Earlier this week you will have received a Trust email giving tips on adopting the five ways to wellbeing and as January is typically the time when people endeavour to make healthier choices, I thought I’d share some of the things I do to maintain my own wellbeing and resilience. It’s also timely because this coming Monday is known as ‘blue Monday,’ which is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year!
The five ways to wellbeing are connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give. These days we all lead very busy lives and work hard, nowhere more so than in the NHS, so I think it’s really important that we try to take some time to look after ourselves and our wellbeing. The daily challenges and pressures we face at work and home can really test our personal resilience, so the five ways to wellbeing are thought to provide a good framework for maintaining good mental health. Here is how I try to adopt them…
My family is the most important thing to me and I spend as much of my time as possible with them, especially my first granddaughter who was born just before Christmas! Being closer to family was one of the attractions about moving here. Being able to talk and share with them is really important. We all need someone to 'off load' to and to share problems with and I don't know how I would manage without my patient husband who is great at just listening to me rant on occasions!
2. Be active
I try to exercise regularly, although I haven’t been as active as I should be recently. I have a huge passion for climbing and mountaineering and most of my holidays are spent doing this sort of activity. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but for me, I find this much more relaxing than any beach holiday, although occasionally I do wonder whether I shouldn't just be hanging up my boots and taking it easier! My most challenging climb was in the Himalayas a few years ago when I was part of a small team who managed to climb a mountain that hadn’t been attempted before. It was a huge challenge and I spent a lot of the time feeling scared and but it was very rewarding, especially since we managed to get to the top and down safely! One of the things I love about climbing is that your mind has to be completely focused in that moment, instead of thinking about all the others things going on in your life.
3. Take notice
As you can probably tell, I really enjoy spending time outside and appreciating the beautiful countryside we have. I go walking quite a lot as it is free and relatively hassle free and this provides the chance to explore. My journey to and from work takes me over Chapel Brow from the high peaks into Charlesworth, and I love that moment in the morning when I reach the top driving over and can see the fantastic views of Manchester and beyond (when it isn't foggy!) I always pause for a moment to appreciate the view and I’m looking forward to being able to stop there in the summer months and maybe do a walk or a run on the way home.
4. Keep learning
I’ve certainly been on a learning curve since taking up my new role with Pennine Care and like to continually learn in my professional career. A few years ago I also learnt to play the piano. It's so hard learning an instrument as an adult, but I can now play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, although rather badly! I’ve also recently been to a lino-cut printing workshop where I made this fine piece of art…. well I was pleased with it anyway! It was like potato printing for adults! I’m not particularly a creative person but it was quite relaxing and calming cutting the shapes out, like a form of mindfulness.
Quite a few years ago we decided as a family to stop spending lots of money on fancy Christmas gifts and instead give money to charity. We do a secret Santa so we each get one decent gift but then have a little competition to determine which charity we donate the rest of the money to. It’s a really nice, fun thing to do.
As part of the Trust’s work on staff wellbeing, we have all been encouraged to make a personal pledge against one of the five ways to wellbeing. My pledge for this year is that I want to continue to connect with people in the organisation and especially staff on the frontline, and so will be aiming to spend at least one day each month out visiting clinical services and also holding some larger engagement events with staff over the coming months.
You can make your own pledge here: http://portal/shwbr/Pages/Contact.aspx
I look forward to reading all of your pledges!