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09th October 2020

World Mental Health Day – Wellbeing Top Tips

It is World Mental Health Day tomorrow (10 Oct). Now more than ever, it is crucial to look after our mental health when the world is experiencing the unprecedented impact of Covid19. Dr Lucy Loveday, a GP & experienced medical educationalist, has shared with us some suggestions to stay positive during a global pandemic. 

A Wellbeing Factsheet is also available to download for free below. It has different practical top tips that help you to start taking care of yourself and each other.

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Read the full article and top tips from Dr Lucy Loveday here:

Global Mental Health - The challenge

Worldwide, mental health conditions are on the increase. Approximately 20% of children and adolescents have a mental health condition and for people aged 15-29 years old, suicide represents the second leading cause of death. Loneliness is at epidemic levels and as we observe World Mental Health day 2020, we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic.

Many people living with pre-existing mental health conditions will have experienced a worsening of their symptoms during the lockdown period and beyond. For many, the socio-economic impact associated with COVID-19 will be far-reaching. Movement restrictions and disruption to daily life all adds up to create a complex and unfamiliar territory.

Whilst each of us is trying to navigate this as best we can, we may find ourselves more vulnerable to experiencing stress, no matter how resilient we think we are. There is absolutely no doubt that these are exceptionally challenging times.

Be reassured that you are not alone. It is both understandable and normal to find this pandemic stressful.

Mental health can affect anyone, on any day of the year - not only the 10th October 2020.

World Mental Health Day represents an opportunity to pause and reflect on possible ways in which you can support your mental wellbeing and/or that of a friend, family member, neighbour or colleague.

The intention of this article is to signpost you to a range of resources that may be able to support you on this journey and to remind you that there are always people who care and people who are ready to listen to you.

Be Kind to Yourself, Be Kind to Each Other

When faced with uncertainty and the unknown, it is normal to experience stress, worry and fear. As you read this, you may be feeling anxious or concerned about finances and/or your own health or the health of someone close to you. You may be feeling isolated, frustrated or lonely. You may be managing additional responsibilities as a carer or juggling childcare with work. You may be trying to balance various demands on your time and energy. You may be adjusting to new ways of working and living. You may be shielding. You may be managing or leading a team. Whatever your circumstances and whatever you are experiencing right now, be kind to yourself.

Earlier this year, Mental Health Awareness Week (May 18-24th 2020) focused on the theme of KINDNESS. The value of kindness is something that can never be underestimated. A listening ear. A smile. A random act that demonstrates you care. Giving of yourself and your time doesn't need to cost you anything and can make a really positive difference to someone else. Recently, someone unexpectedly made me a cup of coffee. It really made my day!

Celebrate the gift of kindness and be inspired here: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/get-inspired

Shift your Focus 

Recently, I discovered a beautiful illustration by the wonderful Charlie Mackesy. Underneath the picture of a boy on a horse he writes:

"When the big things feel out of control... focus on what you love right under your nose".

By shifting our focus onto what we are able to control, we can feel better. Whilst we cannot predict the situation we find ourselves in, we can regain a sense of control by focusing on the moment, how we respond, how we spend our time outside of work and other responsibilities and how we use our energy. This is also an exercise in mindfulness. Consciously and deliberately focusing our attention on the moment.

The value of taking one small step and focusing on what you can control is very much aligned with this year's national MIND campaign 'Do One Thing': https://www.mind-blmk.org.uk/news/doonething/.

The New Economics Foundation (2008) produced an evidenced-based, practical framework of activities that can support people to live their lives in a happier way. The Five Ways to Wellbeing suggests that building connection, being active, taking notice, learning and giving, in our daily lives has a positive influence on our wellbeing.

There is an excellent free downloadable self-help booklet based upon the CLANG framework (produced by the Devon Partnership Trust) and available via this link: https://www.dpt.nhs.uk/resources/recovery-and-wellbeing/five-ways-to-wellbeing

Practical Top Tips for WELLBEING

1. Stay Connected 

Social relationships and connection are good for our wellbeing. In the context of COVID-19, we need to be prepared to be innovative in the ways we connect with each other, so that we avoid or mitigate feelings of isolation at this extraordinary time.

  • Consider organising a virtual dinner party with friends or family. Host a virtual tea party with yummy cake. The Tea & Talk is a wonderful initiative too. Why not set up your own virtual event to connect with your colleagues or community ? Learn more here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/get-involved/tea-and-talk/resources
  • Begin a conversation with a colleague. Be prepared to listen
  • Embrace the changing season and connect with nature. The Danish tradition of hygge is certainly worthwhile exploring too. Some describe hygge as being like a hug without the physical touch. This is ever so relevant for the times we are in. A cup of cocoa by candlelight is just one example of how to cultivate this sense of comfort and contentment in a different way, whilst simultaneously practicing self-care
  • Another website to be aware of: https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/

2. Routine

  • Try to establish a routine, whatever you are up to in the daytime. Punctuate your day with something simple - a cup of tea, making the bed, tidy the house, set an alarm for a movement break. Whatever it is, try to create healthy habits
  • Transitioning from work to home can be a challenge as we adjust to new ways of working. MIND have produced this Going Home Checklist which is worth trying: https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/4577/tcoy_leaving_work_cl_poster_stg1_v3.pdf

3. Manage your Expectations

Aim to set realistic goals and plans for the coming months. In some ways, it is probably best to plan to be flexible. This will avoid possible disappointment. Let go of trying to control too many aspects of the future and instead focus on something to look forward to that feels achievable. A feel-good film on a Friday night for example. An exercise class online each week. Whatever it is, make sure it brings you JOY.

4. Mindfulness

In the midst of a public health crisis, it is even more essential to practice mindfulness to cope. This website is authored by Dr Danny Penman, Professor Mark Williams and Vidyamala Burch and contains many free downloadable guided meditations: http://franticworld.com/resources/

5. Eat Well

A balanced diet promotes optimal immune system functioning and mood.

6. Prioritise Sleep

Learn more about sleep hygiene here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/sleep/

7. Move

The benefits of physical activity on our mental and physical health are well established. Long days spent at the computer are a reality for many people. Consider using an app like Rise & Recharge to prompt you to find a healthier balance between sitting and being active. Take a walk for 5 minutes and feel the benefits.

8. Nature

There is a growing body of research evidence demonstrating the health and wellbeing benefits of nature. "Get off your screen and into the green" is very much my catchphrase and I really encourage you to explore and connect with nature this Autumn/Winter. If you are not able to access green space, try to bring nature into your home.

  • A bird feeder by the window is a wonderful way to pass time
  • Listen to a special edition of the Mindful Mix with David Attenborough (available on BBC Sounds)
  • Sow a seed of hope for the future with a seasonal plant that you can nurture into the new year

9. Gratitude

Begin or end your day by writing down three things that you are grateful for.

If you are experiencing mental distress, it is really important that you talk to someone you trust and if you feel you need it - seek professional help. Speak to your GP or relevant healthcare professional.

10. What to Do in a Mental Health Crisis

If you feel you may have seriously harmed yourself or you feel like you might attempt to end your life, you need urgent medical help. Please:

  • Call 999 for an ambulance
  • Go straight to A&E (if it's safe to do so)
  • Or, call your local crisis team, if you have their number

11. Talk to Someone


Resources

NHS One You - Your Mind Plan: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/your-mind-plan-quiz/

World Health Organisation: www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/mental-well-being-resources-for-the-public

Young Minds: https://youngminds.org.uk/

Mental Health at Work 

NHS Practitioner Health: www.practitionerhealth.nhs.uk/

Mental Health at Work: www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/toolkit/coronavirus-coping-with-the-challenges-of-working-from-home/

Mental Health Foundation: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-support-mental-health-work

NHS Related Training: https://people.nhs.uk/react-mh-conversation-training/

 

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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