Looking after mental health in the workplace has rightly become more of a priority for many companies over recent years and there are now many courses and publications with tips for how management can support staff in the workplace and boost their mental health and wellness.
Indeed, on this blog, we have looked at the benefits of practising mindfulness in the workplace and addressed some tips that might go towards maintaining a happy and productive team of staff.
But, once you have decided on which strategies work best for your company and you have made sure you are doing the best you can to promote positive mental health and wellbeing amongst your staff, where do you fit into all of that?
As management, you need to look after your own mental health for various reasons. Obviously, you need to look after your own mental health for your own benefit.
And you also need to look after your mental health for the benefit of the staff you supervise. They need you to be well and in charge so that you can lead them effectively. Your happiness and wellbeing in the workplace has a positive effect on the happiness of your staff.
On the other hand, if they can see you are stressed – and any negative behaviıur you show towards them is as a result of you feeling stressed or just generally not in a good place, this can pass down and have a negative effect on your team.
The Covid pandemic meant lots of companies were forced to close their doors and staff were furloughed or working from home. Perhaps your company was even forced to make redundancies.
Whatever the case, the return to the workplace is not necessarily all about a return to how everything was before the pandemic started. Some staff may have left their roles and companies have the continuing problem of staff absences – sometimes on a large scale – because they are isolating due to contracting Covid.
The return to the workplace and keeping companies running as smoothly as possible amongst the upheaval can take its toll on both yourself and your staff who will need to cover for absences and current vacancies.
So, whether you are a manager or a business owner, what steps can you take to make sure you are looking after your own mental wellbeing as well as that of your staff?
How Managers & Company Owners Can Look After Their Own Mental Health
Whilst it might seem like you are doing the right thing by prioritising your staff, make sure you prioritise yourself – both your physical and mental health.
This doesn’t mean you will be neglecting your staff. Quite the opposite. The stronger you are both mentally and physically, the better equipped you will be to manage staff effectively.
Being an effective leader is also about being honest with yourself and recognising any signs of stress, depression or anxiety. Everyone feels tired, stressed or too busy in the workplace, sometimes but recognising the difference between feeling a bit tired and low and actual stress or depression is important.
As a manager or business owner, you need to be able to reach out to someone else who can give you an objective opinion and who can give you support when needed. You don’t need to be superhuman. Be human and reach out for help when you need it.
What You Can Do To Look After Your Mental Health
So what can you do to look after your mental health in the best way possible? There are a few strategies you can employ and activities to do that will go a long way to helping your mental health stay strong and positive.
Keep Yourself Physically Fit
It is well documented now that keeping yourself physically fit also keeps you mentally fit. Exercise makes you feel good which in tıurn boosts your mental health.
If you already exercise regularly, you will be aware of the feel good factor afterwards and also how that physical exercise can help top fuel you through your day.
If you are not already physically active, make this a priority. Find an activity that you like and increase your intensity from there. It can be something as simple as making time to do a 30 minute walk each day and taking the stairs instead of the lift to the office.
If you’re not an active person, get a smart watch or a pedometer and challenge yourself to get your 10,000 steps a day in.
From there, you could start other activities like joining a gym, going swimming, cycling or taking up running. And if you know anyone else in your workplace looking to get active, why not do something together.
If you commit to training with someone and meeting for certain activities, this makes you more accountable and you’re more likely to turn up even when you’re not in the mood.
Make Healthy Choices
To keep yoıur mental health in good shape, you also need to make healthy choices when you are choosing what to eat and drink.
As well as making a positive contribution to your physical fitness – and therefore boosting your mental health – eating healthily means your body is getting more of the right nutrients.
The healthier you feel, the better you will be able to lead your team or run your business as you will have physical and mental energy.
Drinks such as alcohol and energy drinks are all thought to contribute to depression and anxiety. If you do drink alcohol, keep it for a treat rather than a regular habit.
How many cups of coffee do you get through each day? It can be a easy to drink your way through quite a few whilst in the office and then there’s the takeaway coffees, too. Swap pout some of those for healthier drinks and water.
Fast food, processed meats, fried foods and sugar foods such as sweets should all be kept to a minimum. Most of us love a bit of fast food but make sure it doesn’t become a daily office habit where lunch is bought at the local fast food joint.
Instead, go for the healthy leafy greens and homemade, rather than readymade processed meals.
If your schedule is busy, batch cooking can help to keep your dirt healthy. You can keep meals in the fridge and freezer and cook them quickly when you need to.
Make Sure You Get Good Sleep
When you have a lot to think about with your role as a business owner or manager, getting good sleep can be easier said than done. However, it is very important and too many sleepless nights can contribute to depression.
Good exercise and a healthy diet mentioned above can help you to improve your sleep. Cutting down on stimulants such as caffeine, for example, will improve sleep quality. Try herbal teas such as chamomile instead as these have calming properties. There are also some studies that suggest drinking tart cherry juice before bedtime can help you sleep.
If you don’t already have a sleep routine, introduce one rather than sitting up too late at night when you need to be awake for work the day after. Your routine can include set sleep times and making sure you don’t take work to bed with you. Make sure the laptop stays out of the bedroom.
If you are the type of person who wakes up and starts to think about work and ideas, some people find it useful to have a notepad next to the bed. Jot down your idea and then remove it from youır head. It will still be there for you in the morning when you wake up and you can deal with it then.
Take A Break
You may well have spent time telling your staff how important it is to take a break both in the workplace and outside of it. But do you practise what you preach? Do you make sure you give yourself some time out?
Taking time out recharges the batteries and helps us to return to the workspace feeling fresh. The better you feel, the more effective a leader you will be.
When you’re in the workplace, make sure you take those short breaks away from the desk. These can be opportunities to take a short walk for a few minutes as part of your exercise routine. You can boost your step count – and your health – whilst getting valuable time away from the computer screen and other tasks you are working on.
Depending on the type of work you do, whilst it may not be possible to do this every day, make sure you make time to take your lunch hour or extended break during your time at work. Leave the workplace, if possible, and get some fresh air. Concentrate on your lunch and be mindful about what you are eating and how it benefits your health.
Eating lunch at your desk whilst carrying other tasks doesn’t give your brain and body the break it needs. This can lead to tiredness and stress.
Make Time For Leisure
Being a good leader isn’t all about immersing yourself in work and not having time for anything or anyone else. Be kind to yourself and make time for leisure activities. This is a real boost for mental health, when we are doing things that we enjoy.
If you have family, set time aside to do something together as a family. This can be going on holiday but it can also be small things that you do together – going for a walk, going to watch sporting events, helping the kids with their homework. Something that you can do together.
Leisure time can also be about making time for yourself – just making sure you do at least one thing each day that you enjoy. It might be exercise but it can also be something as simple as switching off for a while to listen to your favourite music or by catching up with a hobby. An activity you enjoy doing that takes your mind away from work tasks.
Keeping up with the things you enjoy doing, however small, will help to keep your mental health in a more positive place.
Be In The Present
We have written before about the benefits of practising Mindfulness in the workplace. Working to be in the present can help to prevent stressful thoughts about a future that hasn’t happened yet.
Try out some basic breathing exercises and yoga moves. You might even try some meditation techniques.
All of these focus the mind on the present and calm both the brain and the body.
And when you are feeling calm and less stressed, Mindfulness can also boost creativity. So, as well as your mental health n-being in a better state, your work performance can also improve.
If Mindfulness is encouraged in your workplace then there could already be a culture where lots of you are practising different techniques. These can be applied to home life. Too.
There are lots of ways that leaders can look after their mental health in the workplace and the stigma around mental health is gradually lifting. We are all more accepting of the fact that it is all right not to be all right.
Managers and business owners should also remember that this is the case for them, too. Not just for employees. Remember to reach out to mentors or professionals if you feel things are getting too much.