Vanda North takes a look at how we can all improve our mental health as our home and work lives approach a ‘new normal’.

Have the past six months been a blur of working from home, children around, fuzzy schedules, new roles, insecurity, stress, and tiredness?

You are not alone.

And now, for most, some form of ‘back to school’ is happening. At least you will not be having to help with homework and lessons quite as much. Or having the constant enquiry about food needs, or different entertainment.

So now is the chance for you to grab your reins and send yourself back to school!


Organise your workspace.

Just as all the schools have been giving great thought as to how the space needs to be organised for maximum safety and effectiveness, also give some consideration to whether you are set up in the best way possible. Is the light as good as it can be? As winter moves in, having a window near you can lift your spirits. How about your table / desk and chair? Is it comfortable? Is it supporting you properly? It is possible that this will continue to be your workspace for the rest of this year, or longer, so create it to fit and please you as much as you are able.

You need a ‘lesson plan’! Schedule your day, as much as possible around the meetings / calls / duties you may have and match it with when you are at your brightest. Tackle those more difficult tasks during your most ‘on’ time of the day and the more routine / mundane when you tend to ebb. Might you look at your various tasks as different ‘subjects’ and group them together or put them in an order that makes most sense. You are the Principal of your school, so you decide.

Set limits and guidelines.

Any group or institution must have some limits and guidelines – how do we work / play together? Make a family rota, this could be a mind map of days and times or a calendar and put in ‘family times’; ‘play times’; ‘down times’; ‘no tech times’; ‘exercise times’. Discuss and plan this as a family. It does not have to be a lot of time, but regular. A half hour here and there. Keep it fun and fast and firm! Interestingly there is more freedom when there are also limits!

Put fun on the curriculum.

It is always easy, with the constant news influence, with the various pressures of life and with all the responsibilities on your shoulders, to be quite serious and down. However, your brain functions best when it is happy, when it is having fun, automatically your focus improves and your motivation and effectiveness increases. So, plan some fun! Be grateful for all you do have, re-appreciate your health, enjoy what is going well, don’t sweat the small stuff – and remember, in hindsight, most of it is small stuff!

Keep a balance.

Ask yourself three very important questions:

  1. ‘Will it help?’ If you are fretting and worrying about something, ask yourself this question. The answer will most likely be ‘No!’ So, what a waste of your time, energy and now!
  2. When you are standing at the metaphorical ‘pearly gates’ will this be something you speak about as significant in your life? (And while you are there, what would be those times that you would recount?) And…
  3. ‘Will the sun rise tomorrow?’ Most likely, now from this standpoint how really important is what is happening?

Consider how many times something you may have lost sleep over, never actually happened, or was actually positive, or was much less that you feared? It is most of the time!

So, save yourself time and keep your resilience high by appropriately considering and planning and then letting it go! Remember ‘There is no plan hard and fast, until it is past!’

Contact Vanda at [email protected]

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