Looking after you

With weeks and months of the coronavirus pandemic ahead, it is important for us all to look after ourselves and if possible those around us. There is a lot of information out there about wellbeing tips and mindfulness and every one of us will find different information useful, there is no correct answer but it is important for us all to make time to explore what it is that makes us feel more able to deal with the more difficult day to day at the moment.

Mental Health charity Mind, recommends continuing to access nature and sunlight wherever possible, to exercise, eat well and stay hydrated.

AnxietyUK suggests practising the “Apple” technique to deal with anxiety and worries.

Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
Pause: Try not to react, but pause and breathe.
Pull back: Remind yourself this is the worry talking, and is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think as thoughts are not statements or facts.
Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.

This is just some of the advice out there, HeadsUp are posting tips on our social media channels and of course visit the websites of Mind and AnxietyUK (or others) for more information and advice.

Strength in [participant] numbers !

Early in 2020 we held HeadsUp workshops here at the Advice Store in Basildon and the group got on so well that they have kept in touch with each other since, providing support and encouragement.
Many of our current participants were women in their twenties and early thirties and a lot of them were single parents who individually told their PSW how isolated motherhood had left them, so we thought it would be a good idea to bring them together to meet people in similar circumstances.

They were understandably nervous the first week, but the HeadsUp trainer broke the ice. However, two instantly hit it off, swapping numbers and met up to go shopping between workshops. It was during this retail therapy that one confessed to the other she was dyslexic, but was too shy to tell the HeadsUp trainer she needed extra help during some of the exercises. Her new friend was understanding and assisted her the following week. Another participant told the group at the second workshop she had not spoken to anyone other than her children since they had all convened the previous week. Subsequently, she has met on a couple of occasions in a coffee shop with another participant who lives nearby.

The HeadsUp trainer said he had never seen a group gel so well and encouraged them to follow each other on social media to keep the momentum they had built going. He also encouraged them to take up volunteering, so we arranged a few weeks later for someone from Volunteer Essex to come in and address them together and then individually about their specific interests. At this get together one of them told the others she was applying for a role as a passenger assistant on buses for disabled children and one of the other participants told her that she used to do that job and was able to pass on advice. It worked, she got the job and the team and her fellow participants could not be happier for her.

Its Ok Not To Be Ok

This blog was actually written by one of the HeadsUp partners before the recent changes that the Corona Virus has brought to all our lives, but never has it been more relevant …

There is importance in accepting that we each have a vulnerable side which we can often associate with personal weakness. Vulnerability is not a weakness; in fact it shows immense bravery to face the fears that make us vulnerable in the first place, knowing that we are likely to experience adverse effects from doing so. Being compassionate to ourselves can be about the personal acceptance that sometimes we are not able to give 100% to the day, perhaps not even 50% and that is ok. It is important to give ourselves permission to not feel ok and this can often reduce the fear of vulnerability and judgement, empowering us to move forward and try to tackle another day with a fresh outlook.

The Peer Support Workers having this discussion during a team meeting really felt that being able to adopt this approach themselves meant that they are more able to utilise their understanding to deliver a truly empathetic approach to supporting their HeadsUp participants.

New roles make a great impact in first month

Our Development and Skills Officers (DSO’s) completed Skill Pods (skills sessions that focus on a specific part of seeking work or training) all over Essex during February with the most popular one by far being the CV Skills session. A CV is used to apply for job roles and is a short summary of your career history, skills and experiences and DSO’s work with participants to either create a new CV or review what they already have.

Within this Skill Pod the participant is given a clear outline of how to structure a CV, including formatting advice. They also review the different types of CVs identifying which best suits the participants specific situation. They explore what buzz words are and how they are included in CVs and the application process tailoring their CV to the jobs they are applying for.

This is all completed as a one to one session and backed up by some key information given to participants to take away with them inlcluding top tips and a checklist to complete as a post session exercise. The feedback has been really positive so far as this is providing a great addition to the ongoing support already given to participants by their Peer Support Worker.

**Note: These activities are still currently available through the HeadsUp project as we have adapted our delivery methods to provide ongoing support whilst keeping all involved safe. We are providing support through email/ phone calls and video calls for our participants.