This week is Mental Health Awareness week! The Mental Health Foundation run this awareness campaign every year, and this year the focus is on kindness. They chose this theme as they can see that kindness is prevailing in the uncertain time we are currently living in, which can give us all hope and support. Reflecting on this, we wanted to draw attention to some different ways that you can be kind both now and into the future, to support the mental health of yourself and others. We'll be posting tips here every day this week, so keep an eye out for them, and get involved with the campaign online by using the hashtags #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek in any posts about your acts of kindness.
Be kind online
In a time when we are almost only interacting online, it is vital to remember to Be Kind Online. To our families, to those we don’t know but also importantly to ourselves. It can be really useful to access lots of material online, engaging in forums and social media, however it is also important to not compare ourselves and use others' situations as a way to gauge how we are doing ourselves.
In order for you to Be Kind Online, we’ve come up with up with a couple of things to think about:
- Consider the toll social media is taking on your mental health now more than ever. You could take a break from social media by deleting the apps and using your browser only when you want to log in. You could also use the mute functions on Twitter by muting tweets about the pandemic.
- Be kind in your tweets, comments and posts. Everyone is likely to be struggling during this pandemic and one of the things we can do is be kinder online
- The best thing about social media is the reporting function, remember you can choose what you want to see. Take control of your social media, go through your settings to see how you can improve your experience.
- Video call fatigue is a real thing and we should be aware of how it is affecting us, so be kinder to yourself and in turn those (virtually) around you by taking breaks when needed. Check out this article for more information
- If you have children, have a conversation about being safe online and the dangers of cyberbullying, especially now that they are potentially learning online too. See more here
- There’s been a rise in cyber crime and phishing emails. Make sure you are safe online by using strong passwords, never share personal details, use secure sites when ordering online and check senders when receiving emails - always contact the company separately if you are in doubt!
- Young Scot have created a list of productive ways to spend time online, it is worth a look if you are tired of seeing the same negative news on your timeline every day.
When interacting in person it can be easier to pick up on signs of deteriorating wellbeing. Now that we are interacting online it will be slightly more difficult, it is therefore important to be a little more alert. Check in with your friends and family and ask them how they are doing and really listen to what they say. If you or someone you know needs support, check out this list of support organisations.
Be kind to your community
Helping others feels good, and can help you feel a sense of belonging and reduce isolation. We have therefore chosen today's theme for this #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek as being kind to your community. In recent weeks and months it has been incredible to see how people have really come together at this challenging time. There are lots of examples of community support locally and globally, so we wanted to share some of these with you incase you are looking to do more in your local community:
- Donate to a local foodbank if you can, so they can continue to support more vulnerable members of the community. Most big supermarkets will have a collection point near their entrance, or you could research any smaller scale projects in your area (e.g. LOVE Gorgie Farm).
- Check on your neighbours, especially if they're in more vulnerable groups. You could offer to pick up some items for them when you next go shopping, or even just have a chat from a distance in your stairwell or garden to see how they're doing.
- If you are looking to volunteer, have a look at current vacancies here. Remember that your communities will need you in the coming months and years too, so consider volunteering once lockdown lifts too.
- If there are any companies that you love that aren't able to re-open yet, consider buying a gift voucher to use later - this will help them make some money to stay afloat so they can still be there when restrictions start to lift.
- With bigger chain companies starting to open up for deliveries and drive-through again, we know it can be difficult to resist. However, don't forget to continue to support independent local businesses. Here are some recommendations from ECSA staff and students:
Be kind to charities
This is a hard time for everyone, including charities. Thousands of events, and face-to-face fundraising, will have needed to stop to reduce the spread of this virus. Now more than ever it is so important to be kind to the charities you care about, so they can get through the other side of this crisis and get back to helping you and others. Here are a few ways that you can support them in this time:
- Do some virtual fundraising! The Mental Health Foundation have suggestions of virtual fundraising events here https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/virtual-fundraising-ideas, and the 2.6 Challenge also gives ideas of ways to fundraise https://www.twopointsixchallenge.co.uk/
- Donate to a charity you care about, or attend and donate to fundraising events hosted virtually
- Continue to access services and support charities as you normally would. We have a list of organisations we work with, check it out here https://ecsa.scot/support
Be kind to the environment
Today we wanted to focus on how you can be kind to the environment, whilst also improving how you're feeling. In fact, spending time in nature is proven to help boost your mood and wellbeing - have a look at Mind's website for more information. Here are some suggestions of things you can do while at home to look after yourself and the environment:
- Wear gloves for your daily exercise so you can pick up any litter you pass and dispose of it correctly: exercise is a proven way to increase your mental wellbeing, and hopefully leaving your local area cleaner than when you got there will make you feel good too!
- Plant something! This could be in a garden, an allotment, or even just a hanging window basket. Gardening and having plants around you can help reduce your stress levels, whilst being beneficial for the planet.
- Have a think about your home energy use: are your heating controls and timers set suitably for the time of year and current temperature? Are there unneccessary lights and appliances on? Reducing how much energy you use will have a direct impact on reducing your energy bills, which can help you feel less stressed about your finances. You could even take this a step further by seeing if a green energy provider could offer you a cheaper monthly deal than your current provider. There are lots of different price comparison sites that can help you with this.
As always, when venturing outside and when coming into contact with others, please remember to follow government guidance.
Be kind to yourself
We are starting the week by raising awareness of the importance of being kind to yourself. Now more than ever there are many different strains on our mental wellbeing so we’ve come up with a couple of ways of being kind to yourself:
- Check in with yourself - how are you doing? Consider using different techniques to help you cope, for example Grounding Techniques
- Give yourself a break! These are not easy times and it is okay not to be okay. Try to not compare yourself to others, we aren’t all going to be great bakers or good at DIY so remember to do what makes you happy.
- Do something for yourself, however small just as long as it is something you are doing for you! It could be your favorite meal or film, it could be getting dressed and having a night to celebrate you’ve come this far or simply a walk on your own listening to music.
Be kind to yourself and remember to reach out if things become too much.
The Edinburgh College Wellbeing team is still available while we are studying from home - get in touch with them via email on firstname.lastname@example.org