Back to school: Keep smiling and here are 10 tips to improve working parents’ mental wellbeing
The kids are back in school today... so it's hooray for many! But today, I have mixed feelings as I write this. Working for yourself, and working at home during this pandemic can be a lonely business and now the kids are back, all you can hear is 'quiet' .... and whilst fab, I personally can't help feeling a little bit 'lonely and what next'. So here are some tips for working parents, that may help with parents' mental wellbeing, shared by Simply Business.
Back to school: 10 tips to improve working parents’ mental wellbeing
1. Own your diary
Ever noticed that you’re more tired after lunch? Or more focused at 10am? Research shows that on average we’re more productive in the morning, and our ability to take on new information diminishes throughout the day.
Pay attention to your natural energy levels and manage your workload and meetings around these times – that means being smart with your schedule and realistic on deadlines. Need to chat to a client on Zoom? Why not arrange it for the afternoon so you can focus on other priorities first, or consider whether it can be an email instead to combat the real issue of ‘Zoom fatigue’.
2. Get some fresh air
We know that getting outside really helps our mental health and breaks up the day. If you can, go for a walk, find a green space, or even just open your window and breathe in some fresh air.
Is there a meeting you can have on the go? Or can you meet a friend for a socially-distanced walk during your lunch break?
3. Move your body
With gyms and sporting facilities off limits during lockdown, we’re moving a lot less and staying home a lot more – so to keep active, we need to get creative.
You could try a subscription service like MoveGB that allows you to try different classes, or support your favourite fitness studio by joining their online sessions. If you want the flexibility to workout around your busy schedule, consider heading over to YouTube for PE with Joe Wicks or Yoga with Adriene.
4. Create the right environment
Do you have everything you need to do your work comfortably? If not, check out our tips on setting up your home office.
Sitting at a desk all day can make you stiff. We’ve talked about the benefits of walking above, but why not do chair yoga or a desk workout?
5. Practice flexibility and empathy
Just like you, be aware that some of your clients, suppliers, and any employees may be juggling a lot right now, whether it’s kids at home or heightened anxiety.
Things may take a little longer and emails might not be answered straight away. Check in with them to understand where they're at, and adjust your expectations accordingly.
6. Connect with people
Being self-employed and not having a team around you can be challenging at the best of times, but particularly during Covid-19 this can spark feelings of loneliness. We found in our recent customer wellbeing survey that one third of small business owners say isolation has negatively impacted their wellbeing.
It’s important to think about what positive connections you can make, especially if you aren’t talking to people regularly. Can you join any virtual networking groups for self-employed people? Or why not gather a group of friends to talk about your favourite books, films or records?
7. Listen to your employees
If you’re a small business owner with employees, make sure you’re listening to how they’re feeling too. In terms of promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace, put wellbeing on the agenda of your team meetings and one to ones. It's good to talk and it’ll help the team feel better connected.
Researcher Brené Brown, for example, always starts her team meetings with a two-word check-in to see how people are feeling without questions or judgement – why not give that a go? While at Simply Business, we’ve set up weekly ‘mindful moment’ sessions where staff can take 10 minutes out of their day for meditation. Some weeks we play some audio from a mindfulness app or website, other weeks will be guided by one of the team.
8. Know the resources available
It’s important that you seek help if you’re struggling with your mental health. The NHS coronavirus support pages include advice on issues ranging from money worries and sleep problems to how to cope with change.
And mental health charity, Mind, provides specialist support around coronavirus and wellbeing too. They’ve put together some useful resources, including how to manage stress and support employees.
9. Set clear boundaries
Being self-employed means it can feel difficult to take time off. In fact 37 per cent of small business owners feel unable to take a break, according to Simply Business research.
It’s important to set clear boundaries and schedule in dedicated relaxation time and holidays, taking time away from screens if you can. What can you do to make time off feel like a realistic goal for you?
10. Write down your goals for the next day
At the end of your working day, it can be helpful to set your goals for the following day.
Writing down just three key things you’d like to achieve the next day means you can jump straight into the productive, meaningful stuff in the morning – rather than being distracted by emails and meetings. It’s also a great way to feel a sense of accomplishment in your work when you tick an item off your list.