Preserving mental health in a working environment

Self-awareness of personal preferences, strengths, work style, emotions, and needs is essential to building a close and caring relationship with oneself. That would open the door to acceptance of other people's perspectives and needs.

Ida Protuger



The power of collective thinking

Leaders hold a crucial role in nurturing collective thinking as a resource. Those appreciating the value of experience and knowledge in each team member foster a safe space for exchanging ideas. They see the synergy from combined resources as valuable input toward better, well-informed, and inclusive decisions.

Breaking the stigma of seeking help for mental health

Everyone faces life challenges, and dealing with them, and seeking support from a professional, either for personal development or psychological assistance, is self-care. To step out of an uncomfortable situation, to understand that it’s okay not to feel okay. There are solutions and support out there.

May is the month of mental health. Suppose we know approximately 70% of the country’s population is a workforce. In that case, the well-being of the workplace, where people spend a significant part of their day, reflects on the overall well-being of a nation.

According to a study by Eurofond about European Working Conditions (2021), 15% of participants from the EU reported experiencing physical and emotional burnout. In addition, 23% reported feeling exhausted. If nearly a quarter of employees feel drained, they are not in the mental condition to give their best. They are not productive enough.

The reasons can be numerous and individual. However, respondents identified several stress factors in another Eurobarometer Survey conducted in 2022. The majority, or 46%, indicated being under significant time pressure. The second stress factor was ineffective communication within the organization, reported by 26%, and the third, 18%, was a lack of autonomy or influence in the work process.

These data highlight the need for analysis of two key factors:

  • Working conditions and the employer’s awareness of well-being at work.
  • Personal development and self-care of the individual.

Intrinsic motivation

There is a growing awareness that more excellent results are achieved when work is not just task execution but working performance under the influence of intrinsic motivation as a factor.

Intrinsic motivation, which arises from within, is what we call strive when an individual wants to achieve something not out of fear of punishment or for a reward but because they see personal meaning in it.

Individuals must feel safe and free from negative stress to foster intrinsic motivation, particularly the cortisol hormone. We are all different, and the beauty lies in having various resources that can be engaged in achieving common goals. Some are detail-oriented, some are goal-oriented, some enjoy sharing and working with people, and others are more individualistic. Some prefer changes, while others constancy.

Inspirational leadership skills unite all these diverse profiles of people and working styles towards common goals.


The need for belonging, confirmation, esteem, and self-actualization are fundamental human needs. Suppose leaders and decision-makers can address these needs, promote an atmosphere that values team members, create space for expressing individuals’ strengths, have mechanisms for identifying weak points, and conflict management. In that case, it is much more likely that they can transform work environments into creative communities.

Human skills and strengthening of Emotional intelligence are crucial to building such leadership. Frustrated leaders create an atmosphere that will produce frustrated team members. Working on personal growth would support such efforts by establishing close and caring relationships with oneself to be able to build valuable connections with others.

Leadership and need for personal growth

Leadership plays a significant role in building an atmosphere that fosters well-being and unleashes creative potential. As well as the role and responsibility of each team member focused on personal growth.

The trend still prevails where job interviews are like facing a jury where the job seeker needs to prove their potential and decide whether they are satisfied with the offered salary. However, it is good that this is changing towards a higher awareness of personal well-being-related questions. Questions that are relevant to what the individual will experience in the workplace. Questions that come broth from interviewers and interviewed.

The fantasy about the happiness of getting the drams job does not guarantee that you will be happy and motivated when you start working that job. Money represents a life in which you can afford many things that you fantasize will make you happy. But the emotion may be absent when you expect it. As Daniel Gilbert explains in his book “Stumbling on Happiness” through a series of research, we can assume many things, but we cannot predict how we will feel in the future. This is because emotions are pure presence – a bodily reaction to internal and external stimuli.

Furthermore, the fantasy of a dream job does not assume your environment, how you will position yourself in the team dynamics, or what kind of leadership the team will have. And finally, how you will feel at work.

The importance of enjoyment

However, what a person can do for personal well-being is self-care, as well as to establish close and nurturing contact with oneself. Self-connection and self-acceptance are part of this process. Self-awareness of personal preferences, strengths, work style, emotions, and needs is essential to building a close and caring relationship with oneself. That would open the door to acceptance of other people’s perspectives and needs.

If one works under stress and pressure, constantly turning to meet the expectations of others as confirmation that they are doing something “right,” they function in so-called surviving mode. In such cases, the sympathetic nervous system is constantly in charge, triggered by stress or perceived danger. The parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for a state of relaxation, stays “out of action.”

However, stress is not always negative; sometimes, the product of euphoria and motivation is the adrenaline that keeps us in excitement. Here we talk about stress related to negative emotions, which produces cortisol that triggers anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion, and burnout as a final effect.

Therefore, stress-enjoyment balance is essential for overall health because it helps our bodies to be able to shift to the jurisdiction of the parasympathetic nervous system – to relax.

Help your body regain energy

To give the best of ourselves and help the brain to operate in a creation mode instead of surviving, small daily routines of relaxation and boosting happiness hormones can do the job.

In today’s fast-paced daily dynamics, we often struggle to find time for self-care amidst increasing responsibilities. Nevertheless, creating time for self-care and enjoyment is a step toward promoting mental health.

  • If it’s sunny outside, have your coffee on the terrace near a window or a park bench. Sunlight stimulates serotonin (neurotransmitter).
  • Walking to work if can’t create 1/2 hour for a workout. Physical activity stimulates dopamine and endorphins, also known as happiness hormones.
  • Having a conversation with colleagues with whom we have a positive relationship – positive social interaction stimulates dopamine.
  • Set a goal. This triggers the reward hormone (neurotransmitter) – dopamine.
  • Count achievements – thinking of the things you are proud of stimulates serotonin.
  • Cuddling and physical contact with a partner, child, or pet trigger another happiness hormone – oxytocin.

Life is complex and not smooth and straightforward for anyone. We all face unfavorable circumstances in life. What makes us closer to our well-being is self-awareness about our own emotions and needs, as well as of others.

As well as the essential part – to act toward our well-being. To achieve autonomy. To be aware that by using our power of choice and freedom to decide, we can position ourselves toward circumstances when we can no longer change them.