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BEST FOOT FORWARD

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- by Juliet Wheater

 

Self-care can include a myriad of practices that an individual finds both enjoyable and in some way promotes physical, emotional, spiritual and/or mental health. According to the definition from the World Health Organisation, self-care is the behaviours you do to take care of your own health and can include hygiene, nutrition, leisure activities, sports, exercise, seeking professional healthcare services when needed, and much more.

During a global pandemic, the need to care for our own health, every aspect of it, is of the utmost importance, as we currently emerge from such unusual circumstances and look to navigate a new normal, is not easy.

Returning to work 

Our working lives were changed enormously or indeed, came to a complete standstill, when lockdown was imposed and as it eases, our working lives will change again and there will be mixed feelings about this. 

Some people may feel a sense of excitement, whilst others approach the return to work, with trepidation. Anxiety levels may not diminish right away, as we adhere to social distancing rules, in a workplace that could look quite different and those on furlough, may feel awkward as they work to reconnect with colleagues again. 

If you are a manager, take time to check in with your teams, make enquiries and try to gauge, each individual’s experience of lockdown and how their mental health may have been affected. Remember too, that the ramifications of prolonged stress may well only be realised, after a period of time has passed and that it can be realised physically, mentally or emotionally. 

Establish a routine 

A structured day can be a feel-good way, to feel in control and daily self-care habits, are never more important than now. 

You’ll feel the benefits if you can wake each day at the same time and eat a nutritious breakfast to see you through until lunch. During the working day, set clear tasks and take regular breaks, enjoy a proper lunch break and try and get some natural light safely. Benefit from some light exercise by going for a walk if possible, perhaps with a socially distanced colleague and finish on time, ready for a relaxing evening. 

If a new starter joins your team during this period, acknowledge that they’re not starting under usual or ideal circumstances. Consider daily mindfulness practises for the team. We all have mental health, and whatever our circumstance, this outbreak is going to have an impact on how we think and feel about ourselves and the world we live in and it’s important that we preserve the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of work wherever we can.   

There is a lot of talk of physical vulnerabilities in relation to the coronavirus. But senior managers will feel vulnerable too in demonstrating leadership in unusual circumstances. You may provide access to support services through your workplace - if you do, make sure these are advertised well and find out whether there are specific resources relating to the outbreak.   

If you have mental health champions, allies or mental health first aiders make sure they have the latest information, and that if you change working practices that this network of mental health support carries on if possible.

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Sunday, 25 October 2020