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How to Perform at Work While Struggling with Mental Health

01 December 2022

Your mental health can impact your work day, with difficult days sometimes being less productive. Depression and anxiety can make it hard to concentrate or focus.

A good first step is to talk with your employer if you struggle with a mental illness. If you have a good employer, they should support mental wellness at the workplace and make everything more accommodating for you.

However, this does not always work out, even if you have the nicest boss. You can take your own steps to manage your workload if you are struggling with your mental health by trying the steps below.

Set Aside 2 Hours for Focused Work

If you are struggling with your mental health, being productive for around 8 hours a day can seem like a daunting task that is majorly overwhelming. The truth is, the average time anyone actually spends on focused work with absolutely no distractions throughout the day is only a few hours.

Set aside a two-hour chunk of time where you can work without any distractions. You will notice that you get a lot accomplished when you do not have a large and overwhelming goal that is difficult to start. Remember to reward yourself after finishing the two hours, as well, to promote endorphins and relaxation, even if you just grab a small snack and some water or take a walk.

If even two hours seems like it is too much to handle, you might want to look at calling out of work that day, which is okay. The two-hour method is great for high-low energy cycles, as well. It may be tempting to continue working even after the two hours are up, especially if you are on a roll, but this is not always the best choice.

Change Up Your Workspace

You inevitably spend a lot of time at your workspace or in your work-from-home office. If you are having a hard time concentrating, it could be due to how your space is currently set up. Instead, turn that distracted mood into an accomplishment.

Wipe down both your computer screen and keyboard, along with any other surfaces that need it. Hang up some art that makes you smile on the walls or post a silly cartoon on your door. Set out a beautiful bunch of flowers, or bring in a few cute plants that are easy to manage.

Try throwing together a fun playlist of your favourites and another playlist that is meant for concentration. Put small reminders around your office affirming your self-worth. You can place them in hidden spots only you know about if you want them to be less noticeable.

Since ergonomic workstations are of huge importance to one’s health, making your workplace more ergonomic will be of great benefit to you. This will help you to physically feel better during work, which will also help improve your mental health. You can start with small changes, like getting lumbar support.

Take a Moment to Learn Something New

Work can often seem repetitive, and sometimes repetition can poorly affect our moods. It may seem like there is so much being put out and not enough coming back in. Investing in your skills is important.

An entire learning course may be too much to tackle if you are having a rough day, so try a short 30-minute learning activity. You could watch a webinar, Google a new Excel skill, or work on improving your writing.

Investing in your knowledge helps with procrastination and focus. You still should put a time limit on the activity to maintain your concentration and prevent exhaustion. Try to learn an easy and useful skill in 30 minutes rather than tackling a huge learning goal.

Connect with a Friend or an Office Buddy

Sometimes it may seem like we are annoying or bothersome to the people around us, but that simply is not true, especially when considering those that care about us. Isolating yourself can make things worse and lead to more of a struggle.

If your friends in and out of the office do not know what is going on, they cannot be there to help lend a hand and support you. Let them in. Reach out to people, even if you have not chatted with them for a while, just to say hello.

You will realize that more people care about you and are happy to hear from you than you likely thought. Show an interest in what they are doing or accomplishing. They will appreciate this, and you will feel better for being social.

Do Not Hesitate to Take a Mental Health Day

Sometimes, the struggle gets to be too much, and you just need a day off. Your mental health is an absolutely valid reason to use a sick day. Spend your day off caring for yourself and doing absolutely nothing else.

Make a meal that has plenty of leftovers, so you do not have to worry about dinner for a while. Do some chores you have been putting off, like laundry or the dishes. Tackle any small tasks you have been avoiding, like making doctor appointments.

Read that book. Take a nice walk. You can sleep, relax, watch TV, play video games, eat your favourite snacks, and do whatever makes you feel better.

Use the mental health resources that you know work for yourself. You deserve to relax and have time to care for yourself.


Your mental health is always important. Never prioritize other things over your own mental health if things become too much to handle.

Doing different things throughout your day can allow you to have a more manageable workday when your mental health is a bit of a struggle. If all else fails, take a mental health day.

Burnout is incredibly difficult to recover from, so if you notice that you are struggling, take steps to properly deal with it.