In a professional world that is becoming increasingly more divergent with regards to the simple things, such as age, sex, training, experience and ability; and now, in a post-covid world, where we actually work from in the first place, the one thing that actually unites us all is our mental health.
Physical wellbeing has long been entrenched as a staple of a ‘healthy life’, but the condition of how we feel mentally has only recently been placed into the spotlight with regards to our overall wellbeing. The fact of the matter is that your mental health isn’t just as important as your physical health, but more so.
In this blog, we’ll be looking at four things that you should focus on in your everyday life to help you manage your psychological health, which in turn will help with not only a productive working behaviour, but a happier life overall.
1. Connect With Other People
(As a quick and important note, this absolutely does not mean social media! An entire piece in itself, and a thousand more, could be written on why the likes of Facebook, Instagram etc. have the entirely opposite effect of what we’re aiming to achieve with regards to your mental health.)
In 2009, a scientific study of 300 participants regarding the impact of social relationships on health discovered that the individuals with the fewest social ties were the most likely to suffer from not only heart disease, but most relevant to this blog, anxiety and depression. This is not by any means the only study to come to the conclusion that social contact is invaluable to our mental health.
Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK, agrees, and says that having a healthy, positive relationship with friends is an important factor when it comes to maintaining our emotional wellbeing.
“Friendships teach us lots of things, including acceptance, trust and gratefulness. A good friend accepts you the way you are, no matter what. Being thankful for the support your friend has given you can teach us about gratefulness, and how important it is to feel appreciated. We often talk to our friends about sensitive issues we may not feel comfortable talking to anyone else about.”
This stands equally as pertinent with regards to colleagues in the workplace. Maintaining healthy ties with the people you work with is tantamount to your ongoing psychological wellbeing, something we’ve touched upon in our recent blog regarding why we believe in the importance of returning to the office, wherever possible.
2. Physical Fitness
Physical fitness and activity is not only good for your body, it’s also incredibly good for your mind. Being active releases important chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain that make you feel good, boosting your self-esteem and helping you concentrate, as well as the very important matter of helping you to sleep well.
Being active doesn’t mean taking out an expensive gym membership, or running a half-marathon. Finding an activity you enjoy, for us it’s riding a bike, can give you a goal to aim for and a sense of purpose. It can also be a great way to meet people (see above), have a break from daily life and gain confidence.
Other benefits include:
- less tension, stress and mental fatigue
- a natural energy boost
- a sense of achievement
- more focus and motivation
- feeling less angry or frustrated
- a healthy appetite
- having fun.
It’s even better if you’re able to exercise outdoors. Research shows that being in nature can have a huge, positive impact on our mental health, feel our lives are more worthwhile, and reduce our levels of depression and anxiety. Nature doesn’t have to mean forests or national parks either; walking to a local park, visiting a friend’s garden or simply noticing trees and flowers planted by the roadside can actually boost your mental wellbeing.
At Fenham Hall Studios we’re very lucky to have beautiful gardens to experience, whatever the weather, and we find it of great benefit to be able to get out and have a walk around, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes a day.
3. Learning New Skills
Research suggests that adults need to keep their minds active, especially as they grow older. In fact, learning a mentally demanding skill can improve cognitive functioning (and even slow down aging). Neurologists have said that learning a new skill changes the physical structures of the brain and that by stimulating neurons in the brain, more neural pathways are formed; the more pathways that are formed, the faster impulses can travel. As a result, a healthy and active brain ensures the easiest path to good mental health, it helps you gain a new perspective on the world around you and trains your brain to handle a wide range of challenges.
In addition to the biological benefits of learning new skills, you can add the more traditional aspects of increased self-worth, sense of achievement and increased confidence to the list. But, please bear in mind this in no way should force you into taking exams, or pursuing qualifications in things that don’t interest you or make you feel some sense of enjoyment, as that will only serve to have the opposite effect than what is desired.
Here’s some tips to get yourself trying something new:
- Try learning to cook something new.
- Try taking on a new responsibility at work, such as mentoring a junior staff member or improving your presentation skills.
- Work on a DIY project, such as fixing a broken bike, garden gate or something bigger. There are lots of free video tutorials online.
- Consider signing up for a course at a local college. You could try learning a new language or a practical skill such as plumbing.
- Try new hobbies that challenge you, such as writing a blog, taking up a new sport or learning to paint.
4. Attention to the ‘moment’ or ‘Mindfulness’
Mindfulness. Seems like a pretty straightforward word, it suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. It may seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we so often veer from the matter at hand. Our mind drifts, losing touch with the moment and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened, has happened a long time ago, or conversely fretting about the future and what may come, which inevitably makes us anxious.
An exercise in Zen Buddism is to fear ego (good and bad), as an over acceptance or acknowledgement of past achievement, or over focussing on potential future failures or successes results in an unstable consciousness and as consciousness exists in the moment, ego leads to an unstable present existence. To put it more simply, concentrate on what you’re doing now, focus on the simple act of living and eventually the complexities of past and future look after themselves.
Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Here’s some simple tips to get you started:
- Observe your breathing. Take a few minutes from your day to focus on your breathing.
- Go for a nature walk and instead of focussing on through, focus on the world around you.
- Take mini breaks throughout the day, to read a book or prepare food.
- Avoid doing too many things at once, lack of focus leads to a lack of concentration on the necessary, which will lead to anxiety of what isn’t being achieved as opposed to satisfaction in what is.
One of the things we’re most proud of at Fenham Hall Studios is that due to the environment and overall design as a workplace we can offer the opportunity to explore all of these things during your everyday working life. So, if you’re looking to relocate your business to somewhere that can help you and your staff build good mental health please get in touch. Details below:-