I’ve always been a strong advocate for taking care of your mental health. What that looks like can certainly vary from person to person, but from wearing a face mask to enjoying a nice meal out, a Netflix marathon or a long hike, we should all embrace whatever makes us feel taken care of even for a brief moment in this hustle-and-bustle world.
Taking care of your mental health has always been important, but COVID-19 pushed this topic to the forefront for many people who may not have realized how much it mattered before the pandemic. If your mental health has been impacted over the past two years, you’re not alone.
When building out your schedule, don’t forget to plan break times, whether getting up to stand outside in the sun for five minutes or making yourself an Instagram-worthy breakfast.
While many of us were excited to work from home or start working for ourselves, few could foresee the toll such changes might take. It turns out that those “interruptions” from co-workers were also opportunities to interact with other human beings in person; those creative team meetings that took up large chunks of time actually provided structure to your days. Even your drive to and from work gave you a clear divide between work and home, a space where you could mentally prepare or decompress. How can you get back some of that balance and make sure that you’re taking care of yourself and your business? I have some ideas.
SET THE MOOD
Your environment matters. If you’re working from home, you need to set up a good workspace. Whether you make yourself a home office in a spare room or just a little corner of the dining room, make sure there is furniture that you’re comfortable with. Decorate your space with plants, pictures of friends and family, that candle you only light during work hours, and the like. You can even make a little deskside bed for your furry co-workers; pets make excellent HR managers, or at least cute mood boosters. Having a defined workspace helps your brain register when it’s “time to work” and when you leave that space, it’s a trigger that it’s time to leave work behind for the time being.
BUILDING BLOCKS FOR YOUR DAY
I’ve learned in my day-to-day life that structure is the key. If you don’t have a plan for the day, you’re more likely to focus on the smaller things and eventually end up overwhelmed by the larger projects that you’re avoiding. That’s a stress headache that no one needs! Instead, plan out your days. Know what projects need to be completed that day, that week and that month. Then schedule the time to work on them. If you plan ahead, you’ll be able to work on those big projects in smaller pieces until you have the full puzzle put together.
DON’T FORGET YOUR “ME” TIME
When building out your schedule, don’t forget to plan break times, whether getting up to stand outside in the sun for five minutes or making yourself an Instagram-worthy breakfast. Sometimes I’ll spend my lunch break prepping for dinner so I have less work to do later and more time to spend with my family. Take a walk around your neighborhood and clear your head, or do a little yoga. Anything you can do to decompress is a good thing! Since you’re working from home, you may as well start a wellness routine that fits in with that.
THE “B” WORD
I’m going to say it, a buzzword gaining in popularity: boundaries. Your work life is not part of your home life and vice versa. You need the balance between both and this can be hard for people to define. If you share a home with others, it can be tempting to hang out with them when you should be working, or to be working when you should be watching the newest season of “The Umbrella Academy.” Make sure any housemates know that when you’re working you need to be “at work,” and set up accommodations that will allow for this. Turn off your work computer when you've clocked out, so you can’t be reached after hours. Your downtime is yours, whether you are self-employed or working for a company. Don’t offer it to anyone if you don’t want to.
KINDNESS IS FREE
You may find that you are struggling with working on your own or at home even while friends and co-workers seem to be handling the same situation with ease. “Everyone else is enjoying themselves, redecorating their bathrooms, getting in shape … What’s wrong with me?” you might be thinking. Don’t do this. Be kind to yourself. Remember: some people are really good at hiding their inner reality, and plenty of other people are feeling just as lost as you are. You never know what’s behind their facade, so try to be kind to others as well; your kindness may be the light that they need on a tough day.
THIS WON’T LAST FOREVER
We are living in unprecedented times — we’ve all heard this over and over by now. Things have changed dramatically for 90% of us. Just because it’s been going on for two years doesn’t mean that you should be “over it.” If you’re still struggling, it’s OK. Considering how difficult it has been to meet the collective health needs of our nation and our world, sustaining your personal mental health may not seem that important in comparison. But you won’t succeed by neglecting yourself. Save a space for yourself on that “to do” list, and start making yourself a priority.
Megan Stokes is co-founder of NMG Management, a content distribution and management firm. As a veteran of the adult industry, she enjoys sharing the knowledge and data she has collected over time with those who seek her help.