Health Productivity

How to Boost Your Mental Health When Working in a Stressful Environment

By Mike Jones on 31 October 2017

Anyone who has ever had a job before knows a thing or two about stress. Some jobs are more stressful than others. A little bit of stress is not bad because it makes you more focused and enables you to meet new challenges. However, it becomes a problem when it interferes with your performance at work, personal life, and mental health. As Dana Becker said “Stress signified hardship, and endurance was needed to deal with it. Now … we ‘work’ to overcome stress; we don’t suffer it.”

A lot of people don’t talk about this topic due to pride or the anxiety of appearing weak. But in fact to put your mental health first is essential and vital to your relationships, work and life balance. Many celebrities speak out and come forward now with their mental health issues on social media or even in the news.

On the bright side, there are a few simple techniques and tips to cope with stress at work.

What are the common employee’s mental conditions?

Work-related stress

Work-related stress has become a common condition to the extent that it is overlooked. It is developed when an employee is unable to cope with the ever-increasing demands of the workplace. According to the American Institute of Stress (yep, there is really an institution called like that), 46 percent of work-related stress is attributed to the workload. Job security can also contribute to stress. Unmanaged stress could translate to poor performance and high levels of staff turnover. It could also lead to chronic stress, which could eventually cause high blood pressure and subsequently heart disease.


Depression is another common mental condition that is often ignored in the workplace. It is usually misinterpreted as laziness. Some common symptoms of depression include difficulty in concentrating, restlessness, reduced appetite, and fatigue. Early identification of depression is essential to solving the problem so don’t wait too long, if you feel depression is aking over your life.


A stressful work environment may cause some employees to become uneasy. Anxiety at work may result due to high workload, high expectations, and even conflict with colleagues. Having an anxiety disorder affects your rational thinking, which leads to poor performance. If the anxiety disorder is not managed, it may result in a panic attack. For example, you may fail to complete an important presentation or speech due to a panic attack. Employees and employers should work together to reduce instances of anxiety in the workplace.

When should you avoid a stressful environment?

If you suffer from the following diseases you should seek help and avoid a stressful environment:

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the mental illnesses that result if you fail to manage your mental health. It is a progressive illness that affects the brain cells. In this case, the brain cells degenerate and die. As a result, the memory function of the brain becomes impaired. A person may exhibit mild confusion and challenges in remembering. It could also affect thinking and reasoning. People working under stressful environments should strive at monitoring and handling the symptoms of this mental disease as early as possible.


Schizophrenia is another chronic mental illness that affects a person’s thinking, behavior, and feelings. An individual with this illness may seem to have lost touch with reality. Some of the symptoms they exhibit include hallucinations, agitated body movements, and dysfunctional thinking. Due to the complexities that come with this mental illness, celebrities have come out to enlighten people about it. Peter Green is among the famous people with Schizophrenia, who have spoken openly about his condition.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), is a condition that causes unusual shifts in moods, behavior and activity levels. These moods range from extremely elated and energetic (manic) episodes to very hopeless times (depressive). People with this illness may start to feel fatigued, restless, or have trouble sleeping. Once you start to feel such intense fluctuations in your moods, seek medical assistance. Athletes like Jean-Claude Van Damme and Delonte West have come out and spoken about how they are dealing with this disorder.

Memory problems

Memory problems are whereby people lose their ability to remember things. It ranges from occasional forgetfulness to short or long-term memory loss. According to a study conducted by the CDC, memory loss affects more than 10 million people in the US. Long-term stress, especially in a work environment can damage your brain’s ability to remember even the simplest things like phone numbers. Protecting your mental health is vital in reducing the serious effects of mental illnesses.

What to do?

“Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind.” Roy T. Bennett

Take a break. Work can wait. Give yourself some time to meditate and improve your state of mind. A good tactic can be breathing slowly in a calm environment. Go out and watch the sky or admire the landscape. Meditation or mindfulness helps you to process stress, stay focused, and calm. It is one of the most recommended practices for treating depression, chronic stress, and anxiety.

Going to a therapist is totally alright!

Not many people approve of therapy as a way to protect mental health, but it is an essential method with significant benefits. Ensure you get psychotherapy from trained professionals. You wouldn’t want to be more stressed after a session! They help you explore your behaviors, feelings, and thoughts. As a result, therapy can help you identify the specific stressors, especially in your work environment.

Get up off the couch and start working out

Exercise is an effective way to protect your mental health. It may not sound fun, and it may not be your favorite activity but give it a try! It helps to manage your mood, sleep, and ability to remember and learn. As a result, working out is a good remedy for conditions like depression, anxiety, and stress. You do not have to go to the gym daily to exercise. If your workplace is a stressful one, consider practicing other forms of exercise like taking a walk or using the stairs instead of the elevator. Try out new sport trends and find out if it is something you could do regularly. Establish a work-out routine and build new healthy habits. Read about how to build good habits here.

Listen to lullabies or hard-rock

If you want to manage mental health, try listening to music. Research shows that music help patients with mental illnesses like schizophrenia. Music therapy improves sleep and alleviates depression and anxiety. You can listen to your favorite music. Alternatively, consider listening to calm instrumentals, which are also good for your mental health. Put your headphones on, turn the volume up, and enjoy a few moments of pure joy! You can even air drum! It’ll make your colleagues laugh so they’ll be less stressed as well.

Give your brain a well-deserved break

When working under stressful conditions, you may suffer from insomnia or irregular sleeping habits. As a result, your brain may not function properly, and that is how stress and fatigue starts. Sleep gives the brain some time to process information, which later translates to better concentration and memory. It also alleviates conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. Try to have a regular sleep-wake cycle. There are a lot of sleep tracking apps and gadgets out there – give it a try! It is also important to avoid taking any form of caffeine before going to bed.

Can you speak freely about your feelings?

Talking to someone about your problems helps, whether it is mental related or not. It could be a professional, a friend or any family member. You can also join a club or a support group. You do not have to handle all the burdens yourself because it will affect your productivity in the workplace. Talking about your problems is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it is an act of taking charge of your mental health. A good example of a person who has benefitted from talking about their mental health issues is Selena Gomez. Also, sharing your feelings may help others open up.

Your body is your temple -Stop eating junk!

Develop good eating habits if you want to manage mental health. Whatever you consume has an impact on your body functions. Consider adjusting your diet to foods that help in boosting brain functionalities like memory, concentration, and learning ability. No more late-night snacks, not more drive-throughs, and no more sodas. It may sound boring, but you’ll feel better. They will eventually lead to fatigue and stress.

Some of the foods that contain nutrients for the brain include whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and fruits. Even broccoli can be tasty, if you have the right recipe! The internet is full with great food videos and recipes – no excuses any more! Remember also to hydrate regularly to boost your brain functionality.

Since when do you smoke?

For some people, smoking may be a recreational habit or a form of relieving stress. Nicotine provides a temporary sense of relaxation, but when you stop it, the withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming. In this case, smoking leads to breathlessness and headaches. If you have formed a habit of smoking, refrain from it and try finding sustainable relaxing activities. Find other ways to bond with your colleagues. Hobbies, recent movies, or inside office jokes can relieve stress and also keep you from picking another vice.

Talk to the BOSS!

I hear you say: No way! I can’t do this – He is a monster and will kick me out if I show weakness!  That’s a tough one, I know – but do not shy off from speaking to your supervisors when you are stressed at work. A good boss values you and your work and will take care of you and your workplace wellbeing. That is his job too! It is important to come out and explain your grievances openly. In case you have unrealistic workload or deadlines, talk to your superiors and negotiate for better terms. As a result, you will have less stress as you work. You will also have time to deliver quality work and also to improve performance. If you are afraid of your boss’ reaction, you should check the response a woman received when requesting sick days for her mental health.


In a nutshell, stress could be unavoidable in most workplaces. This doesn’t mean it also needs to be overwhelming. Speaking freely about your condition, doing the things you love or adjusting your expectations regarding your task are good points for starting your journey towards overcoming work-related stress. Take advantage of your weekends! Spend more time with your loved ones. Travel! Laugh! Live! You do it all for yourself!

About the author: Mike Jones is a freelancer for over 2 years. Before that, he worked for a newspaper. His job meant dealing with tight deadlines, always searching for new topics, and being creative. Mike was under a lot of stress when he decided to quit. He hopes his advice will help those living in cubicles. For more of Mike’s work, go to his Twitter