Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness, but it can also improve your mental wellbeing by:
- boosting self-esteem and energy levels
- causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood
- improving sleep quality
Start slowly and do what is right for you
What kind of activity suits you best? If exercise is new to you, it may be best to start slowly. Remember, even housework and gardening count as activity.
Keep moving. Think about ways to build exercise into your day. Try:
- remembering to move and stand-up regularly when working
- setting an alarm to remind you to take an activity break
- setting time aside for daily exercise
- setting up a gym space at home using household furniture and items
- following online workouts
- taking regular breaks away from your desk if you are working from home, perhaps going outside if you can.
In the weeks ahead, many of us are likely to be at home a lot more. Whilst this can present its own challenges it’s also an opportunity to try something new, learn a new skill and improve our knowledge on a wide range of subjects.
Whether in the workplace or at home, learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence.
The NICS learning portal, LInKS has a wide range of online courses you can take, including courses relating to:
- Managing personal stress and resilience
- Problem solving
- Team working
- Coaching skills
- Active listening
The NICS Library is also a great source of information, with access to a wide range of books, journals, electronic databases and e-books.
The Open University has over 900 free online learning courses which can be accessed online.
Future Learn also have a number of free online courses you can try.
You might also use this time to be more creative. Some ideas might include:
- cooking and baking
- arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, collage, sewing, craft kits or upcycling
- reading - some libraries have apps you can use to borrow ebooks, audiobooks or magazines from home for free, if you're a library member
- learning a new language
Connect with others
You may feel more isolated and separated from friends, family and colleagues right now. We all have a shared vulnerability, and as a result, a need to help support one another.
Meaningful connection can help build a sense of belonging, give us an opportunity to share positive experiences and can provide support to each other. Although we can't do this in the same way as before, we can adapt how we connect and this can still be achieved within the workplace. The importance in checking in with one another at work is even more important right now. Try:
- instant messaging, email, facetime, skype or phone calls
- building in time throughout your day to plan connecting with others (eg coffee break, lunch time)
We should also think about colleagues who may be particularly affected by new restrictions, and check in with them. This approach starts within ourselves: be compassionate when connecting with others at work, ask yourself questions such as “What can I do or say to help this person have a better day”?
News and constant updates can understandably lead to worry. You may find that more of your thoughts and worries are about the future and what is yet to happen. When you find yourself worrying like this, you can try some mindful activities which can gently bring you back to the present moment and, help stay grounded.
ABC of Mindfulness:
|Pausing and recognising the distraction or thought.||Breathing deeply and reflecting on your options||Choosing mindfully how you want to handle the distraction or thought.|
Methods of Mindfulness
Mindful Walking - take time to notice and observe the environment around you. Tune into what’s going on around you (eg sights, sounds, smells) and think of your movement and rhythm.
Mindful Eating - what did you have for breakfast / lunch? How quickly did you eat it? Did you savour it or were you in a rush?
Give to others
Giving to others has never been more important. The impact of giving to others will be positive for our communities and for our own wellbeing and can:
- help you find meaning
- improve general life satisfaction
There are some opportunities to give to others that will be extremely valuable at this time:
- volunteer at or donate to a foodbank- now more than ever there may be a need for additional help and supplies at food banks. Details of local foodbanks
- give blood- with many regular donors self-isolating or sick, there is a need for new blood donors to volunteer. Find details of where to volunteer on the HSCNI website
- support within the community- with many vulnerable groups now isolating or social distancing there is an increased need for support and volunteering. This can be at home, with elderly or vulnerable family members, or neighbours within your local area. Further volunteering opportunities on the Volunteer Now website
When considering volunteering, ensure that you adhere to social distancing and other Public Health Agency guidance.