5 Activities You Should Do At Work To Improve Your Mental State

by Nia Decaille

Finding some shred of sanity at work can be a difficult task even if you love the work you do. And sometimes the need to keep up "professional" appearances can affect the way we handle the pressures of just wanting to do a good job. Thanks to the rise of startups and Millennial workplace culture, this corporate environment is being challenged to adapt; nowadays, Millennials want to be acknowledged as individuals, but are also articulating how they fit into the bigger picture. So if you wished that your boss could show a bit more of their human side or want a mentor at work, you aren't the only one. A Gallup poll study found that Millennials aren't just looking for a paycheck; they seek development of their strengths and don't want bosses in the traditional sense.

But what happens when the workload gets a little heavier, and your great boss just tore your proposal to shreds? Or when the intensity of that dream job is getting to you just a little? CEO Max Altschuler wrote in an essay in TIME magazine that his answer to helping create a better work environment is creating an environment where playing like children is welcome. "I want all my employees, both men and women, to feel free to let a child-like sense of wonderment thrive with them at work," said Altschuler.

As Altschuler mentions in his piece for TIME, stress about things like money can be a major buzzkill for productivity. To create a better culture, Altschuler encourages a "play time" of sorts in the office. Cool, right? But this isn't anything new when it comes to proving the power of play. The Journal of Play released a study that not only challenged video game designers to create games that created learning opportunities for gamers, but the benefits of play on the brain are positive. The study mentioned that playing video games can not only improve your vision, but your cognitive reflexes. Even Neuroscientist approved apps like Lumosity, have actually been shown to positively impact cognitive ability.

But if you aren’t into video games, there are some other things you can or should do at the office that can relieve stress for a more productive day.

1. Go ahead, let it out.

In 2014, a survey done of over 13,000 people found that 10 percent of people admitted that they use the bathroom to privately cry it out. While being seen as emotional at work has negative connotations if you're a woman, the gist here is that it happens. Bloomberg reporter Rebecca Greenfield recently reported that crying can be a professional advantage. So if you run off to the bathroom to shed a few tears or tear up reading an email with good news, don't be ashamed. Most likely, you'll feel better because crying your eyes out has been proven to reduce stress and release toxins from the body.

2. Vent! It’s good for you.

OK, so this isn’t just casually complaining about your boss at the water cooler on a lunch break. Sharing your concerns can be great way to relieve tension when done right. In an article for Forbes, career advice website MUSE explained that once you get it off your chest to someone you trust, coming up with solutions to at least one of those issues and saving some of the heavier stuff for drinks with your friends can help.

3. Get personal.

I'm sure if you asked your parents, maybe they'd feel a little differently. Anne Kreamer, author of "It's Always Personal: Emotion In The New Workplace," mentioned just how different millennials are due to technology. She mentioned in a New York Times article that back in the day, "it was a lot easier to believe 'work equals rational' and 'home equals emotional'." But now that work and home life constantly bleed into each other, that distinction has become anachronistic and probably self-defeating. And getting a little personal can even lead to better relationships in the office.

Sharing how your weekend went or that you need to pass on a new project because of some new challenges in your personal life can all help you manage. The American Institute of Stress definitely agrees with you. In another recent survey, 29 percent of people asked said that they “yelled at co-workers because of work-related stress.” Instead of bottling it up and letting a coworker become collateral damage, listing out your challenges with coworkers and communicating those challenges can lead to a more harmonious team effort.

4. Quiet your mind and your notifications.

Maybe it just isn’t enough to head to a yoga class after hours! Sometimes the many bells and whistles going off your desk are what’s stressing you out. Larry Rosen, a psychological professor emeritus at California State University, said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that those notifications on your device produce physical and emotional reactions. These reactions ranged from an increased heart rate to feeling tingling on your skin. Do yourself a favor and power down, turn off notifications for an hour or two to focus on one task at a time.

5. Take breaks as needed.

The worst stress we feel can often come from our environment, but the overwhelming pressure we also put on ourselves. USA Today's study on America's mental health found that millennials are more likely to deal with depression or an anxiety disorder; 76 percent of that stress is attributed to work. For millennial women, this is for a few reasons. The Telegraph called it an epidemic in part due to the "do-it-all-generation" of women. And they might be on to something! The Society for Industrial And Organizational Psychology also published a study that showed that while it's difficult for people in general to say "no" at work, but women are even less likely.

But choosing to plow through more reports or finish a few emails instead is harming your productivity and adding to that stress. Studies have shown that actually taking frequent breaks, or a break each hour, can increase your focus! So if sitting at your cubicle is getting you down, making the decision to get up and grab water, take a walk around the block or taking an early lunch can help you brave an old building that needs more of an upgrade.

So go ahead and give some of these ideas a try, especially if you feel like your work stress has reached an all time high. If you continue to have feelings of anxiety, stress, or even depression it might be time to review a few more signs if this is the right job for you!