It was the turn of the year when I posted my first-ever blog on the John Taylor Hospice website: ‘Making the choice to make a change’. In my musings, drawing upon years of experience as a nurse and a counsellor, I shared some tips about how to introduce positive changes to our lives and ways to turn good intentions into actions.
In such a short space of time so much has changed for so many of us and change can be difficult – especially when it feels beyond our control. But during this period of uncertainty, as we temporarily adjust to a new rhythm of life, there are many choices that DO remain within our control.
In this blog I’d like to share some advice about how you can keep going with any positive changes you’ve introduced recently and how to instigate some new ones. We’re all in this together and can keep going to achieve our aims, we may just need to adapt how we go about it. In other words: don’t change your goal, change your plan!
For many, basing themselves at home is a new way of working. When home working, it’s important to keep talking and to stay connected with family, friends and work colleagues.
With work colleagues, try not to limit all your interactions to email. We’re sociable beings so why not try a conference call or video chat every now and then? Maybe you could have a virtual lunch or live stream a video briefing to your team? There are many ways that digital resources can help staff working from home to feel included and in contact with their colleagues. Technology can also be used to give staff protected time and a dedicated space to take some time out for their wellbeing.
Try to find the positives in your temporary work situation. Is your pet thrilled to have you at home? Are you saving time and money on commuting? Could you use the time you’d normally spend commuting to catch up with friends on the phone or watch that film you’ve had on your wish list for months? Maybe you could use the travel money you’ve saved to treat yourself or put away in a savings jar for a future holiday?
Although it’s important to stay informed and listen to the news, consuming too much news, and the proliferation of rumour and speculation on social media, can fuel anxiety. Try and stick to credible sources and limit the amount of news you consume in a day. I’ve added some trustworthy links to the resources section of this blog.
Looking after your physical health
It’s important to keep moving, stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet and get a good night’s sleep. You may be thinking: how can I eat a healthy diet when I’m low on food? Or, how can I get a good night’s sleep when I’m anxious? Please take a look at the resources I’ve added including advice from dietitians, the mental health charity Mind and community resources set up to help people who are self-isolating.
And remember, working out doesn’t have to be confined to the gym! There are plenty of exercise videos online and, now the weather’s improving, getting out to do a spot of gardening can do wonders for your mental and physical health.
Stick to a daily routine – or create a new one
Build a structure to your day and, as hard as it can be, try to keep your work life and home life separate. Creating a dedicated workspace, making to do lists, setting real working hours and taking regular breaks can all help to avoid ‘job creep’. Try and keep your bedroom as a space for relaxing and sleeping to keep that work-life divide clear and have a lunch break where you avoid anything work-related! If you’re finding this transition difficult, there are a number of helpful resources online that I’ve included links to below.
Protecting your mental wellbeing
It’s natural to be experiencing worries and anxiety in such an extraordinary time of change and uncertainty. Ensuring your mental health is protected is very important and I hope some of the advice I’ve given in this blog will help to protect your wellbeing. Take time to relax, to rest and to be kind to yourself! Remember, help is out there if you need it and I’ve included some excellent resources below.
I wish for you all to stay safe and healthy during this difficult time.
Official government advice and information
Government guidance: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
Health and Safety Executive: www.hse.gov.uk/news/coronavirus.htm
Public Health England: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england
Dietary advice and guidance
A wealth of advice from The Association of UK Dietitians including how to boost your immune system through your diet and how to make the most of the food you buy: www.bda.uk.com/resource/covid-19-corona-virus-advice-for-the-general-public.html
Healthy eating advice from the British Nutrition Foundation: www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving
Sutton Coldfield Together – a collaboration of organisations and voluntary groups: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/dc589ee55c4a47adbd6f62d4235a0d92
Many Facebook groups have been set up to offer support in local communities. One such group is Sutton Coldfield + surrounding areas helping the community during COVID-19. Search for your local area on www.facebook.com
Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC) will shortly be launching a local support page where you can find voluntary groups who can help in your area: www.bvsc.org/C19SupportBrum
Working from home
The Leapers Little Guide to Working Well from Home: www.leapers.co/resources/little-guides/coronavirus-working-from-home
Some working well at home advice from charity Mental Health at Work: www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/resource/working-well-from-home-under-self-quarantine-for-coronavirus
For mental health and wellbeing advice and support you can contact Birmingham Mind: www.birminghammind.org
This short guide from Mind explores some of the worries and difficulties you might experience due to the coronavirus pandemic: www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/
The Mental Health Foundation has provided advice about how to look after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak: www.mentalhealth.org.uk/toolkit
Coronavirus and isolation: supporting yourself and your colleagues. Visit the toolkit created by Mental Health at Work: www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk
Resources for young people and advice for parents: www.youngminds.org.uk
NHS mental health apps library: www.nhs.uk/apps-library/category/mental-health/
NHS mental health helplines: www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/
Five ways to get moving around the house – ideas from national charity Rethink: www.rethink.org/news-and-stories/blogs/2020/03/five-ways-to-get-moving-around-the-house/
Ten minute home cardio workout: www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/10-minute-home-cardio-workout
Celebrate John Taylor Hospice’s 110th anniversary year by creating a fabric bird to feature in our Fleeting Moments exhibition or asking your children to put pen to paper and enter our poetry competition!
Discover the hidden worlds of national parks with these impressive virtual tours: https://artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/national-parks-service/parks
For as long as schools are closed, kids can stream a collection of stories from desktops, laptops, phones or tablets. Visit https://stories.audible.com/
Listen to live streamed podcasts for free with The Stay at Home Festival: http://cosmicshambles.com/stayathome
Take a virtual tour of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: https://visitbirmingham.com/plan/at-home-in-the-west-midlands/birmingham-museum-and-art-gallery-virtual-tour