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Mental Health & Work: Switch off with Nature [Video]

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A few weeks ago a did a video about mental health and the importance of self care in the workplace. It can be a real challenge for business owners so I wanted this week to touch upon the random acts of wildness that help me.

Watch the video below or keep reading for my tips.

Every time some one joins the bizee.co team I do a personal intro to the company and amongst the things I waffle on about are the company values. Last on the list (but by no means least) is the statement:

Enjoy your work and enjoy your life. 

Now I cannot force people to do this of course but the reason this kind of statement is in our values is because we believe passionately in finding time to draw a line under your work life and engage with your personal life. 

Yes, we expect everyone to work hard, but we also expect everyone to switch off from work. I am never impressed by receiving replies to my emails at midnight. I mean, it’s fine if you do that - whatever works for you - but it doesn’t impress me more than getting them during the work day. 

At midnight there are two things you should be doing: either you should be in bed or you should be partying.

You will perform better at work. 100% guaranteed.

So my point is if you living a fulfilled life outside work, experiencing valuable time thinking of things other than work, you will perform better at work. 100% guaranteed.

This works for an employee but what if you are the business owner? Separating work from home is well nigh impossible, especially when:

  1. You might feel that everything depends on you,

  2. You may work exceptionally long hours,

  3. Your office space may also be your home which makes things tricky,

  4. You probably feel emotionally invested so cannot ignore an email or call,

  5. You may also work with family members which means that work talk carries on “after hours”, 

  6. And worst of all, you may feel guilty if you take time out.

The demons who sit on your shoulder are whispering in your ear: “You should be working. You should be productive. You should be accomplishing something. Look at those guys they are way better, more successful” and so on and so forth.

I think I tick or have ticked most of these boxes at one time or another, although delegation has helped me to lessen the hours, but essentially what this all boils down to is the challenge of finding time to refuel, recharge your batteries and come back fresher. 

So, how do I make sure I switch off.? Well, as for many people, it does not come naturally to me. 

In the past I have suffered from burn out. I have been anxious, depressed, frustrated, overwhelmed by work. I have brought my work problems home which have had repercussions on my private life. 

In the last 3 years I have found the way to manage this. 

Nature. Spending time outside, in the most non-tech of environments, is fundamental to my wellbeing. I need, and I really mean need, to step away from phones and laptops and TVs and calls. I need to immerse myself in nature. It separates me from the ties of work and a "connected life”. 

Now, it can be a walk in the woods, a quick couple of hours off to paddle in my local river or an overnight camp on a hill top, after a day’s work. 

It has to be outside, it has to be basic. And the main thing is it is guilt free. 

It’s guilt free because I am doing something. The beauty of nature, the birdsong, the sun, wind and the rain and physical effort, the absence of human beings and the simplicity of the outdoor lifestyle all add up to a release of tension and relaxation. Nature is a fix that I can administer whenever is needed. 

Tension eases. Ideas come. Problems shrink. Solutions often suggest themselves.

It might be as simple as taking my lunch to the corner of a field to sit there for half an hour. I recharge myself for the afternoon. In this short time I am not actually trying to separate my work life from my personal life, but it is processing time which enables me to work better and deal with stress in a more productive way. 

Tension eases. Ideas come. Problems shrink. Solutions often suggest themselves when I step away from the intensity of the work place. 

And I am sure this is true for most of us. For me it’s nature, for you it might be something else. This is the one thing that for me is guilt free and you need to find that thing, that interest, that is guilt free. It is about putting yourself in a scenario which is outside your workplace, mentally and physically.

Time spent in nature is proven to help reduce feelings of stress, anger and anxiety. It has huge benefits for our mental health and I happen to think also for our professional lives.  

We are just coming towards the end of May and if you want to introduce a little bit of nature into your day June is really a good month in which to do it. 

Why? The Wildlife Trusts, an organisation I have done little volunteer work for in the past and one I like to champion occasionally, is launching its annual initiative called 30 Days Wild.  30 Days Wild is a month-long nature campaign run designed to get people to spend a little time in nature every day through the month of June. It’s now in its fourth year and hundreds of thousands of people across the UK take part. 

RANDOM ACTS OF WILDNESS

I will be doing 30 random acts of wildness again this year and here are some ideas how to incorporate it into your workplace.

  • Walk to work / cycle to work

  • Eat your lunch outside

  • Take a meeting outdoors 

  • Have a brainstorming session somewhere in nature

  • Get your employees and colleagues out after work for some mini adventure

  • Do some physical activities as part of your team building

If you want to know more about 30 Days Wild visit the Wildlife Trusts website.