Mental Health and Wellbeing. 

 
Information here can be found on a number of different topics surrounding mental health and wellbeing. Click on each topic to see an overview of what each one is and see some useful tips including some links to external sites. 
 
Use the menu bar below to navigate to your chosen area.

5 WAYS TO WELLBEING

Connect

Connect with people around you: your family, friends and colleagues. Spend time developing these relationships. Try something different and make a connection,

  • talk to someone instead of sending an email,
  • speak to someone new,
  • ask how someone is, and really listen when they tell you,
  • put 5 minute aside to find out how someone is,
  • give a colleague a lift to work or,
  • send a message to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.

You can find more information from The NHS here.

Be active

You don’t have to go to the gym to be active. 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 wellbeing. But it doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good, slower-paced activities, such as walking, can have the benefit of encouraging social interactions as well providing some level of exercise.

  • Take the stairs and not the lift or get off the bus a stop earlier,
  • walk into work with a colleague, you can ‘connect’ as well,
  • do some easy exercise before you leave for work,
  • go for a walk at lunchtime or in a break or,
  • walk to someone’s desk instead of phoning or emailing.

You can find more information from The NHS here.

Give to others

Even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word.

  • Volunteer for a community organisation,
  • mentor or guide a colleague,
  • offer to lend a hand if you see a stranger struggling with bags or a pram or,
  • arrange a day out for you and a friend.

You can find more information from The NHS here.

Keep learning

Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and confidence in yourself. The practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, has been strongly associated with higher levels of wellbeing. Why not learn something new today?

  • Find out something new about your colleagues,
  • sign up for a class,
  • read a book or watch the news,
  • do a crossword,
  • research something you’ve always been interested in or,
  • learn a new word or learn to play an instrument.

You can find more information from The NHS here.

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.

  • Get a plant for your workspace,
  • have a ‘clear the clutter’ day,
  • take notice of how your colleagues are feeling or acting,
  • take a different route on your journey to or from work or,
  • visit a new place for lunch.

You can find more information from The NHS here.

ACTION FOR HAPPINESS

Action for Happiness is a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society. They want to see a fundamentally different way of life – where people care less about what they can get just for themselves and more about the happiness of others.

Action for happiness is a great site for positive messages and steps you can take to bring happiness to you and others! They have monthly calendars (which you may have seen around the college) packed with actions to help create a happier and kinder world. They also have an app on iOS and Android which they say is like having a little personal action coach in your pocket.
 

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Action for Happiness helps people take action for a happier and kinder world. Let’s take action to look after ourselves and each other as we face this global crisis. We may be physically apart, but we can still be together.

DR ALEX GEORGE’S TOP FIVE TIPS FOR GOOD MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING

FOOD AND YOUR MOOD

Food and drink can have a massive impact on your mental and physical well being, there is a short video from Mind on the ways food can help you manage your mood and below you can find a little more information on this.

As a teenager, your body is going through many physical changes – changes that need to be supported by a healthy, balanced diet.

By eating a varied and balanced diet as shown in the Eatwell Guide, you should be able to get all the energy and nutrients you need from the food and drink you consume, allowing your body to grow and develop properly.

Eating healthily doesn’t have to mean giving up your favourite foods. It simply means eating a variety of foods and cutting down on food and drinks high in fat and sugar, such as sugary fizzy drinks, crisps, cakes and chocolate. These foods should be eaten less often and in smaller amounts.

If you’re watching your weight, a healthy, balanced diet is the way to go. Dieting, skipping breakfast or starving yourself don’t work.

Here are some tips to help you eat more healthily from the NHS

Don’t skip breakfast

Skipping meals won’t help you lose weight and isn’t good for you, because you can miss out on important nutrients. Having breakfast will help you get some of the vitamins and minerals you need for good health. Try our healthy breakfast ideas.

Get your 5 A Day

Fruit and vegetables are good sources of many of the vitamins and minerals your body needs during your teenage years. Aim to eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and veg a day. Find out what counts as 5 A Day.

Healthier snack ideas

Cut down on food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt, such as sweets, chocolate bars, cakes, biscuits, sugary fizzy drinks and crisps, which are high in calories (energy). Consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain and becoming overweight. Get tips on eating less sugarfat and salt.

Stay hydrated

Aim to drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluids a day – water and lower-fat milk are both healthy choices.

Even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary. Your combined total of drinks from fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies shouldn’t be more than 150ml a day – which is a small glass.

For example, if you have 150ml of orange juice and 150ml smoothie in one day, you’ll have exceeded the recommendation by 150ml.

Feeling tired?

If you often feel run down, you may be low on iron. Teenage girls are especially at risk because they lose iron during their period. Try to get your iron from a variety of foods. Some good sources are red meat, breakfast cereals fortified with iron, and bread. Find out more in iron deficiency.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps keep bones and teeth healthy. We get most of our vitamin D from the sun, but it’s also available in some foods. Find out more about getting vitamin D.

Calcium

Calcium helps to build healthy bones and teeth. Good sources of calcium include milk and other dairy products, and leafy green vegetables. Find out more about calcium.

Fad diets

Diets that promise quick weight loss are often not nutritionally balanced, meaning you could miss out on important vitamins and minerals. They also tend to focus on short-term results, so you end up putting the weight back on. Get tips on losing weight the healthy way.

Eating disorders

Does eating make you feel anxious, guilty or upset? An eating disorder is serious and isn’t something you should deal with on your own. Talk about it with someone you trust, there are treatments that can help, and you can recover from an eating disorder. Learn more about eating disorders.

Here are some useful videos to watch

MINDFULNESS AND RESILIENCE 

Mindfulness

It can be very easy to forget to take stock and listen to how we are feeling during our busy and stressful lives. Our bodies and minds are key in supporting our health; by warning us when things are wrong and helping us to connect with the things that make us happy. Become more self-aware and notice the things around you, and then channel those thoughts, feelings and sensations into positive actions.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. It is about allowing yourself to see the present moment clearly and being aware of your thoughts and feelings as they happen from moment to moment.

Mindfulness originates in Buddhism and in the 1970s it was first adapted into structured programmes to help people enhance their general wellbeing and manage long term health conditions. Mindfulness is now recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression in people, particularly those who have had three or more incidents of depression.

How mindfulness can help with mental health and wellbeing
  • Manage unhelpful thoughts
  • Develop better coping strategies for difficult events
  • Increase your awareness of your thoughts and feelings
  • Be kinder towards yourself
  • Manage pain and physical health problems
  • Feel calmer and manage stress better
  • Stand back from your thoughts and begin to see patterns
  • Notice signs of anxiety early so you can deal with them better
 
Try focusing on these mindful techniques now:
  • The sight of a flower, bird or animal. Explore every aspect of its formation and allow yourself to be immersed in its beauty and presence
  • The feelings and sensations in your body as you sit in a chair
  • The sound of a piece of music. Put some headphones on and allow yourself to get lost in the music
  • Immerse yourself in household chores. For example, while washing up pay attention to every detail; the feeling of the bubbles on your hand, the clanking of the dishes
  • The feeling of your feet and body as you are walking
  • Mindful colouring has become popular recently with the introduction of mindful colouring books

Resilience

Resilience is how we adapt in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. Resilience is the way we ‘bounce back’ from difficult experiences. It involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed by anyone.

Five ways to build resilience:

  1. Make connections. Building strong, positive relationships with family members and friends can provide you with support in both good and bad times. Helping other people can also help strengthen your resilience
  2. Be proactive. Act on adverse situations and take decisive actions, rather than ignoring your problems and hoping that they will go away
  3. Move towards your goals. Develop and set goals to move you forward to help you look to the future with meaning
  4. Learn from past experiences. Think how you have coped with past problems and consider the skills you used to get you through difficult times
  5. Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs. Practice self-care and do things that you enjoy. Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and ensure your diet is healthy
SUPPORT ORGANISATIONS AND RESOURCES
NICE

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Oxford Mindfulness Centre

Mindfulness courses

Breathworks

Mindfulness courses

Be Mindful

List of mindfulness practitioners

Buddhanet

Local Buddhist centres

Smart Phone Apps

Calm (android and iPhone) – free app available in Google Play or App Store features a selection of meditations that vary in length.

WORKING FROM HOME TIPS

Tips for remaining focussed when working from home. 

Whether it’s Netflix, Whatsapp, other people in the house, or the idea of going outside for your daily exercise, there’s plenty at home that can distract you from studying.

So what can you do to stay focused and motivated when studying at home?

Get rid of distractions – turn off notifications for apps, remove them from your homescreen, or even leave your phone out of sight. The same goes for other distractions, like games consoles. Try keeping a diary of how you spend an average week. The results might shock you into putting certain activities on hold, like spending too many hours on social media, or late nights out that can hurt your productivity the next day. This way you can free up time, and use this more wisely

Get into study mode – working in bed might sound like the dream, but it might not put you in the right mindset to focus. Stick to a structured routine, including having a shower, getting changed, having breakfast, etc. Then treat studying like a proper job or task, with clear, achievable goals. Having a proper study space can help with this.

Learn how you work best – studying independently from home gives you some control over your study environment or schedule, such you could listen to music while you work or you could do some exercise during lunch.

 Talk to those around you – whether it’s family living with you, or friends pinging you funny memes, they may not realise that they’re distracting you, or just how much work you have to do.
Make it clear when you need to get your head down. Be nice of course, and don’t let key responsibilities and commitments slip by the wayside. Tell people when you’ll be free (e.g. ‘I can’t now, but I can after I finish this assignment…’), 

Reward your accomplishments – studying non stop without a break or reward, will wreak havoc on your wellbeing, as well as your ability to focus.

The human brain can only concentrate for so long. Take breaks, and use these productively – ideally in ways that don’t require much thinking. Catch up on household chores, go for a run, or reply to messages from friends.
Use rewards as motivation. Don’t forget to recognise your progress, or remind yourself of what you’re working towards, either. This is particularly relevant for online learning or students working towards long-term goals.

Having a dedicated, physical space to work in, can train your brain to focus. This doesn’t have to be a whole office or study room. If you’re short of space, this could be a particular area, like a part of your bedroom or living room. Try to keep places like your bed or sofa for relaxing, where you can properly ‘switch off’.

Studying at home for long periods can make it easy to fall into bad habits too, so watch out for the following:

 

Not getting outside enough – it’s easy to lose track of time studying when you’re already at home. Before you know it, you’ve been inside all day, staring at books and screens. Many studies have highlighted the benefits of exercise, or sunlight on the body’s serotonin levels to reduce depression and regulate anxiety. Even just going for a walk with some music can give your brain – and your eyes – a well-needed break.
 

Poor diet – the moment your stomach starts to rumble, you may find yourself rummaging around your kitchen cupboards for a naughty snack.  Either save them as a reward, or balance them with healthier alternatives that release energy slowly to help you study, like fruit and nuts.

Not establishing boundaries – we talk about the importance of having a dedicated study space to help you concentrate and relax, above. While sometimes easier said than done, try not to let studying bleed over into other parts of your life. Instead, set yourself strict windows of time to complete work in, so you can switch off properly when you do. This can help you stay focused.

Also, give yourself a buffer between studying and bedtime. Sleep is where your body recharges, so you can function properly the next day. Again, a routine helps. Unwind before bed (without looking at screens) by reading a book, listening to a podcast, or taking a bath.
 

Isolating yourself – while studying from home gives you a lot more independence and autonomy, it can be quite isolating at times. 

POSITIVE EMOTIONS

All Emotions Are Natural

Let’s say you start to brainstorm a list of all the emotions you’ve ever experienced. 

Just for fun, try it now. What’s on your list? Chances are, you included things like happy, sad, excited, angry, afraid, grateful, proud, scared, confused, stressed, relaxed, amazed. Now sort your list into two categories — positive emotions and negative emotions.

Feeling both positive and negative emotions is a natural part of being human. We might use the word “negative” to describe more difficult emotions, but it doesn’t mean those emotions are bad or we shouldn’t have them. Still, most people would probably rather feel a positive emotion than a negative one. It’s likely you’d prefer to feel happy instead of sad, or confident instead of insecure.

What matters is how our emotions are balanced — how much of each type of emotion, positive or negative, we experience.

How Negative Emotions Help Us

Negative emotions warn us of threats or challenges that we may need to deal with. For example, fear can alert us to possible danger. It’s a signal that we might need to protect ourselves. Angry feelings warn us that someone is stepping on our toes, crossing a boundary, or violating our trust. Anger can be a signal that we might need to act on our own behalf.

Negative emotions focus our awareness. They help us to zero in on a problem so we can deal with it. But too many negative emotions can make us feel overwhelmed, anxious, exhausted, or stressed out. When negative emotions are out of balance, problems might seem too big to handle.

The more we dwell on negative emotions, the more negative we begin to feel. Focusing on negativity just keeps it going.

How Positive Emotions Help Us

Positive emotions balance out negative ones, but they have other powerful benefits, too.

Instead of narrowing our focus like negative emotions do, positive emotions affect our brains in ways that increase our awareness, attention, and memory. They help us take in more information, hold several ideas in mind at once, and understand how different ideas relate to each other.

When positive emotions open us up to new possibilities, we are more able to learn and build on our skills. That leads to doing better on tasks and tests.

People who have plenty of positive emotions in their everyday lives tend to be happier, healthier, learn better, and get along well with others.

The Importance of Positive Emotions

Science is helping us find out how valuable positive emotions can be. Experts have learned a lot from recent brain studies. Here are two findings that can help us use positive emotions to our advantage:

1. Let Positive Emotions Outnumber Negative Ones

When we feel more positive emotions than negative ones, difficult situations are easier to handle. Positive emotions build our resilience (the emotional resources needed for coping). They broaden our awareness, letting us see more options for problem solving.

Studies show that people feel and do their best when they have at least three times as many positive emotions as negative emotions. That’s because of something called the negativity bias.

The negativity bias is a natural human tendency to pay more attention to negative emotions than to positive ones. It makes sense when you think about it: Negative emotions call our attention to problems — problems we might need to deal with quickly. Tuning in to negative emotions can be a survival mechanism.

The negativity bias has a downside, though: It can make us think a day went badly, not well, even if we experienced equal amounts of positive and emotions that day. It takes at least three times as many positive emotions to tip the scales and make a day seem like a great one.

2. Practice Positivity Every Day

Building habits that encourage us to feel more positive emotions can help us be happier, do better, and reduce our negative emotions. Building positive emotions is especially important if we’re already dealing with a lot of negative feelings such as fear, sadness, anger, frustration, or stress.

Positive emotions feel good, and they’re good for you. Pay attention to these powerful tools and find ways to make time for them in your everyday life. Create room in your day for joy, fun, friendship, relaxation, gratitude, and kindness. Make these things a habit and you positively will be a happier you!

MANAGING STRESS

MEDITATION AND RELAXATION

Relaxation can help you when you are feeling stressed or busy. There are many things you can do to relax, and incorporating these into your daily life can help with your overall wellbeing.

Meditation is relaxation. The purpose of meditation is to free the mind from stress and worry. We can experience true happiness if the mind is peaceful and calm. It is often difficult to be happy if our minds are full of worry. With regular meditation, our mind becomes more peaceful even during challenging times.

Exploring relaxation can help you look after your wellbeing when you’re feeling stressed or busy. Have a look at these tips and ideas to see how relaxation can fit into your daily life. Don’t worry if some ideas don’t work for you – just enjoy the ones that do.

A short soothing and relaxing video by Diana Parkinson. This short video aims to reduce stress and helps you feel calm, peaceful and so, so relaxed.

Some simple relaxation techniques to help you remain calm.

Take a break. Stepping away from something stressful for just a few minutes can help you feel calmer and will allow you to regroup your thoughts. You could read a magazine or a book for a few minutes. You could go and have a warm bath, watch some TV or walk the dog.

Focus on your breathing. Count as you breathe – start by counting to five on your inhale, then count to five on your exhale.

Listen to music. Music can help you relax, connect you to your emotions and distract you from any worrying thoughts. You may want to close your eyes or put some headphones on, just focus on the music and let all your thoughts and worries fade away.

Imagine you’re in a calm place, such as on the beach or in a meadow. It might be a memory of somewhere that you have already been or it could be a place you have constructed in your imagination. Close your eyes and focus on what this place looks like, what can you hear, how does it feel. Just let your mind drift off in to this beautiful place and let your body totally relax.

Active relaxation. Go for a walk or try a yoga or pilates class.

Get creative. Painting, drawing, craft making, playing an instrument, dancing, cooking are all ways to get in touch with your artistic side that will assist you to feel more calm and relaxed. Adult colouring books are popular at present for this very purpose.

Get out in nature. Walking in the countryside or in the park, being mindful of everything you see on the way.

Take a break from technology. Using your smart phone a lot can cause stress, so just taking a short break can help relax you. Turn the smart phone off for an hour or so, take a break from the TV, leave your inbox alone for one morning.

Untense your muscles. Simply sit or lie down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Clench and release your toes and move up your body, tensing and untensing your muscles. Take time to notice any areas that feel tense, tight or tired paying particular attention to these areas.

Meditation

Kieran Alger shares some tips from meditation master Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of meditation app Headspace, on how 10 minutes a day can help you on your health and fitness journey. This article is from the blog of Joe Wicks, The Bodycoach, who has a number of helpful hints and workouts on his website, he also has a number of HIIT workouts that you can try on his YouTube channel and Facebook page.

What are the health benefits of meditation?

According to Andy meditation can, “improve your sleep, lower your blood pressure and reduce your stress. In fact, setting aside a little time each day to get to know your mind is a great step on the path to an altogether healthier and happier life.” Don’t just take Andy’s word for it – there are scores of academic studies by the boffins in white coats to back him up.

How meditation can help you train harder

“The body and mind are not separate,” explains Andy, who has coached Olympic athletes to podium glory. “No matter how much experience we have, no matter how hard we’ve trained, we can only perform at our best when the body and mind are in sync.”

How to start meditating

“Don’t think about it, just do it,” advises Andy, who swears by taking 10 minutes of time out each day. “It may sound obvious, but meditation only works if you actually do it.” So, find a quiet place where you can relax and set your timer for 10 minutes – you can try a free guided meditation for beginners by downloading the Headspace app from iTunes, or sample a 10-minute taster here.

Andy recommends sitting comfortably in a chair with your hands resting on your lap. “Keep your back straight – sitting at the front of the seat might help. Your neck should be relaxed, with your chin slightly tucked in.”

The secret to good meditation

Two words: breathe deeply. Concentrate on your breath and let everything else fall away. But breathing doesn’t always come so naturally. Andy’s advice: “Defocus your eyes, gazing softly into the middle distance. Take five audible breaths: in through the nose and out through the mouth. On the last exhalation, let your eyes gently close.”

What to do when you meditate

Andy advocates slowly scanning your body head to toe, slowly turning your mind inwards. “Observe any tension or discomfort,” adds Andy. “Don’t try to change what you find, simply take note of it.” If your head is still busily thinking, simply let them bubble up without getting caught up in them.

Meditation breathing made easy

“How do I breathe?” isn’t a silly question. Far from it. Breathing is automatic, but most of the time our breathing is shallow, which means we don’t inhale enough restorative oxygen. So, how do you breathe when you meditate? Over to Andy: “Bring your attention to your breathing. Don’t make any effort to change it, just observe the rising and falling sensation that it creates in the body. Notice where these sensations occur – perhaps your belly, your chest, your shoulders, or anywhere else.” To keep on track, count yourself calm. Silently count one with your inhale, two as you exhale, three on the next inhalation and so on, up to 10. Then start again.

Are you distracted when you meditate?

It’s totally normal to have your thoughts jump from an email that needs a reply to the gig tickets you’ve got to book and, ooh, is that your phone beeping? Let your breath anchor you. “Guide your attention back to the breath when you realise the mind has wandered off,” advises Andy. Keep coming back to your breath until your 10-minute timer sounds.

Let your mind be free

Before you leap up or post a beautifully-filtered shot of you meditating, it’s worth taking 30 seconds to do nothing but sit. “You might find yourself inundated with thoughts and plans, or feel completely focused,” explains Andy. “Whatever happens is completely fine. Enjoy the rare chance to let your mind simply be.”

Crossing the finish line

Gradually turn your attention outwards again. “Become aware once more of the physical feelings: of the chair beneath you, where your feet make contact with the floor, your arms and your hands resting in your lap,” advises Andy. “When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes.”

Whoop! You winner! Bottle the high by paying attention to how you feel after your 10 minutes of meditation. “Remind yourself of this feeling the next time you feel stressed or worried, and know that with just 10 minutes of meditation, you might feel a little bit better,” finishes Andy.

 

Meditation has many known benefits to improve wellness and feelings of stability.

  • Become less stressed.

  • Improve your sleep quality.

  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety.

  • Increase your concentration and memory.

Meditation doesn’t just take practice, it *is* practice. You have to get used to gently letting go of the thoughts and feelings that occur in the mind. But, just like riding a bike, the more you do it, the easier it feels. So jump on your trusty bicycle, and enjoy a taste of freedom.

Meditation 101: A beginners guide

Are you new to meditation, and interested in finding out how to start a practice? We’ll walk you through the basics!

Support Organisations and Resources

TOP WELLBEING APPS USED BY STUDENTS

 

Headspace

 

Meditation & Sleep.  Learn meditation and mindfulness skills.

https://www.headspace.com/

Calm

 

Meditation & Sleep Stories

https://www.calm.com/

Flora: focus together

 

To-do list, habit tracker

https://flora.appfinca.com/en/

Thrive: Mental Wellbeing

 

Manage your mental wellbeing

https://thrive.uk.com/

Tangerine: Self Care & Goals

 

Habits. Mood Tracker. Journal

https://tangerine.app/

Fabulous – Daily Self Care

 

Goal Planner & Tracker

Plantie – Stay focussed

 

Concentrate, Grow & Harvest

Time management

https://plantie.app/

MindU – Meditation Sleep App

 

Mindfulness, Sleep, Meditation

MindU helps you reduce stress & anxiety

https://www.mindu.io/