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How I learnt to focus on self-care

Wednesday, 23 September 2020 Suzi

Writing about her mental health helped Suzi through lockdown – and now it is helping others at her work.

This year has been a journey. I suffer with anxiety and have done for as long as I can remember. One of my triggers is illness. I’m also a home bird at heart. I live away from my family and part of my self-care is to visit as much as I can. It helps ground me and makes me feel settled so you can imagine the way this year has unfolded has been a bit of a nightmare.

Hearing the news every day, infection and death rates going up, being around people not knowing if they or I had Covid-19, having a group text between friends that used to talk about normal things change its name to ‘Remember: wash your hands’ and solely discussed everything Covid related. Being away from my parents knowing they work front facing with the public was also slowly building the pressure of panic in me. Every day I would wake up with a gut punch of anxiety and racing thoughts. The instinct to control everything around me and protect those closest to me was getting overwhelming. At work, I was washing my hands to the point that they were cracking from the amount of anti bac and hand sanitiser I used. I didn’t want to touch anything or be around anyone.

Online workouts gave me a huge boost and burnt off any morning anxiety.

Once lockdown was announced, I was hit with a wave of relief as I could work from home. The routine of lockdown allowed a bit of control to plan the day around my working hours. After months of worry about health, my focus quickly became taking care of myself. Mornings became my favourite time of the day which was a surprise as I am not usually a morning person. Online workouts gave me a huge boost and burnt off any morning anxiety. On the days that I wasn’t feeling so great, I would try my best to do something even if it was just for 10 minutes. After exercising I would make myself a hot lemon and honey water and start work feeling relaxed.

Daily writing became not only therapeutic but motivational. I started using writing and pictures for my wellbeing-based Instagram.

This small morning routine really lifted me and the difference in my work experience changed. My thoughts weren’t obsessing on Covid for the first time in months and I could think clearly. Zoom helped but it wasn’t the same.

I remembered reading advice on building self-esteem in times of depression by writing down the accomplishments you have made in the day and using this as motivation. Adding this to my morning routine built on my self-care. I would write down the exercise I had done, what breakfast I had eaten, vitamins I had taken, little things.

Slowly this list started to grow, adding what I had achieved at work, my hour outside if I’d been for a walk or gardened and added in goals and affirmations on post Its. This exercise helped me be mindful of my self-care and focused on living in the present, which gave me comfort as I was slowly able to build myself back up after months of feeling anxious. 

Daily writing became not only therapeutic but motivational, which is when I started using writing and pictures for my wellbeing-based Instagram with the goal of helping just one other person.

Easing lockdown was the toughest point for me. Working from home had become a safe space, and the thought of being around more people when everything was so uncertain was a lot to deal with. Regular communication with work helped me manage my anxiety and stress about eventually returning and the measures that were put in to place for when I was ready.

My work from home routine and open conversations with work regarding mental health built my confidence.

The challenges with mental health this year have been difficult, but I wanted to use the skills and my positive experience for good when returning to work to help others that may be feeling the same way. My work from home routine and open conversations with work regarding mental health built my confidence and made me feel empowered to pitch a wellbeing at work idea to the colleagues that had helped support me. This is now an on-going project.

The aim is to support others with mental health in the workplace through a focus on self-care for colleagues from the perspective of someone who has lived it and seen the benefits. A campaign in collaboration with Mind was also being worked on throughout lockdown which was particularly special for me to take part in. The focus for Cloud Nine’s campaign was kindness, which from the experience we have had this year is particularly poignant.

After sharing my new love for writing I was asked to write for Mind’s Do One Thing campaign to celebrate World Mental Health Day and I have also written other pieces for my department at work. I am now building my Instagram and have a private blog with the goal of building my career through writing. Doing my one thing of focusing on self-care has allowed these opportunities to arise and it is something I am very proud of.

Suzi works for Cloud Nine, the hair care company that has recently released a range of styling tools to help raise money for Mind.

For World Mental Health Day this year, we’re encouraging everyone to do one thing for better mental health. Suzi found that focusing on self-care and writing about how she was looking after her wellbeing were simple steps that she could take to improve her mental health.

Visit our webpage for more inspiration and ideas to do one thing for your own wellbeing, or to help others this World Mental Health Day.

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