A full-time position keeps you at the office for almost 2,000 hours a year — that’s a great deal of time to spend anywhere, let alone a place where you feel uncomfortable.
If you’re not happy at work, 2,000 hours can feel like 2,000 years. It doesn’t take much time to make some simple changes that will help improve your mental health at work. Consider the following steps that, when combined, take less than an hour a day and have a drastic effect on how you feel at work.
Keep Your Area Clean
A messy desk doesn’t do you any favors. Things are harder to find when your desk is messy, and that makes even simple tasks take longer to accomplish. Plus, it’s mildly stressful to look at a messy area. Keeping your desk clean and organized makes you look more organized and put together, but — more importantly — it makes you feel that way. Cleaning your desk regularly will help you be more productive without working harder.
Take Frequent Breaks
There’s a reason why the water cooler is a good gathering spot. Taking frequent breaks is essential — not only to your mental health at work, but also to your productivity. When you stop working, you give your brain a chance to reset, which allows you to think more creatively and gain a fresh start for the next task.
Make Some Friends
You spend about 40 hours a week with your coworkers, so you might as well enjoy their company. You might not work with your new best friend, but I’m sure there’s plenty to like about a few people at your work. If you’re unsure of how to approach making friends at work, simply ask the whole office or department out for a drink after work. Having friends in the office and strengthening your support network is one of the fastest ways to reduce stress overall, not only work-related stress.
Try Something New
One of the best ways to expand your skillset is to learn from other people. Most workplaces are happy to help you learn new skills. If you find yourself with some downtime, ask around to see if anyone needs help. Helping others works wonderfully in smaller companies, where one person may be responsible for multiple aspects of a job and can show you new responsibilities.
Make a Goal List
At the end of the day, take 15 minutes to plan your schedule for the next day. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but a list of at least 3 major tasks to accomplish helps you stay prepared. It can help take the weight off the morning — you can simply come in and start on your list. If you can limit your to-do list to only the three most important tasks to accomplish, you’ve already done half the work. Checking off tasks each day keeps you on track and helps you stay productive — a key aspect of maintaining your mental health at work.
Make Home a Priority
Arriving early and leaving late looks good to the boss, but it leaves you vulnerable to burnout. There’s real value in creating a solid work-life balance, especially today. People are expected to be on-call 24/7 nowadays, which creates a constant low-level of stress that is impossible to escape from. Determining a strict cut-off time is crucial. No one should be on-call 24/7 unless it’s a specific part of your job description. Legitimate time off helps reduce your stress and prevent burnout.
The self-care steps I’ve outlined are fairly simple. If you make an effort to tackle them, managing your mental health will become second nature. Your job has an impact on the rest of your life, especially if you take it home with you. Living a healthy, happy life often starts at work!
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