As we approach the end of lock down and the the easing of some Covid-19 restrictions it is still really important that we continue to pay close attention to our own health and wellbeing and that of those around us.
You might also find our Coronavirus Information for Parents and Carers page useful if you are caring for children and/or young people at this time.
Having restrictions on how we might normally socialise and see family and friends has been extremely difficult for many of us over the past year. Even as we come out of lock-down it may still be difficult for some people to see family and friends.
There have been many ways to stay connected during the pandemic which have helped us to feel less isolated. Technology has played an important part and will continue to do so.
We are now encouraging people to connect with nature which is the theme for this years Mental Health Awareness week which is taking place between 10th and 16th May.
Mental Health Awareness Week 10th - 16th May 2021
Mental Health Awareness Week is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation and is a great time to think about how we're feeling. The national lockdown has been difficult for many of us and now that restrictions are easing there may be new challenges to consider.
For Mental Health Awareness Week there is a new article on the COVID-19 hub that gives you tips on how to cope with anxiety about coming out of lockdown as well as updated Every Mind Matters resources to help conversations about mental health and the things in our daily lives that can affect it.
The Better Health - Every Mind Matters website has recently been refreshed to help people access the content more easily.
There are things we can all do to look after our mental wellbeing and the Every Mind Matters Mind Plan can provide NHS approved personalised advice on positive steps people can take to help manage anxiety, sleep better and boost your mood.
There are also plenty of resources available which cover a range of tips and advice on dealing with anxiety, low mood, stress, sleep, as well as updated advice on coronavirus for parents and children and young people
Connecting with Nature
The theme for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is Connecting with Nature and has two clear aims:
- To inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways, noticing the impact that this connection can have for their mental health;
- To convince decision makers at all levels that access to and quality of nature is a mental health and social justice issue as well as an environmental one.
Please click on the link below for a quick video about the positive effects of Nature on Mental Health:
During the long months of the pandemic, millions of us have turned to nature with research showing that going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies with 45% of us reporting that being in green spaces has been vital for our mental health. Websites which showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.
It is not just being in nature but how we open ourselves up and interact with nature that counts. Even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting our mental health, and preventing distress.
Nature is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future.
Despite this, many of us are not accessing or benefitting from nature. Teenagers in particular appear to be less connected with nature and around 13% of UK households have no access to a garden. Mental Health Awareness Week wants to address the inequalities in who is and who isn’t able to experience nature. Nature is not a luxury. It is a resource that must be available for everyone to enjoy - as basic as having access to clean water or a safe roof over our heads.
The Mental Health Foundation invites you to #ConnectWithNature and share what this means for you.
During Mental Health Awareness Week you can:
- Experience nature: take time to recognise and grow your connection with nature during the week. Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life. You might be surprised by what you notice!
- Share nature: Take a photo, video or sound recording and share the connections you’ve made during the week, to inspire others. Join the discussion on how you’re connecting with nature by using the hashtags #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
- Talk about nature: use our tips, school packs, research and policy guides to discuss in your family, school, workplace and community how you can help encourage people to find new ways to connect with nature in your local environment.
For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week visit:
or join the conversation on social media using #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
Other Ways to Connect:
Make use of your technology
Technology still has a role to play in helping to reduce social isolation and helping people to connect. Regularly video call and message those important in your life, There are lots of free apps and websites you can use such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. These technologies will also help you to feel more connected to colleagues if you’re working from home, by using them for online meetings and catch-ups.
Reach out to community groups for support
If you would like reassuring calls you can contact:
- Edlington Community Group on 01709 252549 or email Samantha
- Helping Hands Community Centre 01709 863268, 07944759986 or email@example.com
You can volunteer by registering to call someone in isolation and help them stay connected:
- Silver Line - free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
- b:friend - Become a telephone befriender to check-in on those that are vulnerable
Attend a long term condition peer group online
We are adapting our community long term condition peer groups from community settings and have moved them online. The online sessions are for those managing COPD, Diabetes and Fibromyalgia. The session will focus on ways to improve and maintain good wellbeing through various speakers and mindfulness and movement sessions.
- Diabetes, 9am (Meeting ID: 473 449 462, Password: Diabetes20)
- Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain, 11am (Meeting ID: 334 796 693, Password: Fibro20)
- COPD, 1pm (Meeting ID: 510 777 054, Password: COPD20)
For more information, please contact Well Doncaster WellDoncaster@doncaster.gov.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.
There are a lot of free exercises online for all ages and abilities, from yoga to dancing to HIIT session, you can find something that suits your abilities. Here are links with ideas and sessions:
- Sport England Campaign Join the movement! We’re supporting the Sport England campaign to encourage people to be physically active. Visit the website for lots of helpful information on keeping active in and outside of the home, with exclusive offers and workouts from content providers such as Les Mills on Demand, Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) and FiiT.
- Follow Get Doncaster Moving on Facebook, Twitter and on the Get Doncaster Moving website for information on local sports clubs and groups that are offering online classes, workouts and other activities. The Get Doncaster Moving team have produced a 'Staying Strong at Home' Booklet which contains a mixture of chair-based exercises and standing exercises, as well as advice on looking after overall wellbeing. You can also find advice and information related to keeping active at home on their dedicated coronavirus webpage.
- Yorkshire Sport Foundation This website contains lots of resources on how to be active during this time. The Yorkshire Sport Foundation's #ThisIsPE activities are recommended by the Department for Education for quality learning experiences.
- Active Fusion have created a free resource pack for families to help keep children active.
- Daily PE classes for kids and the whole family by Joe Wicks ‘The Body Coach’
- 10 min workouts Short on time? These 10-minute workouts might be ideal! These equipment-free fitness routines are great to do at home and short enough for you to easily fit them into your daily schedule
- Select your workout tutorial Choose a workout from the NHS Fitness Studio's range of online exercise videos. Take your pick from 24 instructor-led videos including aerobics exercise, strength and resistance, and pilates and yoga. These workouts have been created by fitness experts InstructorLive and range from 10 to 45 minutes.
- Seated Exercises These gentle sitting exercises will help improve your mobility and prevent falls, and can even be done at home. Don't worry if you've not done much for a while – these seated exercises are gentle and easy to follow. A variety of seated exercise videos can be found on the Doncaster Connects website.
- The Activity Alliance have produced guidance for disabled people on how to adapt physical activities to make them more accessible.
- Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has advice on how to increase physical activity for patients discharged from hospital.
Spend time in the garden
If you have one, utilise your garden space and use it to be active, gardening is a great form of exercise and now is the perfect time of year to plant flowers, fruit and vegetables. There are ideas and advice for your garden on the Little Green Space website.
Working from home and keeping active
Being active whilst working from home can be tough and many of us may find we’re sitting longer and aching more than we usually would. To try and help manage this we have included some quick tips and resources:
- Try to move every 30minutes following the stretching guide
- If you can, try to set up a homeworking station as similar to your usual desk as possible
- If you can, try to stand up whilst working, this can help posture, focus, and burn more calories than sitting.
- Try to have an active break (check out the home exercise suggestions above).
A lot of the support we may usually rely on may have changed or be temporarily gone due to lockdown measures and may take time to get back to normal as restrictions are lifted. It is extremely important to take notice of the signs associated with your own mental health and wellbeing and take steps to ensure you protect yourself and stay mentally well.
Reach out if you need mental health support
If you live in Doncaster and feel you need help or support for anxiety, please contact Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, known as RDaSH for short, by calling the numbers below. All of of the appointments are by telephone/video conferencing.
Talking Shop – 01302 565556
Residents with a long term condition can call RDaSH’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Long Term Conditions Team on 01302 379563 or reach them via the Single Point of Access Team on 0800 804 8999.
RDaSH have also produced a helpful guide of top tips to protect your mental health at this difficult time.
Looking after your mental health
- Public Health England have published advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic.
- Rethink has suggestions on how to manage your mental health during this time.
- Every Mind Matters offers expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing. Find guidance, advice and tips on how to maintain your mental wellbeing if you need to stay at home as well as simple things you can do to maintain your mental wellbeing and deal with anxiety about coronavirus.
- Give yourself a good night’s sleep. Mental Health Foundation has ten top tips on getting a good night’s sleep.
- Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". Mindfulness can help us enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. Here are links to information and videos mindfulness and managing anxiety:
- NHS Online You can even check your mood using their simple mood self-assessment quiz.
- Headspace are offering access to some free meditations, sleep, and movement exercises to support people through the coronavirus crisis.
- If you find yourself having more free time, perhaps use the time to think, plan and make goals. Are there things you have always wanted to do but never had the time to do? Update your CV and look for the job you’ve always wanted. You could use old newspapers and magazine to create a vision/dream board to represent your goals and ideas and what is important to you. Spring is coming so you could take notice of the changes in your garden or whilst you are out exercising. Why not take photos or collect items to create artwork, or you could start a journal.
Coping with bereavement
Coping with the loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult things to happen in our lives. During times of grief, there is somebody you can talk to and organisations that offer a range of support.
Stick to credible news sources
If you are feeling anxious about Coronavirus and overwhelmed by all the information out there, stick to credible sources such as:
- Doncaster Council
- Follow @CovidDoncaster on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest local and national news and guidance
- NHS Online has the latest advice on how to protect yourself at this time, how to self-isolate, and what the symptoms of coronavirus are.
- Gov.uk has guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus. This includes information on what can help your mental health and wellbeing and staying at home, as well as guidance for those with specific mental health needs, people with a learning disability, autistic people, older people, and those living with dementia.
Lots of people are using this time to quit smoking #quitforcovid. You can find free local advice and support at Yorkshire Smoke Free Service where you can access online help. Help is also available via daily Twitter Quit Clinics with @QuitForCovid. Taking place 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm every day, you can ask a question on Twitter to help you #QuitforCovid
Learning new skills, or rediscovering an old one, is great for good mental health and development. Take a look in your cupboards and pull out the sewing machine or paints and get creative. It could be as simple as taking time to complete a crossword puzzle, word search or sudoku; anything that encourages you to use your mind.
Want to learn a new skill while at home? Find free, high quality digital and numeracy courses in The Skills Toolkit. You can choose from a selection of high quality courses put together by the Department for Education in collaboration with experts. Find a level and time to study that’s right for you. The Skills Toolkit makes it easy for you to boost your skills.
Heritage Doncaster have created some wonderful activity packs for adults and children to learn about their heritage, their family history, and get creative with a variety of projects. You could even get involved with their 'Living Room Museum' project and share objects from your house which tell a unique story. Heritage Doncaster are also able to post out activity packs to those who can't easily access online resources.
Log into Learn My Way from North Doncaster Development Trust using centre number 3453639 and you can access a whole range of courses around keeping safe online, managing your money online, internet skills and many more.
The Reader service has lots of ways in which you can keep reading and stay connected, such as online shared reading groups.
You could listen to free TED talks which cover a wide range of topics.
Have you always said you would like to learn a new language? Now is a perfect time. There are lots of free videos on YouTube and free apps available like DuoLingo that can help you.
Maybe broaden your horizons and try something new. The Royal Opera House it's offering free broadcasts on its Facebook and YouTube channels. After they've been broadcast, performances will be available on those channels to view 'on-demand', so don't worry if you can't tune in at the times above. There's also free content from the Royal Opera House available on BBC iPlayer to watch anytime.
Museums around the world are giving free virtual tours. Just search ‘Virtual Museum Tours’ or check out 10 of the best from around the world in this Guardian article.
In times like this, many of us often want to roll up our sleeve and help others but it can be hard to know how.
Voluntary Action Doncaster are developing a Volunteer Hub to help local community groups and organisations to provide support to isolated and vulnerable people during the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
Support local growers and buy BUF boxes of veg from Bentley Urban Farm . Any profits or surplus food will be used to help local food initiatives of delivering freshly made soup to people who are vulnerable.
Follow @CovidDoncaster on social media and share the posts to get important information out to those who need it most.