We’ve all been there: you’re in the middle of the workday, and your mental health suddenly takes a sharp turn for the worse. Maybe you can identify the trigger; maybe there isn’t one. But now you’re stuck in that negative spiral, and it’s trying to take over your entire being.
How do you step out of that moment and reset yourself?
Talking to a mental health professional to establish healthy coping mechanisms is important. In the meantime, we’ve compiled a list of basic steps that you could use to center yourself in the workplace!
Take a Break
If you can, pause what you’re doing and remove yourself from the situation.
Go for a walk around the block, get lunch at your favorite local eatery, grab a pastry from the nearest coffee shop. Even small breaks, like going to the bathroom or refreshing your coffee/cup of water, can help you reset and get you away from the stressor long enough to distract you and let you come back with fresh eyes.
Don’t really have time or the opportunity to get away from your desk? Trying out meditation can really help!
There are many different types of meditation, so you can try out a few and see what works best for you. If you’re new to meditation and aren’t sure where to start, there are quite a few meditation apps for your phone, as well as many meditation videos to be found on YouTube; these tools can help guide you through the technique and center yourself, and you can find one that fits into whatever gap you have in your very busy schedule!
Utilize Grounding Techniques
Another incredibly useful tool? Knowing a few grounding techniques!
Like with meditation, grounding techniques are not one-size-fits-all. Learning a few different ones will help you not only find what works best for YOU, but what works best for you in different kinds of situations. The 54321 method has grown in popularity and comes highly recommended, but don’t feel bad if it doesn’t feel like the best choice for you. Find the right technique(s), and you’ll be able to reset yourself in the face of many different mental health struggles.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
It can be easy to overwhelm yourself in the workplace.
Often we’re expected to take on more than we should, and that can boil over. Another toxic expectation in the workplace? “Leave it at the door.” When you’re struggling with your mental health, that isn’t really an option; it follows you everywhere you go. So if something you’re working on triggers you, your workload becomes unmanageable, or you “run out of spoons” and need help to make sure everything gets done: ask for help!
It’s perfectly fine to admit when you are struggling, and 99% of the time your employer is going to prefer that whatever you’re working on is done correctly/on time rather than having you burn out trying to do too much. Going to your supervisor or other coworkers when you’re in the weeds is what your team is for!
Schedule Time Away
Taking time away from work is absolutely crucial to maintaining your mental health. Scheduling mental health days, taking your vacation, using ALL of your PTO -- these are great ways to use the tools provided to you by your employer. Another critical step you can take to remove yourself from work stress? Enforcing boundaries!
If you aren’t at work, you aren’t on the clock. The idea that employees need to be available 24/7, particularly salaried employees, is asinine and dated. When you leave work for the day, you leave work for the day. Enforce your business hours, and unless a REAL emergency comes up, let it wait for the next business day.
Remember: It’s Okay to Struggle!
When your mental health affects your daily life, particularly your workplace performance, you may experience strong negative feelings that add to your spiral. Remember: you are not alone! Mental illness is very common; according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness annually.
Talk to a friend, a family member, and/or your mental health professional and see if there are things you can do to minimize the impact of your struggles on your daily life. Talk to your supervisor regarding company mental health policy; if they don’t have one, they should!
Everyone has bad days. Hopefully you can use these tips to build your mental health toolbox and make it through the workday!