Updated: Mar 30, 2020
Mental health is complicated, messy, scary, confusing, and it doesn't look the same for any two people on the planet.
However, although it’s called “mental health” it’s not something that just stays in your head. It’s not something that just stays mental at all. It affects your physical health. It affects your relationships, your energy levels, your personality, your mood, your creativity, and your work life. Someone who has suffered from an anxiety attack could be feeling the same symptoms as a person who ran a marathon, or a person who has gone weeks without sleep. It can come out of nowhere and hit you like a ton of bricks. It can be crippling, and paralyzing. It affects not only how you behave when you are alone, or at home with your loved ones, but also how you behave in social settings, and at work.
Too often, people isolate mental health from the workplace and put them into two separate categories; personal life, and professional life. But actually, these two categories are not separate at all. They are completely intertwined. One always affects the other. How can anyone, feeling as if they’ve gone weeks without sleep, truly function properly in the workplace? How can they be creative, make quick decisions, or think in a logical and rational matter? There’s a simple answer to both of those questions -- they can’t.
Mental health is not something that you only take care of quietly, at home, behind closed doors. It’s something that needs constant care and attention throughout your entire day, including working hours.
Mental health care in the workplace is just as important as mental health care at home. As working professionals, we need to be making sure that our individual mental health, as well as others, is given priority and attention.
Whether we think we are good at separating the personal and professional, we need to acknowledge the fact that we spend up to, and sometimes over, 40 hours/week of our waking life at work. That is a LOT of time that deeply matters and impacts our health. Period. A major part of taking ownership of your mental health is asking yourself if the company that you work for respects your wellness needs. Because they are truly non-negotiable needs. Do they normalize and support conversations about mental health? Do they understand the importance of mental health days? Do they help to educate healthy ways of setting boundaries and dealing with stress? You can usually find this out via the standard that leadership sets as it trickles down. "Yes, it is thrilling to know that I work for a company that invests in me professionally, helping me meet your long term career goals. Because my diagnosis does not make me incapable by any means. But it is even more meaningful and speaks to the level of care and compassion that my company has to ALSO invest in my human wellness: body, mind, and spirit. Because, at the end of the day, that is everything." -Linzy Farmerie, Remote Associate
So how can we work on improving our mental health and how it affects our work environment? Here are some words from Julia Broglie, founder of Broglie Box, a mental health service that finds mental wellness tools and resources and delivers them directly to your doorstep. BroglieBox is also a Rivvly Preferred Partner and client.
“Employees are a company's greatest asset, and they should be treated as such. Mental health considerations in the workplace are absolutely critical to both the employees and the success of a company as a whole. On average, a person will spend 40 hours per week (usually more) at work - which is approximately half of his or her waking hours during the week. We currently live in a society where it's often encouraged to hustle hard and have a 24/7 mentality, which in turn can be detrimental to your health. Many people leave work and still ruminate over their latest project, even after having left the office. This chronic stress can lead to inflammation, lack of sleep, and brain fog. According to a study done by Oxford, longer working hours are associated with poorer mental health status and increasing levels of anxiety and depression symptoms, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and chronic stress. By having a "no-breaks" attitude, employees are actually setting themselves up for failure - often leading to burnout.
Some people feel that they have no choice but to work long hours, especially when supporting a family, which is why it is imperative for companies to recognize that work environment and culture should be conducive to employee mental health. Companies should create and promote an environment that is beneficial for their employees wellbeing. It is also in the company's best interest from a financial perspective. According to the WHO, the estimated cost to the economy is approximately $1 trillion in lost productivity due to depression and anxiety.
Mental health is something that every single person has, but many do not realize this until they experience a mental health challenge. Instead, we recommend maintaining your mental health on a daily basis, so that you can build up resilience for times of crisis or intense stress. At BroglieBox, we advocate six well-researched pillars to boost overall mental wellbeing: mindfulness, gratitude, sleep, nutrition, movement, and relaxation. How you "fulfill" these pillars might be different from person to person, but setting some time aside to consider the things that bring you inner peace and inner joy could make all the difference when it comes to mental health. In the workplace, it will make employees more successful and productive in both their career and more happy and fulfilled in their time outside of work.”
At Rivvly, we make work-life balance a priority, and this positively impacts our mental health. We recommend doing things like incorporating natural light and plants into your home office, creating a schedule that works best for you, scheduling breaks into your day, and setting a time where you shut off your devices and sign out of work mode.
Follow us on social media for more remote work wellness tips. @rivvly
If you’re interested in learning more about our friends at BroglieBox and how they can help you on your mental health journey, use the code “rivvly10" for 10% off your first BroglieBox.
Linzy Farmerie helped co-write this post. She is an intrical part of the Rivvly team and the Remote Associate for BroglieBox.