Being real and authentic in the workplace

Mental Health has become a common conception in the workplace. This can be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic which to a large extent shifted our focus to the psychological space; this is refreshing within itself. The human experience and our daily life is multifaceted, complex, multilayered, and flawed, and a big part of our daily activity is navigating and juggling a multitude of activities simultaneously. Mental Health, which I have capitalised for a reason, deserves our respect.

Here are some ideas for staying emotionally healthy as we navigate the workplace context.


Run-of-the-mill self-help books, media narrations, and internalisations from our communities curate a narrative of reaching a goal of happiness.  I suggest that, instead, we aim for a goal of tolerance. Endeavour to feel all the emotions on the ‘feelings wheel’ and tolerate and appreciate a wide range of emotions. In other words, the goal is not to reach happiness but rather to develop tolerance and flexibility in handling a full capacity of emotions. Emotions are ever-shifting and building a sense of emotional tolerance allows you to understand yourself, so that you can act with more intention. Likewise, you will increase your tolerance to daily pressures.


Emotions can get ‘hot’ in the workplace and instances of frustration, pressures, burnout, and anxiety are commonplace. Reflexivity and perspective-taking are key here. Practice self-awareness while reflecting on how your behaviour may affect those around you. Be curious in your navigation through work and strive to learn from others.


Strive for authenticity, rawness, and vulnerability in your encounters with others. This will serve you when navigating conflict, relating and communicating with others, and building meaningful connections in the workplace.


Reach out and leverage your support structures — families, friends, colleagues, clubs, your belief systems, personal interests, and so on. At Retro Rabbit, we have a whole lot of support structures available. We have partnered up with ICAS which provides you with short-term psychological assistance. Additionally, reach out to your People Champion for support, and make the most of your mentorship connection. Use your resources; you are not alone.


Embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace. There are other worlds different to your ways of knowing. Perhaps exposing yourself to this could remind you of the explorative nature of the world. Immerse, expose and move courageously through different workspaces.

While we navigate the intricacies of the workplace, it is important to be mindful that mental health is a journey and not an endpoint.

About the author

Ashleigh van der Westhuizen profile picture

Ashleigh van der Westhuizen

Ashleigh van der Westhuizen

Committed to being a people's advocate at Retro Rabbit, my main emphasis is on enriching employee experiences and nurturing growth, all fueled by a deep passion for the field of Psychology. Read more from Ashleigh van der Westhuizen...