Mind

How to look after your mental health at work

Get the balance back with these nine easy tips.

By Sara Bunny

We all have those dreams of ditching the daily grind and running off to a tropical island while a magical bank account generates us millions.

But the experts have other news – the evidence shows that most of us are better off mentally and physically when we're employed and that striking the right balance of work, rest and play in a supportive workplace is the best bet. But that can be easier said than done. Anyone who has endured a nightmare job will know the dread that creeps in on Sunday afternoon as you prepare for another week, the walking on eggshells around a difficult boss, or the exhausting expectation to regularly stay late.

Regardless of whether your stress is due to an insurmountable workload, an uneasy office vibe or a manager that specialises in put-downs, it's a situation that can eat away at your confidence and self-esteem, and become demoralising.

We all know about the huge mental and physical toll caused by ongoing stress. In the broader scheme of things, toxic environments can also lead to low productivity, unsafe conditions and costly staff turnover. It doesn't take a scientist to tell you that happier workplaces are better for bosses, workers and business in general, so how do you look after your own workplace wellbeing?

Looking after your workplace wellbeing can be easier said than done, but here are some tips to get started. *(Image: Getty Images.)*
Looking after your workplace wellbeing can be easier said than done, but here are some tips to get started. (Image: Getty Images.)

Limit extra working hours

Work commitments can get crazy sometimes, but when long hours become the norm rather than the exception, it can negatively impact our health.

If this sounds like you, have a chat with your manager first.

Schedule meetings during work hours

Arranging meetings to begin and end only within core working hours will help to ensure your precious 'out-of-hours' time is protected.

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Take regular breaks

A solid bit of graft is rewarding, but being busy all the time will ultimately lead to burnout.

There's more research than you can shake a stick at that says taking breaks, both physical and mental, can boost our productivity.

Try not to take work home

Adding an extra hour or two at home to tidy up a work project can quickly become a habit, but again, think of it as the exception and not the rule.

Downtime is vital for a healthy work-life balance.

READ MORE: What experts tell their friends about dealing with stress.

Give yourself a break. *(Image: Getty Images.)*
Give yourself a break. (Image: Getty Images.)

Take your holiday leave

A complete break from work has big mental and physical health benefits.

Taking a holiday can help to reduce work-related stress, prevent anxiety and depression, and increase work performance and productivity.

It's okay to say 'no'

It can be difficult to say, but 'no' isn't a dirty word as far as your workload is concerned. Be genuine and state your reasons clearly. In the long run, the outcome will be more positive, and you'll be in a better position to say yes the next time.

Did you know stress affects women more than men?

Have a tech ‘switch off’ time

Resist the pressure to look at work emails outside of work hours. This can be a creeping habit in lots of workplaces – lead by example and don't let the late-night email scroll become part of your work culture.

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Make use of EAP

Many employers offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to help employees with personal and work-related issues that may impact their job performance, health, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Explore flexible working arrangements where possible

Making work fit better into your day-to-day life can help to improve your general wellbeing.

Work closely and negotiate with your employer – you will need to be able to do your job in an effective manner that works for both of you.

Don't let your work take over and remember to put your health first. *(Image: Getty Images.)*
Don't let your work take over and remember to put your health first. (Image: Getty Images.)

Source: Beyond Blue.

For more, visit the Beyond Blue or Headspace websites.

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