Maintaining your mental health is necessary to stay happy and healthy throughout your life. Whether you realize it or not, your job can have a major effect on your mental wellness.
Here are seven ways your work can affect your mental health.
1. Your Mood
Your work and the environment where you do it can hugely impact your mood, both inside and outside of the workplace. Stress from your job can increase anxiety, making you restless and irritable around your family and friends. Deadline pressure, the need for success, and not getting along with your boss or team can take a toll on you.
While there are ways to decompress after work, the built-up stress can drain your energy and take a toll on your ability to enjoy your time off. On the other hand, a positive work environment can fuel you to achieve your goals and put you in a better mood to enjoy time with family and friends.
2. Your Sleep
Your work schedule can impact the amount of sleep you get each night. When you work overtime or are stressed over an office issue, you might not get the rest your body needs to stay fully functional.
Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to stay physically and mentally well. Without enough rest, you’re more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety symptoms as well as get sick more often.
If you’re happy with your job and work in a positive environment, you won’t stay up all night fretting over the next day on the job. A satisfied worker is more likely to get a good night’s rest.
3. Your Diet
When you go to work, your options are usually eating a packed lunch or ordering out. Either way, the time you spend at work has an impact on your diet.
While it’s possible to eat healthy at work, timing is often an issue. Even if you get an hour for lunch, you might end up eating faster than you normally would, which can lead to mindless eating or feeling unwell. When you don’t feel your best, it’s harder to stay in a positive mindset.
Research links diet to the severity of anxiety disorders. If you do develop unhealthy habits during the work day, it could make you more anxious or irritable.
4. Your Exercise
More and more jobs involve working on computers, with most people doing so at a desk. Working in a sedentary environment can make it hard to get enough exercise – especially during months when you arrive to work or leave in the dark.
Exercise is an important part of staying healthy and has a huge impact on your mindset. Even walking can release feel-good endorphins that can reduce mental health symptoms and improve your health.
If you are in an office all day and have after-work commitments, too, it can be hard to develop an exercise routine. However, some offices have ergonomic spaces with standing desks or mobile workstations that cater to your physical needs.
5. Your Confidence
Your career can be a fulfilling part of your life, but going to work can also be draining, depending on how you fit in with your position and the work environment.
If you’re struggling to make your supervisor happy, it can take a heavy toll on you. Feeling like others aren’t satisfied with you or your work can lead to anxiety or depression.
A positive environment where you do well can have the opposite effect. Getting support and praise from your supervisors or coworkers will boost your self-esteem and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
6. Your Social Life
As humans, we all need socialization. Since you spend a lot of time at work, the relationships you have with your co-workers can impact your mental health.
Working with the right people can help you thrive. You don’t have to be best friends with the people you share your time and office with, but the better relationships you form, the happier you’ll be at work — and at home. You might even make friends you can keep outside of work!
7. Your Future
Your job is often a big part of your future career and other aspects of your life. This impact can lead to positive or negative mental effects, depending on how you feel about your current position.
Money can’t buy happiness — but lacking adequate income, missing out on promotions, and suffering from inflation can lead to an absence of it. It’s stressful thinking about the future when you worry about not having enough to support yourself or your family.
On the other hand, sufficient wages, advancement opportunities, and a positive work environment can give you peace of mind.
How to Improve Your Mental Health at Work
There are several ways to cope with mental health stressors from work. If you find yourself overwhelmed, here are some steps to take.
- Communicate openly: Many employees are afraid of failing and refuse to ask for help. However, if you explain your needs and accomplishments in a calm and honest way, you can foster better relationships between supervisors and colleagues.
- Get some sunshine: Vitamin D can do wonders for your body and mind. If your desk is facing away from a window, ask to shift it so you’re closer to the natural light. If you can, go outside during breaks to get some extra sun and fresh air.
- Set miniature finish lines: It’s easy to get overwhelmed by major tasks when you try tackling them all at once. If you set small goals throughout the day, you can leave work with a sense of accomplishment every day.
- Talk to someone: If you struggle with keeping a positive mindset around work, consider speaking to a mental health professional about the coping mechanisms best for you to better handle those situations.
Understanding the Connection Between Work and Mental Health
Work is a necessary part of life for most people and it can have a significant impact on your mental health. When you know how your career affects your well-being, you can work to improve your situation at work and at home.