11 Oct

When Work’s Not Working: How to Improve Your Mental Health at Work

Amber Koenigsknecht

Communications, Work-Life


mental health at work blog cover

When Work's Not Working

Before diving into this blog, we want to start with a positive affirmation. Affirmations are antidotes to the negative self talk that we are often victims of - self talk that is probably what led you to this blog in the first place. Join us in saying out loud, "I am successful. Seeking resources to improve my work-life does not negate what I have already accomplished. Recent challenges are not direct reflections of my work ethic. There is no cap on personal and professional growth."

Got it?! Good! Let's dive in.

A 2021 report surveying 65,000 Americans found that 42% of women and 35% of men feel burnt out at work almost all of the time. These numbers are even higher than responses from 2020. You know - when we were knee deep in a global pandemic? It is sadly obvious that the pandemic continues to affect our work-life. So, how can we mindfully (and realistically) work on our mental health while we're at work? Our team got together and discussed methods that have worked for us.

work-life affirmation

Leave Work at Work

Two years ago, it was fairly easy to keep your work and personal life separate. Now, your desk is probably the same table where you feed your family. Your morning commute is a stretch from bed to the living room. "Business casual" apparel has become...very casual (we're looking at you, sweatpants). For many, there is quite literally no separation.

Our CEO, Caralyn Tignanelli, has always reminded our team to leave work at work. She says, "if you are creating anything, you will have critics! Learn to separate your sense of self and accomplishment from other people's negative feedback. Most of us will get more positive feedback than negative but only focus on the negative. Break that habit!"

Caralyn's other advice: find out when your most creative time is and keep it sacred. If you feel the most focused in the morning, don't take an 8:30am meeting. Take some time to understand yourself and create a schedule and environment that revolves around that.

Don't Be Scared To Unplug

Our Digital Lead, Amanda, stresses the importance of knowing when to unplug. Now, we aren't saying to unplug your desktop, but rather your cell phone. Plenty of professionals suggest spending less time on your personal social media accounts when attempting to improve your mental health. Especially if you're on social media for work, taking breaks is neccessary. Reading during your lunch break is an even better habit to get into. What's more - gather your coworkers up for a bookclub!

Unplugging is great, but how about recharging? Taking a walk through the building or outside is a great way to quite literally walk it off. Any chance to be outside and in the sunshine will give you a true boost of Vitamin D. If you're working from home - try to place your desk near a window! By chance you're in a basement level, these sunlight lamps have been all the rave. Aromatherapy is also therapeutic - Amanda keeps an essential oil diffuser on her desk streaming a dreamy mix of lavender and eucalyptus.

You Can't Pour From An Empty Cup

It's the age-old question: do you see the cup half full or half empty? Maybe you see the cup as overflowing.  You know, uncontrollably spilling everywhere and you can't do anything to stop it! (Just me?). Sydnei, our Business Development manager, reminds herself daily that you can't pour from an empty cup.

You can't GIVE much more than you've GOT. In order to give 100% everyday, Sydnei recommends creating a morning routine to set you up for the day. Some ideas include 30 minutes for some movement or exercise, a good breakfast, or some mindful journaling. And once you get to work, "Make time for mental breaks throughout the day - in this fast paced world we all need breaks to do our best". 

The Present is a Gift - Embrace It

The present is a gift - I swear I've seen that on a decorative hand towel before. On a serious note, my number one tip for keeping your mental health in check at work is about being present. It's about doing one thing at a time. It's about not deeming yourself a failure when your "to do" list isn't completed by 5pm. Being present has immensely helped me in times of crisis. When sh*t hits the fan, it is reassuring to be aware of what is in your control, and what is not. When working with a client, and wanting to please them, it's only human that we take the blame for everything. The reality of it is, everyone drops the ball sometimes. Rather than beating myself up, I remind myself that there is time to fix things.

Finally, I highly recommend that you practice gratitude for the little things. For instance, just waking up in the morning and having a job to go to is a privilege. Mindset is everything - and you are in control of that.


Our team is thankful to be led by a CEO that values her employees mental health. In a recent study, 61% of female managers checked in on their team's wellbeing compared to 54% of their male counterparts. We believe that as the importance of employee's mental health grows, that gap will shrink. If you enjoyed this blog post, give us a share! Tag us on instagram at @exigentcreative or find us on Facebook.

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