This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and especially in these strange times, we need to think about our own mental health as much as that of others around us.

This year's theme is 'kindness' and we've been reflecting on how events of the past few months can make us forget to take time for ourselves. We've all experienced worry about loved ones, our jobs or finances and the changes to our day to day life which makes it really important for our mental health to keep checking in on ourselves too.

Being kind to yourself is often overlooked but there are lots of ways you can improve the way you feel. A great way to start is to try the simple Five Ways to Wellbeing plan and see what a difference it can make.

Buckinghamshire Mind sets it out in a really easy to grasp way on their website www.bucksmind.org.uk/services/five-ways-to-wellbeing/ but in short, the 5 Ways are:

Connect – stay in contact with friends, don't just rely on social media to keep in touch, give them a call, write a letter or try a video call. The good news is that you can now meet a friend in person, in the open, but you still need to remain 2 metres apart. Remember to follow the Government's guidelines about staying at home if you are ill.

 

Be Active - try a new activity. Check out www.activebucks.co.uk  for some ideas. They have lots of links for staying healthy whilst staying at home as well as other activities you can go out to try when we are able to exercise in groups again. You can now exercise when you want to but with no more than one person from your household and you'll need to stay 2 metres away from other people.

 

Take Notice – make the most of getting out for some fresh air and exercise each day, the trees are getting their leaves, blossom is flowering and the birds are singing their hearts out in our beautiful Buckinghamshire countryside. Really think about what you can see, hear and smell. If you are unable to get out, you could listen to some favourite music. Our fabulous country parks have just reopened and you can find out more about them at https://countryparks.buckscc.gov.uk

 

Keep Learning - maybe you've always wanted to learn a language? Visit www.adultlearningbcc.ac.uk for some inspiration from Assertiveness to Yoga there's something for everyone and lots can be done online.

 

Give - give back to your community. Volunteering is a really good way to support people or organisations in and around your local (or national) area, and as some people begin to return to work, there will be a need for new volunteers to step in to continue the great work being done in our communities during coronavirus. To find out how, visit http://volunteeringbucks.org.uk/ 

 

By building these simple steps into your everyday activities, you can maintain good mental health and stay on top of your game, whilst also improving your physical health too.

Please remember to stay safe when you venture outside, remain at least 2 metres away from other people and only exercise with members of your own household.

Gareth Williams, Buckinghamshire Council's Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health adds:

"In these challenging times, we want to help prevent residents from experiencing mental health issues. There are many ways to improve how you feel and by building simple steps into your everyday life, you can help yourself avoid or balance the stresses and strains of a busy life.

"The Five Ways to Wellbeing plan is an easy and achievable way to start looking after your own mental health, so why not give it a try?

"Don't forget that all of our mental health support partners are still working and there to help you if you need it including the NHS Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire 24/7 Mental Health Helpline. For help for adults call 01865 904 997 and for children and young people, call 01865 904 998."