Reach Your Potential – Part 2
Posted by: Paddy Gallagher, Reach Your Potential
How can we maintain a healthy work-life balance?
Separate your work and home life – if you work from home, separate your work life to an office or one room of the house. Give yourself deadlines to complete work and get on with your personal life. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, however it’s a healthy boundary to have and a great way to start a healthy work-life balance.
“Leave work at work”
Exercise – this can be a great way to let go of the day-to-day work stresses. I find exercise helps me to be more productive, as it increases motivation levels. When we exercise we tap into our endorphins and this gives us the feel good factor.
Find ways to switch off and unplug – stop checking emails! Technology has massively improved our work life in many ways, however there’s an expectation that you’re always available. Please switch off the laptops and smartphones and just enjoy the moment (even if it’s only for a short period of time). You can only truly enjoy the present moment when you put these wonderful devices down.
Mindfulness – small mindfulness exercises are a great way to focus on self-care, as it’s easy feel overworked or pushed for time. I suggest throughout the day, try some deep breathing exercises as this will help to calm your central nervous system which over time will help you respond differently to stress. When we focus our attention on the breath it helps to give clarity within our thoughts, inhale and exhale for the count of ten.
Sensory meditation – these techniques are a great way to ground yourself within the day. Start to take notice of your present environment, do this by becoming aware of your senses using sight, sound, smell and touch.
Any tips on things our readers can do to look after their mental health?
Talk about it – our mental health often comes second to our physical health; we tend to seek support and advice when we have a physical health concern. Good mental health all starts with being able to talk about how you’re feeling, talking about your problems can take the power out of them and gives you a chance to hear it out loud, which can give you a different perspective.
Introduce and maintain a balanced diet – healthy eating can help both your mental and physical health. A balanced diet is essential to our moods and our energy levels. I always suggest eating three meals a day with a good mixture of fruit and vegetables (NHS 5 portions a day is a good guide), nuts and seeds, oily fish, cereals and wholemeal breads. Avoid too much sugary, salty, caffeine and alcohol products. Please do consult a dietitian or GP if you are concerned about your mental health and food intake.
Take a break – give yourself some ‘me time’. This could be taking a quick pause throughout the day to sit quietly and just relax. If you’re feeling tired give yourself time to rest and sleep, this will help with concentration levels and overall mental health. Also, a change of environment can do wonders, maybe a day trip out with your friends or a relaxing holiday.
Find a hobby – do something you’re good at! I rediscovered my love for running in my early 30’s which has helped me with my mental, emotional and physical well-being. Enjoying yourself is a great stress buster and helps you focus your mind on something you like doing. It could be anything from gardening, to learning to play an instrument. This will be a great confidence booster!
Yoga and meditation – these are both shown to improve our mental health by lowering stress levels and anxiety. One study which followed participants on a three month retreat stated:
“Participants in the study experienced increases in the so-called cortisol awakening response (CAR). CAR is a measure of how and when the body releases the stress hormone cortisol. This is one way to measure resilience to stress.”
So, I suggest checking out a local yoga class – great for mind, body and spirit.
What advice would you give to someone who’s struggling to stay positive during the recovery process?
The road to recovery is personal for everyone and Reach Your Potential understands the road is not always straight forward. During your recovery journey you’re likely to feel frustrated, angry, upset and impatient (plus many more emotions) as you’ll be experiencing a loss of how life was before your injury. This is completely normal, so you must not be hard on yourself. If you do, this may lead to isolation which can lead you to a more negative place.
It’s important to keep your mind as positive as you can, this will help the body to heal and empower you to get to a place of acceptance. I suggest to my clients to use positive affirmations as part of the recovery journey. Positive affirmations are statements which will focus the mind and thoughts on what is good about your recovery. You can say two or three positive statements everyday, such as:
“My body is healing and becoming stronger every day”
“I allow my body the time to rest”
“Gratitude and peace flow through my mind and body”
Affirmations take practice and may feel awkward or uncomfortable to begin with, however commit to them as they are a great way to remain positive.
If you’re experiencing a mental health or emotional difficulty please do seek support, via a friend, family member, therapist or support group. MIND is a national mental health charity, you can contact them on 0800 068 4141. Reach Your Potential Therapeutic services in Yorkshire supports people with mental and emotional support. You can find them on Facebook or call 07825711140.
If you missed part one of the interview, find it here.