Looking after your wellbeing in testing circumstances

As we come to terms with our brave new world in the sector over the next few days and weeks, our wellbeing has to be the number one priority.

It is the oxygen mask dilemma. We can’t help others at this difficult time if we don’t first make sure that we ourselves are okay.

As we all face difficult economic and financial decisions, you can find some tips to look after your own wellbeing below.

1. Implement Wellness Action Plans (WAPs) in your organisation

Wellness Actions Plans (WAPs) are a fantastic resource from MIND. They’re a practical way to support your own mental health and those of your employees. This will be especially relevant as we start coming to terms with what it’s like to work from home.

WAPs are for everyone, you don’t need to have a mental health problem in order to feel the benefits. It just means that you already have practical steps in place to ensure you are supported when you aren’t feeling great.

Individually it can help us to develop awareness of our stress triggers and responses, and enable us to communicate these to our manager.

MIND have two guides available, both with a WAP template which you can fill in electronically:

The Guide for line managers is for managers or supervisors who are interested in introducing WAPs to their team members

The Guide for employees is for any member of staff who would like to try a WAP for themselves and introduce the idea of using WAPs to their manager or supervisor

Mind’s guidance on WAPs

2. Connect – Networks

Working from home, it’s all the more important to stay connected. Feeling close to, and valued by, other people remains a fundamental human need. This contributes to our functioning well in the world. It’s clear that social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages.

With this in mind, try to do something different today and make a connection.

Call someone via video rather than over the phone.

Introduce daily check-ins with your staff.

Ask how someone really is and listen when they tell you

Networks are a powerful way to develop social relationships.

3. Run a wellbeing session

It’s always important to have things in your diary, even if they’re digital.

A few weeks ago, we ran a wellbeing session in the office where we painted, drew and doodled our way through our lunchbreak.

Why not run a digital wellbeing session where everyone takes the time to stop work and do some drawing?

Other ideas could be running a weekly quiz via Skype or Google Hangouts – we do the Friday Friday Friday quiz every week and will keep doing so.

If you’re feeling stressed, listening to a calming song can take your mind off work for a few minutes and help you unwind and refocus. Research has found slow, quiet music can encourage relaxation and reduce anxiety.

Listen to your favourite song as a simple treat to yourself. Rewarding yourself is a great help for your general wellbeing, giving you some added motivation.

4. Stay active and keep learning

It’s so important to keep active and keep learning to safeguard our own wellbeing at this time.

One of my friends is in lock-down in Spain, but has organised exercise sessions for herself around yoga or walking up and down her stairs.

Books and podcasts are a must too. Continued learning enhances self-esteem and your own personal wellbeing.

Why not start learning something new? You could start learning a new language, set up an online knitting group or book club, or finally learn how to do cryptic crosswords.

5. Give

Volunteering is going to be more important than ever over the coming weeks. Why not reach out to elderly neighbours and see if you can support them in doing their shopping, or having a friendly call.

Participation in social and community life is now commonly discussed in wellbeing research. Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.

You could find your local mutual aid group and see what you can do to support in your local area.

Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.

We need to be kind now more than ever.


Useful Resources from MIND

Mental Health at work

Taking care of yourself

Taking care of your staff

Written in collaboration with Olivia McShane