Regarding, but also regardless of the current situation in our society, everyone experiences mentally difficult moments at work. We might have a great superior who understands our mental condition, or possibilities of organized support from management. Nevertheless, a significant part of dealing with such a situation lies mostly on our own shoulders. Therefore, it is handy to be ready! I will share with you several tips on how to protect our mental health at work and how to help ourselves when we are struggling.
The following tips are all about giving ourselves mental space, sharing the difficulties with others and reframing such situations mentally.
Allow yourself some mental space
Even though it is hard to believe, we are not superheroes in the literal meaning. Day-to-day, we are going through our to-do lists, consuming a lot of information, engaging in conversations, and simply putting out a good deal of energy. Superheros could do that constantly. However, we are human beings and human beings need to relax. It is absolutely alright to stop our to-do lists for a while and give ourselves some mental comfort far away from our tasks. Wherever and whatever might be for you. And not just on vacations, but in everyday life. We do not have to feel ashamed that we have not managed to do everything. On the contrary, we should feel empowered that we can treat ourselves properly.
This tip is perhaps as old as mankind itself. Luckily, some mechanisms can still be up-to-date or even get more crucial. Sharing is essential in many areas, nevertheless, at work it brings several important benefits. Firstly, it relieves us of our burdens and we are not carrying it solely ourselves any longer. Secondly, we usually receive compassion, since our colleagues know the exact same environment as we do. Thirdly, it is good that they know about our struggles. Knowing that, they can act on it and ease up your situation during work time.
The American Psychological Association (2012) talks about how stressful situations form our resilience. Resilience simply refers to our inner strengths that help us to adapt well to difficult moments. The key is (among others) in reframing our perspective, which basically means to perceive the situation differently. Whether you are troubled with an unexpected task or an unsupportive colleague, it is important to look for a purpose in that situation or the bright side of it. I know this one is not an easy one. Nevertheless, once you accomplish it, it brings a truly valuable and long-lasting reinforcement of your resilience.
One of the next tools that is important while you are trying to “clean up” your to-do lists and breathe a bit more freely is to learn to say “no”. Naturally, not many of us feel comfortable when we have to reject another task coming from our superior or colleague's request for a favor. We tend to be willing or do not want to look like we are not able to do it. Nevertheless, knowing our energy limits helps us to balance our mental health. If we say “no” politely in an overwhelming situation, we protect ourselves. Once it is based on good reasoning and said directly, there is no reason why the other person should not understand.
To be online, or not to be online
Yes, modern technologies and social media rule the world. We are facing them at work, at home, in our free time. And we have got used to the fact that we are online almost all the time. We tend to have a feeling of “FOMO” (“fear of missing out”) once we are further away from our mobile phone or laptop. However, that might kill our energy boost, or, at least, it does not allow us to relax. Being online all the time takes from us the opportunity to proceed with the happenings of our day. To be just with ourselves or people around us. Therefore, allow yourself a regular “mobile free time”. Establish “mobile free evening hours” or even “mobile free weekends”!
Treat yourself well
As the last tip, I have some very simple advice for you. During tough days at work we might forget about ourselves. Put aside our own pleasure. Therefore I would like to encourage you to not forget yourself. Buy a flower on your way home that cheers you up, go for a run or enjoy a tasty dinner. Treat yourself well.
In conclusion, all my tips lead to practicing self care. Whether you increase your amount of “no’s”, allow “mobile free time” or boost your mental space, it is taking care of yourself that plays an important role here. Don't try to be a superhero, be a human being.