Looking after your mental health has always been what I call ‘at the back of your front of mind’ for many people, as we often brush off its importance as we chase deadlines and responsibilities.
This year, at the peak of the global health pandemic, Taurus had the chance to work with workplace mental health care experts 2OP Health and its Director and Psychiatrist Dr. Frank Chow and it was an eye (and mind) opening experience on the importance of looking after your mental health.
The onset of the current epidemic has created a resurgence in debates about prioritising mental health, and it is important to realise now more than ever, the role that positive mental health can play on your peace of mind.
Mental health issues as a result of COVID-19
Although it is a bit early to aggregate enough data to tell what lies ahead in terms of the mental health impacts of COVID-19, Lifeline Australia has already seen a record number of calls made in March – approximately 90,000, which is a 25 percent increase since last year.
Such statistics reveal the serious nature of mental health at a time where most Australians are faced with a string of concerns such as job loss, family responsibilities, bills and lack of face to face support.
When the going gets tough, it’s important to take care of your mental health and proactively take steps in creating some #selfcare routines, whether you are working or away from the desk.
In the workplace
If you are still at your workplace, whether you are still going into work or working from home, take time to catch up with co-workers and create a supportive network – chances are that they are too feeling distressed or confused about the current situation.
When you are working long hours and have a lot on your plate, it is easy to fall into a routine of having your lunch break while you get some tasks done.
Not separating your work environment from your break environment can lead to more fatigue in the long run, as your body is not taking essential time to recover. Go for a walk, break out a sweat or sit and meditate or take a breather – whatever you need at that point in time to reset.
In your spare time
It is also important to take small steps to maintain a positive mindset in your daily life, regardless of where you are and what you are doing.
Create a simple routine
Whether it’s merely just getting up a bit earlier to water the plants or starting the day by opening a window, a little routine can ease your mind and help you avoid feeling too overwhelmed.
Take time off your screens
We all want updates on news stories unfolding about the pandemic, but constantly checking social media while stuck at home can just lead to feelings of helplessness. Dedicate a few hours in your day to decreasing your exposure to news and easing into some exercise or mindfulness.
Stay in touch with others
This one is a bit harder to do for some but making the effort to contact friends, family and co-workers for a check-in is a crucial way to set up a virtual support network.
Finally, find meaning in everything that you do
Often, what stresses us the most is when we try to do something, but do not end up anywhere; often resulting in feeling like we are swimming in circles.
Stress also plays a huge role in how we complete our tasks; there is a direct correlation between procrastination and stress known as procrastination accumulation effect, where you end up in an endless cycle of stress from the tasks you’ve left undone. This is what leaves us feeling overwhelmed at times.
Instead, take some time to set small, realistic goals that you can work towards small increments.
Ask yourself why you are doing a certain task and how it contributes to something bigger. Taking some time to gain a little clarity can go a long way in easing everyday stress!
Visit headspace.org.au/ for tips on mindfulness and guided meditation.