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7 tips to prioritize your mental health at work

In a lot of societies, mental health is stigmatized. Hong Kong is no exception to the rule, despite the city-state being known for its frenetic work culture and stressed-out employees. A staggering 1 in 4 Hong Kong employees faced mental health issues last year (with the COVID-19 pandemic as the single largest contributor to employee mental health decline), according to a survey by City Mental Health Alliance Hong Kong

Are you one of these employees with deteriorating mental health? Fortunately, mental health is increasingly being prioritized in the workplace, and there are a growing number of employers who offer mental health support and mental health benefits. While there is a time and place for these initiatives, employees can also take charge of prioritizing their own mental health at work by implementing tips such as these from Pacific Prime Hong Kong:

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1. Turn your desk area into a sanctuary

It’s no secret: a good workplace design can positively impact employees’ mental health. But regardless of the design measures your employer has (or hasn’t) implemented, you can personalize and decorate your own desk space. In line with the company’s regulation on personal desk space, you can get as creative as you like. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Greenify your desk space with plants as this is shown to lower stress
  • Display your favorite quotes and family photos to inspire you and bring you joy
  • Bring a small lamp from home for that homely feeling
  • Add a nice cushion to your chair and get comfortable 
  • And more. 

Get organized

In addition to creating a visually appealing and comfortable desk space, it’s also a good idea to stay organized through the use of folders, post-it notes, or a calendar/to-do list. A few minutes a day for organization can help you feel in control of your work, and ease any feelings of stress and anxiety. 

Further reading: Need help creating decluttering habits? Follow these 6 tried-and-tested tips to create decluttering habits that stick

Listen to music

Why not also tap into the power of music while you work? If you need to focus on any particular task (especially those that pertain to deep work), classical music may help. Tunes composed by the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach are ideal companions if you need to focus, as well as relax and take in more information. 

2. Get talking with your colleagues

You might not want to be the best of friends with your colleagues, but you should aim to at least foster good relationships with them. After all, you spend close to a third of your day at work. Whether it’s making small talk by the water cooler or going for lunch with a colleague, a brief discussion can bolster your mood and serve as a break from the monotony of the workday. 

3. Make full use of your hour-long lunch break

Speaking of lunch, don’t be tempted to eat at your desk. Use your full-hour break wisely and do things that help you unwind and recharge. Unfortunately, a 2021 survey by Tork found that  nearly 40% of workers take breaks occasionally, rarely, or never. There’s a major gender divide, as well, given that women are twice as likely as men to not take breaks during the workday.

4. But don’t wait for lunchtime to get moving

That said, your lunch break doesn’t have to be the only time you get out of your chair and move. As a sedentary activity, sitting in front of a screen for long stretches at a time can lead to aches and pains (commonly known as the ‘office syndrome’), as well as negatively impact your mental health. Here are some easy solutions:

  • Do desk-based stretching exercises 
  • Go for a short walk
  • Consider 5-minute power workouts or mindfulness sessions (most easily done if you’re working from home or if your office has an appropriate space for this)

5. Embrace lifelong learning opportunities

Have you heard of lifelong learning? You’re never too old to stop learning. In fact, continual professional development courses keep your mind sharp and help you maintain an interest in work by expanding your knowledge. Ask your company’s HR team if they provide access to online course providers like Coursera or LinkedIn. Alternatively, the world wide web is also full of free resources. 

6. Know when to say no.

If your workload is too much and your employer keeps piling on more responsibilities, or if you’re constantly being expected to work overtime, it may be a sign that you should say ‘no’. Not only does knowing when to say no help you set boundaries at work, but it also prioritizes essential work tasks, improves your mental health, and results in better work outcomes. 

7. Use your hard-earned vacation time 

Granted, the pandemic has made travel unfeasible. However, this doesn’t mean you should forgo your vacation time. A staycation at a hotel in the city-state can give you a change of scenery and allow you to explore your own backyard with fresh perspectives. Even if you just stay at home, your day off can be a restful and rejuvenating experience.  

Get in touch with Pacific Prime Hong Kong today!

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is health and wellbeing. While these aforementioned tips can certainly help you prioritize your mental health at work, it may also be a good idea to secure access to mental health professionals like counselors and therapists, should you need them. Whether or not your company provides mental health benefits, Pacific Prime Hong Kong can help.

As a global health insurance brokerage, we’re experts in helping both locals and expats in Hong Kong navigate the healthcare system and find a health insurance plan that aligns with their needs and budget. We can help with individual health insurance, expat health insurance, family health insurance, and more. Get in touch with us today for impartial advice, a tailored plan comparison, and a free quote!

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Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime Hong Kong
Suphanida is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, an award-winning global health insurance and employee benefits specialist.

With over 5 years of experience in the field, Suphanida spends the majority of her day synthesizing complex pieces of insurance-related information and translating this into easy-to-understand, engaging, and effective content across a variety of media such as articles, infographics, whitepapers, videos, and more.

Suphanida is also responsible for planning and publishing three whitepapers released annually by Pacific Prime: The State of Health Insurance Report, The Cost of Health Insurance Report, and The Global Employee Benefits Trends Report. Additionally, she handles the LinkedIn profiles of Pacific Prime’s Founder and CEO, as well as Global HR Lead.

Suphanida’s strengths lie in her strong research and analytical skills, which she has gained from her BA in Politics from the University of Warwick and Erasmus Mundus Joint MA in Journalism from Aarhus University and City, University of London.

Being of Thai-Indian origin and having lived, studied, and worked in Thailand, the UK, and Denmark, Suphanida also has a unique, multicultural perspective that helps her understand the struggles of expats and globetrotters.

Outside of work, she enjoys traveling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.
Suphanida Thakral