From XU Magazine, 
Issue 30

Eight ways to improve your mental health at work

As we continue to adjust to different working conditions and work environments it is vital, we take care of ourselves and our mental health. The past two years have been challenging and taking care of our mental health and building resilience has never been more important. We need to make it a conscious part of our everyday forming good habits that will lead us to better mental health.
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When it comes to the workplace, even small changes can bring about tangible benefits. These small changes over time will amount to a high impact on our health and wellbeing. Consistency is the key. Small steps to begin.

We spend a lot of time working. We may also spend time commuting to and from work in addition to the time we are physically at our place of employment. These hours add up each day. While our work is important it is also important to keep in check the hours we spend working, outside normal working hours.

It is good to check in regularly and assess whether we are doing everything we can to minimise stress and increase productivity. Stress is an everyday part of our lives. It is important that we learn how to effectively cope with daily stress. Finding daily activities will help release the different stressors in our life. It has been increasingly difficult of late to manage stress, keep our work hours in check and take care of our mental health with our work being affected in some way by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Some of you may be working remotely from home. Others may be working from an office or about to return to an office. Whether you’re working remotely or not, sometimes, just a few small changes could be all you need to help you feel that little bit happier at work.

1) Set achievable goals.

Seeing a whole list of unticked boxes isn’t a great way to the end your workday. Try making a list at the start of every day that you think you can achieve on that day. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many tasks as this will add to your stress levels. Divide bigger tasks into sections and tick things off as you go. Reward yourself when you have completed your list.

2) Talk about your day.

Talking can be a great way to process the day’s events and receive support. Make yourself accountable to a friend or family member by booking in a regular coffee date or phone call. Check in regularly with your manager and ask for support when needed.

3) Set boundaries for ‘me time’.

Put some time in your diary to recharge and not think about work. Turn your phone or emails off during that time to allow yourself to have a proper break and pursue something that will help you unwind. Disabling notifications on your phone can also be a great way to reduce your focus on your phone.  Finding relaxing tasks should be a daily thing – whether it’s time for family, friends, exercise or watching your favourite TV show. Choose something you enjoy.

4) Cut out timewasters.

If you’re in a busy work environment, you may find that there are certain tasks (or people) that you don’t enjoy spending time on. While it can be hard to avoid necessary activities that need to be done, try to limit your involvement and make more time for things you do enjoy. Focus on the key activities and deliverables that will ensure you complete your key tasks each day.

5) Get your steps up.

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. While we may have good intentions to walk each day and place it on our to do list, we often sacrifice it when we get too busy. Exercise can be great way to clear your head when work starts to take over. Start small by walking for 10-15 minutes. Try walking an extra bus stop on your way to and from work. Take time to get some exercise during your lunch break regardless of whether you are working from home or an office.

6) Be flexible.

Full-time, five days-a-week isn’t for everyone, and likely won’t be moving forward for many businesses. If you’re finding that your current arrangements aren’t suiting your day-to-day life, consider asking for flexible working arrangements. Start a conversation with your manager about flexible working conditions and sharing what is important to you and your life. Perhaps it is leaving early on certain days to spend time with family. Alternatively, it could be a blend of working remotely and in the office.

7) Take your breaks.

It’s easy to get caught up finishing tasks, too many meetings or even eating your lunch at your desk. We all do it on occasions; however, if this is becoming a regular thing it may be time to break the habit. Giving yourself a chance to rest and reset will help boost productivity when you return. This might be a walk around the block, taking time to meet a friend for lunch or stepping away from your workspace and having a short rest.

8) Stay focused.

If you’re constantly getting distracted by background noise at work or at home, it could be a great time to put your headphones on and pump up the beats. Listening to music can be both relaxing and a great way to block out office or home noise. If music isn’t your thing, then try listening to the soft sounds of rainforests, the rain, or the beach. Find what music you like to help you relax while working.

Always remember to find the activities that you enjoy and will help you relax and improve your mental health at work. Each person is different and sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to find what suits you. Keep persevering as you take more time for you and better care of your mental health.

Beyond Blue have a dedicated Coronavirus website with many great resources about managing work stress to help you

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