If you spend a lot of time at work, what steps can you take to ensure your workplace isn’t negatively impacting your mental health?
How to look after your wellbeing at work
If you’ve recently returned to your workplace or can’t work at home at all, you may spend just as much – or more – time at work than at home. And while work can be rewarding and social, spending a lot of time at the workplace brings challenges for your physical and mental health.
“There’s no denying working from home gives you greater flexibility for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”
There’s no denying working from home gives you greater flexibility for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. With no commute, you have more time to exercise and prepare healthy meals. You’re not battling traffic or public transport which can add to your time away from home.
But if you work in an office, venue or outdoors, you may face challenges such as:
- Less freedom to exercise when you want
- Limited time to bring or prepare healthy food
- Increased stress brought on by commuting or taking public transport.
If you are in a role that requires you to spend a lot of time at work, here are some practical steps to help you maintain your mental wellbeing.
Practical steps to maintain your mental wellbeing
Take regular breaks during the day
Working non-stop for hours on end increases your stress levels and impacts your concentration and productivity. Taking regular breaks will refresh your mind so you can focus better and achieve more during your working hours. By being more productive, you’ll complete your essential tasks faster so you don’t have to worry about working outside of office hours.
Leave your workplace at lunchtime
If you’re able to leave your workplace for meal breaks, try to make the effort to take a screen break, get outside and breathe in some fresh air. Even going for a 15-minute walk during a coffee break will help you to feel better and more motivated when you return.
Set realistic deadlines
When you’re working in a project-based role, it’s important to set achievable deadlines so you’re not adding to your stress levels – especially if you’re already struggling to manage your wellbeing at work. Give yourself more time than you think you need to complete your projects and don’t put extra pressure on yourself.
Schedule meetings during working hours
Avoid the temptation of setting meetings outside of your usual work hours. If your working day ends at 5pm, don’t set any meetings after 4pm so you can give yourself enough time to prepare for the end of your day.
Build a workplace support network
It’s important to have a network of colleagues you trust at work. Having animosity between workmates or feeling like you don’t have any workplace friends at all can add to your stress levels. Building healthy relationships at work takes time and perseverance, as we are all different. You may need to put in more effort than your colleagues to establish new friendships, but the rewards are worth it. Having a positive network can make your time at work more fun, positive and rewarding.
Bring healthy food to work
Taking the time to prepare healthy meals to bring to work ensures you’re eating well throughout the day and most likely saves you money. Eating healthy, nutritious foods at work will keep you focused and energised. Preparing meals takes commitment, and you may need to meal plan in the evenings or weekends. There are many healthy meal planning ideas available online, and meal preparation doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Staying hydrated throughout the day supports your health and wellbeing, too. Make sure you drink water regularly. Try having a glass of water for every caffeinated drink you consume.
Switch off work emails after work
Avoid the temptation to check work emails after work hours, especially if you have colleagues working in different time zones. If you’re constantly checking emails, you may find it difficult to switch off before and after work. Being too consumed by work can increase your stress levels. If your colleagues or manager expect you to answer emails outside of hours, you may want to speak up and discuss your boundaries.
Ask for help
If you’re struggling to manage your health and wellbeing at work, speak to your manager or make an appointment with your healthcare professional. It’s important to manage negative feelings before they become worse.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, help is available. Suicide Call Back Service is a nationwide telephone and online counselling service. The service provides free support to anyone who is affected by suicide. Our professional counsellors have specialist skills in working with suicide-related issues and can help clients to work through the pain and distress they may be feeling. Phone 1300 659 467.
If it is an emergency, call 000.