Learn to maintain a healthy mind in your workplace.
Don't you think it's interesting how we all know that the workplace affects our mind but we rarely talk about how our mental state affects our work?
I believe everything in this life is about balance. Everything is connected. What we are on the inside will be projected on the outside and it will become a reflection of us at our workplace, home, at parties, and even walking alone at the park.
Today I would love to share some thoughts on how your mental health affects your work environment. Shall we get started?
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR WORKPLACE?
Our relationship with work is quite interesting. It appears that many people feel irritated by the fact that they have to go to work and we, as a society, have been hating on Mondays for so long.... why aren't we doing something to make this inevitable part of our lives something enjoyable?
Of course, I am quite aware not everybody is lucky enough to feel appreciated at their workplaces but there is one thing we should all keep in mind:
What happens outside of us is outside of our control.
We can't control everything that happens in a day. In fact, I'm quite sure we can only control about 1% of the things that happen outside ourselves but we can definitely take control of how it affects us and how we react.
If you have a job with a toxic work environment, you need to learn how to distance yourself from the problems and be strong enough to handle them without damaging your own mental health.
Any by "strong enough," I mean knowing yourself well enough to know what you can and cannot handle.
We can't change our workplace entirely but we can demand respect and acceptable work conditions. We can also choose to see the benefits of the job. Don't be afraid to change your perspective.
Choose to wake up every morning and feel grateful because, even though you don't have a perfect job at the moment, you still have monetary income. You are gaining experience in your field and you are keeping yourself busy and functional.
HOW DOES YOUR MENTAL HEALTH AFFECT YOUR WORK PERFORMANCE?
I'm going to start these lines with a very personal example. A few years ago, I had this job where I had to be constantly thinking, developing ideas, and creating things out of almost nowhere. It wasn't the best job for me but it paid the bills and I honestly had amazing co-workers. I should have been happy right?
But the truth is I wasn't. I was going through a very dark time in my life and I had almost no motivation left.
I would wake up afraid of my daily performance because I was quite aware that it had decreased. I was afraid people at work didn't like me enough. I was stressed 24/7 and it didn't even really have to do with my job! I was letting external issues affect my performance.
At work people knew I was going through some stuff by they didn't know how bit the problem was.
This is an example of how external things can affect your mind and stability so much that your job is affected. Of course, it could also be the other way around but right now I want you to focus on what you can do to feel better and improve your performance.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 44 million Americans are affected by one or more mental afflictions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.
44 million American have to deal with society's demands such as behaving properly, eating on time, having a job, paying rent, and behaving like a "normal person." I'm wondering, isn't it enough already that we have to deal with ourselves in our minds? Now we have to worry about pleasing a bunch of people we don't really know? How can we make this easier for everyone? The answer - creating awareness about mental health in the work environment.
A person with poor mental health may feel or act the following while at work:
Confused, overthinking or thinking poorly about their productivity
Constantly requesting additional supervision because they don't believe they are fit for the task
Lethargy or tiredness accompanied by low motivation
Taking extra sick days (sick or not)
Mood swings that go from the inability to cope to constant rage or hostility (also portrayed as excessive sarcasm or complete silence)
Frequent stomach pain, headaches, and back pain
Dramatic or erratic behavior
Not mingling with others
The effects of a poor mental state from the effects of a stressful workplace are quite impactful. But, as I said before, there are many things you can do to improve your mental health to avoid them.
WHAT CAN I DO TO IMPROVE MY MENTAL HEALTH AT WORK?
When I give coaching talks to teams at big companies, I always meet people who demand the company CEO make some internal modifications to meet their mental health standards. I deeply encourage this. But when I ask them what they can do to improve their own mental health so their own work performance will be less affected, nearly no one has an answer.
That is because society has taught us that the "bad guy" is the company, the owner, or the boss. My goal is not to talk about a company's responsibilities to their employees rather offer you the gift to change your perspective.
The company and its leaders are not the only ones responsible for taking care of your mind. You should be the first one protecting it. Besides demanding of your boss a basic, decent, and prosperous work environment, you can also do the following to improve your mental health to avoid a drop in your work performance.
Learn to separate your life problems from your work problems.
Let's begin with the hardest part. I'm not saying you should become a robot at work but it is convenient to take a few minutes free of the noise that's outside and connect with yourself before going into work.
I know you are worried, stressed, tired and probably feeling like giving up every day. But to protect your work performance, it is important to make yourself accountable for some things... and you mood and mindset going into work is one of them.
Try to clear your mind before entering work. Make a mental list of your duties today. Visualize how to finish them. Leave your doubts outside.
Be more empathic.
They probably haven't told you yet but it is unlikely that you are not the only one having issues with their mental health at work.
Being more empathic helps you understand why others behave the way they do and provides you with enough tools to know how to handle them.
If you know someone who is going through a divorce, you will know that every other day they may feel sad or angry so that if they don't pay you any attention or reply to you in a hostile way, you understand they probably did not mean it.
Empathy comes with emotional intelligence. It helps you distance yourself from your issues and those of other people. That way you have enough emotional distance and intelligence to not let others affect you in a way that lights up the conflict. Instead, you are able to find a solution.
Learn something new.
Don't give yourself more excuses. It is important to have time to rest but it is also important to polish your professional skills.
Whatever you do at work, there is always something to learn, test, or improve. If you don't have the money to pay for a class, there are many free online resources you can take advantage of.
Pick a topic. Research, read. and dive into new information that you find appealing and motivating. Explain to your boss and co-workers that you are learning something new related to work. Why exactly...?
It proves to your boss that you are motivated and that you care about your job. It's a clear sign of evolution.
Maybe you will find a study partner among your co-workers
You will project your motivation to others who may also need it
It will give you a change to become a more proactive worker and perhaps become considered for a better position
You will be changing the topic! Not everything at work should be complaints and fatalistic conversation topics
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Comparing yourself with others is the most useless thing you can waste your energy on. We all come from different backgrounds. We haven't all faced the same difficulties. We are not living in the same conditions.
Comparing yourself with someone who is "doing it better" only makes you feel disappointed with yourself. You will enter the spiral of victimization and complaints that I want you to avoid.
You probably were a victim of bad times but when you change your perspective from "victim" to "survivor" your entire cognitive process changes. The way you see yourself changes dramatically for the better.
Get to know yourself so well that you understand why you are failing at something. Once you figure it out, do something to change it! Don't just stare at the problem and fill yourself with bad vibes and feelings. You are in control of changing your life.
Search for help on time.
If you think it is too much for you or you don't know how to start, and it is visibly starting to affect your work performance, it is time to contact a professional like myself.
I believe it is never too late to ask for help but the sooner you do it the better. The better your chances are of getting out of the situation with positive results.
Many people don't ask for help because they feel embarrassed. Some think they have it all under control. Some don't understand how a coaching professional can help them to get out of the emotional nightmare they are in.
I'm not here to offer you the ultimate solution nor am I here to offer you a 12-step guide to making yourself feel better. This is going to take a lot of personal work but the moment you start feeling how you have changed and how things around you have improved, it is all worth it.
HOW TO COMMUNICATE YOUR MENTAL NECESSITIES AT WORK
If you have a diagnosed mental disorder, your workplace must consider it at all times. You must make sure they fulfill all the requirements for you to do your job properly. In most cases, this means they will respect your schedule, change the performance evaluations to be appropriate for your condition, allowing you time to visit the doctor, and anything else needed to do your job to the utmost of your ability.
If you have an undiagnosed mental illness - PTSD, anxiety, depression, bipolar, and more - there is not much you can ask for at work. Without a proper diagnosis, you will not receive the necessary help and allowances. It is however important that you communicate with your superiors and co-workers if you believe your condition is affecting your work.
I believe everyone's mental health should be personal information unless we feel we are in a safe enough space to communicate it but there are some instances where it is better for people to know in case an episode occurs. For example, if you suffer from PTSD and you know that it is not a good idea to be along with your thoughts at night but you work as a warehouse driver, it may be necessary for you to ask for a travel companion to keep your thoughts in a good place while working.
3 out of 10 people are embarrassed to talk about their anxiety and depression disorders. I am not going to pressure you at all to do this at work. That is your decision. But if you do feel like you are able to do it and it is important, here are some tips about talking about your mental health at work:
Know your rights. 62% of missed workdays can be attributed to mental health conditions. Don't be afraid to ask for a day off if you need
Break the ice. I know many of you don't feel close enough to your boss to see them as a trustable or close person but you will have to communicate this regardless to avoid any possible misunderstandings
If you do not feel confident enough to talk about it in person, write a letter or email to HR.
Promote mental health conversations among your co-workers
Search for help on time