The last two years have seen many people’s work lives change completely. Working from home, while loved by some, was extremely challenging for many. Now as offices start to reopen, will the work place ever be the same again? For some professionals, the pressure has been immense and the work load became overbearing and ever more stressful.
In this article, Eloise Rowley (a long-time freelance writer with a passion for mental health and holistic wellness), writes about ways to protect mental health in the work place. Her writing has recently been focusing on burnout and toxic work cultures around the world. In light of the pandemic, Eloise hopes that mental health can become a larger priority as we rebuild society.
Since 2020, almost 80% of all employed British adults have reported experiencing work-related stress.
Work is the most common stress trigger in the UK
This is worrisome because aside from causing mental turmoil, stress can also manifest physically. In fact, work-related stress has been deemed responsible for over 17 million working days lost as more people feel ill.
While the obvious solution here would be to simply take a break from work, this isn’t realistic for most of us. This is especially true for those of us employed in more demanding industries like healthcare or hospitality. As such, while learning to take breaks from work is helpful, we should also learn about more sustainable ways in which we can protect ourselves while still succeeding in our careers, If you’re among the millions of workers currently fighting off burnout and work-related stress, read on for some helpful tips:
Aim for a home/life balance
As your personal and professional life blur, it may be more challenging to give adequate time for both. Usually, what ends up happening is that your private life has to be compromised. This may be okay for a while, but sooner rather than later this can exacerbate burnout. If left unaddressed, this may even cause employees to leave their jobs altogether. In fact, such is the case among 51% of teachers as explained in SecEd’s report on educator burnout. To avoid this, try to be firm about your daily schedule. Start using reminders that indicate when work starts and ends to create a distinct separation between life and work. Although this may take some getting used to, fighting for this balance can help you manage all your responsibilities fairly.
Try to be open with your employer
Your employer can influence your personal life just as much as your professional one. Unfortunately, surveys indicate that nearly 60% of employees are uncomfortable opening up to their bosses. While this is quite understandable given the working dynamic, this silence may also foster a false sense of contentment among leaders. This is especially the case in workplaces wherein employers aren’t in the same environment as their workers. This is the case in industries like retail or construction. Thus, instead of quietly trying to relieve issues alone, be open about your workplace concerns with your seniors. This may not be easy to do, but it will unearth issues that need the leadership’s attention. This can include everything from workloads to mental health support.
Foster diverse hobbies outside work
Your work may be your passion, but it’s still important to dedicate time to other pursuits, too. By doing so, you’re able to broaden your horizons, stimulate your mind, and give yourself a break from triggering circumstances. As explained in Wheel’s blog post on physician stress prevention, exploring hobbies that tap into your artistic side can even become a form of art therapy. This will serve as a medium for you to relieve stress and express yourself. These are two very important mental health practises that may otherwise be hard to achieve. If you’re unsure where or how to start a new hobby, you can always opt for something familiar like a DIY craft or playing video games. Studies even show that the distraction that these can offer may lessen the sensation of pain caused by tension. Over time, these hobbies can help you pursue a more well-rounded set of interests that keep stress at bay.
Understandably, work will never be totally stress-free. However, it doesn’t have to drain you of your health and motivation. With some mindful lifestyle practises, you can foster a working setup that will satisfy your employer, your industry, and your personal goals.