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OCA wellbeing: What’s in your wellness toolkit?

With social media awash with Mental Health Awareness last week, it prompted me to take some time to tackle a wellbeing checkup I’d been putting off. MHFA England created this handy checklist a couple of years ago, and in the midst of the current pandemic, I’ll admit, I’ve slipped!

It’s a challenging situation we find ourselves in, and I realised that all of my usual ‘wellness tools’ are unavailable to me owing to the restrictions in place, so it’s no wonder even little day to day issues feel more difficult.

The things I usually do to keep myself well all involve leaving the home for a start – under government guidance I am ‘shielding’ at home. Prior to this, four hours of my week were usually spent playing roller derby – a full contact sport which is, understandably, cancelled for the foreseeable. PE with Joe and the kids is no substitute! My kids love him, but it’s also the group support aspect that has really left a hole for me.

I’m not about to suggest becoming a chess champion or learning three languages. Marvellous as that is, some of us won’t have the time or energy for this in this ‘current normal’. I’m looking for small, sustainable things we can do to help ourselves stay well now, and beyond.

Being aware of our mental health is really important, now more than ever. That’s why over the coming weeks I’ve asked some of the lovely team at OCA to share what they’re doing to keep well during this difficult time. It would be lovely to hear from students too! I’m sure many of you have some great wellness tools in your ‘toolkit’ that might help others who don’t have access to their usual methods. You can reach me at liaharness@oca.ac.uk

In the meantime, to get us started I know that we’ve seen lots of individuals and companies step up with support during this time. Headspace has a free section at the moment called Weathering the Storm, and CALM has some similar resources available which I’m finding helpful. And of course here at OCA we are regularly releasing creative content and challenges every week. Please do reply and share anything else that you have found useful.

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Posted by author: Lia Harness
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One thought on “OCA wellbeing: What’s in your wellness toolkit?

  • Hi
    _ I have ongoing mental health issues and have mostly enjoyed lockdown. I have garden and access to hills, though. Plus I am an introvert. Also, being slightly depressed and disorganised, zoom calls suit me better than getting places. All the same, lack of usual interactions and fun creeps on me ..

    When I first had to give up my practice due to burn out, in 2016, it really frustrated me that the GP college had tools to measure burn-out but no solutions. Your own resilience was called into question and yoga, mind fulness, time management, breaks were offered – as if you weren’t doing all that stuff anyway.

    The conversation has moved on and workplace factors are now acknowledged. The debate over whether better doctors burn out sooner or if a burnt out doctor is a risky thing has, thank goodness, quietened down.

    Still, it was only this spring, around the time lockdown got going, I found an online psychologist from the Open University giving a four step path to recovery fromburn-out. I think it is a kind of “faith hope and charity” solution that we can apply to many wellbeing or mental health lapse situations.

    Applied with a big dose of self-compassion:
    1. Rest – yes, sleep! daydream and take slow walks. Sit and stare. Read a book. Even, in small doses, watch something escapist and lovely on a screen – with someone else if you can
    2. Control – take charge of your commitments. Agree the extent of your work, don’t run over. Negotiate a rate of work that suits your pace.
    3. Mastery – yes, learn that language or work on your hoop skills. In a gentle way.
    4. Distance. Stop moaning. Don’t let the trouble, whatever it is , dominate your conversation or your thoughts. It isn’t the most important thing about you.

    This framework has really helped me!

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