How Your Lifestyle Affects Your Mental Health?

According to WHO, mental health is a “state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. In short, we can say that a sound mind is the foundation for individual well-being and happiness. Emotional and mental health play a crucial role in our life and our thoughts. Being emotionally and mentally healthy can promote our productivity and effectiveness. Moreover, it would have an integral role in building and nurturing personal relationships as a healthy mind can cope with difficult situations and maintain a positive outlook. However, there has been an increasing number of cases of mental health issues among millennials and Gen Zers. And psychological health issues related to occupational stress are higher among the employees working in the technology industry. The British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) recently revealed that tech workers are five times more likely to suffer from a mental health problem, compared to the wider population.

The IT sector is growing exponentially with lucrative salary packages and attractive career opportunities. However, an IT job is not as pompous as you think. Many IT employees face occupational stress due to the long working hours, multiple burnouts and negative work-life balance. IT, being a rapidly changing competitive sector demands its workforce to be updated about every new technology arriving in the industry. Employees find it emotionally and physically challenging to survive and thrive in the sharp-elbowed corporate workplace culture. The pressure of an economic recession that eats up jobs is also a huge stress factor among the techies. As we discussed in our previous lifestyle blog, sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits often hamper the physical and mental health of tech employees. Moreover, the negative work-life balance leads to depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, substance abuse and more. Dealing with a mental health condition can be tricky. Instead of just following medications or attending therapy sessions, it is important to pay attention to your lifestyle choices. Here are several strategies IT employers and employees can use to create and maintain a psychologically healthy workplace.

Create a Healthy Workplace

A negative work environment can lead to a number of physical and psychological health problems. Mental health issues can lead to employee withdrawal, absenteeism and cognitive challenges. Creating a psychologically healthy work environment is vital not only for the health of an organization, but also for its employees. IT companies need to promote programs and policies that build mental strength and wellness of its workforce. Moreover, reduce the stigma around mental illness by talking about it. If your employees are struggling with any sort of anxiety or depression, support them to get help.

Get Up and Get Moving

The couch potato work culture of the IT industry has negative effects on your physical and mental health. Make it a point to engage in any type of physical activity for at least 20 minutes a day. If you are not interested in doing workout or going to gym, then you may take a walk around the park or opt for dance lessons. No matter the type of activity, it is essential to get moving. Studies have shown that exercise can reduce anxiety and depression by a greater extent. Taking the stairs or playing sports may seem simple, but it can positively affect your mental health. Engaging in physical activities and following an active lifestyle relieves you from depression, improves your mood, helps in making better decisions and provides a boost to your self-esteem.

Try Relaxation and Meditation Techniques

Today's hyper competitive job market encourages employees to work harder and longer. Increasing workplace pressure can take a toll of employees’ emotional and physical health. Lack of a healthy work life balance coupled with the workplace stress and anxiety can drain out the efficiency and value of employees. And that is why it is beneficial to try out relaxation and meditation techniques at your work space. Many IT companies, both large and small, have been implementing in-office programs and spaces to help employees deal with stress and anxiety. Participating in office yoga sessions, zumba lessons and meditation programs helps to create a stronger control of the mind’s function and productivity.

Follow Healthy Diet Plans

Demanding job schedules and tight deadlines often force IT employees to skip meals and sleep and this would adversely affect their physical health. Negative health implications can sabotage the mental wellness of an individual. That is why it is essential to follow healthy eating habits. In fact, several research has shown that healthy fats and nutrients can boost brain power and improve mood. Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk products in diet. If you have got a sweet tooth, then grabbing a piece of dark chocolate is also a healthier way to satiate the taste buds.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Project deadlines and dealing with clients makes the techies sleep-deprived. IT workforce are used to burning the midnight oil, especially when their project nears the release date. The job demands techies to stay late at work, stress out and lose sleep. Even if you manage to catch a wink after the tireless hours of work, it takes a lot of time to wind down. Lack of proper sleep leads to memory loss, vision problems, mood swings and so on. Following good sleep hygiene is essential to maintain mental health, boost cognition and enhance productivity. So make it a point to prioritize rest and sleep for regulating the body's sleep/wake cycle.

Our own lifestyle choices have a significant impact on our mental health and behaviour. So make sure you follow a healthy living style with positive thoughts.

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