It’s one of the most important factors impacting our modern lives. Yet the topic of mental health is all too often overlooked or pushed to the bottom of our list of priorities. With the Covid pandemic sending us into lockdown after lockdown, the effect of social isolation and remote working is taking its toll on our mental health, with studies showing a surge in people reporting feelings of stress, anxiety and depression as a result.

Time to Act

It’s important then, to take a proactive approach to your mental health. Taking heed of the following tips can help protect you from burnout or low mood. Prioritising your mental well-being is proven to bring a range of benefits, such as better sleep, increased efficiency and higher productivity. For workers, these benefits speak for themselves.

Boost Your Mental Health at Work

Happily, there are things you can do to support your mental well-being, the most important of which is taking regular breaks. Regular breaks help your mind to decompress and come back fresh to the next task on your list. Be sure to leave your desk, move around and preferably go outdoors. It doesn’t have to be a long break either, the benefits kick in after just 5 or 10 minutes away from work. Take a break at least once an hour and you will find that you are more energised and able to focus once you return to your desk.

Don’t overlook the effects of your environment either. We are sensory animals after all, so we benefit from plenty of natural light and a clean, comfortable working set-up. Try to place your desk near to a window or skylight, or use daylight-replicating lightbulbs. Aromatherapy oils can boost your sense of well-being too, so try a scented candle, reed diffuser or plug-in containing scents such as mood boosting neroli, or calming lavender. Surrounding yourself with warm colours is also shown to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, a colourful pinboard along with bright desk accessories are simple ways to help keep you feeling good.

That pinboard can help you with our next tip too. Multi-tasking is a real threat to mental well-being, and the sense of juggling too many responsibilities can quickly lead to overwhelming feelings of stress. Take back control by making a list of your tasks for each day and enjoy the satisfaction of ticking them off once completed. Prioritise your list according to importance and urgency, and don’t give yourself an unrealistic number of tasks to do. Breaking down the tasks into time slots can help you to manage the load.

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

It’s also vital to remember that there is no shame in feeling overwhelmed or that you are struggling. These are unusually testing times for all of us and it’s natural to feel concerned about finances, health or loved ones. Don’t compare yourself to others who appear to be coping well with similar challenges. As the saying goes, we may all be in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat. Some of us may well be feeling as though we are stuck on a lilo rather than a safe ship. Ask for help from your GP or contact a charity such as Mind if you feel that your mental health is continuously poor.

Remember too that outward appearances can be deceiving and those friends and neighbours who seem to be sailing through lockdown may also be struggling in private. Reach out to the people you know and ask them how they are feeling. This is especially important for managers, who should check in regularly with their team members to make sure they are OK and coping well. An empathetic ear can go a long way in making an employee feel valued and supported.