We all need to embrace a little extra self-care during these challenging times
During the pandemic, there has been an increased awareness of mental health issues. Those in the most vulnerable and deprived groups of society are struggling more than ever, and many employees from all walks of life have been furloughed or made redundant and are fearful of the future. Those who are still working will surely consider themselves lucky, and yet employees working from home also need to ensure they embrace a little extra self-care and take their mental well-being more seriously.
Although this article focuses on employees working from home, all of us, whatever our situation, would no doubt benefit from a little extra self-care, so do read on…
One of the benefits of working from home, of course, is losing the dreaded daily commute. Banner specialists Instantprint found in their survey that the average commute to and from work took 59 minutes. That’s almost five hours of extra time freed up during the normal working week.
Many people working from home are struggling with boundaries and finding, strangely, that they are actually working more hours. Psychologically, many employees feel the need to prove their worth to their employer. They don’t want to be next to be put on furlough. Or, worse still, made redundant.
Although more flexibility in the working week might be a bonus, the result is many people feel permanently on duty, always ready to take that phone call, join a Zoom session, or respond to an email, whatever the time of day. The boundaries between work and home life blur. It isn’t a healthy situation for anyone. Good employers know that and many actively encourage their staff not to work excessive hours. Good employers understand the best employee is a healthy employee.
So even if you are very busy with work commitments, why not make a conscious decision to use the commute time saved to give yourself a little extra self-care? You deserve it and you, your family and even your employer will all benefit in the long term.
So, let’s just look at a few options for a little extra self-care each day. a few options we can all embrace whatever our personal situation may be.
Don’t confuse relaxing with being downright lazy and binging on box sets, for example! Okay, that might prove to be an absolute delight on rare occasions, but it isn’t a good daily habit.
Relaxing as a little bit of extra self-care is about enjoying the simple things in life.
- An indulgent soak in the bath with softly lit candles, with strict instructions not to be disturbed.
- Listening to music but not just your normal radio station or your normal playlists. Be proactive in what you choose and really listen properly.
- Lose yourself in a good book. Maybe a ‘proper’ book for a change rather than looking at yet another screen.
- Meditate regularly. You will find the benefits are immense. There are many forms of meditation including Transcendental Meditation which has numerous scientific studies to demonstrate the efficacy of the practice. There are lots of books, videos, and online courses for all types of meditation to help you get started.
This year, more people than ever have enjoyed the joys of gardening. But as it is cold, wet, and windy during the winter months, why not bring the joy of gardening indoors?
A starting point might be making plans for what you are going to plant next year and order packets of seeds. You will be able to start many flower and veggie seeds off indoors on the windowsill. Watching the little seedlings grow is so therapeutic and will keep you focused on the warmer months ahead.
And, of course, there are lots of lovely indoor plants you can nurture, many of which have proven mental health benefits.
Go for a walk
Going for a walk in the fresh air is one of the most beneficial things you can do, especially if you are able to walk in the countryside or by a river or the sea.
Two things to do to ensure you maximise the benefits of your walk:
- Be sure to include really brisk walking, if you can, to get the heart pumping;
- Conversely, stop and appreciate your surroundings. Listen to the birds, the rustle of the leaves, the lapping of the water. Even if you are not in the countryside per se, there will still be lots of nature to see if you just stop, watch, and listen.
And as outdoor enthusiasts will tell you, the weather is never too bad to go for a walk: just ensure you have the right clothing and footwear.
Who knew that a simple walk could be one of the best ways of indulging in a little bit of extra self-care?
Walking is a great starting point, but to be effective try and embrace different types of exercise. With your normal gym/exercise routine no longer available, now is a good time to try something different.
And if you haven’t been a regular exerciser, it is never too late to get started.
Exercise is such a good way to get your endorphins pumping, and even though you might be tempted to sprawl out on the sofa for your lunch break, you’ll feel better if you get moving as exercise is proven to help you mentally as well as physically.
You can do a simple home workout that does not need any special equipment, join an online course with someone like Joe Wicks or a local club, or watch a video.
And as it is Strictly season, why not consider online dance classes? Dancing is great fun and a fantastic form of exercise too whether you want a little bit of Latin fizz or a graceful waltz. Even the Royal Ballet is offering online ballet sessions for all ages and levels of ability.
Yoga and Pilates are also both great forms of exercise.
Even bopping around to your favourite song can make a difference to your well-being.
The Instantprint survey also showed pets were proving to be popular during the pandemic, with 20% of people spending more time with their beloved animals.
Pets can have such a positive impact on your mental health. There are lots of reasons why this is the case from the unconditional love you get from a pet – a simple joy that just isn’t the same as a human relationship.
Plus, the basic need for a dog to be walked, which will get you out of the house even if you feel like you’re too busy.
Then there might be the days when you don’t feel like doing anything. You don’t want to work out or eat well or any of the stuff that can help make you feel better. It can be hard but remember you are not alone. There are so many people who feel the same way as you do. Make sure you keep in touch with people, even if you can’t physically meet up in person. Communicating how you feel is absolutely vital. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.