Time to support our mental health: April is Stress Awareness Month
Events like the current Covid-19 pandemic are extremely rare. When they do happen, it is normal to have strong reactions.
Remember that we become more anxious when faced with situations that have no clear precedent and anxiety typically acts as a useful and protective emotion.
During this time, supporting the health and wellbeing of each other and our family is so important.
Did you know that next week it's April and that marks Stress Awareness Month?
Stress Awareness Month has been held every April, since 1992 to increase awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress problems.
According to the Mental Health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
It can be hard to know how to talk about your mental health, especially when you're struggling. But talking can be incredibly helpful to make sense of and manage difficult experiences – and it has never been more important.
Supporting your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
Although you might feel helpless during this stressful time, following these strategies can help to manage anxiety and stop it from becoming a problem in its own right.
- Follow and share trusted sources
Get your updates from trusted local and national sources.
Locally they are Cumbria County Council, your district council, our local NHS - locally that is North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust and NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group , Cumbria CVS and Cumbria Police. Nationally they are NHS and Public Health England and www.gov.uk.
If you feel that it is affecting your mental health, consider limiting your exposure to coronavirus news on social media, or limit the time you spend reading updates.
- Practice self-care
- Get adequate sleep
- Exercise regularly – you can still enjoy nature and go for walks as long as you apply social distancing rules. There are plently of exercises you can do at home, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-fitness-studio for some online videos. YouTube also has lots of online fitness classes from yoga to daily PE sessions
- Eat well – continue you eat a healthy, balance diet
- Keep hydrated
- Employ relaxation techniques when stressed.
Prioritising these behaviours can go a long way toward increasing your psychological and physical wellbeing.
The Five Ways to Wellbeing (Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give) are simple and proven actions that we can take in everyday life to find balance and recharge, build resilience and boost mental health and wellbeing.
- Your mental health and wellbeing when isolating
If you've been asked to stay at home and avoid other people, it might feel more difficult than usual to take care of your mental health and wellbeing.
MIND has some excellent tips and advice which may help. Visit www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing.
- Talk about your feelings
If you experience any anxiety or stress, notice and describe the experience and your fears to yourself or others without judgment. Facing anxiety in the moment will lead to less anxiety over time.
Reach out and talk
If you are vulnerable to anxiety and related disorders you might find the coronavirus epidemic particularly overwhelming.
If you feel you are not coping, please seek help; there are a variety of ways you can do this:
Every Mind Matters: www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters
Mind Infoline: Infoline will look for details of help and support in your own area.
Lines are open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays).
0300 123 3393 firstname.lastname@example.org Text: 86463
Samaritans: Provides emotional support to anyone in emotional distress or struggling to cope.
www.samaritans.org or Tel: 08457 90 90 90
Shout: Shout is the UK’s first 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere.
Breathing exercise for anxiety
This calming breathing technique for stress, anxiety and panic takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere.
If you're sitting or standing, place both feet flat on the ground. Whatever position you're in, place your feet roughly hip-width apart.
Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first.
Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again, if you find this helpful.
Keep doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.
FREE support tools you can access on your phone or computer
Improve your sleep with Sleepio
Sleepio is an online self-care programme based on CBT for insomnia (CBTi).
It is a fully automated online sleep improvement programme, which delivers tailored and engaging advice, 24/7. It is clinically proven to improve sleep, mental wellbeing and productivity.
Access the programme for free by visiting www.sleepio.com/redeem and using the code GBSS2020.
Sleepio is best accessed via a laptop or desktop computer, but can be accessed via a mobile device.
Manage worry and anxiety with Daylight
Daylight is a tailored self-help system. If you’re bothered by worry and anxiety, Daylight may be helpful for you.
Daylight is suitable for adults (18+) with persistent problems with worry and anxiety but who otherwise have stable physical and mental health.
How to access Daylight
- Visit www.trydaylight.com/access.
- Complete the questionnaire and create an account
- Download the daylight app and sign in using your credentials (username and password)
- Access the programme.