New year, new…quarter. With Q1 fast approaching, so are new work objectives and expectations. What if, instead of putting unreasonable pressure on yourself, you tried prioritizing your mental health this quarter?
Follow these tips to set yourself up for (mental health) success in Q1.
Set realistic goals
A new quarter always comes with new objectives. While it’s important to focus your efforts on a clear target, make sure you’re not indulging your perfectionism by setting unrealistic goals you’re unlikely to achieve. Doing so could lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety and might affect your self-esteem, too.
Aim for realistic, achievable goals. You can set challenging yet attainable targets based on past performance and new initiatives. Devise a clear plan to achieve these objectives to ensure you have the necessary resources. If you don’t, discuss it with your line manager.
Don’t get us wrong: realistic doesn’t mean easy. It’s good to challenge yourself if you want to grow and learn in your role – but you shouldn’t do so at the cost of your mental health.
If you’re going to make mental health your priority this year, managing your manager's expectations about performance should be a point of focus. It probably comes as no surprise that your manager is one of the biggest factors impacting your mental health at work.
In a study by the American Psychological Association, 75% of participants declared that their boss was the most stressful part of their workday. While getting a good or a bad manager is usually out of your control, you can help alleviate the pressure by encouraging clear communication and managing your boss’s expectations as much as possible.
If you feel like your manager is setting unrealistic expectations, let them know why you think they’re not achievable, outlining the resources required to achieve them. You can come up with an alternative plan or ask them to prioritize the most important goals.
Don’t be afraid to flag any obstacles you’re encountering throughout the quarter to make sure they understand and support you with challenges that might slow down your progress.
Keep work & personal life separate
“Work-life balance” is not just a buzzword – especially in the age of remote and hybrid working. Making a clear distinction between work and personal life is key to protecting your mental health. If you’re working from home, make sure you don’t let your work bleed into your personal time this quarter.
Flexibility is important, but it can be easy to slip into an always-on approach to work if you’re not setting clear boundaries. Set work hours on your calendar and log off when the work day ends. It can be helpful to turn off notifications from your work inbox and direct messaging to avoid the temptation to answer emails in the middle of the night.
Many people also neglect to take their lunch break. In Just Eat for Business’ Lacklustre Lunch Breaks study, 8% of respondents claimed they always skip lunch breaks. While this might seem like a good solution when your workload gets overwhelming, skipping this important break can actually end up impacting your overall productivity.
According to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, those who skip lunch breaks are up to seven times more likely to suffer from mental and physical exhaustion. This quarter, pledge to take at least half an hour away from your screen to eat a healthy meal and relax. You’ll quickly see the difference in your mood and energy levels.
Take regular breaks
Lunch breaks are important, but they shouldn’t be the only breaks you take during the day. You can’t expect yourself to sit down for 8 hours straight and do nothing but work! Checking your social media might seem like a good way to take a quick break, but it’s still screen time and doesn’t engage your body at all.
This quarter, when you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed at work, try taking a short 5 to 20-minute break to take a quick walk or have a nice chat with a colleague. It can help you recharge your batteries and look at the problem with fresh eyes.
Aim to take at least a couple of days off every quarter, too. You might think it’s a good idea to save all your annual leave for later, but will you really enjoy that three-week holiday a year from now if you spend the whole time sleeping off all the stress of the year?
Watch your health
We’ll never say this enough: physical and mental health are two of the same. To look after your mental health this quarter, make sure you watch your physical health, too. After-work drinks are a great way to connect with your colleagues but don’t make this an opportunity to overindulge in alcohol and greasy food every time.
Bringing your lunch rather than eating out every day will also help you keep a balanced diet… and save money in the process. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, poor nutrition can affect mental health negatively, particularly when it comes to low mood.
To boost your mental health at work this year, you can also aim to include a short walk in your work day, whether it’s as part of your commute, at lunch, or as an afternoon break. Physical exercise can help you feel refreshed and happier.
Create a supportive work environment
If you’re pledging to take better care of your mental health this year, creating meaningful connections should be a priority. Sharing with your peers is a great way to make the workplace a more accepting and supportive place.
You can help break the stigma of mental health at work by checking on colleagues and being more honest about your struggles. Remember everyone “has” mental health! It’s ok to feel down or stressed sometimes, and you’re definitely not the only one feeling this way.
Because these conversations can be difficult to start, we created TalkLife Workplace, a supportive community where you can share life’s ups and downs and connect with like-minded people. 79% of our users feel more able to cope with life since joining the platform.
Learn more about TalkLife Workplace here and request a demo today.