This article was originally written and published for World Mental Health Day. Conscious that many of us are remote working or off work during the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve updated with the impacts of working alone in mind.
An alarming 1 in 4 of us will fight a mental health problem this year, so it really is important to make your mental health, in work and out of work, a priority.
Whether you are struggling today, have struggled in the past or have never struggled with your mental health these 7 very simple tips to promote good mental health while at work or working remotely.
1. Clean Your Work Area
Be honest – how often do you really clean your workspace? If you’re working in an office setting give your desk a healthy makeover. Make sure the space is as healthy and germfree as possible. If you’re working from home or remotely try and have a set space from which you work, and keep that as you would your normal workspace.
TIP: Don’t forget to regularly clean your keyboard, mobile and landline phone, they are a breeding ground for bacteria.
2. Stay Hydrated
Water helps your body with physical and mental performance. The 3 o’clock lull that many people feel at work can be due to dehydration. Aim for 8 glasses of water a day and add some fresh lemon for extra nutritional benefits.
TIP: Set goals on the amount of water you plan to drink during work e.g. 3/4 glasses by lunch followed by a further 2/3 after lunch.
3. Take it Easy on Your Eyes
If you’re working at a computer all day, be sure to look away from your monitor periodically and focus on other targets at varying distances to give your eyes a rest every 20-30 minutes.
TIP: Blink! Very slowly blink your eyes 10 times to prevent your eyes from becoming dry.
5. Get Up. Walk Around. Stretch.
Take breaks, stand up, stretch and move around every 30 minutes or so. Walking during lunch is a great idea – not only are you burning calories, but you’re refocusing and refreshing.
If you’re working from home it’s easy to fall into not the trap of not moving around enough. If you’re at home why not get out for a walk or try an at-home workout. There are lots of these on Youtube and just 10 minutes can have great benefits.
TIP: Setting yourself a ‘steps’ goal, or better yet a challenge amongst friends or colleagues, is a great motivator. Most phones now how a steps tracker so there’s no excuse!
6. Snack Healthily
Good nutrition is the foundation for any healthy lifestyle and it’s not difficult to incorporate some of that into the workday.
TIP: At work replace sugary snacks with seeds, fruit and nuts which can provide sustained energy.
7. Make Sleep a Priority
In fact, it should be at the top! Sleep is restorative. It’s the time when your body repairs itself from the damage of mental stress, physical strain and infection.
TIP: For some people, using an electronic device such as laptops /iPad can make it hard to fall asleep, because the light emanating from the screens of these devices is activating to the brain. Turn off or reduce this light by visiting the settings on the devices.
1 in 4 of us will fight a mental health problem this year. That means it’s likely someone, or several people, in your own office have mental health issues. So, be kind and mindful of others struggles. If you’re feeling alone during this time be sure to reach out to colleagues and friends. A short call for a chat or to discuss something over the phone rather than an email can make all the difference.
If you are having issues many businesses now have programs and helplines to help, such as the Employee Assistance Programme at Cpl. Don’t be afraid to speak up and remember a mental illness is just as valid as a physical illness.