Even if we work alone, we are likely to have interaction with other people for work reasons, at some point during the week. Social interaction is important for all people, even if it is low-key. Being at work encourages social networks and friendships to develop. Sometimes, workplace friendships extend beyond the workplace and lasting friendships are formed.
Being employed helps to motivate us, establish goals and become organised. We need to get up, prepare for the day and show up. Once we show up, we become involved in a wide range of activities and exchanges with other people. Many people engage in workplace tasks where colleagues are relying on them to play their role as a team member. It may be that we need to clean bench spaces and wash dishes so that others can commence preparation of food.
Our tasks are part of a chain of events, which needs to take place in order for a service to be provided. We are contributing and have a role to play in a bigger picture. If we are a sole trader, we will often be relying on others businesses (rather than colleagues) to provide goods or services to ensure we can fulfill our business commitments.
Being employed, structuring our day, turning up and putting in, all go towards maintaining and building our self-esteem. Self-esteem is not something we necessarily actively set out to build, however, this often comes with being employed. We are often learning new skills, facing new situations and reaching goals (which could be as small as getting through the day). Positive experiences gained through working contribute to our self belief and self worth resulting into better mental health at work.
When we are employed in an organisation, we often identify with the values of our workplace and we gain a sense of belonging. Just like the interests we pursue and the communities we are part of outside of work, such as Book Clubs, sporting groups and other hobbies and interests, our workplaces can become an important part of our lives. If we work alone, joining associations relevant to your profession is a great way to find a group of peers, professional support and belonging.
Structure can help us wake up with a sense of ownership, order, and organisation in our lives. Routines provide a sense of structure and familiarity. Instead of creating each day from scratch, routines create a framework of small decisions we no longer have to make – we just do it. The structure of working 8 hours a day gives us a broad framework of how to use our time before and after work.
Routines such as lunch timeS add in the detail which keeps us on track. Just like most people automatically brush their teeth and wash their face before going to bed each night, we can set up routines to manage our working lives which can increase our sense of achievement and satisfaction in our work and lives.
On days when the alarm goes off and it is tempting to hit the snooze button, hide under the doona and wish holiday-time were here, it is useful to keep in mind, that by being involved in work we are also looking after our mental health.