It’s hard not to talk about COVID-19 in Melbourne – but it seems we have had some of the strictest lockdown measures across the world right now. The lockdown has seen some with more free time than before, while others have more stress than before. Whichever of the two camps you’re in, I would love to share some tips with you on how to practice good self-care over the next couple of months to help continue to stay a healthy marketer.

Have a vision and make a plan

Before the pandemic, I was incredibly active. I biked to work most days, fit in a gym session before work and walked in the evening. But as soon as COVID-19 hit my exercise routine completely faded. My motivation plummeted – only regaining motivation the other week.

I made a plan for my exercise routine and have been sticking to it since. Now that I am exercising and have more structure in my day, I feel more mentally balanced and have a lot more energy and focus. Jessica Johnson, one of our Senior Designers, has also found making an exercise plan helpful, saying,

“Since COVID-19 I’ve been doing a series of fitness programs which has been helpful in making me accountable for my health”.

There’s research that suggests what drives desire to achieve a goal is not your level of motivation, but instead your plan for implementation. If you want to achieve your goals, then you need a plan for exactly when and how you’re going to execute them. This doesn’t just apply to exercise, it could be following a diet plan, going to bed at a certain time or setting boundaries for screen time. Arnold Schwarzenegger agrees that his number one rule for success is to have a vision.

 “If you don’t have a goal, if you don’t have a vision, you just drift around and you’re not going to be happy.”

Take more breaks, especially when you think you can’t

When your inbox is overflowing with emails and deadlines are looming, it’s difficult to even think about having a break – instead we usually just continue ploughing through our to-do list. Just like you need to charge your mobile when the battery is low, it’s important to give yourself the chance to recharge your energy levels to ensure you’re more focused, productive and creative. Research suggests that the more demanding your day and the less time you feel you have to take breaks – the more important it actually is to have breaks.

But for these breaks to be completely rejuvenating, you need to allow yourself to completely switch off from work or work-like activities. For example, it would be counterproductive to step away from your computer to browse your social media or do some online shopping, as this involves the same screen time and concentration. I was the culprit of this, my phone would accompany me with every break – whether it was to make a tea or sit outside in the sun. I’ve started to change this behaviour and instead of multi-tasking while browsing on my phone, I focus on the task at hand. For example, if I am eating; I’ll focus on each bite of the food that I am consuming; if I am outside, I’ll enjoy the environment that I am in and if I am stretching, I’ll focus on how my body feels in that stretch. I have found these breaks to be more refreshing and restful than being on my phone.

Be mindful of your screen time exposure and make an effort to disconnect. Here are 21 other ideas to swap your screen breaks to rejuvenating brain breaks to help restore your energy, sharpen your focus, boost productivity and avoid burnout.

Get outside in nature

Being exposed to nature can provide your body with rejuvenating benefits, so with the warmer weather approaching, it’s a great time to get outside! Not only can exposure to nature help improve your emotional state, but it also contributes to your physical wellbeing – reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones. Kathryn Thomason, one our Content and Social Media Specialists, is not only making the most of her 1-hour daily exercise by walking in the local parklands but has been embracing the flexibility of working from home and being able to change up her work environments,

 “I’ve been enjoying working outside, getting some fresh air and some much-needed vitamin D.”

Separate work-life from home

As marketers, we are already connected to our screens, but the new way of working from home has made it even more challenging to separate work-life and home-life. For some, the days seem to blend and the distinction between weekdays and weekends has become blurry. Liam Jeal, our Senior Designer, says,

“it’s hard to switch off – there’s definitely blurred lines between work and home.”

I am sure many of us marketers can relate to Liam as we find ourselves pulling out our laptop late at night or checking emails on the weekends. Nina Bartmann, Behavioural Researcher at Duke University, has devised a five-step solution that can help restore a clear distinction between work-life and home-life:

  1. Put your Work Materials Aside
  2. Change your Clothes
  3. Spend Time Outside
  4. The Benefit of Exercise
  5. Coming Home

Personally, I have found the most effective step to be making a conscious effort to put away your work. It makes complete sense but changing and maintain this behaviour can take time. Matt Sprague, our Social Media & Content Marketing Specialist, has also found this to be beneficial saying,

“I set the boundaries between work and home by closing the door on my home office”

Whether you consciously close your work laptop, put your work laptop away or like Matt close the door on your work environment – find what works for you. Creating that distinction between the two spaces will help create balance, boost your energy and increase quality time with your family. Which is something that Liam has enjoyed the most –

“Spending more time with the family and being home for dinner!”

Have a good night’s sleep

High-quality sleep is extremely important for our bodies for so many reasons – it fortifies your immune system, balances your hormones, boosts your metabolism, increases physical energy, reduces body fat, improves the function of your brain and just generally enables you to function!

As marketers, we’re often placed in high-stress situations that have a large impact on your health and, in particular, your sleep. It is important to be aware of your own coping capacity and listen to the signals your body may be trying to tell you. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed and your quality of sleep is diminishing, then have a read of my blog  Are you a Healthy Marketer? Sleep edition for some tips on how you can improve your sleep quality.

Focus on the present

Mental strength is one of the most empowering tools we can employ to impact and improve all aspects of life. Not only can meditating reduce anxiety, improve your mood and decrease stress, it also aids in employee productivity by increasing focus and creativity! Jess has found that using the Headspace app has helped her reset saying,

“all you need is 10-15mins per the day which is easy to fit in.”

Mediating is not for everyone and doesn’t have to be in the form of traditional means. Matt has found running to be his form of mindfulness, saying,

“it’s the time where I can focus on the present without distractions”

Take the time to find what works for you because remembering to focus on the present is important for your overall wellbeing. As Buddha says,

 “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

Smile

How often are you smiling each day? It might be difficult to feel like smiling in the grim circumstances of COVID-19 and general world news, but happiness and laughter are critical coping mechanisms for the human body. At the beginning of COVID-19, spending the day by myself and not having human interactions didn’t have a huge impact on my general happiness. I found that instead of smiling at my work colleagues, I would smile every time I would look at my dog – which was quite often. But since she’s recently passed, I have found that I don’t actually smile that often. And wearing masks around others means that I can’t smile at strangers or reap the benefits when they smile at me.

A smile causes a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness, while the serotonin release reduces stress. Low levels of either of these hormones are associated with depression.

To combat my lack of smiles, I starting watching more comedies and as strange as it might sound just smiling for the fun of it. Apparently, our brains love a smile, and it doesn’t matter if I’m smiling because I was genuinely happy to watch my dog sleep or if I am just pretending. I’ve also started smiling at everyone I walk past, even though they can’t see it.

Recently Green Hat organised a Zoom comedy show for the team which brought a lot of laughs. Try getting your team together and hire a live comedian or watch an online show as there’s nothing better than sharing laughs with others.

Forming healthy habits during a global pandemic has never been more important than focusing on the uphill battle of physical and mental health. It’s important to maintain a healthy and balanced approach to work to make sure you stay a healthy marketer!

Are you a healthy marketer? Healthy Habits edition

Emma Dickson
Emma brings a decade of experience in account and project management. She has worked with a range of industries and client portfolios across B2C and B2B segments including building, government, automotive and professional services.  Having worked in creative, media and marketing agencies in Melbourne, Emma takes pride is driving her clients’ success while managing an internal team to help bring a client’s goals to fruition.