Mental health and... happiness at work
Everyone wants to be happy at work. Let’s face it, you don’t spring out of bed in the morning and turn cartwheels at the thought of spending hours of your day doing a job you don’t like - even worse if it’s a job you actively hate and is making you miserable.
The world of work may have changed significantly over the last 18 months, with more of us spending at least some time working from home, but the fact is that we spend a LOT of our time at work, whether that’s a virtual or physical workplace. When we are happy at work, we are much more likely to be happier or more fulfilled in other areas of our life.
This week is International Happiness at Work Week. The Dutch founders of the project maintain that science and business have shown that happy employees have a huge advantage over unhappy ones, being more productive, creative, resilient and flexible. Put most simply, if people are happy in their work, they are better parents, friends, community members - because it can be incredibly difficult to detach yourself from an unhappy work situation and not let it impact on your mental health and somehow spill over into other areas of your life.
We asked some of the LionHeart ambassadors how being happy - or not! - at work affected their wellbeing and mental health.
Being happy or unhappy at work has a huge impact on my mental health and sometimes a ‘bad moment’ can really affect me for the rest of the day or week (although I know it shouldn’t!). I’m working on coping mechanisms and found the stress container to be a useful metaphor for bringing myself back to ‘reality’ and refocusing.
For me, the key ingredients to being happy at work are:
- good social interactions with people. Mutual respect is key
- workload, not too much or too little
- I like to feel stretched and like I’m pushing myself, ability to learn and grow within a role
- flexibility to not feel guilty about having a work life balance
Firstly, I would say that far too often it is my job that dominates my mental well-being. I think a lot of us find it easier to be direct to family or friends but often find that is difficult at work; that extra tension is part of the stress that leads to bad-being (my term!)
Getting a job completed, moving the job in the right direction, working with a team, learning something new, seeing someone else find achievement, dealing with problems and finding solutions are all part of a positive path that leads to a good feeling of well-being at work. But all too often, the stress, the politics, the unrealistic expectations in a workplace, can hamper that and be damaging to our mental health.
What brings me happiness at work is the sense that you are cared for/ considered as an individual and are valued as part of the team - good work is recognised and praised.
I find that work can really impact your mental health depending on workload or expectation. It helps if you can balance being able to carry out what’s possible and reaching for a little extra, rather than just an amount that’s overwhelming so you have no clue where to start.
We potentially spend more than 60% of our life working, and potentially build long-lasting relationships or memories - good or bad - with those we work with. If you’re not happy in your job you go to work feeling vulnerable, unwanted, isolated, defeated - it’s hard to not take those feelings and emotions home which then affects family, friends and loved ones.
It’s important to show kindness even in a professional manner, it’s important to have empathy as everyone’s journey is different. We must keep learning together how to build a happy work life balance.