Boosting your emotional well-being
NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands have worked with health charity C3 to create a regional version of its health and well-being toolkit “Caring for Yourself While You Care For Others” for nurses. Please share this resource and encourage your colleagues to use it to support themselves and others.
Although this interactive toolkit was designed for nurses and midwives, it features links to a large range of free health and well-being resources including websites, apps, podcasts and physical support groups that may be helpful for many professionals at this time.
The Five Ways to Well-being
There’s lots of things we can do to help boost our well-being at this time. Evidence suggests there are five steps you can take to help improve your mental health and well-being. These steps are connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give. The good news is that you can do these five steps, even if you are confined to your own home. Sometimes we can know the theory, but it’s harder to apply it to our own busy lives.
- Why not make a weekly plan, for how you are going to do the five ways to well-being?
- What will you do each day? When will you do it?
- Can you pin your plan to your fridge or up in your bedroom as a reminder?
- Can you set a challenge to do this with someone else, and encourage each other?
Action for Happiness have developed a coping calendar. Each day you’ll get a new suggestion for boosting your mood and well-being – such as making some progress on a project that matters to you, writing down 10 things about which you feel grateful each day, and sending a letter to someone you can’t be with. Why not give some of the ideas a go? You can sign up to get monthly happiness calendars.
Sometimes the harder we try to relax, the less relaxed we feel! To help you explore new ways to relax visit Well-being and Coping for plenty of ideas that cost nothing, and take as little as 30 seconds. Some of their 30-second ideas include:
- Taking three deep breaths
- Hugging yourself
- Feel the floor – focus on noticing the floor beneath your feet
- Relax your shoulders, release some of the tension you may be holding in them.
You may be feeling that you would like to make some positive lifestyle changes – losing weight, stopping smoking, or getting more physically active. For free support, information, and advice on lifestyle changes, get in touch with Live Life Better Derbyshire, via their website or by calling 0800 085 2299 or 01629 538 200. The Live Life Better Derbyshire website also has plenty of resources and ideas for you. For example, they have got advice on food swaps, reading food labels, what 100 calories looks like, and portion sizes.
You may be thinking about trying to cut down your drinking. For some top tips on alcohol and mental health visit the Alcohol Change website.
Managing anxiety and worry
This section will provide you with a range of resources and tips to help you manage anxiety. Many of the techniques you can start right now.
We have put together advice and information on the following topics:
- Health anxiety
- Obsessional compulsive disorder (OCD).
Anxiety and worry
Anxiety is a normal hard-wired human response to threat and danger. It can be scary to experience anxiety and panic. Anxiety can also make it very hard to function at times as it can significantly impact on things such as our concentration and memory.
I’ve got five minutes…
Grounding is a simple and easy technique, particularly useful for times of high stress. It’s about paying attention to the physical sensations of your body being physically connected to the ground. You can do it anywhere (whether you are at a desk or in an armchair) – and it’s easy to learn.
- Have a go now (this is a version for when you are sitting on a chair)
- Feel your feet firmly on the ground
- Notice the weight of your body in the chair
- Bring your attention to your back against the chair
- Explore the sensations of your elbows on the arms of the chair
- As you do this, you will notice your attention wander, gently bring it back to the physical sensations of being connected to the ground
- You can perhaps even imagine roots growing from your feet. Reaching into the ground, firmly anchoring you to the earth.
Evidence-based stress and anxiety management tips for frontline staff
The Oxford Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma has developed two documents to support frontline staff to manage stress and anxiety, underpinned by evidence-based psychological approaches.
- The first is a summary of seven evidence-based tools for managing high stress and anxiety.
- The second provides more detail about these more detail about these evidence-based tools for managing high stress and anxiety.
Brief mindfulness: when you come home, thoughts of the day that’s been – or of the days or weeks to come – may feel like they have your attention and that they are your reality. Mindfulness exercises, such as mindfulness of sounds or breath, can be helpful as you find ways to look after yourself.
Video: Mindfulness of sound
Many people find great benefit from everyday mindfulness. This means focusing on and noticing your senses as you do everyday tasks; for example, noticing the sensations you experience while showering, or while walking, or mindful eating of a snack, or perhaps looking out of the window while you wait for food to cook.
For further support on managing anxiety and panic attacks, visit Mind’s website. You can learn about the symptoms of anxiety, and breathing exercises to manage anxiety.
Individuals who have health anxiety have an obsessional preoccupation with the notion of having, or developing, a physical health condition.
I’ve got five minutes…
If you are unsure as to whether you are experiencing symptoms of health anxiety, you can visit Anxiety UK which outlines some of the common symptoms. These include constant examination of our health, and preoccupation which negatively impacts on many different aspects of life.
Get Self-help have also described a cognitive behavioural approach for addressing health anxiety using the STOPP technique:
- STOP! – just pause for a moment
- Take a breath – one slow deep breath
- Observe – there’s that health worry again. My body and mind is reacting to that body sensation and I feel anxious
- Pull back – this is just the health anxiety – my thoughts are reacting to the super scanner. Don’t believe everything you think! Let’s stick with the facts – these thoughts are just opinions. I don’t have to react right now. There’s another explanation for this… (normal body sensation, anxiety sensation). What’s the bigger picture?
- Practise / proceed – what can I do right now? I don’t need to check or seek reassurance. I could practice my mindful breathing, or other things that help me.
I can find 10-20 minutes…
The Centre for Clinical Interventions in Western Australia has produced a free and comprehensive module on managing health anxiety, which includes how to re-evaluate unhelpful thinking, reduce checking, and developing a self-management plan.
For those of you who live with and manage OCD you may have learnt to manage your condition well, but may be finding it increasingly hard to do so.
The Wellness Society has published a comprehensive anxiety workbook that you can use to support you to manage your anxiety. The workbook contains some great ideas for managing your anxiety at this time.
OCD Action are the UK’s largest OCD charity.
Mood Juice have also developed a self-help guide for managing symptoms of OCD effectively. The guide helps you understand what keeps obsessional thoughts going and how to overcome them.