Mental Health Awareness week, (10-16 May) is an annual event where there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. It is open to everyone and is all about starting conversations about mental health and the things in our daily lives that can affect it.
The Mental Health Foundation started this event 21 years ago and it has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally.
This year’s event theme is nature. Talking about this year’s theme, Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said, “In the first lockdown, I called an elderly friend. She lives alone and had recently had a fall. Separated from her community, she had lost all in-person contact. When I asked her how she had got through it, she told me it was taking daily comfort from watching the birds sing to each other on the fence and the flowers re-emerge from the frosts of winter.”
"There is something to be wondered at in all of Nature."
This week, we’ve taken a theme each day and shared these with our team on Jostle – our internal engagement and communications platform. We included ideas on how to practice good mental health, including some practical activities and fun things to do.
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.” www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness
Mindfulness practices can help us increase our ability to regulate emotions, as well as decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also help us focus our attention and observe our thoughts and feelings. As we become more present, it can help us to make better decisions, to manage our emotions and to be fully engaged.
If you have some time today, why not try a short mindful breathing exercise from Every Mind Matters.
TAKING TIME TO TALK
“Talking about your feelings can help you maintain your mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.” Mental Health Foundation.
Talking is an important part of our relationships. It can strengthen ties with each other and help you stay in good mental health. And being listened to helps you feel that other people care about you and what you have to say.
With many people still remote working, it is as important as ever to stay connected. Consider holding a virtual coffee morning and get everyone together for a good ol’ natter.
The Mental Health Foundation conducted research that showed “being in nature has been one of the most popular ways the public have tried to sustain good mental health over the past year. The research said that going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health. Websites that showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.”
Nature is something that is all around us. It can be helpful in supporting good mental health. So, step away from your desks, take a break and spend some time outdoors. This can be a walk, run, jog, spending some time in your garden or even looking after your house plant!
Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life. You might be surprised by what you see!
TAKING TIME OUT
A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. When we are stressed and busy, it can seem even harder to take breaks.
It could be a five-minute pause from what you are doing, a lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some 'me time'.
Take your lunch break! Step away from your desk and do something for you, something you really enjoy. Read a book, take the dog for a walk, paint your nails, do some DIY – whatever it is that takes you away from work and allows you to relax.
IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE THIS WEEK … EMBRACE MORNING
Mark Wishart, Managing Consultant at Pure advocates spending at least 20 minutes outside every morning.
Why? Because prioritising sleep starts the minute we get up and one of the best things we can do for our body clocks is get outdoors in natural daylight. Even on the dullest of days, we’re better out than in.
So grab a jumper and head out into the garden or onto the balcony for your first cuppa of the day. Walk the dog, walk the kids to school, go for a run, do some yoga outside – whatever feels good. See how that first light sets you up for the day.
Sharing is caring, so if you have any ideas on how to have good mental health, do share these and #Connectwithnature.
Find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week.