How can mindfulness benefit young people?

It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That might seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we so often veer from the matter at hand. Mindfulness is slowing down and paying close attention to what you’re doing, even if it is an exercise as simply focusing on your breath.

66% of school-age children are currently experiencing stress about school, exams and homework. When young people practise mindfulness, they slow down, take their time, and concentrate on something that is both calming and stress-free. Breathing techniques, imagery, bodily awareness, and relaxation are common components of mindfulness meditation. Being mindful assists young people to cope with frustration when they confront a challenging situation in their life. It may also be utilised when they need to focus their attention on something specific and avoid being distracted.

Practising mindfulness may enhance attention spans for almost everyone, even young people with ADHD and ADD who can often find it hard to pay attention and stay focussed. People who learn how to practise mindfulness have superior attention spans and are less easily distracted. Mindfulness also assists people in being calm under stress, avoiding overreacting, getting along better with others, and being more patient. It can even improve learning, assist children and teenagers become better listeners, and make them feel happy in general.

Childhood and adolescence are critical phases in the development of young people. What occurs to them during these stages of their lives will establish the groundwork for their future mental health. Here are the three main ways mindfulness benefits young people.

Emotional Benefits

Emotional health, often known as a good sense of well-being, is a vital aspect of every young person’s life. Not only is it the foundation of mental health, but it may also assist prevent mental health concerns such as:

  • Anxiety, stress and depression
  • Problems with self-esteem
  • Social relationships issues

Overall, being mindful or engaging in mindfulness exercises can help young people not only manage stress but also boost their feeling of well-being.

Social Benefits

Difficulties connecting and talking with others can cause issues with learning, comprehension, and school atmosphere. However, mindfulness programmes have been demonstrated to increase these skills and contribute to beneficial outcomes in the classroom.

Mindfulness has also been demonstrated to improve a young person’s capacity to manage emotions and experience compassion and empathy. It is also commonly regarded as a helpful therapy for persons of all ages who suffer from aggressiveness, ADHD, or mental health issues such as anxiety. It can even be used to relieve the agony of bullying.

Mindfulness may also be used to develop self-concept, increase planning abilities, and manage urges. Mindfulness, when applied properly in schools, can reduce the frequency of trips to the principal’s office, minimise school bullying, and enhance attendance.

Cognitive Benefits

Teaching children mindfulness can improve their cognitive skills, particularly the executive functions conducted by the brain. Executive functions control a person’s capacity to pay attention, alter focus, organise information, recall details, and plan.

Are you interested in learning more about mindfulness?

Our 6-week Mindfulness course teaches the learner what mindfulness is, the importance of mindfulness in relationships, the neuroscience of self-compassion, and an understanding of how to apply mindfulness in your life.

Our CPD Accredited Understanding Stress course teaches the learner what stress is, how it can be managed and prevented, and how you can support someone who is struggling with stress.

For more information on how stress, including stress-management through mindfulness, download our stress guide.

At Shawmind, we want to make it easier for you to handle moments of poor mental health by reducing stigma and increasing awareness and support options. That’s why all funds raised through our online courses support Headucation – our mission to train teachers in the basics of mental health support.

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Simple ways to use the “5 ways to wellbeing” for young people

It’s the Mental Health Foundation’s Wellbeing Week from 27th June 2022! It’s a fantastic initiative to provide young people with the tools and knowledge to help manage their mental health. 

As a champion of children and young people’s mental health, Shawmind wants to use this week to help young people, as well as those who support young people (like teachers, parents, and volunteers), find simple ways to implement good habits and practices for looking after mental health and preventing early symptoms from deteriorating.  

What are the “5 ways to wellbeing”? 

Wellbeing Week revolves around the 5 ways to wellbeing – a set of behaviours identified by the NEF that “enhance individual well-being and may have the potential to reduce the total number of people who develop mental health disorders in the longer term.” 

These are: 

  1. Connect 
  2. Be active 
  3. Take notice 
  4. Keep learning 
  5. Give 

In this article, we’ve highlighted some simple ways young people can implement these behaviours in their daily life – as well as ways that you can support young people in your care to improve their wellbeing.  

1. Connect

Building and maintaining connections with the people around you – like friends, family, and members of your community – can help you feel supported and enriched in your daily life.  

How can young people ‘connect’ for mental health? 

  • Join support and talking groups. Want to talk to someone? Come along to our Breathe Café for real conversations about anything that’s bothering you.  
  • Join sports teams or community groups e.g. Scouts, Girl Guides 
  • Reach out to someone you wouldn’t normally talk to at school – you might find you have more in common than you think! 

How can you help young people ‘connect’ for their mental health?

  • Encourage group activities in the classroom that mix up the usual cliques 
  • Organise after-school activities with other children and young people 
  • Car share during the school run or walk to school in groups 

2. Be Active

Physical activity releases endorphins that make us feel good. Regular activity can boost your mood, release stress, and improve your self-confidence.  

How can young people ‘be active’ for mental health?

  • Try to walk a little every day – e.g. walk to school or go for a walk before dinner 
  • Join a team sport or sporting club 
  • Stretch for 5-10 mins after waking up 

How can you help young people ‘be active’ for mental health? 

  • Besides PE, get students active during lessons by moving around the classroom or going outside 
  • Organise walks with groups of people like friends and family  
  • Get active at the weekends – go to an adventure park, go cycling, or spend time playing in the garden 

3. Take Notice

Taking notice of the things around you – big and small – can help you savour the moment, reflect on your experiences and appreciate what matters most to you. Mindfulness has been linked to lower stress levels and greater daily satisfaction. 

How can young people ‘take notice’ for mental health? 

  • Take 5 minutes at the end of the day to reflect on something good that happened that you are grateful for  
  • Make a note of anything unusual or interesting you see during the day 
  • Set yourself a challenge at the start of the day to spot as many things as you can that match a specific criteria, e.g. spot as many purple things as possible 
  • When you get stressed or irritable, take slow breaths and take notice of the things you can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste 

How can you help young people ‘take notice’ for mental health? 

  • Organise a scavenger hunt or spotting game to help young people pay attention and take a closer look at the world around them 
  • Point out things when you spot them so that young people start noticing them too 
  • Start conversations with young people about how their day went so they get an opportunity to reflect 
  • Set an example by reflecting on your own positive experiences in front of them 

4. Keep Learning

Learning and achieving new things improves confidence, feelings of purpose, and daily enjoyment. Besides regular lessons, young people must have something to learn that they find fun and personal.  

How can young people ‘keep learning’ for mental health? 

  • Learn how to make your favourite meal  
  • Learn all the words to a new song you like 
  • Learn how to do a new hairstyle 

How can you help young people ‘keep learning’ for mental health? 

  • Ask questions about what young people want to do when they’re older and help them find learning activities that will help them learn skills for the future 
  • Provide a mix of activities in the classroom to support learning e.g. physical activities, reading and writing, musical activities, arts and crafts 
  • Find and share information about national challenges that might interest them e.g. National Novel Writing Month 
  • Encourage them to try new hobbies based on their interests e.g. sport, music, reading, crafts, etc 

5. Give to Others

Giving your time and energy to someone other than you can feel incredibly rewarding and make you feel good – as well as being a great way to connect with others! 

How can young people ‘give to others’ for mental health? 

  • Ask a friend or family member how their day was.  
  • Do something nice for a loved one like completing a chore or treating them to a  
  • Go the extra mile for someone’s gift by getting them something unexpected or making it yourself 
  • Volunteer for a charity. Want to volunteer for Shawmind? We have lots of ways you can get involved! Visit our volunteering page for more information.  
  • Fundraise for a cause you believe in. Want to help us improve mental health support in schools? Find out how to fundraise for us! 

How can you help young people ‘give to others’ for mental health? 

  • Organise activities to support the local community 
  • Set an example for young people by bringing them along when you help others 

Teachers and schools play a vital role in the support of mental health conditions in young people, but they need more help to do it effectively. Our #Headucation campaign aims to train all UK teachers in the basics of mental health support which will allow them to comfortably provide young people with the support they need. 

Help us to provide as many fully-funded training sessions to schools as possible. Help us raise money by donating, buying a product from our store or signing up for one of our training courses. 

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How does stigma affect men’s mental health?

Around 75% of UK deaths from suicide are men, and it is the leading cause of mortality for men under the age of 50. These figures highlight the critical need for mental health services for men. Unfortunately, there is a stigma associated with men’s mental health, which frequently stops men from seeking mental health help from family, friends, and medical professionals.

Men are less likely to disclose or seek treatment for mental health concerns because of societal expectations and traditional gender norms. Often expected to be breadwinners, as well as be powerful, dominant, and in command. While these aren’t inherently terrible traits, they can make it more difficult for men to seek treatment and emotionally open-up. Studies show that men who are unable to express their feelings openly may be less able to recognise indicators of mental health problems in themselves and are less willing to seek help.

Men may also be more likely to use potentially harmful coping methods such as drugs or alcohol and less likely to talk to family or friends about their mental health.

Our goal is to help everyone with mental health, regardless of age, gender or race. If you, or a man you know, is struggling with mental health, take a look at our list of the top men’s mental health resources for men to educate themselves on mental health and seek support when necessary.

How We Can Reduce Mental Health Stigma?

In their 2018 report, the World Health Organisation emphasised that the cultural stigma surrounding mental health is one of the main obstacles to people admitting that they are struggling and seeking help. Reducing the stigma associated with mental illness is one thing we can do as a culture to ensure more people get the treatment they need.

While we have made significant progress in eliminating stigma, normalising treatment for mental health concerns, and making therapy more accessible to more people, many people still believe sadness is just a lack of mental fortitude.

So, how can we reduce mental health stigma?

Share your story

If you have suffered from mental health issues of your own, sharing stories about your experiences and journey can help to normalise the issue, reduce the stigma, and encourage others to speak out about what they are experiencing

Ask for help

Remind yourself and others that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness as it is often considered – it is OK and not something to be embarrassed about or ashamed of.

Open conversations

Having open conversations with friends and family about emotions, feelings and mental health and wellbeing can normalise the conversation and allow people to feel comfortable reaching out for help when they need it.

Social media

Charities and organisations that offer mental health support and education can be beneficial to anyone struggling with their mental health, share their websites and social media channels with those you think may benefit from it or to your social media accounts. Some people may not feel comfortable seeking this information for themselves, so stumbling across it on social media may be the only way they will discover the information.

Support groups

Attending local men’s get-togethers and support groups and places for men to speak about their mental health and challenges they’re facing with other men can allow a safe-space for sharing coping strategies, getting help and making people feel less-alone in their struggle. Groups like Breathe: ManCave (a monthly get-together for men in Nottinghamshire) are great for this. Look up “men’s mental health groups near me” to find what your local area has on offer!

Help us reduce stigma surrounding men’s mental health by supporting our work through donating now. Find out more about how to donate, and the work we are doing to improve mental health awareness.

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How to prevent loneliness in schools

Loneliness is often associated with older age groups but data has shown that young people are more likely to feel lonely than older age groups. So, how can we prevent loneliness in schools, and why is this so important to the mental health of young people?

Alongside the effects that loneliness can have on childrens’ physical health, research shows that loneliness can also be a risk factor for depression and anxiety. Social interactions significantly support positive mental health and give us opportunities to give and receive help when we need it.

What are the signs of loneliness in pupils?

Anyone who interacts with children must be able to recognise when a child is struggling with their mental health and, more significantly, know how to take proper action.

Even if a pupil doesn’t tell you they’re lonely, they may show you signs, for example:

  • They always spend break times at school alone.
  • They aren’t invited to spend time with friends after school.
  • They say they feel sad, or cry often.
  • They spend a lot of time by themselves (although, some children are content to spend a lot of time alone, while others may be part of a large social circle but still feel lonely).

So, what can be done to help our children deal with loneliness? For many, school, and especially teachers, may be a safe haven. They may make kids feel safe and included by offering chances and resources for them to learn and play in a safe setting, as well as practical measures that can be implemented.

At Shawmind, we recommend that anyone who works with children should be well equipped to be that “safe haven”. Our Youth Mental Health Awareness course is an interactive learning session covering various aspects of children and young people’s mental health – from how to identify potential issues, to how you can help and support a young person who may be struggling. Our Headucation campaign works alongside schools to develop a culture shift towards sustainable better mental health and wellbeing – free of charge to the schools.

How to improve awareness and reduce loneliness in schools

A child’s mental health is just as vital as their physical health when it comes to their safety and well-being. It influences every part of their lives, including their academic achievement, relationships, and physical health. It can be difficult for adults to recognise when a child is experiencing loneliness, and it can be tough for young people to speak out about the loneliness difficulties they are dealing with.

Allow school to be a place of real, deep belonging for pupils. Create a sense of community by getting students involved in activities that give them an opportunity to socialise with each other. These activities could include everything from starting yearbook and chess clubs to drama groups and sports teams. Activities that involve community service are also good opportunities for the students to socialise with each other and externally.

Another great idea is normalising the concept of youngsters spending time alone by providing outdoor seating spaces for reading or providing pleasant settings for kids to work in, such as a garden, to celebrate doing individual activities. We should also consider how powerful and potentially harmful talks and stories depicting a “perfect life full of friends” may be, especially for lonely pupils.

Developing young peoples’ communication and emotional literacy skills is important to reduce the impact loneliness will have on mental health. Starting a conversation about mental health and providing books on a variety of mental health topics can be great ways to start the conversation about loneliness and allow pupils to express their feelings.

Headucation emphasises the importance of early intervention. Children and teenagers spend much of their adolescent lives in education settings surrounded by teachers. Yet, with no mandatory or government-funded mental health training, many signs of mental health go unnoticed or get mishandled by the school staff.

By training teachers in the basics of mental health, they will be better equipped to spot the signs of mental health struggles in young people, support mental health problems in the classroom and signpost young people to alternative mental health resources besides the GP.

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4 Free ways to fundraise

We often associate fundraising with organised events, sponsored challenges, and wide-scale donation collections, but we forget that there are lots of different ways to fundraise and help charities. Here is a list of 4 easy ways to fundraise that are simple, yet effective.

1. Legacy gift

Leaving a legacy gift to a charity in your Will allows you to help and support charities and keep their services running for years to come.

If you wish to leave a legacy gift to a charity in your Will, there are several ways you can do so:

  • Leave a pecuniary gift

Donate a fixed sum of money to a charity in your Will. It is a good idea to review pecuniary gifts regularly as their value may be lessened by inflation.

  • Leave a residuary gift

Leave a percentage of your estate to a charity. Unlike a pecuniary gift, your donation won’t lose value over time.

  • Leave a specific gift

Donate specific assets to a charity in your Will such as personal possessions, property, or shares. Describe the item as accurately as possible to avoid any ambiguity.

Do you want to change lives by leaving a legacy gift to Shawmind in your Will? By doing so, you will be helping to fund our work improving the mental health of the next generation. In return we will cover the cost of drafting your standard Will.

2. Shop using Amazon Smile

Amazon Smile is a donation programme operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon. The difference is that when you shop on Amazon Smile, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT, returns and shipping fees) to the eligible charitable organisation of your choice – at no cost to you. Currently, Amazon Smile has donated £14.2 million to various charities. Just search for “Shawmind” on the Amazon Smile website to start donating to us with your next Amazon shop.

3. Donate using round-ups of your small change

You can support your favourite charity through small acts of kindness by donating pennies from your daily purchases – all through the safe and secure Pledjar mobile app. To donate to Shawmind using Pledjar, simply use the code SMF001 when setting the app up.

4. Volunteer your time

Volunteers are the backbone of charity organisations. Without volunteers providing frontline service, fundraising, events, publicity, and campaign efforts, many charities would be unable to cope.

Not only is volunteering incredibly valuable to charities, but it is also a fun and easy way to explore your interests and passions. Doing charity volunteer work that you find meaningful and interesting can be a relaxing, energising escape from your day-to-day routine of work, school, or family commitments. Volunteering also provides you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life.

At Shawmind, we are currently recruiting volunteers to help in our Breathe spaces in Nottinghamshire and our WhatsApp support. By becoming a Shawmind volunteer you will be supporting people in your community when they need it most. Shawmind relies on volunteers to be able to offer our local services, and therefore even a commitment of one hour a week can make a big difference. All our volunteers receive free mental health training and will receive a written reference if requested.

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It’s Mental Health Awareness week!

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, which is running from May 9 through May 15, 2022. The year, The Mental Health Foundation has decided to focus on the theme of loneliness. This week will focus on what it means to be lonely, how it affects our mental health, and how we can all help to reduce loneliness.

What does it mean to be lonely?

Loneliness can be caused by a variety of factors that range from person to person. Some people may feel lonely because of a life event, while others may feel lonely at various periods of the year. It’s vital to keep in mind that emotions of loneliness can shift throughout time and depend on the situation.

Thoughts that nobody needs or wants you, or that you don’t have any significant relationships are some of the feelings you could experience when you’re lonely.

Loneliness can also manifest as:

  • Feeling tired or lacking energy.
  • Caring about material possessions or frequently shopping.
  • Cravings for physical warmth such as taking long, hot showers, hot drinks and cosy blankets.
  • Binge-watching TV or spending excessive time on social media.
  • Increased stress levels or an inability to focus.
  • Feeling run down or frequently getting sick.
  • Insomnia or interrupted sleep.
  • Feelings of self-doubt, hopelessness or worthlessness.
  • Feeling anxious or restless.

How does loneliness affect your mental health?

Loneliness has been linked to despair and anxiety and can have a significant influence on mental health. Loneliness isn’t a mental health issue in and of itself, but the two are intertwined and frequently manifest at the same time. Having a mental health condition, for example, might make you feel lonelier. Similarly, loneliness may have a bad influence on your mental health, especially if it lasts for a long period.

Loneliness can be caused by a variety of mental health disorders, such as social anxiety. People who suffer from social anxiety may find it difficult to participate in ordinary activities that involve other people, resulting in a lack of meaningful social interaction and, as a result, feelings of loneliness.

How can we help those experiencing loneliness?

You may have a suspicion that someone is lonely before they are aware of it themselves. For a variety of causes, they may have gotten more isolated. Perhaps they’ve gone through a life transition, such as retirement, loss, or illness, making them more vulnerable to loneliness.

Here are some ways to help those who are experiencing loneliness:

Make yourself available

One of the nicest things you can do if you know someone who is lonely is to show them that you are available. Keep in touch with them by calling, visiting, or emailing them regularly. Loneliness can be linked to other issues such as sadness or loss, which can lead to individuals withdrawing and avoiding company. They may not always want to speak with you, but don’t give up on them if they don’t answer your calls or visits. Respect their desire for privacy while reassuring them that you’ll be there for them if they need you.

If you would like to make yourself available to help those struggling with loneliness and other mental health issues, you can register to volunteer with Shawmind.

Ask if you can help

You may volunteer to take the person you’re worried about out if they live in a remote area or find it difficult to go. Don’t force them to do anything. However, if they appear to be interested in a specific activity, you may assist them in figuring out how to get there or volunteer to accompany them to make it less intimidating.

You could inquire as to whether they are receiving any assistance. For example, you might assist them in arranging a care needs evaluation if they want assistance at home. You could also assist them in being active and eating properly so that loneliness does not negatively affect their health.

If you would like to learn more about helping people who are experiencing loneliness, or whose loneliness is affecting their mental health, Shawmind’s 2 Day Mental Health First Aid course may be perfect for you.

Check how they are feeling

Try to chat to them about how they’re feeling without pressuring them to discuss a certain topic. It’s possible that what you see as loneliness stems from something else that is bothering them.

People may feel more at ease talking to a stranger or a professional than they do with someone close to them. In this case, try putting them in touch with a mental health charity such as Samaritans.

Be dependable

Whatever you do, try to be dependable. Forgetting a promised phone call may not seem significant to you, but it may be quite frustrating for someone who has little contact with others. If you’re too busy or live too far away, ask if someone else can assist you in ensuring that the individual sees or speaks to someone frequently. This might be a friend, relative, neighbour, or a volunteer for a charity.

If you are experiencing loneliness, please reach out to someone, and check out our tips to combat loneliness.

Interested in learning more about mental health?
If you want to learn more about mental health, how to prevent issues, manage it, and support those with issues, sign up for our CPD Certified Mental Health Awareness Course. You can complete it in your own time (approx. 3 hours) and all proceeds go to our #Headucation campaign to provide training to teachers that helps them support school children with their mental health.

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How to support someone struggling with stress?

Stress is one of the most common mental health conditions that everyone is likely to experience at some point in their lives. While small amounts of stress can help us to react quickly in some situations and respond with productive solutions, continuous and extreme levels of stress can have the opposite effect causing us to be slow to respond and see a decrease in our productivity.

Stress produces cortisol, which over time can have significant negative effects on our physical health (e.g. heart problems, digestive issues, and weight changes) as well as our mental health – leading to depression and anxiety.

If you think someone is struggling with stress, here are some simple ways you can support them.

Listen

Simply talking about how you’re feeling and what’s making you feel stressed can be a great outlet for people who are struggling. Voicing your feelings can make them feel more manageable and help you find solutions much more easily.

Make it known that you are there to listen if they need you and even start the conversations if they seem hesitant themselves.

Never underestimate the power of asking “how are you?”

Help them to relax

It can be difficult for people who are struggling with stress to relax. Even in their downtime, they’re likely to be thinking about and dwelling on the things that are causing them stress – making it difficult to truly switch off and recover.

Make the first move and invite them to do relaxing activities (e.g. a walk, movie night or spa session) with you.

Read more: How can mindfulness help with stress?

However, depending on the person and the cause of stress, they may not respond well to you trying to ‘distract’ them from their problems. In this instance, find small ways you can help to free up their time (like running errands or doing chores) so that they can then relax on their own terms.

Identify triggers

It can help both you and the person struggling with stress if you identify triggers that make their stress worse. This can help you avoid the triggers altogether, or, if that’s not possible, prepare for them and practice coping techniques.

For example, if you find that hunger and dehydration tend to make their feelings of stress worse, encourage them to carry around snacks and a bottle of water to limit how often these triggers can impact them.

Find solutions to overall causes of stress

As well as the triggers for momentary occurrences of stress, it is useful to know what is causing longer-term stress. These are often more difficult and complex to solve, but simply having an understanding of them can help you to empathise with and support those close to you.

Common causes of long-term stress include financial difficulties (e.g. debt), workplace pressures, caring responsibilities, and lifestyle transitions (e.g. moving house).

Ultimately, finding a solution to these overall causes of stress would be a massive help to those who are struggling. For example, putting those with financial struggles in touch with a debt advisor, or helping those with difficulties at work find new employment.

However, in reality, many of these common causes of stress are rooted in complex issues that take time to be fully resolved. Again, those struggling with stress may appreciate it more if you can find ways to help them with the everyday tasks in life (e.g. school pick-ups or shopping trips) so that they have more time to work on resolving these issues themselves.

822,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2020 – 2021. Stress can significantly impact productivity, long-term health, and morale at work. Make sure your company is equipped to support employees with stress and other common mental health conditions by completing our 2 Day Mental Health First Aid course or our Mental Health For Managers training programme.

Help them stay physically healthy

Many of the behaviours and coping techniques people have for stress can actually make stress worse in the long run.

According to research by the Mental Health Foundation, 46% of people in the UK reported that they ate too much or ate unhealthily due to stress. 29% reported that they started drinking or increased their drinking, and 16% reported that they started smoking or increased their smoking.

While their focus is on the stressful situation, do what you can to help them stay active, hydrated, and well-nourished. Invite them for a walk, invite them for dinner (or help them prepare it if you live together), and avoid outings that would encourage unhealthy behaviours.

It can be heart-breaking when those we care about are struggling with mental health conditions like stress. These tips can help you support them without being overbearing or condescending.

If you want to learn more about stress, how to prevent it, manage it, and support those with it, sign up for our Understanding Stress online course. You can complete it in your own time (approx. 1 hour) and it only costs £30. All proceeds go to our #Headucation campaign to provide training to teachers that helps them support school children with their mental health. Adults need help dealing with stress – so why do we expect kids to manage it on their own?

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6 Facts about stress you might not know

Stress has a variety of physical and emotional effects on us, with varying degrees of intensity. Not everyone reacts to stress in the same way, and what one person finds stressful may not be for another.

Everyone is affected by stress at some point in their lives, but how much do you truly know about it? Here are 6 facts about stress that you might not know.

1. Stress is a hormonal reaction from the body

This reaction all starts with the part of your mind known as the hypothalamus. When you’re stressed, the hypothalamus sends indicators to your nervous system and kidneys. In turn, your kidneys launch stress hormones. These include adrenaline and cortisol.

2. Everyone is affected by stress in different ways

Stress manifests itself in a variety of ways, and not everyone will experience it in the same way. Some people are more impacted by emotional symptoms like concern, restlessness, and irritation, whilst others are more affected by physical symptoms like headaches, muscular tension, and digestive problems.

3. Some types of stress can be good for you

For a healthy and exciting existence, a sort of stress known as ‘eustress’ is necessary and beneficial. Eustress is the sort of stress you feel on a roller coaster (if you appreciate fast rides), when playing a pleasant game, or while you’re falling in love.

We feel energetic and alive when we are experiencing eustress. Chronic stress, on the other hand, is a very different issue!

4. Some “stress relievers” actually make things worse

Most of us have a few unhealthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. Unfortunately, most of these ‘bad habits,’ while enjoyable at the time, may lead to far greater stress in the long term.

If you smoke, drink too much, spend too much, or manage stress in a way you know isn’t healthy for you, look for tools to help you understand how you’re currently affecting your stress levels and how to cope in a better way. Our Understanding Stress course can teach you what stress is and how to deal with it effectively.

5. Headaches can be caused by stress

Muscle tension caused by stress might result in headaches. It also causes your body to emit certain chemicals, which might cause migraines for some people. If you suffer from migraines, you may notice that you have more headaches during stressful times.

Eat frequently, drink lots of water, and try some of your favourite breathing techniques to stay relaxed throughout the day to reduce your risk of headaches.

6. Stress can be successfully managed

Fortunately, there are several methods for managing stress. Eating a good, balanced diet, exercising regularly, and using various relaxation techniques can all help you decrease stress and enhance your physical and mental health.

If you are interested in learning more about stress, our CPD Accredited Understanding Stress course is perfect for you. Our Understanding Stress course teaches the learner what stress is, how it can be managed and prevented, and how you can support someone who is struggling with stress.

For more information on stress, including stress management, download our free stress guide.

At Shawmind, we want to make it easier for everyone to handle moments of poor mental health by reducing stigma and increasing awareness of support options. That’s why all funds raised through our online courses support Headucation – our mission to train teachers in the basics of mental health support of children.

Help us improve mental health support for young people!

Donate

Training

Get in touch

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How can mindfulness help with stress?

As April is Stress Awareness Month, we want to bring light to the benefit of mindfulness in the management of stress. Currently, there are 822,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, whilst 66% of school-age children are experiencing stress about school, exams and homework. These high figures emphasise the need for stress management and minimisation techniques. Most of the time, regardless of the situation we are experiencing, there are a variety of techniques out there to cope with what is happening. Practicing mindfulness gives us another great option for coping with and reducing stress.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Improves wellbeing

Being mindful makes it simpler to enjoy life’s pleasures as they happen, to get completely engaged in activities, and to cope with negative situations. Many individuals who practise mindfulness find that by focusing on the present now, they are less likely to be obsessed with anxieties about the future or regrets about the past and are better able to build strong relationships with others.

Improves mental health

Mindfulness is seen as an important element in the alleviation and treatment of several mental health illnesses. These include, stress, anxiety and depression, amongst many others.

Improve physical health

Mindfulness techniques can also help improve physical health. People often use mindfulness to help relieve stress, lower blood pressure, cope with chronic pain, and improve sleep.

How can mindfulness help manage stress?

1. You become more in tune with your thoughts.

You can then step back from them and not take the extreme ones so literally. That way, your stress response is not triggered in the first place. This leads to not immediately reacting to a situation. Instead, you have a moment to pause and then use your calm mind to come up with the best solution.

2. Your ability to focus increases

This allows you to complete your work more efficiently. Mindfulness can give you have a greater sense of well-being, and this reduces the stress response.

3. You can switch your attitude to the stress.

Rather of focusing on the negative consequences of being stressed, mindfulness allows you to think about stress in a new way. Observing how increasing pressure can make you feel more energised has a good impact on your body and mind.

4. You are more aware and sensitive to the needs of your body.

Mindfulness switches on your “being” mode of mind, which is associated with relaxation. Your “doing” mode of mind is associated with action and therefore, often the stress response. Through this “being” state of mind, you will be able to focus on how your body really feels and provide it with what it needs. You may notice pains or emotions that previously you could not pinpoint, and this allows you to take appropriate action to soothe them.

5. You are more aware of emotions.

Through mindfulness, and being in touch with your own emotions, your level of care and compassion for yourself and others rises. This compassionate mind soothes you and inhibits your stress response. As your emotional intelligence rises, you are also less likely to get into conflict with others as you have more understanding of their feelings.

Are you interested in learning more about mindfulness?

Our 6-week Mindfulness course teaches the learner what mindfulness is, the importance of mindfulness in relationships, the neuroscience of self-compassion, and an understanding of how to apply mindfulness in your life.

Our CPD Accredited Understanding Stress course teaches the learner what stress is, how it can be managed and prevented, and how you can support someone who is struggling with stress.

For more information on how stress, including stress-management through mindfulness, download our stress guide.

At Shawmind, we want to make it easier for you to handle moments of poor mental health by reducing stigma and increasing awareness and support options. That’s why all funds raised through our online courses support Headucation – our mission to train teachers in the basics of mental health support.

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6 Ways to Manage Stress

At some point in our lives, we have all felt the effects of stress; it is an unavoidable part of life. Whilst we are all familiar with what it feels like, we may struggle to accurately define what we mean when we say stress.

Stress is the sensation of being under an abnormal amount of pressure. This pressure might come from a variety of sources in your daily life: increased workload, transitional moments, family feuds, or new / existing financial concerns are just a few examples. It often has a cumulative effect, with each stressor piling up on top of the others.

You may feel threatened or upset in certain situations, and your body may react with a stress response. This can result in several physical symptoms, as well as changes in your behaviour and more intense emotions.

Stress affects us in many ways, both physically and mentally, with varying degrees of severity. Not everyone will experience stress the same way, and what may be considered stressful for one person, may not for another. Here are 6 ways we recommend managing stress:

1. Stay Active

Exercise won’t make your stress go away, but it can help you cope with your emotions by clearing your thoughts and letting you deal with your problems more calmly.

You do not have to engage in intense physical exercise if you are not feeling up to it, even just going out and getting some fresh air, or taking some light physical exercise, like going for a walk to the shops can really help. Of course, going to the gym, running, swimming and any other forms of exercise are also great!

2. Take a Break

We often work very long hours, which means we don’t always spend enough time doing activities we enjoy. Set aside a couple of nights a week for some quality “me time” away from work, whether it’s for socialising, relaxation, or fitness.

3. Talk About It

A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way. Connecting with people will ensure you have support to turn to when you need help.

The activities we do with friends help us relax. We often have a good laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever.
Talking things through with someone will help rationalise and understand your feelings, and often can help you find solutions to your problems.

4. Understand Your Triggers

MHFA Stress Container

Take time to understand what is causing you stress, and why you feel like you can’t manage it. Perhaps it is poor time-management, lack of self-confidence, other mental health illnesses, or simply that you are not equipped with the practical skills and knowledge to overcome your situation. Understanding what is triggering your stress often, in itself, helps alleviate it.

Sort the possible reasons for your stress into three categories: 1) those with a practical solution 2) those that will get better given time and 3) those you can’t do anything about. Try to release the worry of those in the second and third groups and let them go.

Sometimes we can find it hard to understand our emotions and what is causing them. By taking part in this Understanding Emotional Intelligence course, you can gain the skills and knowledge you need to understand yourself fully, and cope with your emotions in a positive manner.

5. Take Control

Every problem has a solution. Your stress will worsen if you remain passive, thinking, “I can’t do anything about my problem.” One of the main reasons for stress and a lack of wellbeing is a sense of loss of control.

Taking control is empowering in and of itself, and it is a vital component of finding a solution that satisfies you rather than someone else. Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new language or a new sport, can help build confidence. Having confidence in your own capabilities can often help you deal with stress when it arises.

Don’t rely on alcohol, cigarettes, or caffeine to help you cope. These quick releases will not fix your difficulties in the long run, instead, they’ll form new ones. It’s the equivalent of burying your head in the sand. It may bring temporary respite, but it will not solve the problems. You must address the source of your stress.

Through taking online classes specifically designed to help you to manage stress, you can learn to manage and prevent stress, as well as how to support others who are struggling with stress. Shawmind offer an Understanding Stress self-learning course, that will provide you with the knowledge and skills to manage your personal stress and help others with theirs.

6. Be Positive and Kind to Yourself

Try to look for the positives in life and things to be thankful for, work on seeing the glass half full rather than half empty.
At the end of each day, write down three things that went well or that you are grateful for. This is a great way to reflect on your day, highlighting and focussing on the good parts.

Want to learn more about managing stress?

Our CPD Accredited Understanding Stress course teaches the learner what stress is, how it can be managed and prevented, and how you can support someone who is struggling with stress.

For more information on stress, download our stress guide.

At Shawmind, we want to make it easier for you to handle moments of poor mental health by reducing stigma and increasing awareness and support options. Help us do this for the next generation by supporting Headucation – our mission to train teachers in the basics of mental health support.

Read more