Michael Forster: Coronavirus and Well-being

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

Here is a guest blog from one of our own Mental Health First Aiders, Michael Forster.

First of all let me say wholeheartedly that I hope you are all doing as well as any of us can be during these unprecedented times.

I’ve been asked by several people to write something that may help you manage the stress and anxiety caused by these difficult times, and I have to admit I’ve found it difficult. Mainly because I don’t feel that I’m coping particularly well.

Yet over the last few days I’ve gone back to basics and realised I needed to be kinder to myself. For a few reasons:

  1. It is human nature to feel uncomfortable when outside our comfort zone - which we all now are!
  2. Feeling uncomfortable helps us learn and grow as human beings – we will come out of this stronger!
  3. It is also human nature to feel anxious with change, especially when that change is threatening to our safety. It’s our basic instinct for survival - It’s normal!

For many of you out there who are understandably anxious, upset and worrying over what might happen, I want to say one thing. It’s okay to feel that way.

You’re only human and those feelings are part of all of us, whether we be key workers on the frontline, parents at home or single people alone in their homes.

Tips to reduce your stress/anxiety whilst in the home

  1. Download the attached guide from MHFA England on how to look after your mental health while working from home.
  2. Stay in contact with people – preferably using Skype or another face to face app.
  3. Try and have a routine, eg. I do my child’s school work at 10am and 2pm every day, have lunch at 12 and work in between.
  4. Speaking of lunch, eat and drink as healthily as you can, keep hydrated with plenty of water.
  5. Take regular breaks, get up and have a walk around the home. Personally, I’m taking advantage of this situation to do a lot of laundry, which also means going up and down the stairs regularly, good for exercise.
  6. Exercise when you can, be it using Joe Wicks The Body Coach on YouTube or just taking yourself for a walk around the home or up and down stairs. My partner is using ‘Just Dance’ on the PlayStation to get her exercise hit. The Nintendo Switch with ‘Ring Adventure’ would be another excellent way to get yourself moving.
  7. Remember your stress container, more details at https://mhfaengland.org/mhfa-centre/campaigns/mhaw2018/

What can I do if I’m struggling?

Remember you have access to the Mears Employee Assistance Programme, on 08000157287 quoting ‘Mears Group’. Or you can visit www.colleaguesupport.co.uk using 72160 as your username and password.

The Samaritans are still open on 116123 or via [email protected], although please view their website at https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/support-and-information/if-youre-having-difficult-time/if-youre-worried-about-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak/ for more information on their current service levels and how you can manage your mental health at this time.

Other valuable information to help you during your time at home comes from Mind below:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/

As always, wishing you all good health and well-being.

Michael Forster.

Published: May 20th 2020