Mental Health Awareness Week (all year round)

mental health awarnes week logo lockupThere’s no better time to speak out about mental health

While this week has been the annual Mental Health Awareness Week, being plunged into lockdown and having our lives turned upside down has certainly given many of us lots of time to think and consider how we’re feeling. Our daily routines have changed, our work life-balances have blurred and many people have reported feeling stressed or anxious as they’ve attempted to adjust to the ‘new normal.’

The ability to buy food, stay connected with loved ones, take exercise and maintain independence have been hugely hindered by the COVID-19 restrictions, and for blind and partially sighted people lockdown is especially difficult. While its always good to use an Awareness Week to draw attention to something, when it comes to our mental health its something we live with all year round.

Wellbeing through lockdown

We’ve picked out a few tips below to put into practice, but these are applicable for use 365 days a year, not just Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May 2020). It has never been more important to take simple steps to look after your heart, body and mind.

  1. Stay connected
    It is important to stay connected with loved ones during this period of social distancing. Get in touch with somebody you care about and find out how they are, whether by phone, video message or text. If you’re sending memes or images to somebody with sight loss, don’t forget to add a written description of each image. Check out these tech tips for more info.
  2. Get active
    Just twenty minutes of exercise a day can give you a much needed boost, so why not make the most of your unlimited exercise allowance? Don’t worry if you’re not up for leaving the house. From a stair-climbing trek to a tricep-dip test, there’s plenty of activities you can do from the comfort of your own home. You could even make a difference whilst you get fit and turn your activity into a fundraiser – we have some handy hints for that!
  3. Eat well
    We know it’s tempting to reach for comfort food right now, but a healthy diet plays a huge part in maintaining good mental health. Where possible, fill your diet with fruit and veg, wholegrain foods, oily fish and dairy products. No need to feel guilty for an occasional chocolate bar though, it’s important to give yourself a treat every so often.
  4. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you feel
    During worrying times, it can be helpful to ask friends and family for emotional support. Don’t be scared to open up to your loved ones. Talking about your feelings is not a sign of weakness and may be hugely beneficial for your mental health.
  5. Start a hobby
    Hobbies are a great way to focus your mind on something positive at this tricky time. Whether you plan to dive into the world of audiobooks, waltz around your living room or explore the library of audio descriptive films on Netflix, fill your time with something fun.

Finally, one thing to note from this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week campaign has been their focus on Kindness. They say they chose this theme because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. Its a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health.

Kindness is defined by doing something towards yourself and others, motivated by genuine desire to make a positive difference.  The Mental Health Foundation research shows that kindness and our mental health are deeply connected. Kindness is an antidote to isolation and creates a sense of belonging. It helps reduce stress, brings a fresh perspective and deepens friendships. Kindness can even improve feelings of confidence and optimism.

So if there were an add-on tip, it would be to consider kindness and think about what you can do for others – because it’ll actually help you. If it worked for Scrooge – it could work for you too!