Staying healthy and motivated in winter

Question


Dear Newly Suited

Now we have had most of this year’s public holidays, I can feel the tensions in the office rising.

My workload is rapidly increasing and I am struggling to keep my head above water. Do you have any tips on how I can keep my cool?

Yours sincerely

#winterishere

Answer
Dear #winterishere

We think it’s safe to say it is the time of year when many of us are running out of puff and energy.

Winter has settled in, and the pace and volume of work aren’t letting up. Ironically, while this is the time we most want to be actively using our recovery and resilience skills, running out of puff can also lead to putting those skills aside.

So, keeping physically and mentally healthy during the more challenging winter months often requires a fresh injection of motivation.

Here are some ideas I hope you’ll find helpful.

During the work day:

Ensure you take mini-recovery breaks throughout the day.
This could include diaphragmatic breathing, joining in the morning tea quiz, switching tasks or meeting a friend for lunch.

At times it can feel impossible to take recovery breaks, but it’s during these times that recovery becomes more important.

Oscillating between ‘being on’ and rest supports sustainable performance and wellbeing.

Watch the caffeine, including chocolate.
Caffeine spikes our adrenaline levels which may give you an initial energy buzz, yet once the effects of the caffeine have worn off it can leave you feeling more tired than before you consumed it.

Watch your “self–talk”: what we are saying to ourselves in our heads.

This internal chatter can either boost or kill motivation. For example, if I plan to go for a run at lunch time, my thinking can either help me get out the door or keep me inside.

Try “I’m too busy and too tired to run today” vs.“I really don’t feel like doing this but I know I’ll feel good afterwards.”

Carefully schedule tasks during your day.
Can you determine which of your daily tasks boost your positive emotion (‘nourishing’), leave you feeling drained and negative (‘depleting’) or provide a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment even if you don’t enjoy the task at hand (‘mastery’).

By categorising your tasks, you can then order them in a way which supports your wellbeing. For example, sandwich a depleting task between two nourishing tasks or complete a mastery task when you naturally have high energy.

In general:

  • Set yourself some specific health goals for the winter months. Make them big (training for a summer marathon) or small (I’m going to walk for 20 minutes every day).
  • Get into the sunshine as much as possible.
  • Prioritise good quality sleep. Plan ahead on nights with no social engagements and get to bed at a reasonable time. Use relaxation exercises, baths, herbal teas and light reading to wind yourself down ready for a deep sleep.
  • Unplug from technology every day, and allow your brain to be present and reboot.
  • Practise gratitude. Make a mental note or write down three things you are grateful for each day. Reflect on these and notice how you feel when you are being grateful. Gratitude is a powerful wellbeing booster at any time.
  • Book some days off, a long weekends or a holiday.

Ideally do one thing every day that boosts your mood. Prioritise time to do something fun with a friend or your romantic partner, rug up and go for a walk by the sea, or enjoy your favourite hobby.

Best of luck,

Jacqui Maguire

Clinical Psychologist Managing Director, Umbrella Ltd

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