Going out of your mind at work? Here's how to get it back!
We all thank God when Fridays roll around! By week’s end, we’re pretty well mentally exhausted, worn out, the life sucked right out of us. Work is more than a grind; it’s a mood-buster and a brain drain. Yet mental health is critical to workplace wellness.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is calling out for people to #getloud about the importance of mental wellness for all of us. One in four people globally will experience a mental health problem at some point in his or her life. Stats report that more than 500,000 Canadians are absent from work each week due to mental health issues.
Although Mental Health Week is just wrapping up, mental wellbeing is a concern every day. Stress, anxiety and depression have become office fixtures. We’re feeling bashed day in and day out. “The modern workplace has become very stressful as we have evolved into a 24-hour society. Fewer and fewer people have a healthy work-life balance,” says wellness expert Sara Hodson. “We are now almost always accessible via our smartphones: checking emails, receiving texts and alerts, updates from colleagues, demands from clients. Anxiety and depression are on the upswing as a result.”
It’s so easy to get down, but there are ways to boost your spirits. Step up your mental well-being now with our tips:
• This is no longer debatable! Exercise is critical to mental health. You don’t have to run, a mere walk will do wonders. Or visit the gym three to four times a week. “Increasing our heart rate via cardio elevates our internal temperature, releases endorphins and gives our prefrontal cortex a nap. All of these are key in the treatment of depression, anxiety and stress,” says Hodson, an exercise physiologist and founder of livewellclinic.ca.
• Make it a walking meeting. It’ll boost creativity and your heart rate. Turn it into a group exercise experience and combine business and pleasure. “Exercising with other people makes our experience more fun, social and inspiring and research shows we are then more likely to stick with it,” adds Hodson.
• Just get outside! Suck in the sunshine and warmer weather. The average person spends 93% of their lives indoors, reports the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s mind-boggling and so unhealthy! Pencil in some outdoor time during office time. Vitamin D, which comes from the sun, can boost your mood and energy levels.
• Back away from that muffin! Put down that coffee. Reap the mental benefits of a balanced diet, foods that make you feel good. Lots of fruits and veggies will feed your spirits. Snack on nuts, chickpeas and or a tiny piece of dark chocolate. Grab a green tea. Research shows that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and eggs, may also help to boost your mood.
• Take a mindfulness break instead of a coffee break. Use a meditation app, try some breathing exercises, or take a breather in a park close to your office. Taking a few deep breaths through your nose will deliver extra oxygen that’ll reduce tension and relieve built-up stress.
• Build a green space around you. Studies show that simply adding more greenery in your workspace can produce major health benefits. Live plants not only reduce stress but they’ve been linked to increased productivity and reduced sick days. And they clean the air too. Consider cacti and other succulents, peace lilies and rubber plants – all low maintenance.
• Take a digital breather. Lots of workplaces require computer use which you can’t control, but you have control over your smartphone. If you don’t, try to get some! Instead of scrolling, go talk to a colleague or call your mom. High smartphone usage is increasingly linked to poor mental health, reports researcher Dr. Erik Peper, from San Francisco State University. “For mental health, we need that human communication, because then we learn to modulate our moods.”
• Away from work connect with family and friends on a regular basis and maintain those personal interactions. Don’t just hole up on weekends. Reach out and touch someone – a hug is a sure-bet mood booster. Sharing laughs feeds the soul and spirits. “To feel better, invest in your face-to-face relationships,” says Hodson.
• Sleep on it. Most of us do not get enough sleep, and our health, mental health, and even our weight can suffer as a result. Aim for eight hours a night. Naps are also highly recommended – 20 minutes, and you’re good to go! Advocate for a nap space at work.
• Cultivate a daily stretching or yoga practice. Take a class at lunchtime or encourage management to institute yoga/stretching classes at the office, and some lunchtime wellness workshops too. Gentle movement can help relax our body and our brain.