Mental Health and the Workplace: Finding a Brain Balance


This blog was written by Will Reed Fellow 2019, Annabel Hillstrom.

Whether you have an 8-5 office job or an 80-hour week job, work can be stressful. Difficult projects, tough managers, and complicated clients can all impact our mental space. Even the best employees can experience burnout when it all gets too overwhelming.

Sometimes, it takes more than just a deep breath and good preparation to take care of yourself in the workplace. Below are some tips to help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. You can also use them as preventative measures to stay on top of your mental health.

  • Change your environment. Working in an office can sometimes make you feel unmotivated or uninspired. If you can, take a walk to break up the afternoon and get some fresh air! Not only will activity stimulate your brain and help you think more creatively, but it can sometimes change your perspective. Even if you can’t leave the office, try alternating between your own space and an open conference room to shake things up.

  • Stay hydrated. It seems as though caffeine and Corporate America go hand in hand. Almost every office is stocked with coffee stations, soda machines, and more. Employers want their people awake and focused on the task at hand. In moderation, coffee can be great; however, having too much caffeine can lead to jitters, anxious thoughts, and a dangerous crash at the end of the day. Make sure you’re balancing your caffeine and water intake to stay hydrated and alert throughout the day.

  • One step at a time. When you’re constantly focused on the deadline or the outcome, it can quickly lead to stress. Keep a list of projects and break them up into manageable tasks so it doesn’t become too much. Within those lists, prioritize things by the time they need to be done or how long they will take. If it is a project that involves other departments, make sure to get approval early - if it is on them, it is on you.

  • Take some time to breathe and refocus. If things are going a mile a minute, it can help just to take a moment to center yourself. Spend five minutes breathing deep. Need some help to slow things down? Look into apps like Headspace or Calm that provide guided meditations with multiple themes. Remember the purpose of your position and your own personal “why.” If it gets hard to keep track, write your motivation on sticky notes for your computer or desk space. 

  • Find a job that provides the right amount of challenge and support. With any position, you are bound to experience difficult situations from both internal office mates or clients. It is important to seek out the opportunities that don’t just provide you with challenge and growth, but also understand the importance of support! When looking for a new job, make sure that the position provides you with risk and difficulty, but also with coworkers and managers who are there to support no matter what. 

A healthy lifestyle is important to ensure success in the workplace - both physically and mentally. Make sure you check-in with yourself throughout the week to keep track of how you’re feeling. What do you do to maintain mental health at work?

Annabel Hillstrom Will Reed Fellow 2019

“Remember the purpose of your position and your own personal ‘why.’”

Annabel Hillstrom,
Will Reed Fellow 2019

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