ay is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s increasingly important to prioritise our mental health, especially in the workplace.
First observed back in 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the importance of mental wellbeing and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. Throughout the month of May, individuals and organisations are encouraged to hold events, share resources and engage in activities that raise awareness and encourage individuals to prioritise self-care.
In this post, we cover some tips and tricks for preventing burnout at work and some of the best tools available online to reduce stress and increase focus.
Here are 7 ways you can improve your everyday wellbeing and reduce workplace burnout:
1. Set boundaries: It’s essential to set boundaries between your work and your personal life. This means avoiding checking emails or taking work calls outside of work hours. Always try to stick to a schedule and prioritise your time off. Checking work emails outside of work can increase stress and make it difficult to relax and unwind. It can also disrupt your personal time, preventing you from enjoying time with loved ones, hobbies, personal interests and other activities that are important for wellbeing.
2. Take breaks: Try and take regular breaks throughout the day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. This can help individuals recharge and refocus, gives your eyes and brain rest away from a screen – and provides an opportunity to chat with colleagues. If you use a screen for work, getting away from your desk will also help reduce eye strain. Prolonged screen usage can lead to headaches for some people, along with blurred vision and dry eyes. Sitting at a desk for extensive periods can cause physical discomfort too, including back pain, neck pain and wrist pain. Getting up and moving every now and again gives you the opportunity to stretch, move around and reduce the risk of developing these physical discomforts.
3. Practice self-care: Don’t worry, we don’t mean go to the gym every day. Self-care can include getting enough sleep, going for a walk, daily meditation, engaging with colleagues for a chat about non-work subjects, eating well and staying hydrated. Getting enough sleep is particularly important for your physical and mental health. It can improve your mood, memory, concentration, reduce stress and boost your immune system. A balanced diet will provide all the nutrients you need to function at your best and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases.
4. Give recognition to good work: Giving praise releases dopamine in the brain which creates feelings of pride and pleasure. One of the major benefits of praise is that it helps create employee engagement. Praising and individual’s work can boost their morale and create a positive work environment, make people feel more valued which in turn increases motivation. When individuals feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to collaborate and work well with others. This leads to a more cohesive team and better results.
5. Use an app such as Calm, Headspace or Happiful: Apps such as these offer resources to help with self-care, stress management and general wellbeing. These resources include things like relaxation exercises, breathing techniques, and tips for improving sleep and nutrition. They also offer mood tracking and journaling features, which can help individuals keep in touch with their thoughts and emotions, identify patterns and triggers, and develop coping strategies. Most apps are accessible and convenient, allowing individuals to use them anytime, anywhere. However, it’s important to note that apps alone may not be sufficient for everyone, and they should not be seen as a substitute for professional mental healthcare or individuals with more complex needs.
6. Seek support when you need it: Don’t be afraid to ask for help or support when you need it. This could mean talking to friends, colleagues, joining a wellbeing support group, or simply taking a day or two away from work to reset and recharge. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and untreated mental health conditions can have serious consequences for our overall wellbeing and quality of life. Early intervention is also key, as it can prevent the condition from becoming more severe and increase the chances of a quick recovery. As with physical health conditions, early diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions lead to better outcomes.
7. Utilise tools such as Viva Insights: If you have a Microsoft 365 subscription, did you know you have access to mindfulness tools in the Viva Insights app in Microsoft Teams? E3 and E5 subscriptions also come with free access to Headspace (the mindfulness and meditation app). Just open the home page of Viva Insights, select the play button on the Headspace card and start your day grounded. There’s guided meditations to relax your mind before engaging in focused work, and mindfulness exercises to close out your day. Viva Insights helps reduce meeting overload by suggesting ways to optimise meeting times and providing insights into how much time employees are spending in meetings. The tool also provides suggestions for fostering team connections, such as scheduling virtual coffee breaks or team building activities. These connections can help improve employee well-being and reduce feelings of isolation. Viva Insights will also encourage regular check-ins between employees and their managers, which can help promote open communication and provide opportunities for employees to share any concerns or challenges they may be facing.
Learn more about the Viva Insights tool here: Improve productivity with Microsoft Viva Insights
By setting boundaries, taking breaks, practicing self-care and seeking support, we can prevent burnout and maintain good mental wellbeing. Additionally, tools and applications like Viva Insights, Headspace and Calm can help us de-stress and take a break when we need it most.
Probably most importantly, it’s essential to remove the stigma and raise awareness about mental wellbeing in the workplace. After all, it’s estimated that we spend around 20% of our total waking hours at work. By speaking openly about mental health, we can help break down any taboos surrounding mental health and promote a culture of acceptance and support.
Campaigns such as Mental Health Awareness Month are playing a great role in raising awareness of mental health issues and where to access support when it’s most needed. Each of us can play a part, whether big or small, in raising mental health awareness and thereby decreasing the stigma. So let’s make it count – look after ourselves physically and mentally, talk openly and connect with others, keep a check on our own wellbeing and look out for others too.