‘That sinking feeling’. Restlessness. January blues. WFH sads. However you define your mood right now, you’re not alone. Online searches during lockdown last year rose by 93% for boredom, 40% for loneliness and worry by 27% (sound familiar?) and as we enter a new year with restrictions still in place, our search habits aren’t likely to change anytime soon. January is traditionally dark, cold and miserable anyway - and let’s face it, in COVID times, awful.
With more time than ever to lean into a little introspection, is this in fact, the ideal time to really focus on ourselves and our health? For many of us, it’s the first time we’ve properly thought about it and with social media leading the charge to encourage us to actively pursue better physical health, we need to recognise that our mood is being affected right now, too. Zero social activities, lack of routine including heading to the office and too much screen time is bound to impact our mental wellness, so how can we aim to manage this during unprecedented times? 🌀
As the Co-Founder of Heights, nutriments for your brain developed to a careful list of ‘want, want, needs’, Dan Murray-Serter knows good mental health and ‘bad’ mental health too. His frank account of anxiety (read on here) spurred the creation of Heights and so, in the pursuit of mood-boosting, wellness and entrepreneurial resilience we caught up to find out his predictions for 2021, how Heights has navigated lockdown and his tips for better mental health.
Lockdown has given people the time to consider their brain health and the impact of increased stress, isolation and uncertainty. Has COVID really emphasised our need to focus on mental wellness?
Yes indeed. The constant feeling of hope, and having that scuppered, a sense of uncertainty, and then the impact that this all has on our stress levels which impact our sleep, and create energy deficits in the day.
If you then add the lack of social connection and the feeling of being cooped up, it can all feel a bit much, and for those that didn’t previously give much attention to their brain health and mental wellbeing, it’s firmly been put on the agenda.
Now more than ever we need to focus on building habits towards what we call a better ‘braincare’ routine - including nutrition, hydration, and fresh air if you can get outside and go for a walk every day - these are 3 basic principles that will have dramatic impacts on your mental health.
I found ‘The Science of Burn Out’ episode of the Braincare Podcast really insightful and in particular, the subject of working remotely VS the lack of physical interaction with colleagues who bolster our mood. What can employers do to tackle this disconnect?
It’s a good question and there’s no simple answer. Of course for introverts who were always forced to go to work and be in fairly extroverted environments, it’s worth noting that they now have the space they might have wanted where extroverts (like myself) are struggling more and lacking connection that we need. The best way to address this within a company culture is to make space and time to connect with colleagues for non-work related meetings, even if they’re over zoom, they are essential! All work and no play makes for burned-out employees!
How has Heights navigated as a remote team?
To be totally honest, we launched in January 2020 and our first employee joined in March, as the pandemic started, so whilst we never planned to be remote, we’ve actually only ever been remote - and I think we’ve learned together how to do this really well! It’s been challenging at times but also we make sure to prioritise our team’s health and wellness, and connect regularly about non-work-related matters, which is essential.
You've seen a huge increase in demand - what do you think 2021 holds for the wellness industry?
It’s firmly on everyone’s agenda now - and with the government finally coming out and giving a stance on 100% of the population being recommended Vitamin D for example, it’s at last something people are understanding - that vitamins make a huge difference for your health, and the area people don’t expect - mental health and wellbeing, even more so. When we launched in 2020, it felt very ‘early’ for this story, and whilst it still does, people are waking up to this message which is important. Prevention is always the cure.
And finally, what’s bringing you hope?
Other than a COVID vaccine? The days are all getting longer, the weather is getting warmer, we have a new President of America… if it wasn’t for Brexit, I’d say quite a lot - but you can’t have it all! Our glowing Trustpilot reviews give me the most hope for the success of our company though, ultimately if your product really impacts people, you’ve got a great chance for success!
What To Do Next:
- Get your brain health score by taking the Heights quiz here. 🧠
- Find Dan's five tips for improving your mental health over on Twitter.
- Catch up with the Braincare podcast now.
- Enrich your scrolling with a guide to smart supplements, mental wellbeing and bite-sized neuroscience over on their feed now.
- Stay tuned for a Heights prize in our big Blue Monday giveaway coming soon...