In these challenging times, we know that mental health matters now more than ever. As we mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, some of Team Social share the little things that have supported their mental wellbeing during lockdown.
We moved to our new home in July last year, one of the main reasons for moving was to have more outdoor space. We knew it was going to be more work but that was OK because it gave our son Jacob an amazing place to grow up. But the garden has become much more than that, especially in the last 9/10 weeks.
It’s a place we are able to enjoy as a family – especially as we have been having so much good weather! Listening to the birds sing (I’ve had several comments on teams calls about how loud they are!) and watching the bluetits coming and going from the nesting box allows you to slow your mind down, think more clearly and appreciate the beauty of nature.
We’ve created a little veg plot to grow as much of our own veg as we can. It’s amazing how easy and quickly you can get things to grow from seeds – everyday something new has germinated. I’ve found it a fantastic way to switch off from the current situation, get away from it all and have some mindfulness time. It can be strenuous work at times as well so helps to keep physically active as well.
I’ve been so grateful for the flexibility at Social to be able to completely change my working hours to allow more free time during the day to juggle home-schooling the kids and work. I honestly don’t think we’d be able to manage the day to day lockdown life without this support!
One of the most important things for your mental wellbeing in the current climate is to keep up a routine and get some exercise. Prior to lockdown I would cycle 26 miles each day as part of my return commute to our Manchester office and normally head off to the climbing gym for a few sessions each week. I always have to fight the urge to simply not bother with exercise each day.
There are a lot of things we can’t control during this crisis so we need to focus on things that we can to get through it. For me that means getting up before work each day to do a strength exercise session and going for a bike ride in the evening.
With the current good weather expected to last into the coming weeks, it’s the perfect time to get out on your bike and give cycling a chance. Find 30 minutes in your day to go and you will be surprised how much better you feel when you get back after a short ride. If you are missing going to the gym, just start with sit ups and pushups and work up from there – the important thing is to commit to something each day and you won’t regret it!
The ability to successfully “switch off” plays a huge part in good mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that workwise, I’m busier than ever and it’s been a very hectic and often stressful couple of months! This month Social gave everybody in the business an additional day’s leave, to make sure we all take a decent break away from our (in my case, makeshift) desks. I so appreciate this gesture, and I used my extra day last Friday and took my dog Tilly for a gorgeous 6 mile walk. The extra day, and consequently three day weekend, made sure I returned to work on Monday refreshed and well rested!
Lockdown has been pretty taxing for everyone whether you have been someone who has struggled with it for years or someone who has never experienced it, but for me it has also been an opportunity for a fresh slate to get my mind in check and remember what is important, like family, friends and not unnecessary purchases. I have re-ignited my passion for cooking and baking and have been dipping my toe in the more elaborate recipes I wouldn’t normally have time to explore.
I have also found it helpful having a cuppa’ via Teams with some of my much missed colleagues who I would usually get to natter with on a daily basis, it is so important to break up your day with non-work related topics and activities to keep yourself going!
I grew up on a flower farm in the South West of the UK, so horticulture has played an important part in my upbringing, and one which has made an unexpected but welcome return during lockdown. Some of my earliest childhood memories were planting out Broad Beans, or catching freshly ripened strawberries before the blackbirds did, in our little plot at the bottom of the garden, with my Grandad. My parents also branched out one year into growing tomatoes, which filled our polytunnel with the most intense and refreshing smell during the summer months, so they provide a great sounding board for advice and tips.
Early on in lockdown, one of the first things I did was to secure some seeds and garden supplies. I recognise how incredibly lucky we are to have any outdoor space, so I repurposed our back yard into a mini-veg growing plot. We don’t have the time or resources to create good quality soil, so I’ve used homemade planters, pots and growbags to start growing courgettes, runner beans, peas, spinach and lettuce.
Tending to my veg plot has been a great way to stay mentally active. I have been known to take work calls with watering can in hand, and I find that spending some time out there away from a screen both gets me up out of the chair and active, but also provides some structure to the day. The temptation is to always be checking phones or in front of a screen, but in truth, our downtime is equally important in ensuring we’re doing our jobs well.