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Wellbeing Support

It is important during these uncertain times to acknowledge that sometimes we don’t feel very good. Please take time to look after your mental health as well as your physical health. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed by the current Scouting environment please know that you are not expected to adopt all these tools or deliver digital Scouting. If you want to, there are more tools to help you do that but if you don’t that’s ok too. Please do speak with your role manager to talk about other ways you might be able to help or be supported locally.

 

If you are feeling overwhelmed with the current virus situation, here are a few things to consider, advised by mental health first aider/therapist Imogen Wall -

 

STEP AWAY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA/THE NEWS: All it will do will scare you more and make things worse. Turn off the telly and avoid digital wild west that is social media. Stick to sensible sources like scouts.org.uk/coronavirus and gov.uk/coronavirus and limit yourself to short need-to-know bits a day. You’ll feel better immediately. Talk to friends instead - this is physical, not contact distancing

 

BREATHE. It’s so basic, but breathing exercises are basically magic. They work in minutes and you can do them anywhere. When all your physical reactions are triggered, rapid breathing is the only one over which we have conscious control. Control your breathing and you are basically telling your body: it’s OK. Your body will then start to dial down the adrenaline and cortisol and all the other reactions will slow to a halt. How to control your breathing? It’s easy – and if you want help just put "two minute breathe bubble" in into Youtube. The golden rules are these:

• In through the nose, out through the mouth. SLOWLY
• Make the outbreath longer than the inbreath – imagine there’s a candle in front of you and it mustn’t go out
• Breathe from the tummy not chest – really make your tummy go out when breathing in.
• Do it for two minutes - time yourself - and see how you feel

Seriously, try it – this technique is used by everyone from top athletes to the US military to help stay in control while under stress. There are all sorts of versions – from yogic breathing to box breathing to 4-7-8. Google them, mess around, figure out what works for you.

CALL A FRIEND: Don’t suffer alone. Call a mate - someone who’ll listen while you have a bit of a rant, or a cry, or a general wobble. Someone you can trust not to judge you and who’ll just sympathise. And if you get one of those calls, just be nice to them. You only need to be kind. You can’t fix what’s going on so just give them a bit of space to rant and tell them they're normal and doing great. And if you’re OK, call your friends and check in on them. Especially if they’ve gone silent.

LAUGH: it doesn’t matter what is funny – laughter is a huge releaser of endorphins. Silly memes, silly jokes, stand-up, rolling around with your kids – videos on youtube. The sillier the better. Also very good for bonding with friends, which will also help you feel less alone.

DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR HANDS. Yes you can meditate if this is your bag, it’s amazing. But if it’s not, then trying to start when you’re already anxious is really hard. So do something instead with your hands, that you have to focus on to get right. Cook. Tidy. Knit. Draw. Bake. Garden. Mend things. This is what nice middle class therapists like me call Mindfulness.

TREAT YOUR BODY: We hold stress in our bodies at least as much as our minds. Take a bath or a shower. Put on things that feel good on your skin. Use nice smelling body creams. Stretch. Skip. Do yoga. Dance. Eat healthy but delicious things - fresh if you can get it. All of these will help calm you down.

SUNSHINE. It’s SPRINGTIME amid this horror – enjoy it. If you can’t go outside, open the windows and feel it on your face and breath it in. If it’s safe for you to go outside (maybe you live in the country) do it, while of course observing social distance. Go for a walk. Being outdoors, connecting to nature, is hugely calming.

STEP AWAY FROM TERRIBLE COPING MECHANISMS: They will all translate as triggers to your poor brain. Especially don’t get drunk - especially if you’re alone, take drugs, stay up all night reading, get sucked into conspiracy theories. See? Stress levels going up already. Breathe.

BE KIND: to yourself and others. Now is not the time to go on a diet. Nor is this the time to start on Proust or makeover your life. You'll probably struggle to concentrate, fail and make yourself feel worse. Don’t make this more stressful than it already is. Think comfort books, comfort telly, comfort everything. Personally I re-read children's books. Everyone is wobbly, everyone is going to have a meltdown at some point. Understand that if someone is angry or aggressive, then they are also just scared. And eat more cake. Cake makes everything better.