Tips for being kind to yourself and to others with the retailTRUST

Mental health matters. And lockdown has been a rollercoaster.
 
At OB, we are proud to be signed up to retailTRUST to help us guide our teams through tough times. retailTRUST has been improving the wellbeing of retail employees and their families since 1832. The charity supports individuals throughout their lives, from getting into retail all the way through to retirement. The Trust can support you with helpful advice, financial assistance, counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, non-repayable grants, career development, return to work and re-skilling initiatives, legal guidance, and critical incident support.
 
In support of Mental Health Awareness Week, we asked them for some of their top tips for being kind to ourselves and others during this challenging time.
 
Stay focused on self-care
If you are feeling overwhelmed, take some time out. Even 15 minutes of ‘me time’ a day brings positive benefits.
 
Eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, keeping hydrated and laughing can help you get through during difficult times. Click here for 21 different ideas to manage your stress and build resilience.
 
Mindfulness is also an excellent – and proven – way to reduce stress and anxiety and allow ourselves to view even the most painful situations objectively.
 
You don’t have to be experienced in meditation or relaxation techniques. The great thing about mindfulness is that we all do it naturally. And while it can take practice to get into the flow, it’s easier than you might think. Click here for some simple mindfulness exercises that you can use every day.
 
Stay fit
Even if you’re not able to get outside, do your best to stay physically active – it keeps you fit while boosting your mood and promoting good sleep. Try some simple stretching exercises throughout the day, go for a walk on your own (staying at least two metres away from other people), climb the stairs at home, or do a set number of push-ups or stretching exercises. You’ll also find exercises that are simple to do at home, and designed for all fitness levels at the NHS Fitness Studio.
 
Cut back on, or avoid alcohol. It can be tempting to have a glass of something when you’re bored or frustrated, but alcohol is a depressant and will only make you feel low when the high wears off. Alcohol also disrupts your sleep – the very thing that can help you to maintain good immunity.
 
Eat as healthily as possible. At a time when some foods seem to be in short supply, it can be easy to rely on foods that aren’t good for you. But taking into account that you may be less active when self-isolating, you might find that you start to gain unwanted weight. Be mindful of what you’re eating and try and get your five-a-day during this time.
 
Good quality sleep is one of the bedrocks of wellbeing. Not only does it help us emotionally and mentally, but it’s also key in helping us to keep our immune system in good condition.
 
Reduce your caffeine and sugar intake – these two substances can cause you to feel anxious at a time when this is the last thing you need.
 
Stay connected
A daily check-in by phone, online, email or social media can ease the distress associated with isolation.
 
Do something that brings you and your family together. Grandparents and less-mobile family members might enjoy a video call with your children to chat about their own childhoods and what it was like when they were the same age. Older people are likely to be feeling isolated so whatever you can do as a virtual family will help to ease any distress caused by separation. You might also consider a virtual dinner party to bring people together to share a meal and catch up. Whatever your situation, try and speak to at least one friend or family member a day. It will help to relieve stress and brighten your outlook.
 
If you have children, talk to them in honest terms about the virus but be sure to allay their fears. You will find excellent guidance here on how to support children and young people who might be keeping their worries to themselves.
 
Think about joining a local network such as Next Door. This online community links you to people living in your neighbourhood and helps connect people who have common interests, needs and goals. Please note that registration is required.
 
Avoid the internet, social media and newspapers if these are triggers for you and make you feel anxious. There is a lot of misinformation in the public domain concerning the virus and it’s important to look at information from trusted resources only (not just someone’s personal opinion). The following offer unbiased, up-to-the-minute information: NHS Choices, UK Government, Public Health England, World Health Organisation. Although the situation with COVID-19 is changing day by day, and what you hear today might not be the case tomorrow, don’t become obsessed with updates. Spend a certain amount of time on gaining updates and then go and do something else.
 
Stay occupied
Spend time on a hobby you rarely have time to do in usual circumstances or learn something new. Hobbies boost confidence, reduce boredom and alleviate stress.
 
At a time when you might not be able to get out and shop as often as you usually would, you might like to learn how to maximise the food you do have. Love Food Hate Waste is a great resource with tips on maximising food storage times, using up leftovers and cooking with what you have.
 
Choose positive television programmes and films over those that will cause you to feel negative, hopeless or worried. It’s easier said than done, so make a conscious effort to choose wisely and if you find you’re feeling overwhelmed while watching something, turn it off.
 
Catch up on reading but pay attention to your choice of material. Light fiction can help you to relax and go to another place for a few hours.
 
Take this opportunity to teach your children valuable life-skills. Learning new things alleviates boredom, boosts confidence and leaves a lasting impression. Teaching your teen to change a car tyre or check the oil doesn’t take long but will keep them safe on the road for years to come. Basic first aid, cooking skills, and relaxation techniques will come in handy over their lifetimes.
 
Do a spring clean – there’s nothing like a little boredom to get you motivated to do those jobs you’ve kept putting off.
 
Visit myrtwellbeing.org.uk for more tips and support. The NHSEveryMindMatters website also has some great information to help – and our charity partner UK Youth has some new resources, specifically for young people.
 
Remember, the free and confidential retailTRUST helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0808 801 0808 or by emailing [email protected]. This content has kindly provided by retailTRUST