Mind-Body Health

Six Steps to Nurturing a Healthy Mind at Work

Woman works on a laptop at home
Woman works on a laptop at home

Given that most working Americans spend over forty hours in the office each week, it comes as no surprise that prioritizing physical and mental well-being on the job has the potential to significantly increase happiness, engagement, and satisfaction. Caring for your mental health at work is one of the most important things that you can do to enhance your overall well-being.

Fortunately, you do not have to seek out a new job, track down enlightened co-workers, or light sage in your cubicle every morning (though all are perfectly fine options if you can swing them). The following healthy habits are easy to integrate and will maximize your sense of fulfillment and meaning on the job.

Cultivate a Self-Care Plan

A positive work environment begins with you. The state of mind in which you start your day directly impacts your work quality and influences team dynamics. A solid self-care regimen will maximize your productivity and equip you to navigate inevitable work stressors. While each person’s self-care routine should be individualized to support their unique needs, certain elements are applicable to everyone: getting adequate sleep, exercising, eating healthy foods, and employing effective coping strategies. In addition, setting clear boundaries on work hours is essential to reducing pressure and promoting constructive feelings.

Utilize Your Strengths

Utilizing your core strengths at work can influence health, job performance, productivity, and work satisfaction. Engaging your strengths creates energy rather than depletes it. If you haven’t taken a signature strengths evaluation, you can do so at www.viacharacter.org. Once you have a clear idea of your inherent character assets, look for ways to use them at work. Do you enjoy planning team bonding events, leading training, making people laugh, or nurturing coworkers with homemade treats? Find ways to integrate whatever you love to do and are naturally good at. Not only will this elevate your own joy, it will also increase the happiness of your coworkers.

Boost Collaboration

The relational tone of many work environments is competitive rather than cooperative. To boost collaboration, it is vital to share a team vision and clearly define each team member’s role. Understanding how the team is contributing to the company as a whole and the way in which the company is serving a larger purpose will inspire team members to work together for the greater good. In addition, clearly defining each team member’s role will alleviate duplication of efforts and potential conflicts.

As with any good team, bonding outside of work is also important. Team events solidify common interests and highlight the joys and struggles that each person faces. Even remote workers can create opportunities for connection with team book clubs, trivia games, or fitness challenges.

Reflect On How You Are Making a Difference

Noticing how your actions are making a genuine difference in the lives of others will create more fulfillment in your work. Contemplating the ways in which your specific job impacts others will highlight your unique energetic footprint and remind you that your job is about more than a paycheck. In addition to understanding how your work role creates impact, identifying how your actions positively contribute to the lives of your co-workers can widen your perspective beyond a task specific orientation to a heart centered one. For example, smiling, offering compliments, maintaining a cheerful disposition, cleaning the team refrigerator, or bringing in fresh flowers are small but powerful ways to enhance your sense of joy and meaning on the job.

Take Hourly Movement Breaks

Taking mini-movement breaks throughout your day can decrease stress, improve concentration, and minimize the mental energy drain that accompanies long periods of seated work. One study found that standing is not enough to reap benefits; you need to move and engage in light activity. Interrupting sitting with hourly movement breaks allows the mind to decompress along with the body. Aim for three to five minutes of activity every half hour. Try climbing the stairs, jumping in place, or flowing through a few yoga sun salutations each hour. Have fun with it. Set an hourly timer, vary your activity, and notice how you feel at the end of your day. You will likely discover that you are leaving with energy to spare.

Organize Your Workspace

Your office space can either invigorate or distract you. Constantly working around clutter impedes productivity and decreases motivation. Each time you observe a pile of papers awaiting filing, a stack of books waiting to be read, or a heap of mail vying for attention your brain is momentarily pulled off course. Even if the distraction is imperceptible to your conscious mind, it occurs. When multiplied by the number of times that your eyes take in the clutter each day, the mental diversion equates to decreased focus and increased feelings of overwhelm. Fortunately, tidying up your office space is easy when you immediately purge, label, or file incoming items. In addition, beautifying your space can help to cultivate a sense of harmony and ease. Try adding potted plants or inspiring artwork as well as using vintage wooden boxes to hold pens and business cards.

You spend a lot of time at work. Making that time rewarding, uplifting, and meaningful will greatly increase your mental well-being. As you experience greater contentment at work, the positive emotions will spill over into all areas of your life.


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