Happy New Year! We hope 2022 has been off to a good start. We are into our second winter working virtually and it has made us realize that working from home in the winter can have its challenges; we are spending more time inside due to the cold and the daylight is limited. Because of this, we want to help you through these more difficult times with our top 5 work from home mental health tips, tricks, and resources.
Tip one: Stay Connected
With social distancing and work from home, we have found ourselves isolated more than ever. But it is important to realize that social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Staying connected with our digital tools in ways like a daily phone call or joining an online support group is more important than ever.
We as humans thrive in a supportive, social community. Lack of social connection is linked to low self-esteem, higher suicide rates, and anti-social behaviour. Even a casual friendly hello to a stranger can boost positive feelings and give us a sense of belonging.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness identifies three beneficial elements that having a community provides: belonging, support, and purpose.
Ultimately, people who are connected with friends, family, support groups, and their community usually have lower rates of depression and anxiety, have higher self-esteem and exhibit lower rates of suicide and suicidal behaviours.
Tip Two: Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness can help improve your well-being and quality of life. It can help individuals reduce stress and anxiety, manage symptoms of mental illness and improve physical health. Mindfulness can help us look at our own lives more clearly. It can help develop a different relationship with our experiences and it can give us space to look at problems from all perspectives, without getting tangled in difficult thoughts or feelings that only make us feel worse.
Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways, from formal groups or classes to a short check-in with yourself. Provided are a few mindfulness techniques and exercises you can practice anywhere anytime.
- What is “Mindfulness”
- Body Scan
- Box Breathing
- Breathing Exercise for Panic Attacks – Belly Breathing
- Mindful Breathing Meditation
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Relaxing Mindfulness Lofi Music
Tip Three: Sunshine
One thing that we all struggle to get in the winter, especially in Canada, is sunshine! Getting a good dose of vitamin D is hard to get when the days are short and we spend most of our time inside due to the cold. But giving your skin a healthy dose of the sun’s rays can give us immediate benefits.
It has been proven that mental distress is more common in seasons with less sun exposure and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a result of a decrease in serotonin due to a lack of light. In addition to lower levels of serotonin, sunlight provides our bodies with vitamin D. Luckily, vitamin D can be supplemented orally during the winter months. In addition, a daily dose of intense artificial light can help treat SAD, as well as decrease anxiety and depression that are related to reduced sunlight exposure.
Tip Four: Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Poor sleep can make it much more difficult to cope with even relatively minor stress. Daily hassles can turn into major sources of frustration. You might find yourself feeling frazzled, short-tempered, and frustrated by everyday annoyances. Poor sleep itself can even turn into a source of stress. You might know that you need to get a good night’s sleep, but then find yourself worrying that you won’t be able to fall or stay asleep each night. Luckily, there are many things we can do to improve our quality of sleep.
Waking up and going to bed at the same time each day, even on weekends and holidays, can help improve your quality of sleep and avoid a “jet-lagged” feeling when you have to get up for work Monday morning.
This goes hand in hand with establishing a nightly routine. Stick to a set of habits that help prepare you for rest each night and repeat these routines each night to help set the mood for a solid night’s sleep. During the day we can also implement some routines that help our sleep. Limiting napping, avoiding caffeine and stimulants close to bedtime and turning off your devices at bedtime can all help you relax and settle down for sleep.
Tip Five: Eat Healthy
Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. A healthy, well-balanced diet can help us think clearly and feel more alert.
To boost your mental health, focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables along with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon. Dark green leafy vegetables in particular are brain protective. Nuts, seeds and legumes, such as beans and lentils, are also excellent brain foods. The top foods to incorporate into a healthy mental diet include complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and fatty acids. Additionally, drink plenty of water and try to limit how many high-caffeine or sugary drinks you have.
Check out this link for some healthy recipes to incorporate into your diet that will also help boost your mood!
Extra Mental Health Resources
- Helpful Mental Health Booklet
- Free Online Mental Health Courses
- Toronto Distress Centres: 416 408-4357 or 408-HELP
- Gerstein Centre: 416 929-5200
- The Canada Suicide Prevention Service: Call 1.833.456.4566
This past month, on January 26th, the annual #BellLetsTalk campaign raised awareness for mental health. FCCF participated in this campaign on our social media platforms and covered the campaign on our blog. It’s important to note that mental health is important all year long, and prioritizing your mental health can have a positive impact on both your personal and professional lives.