Mental Health

Door 43 wellbeing blog: Tips for tackling anxiety triggered by lockdown easing

Sadie White No Comments

In these blogs our Door 43 team provide wise words and support to help young people manage emotional health and wellbeing during this difficult time. Be sure to look out for these blogs on the Sheffield Futures website and our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels. 

This week, Connor takes a look at tackling the anxiety and negative feelings caused by the need to abandon our recently learned coping strategies as lockdown eases and we are required to adapt and change our approach yet again. Connor looks at the things we can do to ease negative feelings and stay emotionally well as lockdown eases. 

As we move into the gradual easing of lockdown, for many of us this brings longed-for opportunities like seeing friends and family, playing sports, going on a staycation, heading into town, going shopping, or getting back to work or school (even if they are at a social distance).

While these changes are happy and exciting ones, for many of us including myself, even this increased freedom can be difficult for our mental health.

For many, the prospect of coming out of lockdown when there are still active debates about the fundamentals of how we deal with and treat the virus can be a real worry. Especially to those more vulnerable to the virus and those of us with mental health concerns.

A survey by charity Anxiety UK found that the idea of lockdown restrictions being lifted led to an increase in anxiety for 67% of those polled.

Fear and anxiety are possibly the most common emotional responses any of us will feel as we approach the release from lockdown. This response is how our brain reacts to potential danger – like a pandemic- in order to keep us safe. Therefore your brain is trying to protect you! That’s why you might be feeling anxious and stressed about returning to ‘normal’.

Finding a way to adjust and adapt to lockdown took a lot of emotional energy and we may have finally found a way to cope, so it’s natural that we may be hesitant to leave this behind and start the change process all over again. And we should also expect it will take some time to find our way back and to reconnect with things we have been distant from.

So if many of us are feeling this ‘coming out of lockdown anxiety’, we should prepare for the fact that the end of lockdown might bring its own set of changes and challenges, just like it did at the start.

But as with many of the other challenges we have faced this year, we are not alone, and we are capable of overcoming them – and I hope the list of wellbeing tips and advice below can help you along the way:

 

For more advice around coming out of lockdown anxiety, check out the links below:

Young Minds 

Mental Health 

Kids Helpline 

“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” — Bob Marley

Door 43 wellbeing blog: Using time positively in lockdown

Sadie White No Comments

In these blogs our Door 43 team provide wise words and support to help young people manage emotional health and wellbeing during this difficult time. Be sure to look out for these blogs on the Sheffield Futures website and our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels. 

This week, Chris takes a look at his own experience of the lockdown period and how he’s managed to turn a negative situation into a positive one to use the time more proactively and stay emotionally well. 

Hello everyone!

For this weeks Blog I want to write about how I’ve been trying to make the most of this lockdown period. Turning its negatives into positives by pushing myself to use this time a bit more proactively. Maybe learn a new skill or simply to watch a film that’s been sat in my watch later list for months.

Before the lockdown happened I had several things I wanted to have a go at or learn or even just things I wanted to watch but life always seemed to get in the way. I figure now is the perfect time to get some of these things done.

Growing my own fruits and veg.

Last year I grew a tomato plant and some potatoes in a bag in the garden, and to my amazement, given I hadn’t got a clue what I was doing, I ended up with a decent amount of tomatoes and potatoes and I actually really enjoyed it and felt a sense of achievement.

So this year I thought I would step it up a gear and have attempted to grow a wider range of fruits and vegetables and have had various levels of success.

I’ve attempted to grow potatoes, parsnips, lettuce, carrots, radishes, spring onions, cucumbers, bell peppers, chilli peppers, strawberries and a couple of types of tomatoes all from seed and with very little understanding of what each of them needs besides what a bit of a google can tell me and a ‘can do’ attitude.

 

The potatoes, Radishes, lettuce and strawberries are doing really well and I think are now about ready to be eaten.

The tomatoes and Chilli peppers have fruits on them but aren’t quite ready yet, not really sure at all how long they take but we’ll see.

The cucumber plant is a bit of a sad story.. it was doing so well and grew a massive cucumber which we have since eaten and it tasted great but I followed Google’s instructions and moved the plant outside when it grew to a certain size but it seemed to wither, and despite my best efforts just never recovered. I think maybe I left the fully grown cucumber on it for a little too long or the move from the warm inside to outside may have been a bit much for it. It’s all learning for next year.

The parsnips have finally started growing, I’ve had to plant seeds several times and I think something disturbed the first lot I sewed but they’ve recently started to grow and have a long way to go to being ready.

The carrots are basically a no show. Despite sewing a couple of different types at different times and making sure they’re watered they haven’t really done anything yet. Maybe the seeds just got eaten by birds as quickly as I was putting them in.

I’ve really enjoyed doing this for several reasons. As I mentioned before, there has been a sense of achievement in managing to grow something from a seed and working to look after it as it grows but also because a few members of my family enjoy gardening and my parents and my partner’s grandfather have allotments and it’s been really nice having a shared interest that we could talk about together to keep conversation away from Covid-19, PPE and queuing for shops.

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do or that you just thought looked interesting I strongly urge you to go for it! What better time than now?

Getting outside!

As I’m sure many of you have also experienced, I have found that being in the house so much has impacted really heavily on my mood.

When lockdown started, myself and my partner Laura made sure we went on a little  walk around the block straight after our work day ended and we managed to keep this going until June when it seemed to rain every day but as soon as we stopped that feeling of being stuck inside became more intense.

Now the weather, while still a bit hit or miss, has slightly improved, we have started to go on our evening walks again however we aren’t thinking about it as gong for a walk but more that we’re exploring the areas around where we live.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know more about our neighbourhood. Turns out there are little pathways connecting loads of the roads like some kind or rabbit warren and we’ve learned loads of shortcuts,  but also that there’s a farm literally two roads away which we had no idea was there.

Now that restrictions are being eased a little we feel more comfortable about being out and on weekends we have been trying to go a little further away from home for the walks to some woodland and spending some time in this change of scenery has had a really positive impact on our moods.

I really recommend making sure you get outside,  provided you make sure you maintain social distancing and take measures to keep yourself safe and would also suggest you take loads of pictures of places or times you’ve enjoyed!

I always forget to take pictures when out so am trying to remind myself to do this so I can look back on places we’ve been on these little adventures as a reminder the good times!

Clearing ‘watch later’ lists

Another thing I’ve been trying to do, mainly when its raining is to actually watch some of the films or shows I’ve said I wanted to see.

I seem to add loads of things to various ‘watch later’ lists such as on Netflix and its got to a point now where this list feels like a chore which it really shouldn’t be.

So now I’ve been trying to actually get through this list before I add anything new to them and I’m not going to lie, even simply watching a film and then removing it from my list feels great.

So my advice to you is to get yourself really nice and comfy, line up your tv snacks, settle in and watch that film or show you’ve been putting off! Or it might be a good time to delete any films it turns out you’re just not that bothered about watching and so something you are interested in instead.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a drastic impact on a lot of peoples plans for 2020. Lots of events having to be postponed until a later date or cancelled all together but it doesn’t mean this time has to be completely wasted. Let’s try to use it as best we can and come out of all of this with new skills, knowledge or just loads of little tasks completed, ready for whatever’s next!

Bye for now. Chris.

Door 43 wellbeing blog: What’s the difference between outer space and your living room?

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In these blogs our Door 43 team provide wise words and support to help young people manage emotional health and wellbeing during this difficult time. Be sure to look out for these blogs on the Sheffield Futures website and our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels.  

This week, inspired by the recent Space X mission to the International Space Station, Luca takes a look at how the emotional challenges we are facing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions are very similar to those experienced by astronauts. Luca looks at the techniques astronauts use to help manage emotional issues caused by confinement and how we can use them here on Earth! Enjoy.  

Hello! Luca here – one of the health and wellbeing practitioners

I recently made a few videos about the similarities between space flight and the restrictions we’re facing around COVID-19, bear with me, there is some relevance! The videos are about 10 minutes long in total, so I thought it would be useful to use the blog this week to highlight some of the key points I make in  those videos and also give you some relevant and useful links. 

While space flight and staying at home seem like they couldn’t possibly be further apart – both literally and figuratively! – there are a surprising amount of similarities, both in terms of the emotional challenges and solutions to those challenges. 

There’s a programme called the Dartmouth Path Programme, which is designed to help astronauts cope with the emotional challenges of being confined with others on a spaceship for long durations of time. The emotional challenges that stem from the limitations astronauts face during spaceflight, are surprisingly quite similar to those which we have experienced as part of COVID—19 restrictions. As such the Dartmouth Path Programme contents has been made available online, to the public, to help them to cope with the restrictions around COVID-19.

Jay Buckley, ex NASA astronaut and one of the designers of the Dartmouth Path Programme said, ‘It’s challenging to be isolated with a small group of people and to not be able to get away… Outer space and your own living room might be drastically different physically, but emotionally the stressors can be the same’.

The Dartmouth Programme encourages astronauts who are experiencing stress to consider if they are over-reacting, catastrophising or making judgements that don’t quite fit the evidence. The Programme encourages astronauts who are experiencing anger or anxiousness to engage in grounding, relaxation or meditation techniques such as focusing on your breathing or muscle relaxations. These are techniques we at Door 43 recommend for those of you experiencing these feelings. 

The Dartmouth Path Programme also looks at depression which can set in when you are restricted from doing things that would normally boost your mood – like when on a spaceship or when your favourite places to visit are shut! The programme suggests that it’s important to focus on what you can do and the problems you can control, i.e. problems which have solutions! Jay Buckley said, ‘If you focus constantly on what you can’t do or things you want to do that’s not good for moodwhat you can control is what’s going to happen today or tomorrow.

In spite of the restrictions, we do have some control over our days, and increasingly so – just make sure you’re being safe for yourself and others. Having something special within your daily routine can help you to look forward to each day. The things that might make each day special might be a walk first thing, speaking to family or a friend, practicing your football or cartwheel skills, simply reading a book or a million other things we can do! Social isolation has been a massive challenge for everyone recently and something we can do now is catch up with one friend at a time whilst maintaining a safe distance, there’s a link below with the official guidance.

Take care everyone and keep safe,

Luca

Remember Door 43 is here to support young people make sense of this confusing and emotionally challenging time. If you’re experiencing any of the problems we talk about here or feel you could do with talking to someone one to one or in a group environment, please do contact us. A reminder of our full list of support is here 

Links 

Luca’s Instagram posts on spaceflight and COVID-19 restrictions: 

https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-ou-8RHqwn/ 

https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-pFzHfnz-I/ 

https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-pOOrnnXCM/ 

Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: What you can and can’t do 

 

Door 43 wellbeing blog: How to be active during lockdown

Sadie White No Comments

In these blogs our Door 43 team provide wise words and support to help young people manage emotional health and wellbeing during this difficult time. Be sure to look out for these blogs on the Sheffield Futures website and our TwitterFacebook and Instagram channels. 

This week Christos explores ideas to help you stay physically active during lockdown.

Hey everyone, it’s Christos here from Door43. I’m one of the Social Prescribing Link Workers and today I’m going to be exploring ideas to help you be active during lockdown. Although the gyms are closed and we’re limited to non-contact activities, let’s be positive that we’re no longer confined to one daily trip outside.

For many of us we may have become accustomed to spending significantly more time than usual sat around at home not really doing much… inactive, bored, lethargic, bloated from all the eating and snacking… does any of this sound familiar? If so then why not consider ways to change this. Now more than ever, a healthy daily routine is essential! This period we’re going through isn’t going to last forever. There will come a point when we’re no longer advised stay at home and restricted by the rules of lockdown. So during this time don’t let yourself slip into poor habits and unhealthy daily routines! I can assure you it will just make things even more difficult to return to some sort of ‘normality’ when this is over!

It is safe to say that lockdown has affected my daily routine in many ways. Usually I would have been walking to and from work, playing football throughout the week and also attending a gym on a regular basis. But I have since been restricted to a desk and laptop during my working days. So, I thought, what can I do to stay active? I have replaced football with regular walks around my local area and bike rides along the canal. I have replaced attending my local gym by performing home workout routines in my living room and garden. I have even set myself hourly reminders on my phone while I am working to encourage myself to get up from my chair and perform an activity such as press-ups. Believe me; if you want to get better at press-ups then give this a go! From all this I’ve now seen parts of my local community I never knew existed and I have found a new interest in exercise workouts that require no gym equipment at all. So I guess positivity can still be achieved despite everything going on in the world right now.

You might have been thinking what exercise can I do? I have no equipment, no space, no motivation, no idea. Well I’ll tell you this, there’s lots you can be doing! Whether you take the opportunity to get outside to exercise or exercise in your home, there’s plenty of options. Have you thought about giving time to do any home fitness workouts, yoga or even dancing? Or what about going outdoors for a walk, run or cycle? That’s six options right there. If you’re still stuck for ideas then why not look to those who can help us keep learning… there’s The Body Coach and Yoga with Adriene on YouTube – both can give you ideas to get you started. There are online initiatives like 20DV and Dance in Your Pants to support you to dance in the comfort of your own home.  Or maybe downloading applications on your mobile could give you the motivation you need. There are apps such as Strava that allow you to track your walks, runs and bike rides. Why not monitor your progress and set yourself goals to beat your scores each time you head outside. You can even connect with friends to see how much exercise they are doing so whether it’s for health purposes, enjoyment, or some friendly competition, take notice of the resources and support available to you and be active.

We at Door43 are here to support young people between the ages of 13 to 25. We aim to promote emotional wellbeing as well as engagement in positive initiatives. If you haven’t already then why not follow our Door43 Instagram page for loads of different health and wellbeing themes you can engage with to occupy your time. Despite the length of my hair catching up to Joe Wicks with all barbers being closed, I am by no means the next ‘Body Coach’, but I have provided some home workouts on our page too. All you need is a bit of space, whether it’s in your living room or your garden. Give them a go!

Check out our Door 43 support and why not tell us what you would benefit from. Get in touch and let the team know what support you need right now. What would benefit you most? Let us have your ideas about the kind of support you need to get you to where you want to be or to help you become the person you want to be.

 

Be kind to yourself: How to love the whole of you, mind and body

Sadie White No Comments

In these blogs our Door 43 team provide wise words and support to help young people manage emotional health and wellbeing during this difficult time. Be sure to look out for these blogs on the Sheffield Futures website and our TwitterFacebook and Instagram channels. 

This week Katie talks about negative body image, why it’s so important to be kind to ourselves and look for the good things in our whole selves and gives advice and guidance on how to deal with negative thoughts.

Hi everyone, it’s Katie here from Door43. This week I’m going to talk about body image and how to deal with negative body image.

Lockdown isn’t going to be helping if you suffer with negative body image as social media is pumping out lots of images and information that will prompt unhelpful comparisons if we don’t check ourselves.

I’ve noticed that social media has become filled with daily workout videos, physical challenges and there seems to be a large focus on food. This information can be very helpful to find a healthy balance and a great way for us to learn new things about moving and nourishing our bodies. However, it is so important to pay attention to the messages and attitudes of the media posts and that we consider the following questions before we take any of this information on board. Do they, make you feel guilty? Reduce your self-esteem? Encourage you to think negatively about your body and yourself?

If the posts you’re looking at do any of these then they’re not going to serve you. If you have poor body image, lockdown can be a time where you use information from social media to shame your body and compare yourself to others. So, it may be useful to think about this next time you are on social media. Consider unfollowing accounts that make you feel worse after seeing their posts.

It’s also important to remember, when comparing your life to that of someone else’s, social media is not a true reflection of reality. Images are edited and positive elements of life are promoted.

In our society we are often told that we have to look a certain way or be a particular shape in order to ‘fit in’. Who creates this idea of normal? Where is it written down that a certain body shape is the norm that everybody must adhere to? The idea that all of our bodies should fit the same ‘cookie cutter’ shape is impossible and can be a dangerous idea to hold. Have you ever said to your friends “I hate my nose”, “I wish I looked like you”, “I’ll never have a six pack” or “I would do anything to be thinner”? What are the advantages and disadvantages of insulting our bodies in this way and pointing out areas for change? Grab a pen and write down your thoughts on this.

Advantages

(can add own info in here)

Disadvantages

(can add own info in here)

Maybe if we focus on the areas about ourselves we love, or are impressed with, this may change the way we view our bodies.

It is also important to remember that our bodies are so much more than a thing to look at; to base our worth solely on how we look disregards all of the other parts of us that make us who we are. We are not a one-dimensional cardboard cut out for others to observe. Try considering the following questions about YOU:

What can my body do that is not related to how it looks?

(can add own info in here)

How would I describe my personality?

(can add own info in here)

What are my values?

(can add own info in here)

What are my hobbies?

(can add own info in here)

What are my strengths?

(can add own info in here)

If we base all of our happiness on how we look, this will often to lead to frustration and constant thoughts of wanting to change. How our bodies look does not define us, it cannot illustrate our intelligence, our character, our values or our success. Remember that you are YOU, we cannot truly understand ourselves if we constantly wish to be someone else.

Try writing a ‘top 5’ list of things that you like about yourself, that aren’t based on how you look, and stick this somewhere in your house for you to look at everyday – as a daily reminder of our unique multi-dimensional qualities.

Instead of trying to change our body type, let’s…

  1. Change the way we view ourselves.
  2. The way we talk about our bodies.
  3. Understand YOUR body. Unfortunately comparing it to others won’t help you to appreciate what your body can do.
  4. Consider the discrimination society has against particular body types.
  5. Look at the beauty in all body types – have a look at artwork and photographs of a whole range of people, and embrace the difference.
  6. Move our bodies – try going for a walk, have a dance in your kitchen, go for a bike ride – find something that you enjoy and that makes you feel good, rather than as a punishment for your body.
  7. Consider self-care and looking after yourself – have a bath, wash your hair, put a face mask on, have a nap, sit outside to get some fresh air. Be kind to yourself.

For some great advice and tips on body image, have a look at the bodyimagetherapist on Instagram, I have found some of her quotes very inspiring – but remember, find what works for you.

I recently read about the Japanese phrase “shinshin ichinyo” that translates as ‘mind-body unity’. Rather than viewing our mind and body as separate entities, this phrase is about a deep connection between the mind and the body. It made me consider the importance of this quote:

“Don’t let your mind bully your body”

Door 43 wellbeing blog: How to keep stress at bay during lockdown

Sadie White No Comments

In these blogs our Door 43 team provide wise words and support to help young people manage emotional health and wellbeing during this difficult time. Be sure to look out for these blogs on the Sheffield Futures website and our TwitterFacebook and Instagram channels. 

This week Connor talks about stress and anxiety and reflects on his own experiences to offer coping strategies during this time in lockdown. 

Hi everyone its Connor here and I am one of the social prescribers working as part of Door43. This week I have been reflecting on the current situation with lockdown and the past couple of years for myself, and it has got me thinking about managing stress, so I wanted to share with you all some of my own experience, from the bad times and the good, with the hope it might help you understand your own personal experience with stress better, which maybe particularly useful during this challenging time!

So what is stress?

It’s not easy to pin down exactly what stress means, but we all know how it feels, so I would say it is the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressure being put on you. Stress does not discriminate; although we may experience it differently, we all experience it, like blood pressure it goes up and down, we all have stress.

So, if it’s normal, when does it become a problem? As sometimes stress can be a good thing, for example it can motivate us to take new challenges, face fears and react to threatening situations. I would say it becomes a problem when you can’t get rid of it, if you get it for no reason and when it becomes the centre of your life and you start making decisions based on your stress levels, for example cancelling plans as you want to “see how you feel on the day”, something I noticed in myself. I would also not allow myself to relax in the evening or on a Sunday, bracing myself for the stress of the next day!

So, if we can agree it is a normal experience, which can be different for everyone and sometimes get the better of us, how do we get a handle on it? Well next I will explore some things I have found helpful to know about my own stress which may be useful to think about for yourself, to hopefully equip you with some knowledge to tackle it when it comes in a healthier way.

Learn to starve stress:

There are lots of things that keep stress going, a bit like fuel on a fire, so the sooner you can start to pinpoint what these are for you, the sooner you can start to figure out what you can and can’t change and then gradually reduce these and starve stress of the fuel it needs to keep going.

As I said this ‘stress fuel’ can be different for everyone, and some might be more obvious than others, for myself:

External things such as assignments being due, family troubles or financial worries were things I knew made me feel stress, some of which I couldn’t change straight away but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t change how I was responding to them such as trying not to over-worry about the things I can’t change right now.

When I am really stressed, relying on caffeine to keep me going and alcohol to help me unwind was something I noticed, which are both known to make us more prone to low mood and anxiety and for myself were easier changes to start with.

Being self-critical and avoiding facing my problems are big fuels for my stress and changing the way I think and react to situations has been a massive challenge which I am still facing today. Anyone experiencing this should remember these are really common challenges we all face and simply getting better at noticing it is the first stage to tackling it. Think of it like going the gym, you wouldn’t go once and get the result you want, changing the way we think and behave takes time, patience and practice!

Some of this ‘stress fuel’ might be trickier to spot, like for me it took me a long time to realise that I needed to make some bigger changes such as my relationship with my job, as while others could see it plain as day, it had become so important in my life I rarely allowed myself to stop thinking about it, which got in the way of the things that were crucial to my wellbeing such as my relationships, health and interests.

What I would say to this is, sometimes we need to take a break from things to step back and really see what is important, and sometimes this means being brave and really listening to what the people close to us think, and trusting in what they say.

Know your early warning signs:

Another key part of learning to manage my own stress was getting familiar with my early warning signs, what I mean by this is your own personal signs that your stress meter is starting to rise to a zone where something needs to be done!

These can usually be broken down into our thoughts, physical symptoms, emotions and behaviours. Some of my main early warning signs of stress building up are:

  • My thoughts can become overly self-critical, worrying and ruminating on things, doubting myself and the decisions I have made.
  • Physically I notice my heart rate increase and my breathing gets shallower, I also sometimes feel hot and begin to sweat, I also struggle to sleep and feel tired a lot of the time.
  • Emotionally I tend to feel low, frustrated and irritable.
  • And in the way I act I tend to start to withdraw, avoiding not just stressful situations but also a lot of the things that might actually help like spending time with others and doing something active or different, instead sometimes relying on quick fixes like junk food and alcohol (Which like most things isn’t good to rely on or go to consistently!)

So as I have become more familiar with these signs, I am getting better at noticing them early and then starting to starve the stress of any fuel keeping it going, and put into place some tools to help me relax which I shall talk about in a moment!

A really good way to think about stress is something called the ‘Stress Bucket’. Imagine that you have a bucket that all your stress goes into. It may always have some stress in it and that’s normal, if you are feeling resilient your bucket may have room for plenty of stress before you start to struggle but if you are feeling quite vulnerable, your stress bucket may be very small and fill up very quickly.

 

 

As you start to notice your early warning signs, it probably means your bucket is filling up more and more, which is when we need to open a tap and release the stress. Sometimes we do things that seem helpful at first but actually add the stress back to the bucket, this is the stress fuel we talked about earlier, so we need to make a personal list of positive coping tools to manage stress and start emptying the bucket!

Create your own list of stress busting tools:

So this is something that has been incredibly helpful for me and even though I have some go to tools, the great thing is I am always discovering new ways to relax and de-stress, some working better than others, but the more, the better!

  • For me going for a run outside a few times a week if I can manage is vital, I find it gives me time to think, burn off any anxious energy and is a well-documented activity to reduce anxiety and stress levels. Also being outside in nature with some fresh air really helps me relax and get a break from being inside all the time or sat in front of a screen.
  • Doing regular mindfulness exercises helps me notice how I am feeling and learn to react differently. I like to use apps for this such as Headspace usually before bed or first thing in the morning, but there are loads of ways you can give this a go if you look online.
  • Keeping a thought diary and using some exercises to challenge my negative thoughts has been such a vital tool in getting a hold of my stress, this is something that can take practice and sometimes it can be good to have someone to talk to about this.
  • Having some ‘me time’. Whether this is taking a long shower with some music, or getting lost in a video game for hours, these are the things I enjoy that give me a break from everything else. I recommend protecting some time each week for activities like this.
  • Spending time with others – Although I might not feel like it when stressed, I actually feel a lot better when I catch up with friends, even if that has to be online at the moment, often I also get chance to vent a little, relax and they help me see my difficulties in a different way.

So there you have it. I could write for days about stress and what helps, but I hope some of my own personal experience has helped you think about managing your own challenges!

Remember. We all experience this but everyone is different, so you need to work on your own plan to tackle it which can take some time, but the great thing about that is there is so much information out there you can choose from to try, and if you are stuck you can always talk to those close to you or people such as the Door43 staff for advice!

So I finish this blog with a quote from an amazing author, born in Sheffield who has wrote some fantastic books on his own experience dealing with stress, and living with depression and anxiety:

“Just when you feel you have no time to relax, know that this is the moment you most need to make time to relax.”

– Matt Haig

Door 43 wellbeing blog: Problems sleeping? You’re not alone.

Sadie White No Comments

In these blogs our Door 43 team provide wise words and support to help young people manage emotional health and wellbeing during this difficult time. Be sure to look out for these blogs on the Sheffield Futures website and our TwitterFacebook and Instagram channels. 

This week Annis talks about problems with sleep and along with our wellbeing worker Ash, provides information, advice and guidance about how to improve sleep and where to go for further help if needed. 

Hiya – I’m Annis, a Wellbeing Practitioner at Door 43 and this week I’ve decided to do a blog about poor sleep and how to tackle it. This is something I have experienced from time to time in my life and due to recent world events, I thought it’s likely something that others are currently struggling with.

So…..

Are you having difficulty sleeping?  If so we want you to know – you are not alone!

A quote from someone struggling with sleep:

“I have spent so many nights, anxiously wondering what on earth is wrong with me and why I could not just fall asleep like everyone else.  My thoughts would be racing, worst case scenarios would replay through my mind and I would  imagine images of what could go wrong the next day, week, month or year, and my body and mind seemed unable to switch off.  Then, just a few hours before I was due to get up, I would fall asleep and be woken by my alarm and then feel exhausted.”  (Anonymous)

Does any of the above sound familiar? You may have never had an issue with sleeping but due to recent events have found yourself experiencing a range of disturbed sleep patterns.  Or, you might regularly experience problems with falling asleep or perhaps managing to fall asleep but then wake up a few hours later unable to fall back to sleep?

So why is sleep so important? Quality sleep has several benefits to both our physical and mental health. Quality sleep strengthens our immune system, improves brain functioning including learning, memory and decision-making, helps regulate mood and improves our mental health. By getting a good nights sleep we’re giving ourselves the best chance to have a good day!

It’s usually an adjustment to sleeping habits that can help improve my sleep. I find a regular routine helps, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and with this – waiting until I’m tired before I finally close my eyes. Relaxing for about an hour before bed, for example taking a bath, reading a book or listening to calming music helps.  A sleep diary can be a good idea too where you note down the conditions when you had a good night’s sleep so you can make sure you’re doing those things that have a positive impact.

There are lots of things we can do to help us get the best sleep possible. Ashleigh, also a wellbeing worker in the Door 43 team has worked with me to pull together the following tips:

A wind down and relaxation routine

Utilising relaxation strategies can help create a regular soothing bedtime routine and helps your mind and body slow down and prepare for sleep. Here are some ideas:

  • Drink herbal tea or other warm non-caffeinated drinks
  • Breathing exercises – help activate your body’s relaxation response and counter-act your stress response. Examples include – mindfulness of the breath, counting the breath, diaphragmatic (belly) breathing, take 5 hand breathing, lengthening our breath out (exhalation) longer than our breath in (inhalation). Check out our videos on this here 
  • Reading for fun
  • A relaxing warm bath or shower
  • Yoga – try Yoga with Adriene ‘Yoga for Bedtime 20-minute Practice’
  • Meditation – apps to get you started are headspace, Calm and Smiling Mind
  • Calming music

Try to create a peaceful and pleasant sleeping environment

Typically, dark, quiet and slightly cooler environments are most ideal to promote good sleep, but this may vary for from person to person. Try to make your bedroom as relaxing and comfortable as possible. Consider how your bedroom set up, lighting, mattress, pillows, bedding and pyjamas are helping to create a calm environment. Bright lights, phones, clocks and TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep. Turn these off or adjust when possible and black out curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, fans and other devices can also make the bedroom more relaxing.

Expose yourself to natural light

Exposure to sunlight in the day and darkness at night helps maintain a balanced sleep-wake cycle. Our circadian system is our body’s internal clock and helps regulate when you feel alert and when you’re ready to sleep. External cues such as natural light can also help keep our circadian system in rhythm.

Limit technology time 

The blue light produced by electronic devices has been found to interfere with the body’s natural sleep-promoting processes. Try to give yourself some technology free time around 1 hour before bed as well as adjust device settings or apps that reduce or filter blue light. If you do use meditation or relaxation apps to assist in falling asleep try turning your phone onto airplane mode so that you don’t get distracted by notifications when you are trying to relax.

Food, drink and exercise

Caffeine and alcohol can all disturb sleep patterns including making it harder to fall and remain asleep during the night. If you are having difficulty sleeping, try limiting caffeine and alcohol and see if it makes a difference for you.

Moving your body throughout the day can assist in helping you sleep at night.  Research has found that just 10 minutes of aerobic exercise (e.g. running, cycling, swimming, HIIT workout etc) during the day can help significantly improve sleep quality. However, try to avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime and replace with slower paced and more relaxing exercises such as yoga and stretching. (Note: the effect of intense night time exercise on sleep varies between individuals so it’s important to find out what suits you best).

Don’t force it

Lying awake for a long time tossing and turning? Mind racing worrying about the future or replaying the past? Trying to force yourself to sleep? Try pressing the reset button instead. Get up out of bed and try engaging in a relaxation practice (e.g. reading, breathing exercises, meditation). Once you start to feel a bit sleepier go back to bed and try again.

Useful links 

You can find out more about sleep problems and get further information, advice and guidance from the NHS and Mind.

Door 43 wellbeing blog: Photo journaling as a route to wellbeing

Sadie White No Comments

In these blogs our Door 43 team provide wise words and support to help young people manage emotional health and wellbeing during this difficult time. Be sure to look out for these blogs on the Sheffield Futures website and our TwitterFacebook and Instagram channels. 

This week Terri talks about her new found love of practicing presence through photo journaling and how this can be a tool to create a greater sense of wellbeing – especially important during lockdown. 

Hi everyone, it’s Terri at Door 43 here.  So, a couple of weeks ago I was over on Instagram talking to you about a way that we can try and take care of our wellbeing right now, through practicing presence or what we sometimes call ‘taking notice’.   This week, I’m going to be sharing with you my personal experience of practicing presence and creating a photo journal during lockdown.

I’m going to outline what taking notice is and why it’s important.  Then I’m going to talk about why I decided to do it, what I discovered for myself and how it’s helped me create a greater sense of wellbeing during lockdown.  Afterwards, I’ll share some useful tips on taking notice and how you can practice presence in your daily lives.

What is taking notice and why is it important?

Taking notice means that we actively bring our attention to the world around us and to ourselves.  It means being present in the moment and being aware of our thoughts and feelings as they arise, without getting lost in them. When we’re being present, it means we’re focusing on the here and now.  Focusing too much on past events and worrying about the future can have a negative impact on our mental health and wellbeing.  It’s a natural response to think about the things that make us feel anxious or stressed, but if we do this too much, repetitively thinking about past and future anxieties, we can fall into the trap of ‘ruminating’ our thoughts.  This means going over and over the same negative worries in our mind without making any real progress towards finding a resolution to them, which just increases our anxieties even more! It can be a vicious cycle! But, if we take a break from these thought patterns, by taking notice and focusing on the present moment, we can reduce our negative thinking and anxieties and create a feeling of calmness and connectedness.

When we start to take notice, we begin to strengthen our self-awareness which makes us more aware of our values and needs.  It can make us really take in the things that are important to us, what we enjoy and appreciate and the moments in our day that make us feel good.   By taking the time to savour these moments, it can make us feel more grateful.  Feeling and expressing gratitude turns our mental focus to the positive, which compensates for our brain’s natural tendency to focus on threats, worries and negative aspects of life.  Gratitude creates positive emotions, like joy, love, and contentment, which research shows can not only undo the grip of negative emotions like anxiety, it can also broaden your mind and create positive cycles of thinking and behaving in healthy, positive ways.

Why did I decide to take notice and take pictures?

So you might be thinking, why a photo journal?, what’s the connection with taking notice and taking photographs? Well, a recent study investigated the effects of taking photos every day and sharing them on social media.  The researchers found that taking a moment to be mindful and looking for something different, beautiful or unusual in the day, had positive well-being benefits including better self- care, increased exercise, creating social interaction and improving mood and feelings of happiness.

All of those benefits sound exactly what we need right now. In fact, we need them more than ever while we’re on lockdown, as a lot of people may be experiencing a greater sense of anxiety, isolation and with social distancing impacting our usual routines, it means we have limited access to some of the usual activities that help us manage our wellbeing. So, I wanted to try this for myself and incorporate taking notice and taking pictures as a practice in each day with the aim to enhance my own wellbeing and  so that I can share my experience with you and hopefully encourage you to try it for yourselves.

So, for the past few weeks I’ve been looking out for things that I find interesting or make me feel happy, moments I appreciate, things I’m grateful for in each day and taking a photo of it.  I’ve been storing them in a designated folder in my phone so that I can later look back and reflect on them.  I’ve also been sharing them with my friends and family by posting them on social media, showing my partner and talking about what I found special about that photo and even sending them to my friends.  Here are just a few of the photos I’ve taken:

What I discovered is that taking notice and taking pictures has made me more mindful. I always enjoy being outside in nature, I take my dogs out walking everyday, but sometimes I let my busy mind wander thinking about the day ahead, that call I need to make or email I must send, rather than just focusing on the present moment. But while I’ve been aiming to practice presence throughout my day, I’ve felt a greater sense of appreciation for the area that I live in, noticing the seasonal change and how pretty the natural environment is.  I’ve felt a greater sense of curiosity and sense of adventure.  It’s been fun taking different routes on my walks so that I can find new things to take photos of.  I’ve felt a greater sense of gratitude, even just small moments like enjoying a cup of coffee while I’ve sat in the garden enjoying the lovely weather have made me feel so grateful to have the opportunity to slow down, read and relax in the sun.  And most of all I’ve noticed how taking notice has made me feel more connected, with myself, my environment and also with my friends and family who have enjoyed receiving photos of captivating moments and have even started taking notice and taking pictures themselves, so we can share our special moments together.

What else can you do to take notice and practice being present?

Celebrate the tiny joys.
It could be having your favourite coffee or a walk in the park, celebrate the tiny joys as much as the big ones.
Make mindfulness a practice.                 Whether it’s through yoga, meditation or another mindfulness practice like writing gratitude letters, take time in your day to intentionally be present. Identify the moment. Take a moment to check in with yourself and identify the moment you’re in. ask questions like: Where am I? What is around me? What noises do I hear? How am I feeling? What am I grateful for right now? Think ‘Taking Notice and Taking Pictures’
Listen without intending to respond.
Instead of half listening to a conversation, or thinking about what you’re going to say, try inviting more presence into your conversations and relationships simply by listening with curiosity, rather than anticipation.
Be OK with not knowing all the answers.           Part of the reason we get so caught up in future worries is because we want certainty and avoid vulnerability. We can sometimes feel we’re not good enough for not knowing how to handle certain situations, creating self-doubt and self-criticism. The less you strain to find the answers, the more likely they are to come to you. Listen to your body.
One of the best ways that you can be present in your life is to listen to what your body tells you. Your body will let you know when it needs energy and when it needs rest. 
Feel your Feelings.
Try to just sit with your feelings and simply observe them instead of trying to change them. Let go of the mentality that certain feelings are bad and that you need to be positive all of the time. Instead, let yourself feel.
Reduce Distractions.
Identify your top distractions and develop a plan to avoid them. For a lot of us this might just be taking the time to put down our phone or devices so that we can completely focus on one thing at a time without having a notification, a phone call or a message to take us away from what we’re doing.
Enjoy your Routines.
We all have our little rituals or routines that we do on a daily basis. It could be something as simple as having a cup of tea in the afternoon, or a relaxing hot bath at night before bed. Take time to enjoy the things that give us a little bit of peace and quiet or make us feel good. Every day, ty doing something slowly, in peace, without distraction, enjoying the moment.
Find difference between flowing and planning.
When we plan out every single detail of our days, weeks, and months, we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to go with the flow. While it’s important to plan, it’s also important to be flexible in how you handle your daily life.
Reflect on your day. Whether by journaling, writing a list of things you’re grateful for, or telling a loved one, it’s important to reflect on a few things that went well during your day. This encourages you to think positively.  It can also help prevent the days from feeling like they’re blurring into one another, something that can easily happen right now with how much our usual structures and day to day lives have changed. Get away from the digital world.            Spend time away from your phone and computer every day. Read a book, write (not type!), go for a walk, practice yoga, play a game, get outside and get active, eat your lunch outside and have a garden picnic, draw, cook, or be creative…. Do something daily that doesn’t require a connection to the internet.

So, taking notice can not only benefit us, but benefit those around us too and it can be something we do every day.  The key is to be aware of what you’re doing and try to engage with it.  Try to see things with new eyes, look for beauty in the unexpected. Try and pay attention to the environment, the smells, sights and sounds and take a moment to appreciate it.  Social distancing means our lives have been put on hold for the safety of ourselves and others, but social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.  We can still find ways to connect with our friends, our families, with nature, and with ourselves.  The opportunities are there if we stop for a moment and take notice (and take pictures if we want to! Try it!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Door 43 wellbeing blog: Beat the boredom with the five ways to wellbeing

Sadie White No Comments

In these blogs our Door 43 team provide wise words and support to help young people manage emotional health and wellbeing during this difficult time. Be sure to look out for these blogs on the Sheffield Futures website and our TwitterFacebook and Instagram channels along with information about how to access our new online service delivery channels as they develop.  

This week Chris talks about his own challenges with beating the boredom and provides tips and tools to help you stay productive, motivated, occupied and most importantly feeling good!

Hi everyone, I’m Chris and I’m one of the health and wellbeing practitioners with Door 43. ​

It’s my turn to write the wellbeing blog this week and I’ve decided to write about the importance of staying occupied or otherwise distracted, as this is an area where I feel my own emotional wellbeing has been most greatly impacted as a result of  the COVID-19 pandemic. ​

Before social distancing came into effect I found that my evening and weekend diary seemed to fill itself. I used to go the gym maybe three evenings per week (admittedly with varying levels of enthusiasm) and while I perhaps would see friends maybe every couple of weeks I’d also spend a lot of time with family. ​

Then, in came social distancing, and just like that evenings and weekends are wide open and not necessarily in a good way. I for one have found that not having any idea of what I’m going to be doing with my spare time has made me feel really frustrated, like my spare time is pointless.

That’s how I felt during  the third week of lockdown, but over the bank holiday weekend, on reflection, I realised that there are a fair few things I could be doing which would keep me occupied and stop me feeling this way. The barrier that stopped me was indecision. When I felt restless and was looking for something to do I couldn’t decide and ultimately then ended up doing nothing and being bored! ​

It’s like when you’re trying to pick something to watch on Netflix (other streaming services are available) there’s so many to choose from, you can’t pick which one you want to watch so, 20 minutes later, you abandon the search and watch that film you’ve seen 100 times before. ​

If this sounds like you then I have a tip which may help you with this and it won’t take huge effort for you to do. Keep a week planner! ​

The weekly planner

Before the pandemic our lives had some form of structure. When you think about it,  we usually have a fair idea of what we have coming up over the next couple of weeks even down to details like what time we need to be getting up in the morning. However, times have changed for now and its really important that even in this time when you may feel like you have literally nothing you have to do, you maintain as much of your routine as possible to maintain some sense of normality, and where there are now gaps, fill them with other activities.

Most of you will have a device which has a calendar or some application which you could use for this, but if not a simple piece of paper will do, it doesn’t need to be pretty, it just needs to help you to work out how you’re going to spend your time. ​You can check out my example above. Also, I would recommend not doing the same activity for too long, maybe only a couple of hours then have a break from it to stop each activity losing its appeal.

So, plan your week, and try to make sure you have an activity which meets your wellbeing needs each week.

Five ways to wellbeing

For those of you who use our service already, chances are you will have heard us mention the ‘Five ways to wellbeing’ before. These are Five key areas which a person should aim to have in their lives to help them maintain positive emotional wellbeing. ​

Connect ​

There is strong evidence to suggest that it is a fundamental human need to feel valued and close to other human beings. However, undoubtedly, you’ll be thinking that this is difficult to achieve given the current situation. ​

Before social distancing, you probably had plans with your friends. You may have arranged to meet up over the weekend or maybe you used to love having a laugh as a group on the way home from school/college. So does this have to stop? Why not have a group video/phone call at about the same time as you would’ve been meeting up? ​

In our house we now have a group video call between our group of friends about once a week which is oddly more often than we used to speak to each other but I’m not complaining!​

I’ll admit the first time we did this it was a little awkward to begin with, there were some long pauses and the odd technical issue but before you know it you almost forget you’re not in the same room. ​

Don’t forget the people you live with! Set time aside for family activities. Maybe get out an old board game from the back of the cupboard or maybe you all put the name of a film you’d like to watch on a slip of paper and then into a little jar and one night per week one is drawn out at random and you all watch it together? ​

Be Active 

Regular physical activity has been shown to lower rates of anxiety and depression amongst all age groups so it is definitely important that we are trying to keep as active as possible at this time. Don’t be put off by this thought! It doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel the benefits. Add a simple walk to your daily routine as this has the added advantage of a change of scenery. ​

There are many activities you can also do from the comfort of your own homes too! There are online resources such as yoga or home workout videos available on YouTube, which you can work through at your own pace! Our social prescribing worker Christos has made his own which can be accessed on the Door43 Instagram and is well worth a look.

Take Notice 

It’s really important that we take time to notice what is happening in the ‘present’. This helps to strengthen our wellbeing by ‘savouring the moment’ rather than worrying about problems or things you’ve got to do for example. By focusing on your senses in the present, it helps de-clutter our brains and can help us to reaffirm life priorities. ​

Also think about your environment. Have a de-clutter day and rearrange your room so that it feels comfortable to be in. If you spend most of your time in the same room, have a change of scenery and spend a day out of that space or spend time outside. ​

Recently we have been very fortunate with the weather and I’ve spent a lot of time in the garden. If you are able to do this, then I strongly recommend you spend maybe just 15-20 minutes a day just sat outside and see what you notice about what’s going on around you. You can also do this on a daily walk and take notice of a completely different environment.

Keep Learning 

It’s really important that we continue to learn new things throughout our lives for lots of reasons, such as keeping our minds active and boosting our self-esteem through recognising our own achievements. Anecdotal evidence suggests that opportunities to engage in some form of learning also help to lift people who are particularly isolated out of depression. ​

Now, fear not, I’m not suggesting that you try to finally get your mind around algebra unless that’s your jam, as it doesn’t really matter what you learn! You may learn a new element to an already existing hobby such as photo editing if you’re into photography or maybe you’re really into art and have been drawing landscapes for years. Why not try pop art or portraits? ​

The key is to set yourself a goal and dedicate some time per day or per week to this. ​Go on, add it to your timetable!

I’m from a musical background and have played several instruments for years. I mainly play Rock or Metal but perhaps a couple of months ago now Connor, one of our social prescribing workers introduced me to Chillhop and so I’m going to learn how to make some Chillhop music. If I like it I may put it on one of the Door 43 Instagram videos and let you decide how I got on but let’s see eh?!

Give 

We all experience that warm feeling when we know we have done something nice for another human being, and while the intent is to do something to benefit another, let’s not ignore the positive affect this will have for ourselves. ​

As I said earlier, these little acts of kindness can be anything you know will benefit someone else. For example, do you have a skill which you could teach to someone else? Could you help someone in your home feel less stressed by taking on an additional household chore?  Do you know someone who lives on their own but who would really appreciate a 20 minute phone call once a week?

​This week it’s my mission to begin to teach my fiancee to play the drums. She mentioned about two years ago that she’d like to learn and it’s been one of those things that we’ve never got around to but now it’s the time! ​

We are posting daily content on the Door 43 Instagram and Facebook pages providing activities to support you during this time so be sure to follow these pages so you don’t miss out!

Some other suggestions on activities you can do which meet these areas of wellbeing can be found at Mindkit and Mind.

Door 43 wellbeing blog: Setting goals and staying motivated to feel good!

Sadie White No Comments

In these blogs our Door 43 team provide wise words and support to help young people manage emotional health and wellbeing during this difficult time. Be sure to look out for these blogs on the Sheffield Futures website and our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels along with information about how to access our new online service delivery channels as they develop.  

This week our wellbeing worker Rochelle talks about ways to stay motivated, positive and grateful during lockdown. 

Hi everyone its Rochelle here from Door 43. This week I am going to be sharing with you an open and honest account of how lockdown is going for me and how I am trying to stay motivated, positive and grateful.

A few weeks ago on our Door 43 Instagram account (door43_) I discussed how learning a new skill and setting goals for our time in lockdown could be a good way of staying motivated whilst at home. My personal weekly goal was to make a cake and I can happily share that I have successfully baked and decorated a weekly cake (although I did have a little help) and I feel proud I was able to reach my goal.

Creating weekly goals can be a really great way to stay focussed. They give you something to work towards as well as provide a sense of direction which is so important for our wellbeing – especially in times of uncertainty. You could set yourself a SMART goal for each week or fortnight depending on what it is you want to achieve. What is a SMART goal you may ask? SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely and these things are good to think about when deciding on what your goal is going to be.

Research suggests goals that are specific have a greater chance of being achieved. If I’d decided to ‘do some baking’ for example, this would be too vague and I’d never have gained the sense of achievement so instead I decided to ‘bake a cake weekly.’

Ensure your goal is measurable so you can monitor your progress and recognise when you have achieved your goal. To use the latter example, I said I’d do one cake a week, so that’s nice and measurable whereas if I’d said I’d do ‘some baking’ I’d never know when I had reached my goal and wouldn’t have got the sense of accomplishment that comes with this.

Is your goal achievable? Is it something that is is in your power to achieve or will it rely on other people or other things being in place? Thinking about the cake again, are you going to be able to put time aside to make and decorate it without interruption for example? Or do you need to make arrangements to ensure you have this ‘me’ time? Be realistic, is your goal something you have the practical resources to meet? For example, baking equipment and time to achieve this goal?

Lastly, the goal needs to be time-bound – with a start and an end date – this will give you a sense of direction and will help you to feel organised. You could say, I’ve put aside three hours on a specific day to bake and decorate a cake. I know this is achievable and realistic as I’ve made sure I have this time to myself to make it happen and I have all the equipment I need.

When I set myself the goal to make and decorate a cake, I considered all of these points, and it helped me to not only stay focused but it also helped me push myself to create the best cake I could. You can set goals for anything that is personal to you. Try and make it something that you are interested in and enjoy because that’s half of the fun!

However guys, what is equally as important as setting goals is the acceptance that sometimes we just lack motivation and that is OK!  Whilst scrolling through your social media feeds you may see others looking like they are bossing isolation, and it may feel like there is a lot of pressure for ‘self-improvement’ at this time! I for one definitely feel this way, and in turn this can lead you to feel even less inspired to try something new! Each day is a new day, and a fresh start- remember keep your goals SMART and don’t compare yourself to others especially not on social media where things are definitely not as they may seem! This time isn’t about making a new you, it’s about the potential to learn something new.

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