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Maintaining positive mental health in the workplace

March 1, 2023
5 minutes
Lifestyle & Wellness

The average person spends around 90,000 hours or one third of their life at work, so it’s important to ensure we’re in a healthy mindspace while there. 

Maintaining positive mental health is critical to health and wellbeing. But it’s also important to our success at work and the success of our employers. 

Many of us are aware that individuals struggling with mental health issues are at greater risk for a variety of health conditions. But did you know they're also at greater risk for disability, unemployment, and underemployment. In fact, according to the CDC:

Poor mental health and stress can negatively affect:

  • Job performance and productivity
  • Engagement with one’s work
  • Communication with coworkers
  • Physical capability and daily functioning

But sometimes it can be difficult to focus on mental wellbeing at work because we’re focused on other things like daily tasks, conversations, and goals to hit. On the other hand, sometimes it’s difficult to focus on work if we're not making mental health a priority. 

The following tips can help you learn more about what benefits your company may offer, how you can make work more enjoyable, and how to move forward from an unhealthy work environment. 

Maintaining good mental health can be tough to navigate, but with these small tips, you could improve your happiness in the workplace. 

Educate Yourself on Workplace Benefits 

When you first join a new company, there’s usually a short window for you to choose your benefits—things like health insurance, disability insurance and retirement contributions. Not all employers offer the same benefits, so make sure you have a clear understanding of what’s available to you. If you are unsure or have any questions, reach out to your Human Resources Department for guidance. You don’t have to go through this process alone. 

If you miss the initial enrollment period, typically thirty to sixty days, don’t worry — there is a recurring open enrollment period once a year. Take advantage of the time you have between enrollment periods to educate yourself on the benefits your employer offers as it may be overwhelming to make those decisions initially. 

After considering your employee benefits, start thinking about what else your company may offer. Things such as a work from home stipend, bonuses, or possibly paid meals. These are things your employer may provide that aren’t required, but can help increase your job satisfaction. 

Make Work More Enjoyable 

A big part of what determines your happiness in the workplace is how your coworkers and employers treat you as an individual. 

A great workplace is one that’s encouraging and motivating, whether you’re doing a great job or struggling and need some support. Having peers you feel comfortable talking to can make or break your mental health. 

Come up with some new ways to help you better connect with your coworkers. Consider taking the initiative to start something new. Maybe you don’t have any hangouts outside of scheduled meetings, and you feel it would help you grow your connections. Don’t be afraid to be the change you want to see in your place of work.

Along with having good relationships with coworkers, consider the other parts of your work that you find enjoyable. It all ties together, so if you love the work you do, but you just can’t connect with your peers, it could lead to you being unhappy. Maybe you really enjoy going to happy hours and hangouts with your coworkers, but you don’t truly love the work you do. Consider all the components that make up your work day and push yourself to weed out what might be making you unhappy and consider making a change. 

If you find yourself struggling at work, but you’re not sure why, try reaching out to a coworker, manager, or HR for support. Sometimes talking your struggles out with someone is the best way to boost your mental health. More often than not, you might come to realize that others have been in your position before and can provide some guidance. 

There are many ways to make work an enjoyable experience. You can positively change your mental health outside of work as well. Just as work can affect your personal life, your personal life can affect the way you work. Consider including more time for self-care into your routine.

Healing From An Unhealthy Workplace 

If you’ve experienced an unhealthy work environment, then you know what kind of toll it can take on your mental health. 

Working a job you don’t love can lead to long, uneventful days and feelings of unfulfillment. If you can, try to find something about your job you enjoy. Sometimes, just shifting your perspective can make a huge difference.

But other times, the situation you’re in may not be so easy to control. A toxic work environment, for example, can lead to serious mental health concerns and affects entire teams or companies.  

Once you realize you’re in an unhealthy work environment, reach out to any support options you may have, like a supportive manager or your HR department. If that doesn’t work, start taking steps to make a significant change. 

If you decide to look for a new job, focus on a list of things you want out of a new role. It’s also a good idea to research a company before applying. You can even search for a career from some of the top rated best places to work

Try to remember, not all companies are alike. When you move from one company to another, take what you learned from your previous role and apply it to your new position and company. If your past work made you unhappy due to the lack of communication, allow yourself in your new position to open up more about how you’re feeling with your manager. Most managers appreciate the transparency in order to better support you. You might even consider some at home therapy sessions to boost your confidence going forward.

Continue To Focus On Your Mental Health 

Taking time to better understand what things in your work environment are affecting your mental health is a great way to improve your mental wellbeing. Also, consider looking into things you can to help you increase your happiness within the workplace.

Keep in mind that not all companies follow the same guidelines nor do they offer the same benefits. Find a place that best suits you, your needs, and your personality. Never settle for a place that continues to make you unhappy. 

If you came from an unhealthy environment, learn what could help you reach a point of growth for the future. After all, you don't want to allow work to consume your mental health to a point that it starts affecting your personal life. Continue to put your mental health first in all aspects of your job - from the work itself to growing your connections with your fellow employees. Your mental health matters and should be prioritized in your place of work and at home.