Feeling stressed at work? Taking care of your mental health is as important as succeeding in your next project

Most individuals spend a large portion of their life at work. Hence, workplaces have a significant impact on our mental health and wellness overall. On one hand, working can make us thrive but on the other hand it may also increase our stress levels significantly. In this blog post, you’ll learn about the importance of a balanced mind and get concrete guidance on how to manage work-related stress.

The term "mental health" refers to the social and emotional well-being of individuals. Someone with great mental health is able to enjoy the little joys of life, handle stress and sadness, realise one's potential, and feel connected to other people. Our mind may be affected by both protective and risk factors: protective factors can help us maintain or improve our mental well-being, whereas risk factors can cause stress stimulus that might deteriorate our mental health state. But what are the positive protective factors and negative risk factors that we encounter in our day-to-day work lives?

Working makes us thrive

Working can have many beneficial effects on us mentally and it can significantly improve our social as well as emotional well-being. One of the most positive aspects of work is that it gives meaning to our lives: a reason to get up every morning and make our own effort for common good. Hence, working can give us an important sense of purpose and make ourselves feel needed.

Another protecting factor of work is that it can boost our self-confidence. When we work hard and manage to reach our professional goals, our belief in ourselves grows and we begin to see ourselves in a more positive light. In addition, hearing encouraging comments from colleagues or bosses affects us positively. Realising that we are important and valued in the eyes of others has a direct positive impact on the image we have about ourselves.

At work, we are a piece in a big puzzle of business. A puzzle that needs countless points of interaction and cooperation in order to get ready. Thus, work can help us to connect with other people and develop our social networks. The connections and interactions that we experience at work are crucial as they create a feeling of togetherness which positively affects our mind.

As we see, work is important for our mental health in many ways. However, there are also some work-related risk factors that can have a negative impact on our well-being.

Avoiding excessive stress is key

Tight deadlines, heavy workloads, pressure from bosses… Sometimes work can feel daunting, as many of us have experienced during our careers. Work related stress can be beneficial in reasonable amounts as it may help us to perform better and achieve great results. However, if stress levels become too intense or last for long periods of time, negative mental health issues may occur. Stress can thus be a severe risk factor for our mind.

It is important to learn to identify when stress starts to take over. Acknowledging when we feel too stressed out will help us to handle or avoid stressful situations that may cause additional worries. As everyone is different, there is no single best approach to reaching or maintaining a stress free mind. However, there are several small things we can all do every day to improve our mental balance. Try these tips to keep your work related stress in control:

  1. Limit working extra hours
  2. Schedule meetings only within working hours
  3. Take regular breaks
  4. Devote a physical space for working
  5. Take your yearly holiday leave
  6. Set realistic deadlines and deliver on them
  7. Learn to say “no”
  8. Have a technology switch-off
  9. Explore suitable flexible working arrangements
  10. Tell your manager/client how you are feeling

All in all, being mindful about your mental health is just as important as succeeding at work. Without excessive stress, we are able to perform better, have better self esteem, and connect with others. Our energy levels are higher and we can outperform our own expectations. Everyone has ups and downs, it is a part of life. Just remember that you shouldn’t let stress take over. A healthy and balanced mind is key to success.

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Feeling lonely and stressed out? Check out our previous blog post about how to beat loneliness as a freelance developer.

Anton Eloranta - COO

Anton Eloranta