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Zoe Bickford19 May 2021
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5 ways to look after your mental health and keep your stress levels at bay when you return to work.

Screenshot 2021-05-13 at 10.19.07 As lockdown continues to ease and we’re making our way back to offices, it’s more important than ever to check in on our mental health. Whether you’re returning to the office full time or you’re taking a more gradual approach, we’re all adjusting to a “new normal” which can increase anxiety and stress levels.

This year the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is “Nature.” In Mark Rowland’s latest blog (The Chief Executive of The Mental Health Foundation) he highlights that 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health. It’s no secret that the pandemic forced us all to slow down and appreciate nature much more than many of us ever have. However, now that we’re slowly returning to what life was like before the pandemic, we need to find ways of keeping our stress levels down and our mental health in check. For us that’s making sure that we go for a long walk everyday (usually first thing in the morning) so that we feel refreshed and ready for the day.

Here are 5 ways you can look after your mental health and keep your stress levels at bay when you return to work.

Get outdoors 🌳

  1. Getting outdoors and being in the fresh air can do wonders for your mental health, even if it’s a quick stroll around your local area or watering the plants in your garden if you’re lucky enough to have your own outdoor space. We definitely found during lockdown that our own anxiety around the situation was reduced when we spent time in nature.

Talk to someone 🗣

  1. Feelings of anxiety and depression can be heightened if you don’t speak to anyone about how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling anxious or worried about returning to work, it can help if you speak to a friend, family member or even your boss. By exploring your thoughts and discussing them with someone, hopefully this will help reduce your anxiety and make returning back to the office an enjoyable experience.

Healthy eating 🍏

  1. Having a healthy, balanced diet can significantly improve your mood, help you think clearly and give you more energy. Research has shown that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, eating the right food in the morning can make you feel motivated and energised but if you eat the wrong foods it can leave you tired and starving for your next meal. Cereal for example will quickly raise your blood sugar levels but then you will crash, this can make you feel hungry and tired again shortly after you’ve had breakfast which won’t set you up well for the day. Instead, you could start your day with a breakfast which includes protein, slowly digested carbs, healthy fats and some fruit or veg. For instance, a bowl of porridge oats with a scoop of peanut butter, or scrambled eggs on a wholewheat bagel with a side of sliced avocado. 🥑

Sleep well 💤

  1. Getting a decent amount of nighttime sleep is also really important when it comes to mental health. A good night’s sleep is extremely resporitive for your body, restorative sleep is a combination of light (REM) sleep and deep sleep. Deep sleep occurs within the first third of the night and your REM sleep (lighter sleep) happens towards the end of the night, this means that you’ll need to have between 7-9 hours of sleep a night to benefit from both types of sleep. It’s also good to try and keep to the same bedtime and wake up time each day so that your body clock adapts and is ready to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.

Exercise 🏋️‍♀️

  1. Whether it’s some relaxing yoga before bed, or a high intensity fitness class to kickstart your day, any form of exercise is beneficial to your mental health. Being able to switch off and not think about work or any worries you may have and just free your mind whilst you work out, can be so great for your mental health. At the end of May we are taking part in Walky Talky, a charitable walk on behalf of ReThink Mental Health, we’ll each be walking at least 5K to raise money for this important cause. Anyone can take part in this walk, maybe it’s something that you’d like to do? Here’s the link if you’d like to sign up, you could even encourage your colleagues to join you on your walk: https://bit.ly/3uGzz5O