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5 Ways to Boost Your Mental Health in the Workplace
Most of us are aware of the need to care for our physical body to feel good. But it's also the strength and state of our mental health that helps keep us afloat when life throws a little more than the usual at us.
In support of World Mental Health Day, this article looks at what mental health is and what we can do to help keep our mental health feeling good in the workplace, no matter what the boss is dishing up.
What Is Mental Health?
WHO (the World Health Organisation) states mental health is "... a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can contribute to his or her community." Interesting is that they stress mental health "is not just the absence of mental disorder."
With the pace of life today, and employers more often than not pushing employees to deliver more, it's no wonder many of us feel burned out, stressed out, or on the verge of wanting to throw in the towel at the place we spend most of our time - work.
Some of the more common mental health problems many of us face, that can stem from or be exacerbated by our place of work, are feelings of:
But it doesn't have to be this way. We can change the way we allow our external environment to impact the way we feel.
Here are 5 ways to calm the mind and take care of your psychological and social well-being in the workplace:
1) Intend: Set an intention for your work environment to feel good
Know that YOU get to CHOOSE how you feel at any time.
No matter what your workload is, or the office politics, remember that YOU get to spend the day feeling how YOU decide to feel.
If you're currently struggling at work, here's an active 3-minute meditation that can help eliminate the overwhelm or anxiety you might be feeling:
• Before leaving the house for work, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, in through the nose, and out through the mouth.
• Now begin to envision your day ahead. Not what you have to do, or your to-do list, but the way you want to feel.
• Ask yourself: What trait or quality do you want to bring in? For example, is it centeredness, boldness, confidence, or something else? Whatever it is, breathe it in: so as you inhale, say to yourself I WILL BE BOLD, for example. Then exhale the same words out. Continue for several rounds of breath.
Envision yourself with this quality. See yourself standing throughout your upcoming day at work, embodying this quality.
See yourself faced with a challenging situation and still being able to maintain this quality. You've got this!
2) Practice mindfulness
Work often pulls us in many different directions, which makes it difficult to focus and can intensify already high-stress levels.
But it's possible to train ourselves to focus better, be more productive, and feel less stressed at work, through mindfulness practices.
Practicing mindfulness helps us develop a sharp, clear mind, and to release distractions as they come up. It keeps us in the present moment instead of ruminating over yesterday's meeting or tomorrow's presentation.
It's also the antidote to that thing that messes with us more than almost anything else: multi-tasking.
Here are 5 ways to inject mindful moments into your workday so you stay clear, sharp and can slay all day:
· Avoid opening your inbox: until you've had the chance to get fully settled and complete one of your priorities for the day.
· As you're walking to your desk: decide to remain present throughout your day. Choose a mantra such as "Today I will stay calm and slay" so that anytime you say this to yourself it will bring you back to the present moment.
· Be a single-tasker: not a multi-tasker. No one can multi-task effectively. It might make you think you're more productive, but you end up getting nowhere fast. Multi-tasking is much more stressful than only focusing on one thing at a time.
· Set reminders: If you tend to get distracted easily (or is that just me?!), set a vibrating alarm on your phone to remind you to come back to the present moment, refocus, and start anew.
· Slay the afternoon slump: by deliberately taking a break and going for a 10min walk or sitting somewhere separate to your desk for a few rounds of calming breath work (breathe in slowly for a count of 3, hold for a count of 3, and then release for 3).
Each of these tips will help boost your concentration and energy levels and have you feeling less stressed and being more productive at work.
3) Boost your inner confidence
Confidence is a peaceful, powerful state of being. It's a place from which the right words, feelings, ideas, and actions just come naturally.
Confidence is fuel.
Isn't it interesting though, that as humans we tend to focus on our mistakes – the things we aren't happy about or proud of, right?
Here's something to remember: what we focus on expands. And what we focus on is up to us.
Focusing on what's going right, even if it seems insignificant, instead of focusing on what's going wrong, will create a positive emotional chain reaction and an upward spiral.
So if you want to boost your self-confidence, instantly, at work, take a couple of minutes to write down what's going right and the things you've already achieved.
Keep this as a list in a handy place at work where you can quickly remember all the things you've already achieved, on the daily.
4) Feeling stuck in your career? Perhaps it's time for a soul dive
Because feeling stuck in your career, is a sure-fire way to feel stuck in life.
If you feel sluggish at work, lack of enthusiasm towards your career, or tend to live for the weekend, it might be time to listen to these soul nudges and remember you can always change your situation.
While you're in the moment of the daily grind, it might not feel like it, but you do have free will. You do not have to stay stuck where you currently work if you don't want to.
What often happens though, is that we get stuck in the comfortableness of the devil we know, and it becomes easier to complain and moan than do anything about it.
If you are ready to change that start by asking yourself these 3 questions:
What am I doing when I'm not giving 100% at work?
It's ok, I won't tell. From time-to-time, we all slack off at work day-dreaming about other things. But if you find yourself doing this on the regular, it could be an excellent indicator for where your true passions lie.
What sites, podcasts, and books do I love immersing myself in?
Think about the websites you've bookmarked, and who or what you follow on social media.
If I could be, do or have something else for a week, what would it be?
Who and what we admire and crave could be a significant indicator of the life we'd secretly like to have. In fact, it could be a bright, shining clue as to the career path your soul craves!
If in answering these three questions, another path becomes more apparent to you, the next step is to take action because NOTHING changes without ACTION.
What's one thing can you do over the next seven days to bring your passions to life? Do it. The following week, do two more. And so on.
Watch what happens. The results may take your breath away!
5) Allow being passionate to become your superpower
If you've ever felt yourself get lost in something you're curious or passionate about, then you know how flow feels.
One of the best ways to get productive, "stop" time and create more than you thought possible for yourself, is to place your focus on what lights you up and turns you on.
Passion is a superpower!
Through passion: focus, intensity, and productivity come for free.
And no, this doesn't mean having to throw your hands up if you're not passionate about what you're currently doing in your day gig.
As Oprah says, "Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do."
Start with where you're at right now.
Ask yourself (and then your boss) How can I do more of the tasks I really enjoy doing in my day job, and less of the ones I despise?
And if it's not possible right now to change any aspect of your day job, get up early, stay up late, spend your weekends doing more of what you love!
Remember what we focus on expands, and you never know the magic that awaits when you're living out your passions. ☺