Spring and new beginnings

So, Spring is here allegedly – I’m currently looking out of the window at grey clouds and rain. But the weather forecast has promised there will be blue skies and sunshine this afternoon, so I’m planning a cup of tea in the garden (if necessary, wrapped in blankets!)

Spring is a time for new beginnings, and this year is no different. In fact, now more than ever we need some sunlight to show us the hope on the horizon. Covid-19 restrictions are gradually being lifted and we are emerging from lockdown like bears from hibernation. Blinking in the daylight and slightly unsure of what changes have happened in the world.

For those of us with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, this can feel particularly challenging. We should be happy that we’re regaining our freedoms. We should be happy that we can meet up with more people, or return to the workplace, or go shopping. We *should* feel all positive, sprinkling glitter and rainbows in our path like hyperactive unicorns…. And sometimes, we do feel like that. But sometimes, we think about the social distancing rules, how quiet the supermarkets were, how we could work from our duvet cocoon, how we didn’t need to venture out and interact with people. And people can be exhausting….

Just dealing with every day life is tough, especially when your limbs feel like lead weights, your brain is full of fog and your memory has gone on strike. Of course, that’s when our inner critic comes out to play. Berating us for feeling like that, for not been grateful or happy that the world is returning to a semblance of normal. Heaping the guilt on for not wanting to go to the pub, or Primark. But, actually, we didn’t always want to do those things anyway. And you know what, that’s ok. We do not have to be the life and soul of every party!

But, as Spring fights its way through the April showers (having apparently not got the memo that April is long gone!) we can rejoice. We can meet up with those we’ve missed on our own terms, we can walk, or sit, in the moments of sunny weather and just soak up the optimism (and the Vitamin D – it’s very good for you, but do wear sunscreen too!!) We can take it as slowly as we want to. The fact that we now have the choice, that’s the freedom. And every day is a new beginning.

Achieving our goals

I often speak with my team about their work load and how we handle daily, weekly and monthly goals. What is often shared relates to changes that have been made in the last year in order for us to still reach people effectively, and change can sometimes make achieving goals feel overwhelming.

One way of managing to achieve your goals may be to tackle them one small step at a time. An example of this would be to walk 6000 steps a day, it could feel daunting to wake up early and walk this distance all at the same time so you might choose to take a few short walks instead, making the overall goal feel achievable (with the added bonus of feeling healthier and fitter for what seems like little effort at all!).

Managing our time is often half the battle. Thinking about what we want our outcome to be provides focus, it also helps to share your goals with others which allows for input and recognition, this often leaves us with a boost of support and confidence even when you may feel you may not need it. Step by step we come to realise how much closer we are to our overall goal. Plan, share, fulfil and complete would be a great way to succeed in achieving our goals.

Sure and steady steps to success!

The last few weeks have been quite busy here at our Tendring base and we have seen an increase in participant enrolments which is just great!

The majority of participants remain engaged and focussed on the programme even though we’re (Peer Support Workers) still working remotely with them.  But, we are in the process of planning to see participants face-to-face once again and I think some will be really glad to have this support.

We had a lovely outcome for one participants who after being on the project for several months, has started an accredited qualification at our local Mental Health Hub. While I was supporting him I arranged for him to volunteer at the Mental Health Hub and this has resulted in him enrolling onto another project and completing a Customer Service L1 accredited qualification. They’ve been really busy taking up all of the opportunities available to them which is such great progress!

I have since learnt that he even has a part-time cleaning job aswell which is excellent news for him, and just goes to show what can be achieved even in these recent tricky times with perseverance and the right support.

Achieve and Believe –

Achievement; the feeling when you win first place at Sports day or get a gold star at school for good behaviour. As you grow up it gets more difficult to get that feeling of Achievement and the self-confidence boost that it gives. Why is this? Perhaps partly due to the pressures we all put on ourselves and the fact that we don’t have people to praise us every day such as parental figures or teachers, maybe we need to start doing that for ourselves.

Finding the confidence to achieve goals is a struggle for most, HeadsUp can help boost that confidence in three ways;

  • Our confidence building workshops which can help you recognise the potential and skills that you already have and build upon them
  • Our PSW support helping to make a plan to achieve your goals and take steps to get you there which in itself improves confidence and self-esteem
  • Our DSO skills development support which provides targeted sessions focusing on your employability skill such as confident interviews

I’ve learnt to try and encourage others to see Achievement in everything they do, you went out for a walk today or you applied for that job or attended that interview even if you didn’t feel too confident – that’s a great Achievement. Being a Peer Support Worker has allowed me to help others see their achievements and how capable they are as well as reflect upon my own. PSW’s offer support to help individuals to focus on those small and big goals, and find a sense of satisfaction and pride in them all.

Whatever your goals are – HeadsUp are here to help!

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

Last week saw Mental Health Awareness week and we were thinking about ‘what nature means to me’ and the benefits of nature on wellbeing, fitting in with the theme of ‘connect with nature’. Connecting with nature is positive for mental wellbeing, from getting exercise in the fresh air to taking a moment to stop and smell the flowers and appreciate what’s around us.

Connecting with nature means different things to different people, it could mean exercise, mindfulness, taking the dog out, being in the garden, the list goes on! But here are some top tips for using nature to improve your wellbeing

  • Try and get out in the fresh air, if you aren’t quite ready to go out you could try opening up all your windows to let the air flow through, it may be a little nippy but the fresh air will be worth it!
  • Start small and build up, start with a walk to the end of the road, walk for 5 minutes, then 10, then 20 and so on, make it part of your routine!
  • Find out if there are any exercises you enjoy in the outdoors, biking, running, kayaking, footballing, golfing, skate boarding – give one a go!
  • Appreciate nature, listen to the birds, smell the flowers, take photos of beautiful scenery to look back on and take a minute to take notice of your surroundings!
  • Try and do things you love outdoors, do yoga in the garden, read a book on a bench or laying in the grass, listen to music whilst strolling through your local park, knit in the sunshine!
  • Bring nature into your home, grow food or a plant or flowers, nurture something and watch it grow and flourish

Being around nature improves your mood as it makes you feel more relaxed and reduces stress. Being out in nature can improve your physical health through exercising and being active, in turn improving your confidence and self-esteem, so start taking steps to connect with nature.

This year HeadsUp posted wellbeing videos, staff photos/videos and participant photos/videos of nature to share how our team and participants engage with nature to help their wellbeing.

More info of Mental Health Awareness Week can be found here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week