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Matt’s Minute: tips on protecting your mental health while learning from home
Happy New Year! And what a strange New Year we find ourselves in. It may not be the start of term we’re used to, but I’m incredibly proud of how well our learners are adapting and rising to the challenges of 2021. So, I’d like to thank each and every one of you – as well as our incredible staff and parents/guardians – for all your hard work. We know it hasn’t been easy and everyone’s mental health is being challenged.
The wellbeing of our learners is incredibly important to us at The Academy Grimsby. Our learners have access to a range of mental health support services including the YMM Crisis team, online qualified counselling support from the teams at kooth.com and our Compass Talking Matters team.
All of their details are listed below, but in the meantime here are a few tips to try and keep your mental health in the best possible shape while learning from home:
Back to basics – keep a routine
Structure and routine are really important for your mental health and productivity. Accept that things might not always go to plan, but try to get up at roughly the same time each day, shower and get dressed for the day (even if it’s just into ‘leisurewear’ – it’s the action that counts!). Remember to eat nutritious foods at regular times. Doing the same activities each day can help create a comfortable, familiar space if you feel anxious.
Don’t cheat sleep
It might be tempting to stay up scrolling, or hotfoot it through another Netflix series, but sleep has quite possibly the biggest impact on mental health. Poor sleep is linked to physical problems such as a weakened immune system and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Be strict with yourself and set a time to put your phone down, switch off the TV and start to unwind.
Make time for exercise
We’re allowed outside exercise each day, so make the most of this freedom! I can’t stress enough how important fresh air is to boost your mood. Especially if your mood is low, or you feel lacking in energy or anxious, set aside some time (in the daylight!) to get outside and into nature. Tetney lock, Cleethorpes beach and Weelsby Woods are great places for walking.
If you don’t manage to leave home, then try doing a home workout (there are thousands of free ones online). No one is expecting you to come out of lockdown marathon ready, but even half an hour of Joe Wicks, Yoga or dancing to your favourite music will get your positive endorphins flowing.
Connect and gamify
It might seem obvious but continuing to communicate with your family and friends during lockdown is so important for your mental health (and theirs!). Planning chats throughout the week gives you pockets of social time to look forward to. But you can also ‘gamify’ your catch ups…
There are some great online FREE quiz apps you can use to compete against family and friends. Kahoot is also a great place to create your own quiz and once you’ve uploaded your questions you can share your screen and have others take part and answer the questions in the fastest time on their phones. It’s fast paced and definitely takes your mind off other things.
Set yourself achievable goals
A fantastic piece of advice from youngminds.org is to give yourself a goal each day. Having something to aim for will give you a purpose, and mini goals are particularly great in giving yourself a confidence boost. It could be cooking a meal, finishing a piece of work, getting around to sorting out your wardrobe or going for a walk. The sense of achievement (however small) has huge benefits to your mental wellbeing.
Do something you’re good at
What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Perhaps you once enjoyed painting, writing or playing football. Doing an activity you enjoy helps time to pass and keeps your mind from dwelling on other things.
Care for others
Evidence shows that helping others and expressing gratitude can also benefit our own mental health and wellbeing.
Thinking about others and reaching out to them during lockdown helps you gain
perspective and reminds you that you are needed and valued. A call or text to those you think might be struggling is so important for both you, and them, and writing a letter or thank you note is the perfect way to practice gratitude.
Some numbers you might find useful:
- YMM Crisis team: 01472 252 570 email: [email protected]
- Compass Talking Matters – you can speak to someone from Compass Mental Health Support Team by ringing us on 01472 494250 (all our services are now available via phone or Zoom)
- School Nurse Service: 07507 331 620 (Support with Mental health, self-harm, bullying, bereavement, alcohol, smoking, healthy eating, contraception and sex and relationships)
- kooth.com (online qualified counselling support, available Mon-Fri 12.00-10.00pm and Sat/Sun 6pm-10pm)
- Every Mind Matters
- Young Minds Crisis Messenger by text YM to 85258 (free 24/7 support)
- The Samaritans 116 123 (free to call anytime, any day)
- Childline 0800 1111