We can all work together to create a healthy workplace promoting and protecting mental health.
This section gives you some resources and additional information on how to manage your mental wellbeing.
Maintaining Mental Wellbeing
There are a wide range of mental health resources available locally and nationally. You will find reliable information about helplines and websites below and at www.nhs.uk.
Togetherall (formerly Big White Wall)
University of Aberdeen students and staff going through a tough time can access free online support with Togetherall. Whether you’re struggling to sleep, feeling low, stressed or not coping, Togetherall can help you get support, take control and feel better.
The service provides 24/7 online peer and professional support, with trained counsellors. Togetherall provides a safe space online to get things off your chest, explore your feelings and learn how to improve and self-manage your mental health and wellbeing. Togetherall is totally anonymous, so no one will know you’ve chosen to use it unless you tell them!
To join Togetherall's supportive online community, simply go to Togetherall.com and sign up with your university email address. You then choose an anonymous username for your time on Togetherall.
Bereavement and Grief
Cruse Bereavement Care can offer advice on coping with Bereavement and Grief during Covid19.
Mental Health Aberdeen
Mental Health Aberdeen Helpline: 01224 573892
You might be worried about coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it could affect your life. This may include having to stay at home and avoid other people. This might feel difficult or stressful. But there are lots of things you can try that could help your wellbeing.
Breathing Space provides free and confidential listening, advice and information on ways to help us to cope when we are struggling or feeling low.
A suicide prevention app aimed at users in the north east of Scotland. Provides helpful info for those affected in any way by suicide, extensive contact details for services in Aberdeen city, Aberdeenshire and Moray as well as allowing users to create their own safety plan.
Check out SAMH for 5 ways to improve your mental health.
If you are struggling to cope and would like to talk to someone, the Samaritans helpline is open 24/7.
National Sleep Foundation
For top tips on getting a better nights sleep.
NHS Grampian have some great self-help guides that can help you understand what you are experiencing.
Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations (ACVO) Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations has a directory of mental health and counselling services which can be found at https://acvo.org.uk/resources/mental-health/ Beat Eating Disorders Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity is a free and confidential service that can offer support and understanding to young people. They also provide ‘Echo’ a service for parents caring for a child with an eating disorder.
Why practice mindfulness?
It has been scientifically proven through several studies that practicing mindfulness improves the overall health of our body and mind; specifically the following improvements were noticed:
- Improvement in social and emotional functioning;
- Improvement in health and a reduction in visits to the doctor;
- Improvement in pre-existing health conditions;
- Significantly reduces stress associated with illness or mental problems;
- Reduces or even eliminates everyday stress;
- Reduces levels of depression and anxiety;
- Reduces the intake of pain relieving medicine among chronic pain sufferers.
What is the difference with meditation?
Although it has its origins in Buddhism, Mindfulness is secular in structure and practice. It is not a religious practice or even a purely spiritual practice, it is a technique to train the mind and learn to focus on the present. Mindfulness is the art of intentionally paying attention to the present time, this can be done through formal meditation practice or it can be more of an informal practice. Informal practices could include a short breathing exercise, going for a walk and paying attention to your surroundings, even making a cup of tea can be treated as a mindful pursuit by being in the moment without preference! Through being mindful we can settle and ground the mind, and act as an observer to our own thoughts without judging them or trying to make them disappear.
For detailed information and events about mindfulness please visit:
Mindfulness 1-minute SOS practice
At times of uncertainty and change our minds may need some extra support. It is helpful to reassure our minds and activate the calming part of our nervous system, so we are not pushed into anxiety or stress or, when we are, we have tools to regain a more peaceful state.
This simple practise will help train your brain to release anxiety and move into a resourceful state. In itself it may seem pointless or silly but is very effective at enabling your brain to become more flexible and focus, so you can choose where to put your focus and stimulate positive reactions in your body to support your wellbeing.
Just take 1 minute
- Focus on the sensations in your feet, feel the temperature, the weight, the feeling of where they connect with the floor, your socks, shoes or feel your seat and back on a chair and just feel where your body connects with the chair. (This takes you away from your thinking mind)
- Allow yourself to take your attention to your own breath, just noticing at first how the body breathes in and out, is there any difference between the sensations in the body between the in and out breathes.
- If you can allow the out breath to be slightly longer than the in breath, slowly releasing the exhale, this is good for releasing tension. (This supports the calming part of the nervous system to activate)
- As you breathe in say to yourself, I am peaceful (or relaxed or calm or any word that you prefer) as you breathe out say to yourself I am letting go of… tension, anxiety , stress or whatever you want to let go of . (This instructs your mind as to how you want to feel, building flexibility and what you need your body to let go of right now)
- Think of someone, something or some event in your life for which you are grateful. Once you think of it concentrate more on the feeling of gratitude in your body and if you can imagine a dimmer switch turning up the feeling. (This stimulates positive chemicals in the nervous system releasing positive hormones)
- Sending compassionate wishes to yourself and others who you may not know but are suffering in some way, using the universal loving kindness practise of May I/we be…. healthy, able to cope right now, patient with those around me.. or whatever kind wishes, or reassurance are most important to you when you do this practise - this may change from one day to the next.
This short breathing practise will help you get started.
Mindfulness offers a range of tools and the science behind it is evidencing the positive impact on depression, stress (reducing anxiety) and how it enhances our wellbeing (resourceful state). Research has also identified the positive effects of uplifting emotions such as gratitude, kindness and compassion on ourselves and those around us.
We should aim to sleep between 7-9 hours each night. Sleep of the right length, at the right times, can help us to think at our best, feel good and stay healthy.
Having good sleep hygiene can improve our overall sleep quality. Here are some simple ways to your chances of a good night’s sleep:
- Keep your bedroom tidy and clean.
- Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day (even at weekends).
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol for at least 4 hours before bedtime.
- Exercise regularly but leave at least 3 hours before you go to bed.
- Have a bedtime ritual such as brushing your teeth, setting the alarm or reading a book.
- Only go to bed when you feel sleepy.
- Make sure not to go to bed hungry or thirsty or too full.
- Limit how much ‘blue light’ you have just before bedtime (TV, computer, phone or tablet).
- Keep your bedroom only for sleep, do not study or watch TV in your bed.
- Ensure your bedroom is dark and at a comfortable temperature.
- Use relaxation exercises to help you sleep (warm bath, relaxation podcast etc).
- If you cannot fall asleep within 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing.
- Fix blackout/blinds curtains and turn your bedroom into a sleep-inducing environment.
- If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), try using a SAD lamp after seeing your GP. This may help you stay awake during the daytime.
For more information about ways to improve your sleep please visit National Sleep Foundation.
Stress is the reaction of the body to excessive emotional or mental pressure of any sort.
10 ways to deal with stress
- Meditation: meditation is a great way to deal with worries and stress of any kind; it is perfect for working people since it can be done anywhere. Mediating for 15 minutes every morning helps you plan your day, be more efficient and get rid of unnecessary worries or stress.
- Practice Yoga: when we practice Yoga our mind stops thinking about our problems and starts thinking about our body. It increases the blood flow and takes more oxygen to the brain helping you think more clearly. It is also a great way to exercise.
- Exercise: High intensity exercise is a great form of stress relief. Boxing, running, swimming, climbing are great examples.
- Practice a hobby: whether you are dancing, singing, hiking or writing, if is something you are passionate about your mind will stop concentrating on stressful thoughts.
- Deep breathing: when the stress is taking over, take a few minutes to breathe, slowly breathe in and out concentrating just on your breathing.
- Laughing: whoever said laughing is the best medicine was not wrong! Laughing has a direct effect on the brain and relaxes the body, so watch a funny video, talk to a friend or tell a joke, but a find a way to laugh.
- Essential Oils: some essential oils can help relieve stress including: lavender, geranium and chamomile. Add them to your bath and diffuse them in your home to create a calm environment.
- Limit caffeine consumption: caffeine increases blood pressure, creates sleep deprivation and it can cause anxiety. During moments of high stress avoid caffeine or consume as little as possible during the morning only.
- Get a good night sleep: make sure you get all the sleep you need in time and quality so you wake up energized and ready for your day as opposed to irritated and anxious.
- Nature: spend more time outdoors or connecting with nature. Go for a hike or a long walk down the beach, it helps you feel more relaxed and focus on the natural pace of the outdoor environment.