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Stress…Is Your Work Space Affecting Your Mental Health?

October is mental health awareness month and with statistics showing that up to a third of South Africans suffer from some form of stress, anxiety and depression, it is a topic close to many people’s hearts.  

Recent research by The Stress Management Society found that 95% of workers cited the office environment as being critical to their well-being and mental health.  

Interesting to note is that boredom in the workplace has a multitude of negative physiological and psychological health impacts – from raised cortisol levels (your body’s main stress hormone) to depression and sleep problems.  From a business perspective, boredom can lead to frustration and loss of productivity.  In addition, bored employees are twice as likely to leave their job, according to a study by Udemy.

In a recent poll by Mindspace, 31% of millennial employees said that they find their current workplace boring and uninspiring, while a whopping 21% say they have rejected job offers because of uninspiring workplaces.  Boredom at work is often related to doing the same thing over and over again.

Stress less in your work space
Stress less in your work space

Variety is the spice of life

This is where well-designed workplaces come in.  Most office spaces have moved beyond the drab cubicle and companies are now seriously embracing the impact of design as part of the drive to avoid monotony.  Central to workspace design is the need for the fast, efficient and flexible use of space that allows for people to gather together in an instant and break away and reconfigure at a moment’s notice.

Agile offices – flexible spaces which incorporate different areas for different types of work – are becoming more popular as a result – check out AngelShack – it is a South African manufacturer designing office furniture that is lightweight and mobile, so easy to rearrange. 

“Implementing flexible working spaces gives employees a sense of ownership over their work environment. This is especially important because boredom also frequently arises when people feel a lack of control over their time, activities and environment,” says David Fish, MD of AngelShack.  “We should constantly change what we are doing and how we are doing it in order to maximise our enjoyment and pleasure in our activities.”

Beat the Boredom

Boredom is often a loss of curiosity. If you catch yourself bored with a project, stop to read for a bit or watch an interesting clip on YouTube, even in the middle of the day. Search for something far away from work, yet linked to the same battery crucial to that work.

Listen to music for 10 to 15 minutes before you tackle your to-do list. When you listen to music, your brain releases dopamine and possibly serotonin. Both of these neurotransmitters elevate your mood. 

If you’ve hit a roadblock on a project, grab your laptop and move to another room or space. Sometimes a simple change in scenery can reignite those brain cells.

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