According to a study done in 2018 in the UK, people working in high-stress environments have a higher likelihood of developing mental illnesses. The average person will spend over 90,000 hours in their workplace (equivalent to over 10 years of work), which means the environment someone works in has a massive impact on their mental health.
According to Sabir Giga, a researcher at Lancaster University, “Demanding jobs may be unavoidable but we can make changes in our lives that allow more control and flexibility in how much we work and the way we do it.”
So how can you make your mental health a priority as a working professional?
If you’re feeling stressed, the last thing you feel like doing is smiling. However, studies show that smiling increases the release of dopamine in the brain, which makes you happier and can counteract stress. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to smile before going back to the task at hand.
When you’re tense, you’ve probably been told to “take a deep breath”. It turns out, this is great advice. According to Harvard Health, deep breathing reduces stress, particularly when paired with relaxation exercises. One of the most basic relaxation exercises is called square breathing. In square breathing, you inhale, hold, exhale, and rest, each for the same amount of time. Square breathing is designed to help slow your mind by shifting your focus and has proven very effective in reducing anxiety.
Journaling is a quick and effective way to help organize your thoughts in a tangible form. When feeling stressed or depressed, allowing yourself to express the emotions you’re feeling can lead to immense relief and a clearer mind. Journaling doesn’t have to follow a certain form, just write whatever feels right to you.
As you’ve probably been told, having a support system has incredible benefits in everyday life. According to Harvard, developing new relationships in addition to (or sometimes in place of) old ones is crucially important to maintaining mental health long term. New friends often encourage new habits and new ways of thinking, allowing you to find more ways to enjoy your life to the fullest.
You’ve heard it before; exercise is important to your health. But exercise isn’t just for your physical health, exercise impacts your mental health on a large scale too. Even a small amount of exercise can make a big difference, so consider taking a walk on your lunch break or stretching before work.
Do you have other ideas on how you can make prioritizing mental health a standard practice in workplaces? Leave us a comment with your thoughts below!