Work is a large part of life for most of us and it’s where much of our waking hours are spent, so having a fulfilling work life is important for our mental health and wellbeing. But sometimes the stresses of work and life, in general, can get on top of us and become overbearing, impacting our health, relationships and even our ability to carry out tasks. When managing employees, it’s important that we protect staff who are suffering from or at risk of developing mental health problems, as a toxic work environment is not only damaging to our mental health but it can also make productivity more challenging.

Mental Health Impacts Productivity

Studies have shown that people who have good mental health are more productive at work and addressing workplace wellbeing can increase a person’s productivity by as much as 12%. Our mental health refers to how we think and feel, as well as our ability to cope with the ups and downs of life in general. When we feel driven and as though we have a sense of purpose and direction, we benefit from good mental health.

But if we feel distressed, depressed or anxious, it can make working difficult. In a work environment, we may notice that we’re more tired, make more mistakes than usual or find it difficult to stay motivated. Our timekeeping may also suffer, and we might lose our temper when things don’t go well or we’re having a bad day. Poor mental health doesn’t just mean that we struggle to deal with the workload we have, it might also manifest as someone taking on more work than they can cope with as a way of overcompensating.

How to Maintain Good Mental Health at Work

Although mental health conditions are not something you can avoid if you suffer from them, there are steps you can take to improve your wellbeing at work and your resilience to cope with adversity. One way of helping achieve a better balance in the workplace is to talk about how you’re feeling with a colleague, a member of HR or a manager you trust. It can be difficult to share feelings such as this but talking about what’s really going on can help others understand what you’re going through and will help them be more understanding about your behavior at work.

Staying active is also important as regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you to concentrate and focus more when tackling your workload. But it doesn’t have to mean heading to the gym every day – it can be as simple as taking a walk on your lunch break or choosing to cycle to and from work instead of using public transport.

Take regular breaks – a change of pace is good for your mental health and will help you to focus on tasks more efficiently. It can be as easy as taking a five-minute walk away from your desk every so often or stepping away from the office at lunch for some fresh air. When we’re stressed, it can seem harder to take breaks but it’s often when we need them the most so try to plan periods of time off throughout the year too which will give you something to look forward to and ensure that you have time away from work on a regular basis.