A guide to your mental health at work
January 16, 2023

A guide to your mental health at work

You don’t need us to tell you that looking after your mental health and wellbeing is important. You already know that — just like we all know we should be eating five portions of fruit and veg per day and getting more exercise.

But just like working out and eating more veggies, protecting our mental health can sometimes fall by the wayside, especially during January.

January can be a difficult month for everyone. The weather’s cold, the days are short, and the excitement of Christmas is long gone. Going back to work can feel daunting and demoralising (for most people, at least — we work with puppies all day, which gives us a bit of a different perspective!).

Blue Monday might be the official “gloomiest day of the year”, but the whole month or so can feel a bit… flat.

Rather than trying to push through with willpower and resolutions alone, let’s look at some effective strategies to take care of our mental health at work during the cold, dark start to the year.

A guide to your mental health at work

How to beat Blue Monday (and look after your mental health at work)

Get out for a walk

When the weather’s cold and dark and gloomy, it’s hard to feel motivated to head outside. We’re more tempted to snuggle up and hibernate until the sun comes back. But even though this might feel like a good plan in the moment, it’s probably not what’s best for you in the long run.

Take a lesson from dog owners and try making time for a walk — even a short one — every day. Getting out in the daylight can help reset our mood and energise us. And if you live close to a green space, being in nature is a huge mood booster.

Taking a walk is also a great way to clear your head and help you approach work problems from a new perspective. Good for your mental health and productivity? Sounds like a plan to us!

Know when to say “no”

Looking after your mental health means enforcing your own boundaries, even at work. Often, this means saying “no” rather than taking on more tasks and responsibilities.

It’s not easy to say no when your boss asks you to do something, but it’s often best for both your mental health and the company. Try to remind yourself that overcommitting means that you won’t perform at your best and tasks might get missed.

It can often be easier to offer alternative suggestions, rather than give an outright no. Suggest a colleague who might be able to help, or explain what you’re currently working on and ask your boss which is the higher priority.

Break down your tasks into manageable chunks

No one wants to leap straight into work at full speed on the first day back after Christmas. You arrive back at your desk to see a to-do list longer than your arm and you’re not sure where to start.

Try breaking your tasks down into manageable chunks. We love the Pomodoro technique, where you focus on a task for 25 minutes before giving yourself a 5-minute break.

Working for short periods (and actually taking your breaks) can be more productive and better for your mental health. Another win-win.

Book a video call with a friend

Even when the weather is bad, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep a full and rewarding social life going. Looking after your mental health can be as simple as reaching out to a friend for a video call and a chat.

Talking to friends can be especially helpful when you know you’re going to be feeling down. Why not schedule your Blue Monday call now?

Mental health awareness courses

There are loads of myths about mental health out there and it can be confusing trying to find out what actually helps. But there are also lots of really effective tools that you might not have even heard of. Learn to sort the wheat from the chaff by going on a mental health awareness course.

Taking a mental health course can give you the tools you need to look after your own welfare, and even support others. It’s also a great opportunity to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings.

Looking after your mental health at work shouldn’t feel like a chore. At Paws in Work, we bring joy (and puppies!) to conversations about mental and emotional wellbeing. Sign up for our newsletter today and get puppy pics and mental health advice delivered straight to your inbox!

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