15 May 2020

Be kind to yourself and others this Mental Health Awareness Week

 Kindness

During these challenging times it is now more important than ever to be kind to yourself and others.

This Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 18th - Sunday 24th May) Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust is reminding people how carrying out random acts of kindness can not only help the recipient but can also benefit your own mental health and wellbeing.

Throughout the week the Trust, which provides inpatient and community mental health services across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, will be sharing examples of random acts of kindness from staff, patients and supporters and encouraging people to share their own good deeds in the hope of boosting people's spirits. 

Claire Williamson, Head of Psychological Therapies, for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust, said: "Traditionally we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week by coming together, organising events to encourage social interaction and reduce isolation. But this year we are unable to do this due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we want to encourage people to think about how they can help themselves and others at this time.

"Carrying out an act of giving or kindness is one of the five ways to wellbeing and can help improve your mental wellbeing. It can creative positive feelings and a sense of reward, give you a feeling of purpose and self-worth and help you connect with others. It can also improve your physical health by reducing stress, boosting happiness, lowering your blood pressure and releasing endorphins to boost your mood.

"During these challenging times, we're asking people to be kind to themselves and others and to share their good deeds with us to inspire others. Being kind doesn't have to involve financial cost, often simple gestures like a phone call to someone you haven't spoken to in a while, collecting someone's shopping or medication, writing a note or card with kind words or sending a motivational text to someone who is struggling can be beneficial to the recipient and the person carrying out the act."

Throughout Mental Health Awareness Week AWP will be sharing random acts of kindness being carried out by staff, patients and supporters, along with ideas on how to be kind and help others, with its followers on social media in the aim of boosting people's wellbeing and improving mental health and wellbeing.

Claire continued: "We're asking people, including staff and patients, to share their random acts of kindness with us using photos, quotes and drawings which illustrate and celebrate what they have been doing and how it has made them feel, in the hope that it will promote kindness and improve mental wellbeing for both the recipient and the person who is being kind. We will promote the best ones on our social media channels."  

Other ways to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Stay connected with people - stay in touch with family and friends by phone, video call or social media

  • Be kind to yourself - self compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself as you would towards others when you are having a difficult time

  • Talk about your concerns - sharing your worries and fears can help you feel less anxious

  • Support others - helping someone else can make you feel good, but remember to stick to the social distancing guidelines

  • Be prepared - make sure you have the things you need to be able to stay at home and how you might get help if you need it

  • Look after yourself - try to eat healthily, drink plenty of water, avoid smoking and drugs and try not to drink too much alcohol

  • Get some exercise - you can leave the house, alone or with members of your household, for one form of exercise a day, like walking running or cycling. You must keep a safe 2-metre distance from others. Or you could try a home workout.

  • Stick to the facts - find credible sources of information you can trust - such as GOV.UK or the NHS website. You might also want to consider limiting the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak, including on social media

  • Stay on top of difficult feelings - try to focus on the things you can control, such as your behaviour, who you speak to, and where and how often you get information

  • Do things you enjoy - this will help take your mind off your worries

  • Focus on the present - rather than worrying about the future try to focus on the present and try relaxation techniques to help with anxiety

  • Get a good night's sleep - sleeping well can help with how we feel mentally and physically, so it is important to get enough

For more information visit the Every Mind Matters website

To share your random acts of kindness please email awp.communications@nhs.net and we will post them on our social media channels. You can find us on Facebook @AWPNHS and follow us on Twitter @AWPNHS.

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