Maintaining a sound mind is key to your overall health and well-being. Work-related stress is something that we all wrestle with from time to time, but there are things we can do to mitigate stress and negative feelings. Here are some great tips you can use every day to help lessen the impact of stress, and keep it at a safe distance.
Have a Great Morning
This applies to the time spent before, and on your way to work, regardless of the time of day. Give yourself plenty of time before your shift so you don’t feel rushed, and try to include some form of exercise, as it will improve your mood and set the tone for the rest of the day. Eat a nutritious breakfast (or lunch, or dinner, etc.), and be consistent – if you regularly exercise and eat well, you’ll be far less likely to fall into negative thought patterns.
Whether you drive, walk, ride a bike, or take public transportation to work, spend some time listening to your favorite music or podcast while you’re on your way, and give yourself plenty of time. Rushing to work with the stress of potentially being late is a surefire way to set a negative tone for the rest of the day; avoid this at all costs.
There’s a fine line between socializing with your coworkers and committing time theft, so make sure you’ve struck a good balance with this one. Take the time to say good morning (or good afternoon, and so on) to your coworkers each day, and if time permits, talk a bit about that awesome weekend you had at the Renaissance Fair, where you donned a full set of plate armor and ate a giant turkey leg…not that I did that last weekend or anything. No, yeah, I don’t even like turkey so, uh… you know.
It can be very easy to isolate ourselves at work, which can lead to feelings of loneliness, and ultimately, depression. Even simple interactions like the ones described above can do a whole lot to boost your mood and make you feel connected to the people around you. This one can be particularly tricky if you’re a hardcore introvert, but do your best to engage in even the bare minimum – it can save your sanity in the long run.
Whether you’ve got an hour, 30 minutes, or a few short breaks during the day, make sure you take them. Sometimes there’s the temptation to be superhuman and power through lunch to continue working on a project, but don’t make a habit of it. Try to take your breaks regularly, and spend that time doing something good for yourself, like taking a walk outside, or if you’re feeling especially social, going out for lunch with some coworkers.
Taking breaks also includes using your PTO throughout the year. Even if you can’t take an extravagant vacation, using your PTO wisely can help you maintain your sanity. If you feel yourself reaching your limit, it might be wise to put in a couple of days and give yourself a nice, relaxing, long weekend. It’s best to avoid calling out whenever possible, so don’t ignore those feelings of impending burnout. Even if you have to give two weeks’ notice, you’ll be able to look forward to the time off and that will lessen the impact of your work-related stress.
If you’ve got a messy workspace, now’s the time to start cleaning it up. Take your time, do a little bit each day, and soon you’ll have an organized and spacious desk. Clutter can lead to anxious feelings, and might cause confused or disorganized thinking, which is a big no-no when it comes to maintaining our mental well-being.
You may also bring in what some call “personal effects,” which are really just your awesome toys – I mean, adult collectibles you’ve been picking up lately. This will make your workspace feel more “at home,” and will make you feel happy because now you can bring your Godzilla figurine outside during your break and recreate some of your favorite scenes. Or, you could just leave them on your desk and admire them as you work, it’s up to you.
Don’t Take Your Work Home
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, let work stay at work. It can be all too easy to constantly complain about work with your friends and family, but all that kind of talk just leads back to negativity, and it’s not something that is worth our valuable time. If you want to talk about work with others, focus on the positives. Not only will this set a good example for those around you, but it will keep the positive vibes going strong.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that you may have to take your work home in a literal sense. If you’ve got a deadline you need to meet and your boss asks you to work on a project at home, you may not have much of a choice. Just make sure you maintain a good work/life balance, no matter the circumstances. If you’ve been bringing assignments home more often recently, take a day or two off once the project is complete.
Take an active role in maintaining your mental well-being. Like all things in life, it takes effort and a healthy mind and body won’t just appear out of thin air. Try to see your day-to-day life as a balancing act, and learn to recognize the signs when things are getting a little out of hand. Getting into good habits now will pay off in the long run, and consistency is key when it comes to a healthy mind.
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