World Mental Health Day 2020: Looking after yourself through lockdown

With many of us facing home working for the foreseeable future, it’s important to prioritise staying healthy and happy in our home offices. Ahead of World Mental Health Day 2020, I asked our team what habits they’ve introduced while working from home that have had a positive impact on their wellbeing.

Craig, consultant

The time I save not commuting to work means I’ve been able to cook for the kids once my working day is over. It’s been a great opportunity to spend time together and see how their school day has been.

The dinner table is also the perfect time for simple but fun family games, which are sometimes needed if the meal isn’t a favourite! Here’s a few dinner games to try out.

Mark, creative director

I go to the famers market every Friday morning to buy local produce. Their herb salad and heritage tomatoes are heaps better than the limp salads sold in supermarkets. I paired it with some smoked mackerel from the fishmonger for a simple meal with an explosion of flavour that left me forgetting that I was in a lockdown.

Research has shown that choosing seasonal produce means eating food that tastes better, is more nutritious and has a positive impact on the environment. Local farmers markets can be found up and down the country and many advertise their locations online.

Shahlia, client director

When I was in the office I always grabbed lunch from the corner shop and ate it at my desk. I am now making the effort to eat away from my workspace. I don’t take my laptop or phone down to the kitchen. I eat lunch, play with the dog, and actually have a break from work and screens.

It’s important to make a conscious effort to break away from technology. According to a poll from the Independent in the spring, the average adult will spend around 34 years of their lives staring at screens.

A chili plant in a garden

Greg, consultant

My habit is growing my chili plant. I started in April and I have tended to it each day, watering it and moving it to a bigger pot when needed. It’s been good mentally to have that and now I’ve got tons of chilis, which has allowed me to get creative in the kitchen and also share with friends and family.

Home working has definitely caused a rise in biophilia as we look to bring more of the outdoors indoors. Here’s a great site for low-maintenance plants to get you started.

Katina, office & wellbeing manager

During lockdown I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pedal bike. It’s something I’d always wanted but never found the time to source. With two small children it allowed for quick trips to break up the day and usually ended with ice cream all round. With the kids back at school, I’ve continued on my own, taking the time away from the screen and stretching my legs.

It was magical to see so many cars replaced by bikes through lockdown. Bike sales increased by 60 per cent in April. And if you need an added incentive for jumping on a bike, riding on two wheels saves more than 238 million gallons of fuel every year.

Sabrina, consultant

I’ve been very grateful for exercise classes that I can access online and through apps like Down Dog. My favourite at the moment is Kassandra’s daily yoga. Quick, easy and fun to do, it really helps to break up the time sat at my desk. With so many fitness classes still not running or at limited capacity, it’s great to know that I can join teachers in other ways. 

We’ve all heard about Joe Wicks – how about trying Kassandra? Here’s a great 30-day yoga challenge to kickstart your day. 

Cathy, founder

Taking time in the morning before I start my work day to focus on my creative writing has been great. I find I’m more focused and able to concentrate on my writing tasks. It is great to know that I can switch off my laptop in the evening guilt-free.

Many of us have developed new hobbies and activities since lockdown. Flour and yeast became hot commodities across the country as more people discovered or reunited their love for baking.

Simon, communications director North America

Lockdown has given me the opportunity to improve my cooking skills. I’ve mastered lasagna and a few Greek classics, like moussaka and pastitsio, which will no doubt keep my ancestors happy. On a more serious note, this period brought me closer to my teammates even though I’m 3,000 miles away. I appreciate that Zoom calls aren’t for everyone, but they’ve been absolutely crucial to my mental health since March.

Here’s a pastitsio recipe for all you beginners.

Jo, managing director

Before Covid, I was running around like a blue-bottomed fly. For years I have literally buzzed around Brighton and London – from meeting room to networking event, and coffee shop to train. A merry-go-round of conferences, client catch-ups and chance encounters. I can’t do that anymore. But maybe that’s a good thing. Lockdown has helped me slow down, gain a fresh perspective and retune my energy in a more positive, helpful and healthy direction. The downtime has meant I’ve been able to 100 per cent focus on Magenta as a business – but at the same time I’ve learned the art of self-care. When you think about it, those two things work hand-in-hand

London commuters average 24 days per year in travel time. Think of all the things you could be doing now that you’re not racing to the office or meetings?

This year more than ever, we need to ensure we’re doing all we can to support our mental wellbeing. If we can learn anything from our current way of life it’s that we’re all in this together. Tomorrow (10th October) is World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is ‘mental health for all’. Where better to start this journey than by looking within ourselves?

Katina Byford-Winter