‘Mental Health’ has long been widely discussed as one of the critical success factors to ensure a successful Employee Relations programme in any organization. Unfortunately, these important discussions were not followed up with much concrete actions. But during the ongoing pandemic, with prolonged work from home by many employees, the issue has reared up to such a level that paying lip-service won’t help in maintaining organizational productivity as expected by the management.
Let’s peel away the constituents of mental health. It primarily depends on the well-being of three aspects of human life—emotional, psychological and social. If you are not well at all or any of these three fronts, you can be sure that your mental state has become unstable. When you take into account the fact that many employees are working from home for around three months by now due to the pandemic situation, you can safely conclude that they are struggling with their mental health.
In terms of influencers in shaping our mental health—four factors, namely, biological, experiential, environmental, and historical play a big role. The first one—biological factors consist of anything physical that can cause adverse effects on a person's mental health. This includes genetics, sex, prenatal damage, exposure to toxins, brain defects or injuries, and substance abuse.
The second factor emphasizes on the experience related to trauma, receiving abusive behaviours, neglect from relations, unexpected confrontation or even accident etc. Environmental factors like sleep deprivation, smoking, pollution, extreme weather condition, workplace condition, pressure, malnutrition etc. affect our mental health conditions. Finally, the family history also has a critical contribution in determining the wellbeing of an individual’s mental health.
We might not be able to get on top of all these factors, but as long as we aware of them, we can take measures to minimise their negative impacts on us.
Inability to tackle mental health issues may make us suffer from anxiety, depression, irritation, loneliness, social-isolation, difficulties in setting boundaries which in turn can affect our level of motivation, lack of enthusiasm, lack of spontaneity, reduced agility and resilience—all of which translates into an unhappy life for us.
Without doubt working from home is having a toll on our mental health. Because, in the work from home setting, the work and life overlaps each other all the time. Switching back and forth between these two day in day out can be mentally daunting. Which is why it is so important for the organizations to help its employees to guide or coach them to cope with this demanding situation we all are living through. In this context, organizations may want to encourage their employees to practice the following nine steps to maintain a sound mental health.
Inability to tackle mental health issues may make us suffer from anxiety, depression, irritation, loneliness, social-isolation, and difficulties in setting boundaries
Start the day by talking to People whom you like most: As the saying goes, morning shows the day; so why not start your day by talking to people who value you, who cherish you and are willing to give a patient hearing to your life’s issues. Such conversations will set you up on a positive note to take on the adversities of life and thus give you a better chance of maintaining your mental health.
Think, Do and Stay Positive: Mental health issues in many instances are the consequences of negative mindset. Such mindset can set in when your thoughts and deeds are not adequately connected. So, clear up your mind and think through your day before you start taking steps towards them. The more control you have over these issues the more chances you will have of shrugging off all negativity from your life.
Ensure laughter in the meeting or conversation: Try not to be too serious about your work or life. Even at the most trying moments you can still find ways to crack up a laughter, be it in a meeting or in any conversation. Laughter can work as a ventilator for you when you need to manage stress. The more emotional intelligence you have, the more adept you will become at timing your laughter in tough situations.
Do something to remain physically active: Mental health is very important but it’s not independent of your physical health. So you need to find ways to stay active no matter how busy you are. Bit of movement can wonders for you in getting your blood running through your veins. When the blood keeps stimulating your organs your mind will also fall in line and take you through the chores of the day without you feeling stressed a bit.
Do some genuine act of helping others: It’s always a great feeling to genuinely help our fellow human beings. Altruistic behaviour can thus be a great source of inspiration for us to stay positive about life in general. This will make you more approachable as an individual and open doors for you to possibilities that never imagined existed.
Develop coping skills: Not everyone in workplace or society in general will think like you.In fact, in most cases, you will find it difficult to find people who endorses your way of thinking or shares your outlook on life. So it’s always wise to develop skills that will help you to deal with opposing views or untoward behaviour. You need to engineer a personality that helps you repel all such unavoidable eventualities of life.
Reflect on your positive outcomes and Reward Yourself: Do soak in all the successes of your life no matter how small they are. They stay in your memory and help you to pull through in tough times. Don’t be too hard on yourself, reward yourself with the indulgence you had been denying yourself for a long time. Give yourself a breather from the drudgery of life to remain fresh all through your life.
Be open and realize you don’t have to be perfect: Sometimes we push ourselves to the brink my demanding perfection of conduct or excellence in what we do. While we should always pursue improvement, pursuit for perfection is meaningless as there is no such thing in the world. So don’t cause unnecessary mental stress on yourself by devoting your time and energy for this. As long as you always feel the urge to improve yourself, you should be happy with yourself.
Getting enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can prove to be fatal for your mental health if continued as a habit. So it is foolish to cut down on sleep to create more time to raise your productivity. In the long run, it will definitely lower your productivity as your mind will underperform due to the weariness it experiences from sleep deprivation. Therefore, no matter what, do not compromise with your sleep to stay healthy, both, mentally and physically.
Finally, taking good care of your mental health should be supplemented by a balanced routine life and healthy diet. Once you can develop the perfect mix of these nine steps with routine life and healthy diet, you will be in a position to ramp up your productivity. No matter what life throws at you, try to follow the nine steps religiously. If you can absorb the bitter experiences well, you can always rebound with a positive frame of mind to win numerous glorious battles in life. Just make sure, you develop resilience to your mental state to fortify yourself against the perils of mental health issues.