Topics for this month:
What can help your mental health and wellbeing? Gov. Guidance:
Think about your daily routine:
Life has changed for us all at the moment. Think about patterns you have fallen into and whether you could adapt them and create more positive routines. Try to engage in useful activities (such as cleaning, cooking or exercise) or meaningful activities (such as reading or keeping in touch with friends). You might find it helpful to write a plan for your day or week.
Consider how to connect with others
Maintaining relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. If you can’t meet in person, think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family via telephone, video calls or social media instead – whether it’s people you normally see often or connecting with old friends.
Help and support others
Think about how you could help those around you – it could make a big difference to them and can make you feel better too. It is important to listen to and acknowledge other people’s concerns, worries or behaviours. Could you message a friend or family member nearby? Are there community groups that you could join to support others locally? Remember it’s important to do this in line with guidance on COVID-19 to keep yourself and everyone safe.
Talk about your worries
It is quite common to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember that this is a difficult time for everyone and sharing with family and friends how you are feeling and the things you are doing to cope can help them too. If you don’t feel able to do that, there are people you can speak to via NHS recommended helplines.
Look after your physical wellbeing
Your physical health has a big impact on how you are feeling emotionally and mentally. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which, in turn, can make you feel worse. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and drink enough water. Visit One You for advice on improving your health and wellbeing, including ideas for healthy meals you can cook at home.
Be physically active. Doing exercise and other physical activity can have a positive impact on your mood, improve your sleep, and reduce stress and anxiety. There are lots of easy ways to get moving like walking or gardening. If you can’t exercise outside, you can find free, easy 10-minute workouts from Public Health England (PHE) or other exercise videos to try at home on the NHS Fitness Studio. Sport England also has tips for keeping active at home.
Look after your sleep
Feeling anxious or worried can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough.
Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns and good sleep practices, such as creating a restful environment and avoiding caffeine close to bedtime. The Every Mind Matters sleep page provides practical advice on how to improve your sleep.
Try to manage difficult feelings
Many people find the news about COVID-19 concerning. However, some people may experience such intense anxiety that it becomes a problem. Try to focus on the things you can control, such as managing your media and information intake – 24-hour news and constant social media updates can make you feel more worried. If it is affecting you, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to media coverage of the pandemic. It may help to only check the news at set times or limiting yourself to checking a couple of times a day.
Do things you enjoy
When you are anxious, lonely or feeling low, you might reduce the time you spend doing things that you usually enjoy or stop doing them completely. Focusing on your favourite hobby, learning something new or simply taking time to relax should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can boost your mood.
If you can’t do the things you normally enjoy, try to think about how you could adapt them or try something new. There are free tutorials and courses online as well as entertainment, such as online quizzes and music concerts.
Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose. Think about things you want or need to do, particularly those that you can do at home, such as reading a book or learning something online.
Keep your mind active
This can help you feel in control and less low or worried. Read, write, play games, do crossword puzzles, Sudoku’s, jigsaws or drawing and painting – whatever works best for you.
Take time to relax and focus on the present
This can help with difficult emotions, worries about the future and generally make you feel better. Relaxation techniques can also help some people to deal with feelings of anxiety. For useful resources, see Every Mind Matters and the NHS mindfulness page.
If you can, get outside. If you can’t, bring nature in
Spending time in green spaces can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. If you can’t go outside, you can try to still get these positive effects by spending time with the windows open to let infresh air, arranging space to sit and see a nice view (if possible) and get some natural sunlight.
For more information please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-mental-health-and-wellbeing-aspects-of-coronavirus-covid-19
How your diet can affect your mental wellbeing – 7 things to take note of!
Eat at regular intervals
- By eating regularly, you will keep your blood sugar levels consistent. When blood sugar drops, it leads to tiredness and irritability, and inconsistent blood-sugar levels have even been linked to mood disorders including depression and anxiety. If your blood sugar spikes, this will be followed by a dip and you’ll be hit by these issues. So eating erratically might be doing more harm than just leaving you with a rumbly tummy.
Drink plenty of fluids
- Dehydration can impact your mental wellbeing by making it harder for you to think clearly and focus.
Eat a balanced diet
- Healthier diets protect against depression. Given that depression is the leading cause of global disability, this is critical to understand.
Try to avoid junk food when you’re tired
- Certain foods can impact digestion and make you feel unwell, and this is related to mood. An example is feeling uncomfortably bloated, which leads to sluggish feelings accompanied by a brain fog, and this then impairs mental clarity. It swings both ways, so if you feel tired, with this low mental focus, anxiety, irritation and mood, you may reach for refined foods low in vitamins and minerals, which give you a quick high that is short lived.
Cut back on processed food
- While there is a relationship between regular consumption of processed food and low mood, it’s hard to distinguish between cause and effect. Foods and drinks with added sugars, such as soft drinks, are very problematic to health. Many studies from around the world show that diets high in these types of foods – as well as those with added fats, salt and highly-processed flours – are linked to worse mental health as well as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions.
Eat a diverse diet for your gut microbes
- A good diet, particularly one that is diverse and high in plants and seeds, has been linked to reduced levels of depression in a number of studies. Conversely, a diet low in variety and fibre has been linked to a greater risk of depression.
Avoid binge drinking
- One way we know that the gut is dramatically affected is through heavy drinking. Excessive (binge) drinking appears to damage the lining of the gut, which can promote inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, increases the risk of a host of diseases, including depression.
For more information please visit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/diet_wellbeing
Controlling and abusive behaviour
Controlling people often prey upon those they are closest to, taking advantage of others’ introversion, submissive tendencies, or simple good faith. Controlling behaviour can come from just about anyone in your life. It could a family member, a friend, or most commonly your partner.
Being manipulated, used, or controlled by another person can lead to a number of harmful effects and sometimes in some instances being harmed. Some may be so subtle, that you do not realise until you are cemented into a toxic, controlling relationship.
The controlling behaviour can be all-consuming and can even lead to shame for ‘allowing’ yourself to be controlled. Remember it is not at all your fault.
People who manipulate use mental distortion and emotional exploitation to influence and control others. Their intent is to have power and control over others to get what they want. A manipulator knows what your weaknesses are and will use them against you.
Emotional manipulators often use mind games to seize power in a relationship. The ultimate goal is to use that power to control the other person. A healthy relationship is based on trust, understanding, and mutual respect. This is true of personal relationships, as well as professional ones.
12 Signs of a Controlling Personality
- Blaming you.
- Constant criticism.
- Isolation and being locked away against your will
- Keeping score.
- Creating drama.
- Ignoring boundaries.
If you are in a toxic relationship, you may recognise some of these signs in yourself, your partner, or the relationship itself.
- Lack of support.
- Toxic communication being made to feel small and unimportant.
- Controlling behaviours.
- Patterns of disrespect and threats that scare you to keep quiet.
- Negative financial behaviours.
Often, the person being controlled will turn a blind eye or not acknowledge controlling behaviours. That is understandable, but in the case of physical abuse, the control may have escalated without realising it – as the other person just keeps crossing a number of subtle fine lines over time, and this is when it can be fatal.
It is not always as obvious as punches and bruises. Getting beaten up is not the only form of controlling or physical abuse, even though it is the most common. Physical control can also look like restrictions on travel, the clothes you wear, or who you see breaking down support you could reach out to.
If you feel you could be a victim of domestic abuse, please visit the website below or call their 24 hour free phone helpline number on 0808 2000 247.
A learning disability affects the way a person learns new things throughout their lifetime. A learning disability also affects the way a person understands and comprehends information and how they communicate.
A learning disability happens when a person’s brain development is affected, either before they are born, during their birth or in early childhood.
This can be caused by things such as:
- The mother becoming ill in pregnancy.
- Problems during the birth that stop enough oxygen getting to the brain.
- The unborn baby inheriting certain genes from its parents that make having a Learning disability more likely – known as inherited learning disability or difficulty.
- Illness, such as meningitis, or injury in early childhood
Sometimes there is no known cause for a learning disability.
This means they can have difficulty:
- Understanding new or complex information
- Learning new skills
- Coping independently
- Remembering tasks through memory
- Adjusting to rules and guidelines
- Struggle to keep up within mainstream of learning and development.
Around 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability. It is thought up to 350,000 people have a severe learning disability. This figure is steadily on the increase.
A learning disability can be mild, moderate or severe, some people with a mild learning disability can talk easily and look after themselves but may need a bit longer than usual to learn new skills and can achieve with extra support. Other people may not be able to communicate at all and have other disabilities as well. It depends on the person’s abilities and the level of care and support they require. People with autism may also have learning disabilities, and around 30% of people with epilepsy have a learning disability.
These are some of the characteristics of Autism:
- problems with social interaction with others
- unusual interest in objects
- need for sameness and exact routine
- great variation in abilities
- under or over reaction to one or more of the five senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, or hearing
- repeated actions or body movements
- struggle with change
Children and young people with a learning disability may also have special educational needs (SEN)
The right support from professionals – such as GPs, paediatricians (doctors who specialise in treating children and young people), speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, educational and clinical psychologists and social care – helps people with a learning disability live as full and independent a life as possible.
For more information and how you can access support please visit the link below
Omegle is a popular free online chat website that allows users to socialise with others without the need to register. The service randomly pairs strangers in one-on-one chat sessions where they chat anonymously, communicating via instant messaging and video chat.
Young people are likely to use these chat rooms and chat room apps because they seem fun, and the randomisation of people can be exciting.
Recent press reports have highlighted the potential dangers of this and other anonymous chatrooms. As young people spend much more time online due to ongoing lockdown restrictions, there is an increased chance that they will come across these sites. Content from Omegle is now being shared by popular influencers which could encourage young people to visit this platform. There are also instances where popular influencers are livestreaming reaction videos of them using the platform.
Videos from Omegle are being shared widely across other platforms with trending hashtags, which could drive even more traffic. Despite young people seeing platforms like these as fun, they may not see the risks from those online with malicious intentions.
What are the risks?
- Young people are at risk of seeing distressing or highly sexualised imagery without warning
- They may be asked or pressured to remove clothing or reveal personal information
- They may be asked to have private conversations on other apps or platforms
- They may also be sent malicious links or spam
New Snapchat safety resources launched
Safety Snapshot – Snapchat’s New Discover Channel
Snapchat have launched a new Discover channel, Safety Snapshot, dedicated to online safety for Snapchatters. Twelve episodes will be released over the coming months that focus on topics like keeping your account safe, debunking myths, protecting your data, reporting illegal activity or bullying on Snapchat, and more.
When the pandemic first hit, there was a 40% increase in reports related to hacked accounts. With that in mind, the first episode includes a swipe-up call-to-action to encourage Snapchatters to verify their email.
Subscribe by searching for Safety Snapshot in app and clicking the subscribe button. Once done, you’ll receive safety and privacy tips and tricks as they’re released on the channel. Over the next year watch out for advice about digital literacy, combating hate speech and taking social media breaks.
Snapchat Parent Guide
Snapchat’s new 25-page UK Parent Guide is available through their Safety Centre and Support Site. The guide covers such topics as:
- What is Snapchat?
- Frequently asked questions
- Top features
- Our privacy principles
- Helpful safety tips
- Wellness resources
- How to talk to your teen about Snapchat
The guide can be viewed and downloaded from here.