Here are our top tips for staying positive and encouraging better mental health at work.

“Mental illness affects people of all ages, education, income levels, and cultures. In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness,” reports the Canadian Mental Health Association.

We have all struggled, or know someone who has struggled with mental health. It impacts all areas of life,  work included. For World Mental Health Day 2019, we want to share what is working for us here at AE. Below, we draw on our own experiences to give you tips for improving mental health in the workplace.

Mental Health Tips From
Our Team:

#1: Switch Your Focus

Jeff Mitchell, CTO and Co-Founder:

Fixating on a single problem can lead to a lot of stress. If I’m stuck on something, I find it helps to step away and focus on something else. You may be surprised to find that the solution presents itself when you allow your mind to work things out in the background.

Exercise is also a key stress reliever for me, specifically running. Until recently, I used to take my phone and listen to music, but the last few times I’ve left that behind in an attempt to get some tech-free time.

#2: Meditate Without Meditating

Annabel Youens, CMO and Co-Founder:

Being healthy mentally is really hard sometimes and I’ve had patches where I’ve struggled with depression. I think the ways you handle stress and manage your mental health change as you grow older. I’ve discovered sewing in the last few years, and found it an amazing outlet for stress.

Sewing is my meditation. When I’m taking a 2D pattern printed on paper and turning it into a 3D garment to wear, my brain is at maximum capacity. I can’t think about what’s for dinner, or who’s picking my daughter up from school next week, or if that marketing project got finished last Thursday. It all disappears. And at the end of my sewing session, I’ve used my hands to create a physical product. I find it so satisfying and my brain feels lighter.

#3: Break Up Your Day

Mike Penhall, Senior Developer:

I work remotely from home, so I have less human interaction than most people. I also run the risk of spending too much time in front of a computer and not having a change of scene or being very active.

I try to break up my day with trips to the gym and regular check-ins with workmates. Ultimately if I keep my activity varied and fulfilling, my mental health reaps the rewards. Take care of your mental health like you would any other aspect of your health.

#4: Prioritize What Keeps You Positive

Odette Jacquet, Precision Marketer:

My mental health at work is largely the result of two factors.

First, am I keeping up with my self-care? Eating well? Exercising? Spending time in nature? Connecting with friends and family? If I’ve got that stuff down then I’m usually feeling pretty positive.

The second part comes down to the work itself. Autonomy and creativity are non-negotiables – when I don’t have them, my mental health starts to slide.

What do you need to do outside of work to fill your well? What parts of your job make you feel energized? Prioritize those things.

#5: Keep Projects On Schedule

Jason Scriven, Head of Enterprise Sales:

Projects can be a major source of stress for organizations and the people trying to manage and complete them. You can reduce the negative impact of projects by keeping a fixed end date, even if it means reducing the scope. Items that have to be removed or new ideas that are generated during the project are scheduled for future projects.

Be sure to celebrate the completion of every project. Appreciating team members and celebrating wins together is essential for a healthy workplace.

#6: Say It Out Loud

Jennifer Paul, Intermediate Developer:

I find that my brain is overactive pretty much all the time. If something is bothering me, then I am constantly thinking about it! This can escalate in my head to the point where it’s worse than it really is.

Here’s my #1 tip: When you recognize that your mental health is not doing well, tell someone. Whether it’s a big or small issue, ongoing or a one-time thing, I’ve always found that saying it out loud helps. It reduces stress by stopping those cyclical thoughts in their tracks.

Talk to your coworkers about creating a supportive environment with an open-door policy. Sometimes you don’t need a solution, you don’t need advice, you just need someone to hear you out.

#7: Leave The Screens Behind

Grant Spychka, Head of Customer Success:

Increasingly I find that the amount of time I stare at screens without a break is impacting my mental health. We’ve become so accustomed to working at our desks, and when we’re not, then we have a phone in our face.

I’ve been making a concerted effort this past year to either take a short walking break to get some sunshine throughout the day, or to keep my phone in my pocket during lunch or coffee breaks. It’s a seemingly simple thing, but it keeps me more focused and present during my workday. Plus, this habit transfers into my personal life in an equally positive way.

Thanks for reading our top mental health tips for work. We hope that we sparked something in you. Please reach out with any questions, comments or tips of your own!