Mental Health: The importance of keeping a constantPosted over 2 years ago by Adam Juckes

Even though we are easing out of lockdowns, it doesn't mean everything is back to complete normal. Adam Juckes, Client Server Team Lead and Mental Health Ambassador, gives us an inside look at how he found a constant during the previous lockdowns, and how he kept it going once working from home turned into a hybrid working model.

The last 18 months have provided all sorts of new challenges for us to overcome. Remote working, future uncertainty, cabin fever, loneliness, agoraphobia… The list goes on. In times of change, when it is extremely easy to destabilise the normal equilibrium of our daily life, it is more important than ever to keep a few constants. Aside from my wife, dog, and family, the most important for me is, by far, the outdoors. Those who know me will know of my passion for walking and wildlife photography—if I can combine the two, even better.

At times during lockdown, I struggled.

My wife works in healthcare, so I was home alone during the workday. As time passed, it became clear that I needed some escapism. Something that would get me out of the door and into the place I love more than anywhere else, the countryside. I am pleased that I live in Surrey, where I can walk for 10 minutes and end up in ancient woodland. Once there, the sensory explosion engulfs me that you only get from green spaces. Regardless of the season, it is impossible not to have your spirit lifted by the sights and smells that nature can offer.

But I found that when I worked from home, I hardly left my desk. I never turned my phone off and rarely logged out. When in the office, you have more mental breaks, whether it's having a chat while making coffee or banter around the desk about the weekend’s football scores. But when you are at home, particularly on your own, those same distractions don’t exist. I needed an excuse, no, forced to leave the house.

Enter my walking partner, Leila, our nine-year-old Pomeranian.

My wife, Tamara, works at a residential home for Sunrise Senior Living, and for the past 9 years, has taken Leila to work with her daily. Pets are an essential part of the community there, as they can bring the benefits of animal-based therapy. After Sunrise went into full lockdown during COVID, Leila was unable to accompany Tamara, so stayed at home with me. Their loss was most definitely my gain, Leila gave me not only company during the day, but also a walking partner at lunchtime.

I can’t tell you how much having Leila at home with me benefitted my mental wellbeing, both in terms of the purpose that she brought me, but also the fresh air and exercise that we shared each lunchtime.

Now things are returning to normal, I am embracing the ‘hybrid’ model that Client Server now offers as a business, and I most definitely enjoy the mix of being in the office, whilst also avoiding the commute for a couple of days per week. That said, one thing has not changed on those days that I am at home, Leila is still at home with me and we are still taking those daily lunchtime walks together.