The transition to working from home has been a big deviation from the working norms of many. We are all accustomed to a particular routine we’ve crafted and the departure from this is a big shock to the system. Now more than ever, it is important to take a moment to think about mental health, of ourselves, friends and family in these stressful times. For this purpose, we’ve have crafted a guide to help you keep tabs on your mental health to help you during these strange times. These are difficult times for all and if you are struggling, contact your local gp or many of the local and national mental health charities. Help is always there.
ROUTINE - DAY & NIGHT
Humans are creatures of habit and the line between work life and home life has been blurred enough from the aforementioned shakeup to our regular routine. Maintaining, or even just making small adjustments to your regular routine will help keep your work and home life separate, ensuring you feel in control and can adequately decompress after a days work. To this end, make sure you:
Get your right amount of sleep. The NHS recommends 6-9 hours a night, but as the sole proprietor of your body, you will know the right amount in this range for yourself.
Don’t sleep through your commute. While it may be tempting to have a late night watching your new favourite tiger themed Netflix show and roll out of bed at 08:58, laptop on at 09:00, having time in the morning can help your brain prepare for the day ahead. Sure have a little lie in, but don’t over do it! This also gives you time to prepare an adequate breakfast to fuel your day.
Stick to your regular working times. This is extremely important now considering how easy it is to start later and tell yourself you’ll make it up in the evening, or keep working beyond your usual hours. Maintaining this separation of work and home will keep your brain happy and give you the time to do the things you enjoy.
A HEALTHY BODY IS A HEALTHY MIND
This adage still rings true today and we want to cover three things in this remit; healthy eating, exercise and posture.
Stress and diet are two things you may negatively connotate together. We’ve all heard the phrase stress-eating before, enjoying the foods we like to combat the pangs of stress, but this just proves that food can indeed affect our mood, and maintaining a good control on that can help in prevention and reduction of the physiological effects of stress.
Make sure to have set meals throughout the day instead of just snacking
Keep a good ratio of carbs, protein and fats in your diet. Starchy foods should be making up just over 1/3 of your daily calorific intake.
Make sure these include foods that also allow you to get your vitamin intake! Vitamins are small molecules your body can’t make itself and so it has to get them from food. These have so many functions that keep your body and mind healthy so their importance can’t be overstated.
Drink at least 2 litres of water a day – not just in coffee and tea! Moderate your caffeine also in order to manage sleep and stress.
The current government guidelines allow an hours exercise a day for a reason. The positive effects of exercise are many, from proven reduction in stress, depression and anxiety to physical effects such as reduced blood pressure, make sure to use your allowance.
Finally, don’t slouch! Maintaining good posture is not only good for your back but also your mind. Studies have found that switching to an upright posture can alleviate the symptoms of stress and boost self-esteem.
Regular, short breaks are something you do at work all the time whether you notice it or not! These include things such as taking 5 minutes to chat with a colleague, or even doing a hot drink run. It’s important to carry these small breaks you’ve woven into your day over to your new routine working from home. Take some time to hydrate and enjoy the early signs of British springtime from your garden or window, this is also a good time to stretch your legs and keep your body happy! I personally like to make a cup of tea and video call my colleagues. This also presents a great transition to our next topic.
Humans have developed to be a social species over millions of years. It is inherent to our sense of being, as much as breathing, or blinking. This shouldn’t change just because of the current isolation we find ourselves in. If you are isolating with your family, make sure to take the time to enjoy each others company; read books together, do a puzzle, play some games. Anything that is going to scratch that social itch will do wonders for your mental health through release of mood boosting hormones. Here at VWA we are keeping in contact with our colleagues and friends through a variety of video calling applications, and even planning in team socials to unwind after a hard week of work. We are more connected with each other now than at any other point in human history, take advantage of this to check in with friends. You may meet some furry companions of theirs, learn a little about their interesting choice of living room decor, but most importantly keep connected and recognise we can still all have an enjoyable social life despite current restrictions.
SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE
On the subject of how connected we are in the modern world, it is important to recognise another adage from times gone by of too much a good thing, everything should be done in moderation. With the world at our fingertips, or a mouse click away, it is easy to spend too much time on social media and news websites, especially with the rapidly developing situation across the world. Studies have linked social media use to depression, anxiety, poorer sleep, among many other mental health issues. Be proactive during this time to limit your usage of social media and news websites, of which the current content can be very disheartening.
We understand the current situation will be difficult for many, ourselves included. As a final point of note, accept that it is completely normal to have good and bad days, but during those times make sure to reflect on where those feelings are coming from and address them appropriately. To reiterate, if you feel this is something you cannot handle yourself, seek help from friends, your health professional, or the mental health services available. We are all in this together as a team as we will all persevere as a team. From all of here at VWA, stay safe.