Is the stress and pressure from work taking a toll on your mental health? If so, you are not alone. A recent study found that 83 percent of American workers suffer from work-related stress.1 Other statistics from the study were even more staggering.
According to the American Institute of Stress, stress causes close to one million workers to miss work every day, causing businesses to lose up to $300 billion annually. Only 43 percent of workers feel their employer cares about their work-life balance. There are 120,000 deaths per year caused by work-related stress, and stress-related health costs have skyrocketed to $190 billion yearly.
When you are physically injured, you make arrangements to take time off work or alter your schedule to find a better balance to accommodate the injury. In contrast, because mental health is not as outwardly visible, we let it slide. But why?
Fear of judgment from others is paralyzing. Society’s false perception that a person is weak for taking time off for mental health issues drives us to push through and ignore how we feel. How, then, asks Jay Shetty, do we combat workplace stress that has us on the brink of a mental health crisis?
It’s clear that stress-related mental health issues in the workplace are a serious problem that need to be addressed. In this article, Jay Shetty shares six methods you can use to help protect your mental health when your job makes it difficult.
Create Your Own Security
Is the fear of losing your job constantly in the back of your mind? The idea that your job could be eliminated or that you could be fired can be overwhelming. That constant worry creates a feeling of insecurity.
Job security—or the fear of not having it—is one of the biggest causes of mental health issues in the workplace. So what can you do about it?
Jay Shetty shares that one of the things that helped him with fears about job security was staying proactive and focusing on what he could control. When he was in the corporate workplace, for example, he made sure he always kept his LinkedIn profile optimized.
“I would update my LinkedIn profile every quarter with all my recent experiences and recent projects with an updated picture,” Jay Shetty explains. “When you update your LinkedIn profile and keep it up, you will get an influx of job offers. It will happen to you.”
Getting those job offers, whether you’re in the market for a new position or not, is a confidence booster and a good reminder that you have options. Make sure that you're presenting yourself effectively to the outside world so that people can take note and become aware of your work.
It is easy to feel tied to your job. The truth is, your workplace could tell you tomorrow that they no longer need your services, and they will not feel one bit guilty about it. Jay Shetty explains that entrepreneurs make two big mistakes when it comes to security.
The first mistake is having only one big client. When you only have one big client, you run the risk of that person closing down or finding a new agency. Putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, is a dangerous practice that could leave you high and dry.
The next mistake is having only one contact in a company. If this person leaves or is on vacation, you are left not knowing anyone else you can contact. It is essential that you connect with at least four people who work with your client so that you still have that connection if, for some reason, you aren’t able to communicate with the one you are closest to.
“When you're worried about the security of your job, remember to keep your options open,” explains Jay Shetty. “This is going to give you peace of mind like never before. Knowing that you have more options than the place you're in right now can give you such a sense of security.”
Take Time Off When You Need It
More than half of Americans do not take all their paid vacation days. Jay Shetty wants to know if you fall into the half that does or doesn’t.
Too many people don’t take time off because they worry that they will worry about work while they are off. Don’t be afraid to take time off of work. Time off gives you time and space to evaluate the job and the stressors that come with it. It helps you take an objective look at things so you can evaluate whether it’s still the right fit for you. Plus, sometimes you just need a break because you can’t remember the last time you took one.
“Here's the thing, work will continue,” says Jay Shetty. “It will always exist. There will always be a reason that you think you don't have time to take a vacation. The truth is, the world is not going to end. Nothing will be that bad if you take some good quality time for yourself. You'll come back more productive, more effective, and more creative, and you will be able to catch up in no time.”
Escape Toxic Work Environments
A toxic work environment can be harmful to your mental health without you realizing it. When surrounded by gossip and blame, it takes a silent toll on your emotions. If you start to realize that you are feeling primarily negative emotions surrounding your environment due to toxic culture, Jay Shetty encourages you to talk to your supervisor or boss so they can try to resolve the issue.
Don’t Make Work Your Scapegoat
You might think work is the root of all your stress, but you need to ask yourself if other things in your life are equally to blame. Identify the root of the real problem and stop making work the scapegoat for all the other things going on in your life. Take stock, encourages Jay Shetty.
Maybe your sleep schedule is off, and you feel tired and stressed from lack of sleep. Maybe personal issues at home are spilling over into your work life. Perhaps you are hustling hard on weekdays or staying out too late with your friends and the work week feels like a drag.
Once you identify the real stressor, take the steps you need to eliminate that challenge. You may be amazed at how your perspective of work changes.
“I realized recently that sleep was a big one for me and work,” explains Jay Shetty. “Combined with the fact that I'd been working around six-and-a-half days a week, I realized I needed a two-day weekend. So it wasn't work. It was the fact that I wasn't allowing myself to rest and refuel.”
If you work around the clock and are always on the go, you must keep your body in top condition. Jay Shetty says you need to train like an athlete.
“Make sure you have a meal plan and an exercise plan,” encourages Jay Shetty. “You need to take care of yourself to the degree of the stress you have to deal with. You'll be surprised how much stress the human mind can take when you feel prepared and connected. I want you to start treating yourself as an athlete and training yourself as an athlete when it comes to thinking about what is affecting your mental health.”
Be A Mental Health Ambassador In The Workplace
There are a plethora of comparisons happening on social media. We compare our families, partners, vacations, homes, outfits, and cars. We compare our lives to the people down the street to gauge how we measure up. The same comparisons happen in the workplace.
“You compare yourself to how your co-workers look,” Jay Shetty shares. “You compare yourself to their performance. You have no idea what's happening in their personal life. And the truth is when something does happen in their personal life, you go, ‘Oh yeah, they always work too hard and look what happened to them.’”
These kinds of comparisons create unneeded stress. Instead of comparing yourself to others, ask what your capacity is and what results you want to see, then use that to become an ambassador for mental health in your workplace.
You can become that person who advocates for others in the workplace. It may feel like those around you don’t care, but YOU can be the one to take that step to show that you care about the mental health of yourself and your coworkers.
If your to-do list at work is growing ever deeper and causing you stress, it is time to prioritize. Knowing what the top priorities are can help you break things down into manageable chunks.
“When you get asked to take on something new, speak to your manager and say, ‘This is what I'm working on right now. Where does this fit in on the priority list?’” suggests Jay Shetty. “They may not realize that you have so much to do and may find someone else to do it. Or they may say, ‘Oh, it's number three, don't worry about it.’ The mistake you make when you accept responsibility without priority is that you set yourself up for misery. Never take on the responsibility without knowing its priority or making the other person aware of your priorities.”
This can apply to work and home, says Jay Shetty. It is helpful to make a list of everything that you do professionally and personally to become aware of all your responsibilities. The next time that someone asks you to add something to that list, you can share it with them in a positive way so that they know what you are already doing. It will make it easier to explain to them that you may not have the time or capacity to take something else on at that moment.
Connect With People At Work
Make connections with people in your workplace. Build relationships with people you believe are genuine. You don’t have to struggle alone. If you feel bogged down by the stress from work or life in general, communicate that with someone.
We are often too worried about what someone will think or say if they know we struggle with our mental health. We fear how it will look to others.
Jay Shetty explains that you can't just let people's opinions and how you think people will feel about you affect how you feel about yourself. Your feelings about yourself and your relationship with yourself are the most important things you should think about.
Learning to destigmatize mental health is the first step to healing a world of stressed-out, overworked people. These six tips can give you the boost you need to take the first step toward living your life with less stress in your work world.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “6 Things to Do if Your Job is Harming Your Mental Health” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.