The current working environment, particularly due to COVID-19 guidelines, is perhaps the most stressful that many of us will have experienced for a long time, or indeed ever. With guidelines changing almost weekly, constant adjustments to working practices and home life mean there is very little routine and structure to current lifestyles.

Many people, like me, have been returning to working from an office base having been able to work at home for the past few months, others may have continued working normally throughout the past few months, and now have to re-adapt as more staff return to offices, which brings about its own stresses and anxieties about seeing colleagues again, dealing with infection control protocols.  Others may be furloughed or awaiting news of redundancies all of which bring on other levels of anxiety and insecurities around income and housing security.

It’s likely then, that there will be very few people right now who are not experiencing higher than normal levels of anxiety and stress, which can have a major impact on health and wellbeing. I try my hardest to practice what I preach and try my best to support my wellbeing as best I can – although sometimes I can slip without even realising it.

One of the tools that I have found most useful is the NHS/Public Health England’s “Your Mind Plan”. This asks you a few simple questions about your current wellbeing and then suggests 6 “top tips” from your answers to offer focused advice to help your improve your mental health and wellbeing. The plan has also recently been updated to include even more advice and support around COVID-19. What’s even better is if you don’t think a tip is suitable for you at the moment, you can swap it for a new one. Once you are happy with your plan, you can ask for it to be emailed to you so you can refer back to it throughout the next few weeks to remind you of the advice.

Having taken my Plan, one thing that was suggested to me was to become more active. I know that being active is good for positive mental health, and indeed my job even involves helping support others to become more active but sometimes we can all lose focus on what is important and this was a good reminder to me on how I can help reduce my stress and anxiety. I try to make sure I go for a short walk each day, even if it’s just round the office block or the garden when I get home, and I do feel a drop in my mood on days when I don’t.

You can get your plan via the One You Plymouth’s Stress Less page as well as find a number of other useful resources and I would encourage everyone to take 5 minutes out of their day to take their Plan and see what changes can be made to help support a healthier you.