The importance of taking small steps to look after your mental well-being.
So, things have certainly been a little different lately. Daily commutes have been exchanged for a walk around the house, boardroom meetings have gone virtual and lunch breaks have become a trip to the fridge. Whilst this new way of working can suit some of us very well, it can prove challenging for others. As some of us juggle daily meetings with home schooling, others are facing financial worries and doing their best to stay safe with loved ones. Although we all deal with uncertain times in different ways, it is vital to be aware of our own responses. There is no right or wrong way of coping, but there are small steps we can take to look after our all-important mental well-being.
Start with acceptance
A good place to start is acceptance. It is important to accept change in our lives, and that we adapt in different ways and at a different pace. Whilst working from home, it can be easy to assume that everyone is doing ok, which as a result, can lead us into setting very high expectations for ourselves in order to follow suit. Be careful of falling into ‘thought traps’, telling yourself you should or shouldn’t be doing certain things. Worrying about the visibility of your individual productivity and ways you can prove you are still working at home are negative thoughts, that will only provide unwanted stress. We all need to trust that what we are doing is enough right now.
Building new routines
If your normal routine is disrupted it is best to find ways of creating a positive new routine. If heading outside for a walk is daunting, why not opt for a workout in your home? Or, use the time you would usually listen to an audio book on the train to settle down with a book and cup of tea, or watch a tv programme you enjoy. If you’re working from home every day, it’s a good idea to wake up and get ready at a similar time to your usual routine when commuting, as this helps keep a regular sleep routine. Getting dressed for your day working from home helps to separate your relaxation time from work time, even if you’d prefer to keep your slippers on for comfort. These are the small steps we can all take to help keep routine and a sense of normality in our lives.
Keeping human connections
No matter how small or large your household is, keeping in touch with other people is important for your mental well-being. Whilst you might be jumping in and out of video conferences throughout the day, it’s important to engage in normal chat too. Be it over instant messages, text, a phone call or a video call; why not reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while? You may just find having a chit chat and a laugh with someone really brightens both of your days.
Keeping connected to people also helps to share worries or concerns we have. It is normal to feel fearful or anxious during challenging times and it is good to share your concerns with people you trust; you never know, they may be feeling the same way too. If you are struggling to cope with your emotions, try focusing on things that you can control such as who you speak to and where you find your information from. Limiting the amount of time you spend watching the news, scrolling through social media or reading articles can help to ease your anxieties. You can keep yourself informed but perhaps try limiting your updates to once a day.
Try something new
If you’re finding yourself with lots more spare time, why not focus on a hobby you enjoy or having a go at something new? Let your creative side out by drawing, painting, reading or writing. The options are endless when it comes to mindful activities and there are plenty of tutorials online to help you get started or improve your skills. Physical health also has a huge impact on our mental state, so keep hydrated, aim for five fruit and veg each day and eat healthy nutritional meals.
It can be tempting to get lazy, or forget to incorporate any form of exercise, but these unhealthy habits could lead to a state of poor mental wellbeing. Aim to take part in at least one form of exercise daily. This doesn’t need to be anything extreme, if you are able to leave your house you could go for a walk, cycle or run (all whilst following social distancing measures). If you cannot leave your home, there are countless home workouts you can join online or perhaps you can get creative and use your stairs as a mountain to climb?
Taking time out
After a full day of works, kids, or DIY, relaxation is key! Do not forget to take time to switch of your laptop, stop checking your emails, and just be.
Times are tough and we all need to allow ourselves time to unwind and relax daily. Meditation, reading a book or listening to soothing music, whatever works for you, just try to slot it in at the end of the day.
You are number one
In a nutshell, taking care of your mental well-being should always be a number one priority, and even more so during challenging times of change. Be aware of your feelings, notice how you are affected, and ask yourself if you need any support. Find your own ways of dealing with things and don’t judge or compare yourself to anyone else, you are only human, and you can only do so much.
Author- Lesley Penney, People Services Manager