’s how you can manage that mountain of work.
Make a to-do list to keep track of all your tasks – even the most trivial ones – and, even better, rank them according to urgency, significance, or time required. Not only does a to-do list it help you prioritise your tasks, it also makes you feel good every time you check off an item!
A relentless workload can seem insurmountable, and it can make us feel helpless, contributing to our stress level. Setting small, manageable goals can break down major tasks into more achievable ones so the work feels much less daunting.
Some people might see workplace gossip as harmless entertainment or a way to bond with colleagues. Some might even see it as a way to vent their frustrations at work. But in the long run, gossiping can create more stress because it lowers the team morale, creates a negative work environment, and strains relationships with our coworkers – not to mention it is also unprofessional.
It’s fine to vent about your problems with a colleague as long as it is not done behind that person’s back to third parties.
Open, honest communication in the workplace is essential for maintaining good relationships with your coworkers and employers, and ultimately guarding your mental well-being. It definitely helps if employers are also as understanding and upfront, because that will take the stress out of your dialogues with them.
You don’t have to wait for your employer to start the conversation though. Whatever serious grievances you might have regarding your role, you should approach your employer to clear the air if you’re facing an overwhelming workload, unrealistic deadlines, or other issues. Be respectful, professional and sincere when voicing your concerns and you’ll be able to create a more manageable and productive work environment for yourself.
We’re starting to understand the downsides and dangers of multitasking. We’re realising that multitasking is not a sign of productivity. In fact, it’s the opposite.
We just think we’re multitasking, but we’re actually just splitting our attention and constantly shifting our focus between one task and another and not making much progress with either. Mono-tasking helps you devote all your attention and focus to one job so that you can do it faster and better.
To be a productive worker, you need to have downtime. Many studies have shown the importance of taking regular breaks, not just for your brain, but also your body. Spending long stretches of time glued to your desk can have a negative impact on your focus, creativity and motivation. Movement breaks are meant to help reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
Whether it’s a short walk to get the blood circulation going or kicking back with a book, every bit of unwinding helps to soothe your frazzled nerves. Working longer hours does not always translate to productivity. By taking a break every hour or two, you’ll be able to recharge your mental batteries. Your mind and body will thank you for it in the long run.
It is just as important to start and finish your work on time as it is to take regular breaks. Working overtime doesn’t show that you’re a hardworking employee. Employers might even think that you’re inefficient and unproductive. Don’t be a work martyr who sacrifices hours of your personal time just to clear your workload.
Productivity falls when you’re overworked, especially after the 55 hours per week mark. Sacrificing your personal time for work can be a huge drain on your mental and physical health, and ultimately, your happiness.
Clocking in and leaving on time allows you to make the most of your working hours and draw a clear line between your professional and personal lives, thus achieving work-life balance.
Regardless of the line of work you’re in, you deserve a reward for devoting your time and energy to your work.
Treating yourself can come in different ways. Find out what sparks the most joy in you. It could be going on a shopping spree or having a quiet midday coffee with a book, a spa session or grocery shopping.
Rewarding yourself is a way of working yourself up and giving you a pat on the back for your hard work. These productivity boosts will make you a happier worker in the long run.