Mental health refers to our social, psychological and emotional well-being. Mental health hugely affects how we react and think in a situation. Our comprehension and decision-making abilities also depend on our mental health. Hence taking care of it is very important.
Gone are the times when mental health was ignored like cardamom in your favorite Biryani.
Everybody wants a safe and secure job but the stress to get the same is peaking high as the competition in the modern world has made even the trivial things challenging.
But considering how important our mental health is, apart from earning money, work is also expected to provide fulfillment and happiness to a person. But sadly, this is not the case for most people.
Thanks to modernization, we are officially part of a rat race where the reward is a stable and sound job, but this rat race turns a happy go lucky Micky Mouse to an annoyed and peeved Jerry in no time. The global mental health scenario is such that 70% of people are suffering from it issues related to mental health and have never even received treatment for it.
If You find it challenging to deal with work related issues and stress, don’t worry! We are here to help you out.
Risk factors for poor mental health in the workplace
Excessive stress at your workplace can put your mental health at risk, let us first understand the risk factors for poor mental health in the workplace.
Imbalance in the effort and a reward balance scale
No pirate loots an empty ship! While we strictly restrain you from planning a heist but we advocate the fact that efforts when rewarded, become a positive motivation and vice- versa.
Research suggests that a work environment gets toxic when the amount of effort doesn’t align with the reward. Significantly when your job harms your mental health, the willingness to work is lost. This situation can generate mental problems like depression and anxiety in an employee.
Excessive workload leading to job burnout
In some organizations, there is excessive work pressure on employees. Unfortunately, this extra pressure will hamper a person’s mental peace & well-being.
If the workload is more than required, it may cause fatigue, disrupting the person’s focus and making the job roles challenging to perform. There always exists a limit beyond which things become complicated even Aladin’s genie could grant only three wishes!
Additionally, excessive pressure will lead to job burnout if this goes on over time and make the employee feel exploited.
Stigma at workplace
In an organization where people are treated very poorly for their mistakes, stigma is predestined to develop.
Simply put, structural stigma (in an organization, institution, etc.) is system-level discriminative and prejudicial behavior toward an employee.
Stigma can make a healthy person feel broken and tormented. It can cause depression, harm a person’s productivity, and impair overall mental health.
Five ways to boost mental health at work
Now that we know the risk factors associated with poor mental health at workplace. let’s dive deeper and discover the practices that help improve employee mental health and well-being.
1. Stress Management
Our daily work causes significant stress, which needs to be managed efficiently. If we fail to unwind or minimize stress, our minds may get choked. Stress is harmful not only to the mind but to the body as well.
Therefore, a higher body of organizations is required to take responsibility for the effective stress management of employees.
They need to arrange “stress management classes” for employees to learn about coping techniques, cognitive management etc.
These classes will help them understand how to devise an execution plan. Such courses will also allow employees to stay calm in difficult situations.
Such counselling will also guide the staff to take appropriate action in a stressful situation.
2. Proper diet
There’s a direct connection between proper diet and mental health. If one falls off balance, something’s wrong on another side.
Between the plumage of regular work and other activities, we sometimes fail to provide the necessary attention to our diet. This can cause severe harm to mental health as our mind needs proper nutrition just like rest of the body for smooth functioning.
How often does it happen that due to work, you skip a meal or eat something junk to save time? These habits can seriously affect mental health and should be avoided at all costs.
Instead, you can consider the following points.
- Avoid sugary beverages; they contain very few nutrients and increase glucose in your body.
- Avoid munching on fast food, processed, and junk food e.g., Maggie, chips etc., to save time.
- Easy access to coffee vending machine does not mean you have to take it every alternate hour, limit the intake of caffeine.
- Try including salads and fruits as your snacking options.
- Intake healthy fats, which are very good for the brain. You can find it in foods like flax seed, nuts, olive oil, avocado, coconut, etc. In addition to that, avoid trans-fat (primarily found in packaged food and meat).
- Drink lots of water throughout the day. Dehydration can cause mental fatigue and mood swings. Try to drink water every hour or so at your workplace.
3. Empathetic Leadership in the workplace
Empathy is precursor to empowerment; an empathetic leader can motivate employees to work best in their capacity. The effects of mental distress are disastrous. Hence, to ensure that every employee of an organization is mentally healthy, leaders need to be empathetic.
Workplace should harbor such environment that employee should not hesitate in addressing their complaints and grievances.
The leaders also need to seriously look after inter and intra-departmental bullying, stigma, and harassment. Such incidents can cause severe mental trauma amongst employees.
Every organization must have strict restrictions against misconduct and misbehavior so that employee’s mental health is hampered. The higher authority also needs to watch this and ensure no such malpractice occurs.
4. Practicing mindfulness
Research has proven that mindfulness can reduce stress and its negative actions on the human body.
A review of 200 studies conducted in 2019 revealed that mindfulness can change the way the brain responds to stress. It increases our ability to focus and provides a sense of calm to the mind. Though the roots of mindfulness are found in religious traditions of Buddhism, which are almost 2550 years old, still its effects are remarkable.
For the initial stage, you can take a short break from work for half an hour in your workplace and practice some mindfulness. All you need to do is to sit quietly in a “padmasana” position, chant a mantra and focus on your breathing.
You’ll need to inhale slowly and then exhale your breath. You can also plug in some transcendental music through your earphones to create a better environment. Make sure you keep your posture straight while meditating.
If you can make this a regular habit, you’ll notice significant positive changes in your mental health within a month. You’ll surely be more relaxed and contained than you used to be.
5. Flexible work schedule
Conventional 9-5 office hours today have metamorphosized into something like 9-6 or, even worse, 9-7. These extra stretched working hours degrade an employee’s mental health and reduce job satisfaction. It increases stress and job dissatisfaction. If this goes on, employees can feel extreme frustration in the workplace, which may lead to chronic depression.
On the other hand, a flexible working schedule has impressive benefits. First, flexible working hours give employees some control of their life.
For example, if someone does 8 hours per day of work, it can be broken into two halves of 4 hours a day. Between those two halves (4 hours each), the person can take care of some private tasks or relax. Also, if an employee’s efficiency and work output is not hampered, he can be allowed to take work from home.
Such a modified work routine creates better engagement within the staff and the organization and improves the employee’s mental health and well-being.
A flexible schedule also allows to balance personal and professional life.
It is high time that we realize the importance of mental health and makes choices that will helps us to enhance our mental health. Employees try their best to complete a set designated task in a workplace. However, this monotonous cycle can cause stress and depression. Be it Kaira from Love You Zindagi or Ved from Tamasha, their journey has made us realize how an uncompromised mental health works like the missing piece of puzzle that sets everything alright. Therefore, to avoid such occurrences, make mindfulness your priority, take care of your diet, and make sure to take deep breaths when you feel agitated. Making mental health a priority in the workplace is crucial not for both the employee and the organization and for that companies should take necessary measures.