At work, the to-do list is long. So long that sometimes it sabotages your ability to check in with your mental health and attend to the emotions you experience throughout the workday. (Heck, some days are so busy we can barely remember to refill our water bottles.) Still, burnout is accurate, and we’re simultaneously feeling everything as some of us return to office environments in a pandemic while others continue to Zoom with bosses from their bedrooms. (Those work/life boundaries are getting weird, no?) That’s why we checked in with Carson Tate, founder of Working Simply and author of Own It. Love It. Make It Work: How to Make Any Job Your Dream Job, about a few simple actions to tend to (vs. tamp down) our emotional health at work.
Remember to consider the art of the 5-Minute Work Break.
Whether you’re texting a friend or family member daily or taking five minutes to listen to a song doesn’t matter. Taking a brief break, even one that isn’t multitasking, can significantly benefit your mental health. Tate says a quick five-minute text conversation with another person, even your wife at work, can be like water and food for the brain. Tate says that it can give an immediate lift in mood and, over time, strengthen relationships. It also allows you to get up for air for a moment. Another option is a music break. A music break can help with anxiety and depression. It will also boost your self-esteem, especially if it is an upbeat song.
Get Moving for Acute Stress in the Office
It is true. Unexpected mental health issues are often the most difficult to solve. Unpleasing emails from your boss, unexpected meetings, or simply the fact that you must put out a fire you didn’t know you would need. What is the best defense? Tate says a quick walk, jumping jacks, or even a solo dance party can be helpful. She says the movement is one of the best ways to release negative emotions and reset your body. It’s like meditation in motion. It reduces the fight or flight response and clarifies everyday tensions and irritations, so you can let go of them.
Ask yourself questions that will help you see the bigger picture.
The small things can cause problems when it comes to your mental health at work. Perhaps you are getting bogged down in office politics or need to take a break from the small but tedious task that keeps you down. Tate suggests that asking yourself questions can help you improve your outlook and mood about work. “The value of your work is determined by you. You can find meaning for any job because you define it.” Tate suggests asking yourself: “What benefit do customers get from your product? How does it positively impact people?” Once you have the answers, you can create a meaningful statement about your work and the reasons you do it. Post it wherever you can see it to remind you of the importance of your work when you’re having a bad day.