Working from home and self-isolation is now the ‘new normal’ for many and we face a period of uncertainty.
Swapping the office desk for a kitchen table, and face-to-face meetings with video chats has the potential to dampen our moods, making us feel more anxious and tense than ever before.
And whilst ‘me time’ is crucial to give our minds and bodies a rest, when it’s forced upon you, it might not seem so appealing! These 7 expert-approved tips will help keep you calm when everything around you seems so crazy…
Establish calm surroundings
If you’re going to be spending all your time at home, it needs to become somewhere that you’re happy to spend time in.
When the weather permits, open windows for 15 to 20 minutes to remove stale air from inside the home, and allow fresh air in. If you dry your washing indoors, it’s even more important to allow air to circulate and to get rid of damp air. Natural, toxic-free candles can also help to create a calming atmosphere in the home.
Sip on herbs
We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘hug in a mug’ and you won’t be surprised to hear that the simple action of sipping a warm cup of tea can be oh-so-comforting. What’s more if that tea has additional herbs and ingredients to calm you, such as chamomile, lime flower or tulsi, all the better.
“In an office environment, people give themselves time throughout the day to take a tea break, but at home we’re not as likely to do so,” explains Jo Webber, Head of Herbal Education and Ayurvedic Practitioner at organic wellbeing company Pukka Herbs.
“A mug of herbal tea can help to calm a busy mind, particularly if it incorporates well known stress-relieving herbs. One of my favourites is Pukka’s Relax blend, made with chamomile flower to help us unwind, as well as fennel seed and ginger to ease digestion and give anxious tummy’s some respite.”
Exercise at home
Personal Trainer Lucy Gornall says that despite gyms being closed, working out at home is still a great way to get your heart rate up, and clear an anxious mind.
“I recommend a 20-minute-high intensity interval routine”, says Lucy. “Set a timer and work on a 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off set-up. Alternate between squat jumps, burpees, high knees and mountain climbers; you’ll be breaking a sweat in no time. Plus, you can do it in front of the TV!”
For easy-to-follow routines, check out Youtube, which is home to a multitude of workouts from yoga through to high impact exercises.
Psychotherapist Noel McDermott (www.noelmcdermott.net) explains: “The mental health benefits of housework cannot be overplayed. Cleaning and de-cluttering do wonders for your mood. So, when self-isolating, jump to it and get everything done you’ve been putting off in your home.”
Scrubbing the oven, clearing out old clothes and cleaning windows are just three jobs that we often find on that never-ending to-do list…
Put the music on…
“Make some ‘mix tapes’ and get ready for the many parties you are going to throw when you get back to civilian life,” says Noel. “Singing and dancing are great ways to release pent up energy and upbeat music will quickly put a smile on your face.”
Take time to breathe
We often underestimate the importance of breathing, but “practicing mindfulness and meditation may help you manage stress and high blood pressure,” says Jo. “It can also improve sleep quality and enable you to feel more balanced and connected.
“When you’re constantly under stress, your adrenal glands overproduce the hormone cortisol. Overexposure to this hormone can affect the function of your brain, immune system and other organs.”
Not sure how to get started? This simple routine shared by the NHS will help calm the mind in just five minutes:
Find a comfortable position – stood up, sat down, lying back – and place your feet roughly hip-width apart.
Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, gently and regularly. Try counting steadily from 1 to 5 on your breath in. Then, without pausing, let it flow out gently, counting to 5 again. Do this for up to 5 minutes.
You might find that you work and eat from the same table, and actually, with no human connect, find yourself settling down for a day in your dressing gown, with no real motivation to get dressed or even shower. However, going about your normal morning routine – even as so far as setting your alarm- will help you get in the right frame of mind and boost your productivity.
Lucy explains, “Too much ‘downtime’ is not a good thing in times of uncertainty and keeping your usual routines helps us have a sense of control. Wake up and go to bed as usual, eat healthy, manage your work hours and find