One of the keys to a better version of you, mentally and physically, is sleeping well. We want all of our industry members to sleep as well as they can that’s why EIC have partnered with Sleepstation. Sleepstation is a clinically validated sleep improvement programme that can help you learn how to control and optimise your sleep to get the best sleep possible. Designed by experts and backed by science, the online service is proven to combat even the most severe insomnia. Their team will help you identify the underlying causes of your sleep problem and provide the personal support and guidance needed to improve your sleep. Sleepstation delivers remote care with a personal touch and that's what makes it so effective. Therapeutic support through Sleepstation is available to those in need and meeting our charity eligibility criteria.
To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week the Electrical Industries Charity are highlighting the importance of looking after our mental health through self-care and mindfulness. 1 in 3 of the cases the Electrical Industries Charity supports encompasses mental health and over 3,900 contacted the charity at crisis point. This year for Mental Health Month we want to highlight the different ways you can help look after your mental health and keep your mind in tip top condition.
Health Challenge: Pay It Forward for Mental Health Month:
To celebrate mental health week, we're asking you to pay it forward with EIC. Much like how you may buy the person behind you a coffee why not pay it forward to an industry colleague and help to support mental health services in our sector?
1 in 3 of the cases the Electrical Industries Charity supports encompasses mental health issues to some extent. Each year over 3,000 people contact the charity at crisis point. We aim to provide mental health support services to the industry, so that people struggling can be reached at preventative stage not crisis point.
- Donate any amount to EIC to support mental health services in the industry via this link: https://bit.ly/3pHkGxJ
- Post the above image and text on your social media channels and tag @electricalcharity #PayItForward
I have paid it forward with EIC to support mental health services in the industry! Join me and pay it forward in honour of the mental health week this month to support essential services in our sector! https://bit.ly/3r68982 @electricalcharity #PayItForward #MentalHealth
Those living with mental health conditions is on the rise within the UK. Those living with common mental health problems like depression or anxiety increased by 20% from 1993 to 2014 and those with severe mental health symptoms grew from 7% to 9% in the same time period. There is a whole range of factors as to why our mental health is deteriorating as a nation.
1) The rise in social media increasing feelings of discontent, body dysmorphia and isolation
2) Poor work/life balance – this may have increased as more of us work from home
3) Pressures of day-to-day life including but no limited to financial wealth, relationship expectations, work pressures, family life
4) Significant life changes for all of us – the coronavirus pandemic, change in political situations
Mental health is just as important as our physical health, if not more important! Both depend on each other. Think of your mental and physical health as two points in a circuit, if one of them disconnects the circuit cannot run. Like we only have one body, we only have one brain and that’s why we need to look after ourselves and our mental wellbeing.
If you neglect yourself, you can begin to:
• Lose your sense of self
• Lose confidence and self-esteem
• Become withdrawn/ isolated
• Feel more fatigued
• Lose sense of purpose
• Feel more anxious
And when you begin to feel these things it can be really hard to break the cycle! So, it’s time to flick the switch on a happier you and look after our mental health just as much as we try to look after our physical health.
In the UK we are the biggest advocates of ‘stiff upper lip’ and ‘keep calm and carry on’ but sometimes it’s okay to let the lip wobble a little and chat to people you trust about how you are feeling. It is true, a problem shared is a problem halved and while the person you chat too may not be able to solve your problem, they can at least offer a listening ear and a supportive face.
It is completely natural to feel apprehensive about opening up especially if you’re so used to being independent or dealing with things on your own, but it is important to remember those you trust will only want to support you, not judge you. Give them a chance to help you.
You may want to reach out to a family member, friend, or colleague. If you’re nervous about worrying them then why not try reaching out to a free talk service such as the Samaritans or SANE. You can also contact the Electrical Industries Charity for a non-judgemental listening ear.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.
Text care: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most: www.sane.org.uk/textcare
Peer support forum: www.sane.org.uk/supportforum
Remember, this talk with your trusted person doesn’t have to be an eloquent composed paragraph of what you’re feeling it can be anything you want it to be. Just being listened to can help break those feelings of isolation and make you feel supported. Try starting small, usually if you open up, they open up too and this can help break down communication barriers. If you’re not sure on how to approach someone to talk, try making it simple for yourself. You don’t need to think an elaborate ruse conversation you can just say ‘Have you got some time to chat?’.
Alternatively, if you’re concerned someone you care about may be struggling try asking them in a private setting how are they really feeling? Once you break down the ‘I’m fine’ barrier they may open up more to you. Mental Health Foundation provide a thought-provoking video linked below named ‘I’m fine’. Next time you or someone you care about responds with ‘I’m fine’ don’t be afraid to probe a little bit deeper and ask, ‘are you really fine?’
Bereavement is one of life’s biggest challenges and affects us all very differently. After major loss up to a third of people will suffer detrimental effects on their mental and/or physical health. Bereavement is one of the biggest factors in triggering stress, anxiety and depression and although all of us will experience bereavement in our lifetime some losses can be extremely difficult to come to terms with. Tony, a manager with an electrical manufacturer worked within the industry for 12 years and recently lost both his aunt and mother to cancer. 1 in 2 of us in UK will develop cancer in our lifetime and 165,000 people within the UK die of cancer every year. After experiencing the loss of both his aunt and mother Tony was then diagnosed with cancer himself and his diagnosis alongside his bereavement compounded his emotions and he felt completely overwhelmed. Tony had recently taken part in an Electrical Industries Mental Health Awareness Training Session facilitated by the charity and approached the Electrical Industries Charity welfare team for support.
The Electrical Industries Charity referred Tony to MacMillan cancer support who the charity have worked in partnership with since 2018. With MacMillan Tony was offered emotional and practical support. MacMillan support those living with cancer and their relatives with online community forums, practical strategies, and physical assistance. Tony was able to join an online support community who understood his circumstances and found people who he could connect with and discuss his diagnosis. While Tony was receiving support from MacMillan the Electrical Industries Charity sourced and funded bereavement therapy for him. Bereavement counselling helped Tony to come to terms with the loss of his mother and aunt as well as his diagnosis.
Tony had six sessions of funded bereavement counselling and has since stopped sessions as he now feels, with the support of the online community, equipped to manage his feelings and diagnosis. Tony is now in remission after a long period of chemotherapy and is enjoying spending time with his family and is focusing on his recovery. The Electrical Industries Charity remain in contact with Tony and are keen for him to make a full recovery with the help of his support network.
Once we’re in the habit of forming negative thoughts and behaviour patterns it can be difficult to break the cycle. It can be even more difficult to recognise we’re in a cycle of negativity. Sometimes an incident may trigger a series of negative thoughts and feelings or we may just start to think negatively about ourselves and our circumstances. It is important to break the chain of these thoughts before they affect our wellbeing and impact our behaviour. While there are steps, we can take to stop the cycle and safeguard our wellbeing you may need support in applying those steps to yourself and finding what works for you. Dave, an employee of the generation and renewables sector for 18 years, found he was trapped in a roundabout of negative thoughts after his marriage broke down.
Dave had been married for 22 years and, although he knew he and his wife were no longer a good fit for each other, the eventual break down of their marriage was understandably tough for Dave. Dave found himself not leaving the house as much, distancing himself from his children and other family and he had stopped caring his wellbeing and himself. Dave had taken an extended leave of absence from work as without his wife and children within the house he felt he had little purpose. Dave had always been the provider and he now felt he had no one to provide for. Dave’s negative thought cycle was impacting his behaviour and his wellbeing, but he found himself unable to break free.
Concerned about Dave’s extended leave of absence and aware of his changed circumstances Dave’s manager contacted the Electrical Industries Charity. Although Dave was not experiencing anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts his withdrawal from family and work meant he was becoming more vulnerable to developing ill mental health. The Electrical Industries Charity contacted Dave who agreed to talk through some support options which the charity could help with. In the first instance the Electrical Industries Charity spoke to Dave about his circumstances, how he was feeling and how his day-to-day had changed. Dave explained how the breakdown of his marriage was not sudden but still a shock. Dave spoke of how he felt his identity as a provider, husband and dad had disappeared and therefore his purpose had gone too. The Electrical Industries Charity offered Dave Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) a therapy which works on reshaping negative thoughts, so they don’t impact our feelings and behaviour, but Dave was reluctant to undertake therapy. Understanding Dave’s reluctance, the Charity provided Dave with different strategies to safeguard his wellbeing and help him replace negative thoughts.
The Electrical Industries Charity encouraged Dave to reach out to his ex-wife and children. Dave and his wife’s split was amicable and his children, older teenagers, were understanding of the circumstances. Dave needed to regain his identity and by reaching out and still supporting his ex-wife and children he could still be a provider and carry on being a great dad.
The charity welfare team then talked to Dave about the catch it, check it, change it method, a strategy which encourages you to catch negative thoughts, fact check them and then try to change them. The welfare team asked Dave to each time he found himself thinking negatively i.e. ‘I’m a rubbish dad’ to catch the thought, check it - so understand if the thought is true and then try change it – for example ‘I’m not a rubbish dad because I support my children in all their endeavours and take an active interest in their lives and goals’. Dave and the charity welfare team also discussed the importance of self-care in mental wellbeing. Dave had been neglecting his work, his hobbies and himself since moving from his family home and by not practicing self-care Dave was not having a healthy relationship with himself. The charity encouraged Dave to get back to fishing, a passion of his, try and return to work, which he loved and to try at least once or twice a week to cook a good meal and to enjoy it with his children. Dave began to safeguard his wellbeing on three different fronts and found his negative thought cycles dissipated. Dave felt well supported, valued and grateful for his marriage, children, job and most importantly himself. Taking three different approaches to ensure his mental wellbeing Dave has stopped his downward spiral before he started to lose control with the help of the Electrical Industries Charity.
We all know how important it is to exercise for your physical health, but exercise is just as important for our mental health. Regular exercise can boost your mood because physical activity releases feel-good hormones that boost your confidence and give you even more energy. Physical activity also releases cortisol which reduces stress meaning exercise can be a positive coping strategy! It can help you get better sleep, reduce the risk of depression and help you connect with like-minded people.
By being physically active we don’t mean running marathon or climbing mountains – unless you want to do that. You can try taking the stairs more often, sitting less, stretching, or joining your local leisure centre. Try exercising 5 times a week for 30 minutes. If that seems a little much in the beginning, try for 3 x 30 minutes or even 3 x 15 minutes and build from there.
Different types of exercise you can try at home:
- Sitting a little bit less - move about for 5 minutes every 1 hour to introduce some physical activity
- Chair based exercises – a great way to build strength and still get blood pumping. Here’s a great link for some sitting exercises https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/sitting-exercises
- Household chores – hoovering, mopping, dusting and deep cleaning is a great way to exercise and the bonus is you have a sparkling home
- Home workouts – there is a whole wealth of home workouts out there available through YouTube and Instagram. Try searching for Joe Wicks, Courtney Black or just searching for home workouts for beginners. Don’t be put off if you find some of the moves too challenging just attempt what you can.
- Dance – dancing is a great way to get active and boost your mood. Just blast out whatever you fancy whether it be George Michael, ABBA or Fatboy Slim and get moving.
If you’d rather exercise out and about then try giving these a go:
- Walk a bit more – set yourself a goal of achieving a 15, 30 or 45 minutes’ walk a day. Explore your local neighbourhood or instead of driving to your local shop take a walk there.
- Volunteer – if you need something to get you out and about why not volunteer outdoors at The National Trust or The Wildlife Trust. Alternatively give a site like borrowmydoggy a go and walk someone’s pet
- Join your local leisure centre – your leisure centre is more than a gym and a pool. Why not try an aerobics class, dance class or a go on the squash courts.
- Walking or running group – this gives you a chance to be active and meet new people, two sure fire ways to protect your mental health. Here are some good places to start
- Get the tunes going or your favourite podcast to distract, entertain and motivate you
- Download an app which checks in on you – NHS Couch to 5K or Strength and Flex
- Join online communities and forums which give tips on how to keep going
- Exercise with other people
Physical activity doesn’t work for everyone and if it doesn’t work to boost your mood then that’s OK. You may find it’s helpful 60% of the time but not all the time and that’s fine. Physical activity is just one tool you can have in a whole suite to safeguard your mental health.
Physical exercise and eating well go hand in hand when looking after our physical health and the same goes for our mental health. Your brain needs a whole mix of nutrients to keep healthy and happy and in turn keep you healthy and happy. It was found in a 2014 study that having better wellbeing is directly linked to eating more fruit and veg and another study found a more Mediterranean diet (veggies, legumes, nuts, beans, grains and fish) can reduce depression. There have been numerous studies which link vitamin and mineral deficiencies to mental health conditions such as depression, bi-polar and even schizophrenia. Eating and snacking well means you can enjoy both better physical and mental health.
Here is a handy table which shows what nutrients are linked to what conditions and where you can find them
This EatWell Guide from the government gives you a good insight into what you should be eating and how much of it you should be consuming
Once you have this information it can be hard to know how to integrate all these good things into your daily life to safeguard your mental wellbeing.
How about trying these meal plans to introduce some feel-good foods in your life:
Breakfast: Fruit and Seed Porridge
Snack: Almonds and dark chocolate
Lunch: Tuna Salad
Snack: Apple and peanut butter slices
Dinner: Chicken and cous cous with grilled veggies
Breakfast: Fresh fruit salad
Snack: Carrots and dip
Lunch: Lentil soup and crusty bread
Dinner: Salmon and jacket potato
Breakfast: Peanut butter and banana bagel
Snack: Fruit and veggie smoothie
Lunch: Crunchy chicken salad
Snack: Nut and dried fruit mix
Dinner: Butternut squash curry
Remember eating the right things will only help protect your mental health if you are:
1) Eating regularly – a drop in blood sugar can really impact your mood
2) Drinking water in any variety
3) Cutting down on caffeine – caffeine can make you anxious, depressed and affect your sleep
4) You’re eating the right things for your needs, you may be gluten, dairy, or wheat intolerant
How good does catching up with an old friend feel? Or getting the family together for a chat? Or having a laugh with a colleague? Strong family and friend ties can help you safeguard your mental health because when you are surrounded by people who care you instantly feel more supported, less isolated, and happier. Your friends and family can offer good advice, a different perspective and unconditional support. It is important to remember you are responsible for protecting your mental health, but you can have an army of your nearest and dearest to help you.
If you feel as if you have fallen out of touch with someone who made you feel really loved and valued why not reach out to them? Drop them a line via social media, text or give them a call. A shared history with a friend can remind you of all the things you’ve achieved and seen. It’s worthwhile working on relationships which make you feel supported and treasured. Relationships are a two-way street so make sure you’re reaching out and showing interest in your loved ones lives and they are very likely to reciprocate. Don’t be afraid if you are struggling to simply talk about yourself for a while with your support network. This is why they are your support network. They are here to help and guide you. There is no shame in having a chat about yourself – you know you would do the same for them.
Laughter is one of the best medicines, find people who make you laugh and keep them around you.
If someone within your support network isn’t actually that supportive and you think they may be damaging to your wellbeing say goodbye to them. It can be difficult if they’re a relative, a long-standing friend or a friend of a very good friend but you can distance yourself from their presence without being rude. Try ‘taking a break’ from them on social media, archiving yours and their conversations on messaging platforms, reducing your time in their company and you can even tell people you trust that you’re going to take a break from them, and you would appreciate if they respected that. Saying goodbye to someone doesn’t have to be a huge life upheaval and it can just mean see you later rather than goodbye.
If you’re starting to feel isolated and you’re not sure how to reach out, try these tips:
- Simply drop them a ‘Hi, how have you been?’. Most of the time life has just gotten in the way but they are still your friend
- Send an old friend a memory – maybe a link to a song, an old photo or just recount a time you shared
- Ask a colleague if they’d like to go to lunch
- Tell a relative or friend how you’re feeling and ask if they’d like to pencil in a weekly cuppa, this gives you something to look forward too and a lighthouse of support for the rest of the week
- Volunteer at an organisation. This way you can make friends and have shared experiences
Learning a new skill can help to improve and protect your mental wellbeing. It can:
- Boost confidence and self esteem
- Help build a sense of purpose
- Help you connect with others
- Give you satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment
There may be a ton of things that you have always said I would love to do and there is no better time than now to give it a go.
- Learn to cook new things. Try something tricky like sushi or a baked Alaska or try a new go-to dinner.
- Take on a new responsibility at work. Buddy up with new employees or work alongside a colleague and understand a different aspect of your company.
- Work on a DIY or upcycling project. Try renovating an old chest of drawers or find something at a boot sale.
- Sign up for an online or in college course you could try a practical skill like hairdressing or plumbing or try learning a language.
- Try new challenging hobbies like writing, learning to paint or taking up a sport.
Here’s are some resources to help you on your quest to learn a new skill:
https://www.duolingo.com - free resource to learn languages
https://www.gov.uk/career-skills-and-training - different resources to help your gain skils
https://www.futurelearn.com/info/blog/find-a-new-hobby-lockdown - if you need some inspiration on what you may enjoy
We all understand that taking a break is beneficial for our mental wellbeing. Taking a break when feeling stressed can provide us with some relief and a change in pace can be just what you needed. Sometimes you just need to take some me time. That can be five-minutes outside or in another room, it can be a half hour walk or in front of the TV, it can be a weekend away or even a weeklong holiday. Sometimes we just need to give our body what it needs. If we take care of ourselves then our body will take care of us. A good way to take a break is by practicing mindfulness and meditation.
If you want to give meditation and mindfulness a go here is some great ways to start: https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate
- Get comfortable and prepare to sit still for a few minutes. After you stop reading this, you’re going to simply focus on your own natural inhaling and exhaling of breath.
- Focus on your breath. Where do you feel your breath most? In your belly? In your nose? Try to keep your attention on your inhale and exhale.
- Follow your breath for two minutes. Take a deep inhale, expanding your belly, and then exhale slowly, elongating the out-breath as your belly contracts.
- If you discovered, you quite like meditation and quietening the brain chatter or you would like to learn how to quieten the brain chatter here are some pointers:
- Take a seat – somewhere quiet with little chance of disturbance
- Set a time limit – start with one or two minutes and build up to 10 or 15
- Notice your body – make sure you’re not wobbling
- Feel your breath – understand when your breath goes in and out
- Notice when your mind has wandered – your mind is going to wander, remind yourself to focus only on your breath
- Be kind when your mind wanders – don’t tell yourself off just bring yourself back to focus
- When you’re ready to return to the living world take a few moments to collect your thoughts and go back to your day to day. Make sure you notice how you feel!
- Mindfulness and meditation might not be for you but give it a go! And persist with it. Try every day for two weeks and see how your wellbeing changes. No one is expecting you to say namaste instead of hello but if you fancy doing that, that’s fine!
Research shows that acts of kindness and giving can improve mental wellbeing. Giving can make you feel purposeful, worthy, generates a sense of reward and it can help you to connect with other people. You can give your time, energy or physical gifts to anyone or anything. Ultimately giving or being kind helps to make the world a happier place, usually one good turn leads to another so by being kind you’re starting of a chain reaction of happiness.
How can you give?
There are a million different ways you can give to someone but here are some we really like:
- Pay it forward – you may have heard of this or it may be new to you. Essentially you buy something for the person behind you in the queue. It may be their bus ticket, a coffee or a hot meal. Some cafes, restaurants and other facilities have schemes in place where you can purchase additional items and write these items on a post-it note for those in need to use.
- Give three different people a compliment and really mean it
- Leave some nice post-it notes on colleagues’ desks – tell them they did a good job, you loved their shirt yesterday or they make the best coffee
- Send a card to a friend or relative just because
- Knock on your neighbour’s door and have a chat
- Endorse a colleague or friend on linkedin
- Smile at five strangers
- Go to your local supermarket at closing time and pick up some bunches of flowers give these to care homes, neighbours, leave them on people’s cars.
- Let someone know they’re doing a good job, maybe a new parent struggling in the shop, someone behind the checkout, a barista, a friend coming out of a breakup, anyone
- Offer to take someone’s trolley back to the bank on their behalf
https://bit.ly/3loDS0I - Mental Health Month focused on kindness in 2020 and you can find tons more ideas here. Remember it does not have to be monetary gifts! Do not put your own finances in jeopardy to help others, give what you can. Don’t overstretch yourself if volunteering on the weekend is too much of a commitment offer to help once a month and remember you can say no!
Self-acceptance is the single biggest thing you can do to safeguard your mental wellbeing. Accepting who you are is the best way to ensure your happiness. That doesn’t mean saying you can’t improve or better yourself of course all of us can learn to be better but the fundamentals of who you are is good enough.
We’re all different and that’s what makes us great. Accept you’re unique and you’re great at being you. Knowing we are good enough, valued and worthy means that when life does take a difficult turn we can cope better. Be proud of yourself that you’re doing your best and you are who you are. Recognise and accept that you’re fab at some things and not great at others and that’s OK. Focus on what you can do well and excel at it.
If there are things you want to change, ask yourself:
- Is this change realistic?
- Is the outcome and process realistic?
- Will this change positively impact my wellbeing?
- If you have answered yes to all these questions, then start taking small steps towards making changes.
A list of ten other ways you can practice self-care:
- Sleep and sleep well. Aim for 7 hours a night to improve mood, concentration and resilience. Good sleep promotes good mental wellbeing
- Look after yourself. Have long baths, steamy showers, get your haircut, moisturise, wear clothes which make you feel good and look after your skin
- Be kind to yourself. Everyday look in the mirror and give yourself a compliment. WITHOUT FAIL. Try ‘My hair looks nice’, ‘I love my shirt’, ‘My eyes are lovely’ or ‘I am worthy’ ‘I am intelligent’ ‘I am blessed’. Speak to yourself how you would your best friend
- Cook healthy hearty homemade meals
- Get organised. Buy a planner and write in it
- Schedule breaks into your day for mindfulness, walking, working out or just having a coffee. Put them in your calendar and stick to them
- Get outside. Spend time with the sun on your face
- Clean your home. It busts stress and gives you a beautiful house
- Read a good book
- Give yourself a pat on the back for getting up every day and taking life on no matter what it may throw at you – you’re a champion