We are living in unprecedented times where all of us will be coming to terms with having our normal routines and lives disrupted and brought back to basics in many ways. Here at West Kent Mind, while our doors may be shut, our listening ears are very much open.
It was with a heavy-heart that we had to suspend all of our face-to-face services, but we are working hard to ensure we can still support our clients and the wider community in other ways.
Self-isolation will pose its own challenges for those with mental health problems due to the lack of exposure to nature, social connections and exercise but no-one is immune from the effects of the current situation on their mental health. It is paramount that we are able to rely on our local communities to pull together and look after those who are vulnerable, whilst also taking care of ourselves.
Social media is full of tips and advice on how to navigate working from home, home-schooling and not being able to see loved-ones, but it can seem very overwhelming. There is no “one size fits all” way to do this. We need to find what works for us, what brings us joy and makes us feel connected in times of isolation.
As we have touched on before, all of our programmes and training all draw on “The Six Ways to Wellbeing” (www.wheelofwellbeing.org).
Designed by South London Maudsley and NHS Foundation Trust, these are simple, evidence-based ways to improve our moods, reduce the risk of depression, strengthen relationships, keep us healthy and even increase life expectancy. While we may need to think about these in a slightly different way in order to adhere to the Government guidelines, they are all possible.
Here we look at achieving your Six Ways to Wellbeing during the Corona Virus lockdown.
1. Connect – There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world. It’s clear that social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and protecting our mental health and resilience. While face-to-face contact may be limited, we are big fans of using technology to stay connected, be it texts, WhatsApp, Zoom, House Party… For those who don’t have access to this technology, think about how you can connect with them. Drop in a card or letter, wave through the window to someone who is self-isolating. Anything that raises a smile and lets them know you care.
2. Be active – we are all aware that regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. Exercise is essential for slowing age-related cognitive decline and for promoting well-being. While gyms may be closed and fitness classes cancelled, there are still plenty opportunities for exercise. Gardening, walking, fitness DVDs, on-line classes, even housework and spring cleaning!
3. Take notice – Reminding yourself to ‘take notice’ can strengthen and broaden awareness. Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being and savouring ‘the moment’ can help to reaffirm your life priorities. Heightened awareness also enhances your self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations.
4. Learn – Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the opportunity to engage in work or educational activities particularly helps to lift older people out of depression. Read a book, take an online class, even watching a documentary on something you know nothing about.
5. Give – Participation in social and community life has attracted a lot of attention in the field of wellbeing research. Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing. Give to a food bank, volunteer to help the NHS, reach-out to a friend who may be struggling. We all have time to give at the moment
6. Care for the Planet – look after your community and the world. Make small changes to your life that will reduce your energy use, recycle more, leave the car at home, use low energy light bulbs, small steps to a greener life can make a difference. We are all doing this by default at the moment but take notice of the changes you see and whether any of them are sustainable once we are through the other side- cooking more from scratch, reducing wastefulness, walking to the shops instead of driving, less business travel in favour of communicating via technology…
While this is undoubtedly a time of increased uncertainty for everyone, we urge you to take the opportunity to be in the moment and connect with the simple things in life from which we can gain immense pleasure.
Please know that we understand how difficult this is and that we are still here to help. We are adapting our services and offering support via alternative means, so please visit our website or follow us on social media to find out how we can help you.
Stay Safe. Stay Connected.
For more information on our services, please visit www.westkentmind.org.uk
You can contact us at the following email addresses:
• email@example.com (for training in schools)
• firstname.lastname@example.org (for enquiries about courses for individuals or organisations)
• email@example.com (for general enquiries or support)
RESOURCES AND SIGNPOSTING
Need help now? If your life is at risk call 999, 111 or go to your nearest A&E department.
SAMARITANS 24/7 helpline: Free to call, even from mobiles out of credit. Call 116 123.
SHOUT – 24/7 crisis textline: Free on most networks, text 85258.
Release the Pressure 24/7 helpline: Free to call on 0800 1070160.
CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably – Suicide Prevention for Men: Free to call on 0800 585858 or webchat at thecalmzone.net/help
5.00pm-midnight every day.
SANELINE: Call 0300 304 7000, 4.30pm -10.30pm every day.
Mental Health Matters 24/7 helpline (Kent & Medway)
Free to call on 0800 1070160 from landlines or 0300 3305486 from mobiles.
Childline: Free to call/chat 0800 1111 or online at childline.org.uk
9am until midnight (currently reduced hours)
Mental Health Matters: Webchat at mhm.org.uk 24 hours a day.