With January here and the holiday season tucked behind us, we face a month known for broken resolutions, ghastly credit card bills, homes stripped of holiday cheer, and bleak winter weather. Layered atop it all is the uncertainty of the current pandemic.
All of these elements meld together to make a concoction worthy of the ‘January Blues’. What also awaits us on January 18, the third Monday of the new year, is known as Blue Monday. It is considered the most depressing day of the year. It may seem like sensationalist nonsense to coin one day a year in this fashion, but there are aspects worthy of attention particularly when it comes to one’s mental health. Mix COVID-19 with seasonal affective disorder and the ‘January Blues’ and the chances of one’s mental wellness being challenged may give us reason to pause and consider preventative measures.
Here’s the thing. Many of us are Zoomed-out, burnt out and stressed out. We don’t want to have to add the pressure of adding self care to our mounting to do lists.
I get it. And here’s what I know works for me and for others I’ve trained and coached on the topic. You can add self care to your work day in 5 minutes or less and it will make a positive difference.
Here are a few 5-minute self care tips you can do during your work day — whether you’re working remotely or not — that are free and that don’t require fancy equipment, a gym membership, or costly supplements.
Breathe. Yes, breathe. By breathing I mean diaphragmatic or belly breathing.
Here are 2 types to try:
Sit in a comfortable position and place one hand on your belly just below your ribs. Then place your other hand on your chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose and let your belly push your hand out. Breathe out through your nose (if you can) or out through your mouth as if you’re deflating a balloon. Try this breathing technique 3 to 5 times.
If you’re having trouble sleeping or if you need to release your mind from anxious thoughts, try this breathing technique. Find a spot to sit or lie down comfortably. With your eyes either open or closed, inhale through your nose for a count of 4 and then exhale through your nose for a count of 4. Repeat several times. You can increase the counts per breath to 6 if you feel comfortable.
Mindfulness or Grounding. When your thoughts are racing, come back to the present moment and focus on what you’re experiencing right now.
Practice your belly breathing and observe three things you can see, hear and feel in this moment. Allow the answers to come to you and you’ll quickly demonstrate your ability to be mindful and present.
I’ve included a 1-minute grounding meditation to help you practice being mindful.
AnxietyCanada.ca also has helpful tips and resources on their website including how to do a mindful body scan and mindful breathing.
It’s easy to forget to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. Just remember, you can’t help others if you can’t breathe.
For more free self care tips you can do while working, please contact me at [email protected]. Let’s keep your cup full so it is easier for you to do what you do best.