Five wellness tips for positive mental health at work

Protecting your well-being can make you happier and more balanced in all areas of your life

Illustration courtesy of iStock

It’s been a rough couple of years. During the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees struggled as their sense of work-life separation and balance was upended by work-from-home mandates. The constant pressures of an increasingly demanding work culture on top of daily home-life responsibilities and current events negatively impacted the mental health and well-being of many people. 

Now many individuals are returning to the workplace. And once again, it’s crucial for us all to prioritize and protect our mental health. In many companies, new policies and services are being put in place to help. For example, BetterHelp is partnering with WeWork this Mental Health Awareness Month. All WeWork members and guests will receive a free month of professional therapy, and there will be wellness events in 10 WeWork locations across the U.S. and Canada.

No matter what resources are offered at your business, here are five simple wellness tips to practice on your own, in the workplace, and throughout the day.

1. Create an intentional workspace

Your workspace is where you spend most of your day, so it’s vital to create a practical and calming workspace that can maximize efficiency, productivity, and a sense of peace.

For some people, this may mean removing excess clutter from their space and adding air-purifying plants for a breath of life, while others may get the most out of their day by working near a window with natural light or hanging a white board on the wall to keep track of their daily to-do lists. While it may be difficult to fulfill all your needs in an office, optimizing it for your work style can help you feel more accomplished and put you in a better head space.

2. Establish a healthy morning routine

If you begin each morning by snoozing your alarm multiple times, rolling out of bed at the last minute, and then rushing to get out the door, there’s a good chance you’re beginning your day with unnecessary stress that can follow you to work. Creating a healthy morning routine starts each day on a calm, positive note and sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Waking up a bit earlier and making time to nurture your body, mind, and spirit can make all the difference. That might look different for each of us: You may enjoy going for a morning walk, stretching, journaling, having breakfast with a loved one, or sipping a peaceful morning coffee outside before work. No matter what your preferred routine, starting off your morning by doing something enjoyable can give you the mental clarity and confidence you need to take on the day.

3. Practice controlled breathing techniques

When your day gets stressful, practicing controlled breathing techniques is a simple yet effective way to take a moment to relax, right at your desk. Controlled breathing can boost endorphins and reduce stress, anxiety, and anger. These techniques can even increase your energy levels, making it a great daily practice whether you happen to be feeling overwhelmed or not.

Try the box technique: Blowing out through your nose or mouth, empty all the air from your lungs, then breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath in for four seconds, exhale through your mouth for four more seconds, and finally blow your breath out for the last four seconds. Repeat until you feel relaxed and centered.

4. Take active breaks

There’s no glory in powering through. While it may seem counterintuitive, taking regular active breaks at work can increase your focus when you return, boosting productivity and keeping you alert throughout the day. 

Every hour or so, get up from your desk and move your body for five minutes—whether it’s walking over to a colleague’s desk, taking a stroll outside, getting a glass of water, or doing a light stretch in an empty conference room or corner.  

5. Carve out time for yourself

In a world where technology makes it possible to stay connected 24/7, it’s important to know when to unplug for a healthy work-life balance. Work-related stress can take a serious toll on your mental health, so it’s critical to spend quality time with your loved ones or on activities you enjoy outside of work. Learn about your rights at work when it comes to working hours, sick leave, parental leave, and days off—and then use that time when you need it. 

If you feel overwhelmed or overstressed when it comes to work and it’s affecting other aspects of your life, it may be best to realign your work-life balance by structuring your day with certain hours committed to work and then turning your email notifications or work phone off (or on silent mode) outside those hours.

BetterHelp is the world’s largest therapy platform, facilitating over 5 million video sessions, voice calls, chats, and messages every month. We set out on a mission to make sure everyone has easy, affordable, and private access to high-quality therapy. Since 2013, over 30,000 licensed, accredited, and board-certified therapists from BetterHelp’s network have helped more than 2 million people face life’s challenges and improve their mental health.

Rethinking your workspace?

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