As part of Mental Health Week (18th-24th May), Sale Sharks have worked with a number of key club partners to create a list of 15 top tips designed to help promote better mental health and wellbeing.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a big surge in conversations around mental health and the ways in which people can keep both their minds and bodies active during this strange period.
Recent statistics from an international study suggests that the mental health of 42% of people in the UK is at risk because of the COVID-19 crisis, so raising awareness of the issues and highlighting good practices means that this year’s Mental Health Week is perhaps the most important one yet.
For obvious reasons, we felt like 15 would be a great number, so take a look below at some of the top tips we’ve put together.
- Keeping Active
As a sports club, we are huge advocates for the positive impact that exercise can have on your mental health.
Whether it is a short walk or a full hour of exercise, there are a lot of positive that can be taken from just moving your feet.
Physiotherapy Clinical Services Manager at our club partner BMI, Paul Harrison, said:
“It is easy to overlook exercise with everything happening in the world, but it’s important
to maintain regular daily activity. Even a walk can be beneficial to you, both physically and
mentally, while getting fresh air can also help you sleep. If you find yourself needing inspiration on ways to keep fit, there is a wealth of resources online catering for all types of exercise and fitness levels.”
- Recognise when you’re struggling
The team at Morson summed this up perfectly, for us:
“Take steps to understand how and why anxiety arises, how you can recognise it within yourself and others, and strategies to overcome it. This might take the form of engaging with mental health champions in your workplace, seeking out advice from mental health charities or speaking with your doctor or other trusted healthcare professionals.
“Being open and honest about your feelings with those around you will encourage others to do the same. We’ve gone through a lot of change in a very short space of time – be kind to yourself and those around you and don’t expect to slide straight back into life as it was pre-lockdown. It took time to adjust to lockdown and it’s going to take time to adjust back.”
- Life Admin
Why not use some of the extra time at home to clear your paperwork, or sort your finances, and tick off a little ‘life admin’?
Personal finance worries can often have a big impact on your mental wellbeing, so our partners at Together Money suggest the use of a money management tool, like the new app Snoop, to help.
Keeping an eye on your finances and feeling organised can often relieve a lot of stress and give you extra peace of mind.
- Routine, routine, routine:
For many, a routine can help instil a sense of ‘normality’ during this period and can help with productivity and focus.
The team at Clarity, our club travel partner, suggest creating a schedule for everything. Start with the basics: incorporate work time, downtime and exercise into your day. Dividing your day this way can help you to departmentalise when you’re having a bad day.
Remember, you are in charge of your daily routine, so make sure you listen to yourself mentally, physically and emotionally and adapt your routine accordingly.
- Boundaries (physical and mental)
When working from home, it is a lot harder to separate work from your home life – but this is essential for your mental health. Remember that it’s important to have personal space, so don’t let your work things take over the living room/ dining room.
Our friends at Gateley call this “work creep” and suggest that you put your laptop away with your work as a signal of the end of your working day. Go for a family walk, go do some exercise, arrange a social catch up with a friend, take an online yoga class – anything that takes you away from your work. This becomes a mental cue to your brain that work is done and it’s time to relax.
- Keep in touch
Make sure you don’t feel isolated during quarantine and keep in touch with your colleagues during this time. The team at C&C Insurance suggest that you try to arrange regular video conference calls to keep the team connected and help to boost morale.
Remember: working from home doesn’t mean you need to struggle in silence, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your manager or colleagues if you need help and support.
- Add a little music
A lot of us are used to working in an office environment, so being at home can suddenly feel very quiet (or maybe very noisy if you have children!). There is a lot of information supporting the benefits of music on improving mental health, so try to introduce some background noise into your work environment and see if it helps you create a more positive environment.
The team at E.P. Muldoon are advocates for the impact of music on team morale and mental health.
One member of the team commented, “It makes a huge difference having the radio going on a job […] really helps keep us motivated and generally more upbeat”.
- A good night’s sleep
Sleep has a huge impact on your mental health, and it can often feel like a vicious circle when you’re not sleeping well and are struggling with your mental health.
There has been a lot of reports of lockdown impacting people’s sleep patterns, so the team at Levitex suggest the following points to help:
- Allow for wind-down time before you try to go to sleep
- Make sure your lying surface is supporting you properly (posture, pressure and proprioception are all key to a good night’s sleep).
- Avoid any disturbing lights in your bedroom: avoid blue lights especially
- Other factors such as diet and hydration can also impact your sleep, so keep that in mind during the day
Your mind needs time to rest and recuperate after a full day, just as your body does. Make sure to try and get your 7 hours of shut eye a night.
- Healthy eating and hydration
It is not only important to keep your body physically healthy through exercise – you also need to consider the impact of healthy eating and hydration on your mental health.
Everyone has heard the phrase: “a healthy body equals a healthy mind” but there are a lot of benefits to a healthy diet during this time. With plenty of additional time on our hands, why not get creative in the kitchen?
Thanks to our hydration partners, iPro, we have also been reminded of three of the key benefits of good hydration:
- Help to avoid fatigue
- Improve mood
- Increase concentration
Mindfulness. Put simply, mindfulness is all about taking the time to be fully aware of the things you are doing and to be fully engaged and present – particularly important during this period, but also a great way to reflect.
During a remote Microsoft Teams’ mindfulness session last month, 30% of staff at our partners Assystem joined in, which is a brilliant turnout.
Mindfulness can be created through a variety of means, including through yoga and meditation. There is a range of tutorials on YouTube, suitable for all abilities, and is something that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine, whether you have 10 or 60 minutes to spare.
- Enjoy the downtime
Try to remember that this isn’t forever. Our lives will return to normal eventually and we will be back to seeing friends and family and socialising.
In the meantime, try and enjoy the sense of calm that this has brought and the downtime that has been forced on us. We are spending more time with our families, spending less time commuting and finding a new normal.
The team at accountancy firm Saffery Champness told us how important it is for their workforce to have time away from work and enjoy time with their families to keep a good work life balance.
- Keep your weekend busy
A lot of our tips have focused on keeping yourself structured during the working week, but it also important to plan out your weekends and keep yourself busy.
The University of Salford have launched the ‘United We Stream’ platform to keep us all entertained over the weekends, from live DJ sets to a live set around Headstock on Monday 18 May.
They have also created their own Meaningful Music & Mental Health Spotify Playlist, which you can get access to here:
Keeping yourself busy is key!
- Small gestures
During this time, truck drivers and other essential workers have kept the country running.
The crew at HTF Transport let us know how much a small gesture can make a difference to their day, as their jobs can often be very lonely.
“It is always nice to see a child (or adult) give you a wave and show their appreciation to the hard work, time away from their families and long working hours.”
This video from the team shows how much this time has brought communities together:
So, let’s commit to waving, clapping and cheering our key workers through this period!
- Create your own ‘haven’ at home
Now that gardening centres are back open, why not invest in your home?
A lick of paint and quick rearrange of furniture can make all of the difference, with our friends at Together encouraging people to embrace Hygge.
This Danish way of living is used to really create a sense of home, and the techniques focus on maximising comfort with lighting, candles, throws, cushions and natural elements all having a powerful calming effect.
Your home should be a safe place where you feel 100% comfortable, and that in itself can have a hugely positive impact on your mental health.
- Volunteer your spare time
A lot of research has been conducted on the impact of COVID-19 on people’s mental health and feelings of loneliness. If you are able, and have the ability to do so, why not volunteer your time to help a good cause?
It will fill hours in your day, and you will be helping those less fortunate. As an example, the Sharks Community Trust has committed to helping raise £250,000 for the Trafford Crisis Fund, which aims to help locals access essentials, as well as providing isolated members of the community with someone to talk to.
For more tips throughout this week, follow us on social:
LinkedIN : www.linkedin.com/sale-sharks-rugby-club