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Mental Wellness At Your Desk: Part One


In celebrating mental health this month, I thought this repost appropriate. I wrote this blog last year and I wanted to revisit these tactics first before I introduce a few new ones next week.

Sitting at your desk all day can be draining and downright tiresome. Whether you are someone that is constantly on the phone and taking calls all day or you are the person with mile-high paperwork, your mental health could be at risk if you do nothing to recharge at least once during your busy work day. It’s time to take back your piece of mind! But first, what is mental health and why should I be worried about it?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being (1). Our mental health status can affect how we feel, our behaviors, and our relationships with others. At work, we want to maintain all working rapport as best we can while still maintaining a balance within. At C&A Industries, our health committee is starting to gather mental wellness gadgets, gizmos, and methods to improve employee psyche.  Here is the beginning of our findings that can fit into any workday:

Go to a musical happy place. Having a set of headphones at your desk can come in handy. We all have that go-to song or genre of music that takes some place far away to our happy place. While we are easing brain tension, listening to music also has a hidden perk of enhancing our attention. A research team at the Stanford University School of Medicine explored the power between music and the mind. Peak brain activity occurred during the short periods of silence within the music (3). Taking a musical break during the workday can boost attention afterward which can lead to better production!

Try art expression. Art can come in many forms: journaling, coloring, knitting, or even keeping a Zen garden! However art speaks to you, take a break to tend to your artistic desires. I keep a few different coloring books at my desk to feed my inner child. Not only does coloring take us back to a simpler time, it provides our brains with some rest and relaxation. Coloring is another method of practicing mindfulness by helping reduce negative thoughts and anxiety by placing focus on the colors and project at hand (4). Just like coloring, knitting or crocheting can have similar affects by shifting your focus to the movement of the thread and emerging patterns being formed.

Push it, pull it, or spin it. With the new fad of fidget spinners, it is very easy to get your hands on something to fiddle with.  Nervousness or boredom can certainly be tamed with a spinner or even a fidget cube which has buttons, switches, and other playful gadgets attached. Studies have shown that physical movement such as fidgeting can in many ways assist with cognitive activities and help with self-expression (5). This doesn’t mean you have to rush to buy a fidget spinner or cube. You can always use Play-Doh, pipe cleaners, stress balls, or anything else you can play with that requires no thoughts or instructions.

Get personal. Make your workspace somewhere you WANT to be! Many of us full-timers spend numerous hours at our workplace. Ask yourself “Why do I come to work every day?” Add a few photos or items of the people/places/things that matter to you and remind you why you do what you do every day. These trinkets help keep positive thoughts to the front of your mind.

I hope some of these work to relieve some mental stress at work or maybe inspire some new ideas as well. These methods were just the beginning of my research for mental wellness in the workplace. Come back next week for an update!

Janae Shillito, Community Relations Director, The Kim Foundation, http://www.thekimfoundation.org/

Janae Shillito has been with The Kim Foundation since February 2017. She holds two science degrees with her alma maters including the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Janae’s love of volunteering and helping those without a voice created a strong desire to become a part of the non-profit world. In her spare time, she enjoys anything crafty, reading a good book, and being outside with her husband, Cory, and Rottweiler, Hank.

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