Working from home during the Coronavirus outbreak: Tips to support your mental health

Due to the impacts of coronavirus, many people are either already or are about to work from home. With this in mind, here are some tips that will help support your mental health whilst you adjust to these changes to your workplace:

  • If possible, create a separate office or workspace
    • Studies show that working from home can interfere with sleep, especially for individuals who find it difficult to switch off from work. In particular, avoid working in your bedroom (if possible), as your bedroom will become associated with being alert, awake, and switched on.
  • If you’re not stuck in self-isolation, try to get outside at least once per day.
    • Go for a walk, get some fresh air and sunshine. If you are in isolation, go out to your garden or walk up and down your driveway or go out on your balcony and enjoy fresh air.
  • Maintain a health work-life balance by setting time limits.
    • Set a routine as if you are going into the office, wiht a regular start and finish time, and a structure for your day, including breaks and exercise scheduled in. This will assist you to maintain a strong boundary between work and home life.
  • Keep connected to colleagues
    • Staying connected with other will help to reduce stress, feelings of isolation, and increase productivity. It also helps you communicate with your manager or employees to keep them informed of what you’re working on.
  • Get ready for the day ahead as though you were going into work.
    • Creating cues such as getting changed into your work clothes at the start of the day and out at the end can help with maintaining a strong work-life balance.
  • Digital detox in the evenings
    • Try a digital detox to help you switch off from work, so you can spend quality time with your family, or do the things you want to do.

 

 

Life Audit

Completing a life audit helps you recognise your goals and dreams, and discover what you’re actually spending time on – which may not be what’s really important to you. It will help you understand where you want to go and how to get there.

Reflect on where you are in life right now. Set aside some time in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted and answer the following questions:

Check in with your mind. Are you stressed? Are you tired? Do you feel like there’s not enough time in the ay to get things done? Write whatever comes to mind.

Now, check in with your body. How does it feel? Do you feel energetic or exhausted? Light or heavy? Relaxed or anxious?

How do you want to feel both in mind and body?

What are your life goals and dreams? Write them down, both long- and short-term. Don’t think about it too much. Don’t question it. Just write whatever comes to mind.

Make New, Better Habits

Creating better habits for yourself can introduce lots of productivity to your day-to-day life. As with so many things, writing them down helps make them a reality. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which of your current habits align with the success you want to create in your life? What are the cues, routines, and rewards these habits follow?
  • Which of your current habits undermine the success you want to create in your life? Can you change their cues and rewards to redirect your energy towards the outcomes you want to achieve?
  • Are there any new habits you’d like to introduce? how can you cue these habits up? What will you do to create a routine? What are ways to reward yourself that healthy and aligned to your values?

Some examples of new, better habits could be:

Get up and move it – move your body more often for the physical and mental benefits, not to mention enjoyment!

Meditate – take a moment, or 10 minutes if you can, to centre yourself everyday.

Rehydrate – avoid the lethargy and inability to concentrate that comes with dehydration. Buy a nice refillable drink bottle and take it everywhere with you, and keep a large jug of water on your desk at work. Aim for 6 – 8 cups a day.

Refuel – put wholesome, nutritious energy into your body to avoid the mood swings that come with sugar highs and lows, and keep your body functioning at its optimal level.

Get organised – Prepare yourself for the following day before going to bed.

Mental Health Hygiene

Mental Health Hygiene refers to the development, maintenance, and promotion of necessary behaviour, emotional, and social skills to sustain good, effective, and efficient mental health.

While mental health hygiene habits may vary from person to person, it is important to identify those that work best for us and to integrate them into our daily routine.

Examples of Mental Health Hygiene Habits:

Be Mindful: 

  • Mindfulness is a mental state of being engaged in the present moment without evaluating or emotionally reacting to it
  • ​There are many ways to practice mindfulness, and you don’t have to be a Buddhist monk to do it.  One of the simplest ways is to pay attention to your breath, because that is always here and now. You simply sit and breathe, watching your breath as it goes in and out.  You can also practice mindful walking, where you walk slowly and feel each footstep. You can eat mindfully, keeping your attention on the smell, texture and taste of food. You can do dishes or laundry mindfully. Anything you do, you can do it with mindful awareness of the experience as it is happening. You can also learn to observe your own thoughts and feelings, and therefore be aware of your internal experiences rather than just being swept up in them.

Get a Better Night’s Sleep: 

  • The term sleep hygiene is used to describe good sleep habits.

TIPS TO GETTING A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP:

GET REGULAR: One of the best ways to train your body to sleep well is to go to bed and get up at more or less the same time every day, even on weekends and days off! This regular rhythm will make you feel better and will give your body something to work from.

SLEEP WHEN SLEEPY:Only try to sleep when you actually feel tired or sleepy, rather than spending too much time awake in bed.

GET UP & TRY AGAIN: If you haven’t been able to get to sleep after about 20 minutes or so, get up and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy, then return to bed and try again. Sit quietly on the couch with the lights off (bright light will tell your brain that it is time to wake up), or read something boring like the phonebook. Avoid doing anything that is too stimulating or interesting, such as checking Facebook, as this will wake you up even more.

AVOID CAFFEINE & NICOTINE: It is best to avoid consuming any caffeine (e.g., coffee, tea, cola-drinks, chocolate, and some medications) or nicotine (cigarettes) for at least 4 to 6 hours before going to bed. These substances act as stimulants and interfere with the ability to fall sleep.

AVOID ALCOHOL & OTHER SEDATIVES: It is also best to avoid alcohol for at least 4 to 6 hours before going to bed. Contrary to popular belief that alcohol is relaxing and helps them to get to sleep, it actually interrupts the quality of sleep. Other sedatives, including sleep medications, can impair one’s ability to have quality deep sleep.

BED IS FOR SLEEPING: Try not to use your bed for anything else other than sleeping, so that your body comes to associate bed with sleep. If you use your bed as a place to watch TV, eat, read, work on your laptop, pay bills, and other things, your body will not learn this connection.

AVOID DAYTIME NAPPING: It is best to avoid taking naps during the day, to make sure that you are tired at bedtime. If you can’t make it through the day without a nap, make sure it is less than an hour and before 3pm.

ESTABLISH SLEEP RITUALS: You can develop your own rituals of things to remind your body that it is time to sleep – some people find it useful to do relaxing stretches or breathing exercises for 15-minutes before bed each night, or sit calmly with a cup of caffeine-free tea.

BATH TIME: Having a hot bath 1-2 hours before bedtime can be useful, as it will raise your body temperature, causing you to feel sleepy as your body temperature drops again. Research shows that sleepiness is associated with a drop in body temperature.

NO CLOCK-WATCHING: Many people who struggle with sleep tend to watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the time during the night can wake you up (especially if you turn on the light to read the time or use your phone) and reinforces negative thoughts such as “oh no, look how late it is, I’ll never get to sleep”. If necessary, hide or remove the bedroom clock.

EXERCISE: Regular exercise is a great idea to help with good sleep, but try not to do strenuous exercise in the 4-hours before bedtime. Morning walks are a good way to start the day feeling refreshed!

SUNLIGHT: Get plenty of sunlight, as it helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

EAT RIGHT: A healthy, well-balanced diet will help you to sleep well, but timing is important. Some people find that a very empty stomach at bedtime is distracting, so it can be useful to have a light snack, but a heavy meal soon before bed can also interrupt sleep. Some people recommend a warm glass of milk, which contains tryptophan, which acts as a natural sleep inducer.

THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT: It is very important that your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable for sleeping. A cooler room with enough blankets to stay warm is best, and make sure you have curtains or an eye-mask to block out early morning light and earplugs if there is noise outside your room.

  • minimise external noise (use earplugs if necessary)
  • keep the bedroom clean and tidy
  • make sure the bedroom is a comfortable temperature
  • introduce pleasant smells such as a drop of lavender oil onto the pillow
  • get extra pillows

KEEP DAYTIME ROUTINE THE SAME: Even if you have a bad night sleep and are tired it is important that you try to keep your daytime activities the same as you had planned. That is, don’t avoid activities because you feel tired. This can reinforce and maintain the insomnia.

  • Everyday, write down three things you are grateful for. The challenge: you have to name 3 different things each day.

REASONS WHY EXPRESSING GRATITUDE IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH:

1. GRATITUDE IMPROVES PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH

Gratitude reduces a multitude of negative emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Research has shown that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.

2. GRATITUDE IMPROVES PHYSICAL HEALTH

Grateful people experience fewer aches and pain and they report feeling healthier than those who don’t cultivate gratitude. Grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health, and are reported to exercise more often than others.

3. GRATITUDE IS GOOD FOR YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

Showing appreciation can help foster new friendships. For instance, one study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.

4. GRATITUDE HELPS WITH SLEEP

​Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.

5. GRATITUDE FOSTERS RESILIENCE

For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. Recognising all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – fosters resilience.

It is helpful to hear encouraging words during times of intense emotional distress. Sometimes a supportive friend or partner is not around to provide us with the emotional support and comfort that we may desire. In these times, we must be capable of providing ourselves with this comfort.

Using positive statements can help us develop a new attitude to ourselves and our situations. Choose a statement from those below, or make one that means more to you, and repeat it to yourself throughout the day, everyday, of every week, of every month. Use a statement that starts with “I” and use the present tense (e.g., I am strong; I am determined).

Exercise makes you feel good because it releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It can also get you out in the world, help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation, and put you in touch with other people.

If you exercise regularly , it can reduce your stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and help with recovery from mental health issues.

Exercise also helps improves your sleep, which is also important for mental health hygiene.

 

Simplicity Brings Clarity || Purposeful Life Series

When you simplify your life, you stop wasting your energy.

The clarity this brings reduces ambiguity and eliminates doubts.

Your then have the space and opportunity to set and achieve the goals that matter most to you.

What drains you?

Is your life full of clutter? We are living in the age of time famine and digital overload, and the expectation to be ‘on’ constantly means there has never been a more important time for us to decompress, declutter, and recalibrate our minds and bodies to ensure our wellbeing. High achievers often struggle with feeling cluttered, overwhelmed, and overextended, because they take on a lot of commitments.

Drainers aren’t things we think about consciously, but are tasks in our subconscious. Decluttering your life helps eliminate them, creating a simpler, more streamlined environment. this is the big clean-out you’ll need to do before you can structure the new opportunities and strategies  that support you to be your best, with optimal wellness in every part of your life.

Identifying your drainers:

Think about the following aspects of your life – whenever your answer to a question is ‘no’, this indicates a drainer. Work to make all your answers ‘yes’.

Personal Environment:
❁ Is your living space clean and inspiring?
❁ Is your wardrobe tidy and are all of your clothes clean, pressed and in good repair?
❁ Have you cleaned out your storage space and thrown away anything you haven’t used in 2 years?
❁ Do you have fresh air and comfort in your home?

Finances:
❁ Do you have a budget or know your cost of living?
❁ Do you pay your bills on time or make arrangements with creditors?
❁ Are all of your receipts, invoices, and financial records filed and in order?

Relationships:
❁ Do you tidy any ‘loose ends’ with your partner, parents, siblings, and friends by having an open, honest, and authentic conversation?
❁ Do you let people you love know how important they are to you?
❁ Have you let go of any relationships that drag you down?
❁ Do you make requests rather than complaints?
❁ Do you respond to phone calls, letters, and emails promptly, even if your response is brief?

Wellbeing:
❁ Does your diet include fresh fruit and vegetables, and provide you with enough energy?
❁ Do you avoid excess tea, coffee, and alcohol?
❁ Do you get enough sleep at least five nights a week?
❁ Do you have a holiday at least once a year?
❁ Do you exercise for 30 mins at least 3 times per week?

Fun/Creativity:
❁ Do you invest in personal development?
❁ Do you laugh every day?
❁ Do you have a hobby?
❁ Do you plan regular fun activities with your partner, family, and friends?
❁ Do you set yourself goals and work on realistic ways to make them happen?

 

 

Golden Moments || Purposeful Life Series

What are your golden moments?

These are tiny snapshots for you to take daily. There is gold around you all the time if you choose to look for it, engage and be present. This is what gives depth to our lives.

Some of our favourite golden moments:

  • Feeling the sand between your toes at the beach
  • Noticing the first blossom on a tree.
  • Looking at the stars at night.
  • The smell of really good coffee.
  • Watching the waves roll in.
  • Watching the sunrise/sunset.
  • Listening to the rain.
  • Watching the clouds roll by.

This simple act of mindfulness, of tuning in and being truly present to the small wonders unfolding all around you, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, is something you can tap into anywhere, at anytime.

Look for, and savour, the golden moments happening all around you, each and every day. Collect these treasured moments and use them to foster gratitude.

Life Lessons || Purposeful Life Series

What lessons have you learnt?

What have been your greatest life lessons so far? The purpose of asking this question is not to become lost in introspection. Instead, it is to prevent you making the same mistakes so that you can grow, evolve, and continue to learn.

As cliché as this sounds, your greatest lessons help to shape you into the person you are, and although they can be painful, many lessons ultimately make life more enjoyable and rewarding.

Are your problems recurring ones from the past? They become habits and a pattern when we don’t stop to acknowledge them; address them and learn from them. Creating a strategy so they don’t happen again is important. Ask yourself some questions: Why does the same ting keep happening to you? Do you care enough to do something about it once and for all? How can you now make a difference?

Emotionally intelligent leaders strive to learn from mistakes, because they know how valuable they are for growth – personal and professional – and your ability to move forward.

Some popular lessons:

  1. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  2. Don’t compare your lives with others. You don’t know what their journey is.
  3. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  4. Take a deep breath, it calms the mind.
  5. if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  6. Burn the candles, use the nice dinner plates. Don’t save them for a special occasion. Today is special.
  7. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

Your Values || Purposeful Life Series

What do you value?

The key to you

Defining your values is the next step to unlocking your success. Values are those things that really matter to you – the ideas and beliefs you deem to be the most important in your life.

A range of factors, including your background, upbringing, life philosophy, and events that you’ve experienced will shape the values you hold.

Values have a major influence on your behaviour and serve as broad guidelines to make authentic choices that leave you feeling more content, happy, and satisfied throughout your life.

When your actions are not in alignment with your values, you find yourself without a sense of achievement or feeling out of control.

Make a deliberate and conscious effort to identify and live according to your values.

D E F I N I N G   Y O U R   V A L U E S:

1SELECT

Identify your top ten values. Go with your gut instinct!

2 | PRIORITISE 

Prioritise each value from one to ten. Focus on your top five and briefly define what each one means to you.

3 | CONTEMPLATE

Read each value to yourself, letting the meaning of each word sink in.

4| DEFINE 

Select your top three values and write them down. Commit them to memory, as they will now act as your decision-making blueprint. You also need to define the single value that is most important to you.

5 | COMMIT 

Work out what you need to add or remove from your life and what you need to change to reflect these values.

Common Personal Values:

  • FAMILY HAPPINESS
    Quality time, bonding.
  • COMPETITIVENESS
    Taking risks, winning.
  • FRIENDSHIP
    Close relationships with others.
  • AFFECTION
    Love, caring.
  • COOPERATION
    Working well with others, teamwork
  • ADVENTURE
    New challenges
  • ACHIEVEMENT
    A sense of accomplishment.
  • WEALTH
    Making money
  • ENERGY
    Vitality
  • FREEDOM
    Independence, autonomy.
  • SELF-RESPECT
    Sense of personal identity, pride.
  • RECOGNITION
    Acknowledgement, status.
  • ADVANCEMENT
    Promotion
  • HEALTH
    Mental, physical.
  • RESPONSIBILITY
    Being accountable for results.
  • INVOLVEMENT
    Belonging, being involved with others.
  • ECONOMIC SECURITY
    Strong and consistent income streams.
  • PLEASURE
    Fun, laughter, a leisurely lifestyle.
  • POWER
    Control, authority, or influence over others.
  • GENEROSITY
    Helping others, improving society.
  • WISDOM
    Discovering and understanding knowledge
  • LOYALTY
    Devotion, trustworthiness
  • CULTURE
    Traditions, customs, beliefs.
  • ORDER
    Stability, conformity.
  • CREATIVITY
    Being imaginative, innovative.
  • INTEGRITY
    Honesty, sincerity, standing up for oneself.
  • PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
    Use of personal potential.

 

Your Purpose || Purposeful Life Series

What is your purpose in life?

Of all the questions you should ask yourself, by far the most powerful is the one you should start with each morning: What is the purpose of today?
Breaking it down daily can assist with increasing your happiness and sense of achievement.

To have purpose is to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. Be it a community, sporting club, a cause or just a simple reason to get out of bed each day. It gives us something to aim for and helps clarify our intentions.

For some of us, purpose derives from popularity, power, and money. Meanwhile, for others, the focus is growth and contribution.

What matters most is that we pursue our purpose for the right reasons. Because it is something we deeply believe in, rather than something someone else is steering us towards.