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It’s World Mental Health Day on 10th October, and the theme this year is mental health in the workplace. To show our support, we’re sharing some of our best work-life balance tips.
One in six of us experiences a mental health problem in any given week, and increased working hours and work-related stress are often contributing factors.
A key way to protect against this detrimental effect is to make sure you have a healthy balance between work and your personal life. The following work-life balance tips should help you achieve that.
Long working hours can be a big contributing factor to mental ill health. The Mental Health Foundation states that when working long hours, 27% of employees feel depressed, 34% feel anxious and 58% feel irritable.
However, research has shown that working longer doesn’t mean we get more done - in fact, there is evidence to suggest that it actually harms our productivity.
Instead of working long hours, try to use your time wisely. Prioritise tasks carefully, and give yourself a set amount of time to do each one. Try to stick to your schedule, even if it means you don’t do every task perfectly. Which leads us onto our next tip…
The impulse to spend extra time making sure you do things perfectly can be strong. If you’re overworked, try to ignore it - tell yourself explicitly that what you’ve done may not be perfect, but it’s good enough.
This applies to your home life as well as your work life. Don’t beat yourself up if the living room is a bit messy, or you haven’t had time to do the ironing. Give yourself a break - it doesn’t matter if those things don’t always get done.
If your boss or colleagues are expecting too much of you, take responsibility and speak up.
If you usually say yes as soon as you’re asked to do something, start taking a bit of time before you give your answer. Tell the person asking that you’ll get back to them, and then think carefully about whether you actually want to do it.
If you want to say no, say it and stick to your guns. Be polite, but don’t apologise or make excuses. If you’re clear and firm about how much you can take on, your employer should respond accordingly.
The time we spend worrying about work when we’re not there is a key contributing factor to work-related stress. Drawing a clear distinction between work time and leisure time can help combat this.
At the end of the day, make a list of any outstanding tasks or things you need to remember, then turn off your computer, close your diary and leave it. Don’t check your emails outside of work hours, no matter how tempting it is.
If you ever do have to bring work home, try to make sure you only work in one specific area of your home, and are able to close the door on it.
When you’re at work, make sure you take proper breaks. Don’t skip lunch - take at least half an hour, and get out of your workplace if you can.
Exercise, hobbies and spending time with friends and family are all great ways to reduce stress and protect against mental health problems.
Make sure you schedule in time to do something you enjoy every day. It could be as simple as giving yourself 20 minutes to read before you go to bed, or catching up with a friend over the phone - but give these ‘appointments’ as much importance in your schedule as work-related tasks.
Most of us spend a large proportion of our time at work, and our experience in the workplace is an important factor in our wellbeing.
We hope these work-life balance tips help you reduce stress and stay healthy. For more information on looking after your mental health, check out the Mental Health Foundation’s range of publications or Mind’s advice on staying mentally healthy at work.