By Phillipa Collins
Productivity and mental health are closely linked. With depression, anxiety and burnout being the most common manifestations of poor mental health, here is 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. Only eleven out of fifty states mandate some type of rest break for workers. If your employer allows a break, you should make sure it is uninterrupted.
Having a break allows your brain to reset itself from any stressful situations. 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.
Set Small Objectives
Looking at your work as a huge single object is daunting. Those 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 four quadrants of time management approach. This 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
Compartmentalizing can also help with ADHD as your brain can tick off small steps as you go.
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 meeting or an informal chat to have another set of eyes on it.
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.
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.
“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.
Workplace stress can affect anyone, but research has shown that women must contend with their hormones on top of everyday stresses. In fact, 57% of women reported feeling burnout because of work stress, compared to 48% of men.
It’s important that companies work towards more inclusive workplaces that have a healthy work-life balance and manage employee stress by being transparent.”