It’s no secret that living in today’s day and age can be exhausting, overwhelming and if you’re not careful, can have a negative impact upon your mental health.
Juggling work, home and social life, with the constant ‘noise’ of social media and pressure to keep up with the Insta-perfect lives of others has led to a new conversation about the need for ‘self-care’. Now, with the festive season upon us, and all the mad panics that it can bring, this has never been more apparent.
Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year [Mind]. In England, one in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week. Although it is reported that the overall number of people with mental health problems has not changed significantly in recent years, worries about things like money, jobs and benefits can make it harder for people to cope.
Significantly, according to the Mental Health Foundation, every year in the UK 70 million workdays are lost due to mental illness, including anxiety, depression and stress related conditions. This means mental illness is the leading cause of sickness and absence from work.
So how can ‘self-care’ help tackle this problem? And how practical is it to carve out ‘me time’ when everyone is crying out ‘there just aren’t enough hours in the day!’.
Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of many mental health problems; they may also help prevent some problems from developing or getting worse.
With this is mind, finding a minimum of ten minutes a day where you consciously take a step back from your busy schedule and focus your thoughts on, well you, should be the number one priority on your ‘to do’ list. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup, can you? No balls will get dropped if you do this, but the argument is that this self-care time will enable you to re-set and re-charge. This, in turn, allows you to better deal with whatever life throws at you, be it a screaming toddler or a stressful working day – a pretty sensible philosophy!
An increasingly popular self-care practice comes in the form of mini-meditations which involve being mindful. Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as: “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”. It is also described by Psychology Today blogger Melanie Greenburg in The Stress-Proof Brain as: “an open, compassionate attitude toward your inner experience”.
Traditional meditation typically necessitates the individual to sit quietly for a significant period of time, focusing on the breath or another object of contemplation. Mini meditations, or mindfulness meditation involves individuals noticing any upsetting thoughts, sensations and rather than letting them interfere with one’s ‘mojo’ they acknowledge them, let them pass by and return to paying attention to the breath.
Numerous studies point towards the benefits of mindfulness meditation on heart health, mental health, the immune system, stress levels, blood pressure – the list goes on. A 2016 study by Harvard Medical School actually indicated that meditation could be just as beneficial as a holiday, but with lasting effects – what’s not to like about that?
There is a plethora of different ways to practise self-care, some aimed at the mind, like meditation, others the body. In the end what works will be individual to you. Here are five simple tips handpicked from Tiny Budda to give you an idea of how self-care can be implemented:
- Scratch off a lurker on your to-do list, something that’s been there for ages and you’ll never do.
- Fix a small annoyance at home that’s been nagging you—a button lost, a drawer that’s stuck, a light bulb that’s gone.
- Have a self-date.Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you (reading, your hobby, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.)
- Unplug for an hour.Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant bings of social media and email. Take it one step further and challenge yourself to not look at social media for five days – Monday to Friday – and see how this can positively impact your mood. We promise you will survive!
- Make one small change to your diet for the week.Drink an extra glass of water each day, or have an extra portion of veggies each meal.
So, if you’re struggling this festive season – the presents aren’t wrapped, children are running amok, you’ve still got that pressing work deadline – take a deep breath, quite literally, go to a quiet place and indulge in a festive treat. Why? Because this time for you matters. You matter.
The Tonic Communications offers flexible working practices to help give employees a good work/life balance to ensure the team’s wellbeing.
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