Navigating the world of work: mental health advice for young people
At hundo, we’ve spoken previously about what it is that Gen Z want out of the workplace, and a positive understanding of mental health issues is at the top of the list. As we crawl closer to destigmatising mental health problems, specifically within a work environment, there are ways in which we can make sure that we are protecting ourselves, at both home and at work. With the help of some mental health experts, we’ve compiled a list of steps to provide basic advice to help you work through career hardships such as job loss, unemployment, and stress.
What to do if you’re feeling stressed
Stress in the workplace shouldn’t just be the general standard for our 9-5’s, there is a balance between healthy stress and ambition, and heading towards irreversible burnout. If you feel stress creeping into your work and home life, you should notice the signs in your own body, both physical and mental and monitor them. Knowing exactly how you feel and what situations cause you more stress can help you to regulate the stress and understand when you are being pushed too far.
Although exercise is seldom the only answer for combating stress, Bupa’s expert doctors suggest that exercising moderately daily can help improve your chances of suffering from workplace stress.
If your stress levels are workload related, there is no shame in asking for help! Although some high flying corporate careers rarely leave room for employees to say ‘this is too much’ this shouldn’t be the case. Voice your concerns in a professional way, and ask for help. Also, read up on your company’s health and wellbeing policies. There’s a chance your work could get you access to things like free healthcare, physio and even therapy. So know your entitlements and voice your concerns. There should be structures in place to help you.
Mental health charity Mind told hundo that ‘If you find yourself in a stressful, draining, or toxic work environment that’s damaging your mental health, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. If you feel comfortable doing so, you should speak to your manager about how you are feeling and focus on practical solutions that are feasible for you both. That might mean adjusting your shift pattern or changing your responsibilities. If none of this brings real change then it is worth considering finding a role that brings more balance to your life.’
What to do if you don’t feel supported
Feeling supported at work can come in many forms. From getting regular praise, to being assured that there is scope for career progression, there are multiple ways in which your employers should be supporting you. And if those support needs are not met, it could easily take a toll on your own mental health.
If you are feeling unsupported in the workplace, on a human level talking about this with a fellow colleague is a good way to start up the conversation and highlight your concerns. Who knows, perhaps your colleague will have had a similar experience and you can find solace in that knowledge. Depending on the severity of the lack of support, confiding in HR might also be another route to explore, especially if the lack of support encompasses harassment, misconduct, or prejudice.
If you feel as though you are not being valued at work, after talking with your manager, HR or boss about your concerns, planning a financially viable exit route is also an option. If you have tried to get support and had it rejected it is okay to remove yourself from that role.o Just make sure that you have another plan or job lined up. There can be a lot of shame surrounding leaving jobs, but if your needs are not being met on a mass scale it’s a really important thing to consider and in no way shows the workplace stereotypes of weakness, or a lack of success, rather self-understanding and validation.
What to do if you have lost your job
Job loss can be one of the biggest shocks and disappointments to happen in life. The pandemic hit most of us like a ton of bricks, with redundancies, furlough and unstable freelancing becoming the norm. It can be hard to remain positive when life hits you with job loss, but being proactive is one of the best ways you can support yourself during this time, as well as sharing your stories with friends, family and your network.
Look at your skill set and hone in on what you’re good at. Is there a job better suited to you? If so, apply for it. Check online for free courses to boost your CV and do a call out to your professional network. Remaining transparent about job loss can help you feel better about the situation. The likelihood is most of those close to you have experienced the same thing, and will be able to tell you that things do get better.
If you really feel your mental health dipping as a result of job loss, there are careers advice services to give you real guidance. Whilst this might not directly help your mental health, if the root of your problem is job loss, learning about opportunities and being presented with options (some of which you may not have known you were eligible for) is a positive step to seek future employment. The National Career Service has some good practical advice on its website on how to deal with job loss.
How to maintain a healthy work/life balance
We know that maintaining a healthy social life outside of work is essential to looking after our work-life balance and wellbeing. Mind also confirmed this, telling hundo that ‘In the world of work, it’s important to remember to look after your mental health and try to prioritise it where possible. One of the best ways to do this is through establishing a healthy work/life balance. This is not always easy, but focusing on how you spend your time outside of work can actually make a big difference to how you feel at work, and can help you cope with the pressures of a difficult work environment. Try and focus on the basics, such as good sleep habits and a regular exercise routine to start with, and then build from there. Whatever your situation is, it’s always worth taking proactive steps to improve your wellbeing and happiness in your work and home life.’
So, think whether you’re balancing work around your life and vice versa, there’s a sweet spot to be found that goes against the age-old damaging belief that you have to work yourself into the ground to be worthy, or successful.
Words: Grace Goslin
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