Switching Off and Sleeping Well
Nowadays, we are used to our lives being busy and our minds being constantly on the go. Taking some time to ‘switch off’ and relax is vital to allow both our mind and body to have a break from the pressures of everyday life. Too much work and not enough relaxation time can lead to mental health problems, including anxiety or depression, and can cause existing conditions to be made worse.
The following information should help you to ensure that you are taking regular breaks throughout your working day, following best working practice advice, and remembering to take time out for yourself to relax.
Take a Break
Sitting for long periods can impact your physical, physiological and mental wellbeing. Taking regular breaks (micro breaks of 2-5 mins) at least every hour, if not every half an hour and stretching out can help counteract the impacts of prolonged sedentary behaviour. See our guidance on stretching for further information and guidance on the importance of regular breaks and stretching.
Taking regular breaks is also vitally important for our concentration and productivity levels. Try having a break away from your screen at least once an hour, separating a task into manageable chunks, and having a quick catch up with colleagues about non-work-related topics, as these should all help to protect you from fatigue and allow you to work efficiently.
Managing Your Workload
Although we cannot always control our workload, we can take steps to keep on top of things at work. Ensuring we look after our wellbeing by following the best practice guidance is important to keep the balance between maintaining our productivity levels, whilst also maintaining our health and wellbeing. See our guidance on burnout, bring your own device best practice and dealing with email overload for further information.
Take a Breath
It may sound simple, something as adults we do roughly between 17,280 to 23,040 times a day. However, conscious or ‘controlled’ breathing is a powerful tool to help bring our focus back to the moment, take a few steps back and try and calm ourselves. Just a short round of 3 or so minutes can bring instant relief; whether dealing with stress, distress, anger, anxiety, panic or you’re just not feeling right.
When we are feeling any of the above, our body snaps into ‘fight or flight’ mode. Among other reactions such as increased heart rate and blood pressure - our breath becomes shallower and faster. This ‘fight or flight’ mode can be triggered by anything we perceive as a threat (whether we realise or not); be it an external factor such as another person or event, or internal factor such as our thoughts or feelings.
Focusing on your breath can help to slow everything down, it brings your thoughts to fact (your body) and not fiction (thoughts) and breaks the feedback loop to the ‘fight or flight’ mode, triggering the ‘rest and digest’ mode. Your blood pressure reduces, your heart rate slows, and you start to feel more in control. Enabling you to respond to the external issue or control your thoughts.
Here are a couple of simple breathing exercises you can try:
- Mindfulness Meditation 3 Minute Breathing Space
- Square Breathing Technique
- Alternate Nostril Breathing
Mind have also put together these 8 tips for relaxation which you may find helpful.
Sleep is an important part of the restorative process for both your body and mind. Lack of sleep can cause lack of concentration, irritability, affect your decisions on healthy lifestyle choices and even impact your immune system. This can have a significant impact on your ability to work effectively as well as manage your lifestyle and relationships.
Sleeping disorders or having difficulty sleeping is not uncommon, and there is a lot of help and support available. If you are struggling with getting to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night or feeling unusually tired in the day, try these tips for a better night sleep:
- Try not to use electronics devices or watch TV 30 minutes before bedtime and try leaving your phone downstairs.
- If you use it as an alarm, find an alternative such as your watch or bedside alarm clock.
- Try to maintain a regular sleeping pattern by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day (even at weekends).
- If you are struggling to get to sleep or back to sleep if you have woken up, go into another room and read (not a device) until you feel sleepy again and then go back to bed.
- Try to avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime, including chocolate and carbonated drinks that contain caffeine.
- Avoid working, reading and general recreation such as TV in the bedroom.
- Make sure you have drunk enough water during the day, so that you are not dehydrated.
- Avoid a nightcap before bed – alcohol disrupts our sleep reducing our REM sleep, which is important for restoring yourself mentally.
- Exercise regularly but avoid intense exercise too close to bedtime.
- Avoid high sugar snacks or big meals just before bed.
- Try to keep the room at a comfortable temperature and as dark and free from noises as possible.
Page updated: 08/12/2020 12:40:52