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6 Key Habits To Stay Mentally Healthy At Work

Written by: Neela Pirwitz, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Neela Pirwitz

Whether in the office or from home, a good chunk of our time is spent working. In fact, many of us spend the majority of our day, and a significant part of our life, at work. Therefore, it is essential to not only feel good about our job but to also actively take care of our mental health in the workplace. The current self-care movement encourages us to take care of ourselves at home – whether it is by eating some good food, taking a bath or doing yoga. While that is great, we also need to take care of ourselves at work. Since we are living one life, as one person, there is a great spillover between different areas of our lives.

Businessman sitting in meditation pose in front of office building and smiling

Just like we can’t split ourselves into one person who goes to work, and one who enjoys our free time, we can’t split our health between different areas of our lives either. Health encompasses all areas of our lives. It also encompasses physical and mental health. One will always affect the other, which is why it is essential to take care of both equally. Not taking care of our mental health at work could lead to us getting overwhelmed, overly stressed, anxious or even burned out – symptoms we will undoubtedly feel in our private lives too. But, actively taking care of our mental health can lead to reduced stress, increased productivity and a more balanced feeling. Hence, it is very well worth investing some time into easy, but effective measures to keep ourselves mentally healthy – not only at home but at work too.

Here are 6 key habits to implement both at work and at home, that can help to reduce stress and consequently keep yourself mentally healthy.

Breath work

Breathwork can be done anywhere any time. Whether you are at home, on the road to the office or even in a meeting. A few deep breaths can make all the difference. One way of using breathwork is the 4-7-8 technique. This technique aims to regulate the breath and ease anxiety and high levels of stress – something especially useful when you are trying to handle a work problem or are trying to go to sleep and the thoughts just won’t stop circling. This technique involves breathing into your belly for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of seven and then exhaling (preferably through the mouth) for a count of eight. After only a few breaths you can feel more relaxed and level-headed – a feeling we can all benefit from at home and at work.

Practicing gratitude

Practising gratitude is a popular way of gaining awareness of the positive aspects of life. While it is easy to take our everyday life for granted and to complain about the little things going wrong, gratitude can shift our focus on all the things that are going right, and that we can be appreciative of. Gratitude can lead to improved emotional and physical well-being and can reduce stress. A simple way of practising gratitude is to keep a gratitude list – every morning before starting your day and every night before going to sleep write down three things you are grateful for that day.

The more specific you will be, the bigger the effect. Another way to practice gratitude is to reframe your thoughts. Rather than telling yourself “I have to do …” try telling yourself “I get to do…”. Even if the task is annoying and not your favourite, there is a good chance that at some point in the past, you were hoping to be where you are now – even if not every part of that is enjoyable. Appreciating it can be a game changer in stress reduction.

Keeping in touch with relationships

When we are stressed it is especially easy to put social relationships on the back burner. Whether in our social life or at work, when there is a lot to do we tend to limit the time spent with friends, family or colleagues first. However, both taking time for our friends outside of the office and engaging in a little chat over coffee with a colleague at work can help us feel connected. As a result, stress can be reduced and happiness increased. Taking the time to have a coffee or lunch with a colleague at work is especially important, as this will really contribute to taking care of our mental health at work.

Change your working habits

There is probably at least one bad habit around work that you have been meaning to change for a while but never got around to. Be it leaving the office late most days, or taking on too much at once because you are worried saying “no” will put you on your colleague's bad side, it is a good idea to at least start changing these habits. There is no need to change everything, all at once. It is more helpful to make a small change but to make it a priority. Once you successfully implemented the first step of change, you can start with the next. This will ensure, that you are making sustainable changes and improving your well-being in the long term, rather than getting frustrated and more stressed because you can’t change everything at once.

Take regular breaks

Taking regular, short breaks at work is essential to reduce stress and increase productivity. Even if taking a break does not seem like the first thing we should do when we have a lot of tasks that need to get done, it actually helps us to increase productivity. As a result, we will actually get the work done quicker than if we didn’t take a break. Who doesn’t want that? When taking a break try to step away from any sort of screen and move around, hydrate and if possible have a quick chat with someone else.

Ask for help

Another habit many of us need to learn is to ask for help. For many it is difficult to ask for help, especially in the workplace. On the one hand, it can make us feel vulnerable. Having to admit that we need help can lead to feelings of worry about being perceived as incompetent. It is only natural that we would want to avoid that. On the other hand, asking for help can be connected to a fear of rejection. If we ask for help, there is always a possibility that someone will say no.

However, we mostly overestimate the chance of someone declining help, as well as the repercussions it would have if someone were to say no. Furthermore, asking for help can help us to connect with our coworkers and build relationships with them. At the same time, it will allow us to practice gratitude once we receive help. Both are habits we discussed earlier, so by asking for help you can practice three habits that can increase your well-being at work in one go.

As our work lives influence our private lives too, taking care of our mental health at work is very useful to improve our overall health. Habits like taking regular breaks, staying connected or asking for help can be useful ways of reducing stress and lowering the risk of burnout. Even though it might seem like a challenge at first, the positive effects of approaching mental health as a part of general health are worth the effort.

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Neela Pirwitz Brainz Magazine

Neela Pirwitz, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Neela Pirwitz, is a Jay Shetty certified burnout-prevention and well-being coach. She studied psychology and is now working for an international organization. Based in the Netherlands and coaching globally, she is working with professionals who want to become more efficient in how they work, create a better work-life balance, or restructure their routines and habits to prevent burnout. Neela’s mission is to help her clients to fit their work into their life, rather than life into their work.



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