Mental health - time for mindfulness and self-care

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Woman sleeping in bed - Mental health at work
The most important facts about mental health

reading time: ca. 5 minutes

  • Mental health is a state of complete well-being.
  • A healthy diet, mindful living and social relationships all have a significant mental impact.
  • An appreciative corporate culture and a healthy work-life balance are important for job satisfaction.
  • There are various strategies to prevent mental exhaustion.

Your job is stressful and three deadlines must be met at the same time? Moreover, a private birthday party needs to be organised but it feels like there is no time left at all? Mental effort and the so-called "mental load" play an increasingly important role in our lives. As a result, society has become more and more aware of dealing with mental health.

In addition to private issues, there are external challenges such as climate change or the pandemic. If everything becomes too much, the feeling of not being able to get out of this negative spiral can arise. In the worst-case scenario, it can lead to burnout or physical illness.

Understanding mental health

The feeling of complete well-being: This is exactly what mental health is. It includes one's own contentedness as well as emotional and social aspects. In case of absence, the individual's quality of life is affected.

Mental illnesses are an increasingly common reason for missed work or earlier retirement. In addition, employees are longer absent from work when they suffer from a poor mental health compared to other illnesses. Therefore employers need to address the issue and take mental health more seriously. Beyond that, the mental health of employees has a significant influence on the economic success of a company. This is because reduced employee absenteeism leads to increased workforce strength and productivity.

The understanding of mental health should be the same among all employees. Mental health is always a part of one’s general health and more than just the absence of mental illnesses such as depression. A person who is mentally healthy expresses positive aspects such as satisfaction and commitment at work - and these are also the prerequisites for a successful professional life.

What affects mental health?

Society's demand for good mental health is growing. This has not least become obvious in a study by Orcha Health from 2021 which traces a rapid increase in the demand for mental health apps over the last years. But already in times before the pandemic, more and more people were looking for support. As a result, there are now almost 4,000 mental health apps in the app stores to choose from.

But what parameters do really affect our mental health? Three crucial areas are diet, mindfulness, and relationships.

Woman cooks some healthy food in the kitchen - Mental Health
  • A balanced diet and the consumption of healthy food affect one's physical and mental health. For example, eating too much sugar can have a negative effect on the personal well-being. Simply explained, sugar triggers a chemical reaction (let’s call it “mood booster”) in the brain. It conditions people to consume sugar regularly. If sugar is no longer eaten, the exact opposite happens: Due to the lack of dopamine, one’s mood drops.
  • A rainy day with no sun at all: This can throw some people more off the track than others. The way a person deals with resistance or setbacks in life is strongly related to his or her resilience. Resilience is the ability to cope with crises and, at the same time, to use them as opportunities. If the glass is half full or half empty depends on the mindfulness of each individual person. The key to mindfulness is to live in the moment and enjoy it. To achieve this state, meditation or taking a walk can help. Each person has to explore individually how he or she can practise mindfulness in order to strengthen inner balance and self-confidence
  • Have you ever had that moment when, after a conversation with a good friend, all your problems have disappeared? That's why social relationships have a miraculous effect and can transform negative feelings – no matter whether it's family, friends, or colleagues at work. Even a short phone call with friends can put disturbing feelings into perspective. Social relationships bring comfort to the soul. In general, if feelings or moods are shared with others, one’s well-being gets a push as the pure communication can have a relieving effect.

Mental health is essential at work

For employers, it makes sense to strengthen the mental health of their employees. It does not only reduce sick days, but it also increases the employee productivity due to a higher level of job satisfaction. A toxic work environment, on the other hand, can have a negative impact.

How about the employees' perspective? They should always ask themselves:

Does my current job make me happy? Can I independently change my tasks? Do I see a purpose in my job? Can I overcome challenges on my own?

Jobs without opportunities for development can cause a depressive mood. In contrast, interpersonal relationships with work colleagues and pleasant interactions with managers are positive for the mental well-being. An appreciative corporate culture and a good work-life balance are also important for one’s job satisfaction.

Also, the way managers interact with employees can have a significant impact on their mental health. Cooperation should always be based on trust, transparency, and equality. However, outdated thinking patterns sometimes still prevail, such as the feeling that an executive should always outperform his or her employees.

8 effective strategies to strengthen mental health

Constantly tired and irritable? Rest is something you don't know at the moment? And your concentration often drops off? These are all signs of mental exhaustion. Here are eight strategies that might help:

1. Press pause: The world is rapidly changing, which makes pauses more and more important. It can be a single situation or the sum of many small things that end up causing escalation. Taking a short walk outside can help. But often, it is good to take a break for several days – without having a bad conscience.

Man walking in the forest - Mental health

2. Be consciously happy: Enjoying yourself and putting your own needs first: Everyone has the right to be happy and to be treated well. One way to do so can be the regular and conscious fulfilment of small wishes, like going to the seaside for a weekend or taking time to read a good book.

3. Exercise regularly: Instead of taking the car or train, simply walk or cycle to work. Because physical exercise reduces stress as the brain releases messenger substances that generate happiness. Daylight also boosts the release of serotonin, the happiness hormone, and can brighten your mood even on a grey winter's day.

4. Get enough sleep: Fixed times for going to bed as well as good-night-rituals help to promote a restful sleep. And restful sleep is the basis for being cognitively efficient and emotion control.

5. Learn something new: People who actively work towards a goal or learn new skills are happier than people who are stuck in their daily routine. This could be a new project or training at work, learning a new language or trying out a new sport in private life.

6. Have a balanced diet: Different kinds of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and water or tea are all part of a healthy and balanced diet. This strengthens the mental health, because not only organs, but also the brain needs nutrients to work properly.

7. Maintain social contacts: Some people draw new energy from social contacts. But there are also people who feel exhausted by too many social relationships. Everyone must individually decide how many social connections are good for him or her.

8. Do a digital detox: Switching from mobile phone to laptop to TV and back again: People spend a lot of time in front of screens. This constant accessibility creates stress. That is why it helps to reduce the consumption of digital media or to fix certain screen times.

To sum it up: Every person has a different capacity for stress, and everyone needs to take breaks to recharge his or her batteries. Therefore, it is important to take time for oneself to promote the individual mental well-being.

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