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We spend so much of our time at work, so it’s really important to find effective ways to support ourselves. Below are listed some things to remember, as well as suggested methods to make our workdays more manageable and enjoyable. We have also highlighted some of the Ways of Working policies within the University, in case you want to find out more about what is available to you.


Some habits or thoughts that might improve your everyday...

  • Think about the things that are causing you stress or worry and work out what is within your control and what isn’t. Have a look at the stress container example to see if that’s helpful.
  • Identify what makes you feel better – and remember, don’t feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing. What works for me may well not work for you.
  • Small steps can have big effects. You don't need to set huge resolutions, but doing one small thing in a day – like noting three things you are grateful for today, or having a quick shake to relieve stress – could lead to bigger changes in habits over time.
  • If you need to (whether it’s about work and workload or anything else), talk to your manager or supervisor about how you’re doing and where you might need support from them. If you don’t feel able to speak to your manager or supervisor, come and talk to an MPLS Mental Health First Aider.
  • Try not to isolate yourself – talk to colleagues, friends, family, a Mental Health First Aider. Find your support network.
  • Build in a bit of time every day to check in with how you’re feeling. Do you need to put aside time to practice some breathing techniques, go for a walk, or eat something tasty for lunch? Don’t ignore those warning signs that you may not be fully ok.
  • Keep an eye out for those around you. Check in with your colleagues and friends. If you think someone isn’t 100% themselves, it’s ok to ask them if there’s anything you can do. They might say no, and that’s fine. Or they might say yes. But just knowing that someone is looking out for them will help.
  • Be kind to yourself. Extend the same compassion and kindness you give to other people to yourself as well. This will boost your mood and put you in a better frame of mind.

Some suggested tools or methods for self-care and to build resilience include:

  • Keep a notebook that you use to write down thoughts and feelings, particularly after a difficult day, meeting or experience that has had a negative effect on you. Once you’ve written everything out, close the notebook and put it away.
  • You could do something similar with an object. Have a rock, a fidget toy, or anything you choose, in your pocket during a difficult conversation or experience. Once that experience is over, you can remove it from your pocket to take it away from you.
  • Take a shower to wash away any negative experiences from the day.
  • If you are overwhelmed with your workload, take a step back. Go for a walk, get outside or just physically get away from your desk, rather than trying to power through it. When you are ready, write a list, and then use your diary to block time to work on specific tasks. Research shows that planning ahead really benefits wellbeing and reduces stress.
  • Eat your frog: If you like me are a productive procrastinator (where I’m working, but not necessarily doing what I’m supposed to be working on!), check out this article on ‘eating your frog’.
  • Practice breathing. Feet on the floor (if possible, feel the ground). Close your eyes (if you would like to). Breathe in for the count of 7 (or for as long as you’re able). Hold to the count of 7 (holding is really important, don’t worry if it takes you a while to get to 7). Breathe out to the count of 7. Repeat 3-4 times if you find this is helping you. Or trace the outline of your hands, breathing in as you gently trace up your thumb, and out as you go down, in as you work up your finger, and out as you go down.
  • Shake it out. Shaking can be really beneficial for relieving stress and tension in the body. Even just spending one minute moving in this way can help relax your body. Dancing can have a similar effect.
  • You could practice meditation or mindfulness – but if you are new to this, make sure you read up on how to do it properly to get the best out of it.
  • Practice gratitude. Many people find gratitude journals a useful way of reminding themselves what they are grateful for and bringing the focus back to what they already have (rather than what they want). This can also be a really fun and powerful exercise to do with friends.
  • Start a joy journal. Similar to a gratitude journal, but you write down anything that made you happy or laugh, like seeing a butterfly or laughing at a joke. Writing them down means you can look back at that joy again and again.
  • Find an activity you enjoy, which could include: listening to music, crocheting, knitting, painting, drawing, going for a walk, running or swimming, stretching, cooking, cleaning, gardening, watching a movie or reading a book, playing games, doing a puzzle – anything that helps you switch off and takes away stress is a form of self-care.

And remember to add movement into the everyday!


  • New Ways of WorkingNew Ways of Working supports the needs and circumstances of professional services staff working in different ways, building on our experiences during the pandemic. The New Ways of Working Framework pages have been created to ensure professional services staff can continue to support the University’s academic mission whilst working on-site or remotely. Find out more about what this could mean for you.
  • Thriving at Oxford – looking after youThriving at Oxford has summarised a number of resources from around the University to improve your working life.
  • HR guidelines: There are a variety of policies and guidance on the HR pages that might help understand how the University works and where you might be able to get further support to work in the best way for you.
  • Flexible working: HR also provide specific information for staff and managers about requesting temporary or permanent changes to working patterns, on the flexible working page.
  • EDU reasonable adjustments: For individuals who are disabled or need more support from work, the Equality and Diversity Unit have prepared a number of useful reasonable adjustments (and supporting information).