Group Insight & Research

October 10, 2019

World Mental Health Day: Tips for managing your wellbeing in the workplace


October 10th is World Mental Health Day, an opportunity to reflect on and show our support for better mental health and wellbeing. Organised by the World Federation for Mental Health, the event encourages thousands of supporters to celebrate this annual awareness program to bring attention to mental illness and its effects on peoples’ life worldwide.

As the day approaches, I am reminded of research we conducted at the beginning of the year, surveying the views of over 17,000 individuals across Western Europe in relation to their wellbeing. The research was expansive, but if it taught us one thing conclusively, it is that wellbeing – and the constituent components of it – are highly subjective.

Despite the inherent ambiguity, one recurring theme associated with more positive wellbeing was a sense of having spent your time well. A lot of our time is spent at work, and so we sought to take some of the learnings from that research and apply it to our day to day practice. As we seek to be empathetic and supportive colleagues to one another, not just on World Mental Health Day, but every day – I wanted to share some of the principles we have developed to help boost our work-place wellbeing.

We know there is no one size fits all solution, so not all of these suggestions may feel right for you, but we invite you to consider and trial those that appeal. Each of these has helped me from time to time!

#1 It’s good to talk

Pause a moment. Before you write that e-mail to someone sat within walking distance, consider if you could go and speak to them directly. It might sound obvious, but there are no doubt occasions I’ve “dropped someone a quick note” when I could have spoken to them face to face. It might get you a response quicker; with less risk of crossed wires. Even better, you’ll stretch your legs, take your eyes off your computer screen, and you’ll be connecting with another human being.

#2 Be present

Sometimes we find ourselves blocking out time for an analysis session. The challenge is, it can be all too easy to keep an eye on your inbox and phone across the session. Of course, there are moments where a message truly is urgent and requires your attention, but, most of the time – keeping an eye on our devices is really a distraction preventing you from fully engaging in the activity at hand. If you are in an analysis session that you and colleagues have pre-scheduled, really try to make the most of it. Be present, listen actively, participate. If the thought of an e-mail going unreplied for a few hours leaves you feeling uncomfortable, you can always set up an automatic message to let people know you’ll be unavailable in the short term.

#3 Look up

Most of us spend more time than we’d perhaps like to looking at screens, from our laptops, to mobile phones, to TVs and tablets – sometimes more than one, or two devices, at a time. This can take a toll on your eyes. Try to look up from your screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Even a brief glance away from a screen can help to keep your eyes healthy.

#4 Naturally rebalanced

Incorporating nature into your day can help you find some calm. If you need a break, take a little walk outside of the office. You don’t even have to go outside to reap the benefits, just looking at a scene from nature is rebalancing. If you’re not convinced, I encourage you to go to Google images now and type in “beautiful nature”, hit enter. Pick a scene to look at and observe how it makes you feel.

#5 Random Acts of Kindness

We can make a huge difference to someone’s day (and our own) through a small gesture of kindness. Expressing gratitude and being generous with others helps to relieve stress – it’s good for you, and for the recipient!

Of course, these are just suggestions, and depending on your line of work, they may be more or less applicable. These are no substitution for wider support and resources that are available if you have any concerns about your wellbeing. The key thing to remember is that there are people to turn to, and plenty of resources available to help with devising your own strategies to support you when you need it. It’s about finding what works for you.

For more information on Mental Health Awareness, you can visit the site here.