Earlier in 2020, there was an inflection point when we all shifted from a mindset of “I just gotta get through this” to “This is my new reality. What can I do to maintain my mental wellbeing?”
We all reached this frame of mind at different times, particularly when we each individually moved up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from the bottom two rungs to the top three. Or whenever we decided to stop hoarding toilet paper and canned food— whichever came first.
Being “OK” in the madness of 2020 involves taking care of yourself mentally and physically. We all know this is important, but why? AND HOW?
With work, I’m all about maximizing my productivity and making every minute count. But when it comes to taking care of myself physically, I’m the worst. While I watch others running 10 miles a day, you will catch me and my sweet tooth scooping ice-cream into coffee when I run out of oat milk. I’m not one to workout. In fact, I have always hated it. While I may not be the best example when it comes to physical wellbeing, I’m an honest one! And if I can work in a few small ways to take care of myself, then you can too.
Take a moment to breathe
Do you have 30-seconds to spare? Damn right you do… you are reading this blog post. I encourage you to take a break from reading after this paragraph. Set a 30-second timer on your phone, put yourself in a comfortable position, let your hands drop naturally, and breathe in and out— deeply and slowly.
Don’t you feel better? That’s because you just shifted your body closer to its “rest and digest (R&D)” mode and away from “fight or flight” mode. In R&D mode, your body is able to focus better, since you are supplying your brain with the necessary oxygen to work optimally. Apple Watch has a built in app to remind you to breathe, or you can check out Headspace, which has a section specifically for work.
Encourage yourself with repetition
Repetition is powerful. Just think about all of the actions/words that you repeat on a daily basis: inputting passwords, looking at your homescreen, texting loved ones, etc. These tiny things really add up toward maintaining mental wellbeing.
A month ago, I switched my passwords to be encouraging.
Obviously, I’m not going to share what they are with you (duh!), but sometimes it is nice to type something like “YouMakeYourOwnLuck47” instead of your standard run-of-the-mill password. Think about what you need to hear often— affirmations, a mantra, whatever. Typing it regularly will help train your brain to believe it.
Do what you can stick to
Do I wish I loved jogging and yoga? Definitely.
Am I going to wake up one day and do one of these? Yes. Maybe!
Everyday? Hell no.
But you know what I can do everyday? Walk.
Sometimes it’s more important to do something consistently rather than your ultimate goal sparingly. I try not to beat myself up about not doing more, and instead concentrate on the things I can do. If you do something for 21 days consistently, it becomes a habit.
What is something tiny that you can commit to every day?
Here are some ideas:
- — Take 5 minutes to have your coffee in silence before starting your day of meetings
- — Before you go to sleep, read a few pages of a book
- — Reconnect with a different friend each day through text. They’ve been in your phone for 10 years, so you may as well!
Double up on good vibes
Grab a friend
My husband and I have been really strapped for time lately. Though we are working and living in the same house it is hard to catch any time to just be us without distractions. We decided to start taking morning walks together so we can encourage each other to be more active, and have some time to just talk.
I had a workout coach that told me she lost 30 lbs just dancing while she did chores. Since then, I’ve been trying to find productive ways to stay active and maintain my mental wellbeing. My favorite productive workout is gardening. You can easily get plenty of squats, lunges while gardening, and if you are lifting, your shoulders and arms can get in on the action too.
Focus on the things that you can change
We are all in different situations— some of us feel comfortable and in-control and some of us (probably most) feel completely out of control. It is painful to watch the news, provide and care for your close family, and stay in touch with the rest of your family and friends, meanwhile staying productive in your day-to-day.
Wherever and whoever you are, there are things within and outside of your control. Check out this article on Toptal for some simple things to better your remote work experience.
One of the most helpful books I’ve read for my own mental wellbeing has been The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. I’m the type of person who cares too much about most things, and whenever someone asks me to do something I tend to go way too overboard. In the past few years, I reached a breaking point of what I could care about. Mark Manson helped me reframe my brain to focus on what really matters to me and only truly stress about the things within my own control. So now, instead of watching 40 documentaries on animal welfare and beating myself up about using chicken broth in a soup, I choose to reduce my meat intake to 1-2 days a week. That is the level of f*cks that I can give and still maintain my own sanity.
See, all it takes is a few steps here and there to do what you can to destress and not burn out.
Luckily, we have others on the Hardly team that are way better at taking care of themselves than me.
Let us know what you do to not burn out!