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Six Realistic Ways to Maintain Your Mental Health at Work

How to Keep Your Sanity during the 9-5

These days, most people realize that it’s important to prioritize their mental health. However, the majority of people within this group don’t really know what they should be doing to keep their mental health in check.

The internet is full of suggestions for maintaining your mental health — bubble baths, weekend getaways, treating yourself to a new outfit, etc.

These kinds of activities can be helpful, of course, but they’re not always realistic, especially if you’re in the middle of the work day and are starting to feel anxious or overwhelmed. You can’t exactly drop everything and take a bubble bath at the office, after all.

If your job is stressful or mentally draining, these six realistic tips can help you maintain your mental health while remaining productive.

1.Keep Your Desk Organized

Take a look at your desk. Are papers, pens, and other items neatly put away, or are they strewn about? Is it littered with takeaway coffee cups you were too busy to throw out?

It’s really difficult to thrive when you’re surrounded by chaos on every side. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out at work, try taking a couple of minutes to organize your desk. Throw away the coffee cups and organize your papers and Post-it notes so everything is easy to find.

This simple step can help you feel more at ease and capable of tackling other tasks. It also gives you a brief brain break, which can be just what you need when you feel like you’ve reached your limit.

2. Stop Multitasking

If you want to do a lot of jobs poorly, multitasking is the way to go. If you want to actually perform well in your job, it pays (literally) to get good at doing just one thing at a time.

Contrary to popular belief, multitasking may not necessarily make you more productive. It can cause your accuracy and speed to go down and make you feel frazzled and less capable of addressing your work responsibilities.

Instead of trying to take on six different tasks at once, make a schedule for yourself at the beginning of your workday and stick to it. Ask yourself which task is the most important and address it first.

3. Make Your Workspace More Supportive

Being physically uncomfortable at work can cause you to feel more mentally drained and stressed out.

Making small changes like adjusting your desk chair, adding more natural light to your workspace, or putting on a wrist brace while you type so you have sturdy wrist support can make a huge difference.

You may also want to invest in a pair of blue-blocking glasses to minimize eye strain from your computer screen. The blue light from your screen has been shown to zap energy levels and cause headaches and eye fatigue.

4. Go Outside

Even if all you can squeeze in is a quick lap around the parking lot, going outside is an amazing way to boost your mental health.

Spending time outdoors allows you to feel the sunlight on your skin, breathe in some fresh air, and get a little bit of movement in — all of these things are great for minimizing stress and boosting your productivity.

If you simply can’t get outside, try to open a window or look out one for a few minutes. You’ll at least get access to some fresh air and a quick break from your computer screen.

5. Schedule Time to Check Emails

These days, with email apps installed on every smartphone and tablet, workers are easier to get a hold of than ever before. This is both a blessing and a curse.

If you feel like you’re a slave to your inbox, chances are you’re probably also feeling more stressed out than you’d like.

Most people feel better and less stressed when they mute their devices and check their emails just once or twice a day instead of every time they get an email notification.

Be sure to send a brief message to your colleagues before implementing this protocol and let them know that you’ll only be checking messages at certain times. 

6. Snack Smarter

Finally, if you’re going to eat your feelings, at least try to reach for snacks that minimize anxiety and stress instead of making you feel worse.

Don’t snack on fast food or sugary treats like doughnuts and candy bars. These will just make you feel lethargic (in the case of greasy fast food) and/or anxious and jittery (in the case of high-sugar foods).

If you need a snack, eat something that has a decent amount of protein and fat in it.

A couple of hard boiled eggs, a piece of string cheese, some nuts, or a few pieces of beef jerky are good options that will help you feel satiated but not stuffed. 

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