If you’re self-employed or working in a small business, time is a precious commodity. In the chaos of the daily grind, you may be wondering where to find time to even think about your wellbeing, let alone develop a plan.
You may be surprised at the number of things you can do that require minimal effort or time to contribute to your wellbeing, simply by taking advantage of the mood boosters that exist in your current environment.
To save you time, we’ve put together a list of easy, proven self-care strategies that you can start acting on today:
There is a growing body of evidence that being in a natural environment can boost your mood and improve your capacity to think more clearly and creatively.
It doesn’t need to be long; even a minute or two can be revitalising.
If you’re in an urban environment, going for a short walk is great for your mind and body. Can you take a ‘walking meeting’? Can you walk to your next appointment?
Take a ‘mindful pause’
If you already work in an outdoor environment, try taking a mindfulness moment to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Take a mindful 30-second pause to feel the sun on your skin or the stability of your feet on the ground. Notice the breeze. Focus on the sounds in your environment. Notice how you’re breathing and the sensation of air filling your nostrils and lungs. Then, slowly, allow yourself to re-engage.
Enhance your surrounds
Have a look at your current work environment. How is the lighting? Are there sounds? Smells? How is the air quality? How physically comfortable are you in your workspace?
Introducing just a few small things that make your work environment more pleasant can improve mood and focus, making you more productive and protecting you from future risk.
Is there access to natural lighting? There are multiple health benefits to having exposure to natural light, including improved sleep, reduced stress response and reduced risk of seasonal depression. If natural light isn’t accessible, consider a light therapy lamp or at the very least, avoid fluorescent lighting.
What music or sounds energise and/or focus you? The health benefits of listening to music are well documented and include reduced anxiety, improved mood and even pain relief. Consider listening to styles or sounds that sit well in the background to allow you to focus on the task at hand.
Are you sitting in one position for prolonged periods? Recent research suggests that sitting for long periods increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Emerging research also suggests there is an increased risk for psychological distress and depression among people who sit more. If your work requires long periods of sitting, try to stand up and/or move around at regular intervals if possible, and consider incorporating a stretching routine into your day.
How green is your space? Indoor plants not only improve the way your workspace looks, but they can also boost air quality, improve your mood and decrease stress hormones.
Are you staying hydrated? Even mild dehydration impacts your mood and ability to think clearly. Chances are, if you’re feeling thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated enough for your cognitive function to be affected. Starting your day with a glass of water and keeping a water bottle handy throughout the day is a simple way to give your mood and overall health, a positive boost.
Are you working in an isolated environment? If so, what can you do today to stay connected? Working solo can sometimes feel like a lonely endeavour, but it doesn’t have to be. Start with your immediate surrounds; you could consider working offsite every now and then, perhaps in a café or co-working space.
Are there professional communities you can tap into or maybe there is someone you look up to who might take on a mentor role (formally or informally)? This would create opportunities for regular meetings or interactions.
This story is sponsored by Ahead for Business. 2020 was one of the most stressful years on record for business owners, their managers, employees and families. If you or someone close to you is experiencing challenging emotions, please visit aheadforbusiness.org.au The site contains practical strategies and tools to assist people to regulate their feelings, and also provides access to a range of mental health resources.
Ahead for Business is an initiative of Everymind and funded by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.
If you are in need of support for your mental health, services are available 24/7:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467