Last Week I Had A Fight With My Brother: A Lockdown Story
Last week I had a fight with my brother. We haven’t fought in years and generally get along well enough considering we live in close quarters at home anyway, so it came as kind of a surprise. I say ‘kind of’ as two and a half months of being in lockdown in a very small house I knew could start to take a toll – and sure enough it came to a head last week. It was completely ridiculous, he was cleaning up the kitchen, I was trying to watch a film, and for some reason the sound of him putting the plates away was especially jarring that day. In my head I was sure he was banging them just a bit too hard either deliberately or just inconsiderately (I mean I was doing something extremely important; the film wouldn’t watch itself!). So in my astute wisdom I decided it would be a good idea to say, “Do you want to make a bit more noise there mate?!” At which point he flipped, came marching into the living room and we almost came to blows. Luckily, both of us had capacity to go into separate rooms to cool off and apologising after we had calmed down.
When I was thinking about what to write about in this week’s blog post I thought that this experience is one that many of us have probably shared; falling out with those we are living with and care about, having shorter fuses than usual and dealing with situations in unhelpful ways. Amid a global pandemic, lockdown, uncertainty about the future and worries about infection, many of us will be stressed. From my own personal experience, being stressed and stuck in the house for far longer and in closer proximity to those that I live with than I am used to, plus a dash of miscommunication led to acting in not the most adult way. I am thankful however that my brother and myself have a good enough relationship to be able to apologise to each other and make up afterwards. I found that both of us sharing and acknowledging how we were feeling was very useful. We were able to understand how the other felt and that actually; it was more to do with everything going on right now than noisy plates.
As I said this was uncharacteristic for us and it got me thinking, how have we managed to live together peacefully and enjoying each other’s company (for the most part) for so long? Here are the four main things that I think are important in any relationship when you are living in close quarters:
Specifically giving each other space. This is a hard one, especially if you are stuck in a tiny flat, but it is more than just a physical thing. You could be sitting on the same couch just doing your own thing like reading a book or checking your phone and letting those you live with do the same. As with all things there is a balance to this, I am not advising ignoring those you live with, but checking in to see how they are doing and knowing when they would like to be left alone for a bit is important. What is equally important though is sharing with those you live with how you are doing, and when you need space – and this can often make us feel better in itself.
2. Communication and respect
This should probably be number one to be honest but here we are. Lack of communication and miscommunication are probably the biggest reasons for arguments. Lets look at my fight with my brother; I was feeling stressed and irritable because of lockdown, I had just put on a movie to try and relax, at that moment he starts making a load of noise, I get angry and make a sarcastic comment, meanwhile he is feeling the same way and that comment was just too much to deal with, especially coming from a sibling. At no point did we communicate how we were feeling, what we were trying to do or how we were affecting each other, if we had (as we have been able to do in the past) we would not have blown up as we did. Following from this is where respect is so important. If you communicate how you are feeling to those you live with, you hope that they will acknowledge that and respect how you are feeling and not dismiss you. Letting them know that and having the same respect for them is the first step.
Someone (I forget who) said that the British are optimistic pessimists and you can tell by their humour and I think they might have had something there. Making jokes and making each other laugh in less than ideal situations is a way we can cope. It can distract us from everything that might be going on, bring us closer to one and other and give us some perspective. It can also be a way for us to acknowledge how strange the situation is now and laugh at it – a helpful respite from just all doom and gloom.
Probably the second most important of these four and a way we can communicate without words. This could be giving your time, giving someone help with something, giving something nice (food, cups of tea and biscuits are usually a winner in my house), giving your attention. It is a way we can show that we care for another, value them and want to do something nice for them. Giving has also been proven to be beneficial for our own wellbeing and mental health, so it’s a win-win!
Thanks for reading if you have made it this far and I hope that some of the things I have noticed and found useful could be useful for you too! It is mental health week this week and the theme is kindness so please be kind to yourself and the ones around you. Go well!
By Blake Fontaine.
Author: Chris Gilbert
Posted on: 22nd May 2020
Mental Health Awareness Week – What Is Kindness?
Posted on: 21st May 2020
Embrace your boredom and get creative
At a time when we are isolating to stay safe, we are having to adapt and explore new ways to pass the time. For most of us, we are having to completely change the way we work as well as how we look after ourselves and this can be a real challenge.
Understandably, the situation that we’re in is surfacing many feelings: frustration, sadness, anger, stress, anxiety, boredom, worry, discomfort, confusion. As always, it’s important that we can express these feelings in one way or another. How we do this is a personal choice. For some this is through talking and connecting with people, for others through journaling, cooking, writing poetry or creating music or art.
I recently discovered that the Chinese word for ‘crisis’ is made up of two words in English, one meaning danger and the other meaning chance or opportunity. Of course, in the current crisis we are in, we don’t have as many opportunities as we perhaps had before. But I am finding it interesting to reflect on – what opportunities do I currently have that I didn’t before?
Having more time on our hands is something that most of us will be experiencing right now; this inevitably does lead to more boredom than usual. But what if this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing? Sandi Mann, a Senior Psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire has researched how boredom can actually spark creativity. When we are bored, Mann says “There’s no other way of getting that stimulation, so you have to go into your head”. If we can learn to sit with our thoughts a bit more, who knows what kind of new and exciting ideas might spring to mind?
So, next time you’re bored, rather than turning to your phone for a scroll, why not let your mind wander and see what happens? Perhaps now is the time to try your hand at a new skill and explore the creativity within you? Perhaps you will surprise yourself with what you create whilst also finding a new way to express what’s going on for you right now.
If you’re interested in getting creative, try some (or all!) of the following:
· Sign up free with Create to Connect to take part in a month of daily creative challenges this May
· Get crafty using the contents of your cupboards: make prints using fruits and vegetables or shaving foam and food colouring, paint using tea or coffee, make sculptures out of recycling or by mixing newspaper with flour and water.
· Visit Firstsite to get inspired with their free artist packs
· Visit The March Network to see an extensive list of organisations hosting online performances, classes, workshops and challenges you can get involved with.
It’s Ok to express yourself privately, but sometimes we just need to talk to someone. Here are some places you can find support if you need it:
By Molly Phillips
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hammersmith, Fulham, Ealing & Hounslow Mind
Sources: Sandi Mann – The Upside of Downtime: Why Boredom Is Good
Icons from Freepik.com
Author: Molly Phillips
Posted on: 7th May 2020
Upon reflection: OCD during a global pandemic
At the age of 13, I was diagnosed with OCD which means I experience frequent, intrusive thoughts – obsessions. For me, this involves excessive anxiety around doing extreme harm – or not being able to prevent harm happening to loved ones. These distressing thoughts result in compulsive behaviours in an attempt to relieve the unease – for me this involves constant reassurance seeking.
I’ve been studying German at the University of Warwick, and have just completed the second semester of my second year. Under the Coronavirus lockdown, however, I’ve been living back at home. The impact of this virus has had a significant effect on how well I’ve felt mentally, particularly as it’s caused a lot of uncertainty. Within a few days of returning home, my plans for the next few months were completely thrown up in the air. The third semester was cancelled, and exams replaced with alternative forms of assessment online – although it’s not clear yet what kind of assessments we should expect. I am also meant to be moving to Germany in September to complete a year at a German university, but I’m left with an overwhelming amount of questions around that too.
If I did go, would the threat of the Coronavirus still be as great as it is now? If I did go, how long would I go for? If I did still go but only for part of the year, what would I do for the remaining part of the year? Where would I stay and what would I do? How would it affect my grades and future prospects? All of these questions remain unanswered, and the long days of waiting for them to be answered are so unsettling.
I don’t have many friends back home – those that I do have are also currently living in isolation. I miss the social buffer I found at university – both friends who are living in different parts of the country or the world, and also my boyfriend. Our relationship is very new and it’s the first proper love that I’ve experienced. Going from seeing each other every day to now only seeing each other over Facetime has been difficult to adapt to.
However, I can only take one day at a time. A switch to a much slower pace under lockdown, means that there’s more opportunities to get lost in our own thoughts – a breeding ground for scary intrusive thoughts and feelings to take hold. I’m aware of that and trying my best not to get lost in thoughts of the future. Instead, I’m been looking into mindfulness and trying to take in each moment fully. I keep reminding myself that I am safe at home, and that whilst it’s very difficult, the people who I love and care about most are also safe and are only a phone call away.
I have to remember that this will pass, and that life will eventually resume to a some sort of normality eventually – perhaps a different one, but one which I can also cope with and handle – I’ve been through worse. In the meantime, I tell myself that I am surviving, and that I can do no more than live each day mindfully and enjoy the little moments. By adopting a positive perspective on this, I’ve realised how strong I am and how capable my mind can be.
For more information and articles on OCD and looking after your wellbeing during coronavirus, use the links below:
Below are some helplines:
Charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD.
Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am to 10pm) | Website: www.nopanic.org.uk
Support for people with OCD. Includes information on treatment and online resources.
Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm) | Website: www.ocdaction.org.uk
A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.
Phone: 0333 212 7890 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) | Website: www.ocduk.org
By Jess Woodward. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hammersmith, Fulham, Ealing & Hounslow Mind.
Posted on: 24th April 2020
Staying well whilst working from home
We know that it’s an uncertain time for lots of people and many more of us are working from home to keep safe. We may also be worried about our health, families and finances, all of which can have a negative impact on our wellbeing. Our workplace wellbeing team have put together some information to help you look after your mental health whilst working at home.
Creating a consistent routine can provide structure to our working day and give us things to look forward to. One example of this could include arranging a team catch up at the same time each day or eating a healthy breakfast at the same time you would usually if it was a normal working day.
Having a clean, clutter free space to work from can reduce our stress levels and limit distractions. Why not put a photo that makes you happy, or words of encouragement on your workspace?
It’s good to be informed about what’s happening in the world, but too much exposure to news or social media can lead to us feeling overwhelmed. One way to limit our media consumption is to decide how often you’re going to check the news. Or you could try leaving your mobile phone in another room while working on an important task to resist the temptation of checking it. Similarly, you could try out an app to help you reduce screen time e.g. Freedom, Moment, and Space.
It’s easy to forget to take regular breaks whilst working from home. Try to take breaks as you would do at work, and use them to do something different, e.g. 5 minutes of breathing exercises or reading a book. You can let your team know when you’re going to take a break by blocking the time out in your calendar.
Working at home means we might not move as much as we would usually would throughout the day. Why not try out a virtual or online exercise class with your colleagues, or building in time for regular stretching.
Reflections and intentions
Keeping a record of our thoughts and experiences can help us learn more about what helps us stay well while working at home. At the end of each day, you could create a ‘reflections and intentions’ log. The ‘reflections’ could be the things you have achieved or noticed during the day, and ‘intentions’ are what you intend to do or practice the next day.
Staying in touch with colleagues can help us to feel connected to our team. Try using technology like online video conferencing tools or phones to arrange virtual coffee breaks and ask people how they are doing. If you do feel as though something is having a serious impact on your mental health, it may be worth reaching out to line-management or HR, as you may have access to an employee assistance programme.
Be kind to yourself
It’s normal to feel like we’re not doing enough or to put extra pressure on ourselves when working at home. We all have good and bad days and there are other factors that are causing extra worry right now. Take time each day to practice self-care, or you could try mindfulness or other relaxation exercises to help manage anxiety.
If you’re a manager, check out Mind’s blog about supporting yourself and your team during the coronavirus outbreak.
You can also find more resources for workplace mental health on the Mind website.
By Tabatha Mac. Cover image from Freepik.com
Posted on: 17th April 2020
Managing Anxiety around COVID-19: Try an Apple a Day
At the moment, we’re all probably feeling some level of anxiety around uncertainty. When we don’t feel like we have control of a situation, it is normal to feel uneasiness. As part of that, we wanted to share with you a simple technique to manage this kind of anxiety.
Is there something specific causing you to worry right now? It might be useful for you to think of that and go through the technique step-by-step. If there is nothing specific you can think of then that’s fine! Going through the APPLE technique can also help with general feelings of uneasiness and anxiousness.
Try to focus on one step at a time – and go at a pace that suits you. You can also download this as a full infographic here.
Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.
Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.
How did you find that? Easy? Hard?
In the same way we might use weight training to strengthen our muscles and tone our bodies, we can use techniques to exercise our mind. Neuroscience tells us that the more we practice those exercises, the more natural it becomes – so don’t worry if you found it hard to slow down and go through the APPLE, just save it and give it a go another time when you need it. Download it here.
For more information about Coronavirus and looking after your wellbeing click here:
If you would like more information about anxiety have a look at our page in Mind’s A-Z of mental health.
If you would like to talk to someone about your worries, below are helplines run by Anxiety UK and NoPanic:
Helpline: 03444 775 774
Text Service: 07537 416 905
Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm (excluding Bank Holidays).
COVID-19 specific: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/coronanxiety-support-resources
“During the coronavirus pandemic, we will be extending our helpline hours to provide additional support in the evenings until 10pm and over the weekend between 10am -8pm so that we can offer support to as many people as possible who need our help.”
Webinars and support groups also available.
Helpline: 0844 967 4848
Email: [email protected]
Everyday – 10:00am – 10pm
By Blake Fontaine. This article has been adapted from: A Mindful Response to Thoughts, © Carol Vivyan 2016, getselfhelp.co.uk
Posted on: 3rd April 2020
Five ways to wellbeing
The 5 Ways to Wellbeing are practical steps that anyone can take to help manage stress, boost their wellbeing and keep feeling happy.
There are so many ways to practice the 5 ways but below are some ideas for how you can try them out without even having to leave the house!
Our relationships with other people are really important for keeping us happy and healthy. If we’re at home there are lots of ways that we can build connections with friends and family.
· Spend time online – message a friend or start a group chat.
· Pick up the phone – messaging is great but sometimes it’s helpful to hear someone’s voice!
· Face to face – video chats can be a great way to feel more connected to someone far away.
· Keep the convo going – plan with a friend to watch the same movie or tv series so you can catch up about it later.
· Find your crowd – use social media to find positive online communities that share your passions.
· Put it in the post – write a postcard or letter to surprise someone you care about.
· Take a trip down memory lane – look through old photo albums with your family.
· Roll the dice – board games can be a great way to connect with family and you can play online versions with far away friends too.
· Explore the app store – mobile games like Heads Up or Words with Friends are great for getting people together.
· Connect with consoles – online video games let you hang out, chat and have fun with your friends.
· Start a project – making something together can build bonds with a sibling, parent or friend e.g. building, baking or blogging!
· Put up pictures – having favourite photos of your friends and family can be a great reminder of the connections in your life.
· Share your feelings – take time to talk about the important stuff with your family and friends.
Physical activity doesn’t just keep our bodies healthy, it also helps our mental wellbeing. Have a look through the ideas below to see how you can stay physically active at home!
· Youtube yoga – there are loads of video guides online for how to get into this mindful workout craze
· Clean up – even a bit of hoovering, dusting and tidying up can get you moving and feeling good.
· Dance like no one’s watching – put on your favourite song and move to the beat!
· Step to it – if you have stairs in your house or building run up and down them and you’ll quickly get your heart pumping.
· Planking challenge – look online to learn this super easy way to work your core.
· Take a few minutes – there are lots of youtube videos and apps with daily workout routines lasting for 5-10 minutes that leave you feeling like you’ve just hit the gym.
· Bake some bread – kneading dough will give your arms a proper workout.
· Ad break – when you’re watching tv use the breaks to get up and move your body e.g. stretches, star jumps or squats.
· Stand up – switch up from sitting down by simply standing more when you can e.g. if you’re on the phone, having a chat with you family in the kitchen and even while playing video games.
Most of the time we’re busy thinking about the past or the future, but it’s also important to pause and pay attention to the here and now. Try some of the tips below to relax and be in the present.
· Freshen up – even if it’s a little chilly outside it can be helpful to open the windows and take a deep breath of fresh air.
· Room with a view – try sketching the view from your window and you might be surprised by what you’ve never noticed before.
· Drawing memories – if you don’t like the view, have a look through your camera roll and try drawing or painting from your favourite photos.
· Listen closely – play some music, close your eyes and try to focus on individual instruments and lyrics.
· Happy apps – Calm, Headspace and Stop, Breathe, Think all have free mindfulness and relaxation activities that you can try with your phone.
· Chop, chop – cooking can be a great way to clear your mind by focussing on the sensations, sounds and smells of food.
· Write it down – journaling can be a great way to reflect on how you’re feeling and clear worries from your mind.
· Memory box – create a special place to store cards, photos and souvenirs to celebrate all your treasured memories.
· Notice nature – even in towns and cities we can all benefit from the calming powers of nature e.g. look after houseplants, spend time in the garden if you have one or even just play recordings of natural sounds like birdsong and the ocean.
· Time for slime – slime or play dough can be useful tools for relaxing and there are loads of online tutorials on how you can make your own at home.
· Make gratitude a habit – we can sometimes find it hard to notice the positives in our lives so keep a diary or scrapbook where you can list the things you’re grateful for.
· Just breathe – 5 deep breaths can be enough to make you feel a lot calmer and there are lots of breathing exercises online that you can also use to do this.
Trying new things, following our interests and staying curious about the world can help us to stay positive and proud of ourselves. The following ideas are all ways that we can keep learning and growing.
· Watch and learn – documentaries can be a great way to discover new things and there are lots of interesting ones on streaming sites e.g. ‘Explained’ series on Netflix.
· Curious cooking – look up a recipe that you’ve never tried before and give it a go!
· Learn about your loved ones – ask your family about their lives and you might be surprised by all the things you never knew.
· Get crafty – have a go at arts and crafts that you’ve never tried before like origami, knitting or upcycling.
· Play along – if you have a musical instrument there are lots of video tutorials online so that you can try to learn your favourite songs.
· Visit virtually – lots of the world’s most famous museums offer free online tours of their collections so you can see their treasures from your home!
· Quiz time – there are loads of sites, apps and games that you can use to test you and your friends e.g. Sporcle, Quiz Up, Kahoot, Quizlet and Memrise
· Be the quiz master – once you’ve had a go at these why not try writing your own and host a quiz night for your family.
· Learn a language – apps like Babbel and Duolingo are great for trying out that other language you’ve always liked the sound of.
· Pick a podcast – there’s a podcast out there for everyone and they can be a great way to keep your brain active while going about your day.
· Read around – whether it’s a newspaper article, blog post, novel, short story or poem, reading can open up our world so find a way that works for you.
One of the best ways to feel good in ourselves is to show kindness to others. Even small acts like the ones below can make a big difference to others and improve your wellbeing too.
· Positivity playlist – find the songs that help you feel happy and share them with your friends and family.
· De-clutter and donate – have a clear out of things you don’t want or need anymore and see if there is anything that you could donate to a charity shop
· Sharing is caring – find videos, memes or articles that make you smile and share these with your friends.
· Pamper party – have an evening with your family of relaxing and looking after yourselves e.g. face masks, manicures and treats.
· Movie marathon – have everyone in your family pick a favourite film and plan evenings where you can watch them all together.
· Thank you notes – write a message to someone you’re grateful to and leave it somewhere they will find it as a surprise.
· Tea time – offer to make your parents/caregivers a cup of tea and ask them how they’re feeling.
Here is a video of Nic Marks discussing how The Five Ways to Wellbeing came about.
By Joshua Byworth. Acknowledgements to the Wellbeing Team
Author: Molly Phillips
Posted on: 18th March 2020
Filmmaking collaboration – ‘It’s OK to ask for help’
Over October half-term, we collaborated with the Octavia Foundation on an exciting project aiming to encourage young people to ask for help for their mental health. 16 young people participated in a three-day project where they came together to plan, develop and produce two short films between them which will be displayed on YouTube and shown in schools across West London. The following films were created almost entirely by the young people.
Pictured above: Just some of the talented and passionate young people who took part.
Visit the Octavia Foundation website for more information on how you could get involved with their young people’s programmes! https://www.octaviafoundation.org.uk/our_work/young_people_children
By Molly Phillips
Author: Tabatha Mac
Posted on: 21st February 2020
H&F Mind Youth Services selected to run a second Trailblazer programme
Congratulations to H&F Mind Youth Services, who, in partnership with NHS Hammersmith & Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), has been selected to deliver a second Trailblazer programme later this year. The first Trailblazer programme being delivered by H&F Mind is in West London CCG (Kensington & Chelsea and Queen’s Park Paddington areas in Westminster). The Trailblazer programmes delivered by H&F Mind are now available for schools and colleges in selected education settings in Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea.
The programme will deliver Mental Health Support Teams across a range of primary, secondary and special schools, as well as alternative education provision, sixth form colleges and further education for children and young people between the ages of 5-25 years old. The Hammersmith and Fulham team will be ready to start seeing children and young people by the beginning of 2020 and will include group work and 1:1 guided self help.
This is a really exciting opportunity to provide children and young people with preventative and early intervention mental health services, so that we can reduce the risk of longer term mental health conditions developing, support young people to have happier, healthier childhoods and to stay in education.
Author: Tabatha Mac
Posted on: 30th January 2020
Youth Club Workshops at Action on Disability
H&F Mind Youth Services worked with the Action on Disability Youth Service to deliver two workshops to young people during their summer holiday program on the 31st July 2019 and the 7th August 2019. The workshops covered topics on mental health awareness and the five ways to wellbeing; five actions that are proven to improve mental wellbeing.
The young people enjoyed participating in the workshop activities, and discussing mental health and ways they can support their own mental wellbeing.
Thanks for having us AOD!
Posted on: 7th August 2019