Prioritizing Your Mental Health at Work
The stress response
The stress response is coded for in our biological nature. In the very beginning of time, our bodies needed to be able to initiate a fight-or-flight response to protect us from the dangers of our environment.
We have evolved as a human race since then, and while we do not face the same dangers that we did thousands of years ago, the stress response persists. You may be very familiar with the symptoms of stress: the pounding heart, the tensing of muscles, and the racing thoughts. For many, our work and our career can be the cause of these stress symptoms1.
How does work-related stress effect our quality of life?
Approximately a quarter of employees believe their job is their number one cause of stress. When stress is infrequent or transient, it has little effect on your health.
Chronic stress, however, can have negative impacts on your physical and mental health. With persistent stress, your body is constantly in a state of activation. This can cause fatigue and impair your body’s ability to work properly. Chronic stress can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, weakened immune systems, cancer, musculoskeletal disorders, and mental health issues2.
How do you prioritize your mental health in the workplace?
There are many ways to deal with the everyday stress at work in a healthy way to better your mental health. Here we discuss the different ways you can achieve a better work-life balance.
Prioritize your health with adequate diet and exercise
It can be easy to put other aspects of your life on the backburner when you are overwhelmed with responsibilities at work. However, neglecting your physical and mental health will only make things worse in the long run. It is important to take care of yourself and your body.
Frequent exercise at least 30 minutes a day can help to relieve stress and soothe your mind. A proper diet will help to keep you fueled, alert, and positive so that you can maximize your time throughout the workday. Try to minimize how much sugar and refined carbs you ingest daily. Also avoid food and drinks that may negatively impact your mood, such as caffeine and trans fats3.
Build a good support system
Having someone to vent to is perhaps one of the best ways to relieve stress. If possible, try to build some personal relationships with your coworkers. They are likely to best people to understand your day-to-day work struggles.
You can also turn to your friends and family for support to help ground you, offer advice, or help to take your mind off things. Finally, consider seeing a therapist or physician to talk things through and get a professional opinion 3.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is not just for the weak. A proper night’s rest is essential to maintaining a clear mind, focus, and productivity during the day. The optimal amount of sleep for adults is 8 hours every night. Do not compromise a full night’s sleep for work or other responsibilities 3.
- MA, N. J. L., & PhD, L. M. (2019, April 17). How to handle stress at work. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-to-handle-stress-at-work-2019041716436
- Stress at work. (2020). https://doi.org/10.26616/NIOSHPUB99101
- Stress at work—Helpguide. Org. (n.d.). Https://Www.Helpguide.Org. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-in-the-workplace.htm