May 2, 2024

In May, we recognize the constant importance of mental health. As conversations at the watercooler dip from terrible dad jokes to serious struggles around mental health, we begin to understand the vast reach that mental health has in the workplace. The topic used to be taboo, but today it is commonplace. People spend nearly a third of their life in the workplace, so let’s explore how it intersects with mental health.

A changing environment

As I mentioned, mental health was not always seen as connected to the workplace. But today, we recognize that individuals can’t disconnect their wellbeing for 40 to 60 hours a week. Today, there is much more empathy and understanding surrounding conversations on the topic. So, let’s talk work, mental health and stress.

If you had to guess, an educated one, what would you say was the biggest stressor these days in the workplace? The answer will be different for everyone, so take some time to think about what your biggest stressor currently is. Follow-up question – was it truly work related?

Sources of Stress

Stress comes to work with us daily. But that does not mean it is connected to the workplace. Personal stressors can follow us. These sources of stress could include relationships, finances, family, friends and even your own personal health. Anything that plagues your thoughts, feeds on your energy or weighs you down on those tough days is a stress source in your life.

The Work-life Connection

We often talk about work-life balance, but in this case, work-life connection may be a better phrase. After all, work comes with its own stressors, which are just as likely to follow you home as your home stress is likely to ride along to work.

Often, the two combine at the worst times. You have had all that you can take outside the office, and then things blow up at work. Preserving mental health in the workplace is essential to allow yourself to move forward with being productive, accomplish all your given tasks, and manage your time effectively. So how can we start to make that happen?

Environment Analysis

Start by examining your work environment. Do you have a supportive manager? What are your relationships with your coworkers like? What things in the workplace make you more stressed? Factors like these have a significant impact on our mental well-being.

Know Your Limitations

At some point, we must know our limitations. Too often, people become “yes-people” at work. They deprioritize their well-being to accommodate others. Eventually, this will begin to take a toll. Work to gain an understanding of:

  • How long you can work in a stressful or toxic environment
  • What steps you could take to eliminate stressors
  • What things you say yes to, that you should probably say no to

Saying no doesn’t mean you can’t do something. Instead, it is a healthy recognition that none of us are superheroes. Knowing your limitations and embracing them could be the first step to building a better work-life connection.

Advocate and Care for Yourself

Far too often, we are all victims of our own devices. We do not self-advocate for what we know we need. Why? Maybe we are afraid of disappointing those around us, or letting down those who depend on us. Or we just want to be strong for our own sake. If that sounds like it was written just for you, know you are not alone.

Seek out resources and ask for help. Some workplaces may have a Safe Person’s program, where you can utilize other trusted peers to help facilitate finding supportive resources. Many employers also offer their employees an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with free resources for mental health, financial health and resource guidance.

Lastly, if you need additional support or care, consider reaching out to a medical or psychological professional, Mental wellness is critical, and there is no shame in leveraging these resources to improve mental health, especially in the workplace.

Remember, only you know what your limitations are. Make sure YOU are taking care of YOU. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.