We all seek to improve our wellbeing. This may be intentional or inadvertent. We may feel tired so go to bed – this is looking after our wellbeing equally as much as someone who isn’t necessarily tired but knows they need 7-9 hours. Our ability to thrive in the modern world depends on our ability to be well. Both physical and mental health are important to remaining productive and functioning. It could be about simply losing weight. It could be for other health reasons, for example I suffer from Sleep Apnoea. One way or another we seek to look after ourselves. Over the last year I have really focused more on my own wellbeing (and with lockdown oddly given more opportunity to build into my daily regime). I have reflected below on some of the key areas I have used to improved my own wellbeing:
- Rest is important. Full stop. We tell our children when young that they must go to bed – it’s the time to recharge, to repair and to grow. Yet as adults we quickly sacrifice sleep. Our overall wellbeing depends on rest. We need it to manage the demands of life, more than ever. There are multiple factors that can impact our sleep but I have found some of the following really helps me achieve good rest.
- They say as an adult you should seek to get 7 to 9 hours sleep a night. I seriously bow my head to people who get 9! I have built myself up to a steady 7 hours a night since March 2020 and I feel better for it and more importantly my body does. A routine certainly helps.
- Coupled with this is eating at a sensible time as well. I used to eat when Kate got home from work which could be as late as 10pm. We now eat earlier and if Kate is late she has a supply at work to make sure she eats too.
- I can’t say I notice a difference between if I drink before bed or not (whether coffee or alcohol) but I know for some it does make a difference. Do what works for you.
- Lastly I read before bed. Usually 20-30 minutes to really try and clear my mind and helps avoid blue lights!
- As well as rest though we should stay active. Not just physically but also mentally. By increasing our activity we increase serotonin in the body, ultimately helping to lift our mood, increase our energy levels and motivation. Sounds like a good way to start the day. How do you find the time though? To me it is building into the day so it doesn’t feel like I need to find the time:
- Standing rather than sitting increases our activity level. I alternate between sitting at my desk in the morning and standing in the afternoon.
- Take short walks around the house. Do while on a call even.
- Think about could you hold team meetings on the move? Grab some fresh air while joining a call can be a great way to multi-task (and maybe show the team some of the outside world).
- Lastly though think about your priorities. Some activity may help with energy levels to complete work so starting the day or having a lunch time activity boost may just be what you need.
- Giving back in our own special way. Deep down we all love to give back. This could be as part of a group or individual contribution (like shopping for a neighbour). We often cut these activities if times are busy – I know I have in the past. There is an increase in personal satisfaction by taking part in these activities which naturally has a positive benefit. It is varied what we can do:
- Become a volunteer supporting your local community. Now more than ever people need support so check what is going on and link to your own skills. A community garden, tidying the streets or joining a school Board could be worthwhile investments of time.
- Helping neighbours and others on your street. It could be shopping or with the current weather clearing a drive/road to make it safe.
- Doing something you will enjoy or you will learn from, and ideally both!
- The usual impact on wellbeing (or least for me) is the feeling of being under pressure. This year has certainly made that feeling always be somewhere in the background – with schooling, work and generally supporting my family and friends. In life we need some pressure- but the optimum word is “some”. We have compartments of life and can look at each individually however we also need a holistic view – if each compartment changes/takes on additional elements at once then the combination can be highly pressured.
- A clear first step is taking a look at what we need to versus what we want to do. Is there anything we can remove from the days to-do list that eases the pressure. Sometimes I find asking Kate helps me focus – it can feel like everything needs to be done, but in reality it’s unlikely.
- The points highlighted above will also help us manage pressure better. A well rested individual for example will have more clarity and focus for the day at hand.
- A pause during the day to reflect and take a breather I find also helps focus the mind. Using the Headspace App has really helped me in this manor BUT we each will find our own way.
I think above all a key point is that we are not alone and social contact and interaction throughout our days is key. These can be personal or professional contacts. Think about calling a friend – checking in and sharing what you are up to. You can at the moment walk with another person so a perfect opportunity to catch up and share.
Now more than ever we need to look after ourselves. We need to take the time, or more MAKE the time as we are no use to others if we don’t look after ourselves. As human beings, people love doing stuff. We go to work, have hobbies, socialise and become adept multi-taskers trying to fit everything into the day. So why not make some of that time to do something for yourself.