How To Protect Your Mental Health at Work

Many working-aged Americans spend most of their time at work and, over their lifetime, will spend tens of thousands of hours at their job. Everyone has to work to make a living. However, with how much time the average person spends at work, almost everyone will experience stress at their job at some point. These difficult emotional periods can feel like they may threaten to drown us—they can even feel life ruining. The good news is that you’re not alone, and there are things you can do to protect your mental health at work.

Set Personal Goals

When you have nothing to look forward to or no sense of what you want out of life, your work-life balance will quickly take a tailspin. This is because, sooner or later, it will start to feel like all you do is work, go home, sleep, and repeat the cycle. Instead of staring down at the seemingly endless void of repetition, start giving yourself personal goals. It doesn’t have to be life goals, and you don’t have to plan your life five or 10 years from now.

However, making a goal to exercise more, read a book, pick up a new hobby, or even learn a new language can break up the monotony. When you give yourself something to look forward to outside of work, it’s much harder for work to overwhelm you.

Take the Full Break

When you work on a time crunch, it can be extremely tempting to work through your lunch or allotted breaks. The simple fact of the matter is this: not giving yourself enough time to stop, unwind, and slow down will eat away at your mental health. If you don’t stop working, it will feel like you never have a break. You may worry that the project you’re working on won’t get done on time, but life has a way of working itself out, and you’ll ultimately finish it. Taking 15 minutes for yourself won’t make or break a project.

Give Your Body Nutrition

If you’re burnt out and exhausted, it’s easier to grab the nearest pre-packaged snack or only have coffee for breakfast. Taking the time to make a nutritious meal eats into energy reserves you may not have. It may sound ridiculously simple, but one of the easiest ways to protect your mental health at work is to eat well. If you’re not full, satisfied, and energized by what you eat, focusing, getting work done, and making it through the day can feel impossible, and you’ll feel sluggish and miserable.

If you don’t have the energy to make a meal or meal prep, try to purchase packaged snacks geared toward nutrition. Energy bars, Greek yogurt, nuts, eggs, celery sticks, peanut butter, or other snacks packed with protein, healthy fats, and nutrients are easy to throw together.

Protect Your Peace

Sometimes, no matter how much effort you put into caring for your body and mental health, it can still feel like work is making you miserable. As much as we all want to take our lives into our own hands, certain factors are out of our control. If you feel underappreciated, undervalued, or mistreated, these are signs that you may be in a hostile work environment.

If you can, leave. If you can’t, focus on protecting your peace as best as possible as you make a plan of action to work toward resigning. In these situations, remember that nothing is more important than your physical and mental well-being.


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