Productivity and mental health are closely linked. With depression, anxiety and burnout being the most common manifestations of poor mental health, the experts at Joy Organics have compiled a list of five tips to help manage your mental health and increase productivity both in and out of the workplace.
- Take a break
It’s important to step away from your work every few hours otherwise your brain will freeze up and feelings of burnout or anxiety will start to become stronger. As only eleven out of fifty states mandate some type of rest break for workers, you should make sure to take one if your employer allows it.
Research from the Association of Psychological Science suggests that a ten-minute break for every hour you work is a good balance to maintain productivity.
These breaks should be away from your work area. A clear separation will help your brain to relax, so a small walk to the coffee machine or to chat with a team member is ideal.
- Set Small Objectives
Feelings of dread can feed into depression and anxiety so splitting up your work into manageable chunks will make things easier.
A simple way to do this is by using Stephen Covey’s landmark time management approach, presented in his seminal work, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Covey’s method uses four categories:
- Urgent and important – unforeseen events and urgent matters
- Not urgent but important – smaller tasks that won’t affect your deadlines
- Urgent but not important – meetings and phone calls
- Not urgent and not important – checking social media
Try and build a workflow that fits your style using these categories. For example, you might want to space out any meetings and phone calls between the smaller tasks.
Having another perspective is useful for lowering your stress levels. Talking to your team or a manager not only gives you a break from staring at a screen, but it means that you can solve problems faster.
Instead of struggling with a project alone, ask for a quick, informal chat or message a co-worker with any questions.
It’s also worth remembering that you can help others. This might not seem relevant to managing your own mental health but brainstorming solutions can take your mind off the task that is currently bothering you and might even lead to a solution you hadn’t thought of.
- Don’t take on too much
Hustle culture has become common in workplaces over the past few years, where everyone is trying to take on everything their managers give them. This can be a huge contributor to stress and depression as the work keeps coming in.
You have a finite number of hours at work, so don’t take on a week’s worth hoping to get it done in a day. Set boundaries and know when to focus on the work you already have.
Employees can feel like saying no is forbidden. However, a healthy culture in the workplace is one based on giving the worker agency. Employees who are free to manage their workload and time are often much happier and more productive.
- Get a good night’s sleep
When you’re tired and low on energy it becomes harder to concentrate. Getting at least eight hours of sleep each night will allow your brain to rest and you will be better equipped to deal with whatever the workplace throws at you.
Before going to bed, you should do something relaxing and not stare at a phone screen or catch up on work. This helps to signal that it’s time to sleep.
When you’re asleep, the brain can work on rejuvenating itself. A study in the National Institute of Health places the economic impact of sleep loss in the billions for businesses, with thousands attributed to each individual employee.
Hannah Smith, a spokesperson for Joy Organics, has stated that “according to a study by stress.org, more than 50% of workers are not as productive at work due to stress, and 39% claim workload is the main cause”. Smith followed this up by claiming that “workplace stress can affect anyone, but research has shown that 57% of women reported feeling burnout because of work stress, compared to 48% of men.”
This is not to diminish the importance of ensuring there is strong ethic within the workplace. But rather, catering to the mental and emotional needs of the employees is proven to produce higher production and healthier work environments.