Read about Louise Smith, Business Change Specialist at Arm, as she discusses her wellness journey and advise for others in a similar situation.
Why did you decide to write this article?
The challenges of multiple lockdowns really got me thinking about the things that truly matter, and I wanted to share my thoughts on well-being, self-care, and my journey over the past year.
How did your wellness journey begin?
During the last lockdown, I realized how much of a desk gremlin I’d become, shuffling to get tea and another snack far too often. I tried to remedy this by planning a detailed running schedule and immediately going for my first jog…and injuring myself. After limping home, I was frustrated and had ended up back where I started: at my desk, comfort eating, only this time with a sore knee and wounded pride. I’d made a good plan, well thought out – why was my body letting me down?
Reality being, the mind remembers activities, but my body, having been stuck in the same chair, same position, day in day out for months, needed to get back up to speed. Instead of being kind to myself and going slow, I was trying to add yet another set of tasks and unrealistic expectations for myself.
Wellness – It’s not just physical
It wasn’t just my body that was telling me to take it easy, it was also my mind. I was really starting to feel burnt out from constantly trying to keep lots of plates spinning, from work, home life, personal goals etc. By adding this new running regime to my plate, I was just adding more pressure and getting more and more tired, mentally as well as physically.
With Covid going on for so long, I’ve really focused on my work and planning and thinking of all the things that needed to be done, mentally always on the go. I was constantly trying to do more…. and I wasn’t really giving myself any time to relax and take a break.
I kept telling myself it’s ok…I don’t need a break …Just a few more weeks…Keep pushing…
It took close friends and family calling out this pattern for me to realize all my focus and effort was going into pretty much everything else…. except me. I was giving no time to me and what helped me relax and made me happy. Something needed to change.
So, I started blocking out time in my day for me and I started to observe what I needed both physically and mentally.
After several failed jogging attempts, I was looking for some other kind of exercise to help build strength and stretch out my body from being hunched over my desk all the time. I was also looking for something that would help calm my mind as I normally found with jogging. A real help to me on this was picking up Yoga. At first, I was skeptical as I wasn’t sure it’d be for me as, after being sedentary for a good while, my flexibility wasn’t great. However, I found a good YouTube channel for beginners which was open to anyone, easy to do at home, and free. For anyone who’s interested, Yoga with Adriene is awesome. Tons of videos are available for complete beginners through to more advanced, and they’re really easy fit into you day, whether you’ve got 10mins or an hour.
Are there any other changes that you made?
I also began to re-explore old hobbies. Exploring new walks or trying that hobby I’ve wanted to pick up again for ages but never seemed to have time for. Playing the piano. Digging out my flute that’s been gathering dust in the closet for eons. Doing cross stitching and embroidery. I started learning Greek and absolutely love it.
The key part here is that I wasn’t doing all these things every day or setting yet another detailed regime to follow. Rather, I was listening to myself, picking up an activity as and when I wanted and needed a bit of me time. Additionally, there were days I just needed to take it easy and not do any of those things, and this was fine. It’s what I needed.
In doing these activities, or just taking a break, I felt my happiness and creativity rising. I also feel stronger and calmer, able to focus more and tackle challenges as they arise without feeling so overwhelmed or getting burnt out. In taking time to look after myself, I’ve been able to support my friends and family more and bring this new-found creativity to my work.
The importance of wellness
Self-care, I think, is a key part of wellbeing but too often gets overlooked or forgotten amidst all our other life pressures and commitments. But no matter what’s going on, it’s vital that we take time to look after ourselves, ask for the help we need, and put some time for ourselves as a priority.
It would be great to hear if anyone has any tips for prioritizing well-being, hobbies they've picked up or things they've STOPPED doing to look after themselves.
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