Article tips via the Co-Production group based on NHS UK’s Every Mind Matters ideas and sources of support.
Basic needs: Healthy eating, exercise and sleep can all reduce stress
Be kind: Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing. It creates positive feelings, gives a feeling of purpose and self-worth, and helps to connect you with others. Don’t forget, it’s also important to be kind towards yourself. This means not judging yourself, holding yourself to impossibly high standards, comparing yourself to others or beating yourself up if you make a mistake. Instead forgive, respect, and show yourself compassion, look after and believe in yourself. Most of all cultivate your inner advocate!
Re-establish routine: Whilst it may feel difficult, getting back to normal routines as much as possible, will help minimise stress, anxiety, and hopelessness. Try to bring structure to your day with regular times for eating, sleeping, spending time with family, doing activities that you enjoy (exercise, reading, cooking, watching a movie) and relaxing.
Get outside and get moving: Getting outdoors for exercise can be difficult at any time of year, but it’s a great way to boost your mood. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins into the bloodstream, relieving pain and producing a feeling of well-being. It doesn’t have to be long either. Just 10 minutes of an exercise that leaves you slightly out of breath, like a brisk walk, gardening, cycle ride or run, can help.
Stay connected with others: Talking things through with others can help you to reframe your problems and move through them. Talk to colleagues, managers, friends, and family. It’ll help you to lessen feelings of distress, anxiousness, and isolation. Reach out when you can, and if you can’t do that in person, pick up the phone and give someone a call, or arrange to talk online. Where possible check-in on the needs of others; colleagues and loved ones. Promote being socially connected.
Focus on what you can control: Currently a lot things might feel out of our control. It can help to focus on what we CAN do rather than what we cannot.
Celebrate your successes: Think of three positive things that have happened in your day, three things that you have achieved, or something new that you have learnt to do. Focusing on our achievements allows us to feel self-worth.
Focus on the positives: Acknowledge that what you and your team are doing matters. You are doing a great job! Even if it’s not how you would ordinarily like things to be done, you are still doing a job that is making a real contribution and supporting others. Look out for all the other good things that are going on around you during this difficult time. Notice the good news stories, see how communities are working together for one another, and that there is a sense of purpose and connectedness.
Limit negativity: Limit your exposure to negative social media and news footage. Find something else that you enjoy to fill your free time with instead.
Stop over-thinking: People often dwell on problems, going over and over the same negative thoughts. It’s perfectly normal to worry and whilst we need to acknowledge and deal with the issue’s life throws at us, repetitious thinking can overwhelm you making it harder to think clearly and calmly. The main thing is to try and shift your focus from worries to practical problem-solving. What steps can you take to address the problem? You can make yourself feel calmer if you recognise you’re over-thinking, stop and focus on facts.
Take time if you need it: We can’t keep ploughing on forever, take proper time out to recharge when you need it. Use the time to reconnect with activities and hobbies that make you feel happy (e.g. reading, listening to music, gardening, baking/cooking, doing a jigsaw, getting outdoors, speaking with a friend, drawing/colouring, learning something new) to properly switch off, relax and recharge. You cannot fill from an empty cup.
Don’t ignore or avoid your feelings: Think about and acknowledge how you are feeling and coping, reflecting on your own needs and limits. Emotions exist whether you pay attention to them or not. Even the most intense emotions will pass if you allow yourself to feel what you need to feel.
There is no right or wrong: Everyone reacts to things in their own way. Just because another person is dealing with something in one way, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Don’t tell yourself what you think you should be thinking, feeling, or doing based on how someone else is handling things. Do it your way!
Ask for help if you are struggling: It is normal during times of stress and uncertainty to feel anxious and worried. If you need help, reach out and ask. Asking for help when times are difficult is a sign of strength.
Source: NHS England