How to Cope With Mental Illness at Work?
The link between work and mental health
Work can play a huge role in your overall health and wellbeing. In addition to the financial benefits, your job can add meaning, structure, and purpose to your life. It can also provide you with a sense of identity, bolster your self-esteem, and offer an important social outlet.
Workplace stress isn’t uncommon, but when left unchecked, it can lead to bigger problems, such as depression and anxiety. When this happens, stress not only creates debilitating negative emotions, but it also results in lower productivity, the inability to concentrate on work and strained relationships with colleagues and even with family at home.
Signs and symptoms of a mental health issue at work
- Decline in your performance at work. You struggle to function in your daily duties at work
- Trouble concentrating and thinking. You have problems focusing on tasks or experience difficulties with your memory, thinking, or even changes to your speech patterns.
- Changes in your appetite or sleeping patterns. Struggling with insomnia, sleeping too much, sudden changes in how much you eat, or relying more and more on drugs and alcohol to cope.
- Changes in your mood. You feel hopeless, helpless, on-edge, or experience uncharacteristic mood swings or even suicidal thoughts.
- Loss of interest in activities. You lose interest in aspects of your work that you previously enjoyed, quit hobbies you used to love, or withdraw from friendships and social activities. This could be accompanied by pronounced apathy.
- Fear or nervousness. You feel overly suspicious of others at work or socially or feel suddenly nervous and fearful in certain situations.
- Increased sensitivity. You’re more sensitive to sights and sounds and try to avoid any situations that are over-stimulating.
- Unusual behavior. You feel disconnected to your surroundings, exhibit uncharacteristic, unusual, or out of control behavior, see or hear things that aren’t real.
- Unexplained aches and pains, such as headaches, upset stomach, or muscle pain.
Tips for coping with mental health problems at work
Put yourself before work
Your recovery should always be at the top of your list of priorities, and while it may not be the cause of your problems, taking a back seat from your job every now and again could give you space to recharge and form some clarity of mind. Overexerting yourself or placing yourself in stressful situations will only highlight your struggles, so don’t be afraid to delegate or complete things according to your own timetable.
Take time off
While you may think that the place will just fall apart without you, clocking in everyday despite your struggles can prove to be counterproductive for your health, career but also your employer. Taking some time off can give you the opportunity to receive some help or perhaps give you some space to assess what you’re feeling. Planning a trip away or doing something you really enjoy in this time could also give you a break from the mundane routine of day-to-day life and provide you with a new spark and perspective.
It’s too easy to sit down at your desk at 8:59am and stare at your computer with a glazed eyed expression until leaving time. Boredom naturally gives birth to a low mood and so just going through the motions for eight hours a day will see most people lose their zip. Mixing up your daily routine by going out for lunch or getting up every now and then to converse with colleagues might just keep away that boredom and lethargy. You can set your alarm clock to 30-minutes and get up from your sear, do some stretching exercises and move around a little.
Don’t be a perfectionist
It can be easy to be hard on yourself when things aren’t going your way, but you have to resist the urge to berate yourself. Not everything you do can be perfect and accepting that there are going to be good and bad days will allow you to detach yourself from the situation and not take things to heart.
Dealing with mental health problems while trying to manage workplace responsibilities can be difficult, so workers need as much information as they can get to learn how to improve their health while easing workplace stress.
Don’t hesitate to ask for a referral to a local psychologist or psychiatrist. If you’d like to learn about recent therapy modalities that can help you transform your life, you can contact me and set up a free consultation!