Prioritizing Mental Health in the Workplace: 4 Reasons Why it Matters

9.16.21-blog

Now more than ever, mental health has become a leading concern in our world. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that nearly one in five adults experiences high levels of psychological distress due to the pandemic. According to a global study conducted by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, nearly 70% of people have had more stress or anxiety this past year than in previous years.

On top of this, the Anxiety & Depression Association of America says the number one most common mental health issue in the United States is anxiety.

The growing number of people affected by stress and anxiety should be an indication of the importance of mental health awareness in the workplace. Even if you don’t recognize it, your mental health can negatively impact your teams and your work environment.

Here are four reasons why taking care of your mental health is beneficial to you.

  1. Your work relationships will improve. When you are stressed and focused on getting tasks done, you may have a tendency to rush your time with others. Your tone or actions may convey a lack of care to your team (even if it’s not intentional). The stress and anxiety you are feeling can also make you less perceptive to how others are doing. You may also find yourself getting easily agitated. Understand what triggers your different emotional reactions, and try to catch yourself when you are rushing through conversations. Once you prioritize your mental health, you can improve your relationships with your team members.
  2. You’ll see an increase in your work productivity. Mind Share Partners found that 61% of employees noticed a direct correlation between their work productivity and their mental health. Your levels of anxiety and stress can affect the way you lead. You may find it difficult to juggle many tasks at the same time, respond well to criticism or complete tasks in a timely manner. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep at night. Take breaks throughout the day or carve out time to talk to a coworker. Doing so can energize you and give your brain the rest it needs. Taking breaks can help reduce your stress and increase your work productivity.
  3. It’s better for your physical health. Poor mental health can negatively impact your physical health and vice versa. A study from the U.K. Biobank analyzed participants’ fitness and mental health over the course of seven years. The study found that participants with “low combined cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength had 98% higher odds of experiencing depression and 60% higher odds of experiencing anxiety.” In the end, mental health and physical health impact one another. Try to weave physical exercise into your daily schedule (even if it’s only 30 minutes) to improve your mental health.
  4. It will help prevent burnout. Stressed leaders tend to burn out easier. Recent findings revealed that close to 60% of leaders “reported they feel used up at the end of the workday, which is a strong indicator of burnout.” Burnout is triggered by physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. If you start to feel disinterested with work and easily annoyed by others, it may be a clear sign that you are close to burning out. Maybe it’s time to take a vacation day, plan a weekend getaway and put aside anything work related. Changing your environment and pursuing a hobby could be what you need to feel re-energized.

 

The key to improving your mental health is recognizing when you are struggling and need to take a break. If it’s something recurring, don’t be afraid to get help or talk to someone about it. There is often a negative stigma that comes with mental health. As a leader, you can be on the forefront of positive change in your work environment by prioritizing your mental health and that of others.

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