NEWS

Seven Workplace Challenges to Bolster Mental Health

Published on November 14, 2018

BY Sandra Zakka | Marketing & Research Intern | Pinnacle Search Partners, LLC

 

Sedentary office jobs are linked to stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, poor cognitive performance, sleep disorders, reduced pro-social behaviors, and lowered scores on self-esteem scales. If you are an employee, with an 1) eight-to-five, 2) computer-bound, and 3) sedentary office job, then here is a work challenge for you.

CHALLENGE #1: Get in touch with nature.

Get your recommended 10,000 steps per day done while out in nature. Regularly exercising (walking or light jogging) in nature has been shown to significantly decrease stress levels, improve mood, memory and self-esteem, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and boost overall well-being. For instance, if your workplace is located in a green environment, take a break and walk outside. If you are of walking distance to work, then take a greener route (if possible)! This is a simple and peaceful (and physically beneficial, too!), yet highly effective way to boost your long-term workplace mental health.

CHALLENGE #2: Contact a friend or loved one.

Talk to a friend or loved one – someone who you know can make you feel better. They are only a call, text, email, or coffee date away. In times of stress, these people can help give you a more objective perspective about your situation and accepting their help and advice can significantly improve your stress management. Talking to someone you care about can also be a good way to verbalize your thoughts and feelings to brainstorm effective solutions to your stressor(s) at work.

CHALLENGE #3: Hydrate!

This is perhaps the easiest challenge to accomplish, but it is an even easier one to forget. Simply, drink water. Lots of it. About 8 cups, to be specific. Dehydration is both physically and mentally draining and can make it more difficult to concentrate and get work done throughout the day. Vigilance, working memory and mood are all worsened with even mild dehydration, especially for women.

CHALLENGE #4: Take a break during work hours.

Get yourself a work buddy and let him/her hold you accountable for taking, at least, a 30-minute break per day. And even on your busiest days, take a break. Taking breaks has generally been linked to higher job and life satisfaction, reduced emotional exhaustion, and improved work quality and productivity. Even if your boss doesn’t seem to be taking one, it’s in your (and your boss’) best interest to do so.

CHALLENGE #5: Shake!

This one may be a little tricky if you are sitting in a cubicle or behind a glass door. But when possible, listen to your favorite tunes and just move. Shaking your entire body can significantly relieve tension in your muscles, and it is a fun and easy way to get energized and provide you with a positive mental health break. Also, music that you love and music that is associated with positive memories can improve motivation, stress, and mood regulation at work.

CHALLENGE #6: Get organized, and throw away items you don’t need.

A sense of control is a significant predictor of well-being at work, and there are many ways you can get it (one of them being through music, too!). However, another way is getting your work area organized. Remove the clutter of papers and folders from your desk and throw away items you no longer need. This will give you a greater sense of order and control over your environment to calm you at work. If you’re brave enough to tackle this one, get your email inbox cleaned up, too. Create folders, categorize emails, and delete old ones!

CHALLENGE #7: Add healthy foods to your diet.

Comfort food is great. I definitely cannot and will not argue with that. But it is also physically and mentally detrimental, in the long run. This challenge is about looking at healthy recipes and making plans to cook nutritional meals at home to bring to work for the week. Healthy diets are as important to mental well-being as they are to your physical health. Eating healthy can enhance focus, mood, and energy at work, as well as improve work productivity and performance. Leafy green vegetables, foods with enough iron, healthy fats, and reduced caffeine have all been shown to improve cognitive performance, physical strength, and mood regulation. Next time you’re at war with yourself about that third cup of coffee, don’t give in!

 

References

Haake, A. (2014, March 18). How music can help to reduce workplace stress [Blog post].

Retrieved from http://annelihaake.com/how-music-can-help-to-reduce-

workplace-stress/

Louie, K. (2014, August 15). Eating right at work: Healthy ways to boost energy and

productivity [Blog post]. Retrieved from

https://www.careerbuilder.com/advice/eating-right-at-work-healthy-ways-to-

boost-energy-and-productivity

Nauert, R. (n.d.). Dehydration influences mood, cognition. Retrieved from

https://psychcentral.com/news/2012/02/20/dehydration-influences-mood-

cognition/35037.html

Pallarito, K. (2015, September 18). Why taking a break at work makes you a better

employee [Blog post]. Retrieved from

https://www.health.com/home/workday-breaks-help-employees-reboot-

researchers-say

Workplace Strategies for Mental Health. (2018). Retrieved from

https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/job-specific-

strategies/strategies-for-small-business-owners

 

About the Author

Sandra Zakka was born in Los Angeles, CA. At age 5, she moved to Beirut, Lebanon until she earned a Master’s degree in Psychology and developed a love for writing and blogging. Today, Sandra is working as a Marketing and Research Intern at Pinnacle Search Partners LLC, an executive search firm in Atlanta, GA. Sandra aspires to become an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist in a management consulting firm where she will address issues of the workplace, such as recruitment, selection and placement, talent management, and mental health. Out of the office, Sandra is most likely spending time with her Pomeranian, trying new restaurants, and struggling to get by yet another cycling class.

Contact her at:

Email: szakka@pinnaclesearch.com

Direct: 404.551.2653 | Cell: 310.270.3521