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4 Steps to Improving Your Mental Health

Observed every May, Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to recognize how your mental and emotional well-being can change over time due to factors like workload, stress, and work-life balance and take steps to improve your lifestyle.

Mental health – which includes how you think, act, and feel – plays a huge role in your overall health and wellness.

5 common signs of poor mental health

The most common signs of poor mental health include:

  1. Feelings of anxiety, depression, irritability, restlessness, or anger

  2. Trouble sleeping or fatigue

  3. Difficulty concentrating

  4. Change in appetite

  5. Social withdrawal

Mental health and the workplace

According to a recent survey from The Hartford Financial Services Group, mental health issues are among the top five reasons U.S. workers file for short-term disability, excluding pregnancy. Employees diagnosed with physical injuries or illnesses typically take double or triple the time to recover when mental health issues are also present.

“Our new data on stigma is a wake-up call. As the U.S. economy is rebuilt, we urge business leaders to continue to prioritize employee mental health – fostering stigma-free company cultures, increasing access to resources and encouraging early treatment.” Christopher Swift, chairman and CEO at The Hartford Financial Services Group

Mental health issues may cause trouble focusing, increased irritability, missed time from work, an inability to collaborate, and missed deadlines.

Although the pandemic’s mental burden has been challenging, it has enabled more transparency and empathy around mental health. Your overall well-being is connected to your mental health, so here are some strategies to help you thrive.

How to improve your mental health

1. Create healthy routines

Healthy routines include eating a nutrient-rich diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Start with small changes.

2. Own your feelings

It can be easy to get caught up in emotions as you’re feeling them. Taking the time to identify what you’re feeling can help you better cope with challenging situations.

3. Connect with others

Connections help enrich your life and power you through the tough times. Connect with and lean on your support group, whether in person or virtually.

4. Cultivate gratitude

Practicing gratitude is linked to improved mental health. Consider keeping a gratitude journal, meditating, or making a point to thank people in your life.

Exploring the outdoors to improve mental health

Spending even a few moments outside each day can significantly improve your physical health by reducing muscle tension, regulating your sleep, and improving work performance. Experiencing the outdoors – specifically green spaces – can provide some mental health benefits as well, including reduced anxiety and depression symptoms, decreased stress levels, and improved overall mood.

Find times in your workday to be outside

Instead of eating lunch at your desk during the workweek, consider enjoying this meal outside. You could even take meetings outside. If you’re joining meetings virtually, find a quiet place with little background noise. Ultimately, it comes down to finding small ways to incorporate fresh air into each day.

Focus on the quality – not the quantity – of your time outdoors

While outside, try to really listen and look at what’s around you. Are there birds chirping? What color are the flowers? Having an intentional presence outdoors can help you feel more connected to nature and increase the health benefits you receive from being in the fresh air.

Move your workout outside

If you usually run on the treadmill, consider jogging around your neighborhood instead. Additionally, doing bodyweight or free weight exercises in your backyard or at a park can give you the same workout you would get in the gym but would allow you to spend more time outside.

Find someone to explore with

It can be much easier to start a new habit when you have someone to do it with. As such, consider getting together with a partner or a group of friends to participate in outdoor activities.

Bring nature indoors

Even when you can’t get outside for very long, you can still bring little pieces of the outdoors into your home. Think about purchasing a few house plants to place around your home or starting an indoor herb garden.

Mental health and your household employee

By focusing on mental health as a household employer, you can normalize mental health discussions and see improvements in your worker’s mental health. Communicate with your employee that getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and you’re there to support them. Nannies and senior caregivers, especially, look after your loved ones so it’s important that they are mentally healthy to take on the challenges of their jobs and provide a high level of care.

By going beyond just talking about helping your employee and facilitating ways for them to get help, you’ll be equipped to address mental health issues effectively when they arise.

Household workers who know their employers are there to support them will be more likely to be transparent when they experience mental health struggles, which will help them get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

Reposted with permission from GTM (

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