All you need to do is step out of the front door and head to work. No big deal right? But for some reason, there’s dread in the pit of your stomach because it’s finally the day of the deadline. If you think about it, you haven’t had a great run lately. Maybe it’s something you’re doing wrong. Or worse, maybe it’s just you. You put your head in your hands, frustrated. It must be because you lack confidence, you tell yourself. You’re just not good enough. Maybe if you called in sick instead, you’d get an extra day to check everything over thoroughly. Then you’d be ready by tomorrow right? Yeah, that sounds like a plan. So, practicing your best ‘sick voice’ impression, you call up your boss and tell them you can’t make it in after all.
Goodness, that spiraled quickly didn’t it? And just because you told yourself you weren’t good enough.
The good news is, this negative thinking doesn’t have to become a pattern in your work life. Did you know you can be your own superhero when it comes to your mental health? Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to deal with stress or problems that crop up in the workplace, but it is definitely possible to get yourself feeling better again with a little bit of insight, care and most importantly, patience.
In this blog-post you will learn:
- What mental health is defined as
- What is a state of wellbeing
- How to unlock your superhero abilities
- The importance of being able to deal with problems or stress
- What socializing with other people can do for your mental health
- Is mental health a big issue?
- Why and how employers should prioritize good mental health
What is the definition of mental health?
The World Health Organization defines mental health as: A state of wellbeing where the individual can unlock their abilities, deal with everyday challenges and stress, as well as enter into communities with other people. (1)
What is a state of wellbeing?
Firstly, mental health is an emotional and psychological state.
When you feel happy and at ease, you typically are too. This does not mean that you cannot be busy at the same time, be dissatisfied with minor things in your life, or perform duties that do not contribute to your overall joy of life. But if most of the time you feel satisfied, it is an indicator of good mental health.
It is also important to mention that you do not always have full control over how you feel, but you can control your reaction to your feelings. You may not want yourself to have a certain feeling or be in a certain state.
However, you can cultivate, and perhaps evoke, wanted feelings by (2):
- Doing things that make you happy and that you are good at
- Taking one or more small breaks throughout the day
- Think about what makes you feel happy during your workday
- Keeping active throughout the day
- Nurturing your social relationships
- Asking for help and talking about your feelings
How to unlock your (superhero) abilities
A simple way to unlock your superhero abilities at work is to perform tasks you enjoy and to do them well. When you feel you are contributing to your community in a meaningful way, you are more satisfied and this is essential for your mental health.
Studies have shown that feeling in control of your own behavior and goals, and believing that you are performing the tasks properly, have a strong link to psychological wellbeing. It also helps you remain motivated to complete tasks (1). This means that generally working on things you believe to be meaningful and that match your abilities may have a positive effect on your mental health. For instance, working on exciting projects matching these abilities can lead to an experience of flow, where you lose a sense of time and place. At times it may not even feel like work!
Also, another great way to relieve stress in everyday life and thereby not exceeding one’s mental capacity, can be to implement some kind of daily physical activity.
Studies have shown there is a strong link between physical activity and mood, due to the release of neurotransmitters when you are performing physical activity. “Exercise increases several neurotransmitters, such as serotonin (5-HT), dopamine (D), acetylcholine (ACh) and norepinephrine (NE)”. We know that dopamine plays a huge role in regulating mood, and when it is released we feel happy and satisfied. (3)
The importance of being able to deal with problems or stress
Most of us experience stress to some extent dealing with work, family or other parts of our daily lives. Experiencing this stress and being able to deal with it within a short period of time is not dangerous. This is how we improve our mental capacity and resilience, and learn new abilities.
However, exceeding our mental capacity by feeling stressed for longer periods of time can lead to draining of our mental resources and our ability to bounce back from the prolonged stress and in some cases, it may even end in you experiencing burnout.
Symptoms of burnout include headaches, feeling drained, tired and unable to cope, and not having the energy to do tasks at work or at home. In some cases, people experiencing burnout may need to step away completely from their daily activities for an extended period of time. (4)
Why socializing with other people is good for your mental health
Humans are social creatures by nature. Yep, it is considered a basic human need, even for an introvert. Whether you enjoy spending energy socializing with others or it helps recharge you, feeling a part of a larger community and identifying with other people is essential for your mental wellbeing (5).
Studies have shown that social interaction at the workplace has a positive impact on wellbeing. People are left with positive feelings at the end of the workday, and there is trust and emotional support among colleagues. A lack of social interaction and feeling isolated at work increases the risk of depression and can be associated with negative physical health consequences, such as a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases (5).
How big of an issue is mental health?
Poor mental health is a major issue across the world. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that around 264 million people across the globe suffer from depression. That’s a lot of people! Additionally, it’s estimated that poor mental health accounts for 1 trillion USD in lost productivity every year (6). In the UK alone, one study showed that stress, depression and anxiety caused 50% of workplace illness cases in 2020/2021 (7).
Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the negative trend on mental health, causing the United Nations to declare a global mental health crisis (8). Studies showed the pandemic was directly related to issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, and loneliness (9).
Why and how employers should prioritize good mental health
Obviously, ensuring good mental health for workers is a win for everyone. Not only will workers feel better overall, they are likely to produce higher quality work. Recent studies show that employers have a big financial gain when it comes to prioritizing their employees’ mental health. According to WHO, for every $1USD directed into scaled-up treatment for common mental health disorders, there is a return investment of $4USD in improved health and productivity (6).
It is therefore important that employers strive to create the best possible framework for creating a culture that protects the mental health of all employees.
So how can Pleaz help?
New to the platform and Pleaz? No problems! If you have more questions or want to start with some selected mindfulness exercises, then you can try a pleazer below
Pleaz regularly produces videos designed to help with reducingbody tension, mental stress or pain while at the office. Our range of categories include functional Pleazers, fun breaks and even office yoga. All of our Pleazers are based on science and designed to improve your social, mental and physical wellbeing.
- (1) World Health Organization. (2018) Mental health: strengthening our response. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response
- (2) Mental Health Foundation. How to support mental health at work. Mental Health Foundation. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-support-mental-health-work
- (3) Deslandes, A., Moraes, H., Ferreira, C., Veiga, H., Silveira, H., Mouta, R., Pompeu, F. A., Coutinho, E. S., & Laks, J. (2009). Exercise and mental health: many reasons to move. Neuropsychobiology, 59(4), 191–198. https://doi.org/10.1159/000223730
- (4) Scott, E. Burnout Symptoms and Treatments. VeryWellMind.com. https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-and-burnout-symptoms-and-causes-3144516
- (5) Houston, E. The Importance of Postive Relationships in the Workplace. PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/positive-relationships-workplace/
- (6) World Health Organization. Mental health in the workplace. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion-prevention/mental-health-in-the-workplace
- (7) Willis, A. Employee Stress Leave. Croner. https://croner.co.uk/resources/equality-discrimination/stress-leave-uk/
- (8) Mohsen, L. COVID-19 and the Need for Action on Mental Health. United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/un-chronicle/covid-19-and-need-action-mental-health
- (9) World Health Organization. (2020). Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf