How To Take Care Of Your Mental Health At Work

While depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions impact thousands of Americans, a survey in 2021 from Mental Health America shows depression, in particular, has risen dramatically over recent years. While a certain degree of work stress is normal, there are certain signs that you may need to start paying attention to your mental health.

According to Healthline, work depression can invoke prolonged sadness, feeling helpless, crying spells, physical ailments (e.g., headaches, stomach aches, etc.), irritability, feeling overwhelmed, weight fluctuations, excessive errors at work, and heightened anxiety. Oftentimes, these signs can be internalized, but external signs can also reflect your mental state at work such as self-isolation or frequently showing up late or leaving early.

Dr. Rashmi Parmar, a psychiatrist at Community Psychiatry, told Healthline, "any workplace or job can be a potential cause or a contributing factor for depression depending on the level of stress and available support at the workplace." 

See if your work offers mental health resources

Working can do wonders for your mental health, but according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a negative workplace can wreak havoc on your physical and mental well-being. The best way to combat this is to take advantage of any healthy offerings. Harvard Business Review illustrates many companies have started initiatives to help with mental health like creating apps, incorporating mental health days, and adding therapy benefits. You may want to speak with your human resources department to understand what, if any, mental health resources are available to you.

Dr. Parmar tells Healthline, "It's important to create a culture of spreading awareness and reducing the stigma associated with mental health disorders at the workplace, so affected individuals are encouraged to seek help freely without any prejudice when needed." While engaged employers may go the extra mile to support your mental health, you may not work for a company that provides such benefits. Thus, you may want to make changes on your own to improve your mental health.

Take steps on your own to improve your mental health

Taking needed breaks, especially to get outside and go for a walk can dramatically improve your mood (per WebMD). Being outside not only gives your mind a break but it can reduce anxiety and can increase vitamin D levels. Another way to take advantage of break time to boost your mood is by incorporating mindfulness meditations or deep breathwork. If your days are particularly stressful, you may want to consider taking frequent short breaks to practice some mindful breathing or stretching.

Another potential way to stave off depression is to remind yourself what gets excited about the work you're doing and why you chose it, which can help reignite your passion and purpose when feelings of disconnect or disinterest arise, according to Yale Insights. This can be especially helpful for remote workers who tend to be more isolated from colleagues. Lastly, don't be afraid to take a mental health day. This can give you an opportunity to connect with a healthcare professional or simply give you time to recuperate. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.