Maintaining mental wellbeing is so important as the pandemic, and subsequent lockdown measures, continue to impact on virtually all aspects of our daily lives.

World Mental Health Day 2020 is calling for our us all to be aware of our mental health as record levels of anxiety, isolation and fear are experienced.

Ingeus leads Able Futures, which delivers mental health support for people in work through the Department for Work and Pensions funded Access to Work Mental Health Support Service. Able Futures provides nine months advice and guidance from a vocational rehabilitation consultant (VRC) to help build coping strategies, improve resilience and learn new ways to look after your mental wellbeing.

Able Futures VRCs work with their participants to help them understand and learn Five Ways to Wellbeing. These are five things people can try to do to help them feel physically and mentally well and they include connecting with people, being active, noticing, learning and giving.

VRC Janet Firth says: “Self-care is vital to maintain mental wellbeing.  There can be a common misconception that self-care is selfish, however undertaking self-care and having things that boost mental wellbeing and replenish our batteries is just as important as eating food to nourish our bodies.” 

Five key steps to look after our mental health

Connect

There is strong evidence to suggest that feeling close to, and valued by other people, is a fundamental need and contributes to functioning well. Social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages.

Some ways you could make a connection are:

  • Talk to someone instead of sending an email.

  • Speak to someone new - maintain social distancing rules - but why not chat to the person serving in the supermarket or reconnect with a friend you haven't seen in a while?

  • Ask how someone's weekend was and really listen when they respond.

  • Spend time in the garden, go for a walk in the park, why not make an extra fuss of your pet?

Activity

Regular physical activity is linked with lower rates of depression and anxiety. Slower-paced activities, such as walking, can have the benefit of encouraging social interactions as well providing some level of exercise.

Activities you could try:

  • Take the stairs not the lift

  • Go for a walk at lunchtime

  • Do some 'easy exercise', like stretching, before you leave for work in the morning.

Notice

Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances feelings of well-being and savouring 'the moment' can help to reaffirm life’s priorities. Heightened awareness also enhances self-understanding and promotes positive choices.

 

Take notice by:

  • Get a plant for the home and cultivate it

  • Have a 'clear the clutter' day

  • Take notice of how your colleagues are feeling or acting

  • Make time to really enjoy and appreciate a meal - savouring every bite.

Learn

The practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, has been strongly associated with higher levels of wellbeing.

 

The learning process could mean you:

  • Find out something about your work colleagues, perhaps the hobbies they enjoy?

  • Sign up for a class when restrictions and social distancing allow

  • Read a new book

  • Set up a virtual book club

  • Research something you've always wondered about.

Give

A smile, a thank you or a kind word - they all count. Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.

 

Try giving by:

  • Sharing a smile, a compliment or encouragement

  • Offering a helping hand, making time to understand another’s concerns

  • Being grateful for and giving thanks for whatever good is happening in your life.

 

Watch a short video on the Five Ways to Wellbeing