Photo by Charles Deluvio
With so many of us working remotely during the pandemic (4 in 10 Canadians according to StatCan), the need for mental health support is essential. Financial uncertainty, volatile job markets, health concerns, it’s a turbulent environment around us. It is becoming vital during these times to be prepared, and to be resourceful in handling the changes and uncertainty ahead.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a program comprising of various skills and awareness, which directly can be transferable to our work at home environment. MHFA is a support system of helping and assisting those going through mental health crises or challenges. The role of the Mental Health First Aider, similar to a physical scenario, is to provide immediate assistance until better resourced and trained care arrives to help.
With remote employment being an isolating experience, not to mention the challenging dynamics of living where your office is, here are a few tips for self-care that can bring a better structure and balance to your current working environment.
Photo Credit: Dane Wetton
In our connected world, it’s essential to have the boundaries of time and space. During covid, with news updates available persistently, our mental health and sense of calm begin being gradually impacted. It’s great to remind ourselves to limit our time spent on news networks, and to actively take breaks from our exposure to instantly available media and coverage. Although it brings us necessary information, it’s essential to navigate and recognize our inner signs of exhaustion, and to be aware when we are overloading ourselves.
A consistent focus on a healthy lifestyle can also maintain our mental health within a much more balanced state. Simple reminders about daily acts of movement or exercise, evening routines, or healthy eating and hydration choices, all combine to create more resilience and needed mental calmness. Helpful movement ideas, such as getting up hourly or finding workout videos online, can noticeably make an impactful difference for our bodies. These building blocks can become the foundation to keeping experiences like anxiety, overwhelm, or stress more avoidable, by improving our physical strength and capacity to adapt.
During our isolated experience of navigating the pandemic, it is very unnatural for us to be this disconnected. That’s why it’s essential to cultivate active steps to recognize when we need to reach out to family and friends, even with nothing to say but, “How are you?” The constant connection and communication can serve as a reminder that this is impermanent, and can be a crucial aspect of mental calmness, and healthy self-care.
When we feel stressed, it’s empowering to remember the impacts and the effect that result in maintaining our healthy patterns. Self-care is about limiting exposure to alcohol, smoking, or heavy caffeine dependence, and seeking other healthier habits and well-being alternatives. Recognizing how stress impacts our psyche allows us to make new choices that are more effective at treating our emotions. Awareness is an integral aspect of mental health, and acting proactively when we sense our stress building inside will help maintain our emotional core during change. Techniques such as journaling, meditation, or just taking small moments to ourselves are all little ways, especially while working remotely, to increase our awareness and self-care.
While working from home it’s very necessary to be taking regular breaks, even if it’s less habitual than usual. A healthy sense of well-being takes small acts such as processing our workday, or enjoying simple moments of relaxation to calm down. The little gaps of quiet and space compile to give our brain and body ease, and to re-establish a sense of lightness, even for a short time. These experiences allow rejuvenation when we need it, and give us the capacity to return to our work more focused and with a clear mind.
The divide of office and home traditionally made it a bit simpler to not carry work back to our families when our day had finished. Currently, remote jobs may pose challenges to separate our office demands from our regular private lives. It’s very beneficial to consciously separate our work challenges and home responsibilities, because in doing so they each co-exist far more peacefully. Additionally, recognize when we need to decompress before transitioning from one to the other, and remember mindfulness – this is a new dynamic for many of us. Little routines such as setting a timer to take breaks or to schedule moments of relaxation are valuable ways to process our daily events of working remotely and shifting between work and family. Understanding and patience are two small acts that will be essential self-care for us in this new environment.
How Self-Care helps others
Wherever we go, we are navigating the emotional health of ourselves and others. Our inner balance has the added benefit to inspire and assist those around us to feel calm and safe. Working from home, we divide our time between coworkers and family who each face their own unique sets of obstacles and unknowns. Recognizing when others may be needing assistance, and sensing what’s appropriate or within our capacity to give, is the beginning of our personal-care stretching beyond us, and benefiting our immediate surroundings. Simply listening to others, or being curious about how people around you are feeling, can offer tremendous value and support. That can bring a feeling of connection that they may genuinely need during that moment. The classic airline analogy of “put your mask on first before helping others” really rings true here – we offer the most assistance when we are in a balanced and secure place ourselves.
Mental Health First Aid Training can be an excellent benefit for our complex world, especially during these times of uncertainty. Pacific First Aid offers a 12 hours course ranging over two days, taking place in East Vancouver. Mental Health First Aid Courses such as these can have immense impact, preparing us for the critical and unexpected moments, where we are needed most.
Self-Care is perhaps more needed than ever these days. It takes new daily habits to integrate, but the benefits of a balanced lifestyle, of assisting those around you, is meaningful. The more people in society with the MHFA toolkit in their skill-sets, the better we can help combat the mental health challenges we face in these difficult times.
Pacific First Aid is a proud Training Partner for the Canadian Red Cross. First Aid Classes have updated to create a blended format, offering some Online First Aid Training, in complement with in person.