Time to Mind Your Mental Health
Promoted by Banjo Loans
We are living through one of the greatest global upheavals in decades. The unpredictable and constantly changing scenario created by the coronavirus pandemic has left many people experiencing feelings of anxiety, “adjustment fatigue”, frustration, and even exhaustion.
At Banjo, we’ve seen many small businesses hit hard by the fluctuations in operating rules, particularly in states where there has been a resurgence of the virus and the need for renewed shutdowns. Many advisers to SMEs are small businesses themselves, and on the one hand need to be able to advise their clients on navigating the current circumstances, while on the other they must also manage their own business through it.
Feelings of struggling to cope are common. What’s also common is sweeping those feelings under the rug. In this unpredictable and constantly changing scenario, looking after our mental and physical health is doubly important, and not something that should be put off until we “get around to it”.
I recently spoke with Mark Dean, founder of workplace behaviour change consultants En Masse, who help organisations of all sizes build positive results in areas such as wellbeing, productivity, workplace culture and mental health. According to Mark, ongoing uncertainty and the need to make continual adjustments to our ways of working and living can be energy depletive and have considerable impacts on our mental health.
He says the good news is that the strong established links between good mental and physical health mean that body activity combined with simple, short mental practices can enable all of us to achieve a balanced approach that keeps our whole selves in good working order.
Here are some simple but effective things everyone can do to de-stress and look after themselves:
- Exercise – just 30 minutes per day will help burn off stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) and build positive emotion. This could be as simple as a brisk half hour walk.
- Keep to a healthy, balanced diet. This doesn’t have to mean cutting kilojoules (though that helps) but it does mean having a varied diet with a mixture of fruit, vegies, carbs, protein and fibre. Did you know gut health can also play a significant role in improving mental health?
- Get enough sleep - for most adults this is 7-8 hours per night. Help the process by creating a sleep sanctuary in your bedroom - a cool, dark, uncluttered environment works best. Avoid looking at backlit screens for at least an hour before going to bed, and keep devices out of the bedroom so you’re not tempted to check those messages one more time.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Both can lead to a more restless night, creating further anxiety and exacerbating sleep problems.
- Practice mindfulness with a short meditation. This is becoming widely popular, and there are many free apps that make it easy. It’s a good way to build up your happy neurochemicals, help you to think more logically, and improve your concentration. Just carve out 10 minutes in a quiet spot and tune in to a daily practice.
- Accept the uncomfortable emotions - feelings of anxiety are normal, especially in these times. Talking about your feelings with supportive friends or family members can help you to de-catastrophise and get things in perspective.
- Practice gratitude daily – one simple technique is to make a habit of thinking of three things you’re grateful for, at a particular time each day, such as when brushing your teeth. It could be something significant like your family, or something small, like sharing a joke with a neighbour. This can help build positive emotion, decrease feelings of fear and anxiety and helps build optimism.
- Make an effort to build and enhance your positive, supportive relationships - these are integral to our mental and physical health.
- Adopt a flexible mindset and focus on the learning opportunities that come with challenges. Despite all the downsides, physical distancing measures and high levels of uncertainty can also provide amazing opportunities to learn new skills, adopt healthier lifestyle habits and to become more self-aware in the process.
- Keep things in perspective. Many of us fall into the trap of ‘catastrophising’ situations and start spiralling by imagining all sorts of problems down the track. Ask yourself, am I getting ahead of myself, assuming something bad will happen when I really don’t know the outcome? Is this thing certain to happen or do I just think it might?
- Seek help and advice when you need it from your GP or another qualified health professional.
You may want to share some of these tips with colleagues, employees or even clients to help them to maintain good mental health during the uncertainty and also help create meaningful connections.
After all, we’re all in this together.