Is There A Link Between Physical and Mental Health At Work?

Absolutely. Changing one physiology almost always affects the other. And because they are so intimately linked, it would be wrong of us at BtS not to dedicate some words to them. Because for many of us, work is a major part of our lives. It is where we spend much of our time, where we get our income and often where we make our friends. Having a fulfilling job can be really good for your mental health and general wellbeing.

However, we all have times when life gets on top of us – sometimes that’s work-related, like deadlines or travel. Sometimes it’s something else – our health, our relationships, or our circumstances.

We can all take steps to improve our own mental health at work. Here are a few top tips recommended by the Mental Health Foundation:

  • Keep active – This can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better. Exercising doesn’t just mean doing sport or going to the gym. It can just mean doing small things like taking the stairs or standing on the phone.  If you work in an office it can make a huge difference just to get out for a walk. As we advocate at BtS, try to make movement a part of your day.
  • Talk About Your Feelings – This can help you maintain your mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.It can be hard to talk about feelings at work. If you have colleagues you can talk to, or a manager who asks how you are at supervision sessions, it can really help.If you are open about how you feel at work, especially if you are a leader, it might encourage others to do the same.If you don’t feel able to talk about feelings at work, make sure there’s someone you can discuss work pressures with – partners, friends and family can all be a sounding board.
  • Eat Well –  What we eat can really affect how we feel. A diet that is good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.It can be hard to keep up a healthy pattern of eating at work. Regular meals, plus plenty of water, are ideal and try and get away from your desk to eat.  For busy times, or times when you are feeling low or stressed, try reducing or giving up caffeine and refined sugar.Be aware that some people find public eating at work very stressful because of past or current eating disorders – so if someone makes different food choices in the office, don’t pass comment or put pressure on them.
  •  Keep in touch – Relationships are key to our mental health and working in a supportive team is hugely important for our mental health at work. We don’t always have a choice about who we work with, and if we don’t get on with managers, colleagues or clients, it can create tension. It may be that you need to practise more self-care at these times, but you may also need to address difficulties.Work politics can be a real challenge. It can be helpful to find a mentor or a small group of trusted        colleagues with whom you can discuss feelings about work. Try and make sure you maintain your friendships and family relationships even when work is intense. A work–life balance is important, and experts now believe that loneliness may be as bad for our health as smoking or obesity.

Please keep all of these in mind when you’re at work. That, along with keeping yourself moving a bit more, will help you enormously.