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Connecting kindness and mental health to cope and recover from COVID-19

This Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May) is like no other. Many people are isolated without colleagues, friends or family and we can’t physically get together to talk about how we’re doing, our troubles or frustrations. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the effects on both our physical and mental health make this year’s awareness week more important than ever, and it has shone a light on how connected we can be, even when we’re not together.

The theme of the Mental Health Foundation’s 2020’s Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness. A kinder world is always a good one and kindness can help strengthen communities, build relationships and certainly support mental health and wellbeing. This year’s campaign reminds us to go easy on ourselves and each other during this difficult time, and to take the time to do the things that make us happy, whether that’s exercise, baking or reading a book.

The past two months have seen the world turned on its head and the situation has forced all of us to take our work and personal lives online. Although we’re working from home, or seeing friends and family at a distance, it’s vital that we are kind and stay connected. The situation is tough on everyone, but there has been a silver lining in the huge increase in the participation of online meditation classes and workouts, video calling and educational resources.

Families and friends are getting together over videocall to catch up and celebrate birthdays and other milestones, while local pubs have moved weekly quizzes and open mic nights online and volunteer communities are being created on social channels so that everyone feels that they have someone to reach out to when they’re in need.

Businesses are also adapting how they operate, with Zoom and TEAMS meetings for company catch-ups to make sure employees are managing becoming the norm.

We’ve also seen brands rise to the challenge to try to keep people at home happy with online content, free courses from the Open University, and daily morning PE sessions to live video streams from wildlife parks; organisations of all different sizes are making an effort to share uplifting content and activities.

It’s clear that COVID-19 has brought out the kindness in people, brands and businesses across the country. And thanks to the internet, we’re more connected than ever before.

To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week at Speed we’re hosting our first virtual yoga session to keep spirits up and maintain our wellbeing with a virtual book club and pilates sessions planned for June. We’ve also pulled together our top tips for looking after your physical and mental health, here are some of our favourite

1. Talk

Social interactions are vital for wellbeing, and the more of them the better, especially when they’re not work-related. Why not give someone you’d normally bump into in the office a call for a catch up?

2. Give yourself a break

No matter how busy you are with work, take some time for self-care – even if it’s just remembering to get up and walk around or to have a break for lunch. Make sure you hydrate, eat, stretch and give yourself a moment to breath. For more structured meditation check out Headspace and Calm for exercises.

3. Go outside

Being in nature reduces stress and increases mental and physical health. Sit in the garden or go for a walk on your lunch break, or even just open a nearby window when you’re working.

4. Try to keep your private and professional lives separate to maintain balance

You might not have an office space set up like your company HQ but try to make a dedicated workspace. This will mentally help you get into ‘work’ or ‘home’ mode and hopefully help keep the two things separate.

5. Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Everyone has times where they need a helping hand, so reach out to your friends, colleagues, or use the Mental Health Foundation for help when you need to.

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