Did you know that your work is more connected to your wellbeing than you are likely to have noticed?
Most people I talk to say their mental wellbeing is negatively affected by work in many ways. For example:
Being in a job they hate
No opportunities for growth and progression
Struggling with being micromanaged
But what about the ways work can positively impact your wellbeing? For example:
By providing a space for belonging
The stability of a routine
Friend making opportunities
All of the aforementioned examples can be amplified when you are already struggling with your mental health, from the safety and security of work friendships to the frustration and depletion of energy that comes with a lack of opportunities for growth and progression.
No matter if you are mentally well, have a diagnosed mental health condition, or you are going through a rough patch with your mental health due to a stressor in your life, it is important to look for and know ways you can manage your wellbeing at work. Afterall, most of us spend the majority of our time either at work or thinking about it, which makes it a major factor of our lives and our wellbeing. Not to mention the rise in hybrid working arrangements, causing work to infiltrate so much more of our lives.
Today's blog post will explore 5 ways you can manage your mental wellbeing at work in honour of world wellbeing week 2022.
1. Ask for help
This is one of the biggest influences on mental health and wellbeing. So many of us want to appear strong, knowledgeable and successful in all that we do, and because of this, don’t even think to ask for help, even when we need it.
Not asking for help increases the pressure on ourselves, but also allows our organisations to think we are okay with carrying the whole world on our backs. Resulting in more work being piled on and greater experiences of burnout and overwhelm.
Asking for help is a major factor in being a team player, and allows you to have more balance in your work duties, but also in managing your personal life alongside your professional one. If you can find the courage to ask for help, you will be able to free up more time, make new connections, and learn life-long skills that you can take with you no matter where you are. All of these things are contributing factors to fostering positive mental wellbeing.
So, the next time you are struggling with something at work, practice asking for help. Monitor how this has impacted your wellbeing inside and outside of work, over a couple of months, and let me know how you got on in the comments below.
Now, I just want to say here that if you are asking the wrong people for help, this can negatively impact your mental wellbeing, so choose wisely. If you would like me to write a blog post in the future about asking for help and the ways to go about this, drop me a comment below, and I will schedule that in for you. But for now, let’s move on to number two.
2. Get comfortable with saying no
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can get caught up under the impression that everything I am asked to do at work, I must do. This mentality is something that can seriously negatively impact your wellbeing at work. Just like not asking for help, not saying no can lead to being overworked, high levels of stress, and regular incidences of burnout.
Knowing when to or how to say no can be hard to navigate, especially when you are trying to move to a different or higher position in a company, so it is always good to check with someone as close to that position as possible (or friends and family that you trust) to see if you are within your rights or should say no in a certain situation at work.
One thing I will highlight here is that contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to say yes to every work demand in order to get a promotion. In actual fact, having no boundaries by never saying no is a quality that isn't helpful in higher positions in companies.
As a general rule of thumb, I like to look at the job description of my role, and assess the request asked of me against that. I will also do a pros and cons list and see how the task being asked aligns with my goals. I ask for time to see how I can fit the request in with my current schedule, so that I can do these things, and then I come back with an answer as to whether I can do what is being asked of me or not. If I can’t, I always try to come back with something or someone who can, or I might offer an alternative way to complete that task that works better for all involved.
3. Use the support available to you
I can’t tell you how many places I have worked where there have been incentives in place to help people look after their wellbeing, and people have not taken them up. Most places of work will have some sort of EAP system where you can access counselling or pastoral support. Some places have health cash plans, where you can go for things like massages and dental appointments and claim money back from your treatments. Some have access to discounts on things like learning, gym memberships, and other local activities.
In addition, your place of work may have policies or schemes in place that help you navigate your wellbeing at work, for example, flexible working, secondment or sabbatical policies, or salary exchange schemes to help with things like getting a new car or salary sacrifice schemes that help you enhance your pension. It is a good idea to speak to human resources and or wellbeing and learning and development departments to make sure you are making full use of the support available to you through your work. There are often reasonable adjustments that can be made to support you that you will be unaware of. Taking time to find out what these are can be life changing!
4. Identify your triggers and utilise annual reviews
A lot of people don’t know this, but your annual performance review is a great place to support your wellbeing and development at work. During this time, you will sit down with your manager to discuss your progress thus far, and if done correctly, there will be space for you to share your reflections on how you think you have been doing.
Take some time in the days leading up to your annual review to think about what you have achieved, what you did not manage to achieve, and what you would like to achieve going forward. An important part of this process is getting to know your triggers. Knowing what does and doesn't work well for you is paramount for managing your mental health and wellbeing, and your annual review can be a great place to explore these with your manager and for you both to strategize about how you can be supported and how your strengths and weaknesses can be best used in the department you work in.
You might be feeling scared about discussing your triggers and or weaknesses with your managers, but the truth is, every human being will have them, and ignoring them or not supporting them can be detrimental to your wellbeing both inside and outside of work. Employers understand this, and want you to understand this too. Have you ever noticed that there will always be some sort of interview question about what you might struggle with or what your weaknesses are? Employers do this to test your self-awareness and see how you manage difficulties, because they know there will be some.
5. Take time to talk to colleagues
Even at the most horrendous workplaces, there is likely to be someone there who could be a potential friend. When work is testing your wellbeing, it can be hard to want to go in or do anything, and having a good support network can make massive changes to these feelings.
Oftentimes, if you are struggling at work because of the way things are there, then it is likely that there is someone else at work who is also feeling the same way. Having a shared experience with someone can help reduce feelings of isolation, and can also help you feel supported in making a change. Now, I will say here that you should choose wisely who you confide in. I have worked in many places where people have confided in others and they have had shared experiences, but the impact of that is that the person was not interested in making change or supporting that person, and instead, dragged them down and made the negative feelings worse. Try and keep space for your feelings when connecting with colleagues, but also for solutions.
You might just want to connect on a personal level and not bring work into that connection at all, by avoiding talking about the difficulties at work. This is a good boundary to set sometimes in the foundation of work connections.
Okay, that's it from me for now. I hope you found the tips in this blog post helpful.
If you have any thoughts or comments, please feel free to reach out or leave a comment below.
See you next time!