The definition of “work” is up to quite a bit of interpretation. Work can be in an office building or an outdoor setting. It can require intense mobility each day or merely sitting at a desk. In modern times especially, work also can connote a multitude of feelings. One’s definition of “work,” more often than not, is based upon his or her mental well-being. Prioritizing mental health and self-care in the workplace has undeniable positive effects, so it’s important to explore which mental health improvement tactics work best for you.

Helpful Forms of Self-Care Applicable to the Workplace

Being Active
Getting into a habit of engaging in some form of physical activity each day has been proven to improve moods, reduce the risk of the onset of depression, and immediately relieve stress in many cases. Depending on your location of work, physical exertion can be achieved in a variety of ways. Thirty minutes of daily walking, for instance, can be divided into three repetitions of ten minutes of walking throughout the day- each time involving a different route around the office. A second form of movement might mean taking the stairs to your workspace instead of the elevator, parking across the parking lot to increase your required walking distance before and after work, or even taking a “physical activity break” when time is available.

Getting Outside
Receiving outside exposure throughout the day is a necessity many of us don’t prioritize. When it comes to keeping our minds focused on one task, the importance of fresh air often isn’t taken into consideration. Spending time in the great outdoors, however, can have a much greater impact on mental health than many seem to realize: better focus and improved health, among a multitude of additional benefits.

Drinking More Water
Taking the time to drink a few glasses of water throughout your work day can improve your work performance drastically- it can both energize and refresh you throughout the day, which never ceases to assist in workability! To help remember to drink an adequate amount of water each day, try bringing your favorite water bottle to your desk, or  setting a reward system with a coworker for whoever is able to drink the most water first. Infusing your water with fresh fruits or vegetables- such as oranges, lemons, or fresh herbs- are also a great tactic to increase daily water consumption.

Set SMART Goals
Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals are key when it comes to reaching milestones at work. Each goal, however small, should be celebrated! When listing goals you hope to achieve each day, be sure to include both personal as well as professional intentions for that day, therefore motivating you to work on a timeline that respects your personal ideas as well as those respected by your company.

Implement Ergonomics in Your Workspace
Ergonomics, which involves the use of equipment and positioning to create the most work-efficient work space possible, is crucial when it comes to achieving a number of tasks each day. Whether it’s purchasing a stand-up desk for your cubicle or practicing exercises that improve back posture, make sure you’ve invested in a work-efficient ergonomic workspace to best enhance your critical-thinking skills and, therefore, your self-satisfaction with your progress.

Caring for Your Mental Health
Recognizing signs of mental illness is a crucial part of caring for yourself- especially as a modern-day, working adult. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 1 in 5 adults each year are diagnosed with a type of mental illness- and each day that number presents itself more clearly as working-class adults are unable to perform necessary, daily functions due to the symptoms of their mental illnesses. Mental illness can happen to anyone of any race, sex, gender identity, income level, or age so it is important to encourage the importance of mental illness recognition. A few signs of mental illnesses to watch for in young adults, middle-aged adults, and older adults include:

  • Difficulty Coping with Stress
  • Emotional and Habitual Changes
  • Changes in Thoughts
  • Headaches, Stomachaches, etc. Without an Identifiable Source

The workplace, no matter its location or social environment, can be stressful, which is why it is important to look after one’s mental well-being on a consistent basis. Some key contributing factors to a healthy workspace might include implementation of a better posture at your desk, drinking more water, and taking daily walks. Certain identifiable results of mental illnesses are important to note, and even more important to signal the start of seeking treatment or coping skills. Mental wellness at work assists in work performance as well as the well-being of all in the workplace, and is therefore an essential part of being an employee anywhere.

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