Spring Cleaning in the Workplace for Better Mental Health

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Posted by: CMR May 2, 2023 No Comments

While springtime is often associated with cleaning and resetting one’s personal space, these principles can be applied to the workplace, too — and that doesn’t just mean reorganizing your desk. 

According to Kaiser Family Foundation, symptoms of depression and anxiety have continued to increase three years into the pandemic. In fact, 90% of U.S. adults believe the country is undergoing a mental health crisis. And these feelings can’t simply be switched off as soon as a person starts work for the day, especially if work itself is another cause of stress. 

Employees should spend time reevaluating their work lives and do some “spring clearing” of their own, says Dr. Anisha Patel-Dunn, psychiatrist and chief medical officer at mental health care provider LifeStance Health. This means taking the time to reflect on one’s work-life balance and current position in their career. It’s the professional extension of what spring cleaning can bring people: a clear space and a clear mind.

“When we think about spring, we think about days getting longer, flowers and trees blooming. It’s a new beginning,” says Dr. Patel-Dunn. “So I think of spring as a new beginning for your mental well-being, too. That also means taking the opportunity to look at yourself at work and look at your professional goals.”

Dr. Patel-Dunn advises workers to ask themselves whether they are in the right role at work, and if they are with the right employer. Regardless of whether workers want to look at new positions or jobs, Dr. Patel Dunn also asks workers to reflect on what they have control over during the workday. She notes that workers may have a hard time being mindful if they feel they have no control over their day and are just getting pushed from meeting to meeting or task to task.

“I really encourage people to have mindful moments of break time within their workday,” says Dr. Patel-Dunn. “Now you can log onto a meeting on video while grabbing a cup of tea or lunch, and we don’t allow ourselves the mental reprieve we need throughout the day.”

To make these breaks more concrete, Dr. Patel-Dunn suggests workers block time on their work calendar and make it somewhat consistent. This could mean ensuring their lunch hour is around the same time each day as well as taking 15-minute breaks for walks or coffee. 

These breaks can even be placed strategically before or after stressful meetings, says Dr. Patel-Dunn. 

“If I know my Monday morning team meeting is very intense and takes a lot of bandwidth out of my day, then I can make sure to take a 30-minute break and grab a cup of tea or step outside and get some fresh air,” she says. “We have to be more intentional about our workday.”

That intentionality can help workers feel more mindful and respectful of their time, and hopefully create natural pockets of time to reflect on what they want from their careers. Dr. Patel-Dunn shares some advice her father once gave her: take a step back and articulate three things to focus on each day, week or even in the span of a career. 

“It helps to break these things down into simple parts,” she says. “Pause, write down and reflect on the top three things you would like to see from your career progression. It can be as simple as staying in your current position for two years so then you can apply for graduate school.”

But Dr. Patel-Dunn understands breaks and reflection may not be enough to clear everyone’s minds. She also encourages workers to connect with senior leaders who can possibly act as mentors to offer more guidance on their career path. Of course, if employees are feeling mentally bogged down and overwhelmed, it may also help to schedule a therapist appointment, given that their health plans make mental health care accessible, notes Dr. Patel-Dunn.

As for employers, Dr. Patel-Dunn advises companies to have their leaders lead by example. Managers, senior leaders and C-suite should schedule breaks into their own calendars and remind employees to take breaks and time off throughout the year via team meetings and company-wide newsletters. 

“If leaders model this, then there’s a sense of feeling taken care of, appreciated and respected at work,” says Dr. Patel-Dunn. “Everybody should do some spring clearing at work. People feel connected and want to bring their best selves to work when they feel most appreciated.”

Article Published By: BenefitNews.com

Article Written By:

Deanna Cuadra – Associate Editor, Employee Benefit News

Author: CMR

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