|National Alliance on Mental Illness
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10 Tips for Managing Mental Health in the Workplace
Work can play a vital role in recovery–it gives the day purpose. As a volunteer or employee, finishing a project, meeting new people, learning new skills and sharing ideas can give us a feeling of accomplishment. All of these things work to boost our self-esteem and motivate us to stay well and enjoy recovery. But not all days will be easy. Below you’ll find some tips for making every day a good day.
- Know your talents and interests. What do you do well? If you’re creative and enjoy using technology, working in graphic arts might suit you. What interests you? If you’re helpful and like meeting new people, working in customer service may be something you’d enjoy. Your answers are important because the more you love your job, the more you will want to wake up and go in to work every day. The more your skills are needed, the more you’ll feel appreciated and valued by your co-workers.
- Develop a routine. Routines make everything easier. To get you off to a good start, develop a routine for getting ready for work each morning. To help you manage your time, use a weekly routine for chores like shopping every Friday or doing the laundry on Mondays. Plan to routinely meet a friend for lunch or visit a favorite shop. This will give you something special to look forward to.
- Don’t forget physical health. A healthy body contributes to a healthy mind. Going for walks or to the gym can be incorporated into your weekly routine. Involving your friends or making new ones is great way to make it fun.
- Stay organized. Being organized is a great way to reduce stress. Investing time thinking about how to organize your work is smart. It’s stressful when you can’t find what you need or you lose important papers. Missing a meeting or rushing in late is very hectic, so you may want to use a planner or calendar to keep of your appointments. A to-do list can keep you on track and ahead of a deadline. Prioritizing things using post-it notes or highlighters for color coding is also beneficial. In time, you will find the tools that work best for you.
- Reward yourself. Work can be hard so reward yourself. Buy yourself something special you have been wanting or go see a new movie. Take a break. You’ve earned it.
- Make time for yourself. Along with staying organized and rewarding yourself, an important way to reduce stress is to make time for relaxation. Whatever it is that helps you calm down after a stressful day or week, keep it high up on your list of priorities. It is the best way to stay refreshed and motivated.
- Utilize resources. There are some resources available to you which help level the playing field. These are just a few:
- Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) helps people with disabilities find work. Services are time-limited and focused on assessment, training and job placement.
- Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employment helps people living with mental illness find a job that match their interests and talents and become long-term employees. (Click here to find out more about supported employment options.)
- There are also likely resources already available at your place of work such as information about counseling or medical benefits such as Medicare, sick days or disability. Reaching out to your human resources director or another person you trust could be very useful.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Do not waste time and energy on people who bring you down. Having a strong support system can make all the difference in the world. Find co-workers that you work well with and maintain a team mentality. An assistant can help you stay organized. Someone with strong writings skills could edit your work and in exchange, you could offer to contribute something you do well when they need it.
- Consider your work environment. Your physical work environment can have a huge impact on your mood. Things that help you through the day could be snacks, a good playlist and headphones, a warm sweater, a plant, a stress ball; really anything that will make you feel more comfortable throughout the day. Keeping a clean and orderly desk or workspace will help you focus on your work and present a professional image to co-workers.
- Understand that nothing’s perfect. Some days will be harder than others. Some days will require a little more work than others. Everyone makes mistakes. You may need a few extra minutes to get something accomplished, but that’s just fine. Don’t be discouraged. Stay confident–you’ve got a job to do.