Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or burnt out at work? You’re not alone. In today’s fast-paced and demanding work culture, it’s all too easy for our jobs to overwhelm us and take a toll on our mental health.
Maybe you’ve been putting in long hours for weeks on end, or you’re struggling with a toxic workplace environment. Whatever the cause, the impact on your mental health can be significant and can seep into every area of your life. But there’s hope. By learning to recognize the signs of workplace stress, burnout, and mental health stigma, and by implementing practical coping strategies, you can prioritize your mental health and find balance on the job.
Workplace Stress: The Silent Killer of Employee Well-being
From a demanding boss to competing deadlines and long hours, workplace stress can be pervasive and insidious. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, work is a significant source of stress for many Americans: The survey found that 60% of respondents reported work as a significant source of stress in their lives.
The problem with workplace stress is that it doesn’t just impact your job performance; it can also take a significant toll on your mental health, physical health, and close relationships. Common symptoms of workplace stress include anxiety, depression, insomnia, and physical health issues such as headaches or stomach problems.
If left unchecked, chronic stress can lead to burnout, a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that can take months or even years to recover from. That’s why it’s essential to recognize the signs of workplace stress early and take action to prioritize your mental health.
Advocating for Yourself: How to Get the Support You Need in the Workplace
Setting boundaries is key to protecting your mental health and well-being in the workplace. Boundaries are limits that you set for yourself to ensure that you are not taking on too much and that your needs, both personally and professionally, are being met. A study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that setting boundaries at work is associated with lower levels of emotional exhaustion and higher levels of job satisfaction.
It’s also important to recognize which tasks or responsibilities are within your scope of work and those that may be beyond your capabilities. If a task or project is outside of your area of expertise, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help. America’s “individualist” workplaces can stigmatize such behavior, but asking for help is key to building trusting, collaborative, and creative teams.
Don’t forget to practice self-care when dealing with workplace stress. This can include things like taking breaks throughout the day, eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep at night. These sound simple, but too many of us don’t prioritize incorporating them into our daily lives.
If you’re struggling to cope, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. Work with a mental health provider who can provide additional coping strategies and support. Make sure to use sights like Alma that can help connect you with a provider who accepts your company’s insurance. Also, seek accommodations — like time off, no meeting Wednesdays, or a clearer role description — from your employer that may make it easier for you to manage your workload and stress levels.
Creating a Culture of Mental Health Awareness: Best Practices for Employers
When it comes to creating a workplace culture that values and prioritizes mental health, employers have a responsibility to lead by example. According to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, promoting employee wellness is considered an important part of the overall benefits strategy by 91% of employers. As the pandemic revealed, strong employee mental health is a good business decision, too. By openly talking about the importance of mental health, employers can create an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns, asking for support, and developing their careers in the long run.
Empowering managers to recognize the signs of burnout or stress in their teams and providing employees with access to mental health resources are just a few of the strategies that can help create a culture of mental health awareness in the workplace. Make sure to provide extra support to managers who are navigating the emotional lives of their direct reports and may need extra guidance.
In conclusion, while it’s all too easy for our jobs to take a toll on our mental health, there are steps we can take to prioritize our well-being at work. By recognizing the signs of workplace stress, burnout, and mental health stigma, and implementing practical coping strategies like setting boundaries and practicing self-care, we can protect our mental health and prevent long-term damage. And while it’s up to each individual to take ownership of their well-being, employers also have a critical role to play in creating a culture of mental health awareness and support. By providing resources and encouraging work-life balance, employers can foster a healthy workplace where employees can thrive both professionally and personally. Together, we can work towards a future where mental health is a priority in every workplace. It’s good for business and for people.