Mental Health and Wellbeing
It is important for everyone to stay in good spirits. If the weather is good to us, and we can get outside and get moving in the fresh air, this will help to give us all head space; but for anyone who is struggling, ‘Every Mind Matters' can help you.
Every Mind Matters looks at ways for you to look after your mental health. Get advice and tips on:
- how to maintain your mental wellbeing while you're staying at home
- If you're anxious about the Coronavirus and need help in dealing with your anxiety
- If social distancing yourself from people is giving you a low mood If you are generally worried, feel stressed and are struggling to sleep
For more details on Every Mind Matters visit https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/
There is also more guidance here on how to stay happy and healthy at home
How to look after yourself in these difficult times
by Ros Howard, Chartered Psychologist
We know at present we are going through an unprecedented time of change and uncertainty. This is global. This understandably creates ‘a sense of threat' which means we feel emotions of stress, anxiety and fear. This is normal. Plus, the daily news reports feed ‘the threat'.
You probably know that stress is a survival response. If I break down stress into Good Stress and Bad Stress it may be more helpful to understand how you are feeling and more importantly why you are feeling stressed.
Good Stress: Triggers our ‘fight or flight' response – it triggers a survival response. This means we react quickly to a threat. So, for example, in present times Good Stress helps us to follow the Government health warnings. In our usual life, Good Stress prepares us for tests, such as a driving test, a sports match, anything competitive and stepping outside our comfort zone. Good Stress is only short term – to get us through a short-lived experience.
Bad Stress: This is when our stress levels remain high for too long. This situation is generally when we let negative thoughts go round and round in our head, creating a cycle of fear. This negative processing can have a detrimental effect/affect on both our mental and physical well-being.
So what can we do ? OK – so you have probably read and seen loads of articles about ‘Emotional Well -Being'. So, I'm not going to go over information that you already know. However, I am going to touch base on a few points:
Make a plan for each day, but keep it simple and flexible.
- The plan may include organisation for home management, working from home, fun activities, exercise, home schooling and a shopping trip.
- Try to keep to a routine, such as a regular time getting up in the morning, getting dressed to start the day, regular bed time, regular meal times.
- Enlist the help from family – children can learn new skills such as sorting the laundry.
- Share responsibilities in the home – we are all in this together.
- Take more time over meals – sit down together as a family. The supermarkets have lots of colourful and healthy vegetables and fruits. Try out some new recipes – encourage your children to be involved. ·
- Keep in touch with friends and family.
- Exercise, go for a walk; we all need fresh air and daylight. Notice things on the walk you have never noticed before. Exercise in the home - Joe Wicks offers some good fun workouts for adults and children (see YouTube); Darcy Bussell offers some lovely relaxing Pilates (see YouTube). Go to our Active at home webpage
- If you have a garden, spend some time outside in the garden. Observe wildlife in your garden, the birds, insects; what flowers are growing; notice the ever changing colours of bushes, tress, plants. If you don't have a garden, then a window box will bring creativity and colour. ·
- Reduce news overload. I suggest one news viewing per day.
How do human beings function ?
- In our natural state, human beings need to sleep, eat, exercise and rest.
- We need goals and ambitions, we also need to self sooth / be compassionate to ourselves and others.
- We are sociable, so we need to inter-connected.
Note how you are feeling
Thoughts, feelings, reactions
Where do the thoughts come from? Are the thoughts based on facts or are they created in our mind? We can break this process down by asking ourselves – Is this thought based on fact/evidence or am I creating a ‘fact/worry'. If you find your self worrying there are 3 things you can do :
1. Take 5 slow breaths in and out to calm mind and body.
2. Ask yourself – is this thought/worry true – am I exaggerating what is happening right now, in this moment ?
3. Investigate the thought - Clock time is when we make a plan (this is healthy); worry is based on psychological association of something bad will happen with my plan (this is unhealthy). Your plan is in the future – how do you know that something bad will happen?
Feelings come from our tummy area and are based on thoughts and our environment. Our feelings are our gut instincts.
How am I reacting/responding to my thought/feeling ? Is my reaction/response appropriate to the thought/feeling ?
Keeping children occupied
- Gardening – planting seeds, watching as the seeds grow
- Crafts – making things for the home such as birdfeeder
- Creative/imaginative play - a large cardboard box is a good start; the child can create the box into anything – a car, a garage, hidey-hole…
- Colouring books – good for children and adults – calms the mind
- Make an indoor tent – this offers all sorts of adventures
- Naming vegetables, trying out new tastes
For more ideas on entertaining and stimulating children, click here
And finally………. for grown ups
3 big breaths every morning – possibly as you awake: ·
- 1st breath for yourself
- 2nd breath for gratitude (what am I thankful for)
- 3rd breath for intention (one small goal for today)
Stay safe, Stay well Ms Ros Howard – Chartered Psychologist Psychological