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Health and wellbeing / Positive News

Rethink Mental Illness partnership

The health and wellbeing of our members is extremely important to us and our aim is to support you whilst you continue to support our NHS.

We recognise the challenges you may have faced over the last 12 months and the impact this could have had. To ensure we are giving you the support you deserve we have partnered with Rethink Mental Illness.

Rethink Mental Illness offer a wide range of resources providing access to a variety of services which include telephone advice lines, local network groups, online content, and more. In these challenging times, we encourage all our bank members to make their wellbeing a priority.   

Contact Rethink’s free Advice and Information Service

  • Helpline: 0300 5000 927. The helpline is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 4:30pm
  • You can also obtain support via the Webchat service.
  • Or for information about some of the more common mental illnesses, visit the Rethink Mental Illness website.

Useful Guides

This April is Stress Awareness Month

In collaboration with our partners Rethink Mental Illness each week we are bringing you tips and tools for managing stress and building resilience.

Tip 1: Just Breathe!

Breathing exercises are a useful technique to help you relax. The following 4-5-8 method is very simple:

  • The numbers in the name '4-5-8' refer to the number of seconds when breathing in, holding your breath, and breathing out.
  • Start by sitting up straight in a comfortable position or lying down.
  • Slowly breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds. If you can’t breathe in through your nose, use your mouth.
  • Hold your breath for 5 seconds.
  • Breathe out slowly for 8 seconds.
  • Repeat this cycle 10 times, or as many times as you want. While you do it try to concentrate on your breathing. You can alter the seconds to suit you.

This NHS Trust has <more breathing exercises you can try>.

Breathing exercises usually benefit wellbeing. But if they aren’t working for you, or are causing you difficulty, stop using them.  You can try other relaxation techniques or contact your GP for advice on managing stress and anxiety.

Tip 2: Practice Mindfulness

  • Mindfulness is all about being in touch with and noticing the world around you. Try these simple Mindfulness exercises next time you start to feel stressed or anxious.
  • Mindfulness when brushing your teeth: Concentrate on how the brush feels in your hand, the sensation of it brushing your teeth, the feeling of your feet against your bathroom floor, the smell and taste of the toothpaste. It’s amazing how much we experience in the space of 2 minutes brushing our teeth!
  • Mindfulness with a piece of chocolate or a sweet: Put it on the back of your hand. Concentrate on how it feels against your skin. Pick it up and feel its texture. Look at its colour. Smell it. Put it in your mouth and let it dissolve without you biting into it. Experience how that feels. This also has the added benefit of making chocolate and sweets last longer!
  • Mindfulness usually benefits wellbeing. But if it isn’t working for you, or is causing you difficulty, stop doing it.  You can try other relaxation techniques, or contact your GP for advice on managing stress and anxiety.

There is more information about getting started with mindfulness on the Mindful website.

Tip 3: What keeps you up at night?

Problems with sleep can affect how you feel physically and mentally, and how you feel can also affect how you sleep. An August 2020 study from the University of Southampton showed that the number of people experiencing insomnia increased from one in six to one in four compared to 2018/19, with more sleep problems affecting young people, mothers, essential workers and BAME groups.

Problems with sleep are often caused by

  • Life events: You may feel distracted, stressed or worried about something going on in your life while you’re trying to go to sleep, which can affect your ability to relax.
  • Thinking cycle: Anxious thoughts about not getting enough sleep can cause distress, which can prevent you from relaxing and falling asleep.
  • Lifestyle: Developing poor habits around sleep, such as not having a regular routine.

It’s common to experience periods of poor sleep, and this doesn’t usually point to a serious mental health problem. However, here some tips on how to improve your sleep

  • Create a regular sleeping pattern
    Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day will programme your body to sleep better.
  • Create a restful environment
    Your bedroom should be a peaceful place for rest and sleep. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool when you’re trying to sleep.
  • Exercise regularly
    Moderate exercise, such as walking, can help relieve some of the tension built up over the day. Try not to take part in vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, as it could keep you awake.
  • Watch what you’re eating and drinking
    Cut down on caffeine in tea, coffee, energy drinks or sugary drinks, especially in the evening. Caffeine interferes with the process of falling asleep and prevents deep sleep. Instead, have a warm drink such as herbal tea. Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can interrupt your sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep initially, but it will disrupt your sleep later on in the night.
  • Keep a sleep diary
    If you’re worried about your sleep why not keep track of how many hours you’re sleeping and the kind of sleep you’re getting– you may see patterns of behaviour which you can address. You can download the sleep tracker from our partner Mental Health UK .
  • Wind down routine
    Learning how to relax both your body and mind will help you to get to sleep more easily. Have a warm bath, listen to quiet music or do some gentle yoga to relax the mind and body.
  • Write down your thoughts
    If you tend to lie in bed thinking about everything you have to do tomorrow, set aside time before bedtime to make plans for the next day. Avoid thinking of plans when you’re in bed, trying to sleep.
  • If you can’t sleep, get up
    If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again, then go back to bed.

Tip 4: The Stress Bucket

  • Imagine there’s a bucket you carry with you which slowly fills up when you experience different types of stress.
  • Sometimes you feel strong enough to carry a lot of stress, but it’s important to find activities which help you lighten the load.
  • What helps you reduce stress?
  • How can you keep those activities going when other pressures build up?
  • Think about the “Stress Bucket” together to prompt you and your colleagues to take action to build your resilience.

The Stress Bucket is now available for download.

To access peer to peer support, sign up to Clic, an online community there for everyone’s mental health. Moderators are online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in case anyone is in need of urgent support.

For information about what to do if you are experiencing anxiety or low mood, try the Every Mind Matters website for some self-help tips.

Take the mind quiz and create your own Mind Plan.

Visit the <NHS webpage for information on breathing techniques>, to manage stress and anxiety.

Visit the Mental Health and Money Advice website, for information on how to manage your mental health and money during the coronavirus outbreak.