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7 Ways to Boost Your Mental Health at Work

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Some days, the workplace can be challenging. Your boss wants the reports you just received, and he wants them yesterday. Conflicts about where to order lunch are drawing more firepower than strategy decisions. Plus, face it — sometimes you’re bored.

You find yourself not wanting to go in. Hiding under the covers. Hitting the snooze alarm until you’re late. Which just causes more stress.

Not to worry. You can do many things to help boost your mental health at work. Not only are there several options, but they are also easy to do. No one will even notice you’re doing them.

1. Start your day in a relaxed way.

Despite the nearly universal human temptation to lean on the snooze alarm, try planning your morning differently. How about getting up earlier so you can contemplate what’s coming rather than running away from it? Get up half an hour earlier and sip your favorite tea. Sit in the garden. Listen to soothing music. The key? You control the beginning of your day. Vague forebodings about arguments with your boss don’t.

2. Make your work area soothing.

We’re talking about your immediate work area here. Love plants? Bring in some for your desk. Like to look at animals or your favorite rock star? Posters. The idea is, surround yourself with something that gives you pleasure and a mental boost. It could be anything from pictures of your partner to bright purple sticky notes.

3. Create a sense of accomplishment.

You’ll feel less challenged at work if you have a sense of accomplishment. Frankly, small accomplishments are not always easy to come by. Start working from lists, so you have a record of accomplishment. Jot down three items you’d like to get done today. Don’t beat yourself up if one or more has to move to tomorrow — that’s the nature of work at times. What you’re working toward is crossing the items off. Then, congratulate yourself for doing them and make a new list.

4. Smile at your desk.

It sounds silly, but believe it or not, smiling deliberately is a good mental health exercise. Smile and hold it for 10 seconds — maybe when you know for sure no one is looking at you. It gives your face muscles some exercise, and it also brightens your mood. The beauty of this exercise is it can be done at your desk or in your cubicle.

5. Take a lunch break outside.

If the weather’s good, taking an outdoor break can be a great mood elevator. Stroll around briefly on your lunch break. Run to the neighborhood coffee shop for midmorning beverages. If there’s an outdoor area for sitting nearby, just go out and figuratively smell the roses.

6. Plan a reward.

Your mood will remain balanced if you plan a reward for each difficult task you accomplish. Did you finally get your co-worker to greenlight a social media campaign, after weeks of anxiety-inducing discussion? Plan a specific reward. Buy a favorite DVD, indulge in chocolate or give yourself permission for an hour of cat videos on YouTube.

7. Help someone out.

Helping someone can also improve mental health. They will be happier, and it’s contagious. Try volunteering for a good cause. Teach a co-worker to do something they were struggling with. Drop by your grandmother’s house and help her paint the bedroom.

Numerous ways to improve your mental health at work exist. You can do them quietly so no one will notice. You will notice though, as your overall outlook gets brighter and happier.

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Thinkstock photo via Anna_Isaeva.

Originally published: July 25, 2017
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