Coronavirus and Contracting: Looking After Your Mental Health
The year is 2020. You’re wearing a mask, in a mile-long queue, to buy the ingredients to make your 87th soda bread of the year. Nope, you’re not in a Paul Hollywood influenced dystopian drama, yeastless bread is the only thing keeping you sane.
We’ve just had World Mental Health Day. It is especially poignant this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on our physical and mental wellbeing. For our mental health, it really has taken its toll. According to the mental health charity MIND “more than half of adults (60%) and over two-thirds of young people (68%) have said their mental health got worse during lockdown.” This is no surprise as our usual lives have been turned upside down.
Mental health is an important part of SJD Accountancy; for the past two years we have partnered with The Samaritans. They have a wide range of resources for your mental health including wellbeing in the workplace learning modules. In these difficult times this partnership is more important than ever. Take a look at 5 key ways you can improve your mental health in contracting.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
An underrated aspect of mental health is looking after your physical health. The old adage “healthy body, healthy mind” isn’t just a meaningless proverb, it has a genuine impact on our mental wellbeing.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, exercise increases our positive mood, self-esteem and can reduce stress and anxiety. It has also been found to play a role in preventing the development of mental health problems and improves the quality of life in those with mental illness.
You don’t have to get on the treadmill or pound the pavement hours on end. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way of doing a satisfying workout, even on your lunch break. Take a look at this quick Joe Wicks’ workout, it’s free, so you don’t have to spend any money on getting some exercise into your routine.
Even taking a short walk can have a big impact. An article in the Journal of Behavioural Medicine found that a short brisk walk of just 10-15 minutes increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood.
Catch 40 winks
You knew it was coming… As with nearly everything, getting a good night’s sleep can improve your mental wellbeing. But, how to get some good quality shut-eye? It’s all to do with what sleep experts call your sleep hygiene. Ways to improve your sleep hygiene include not watching TV in bed, avoiding caffeine, having a bath and having sleep rituals.
Are you a worrier?
If you are somebody who worries a great deal, then one way to alleviate this anxiety is by turning that worry into a problem-solving task. The University of East Anglia have produced this great problem-solving worksheet to try when turning your worries into potential solutions. Take a look at the worksheet here.
Or take a look at these breathing exercises or muscle relaxation techniques. They can be used in the moment, or as a part of your daily routine. Mindfulness is another way of alleviating the symptoms of anxiety. Apps like Headspace or the Calm are a great way to start.
Now, this is a little harder to do at the moment. But we have all got to, try, and stay connected. Where we would usually be working face-to-face with our clients, in meetings, or grabbing lunch, we are now sitting at home. Socialising fuels the virus but not socialising fuels bad mental health.
According to Psychology Today, interacting with others boosts feelings of well-being and decreases feelings of depression. So it is important to set up regular calls with your clients, to keep that socialising aspect of your day-to-day life as much as possible. Or try setting time aside to have lunch with others in your household, or with clients/friends over Zoom.
If you are feeling mentally unwell, The Samaritans have a 24 hour helpline you can use. They are here to listen to you and talk through your mental health worries. Just call 116 123 from any UK telephone.
There is a lot of support out there if you are feeling mentally unwell. Talking to someone really can help. If you feel you need more support talk to your GP, or try and find your local IAPT service. You may be eligible for a number of therapies including counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).