Preparing and Maintaining Mental Health When Returning to Work and Normal Life
by Dave Knight
What would it mean to you if you realised that you have everything inside of you to maintain your mental health, particularly at this time as we seem to be gradually moving out of lockdown back into normal life?
In the conversations I have when serving my clients as a life coach, I help them to realise their innate abilities and the level of control that they actually have over their life experience. With that, I’d like to share some tips with you shortly that help you to tap into those innate abilities, to help either yourself or someone you may know to do the same.
Even though this period in lockdown has been a challenge in one way or another for most people, I’ve come across some people who have seen it as an opportunity to review many aspects of their life. I personally have. For example, through considering our wants and don’t wants in life; what matters and what doesn’t matter to us; what we have control over and what we don’t; what we would like to spend more and less time doing. Not to mention asking ourselves – what can we do to maintain our mental health from this point onwards?
I wonder if this sounds familiar to you?
One particular thing has really been highlighted for me personally during this period is what we do and don’t have control over. For example, we can’t control what curveballs life throws our way. However, we do have more control than we often give ourselves credit for with regards to our own experience in relation to those events and in turn, how we can keep on the path that we want to in order to maintain our mental health.
Here are some tips that I’d like to offer following my own personal insights, as well as through serving clients to maintain their own mental health:
Tip #1: Recognise that you are, always have been, and always will be, No.1
As lockdown has shown, when chaos and life curveballs are thrown at us, we will always have us. That is the one constant that we always have. We’ve always had this ability to adapt, evolve and embrace change far more than we give ourselves credit for. Treating ourselves kindly is the foundation for everything else.
Tip #2: Consider kindness to always matter
You may remember the theme of Mental Health Awareness week this year was Kindness. The theme of kindness can always be there in our lives.
So, with Tip #1 taken care of, the more capacity we are likely to feel we have for being kind and making time for others; either supporting them in some way, being helpful or just generally enjoying our time more with whoever we are with. I’ve often considered, if we all had the capacity to be able to think of someone else, what an amazing world we would live in.
Tip #3: Start and maintain routines
The enforced changes in our life patterns has provided an opportunity to consider what Routines we can build in our lives. It’s a moment to consider how we might want to do things differently and with that, perhaps we can see that these opportunities are always there, using the 4 R’s:
What is really important to us? How do we want to live? ‘What do we want?’ If we’re unsure about that, that is fine of course. Perhaps, alternatively we could start with ‘What don’t we want?’
Recharge the batteries
Acknowledge having ‘me time’ on a daily, weekly or monthly basis is a key part of our routine to maintain our own health and wellbeing in our lives going forward.
Act on it. What is the first thing or what is most important to you to keep on doing? Then, how can you plan to build this in to your lifestyle consistently as an ‘it’s just what I do’ kind of activity.
This is very much part of making ourselves more accountable for the path that we take following lockdown. When are we going to check-in on ourselves next time? Could we tell someone about our plan who we consider will hold us to account also?
Tip #4: Chart your Daily Settler markers to maintain your mental health at work and in normal life
My clients love doing this and this is very personal to you, of course, as what works for you may not work or be important to me or someone else and vice versa. Using No. 1-3 to be your guide, what do you feel that you need to do each day to keep yourself on track? Examples of our Daily Settler markers might be:
- Have X amount hours of sleep
- Don’t bring work pressures home with you
- Ensure you have X amount of time for lunch
- Speak to someone in particular
- Exercise for X amount of minutes per day
I always remind my clients that it’s not the act of performing our routines and behaviours that keeps our mental health maintained. However, just by having pleasurable or enjoyable moments; a period of ‘me-time’ and those times of kindness built-in to ‘it’s just what we do’, we are more likely to have good mental health.
This is because we have less thinking to do; there is less procrastination and less chance of our motivation to engage in those activities dwindling.
I’d love to hear if you’ve been able to give this a try and how much more equipped you feel to manage yourself against those life challenges when they are presented to us.
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