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How to Promote Positive Mental Health

At this unsettling time due to the impact of the coronavirus, it can be an emotionally and mentally challenging period for members of staff. Over the next few weeks, the EDI Team, together with our colleagues in Organisational Professional Development (OPD), will be producing a series of weekly tips to assist you in promoting your own positive mental health and, hopefully, those around you.

Here are our first four tips for you to consider:

  1. Manage your consumption of the current news. In our digital age, we can receive the news from a variety of sources: TV, radio, newspapers, social media and so on. Consider avoiding watching, reading or listening to news that could cause you to feel anxious or distressed. Seek information updates at specific times, and when you are ready to receive it.
  2. Be mindful. Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental well-being. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness ‘mindfulness’. Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges, enabling you to focus more on the present and worry less about the future. You could try using apps like Calm or Headspace to help you get started.
  3. Do something different. For some, this may be walks (if you’re not in self-isolation). For others, it may be starting a new hobby or pastime. Trying something new can be great for your mental health.
  4. Develop your networks of mutual support. Look to keep in touch with people who can provide you mutual support, such as colleagues, friends and family. The emphasis here is on support – and not activity that could cause one to slide into negativity, which can then make things worse. Take care to monitor things such as news and so on, that can lead to feelings of anxiety or distress (see 1. above).

If you want to read more on practical steps to promote and protect your own positive mental health, please click: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51873799.

Do you have any tips for colleagues in terms of promoting positive mental health? If so, please send them to

hr-equality@qmul.ac.uk.        

Mindfulness

As we get used to our ‘new normal’ of working from home, it is important that we pay attention to our own mental and physical well-being.

Over the next weeks, the EDI team will be sharing a series of top tips to help support your mental health.  These will often be practical steps you can take at your own pace. This week we will be looking at Mindfulness.


Mindfulness is about bringing awareness to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you. Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. 


When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we may have been taking for granted.  As Albert Einstein observed, “There are two ways you can live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” 

  • Notice the everyday – notice the sensations of things: the food we eat, the sounds of birds, the air moving past the body as we walk. “All of this may sound small,” says Professor Mark Williams, the former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, “but it has the huge power to interrupt the ‘autopilot’ mode we often engage day to day and to give us new perspectives on life.”
  • You can learn to be mindful at any time - whether you are sitting, lying down, or walking. Notice the feeling of your body moving. You might notice the breeze against your skin, the feeling of your feet on the ground, and the different smells that are around you.
  • Keep it regular – it can help to pick a regular time (whether this is first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, before you go to sleep) during which you decide to be aware of the sensations created by the world around you.

As well as practising mindfulness in daily life where you can, it can also be helpful to set time aside for more formal mindfulness practice. Meditation can also be a great way to practice mindfulness: apps like Calm and Headspace are a good place to start if you’re interested in exploring mindfulness and meditation.

Although Mindfulness isn’t the answer to everything and may not be for everyone, it can be a really helpful tool in supporting your own mental health. And, for some, as we adjust to our ‘new normal’, it can help assist us in making a successful transition to our new way of working in these uncertain times that can evoke anxiety.

If you have experienced the benefits of mindfulness, it would be lovely to share your experiences with your colleagues and raise awareness of mindfulness.


You can watch this short mindful breathing exercise video on YouTube from Every Mind Matters.

Websites

Apps 

Do you have any suggestions for ways in which you promote or use mindfulness? If so, do let us know at hr-equality@qmul.ac.uk.

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