As we enter another period of restrictions due to the Coronavirus, it is vital that we continue look after our mental as well as our physical health. Hands – Face – Space – is good advice for our personal hygiene, but it doesn’t account for the personal challenges we face on the inside.
As a parent or carer, we can easily slip into a mode where we are so busy looking after everyone else that we forget to think about ourselves. Daily doses of bad news seem to knock us back and it can be harder than ever to keep on our feet. Teenagers can be so busy trying to figure out what and why things are so tough right now that everyone’s’ wellbeing can be affected in a negative way. Knowing how to manage and improve our mental wellbeing is one way we can make it through the challenges that lie ahead for us all.
Wellbeing is defined as your mental state – how you are feeling and how well you can cope with day-to-day life. It is about the connection between our bodies and health, our relationships, our mind/thoughts, and our emotions/feelings.
PHYSICAL + SOCIAL + MENTAL + EMOTIONAL= WELLBEING
EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED! Good wellbeing enables you to get the most out of life. It helps you to benefit others and your community. It enables you to THRIVE and not just survive!
1. Understand that life can be a rollercoaster
We all experience ups and downs of life that impact how we feel at certain times. Everyone deals with situations differently. What is easier for one person may be harder for another and that is okay. Some circumstances in life leave us feeling like we are heading up; like making new friends, going on holiday, or receiving an award. Other situations can make us feel low: like the thought of another Lockdown, a loved one becoming ill or experiencing discrimination from others. Just like being on a rollercoaster, some experiences can leave us with a mixture of excitement and dread at the same time: such as moving to a new house or starting a new job. It is normal not to feel perfect all the time! The GOOD NEWS is that no matter where feel you are at right now, there is ALWAYS hope! You can learn to live beyond the ups and downs of our circumstances. There are so many practical ways we make a difference even in the middle of lockdown life.
2. Learn to spot the warning signs in yourself and others
Just like that warning signs that appear on the dashboard of a car, there are often warning signs we can learn to spot in ourselves or those very close to us that indicate we may need to pause, make a change or ask for help.
PHYSICAL SIGNS (How your health is) When our wellbeing is poor, we can be affected by things like stomach upsets, low energy, changes in appetite, random aches and pains and disturbed sleep.
MENTAL SIGNS (How you think) We can be impacted by negative feelings, confusion, reduced concentration, consistent negative patterns of thinking and anxiety, fear, or suspicion.
BEHAVIOURAL SIGNS (How you act) We can be affected by things like mood swings, emotional outbursts, strong feelings of blame, lower performance, and uncharacteristic behaviour.
Everybody will experience some of this at different times and it doesn’t mean there is something majorly wrong with us or others! It’s just good to be able to recognise when things aren’t doing so well, so that we can help ourselves and others to take the right steps to improve wellbeing when we need to.
3. Follow the expert Advice
There are five simple bits of expert advice that are known as The Five Ways to Wellbeing. Here is quick summary taken from advice by The New Economics Foundation.
- Connect with the people around you: family, friends, colleagues and neighbours at home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these relationships as the cornerstones of your life and spend time developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day. You can do this even if you can’t see them in person.
- Be active: Go for a walk or run, cycle, play a game, garden or dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity that you enjoy; one that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
- Take notice: Be observant, look for something beautiful or remark on something unusual. Savour the moment, whether you are on a bus or in a taxi, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.
- Keep learning: Don’t be afraid to try something new, rediscover an old hobby or sign up for a course. Take on a different responsibility, fix a bike, learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy. Learning new things will make you more confident, as well as being fun to do.
- Give: Do something nice for a friend or stranger, thank someone, smile, and volunteer your time to help those less fortunate than you. Look out as well as in. Seeing yourself and your happiness linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and will create connections with the people around you.