In the last 2 years, many of us have seen multiple ways of working and changes in practices. Working from home full time, to back into the office and then back to working from home and now many of us doing a form of hybrid working. The Keeping Well NCL hub is here to support you and encourage you to think about your wellbeing during this period of transition. I’m Emily a Keeping Well NCL practitioner. This podcast will be thinking of how I and my team have used the idea of the 5 ways to well-being to manage through this period of transition and how we have incorporated some aspects into our weekly routine. The 5 ways of wellbeing have an evidence base and are used to promote health and wellbeing in public health initiatives and as a health promotion tool.
The first of the ways of wellbeing is being physically active. This was easy for me and has helped me manage working from home and going back into the office. I have always been physically active. Working from home has helped increase my physical activity- as I have been able to go for walks during the day which has acted as natural stress relief and helps me manage my screen time and sitting position. If you struggle to be physically active working from home, you can try to do an online workout, seated workout, or book out time in your diary to increase physical activity. Working in the office may bring in some constraints however you can still be physically active for example by taking stairs, walking some of the way to work. The aim would just be to incorporate it into your day.
Getting out in the day has led me to increase the 2nd way of well-being. Paying attention – which can also be understood as mindfulness. Many people feel that mindfulness is meditation and trying to relax and sit still (Something that I struggle with). But mindfulness is anything that makes you aware of the present moment. For me going on a mindful walk or taking 5- 10 minutes just looking out of the window, has helped me feel present. This awareness has made me take notice of the change of seasons more, and walking around my local area I have paid more attention to things that are going on. A cherry blossom tree that hung onto some of its petals throughout the winter. The sound of my steps and my breath has really helped me be in tune with my body and surroundings. Staying in the moment and trying to avoid my thoughts being distracted has been a helpful addition to my daily routine.
Working from home has been an adjustment and at times was a juggling act between home life and work life, particularly having to be in spaces not meant for work. It also means a loss of connection with others for some people. Feeling connected is the 3rd way of well-being and something that we all need to a greater or lesser degree. At the height of the pandemic some people connected through online platforms, zoom quizzes, and online events. Now with more relaxed covid restrictions and things opened up, feeling connected to friends and family maybe easier. However work maybe a different story, working from home and the commitments you may have mean that all interaction with colleagues is solely focused on work, but when in the office it’s a lot easier to feel connected due to all being in the same environment, and the opportunity to have informal chats are easier. There are ways to manage the best of both situations. As a team, we have found it helpful to set up wellness sessions online which has given us space for non-work conversations, but when in the office, we also make sure there are opportunities for connection.
Learning something new is the fourth way of well-being. It helps increase our self-esteem and build a sense of purpose. Learning something doesn’t have to be related to your role. It can be a new hobby or something outside work that interests you. For me, this has been a new venture as I was given an embroidery kit for Christmas. This has helped me switch off after work and gives me a natural way to de-stress after the commute if I’ve been in the office. As a team we are really curious to know what others have done, what new skills and hobbies have been taken up and what you have noticed this has done for you. For some it may have involved one of the other ways to well-being e.g. starting to go to the gym or taking up cycling and for others it may be that you had more time available to finally start to paint or bake. And if you started something during lockdown that has now got a bit squeezed as the pace of life increases – try and remember what you enjoyed and perhaps make a bit more space to allow you to continue.
Giving is the fifth way to well-being. Working for the NHS and social care, giving to others is a value we live by every day. It gives us a sense of purpose, and we may feel rewarded that we helped someone. But to carry on giving to others on a daily basis we need to think about ourselves. The phrase – help yourself before you help others, reminds us of the importance of looking after ourselves, before doing our job of giving to others. Working from home, we may have the urge to work through our lunch, work late, try and do all the tasks we need to do, but not take time for ourselves. Working in the office we might do the same, eating lunch at desks, working all hours, looking at emails when we get home. For me, the importance of setting a routine, making sure that I have a lunch break and take a break from the computer screen regularly, helps me achieve my role and continue giving to others. Looking at one of the other ways to wellbeing might help you do this. Reminding yourself of what you do that gives you something in return – satisfaction of your achievement if you’ve run a 5k, baking a great cake, reading a novel – the activities and times that refuel you so that you can continue to keep giving to others. Without the fifth way – ensuring that you give to yourself – your ability to continue to provide support for others will be decreased.
Implementing some of these ways to wellbeing may help you as you continue giving to others and also help you navigate and manage changes that are happening. For more information about the 5 ways of wellbeing please visit Nhs.uk and type 5 steps to mental wellbeing in.
Keeping Well NCL is here to support you and your team to and to help you think about your wellbeing. If you would like more details, please visit our website hs.uk or contact us via email at email@example.com