Did you know that we spend over one-third of our lives at work? But we don’t spend much time considering how our workplace affects our mental & emotional wellbeing.
So last week, we took to Instagram to ask you about how your workplace helps or hinders your mental health. Unfortunately, across the board it seemed like work your workplaces were more of a hindrance than a help…
“Overwhelming levels of stress and little, traumatic, conflict-ridden interactions every shift.”
“I can’t say “no” because it feels highly related to my job security. I feel frustrated.”
“All the office-politics are affecting me mentally.”
“Not being able to leave work at work and forget about it when I’m at home.”
“The normalisation of working after hours.”
Sometimes workplace issues seem so beyond our control that we feel powerless to confront them. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We took a few of your workplace issues to our Indigo psychologist, Anthea, for some advice on how to take control of your mental health while at work.
I’m feeling crap about my workplace environment
It’s always important to talk to people about it, especially your manager or another colleague. This might provide some insight into whether other people are feeling the same way, and find ways the workplace can help and support you.
It’s also important to have other things outside of work that you value. Imagine you’ve got these buckets – one can be work, one is family, one is health, one is relationships, etc. Make sure you’re filling your buckets in all different areas of life. This will really help with your overall wellbeing.
Caring about things other than your job doesn’t mean that you don’t like what you do or that you’re not committed to it. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to climb the ladder, or make a lot of money, or be a leader.
It simply means that you value your time and energy, and to the extent that you can manage it, you truly understand how important it is that your 9-to-5 isn’t your entire life. – The Muse
I don’t know how to have a difficult conversation with my manager.
Start by prompting your manager with an email and letting them know that you’d like to speak to them about something that you’ve been experiencing.
By emailing first, it’s less direct and then, when you’ve set up a time to speak to them, they have a bit of an idea of what’s going on.
You should also have a few notes ready to go before going in, so you’re prepared to cover what you want to cover and it’s less scary. I think when you get into these situations it’s easy to freeze, because you had all these things on our mind and they just vanish. And finally, when you’re in there, just imagine your friend sitting across from you and you just want to get some things off your chest.
Working to keep negative information out during a difficult conversation is like trying to swim without getting wet.” – Douglas Stone (Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most)
There are too many demands & I feel like I can’t say no.
I think sometimes we want to take on more than we can handle because we want to please our manager or our boss. But at the end of the day, they hired you because they saw something amazing in you, not because they expected you to be a super-person.
But it’s important to be clear with others when we can’t fulfil all the duties, otherwise that will set unrealistic expectations for your superiors and mean more stress placed on you.
Have a chat with your manager about your workload, get a better understanding around what work you should be prioritising and take it from there.
I struggle leaving my work at work.
Self-care is really important and a form of self-care is being able to put space between work-time and home-time.
Workplace Leaving “Ritual”
As you’re walking out the door leaving your workplace, act through a ritual in your mind where you’re dusting off your hands and saying to yourself “Ok, I’m leaving this here”. This helps create space in your mind between your workplace and your home life, and establishes a healthy habit for your brain to get to know when it’s time to switch off your work-brain.
Shut off from work stuff
I think we get into bad habits of having our emails on our phones – which is handy while we’re at work, but we should try not to be opening them every hour of the day. You can set up your smartphone to shut down certain apps at certain times of the day, which can help in making sure you’re not tempted.
I also do a helpful “thought-labelling” exercise where, if something pops into my head – it could be something to do with work, or something that happened in the past – and I’ll label it “past” and put it away, or label it “work” and put it aside. This makes it easier to focus on the present moment.
It sucks that so many of you feel like your workplace isn’t supporting your mental & emotional health. Fortunately, The Indigo Project have Workplace Wellbeing programs designed to help workplaces up their game – from effective therapy and coaching packages to get staff the support they need, to workshops, immersive experiences and sustained wellness packages for the whole organisation.