Looking after our health and wellbeing in the workplace


This week is National Careers Week and it got us thinking, when the average person spends a third of their lives at work, just how much of an impact does work have on the rest of our lives and our wellbeing?

Work is a big part of our lives. It can impact our physical health, mental health, and emotions. It's important to find a balance between work and personal life.

We focus on our wellbeing in other aspects of our lives, but do we prioritise our wellbeing in the workplace enough?

Employees enjoying time in the office

Why is wellbeing important in the workplace?

Feeling good at work is crucial since we spend a lot of time there. It's important to have a positive mindset in the workplace, both on-site and at home. When we’re happy and supported at work, we perform better, enjoy it more and can minimise how it affects the rest of our lives.

It’s important to know when we’re not doing so well in the workplace, our mental health is suffering or we’re nearing a burn-out.


What impacts wellbeing at work?

91% of adults in the UK experienced high or extreme levels of pressure or stress at some point in the last year.

Wellbeing at work can be impacted by many things, and these can be different for different people. However, there are common factors that can make it harder to manage wellbeing at work, including:

  • Excessive workloads.

  • Long or unsociable hours.

  • Unsafe or poor working conditions.

  • Poor organisational culture.

  • Lack of support and opportunity.

  • Job insecurity.

All of these factors can have an impact on our lives at work, because they can cause stress for us, which ultimately has a knock on effect to the rest of our lives. These things are important to look out for and be aware of how they’re making you feel.

How to manage wellbeing at work

1. Get Active

Staying active is important for our mental health. We should make it a priority, even when we are busy working. It will help to split up the day and even provide the opportunity for some fresh air if you head outside. Even a 10-minute jog, walk to the shop or some light walking around the workplace can help.

This is especially important to try and incorporate into your schedule when working from home as often we’re less sociable and haven’t had a commute to break up the day. This will help us to feel refreshed and focused at work.

Drinking more water also helps us at work. Water provides energy source for the brain, improving brain function. Don't forget to drink water regularly, even when busy or in colder weather. Staying hydrated can improve workplace wellbeing.

Person walking in the country with the sun shining

2. Work/life balance

Remember to take time for you and do the things you enjoy away from work. Working from home can make it harder to draw the line between the two.

Creating a separate space for work and home life can be beneficial. Sometimes we are busy and work extra hours or bring work into our time off. It is important to have a routine that lets us take a break from work.

When working from home you can ensure a good work/life balance by:

  • Taking a walk/getting outside after logging off.

  • Working in a home office and making sure equipment is out of sight during your down time.

  • Still using your lunch breaks and time before work to focus on other tasks or hobbies.

  • Work at a desk or a table, even if it's not a full office. Working on the sofa or in bed can cause us to feel unfulfilled and our mental health to suffer.

3. Take your breaks

It can be easy to work through breaks when you’re busy or in the zone.

Stand up, walk around, get outside, even just 10 minutes will help you feel refreshed. If that’s not an option, try to get away from your desk, by getting a drink or moving around. Trying to take screen breaks for 5-10 minutes every hour will help with focus levels.

4. Prioritise Sleep

Everything feels harder when you’re tired or run down. Implementing a good sleep routine will help you feel refreshed for a new day and give you a boost of energy. Having a consistent routine can make waking up in the morning easier. Limiting screen time before bed can help our mind relax and fall asleep faster at night.

Things like relaxing techniques, and using a sleep diary can help in establishing a good sleep routine.

How to look out for a workplace that prioritises wellbeing

We can't always choose where we work. Factors like pay, career opportunities, and location influence our job decisions. Financial worries can make it hard to take the plunge and look for a new job when we're unhappy. They can also stop us from waiting for the perfect opportunity.

When searching for a job, consider factors that indicate a positive work environment and can improve your wellbeing, such as:

  • Training, progression and support – Beginning a new role with a lack of training can cause stress. Supportive systems and training can help with workloads, to reduce stress, and make us happier at work.

  • Flexibility – These days flexibility in the workplace is so important to many of us. The last few years have shown us that we can do work from different locations and with flexible working hours. An organisation which offers flexibility to employees can suggest a good understanding of the importance of work/life balance.

  • Culture – Got the opportunity to meet current colleagues? This is a great chance to chat with current employees. You can learn what they like and don't like about the job. This information can help you make an informed decision.

  • Communication - Crucial in hybrid or work from home roles. It's important to stay connected with your team and colleagues to avoid feeling isolated. Make sure the organisation provide opportunity to check in regularly when working remotely.

  • Employee wellbeing initiatives - Are they encouraging employees to look after their mental health and prioritising staff wellbeing?

People having a discussion at a table

Help and support

Mental Health at Work provides a great database with a variety of resources. Tips on managing mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, as well as:

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