Weathering the winter wellbeing storm

The impact of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have seen an increase in mental health issues, with depression a particular problem. Working at home during the winter months presents different challenges to when restrictions were first imposed in March last year and can feel more difficult. Shorter days and grey skies can leave people feeling stuck indoors and suffering from low energy, making it important to focus on self-care.

Here, Dr Noorzaman Rashid, Chief Executive of the CIEHF, and occupational psychologist Dr Roxane L Gervais explain how workers can take care of their wellbeing during the darker months and lift their mood, feelings and fatigue levels. You can also find more advice about working safely from home here.

Get moving
Get outside, if possible while it is light, even if it’s only for 10 to 15 minutes. Get some fresh air, breathe, move your limbs and stretch. You could also consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Remember to move your eyes away from the screen after 20 minutes or so. This will reduce the discomfort, tiredness and headaches due to looking at a screen for long periods. If you are close to a window, look outside.

Healthy habits
Replace some video calls with phone calls so you can move while you talk. Move away from your main workspace after every hour and use this time to stretch and rehydrate. Find out how to set up your workspace so it supports best practice and reduces the likelihood of ill health. Take a lunch break of 30 minutes to one hour and don’t use a mobile device during that time. When remote working, it’s easy to continue to work beyond a set workday. This continues even when you may not be feeling at your best. Take time off if you are ill and speak with your line manager or team leader.

Focus on you
Take time off to rest, recover and focus on you and your loved ones. Make sure that you get an adequate amount of good, restorative sleep to allow you to function more effectively. Try not to keep focusing on one problem, or something that is very distressing. Remember to eat well – good nutrition supports overall wellbeing. Keep and nurture social connections as those are essential for your wellbeing.

Keep laughing
Our top tip is to find ways to laugh – watch a comedy film or your favourite comedian.

Think positively about how and what you will do to improve your wellbeing, your family and your career this year. Create a pattern of activity based on this guidance to make them part and parcel of how you will stay fit mentally and physically over the winter months and beyond.

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