Take time to look after your mental health
Mon, 06 Apr 2020

As the days go by and we are faced with uncertainty, staff are on lockdown in their homes and keyworkers are continuing their day-to-day jobs in order to ensure vital services can continue to protect the residents of the East Riding.

Many staff are working long and tiring shifts, including those from the care sector and it's important that they - as well as everyone else - look after their mental health.

There are so many ways that a lockdown during a pandemic can be damaging to a person's mental health and with varied roles and shift patterns for keyworkers in the community at the moment, it might be hard for them to take time out to look after themselves.

Equally, being stuck in the house without the normal routine of going to work every day can have a negative impact on a person's mental health, especially if they are used to being active and outdoors for long periods of time.

It's understandable at this time that people can develop low moods simply due to the uncertainty of the situation.

Whatever the reason for a low mood, there is help available.

Here is a list of helpful suggestions that might offer some support to all staff staying at home, as well as social workers, care staff and other key workers in the East Riding:

  • Consider how to connect with others

Maintaining relationships is important for your mental wellbeing. Communicate with friends and family via telephone, video calls or social media.

  • Help and support others

Could you contact a friend or family member nearby? Are there community groups you could join to support others locally? Remember it's important to do this in line with current guidance to keep everyone safe.

  • Talk about your worries

It is quite common to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember this is a difficult time for everyone and sharing how you're feeling and the things you are doing to cope with family and friends can help them too.

  • Look after your physical wellbeing

It can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour. Try eating healthy, drinking water, exercising inside where possible and outside once a day and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs.

  • Look after your sleep

Feeling anxious or worried can make it harder to get a good night's sleep. Good quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically, so it's important to get enough.

  • Try to manage difficult feelings

Some people may experience intense anxiety that becomes a problem. Try to focus on things you can control, like where you get information from actions to make yourself feel better prepared.

  • Manage your media and information intake

24-hour news and constant social media updates can make you more worried. It may help to only check the news at set times or limiting to a couple of checks per day.

  • Get the facts

Gather high-quality information that will help you accurately determine your own or other people's risk of contracting COVID-19 so that you can take reasonable precautions. Find a credible source, such as GOV.UK or NHS.UK

  • Think about your new daily routine

Think about how you can create new routines - try to engage in useful activities (such as cleaning, cooking or exercise) or meaningful activities (such as reading or calling a friend).

  • Do things you enjoy

When you're feeling anxious or low, you may do things that you usually enjoy, less often. Focusing on your favourite hobby, learning something new or simply taking some time to relax should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and an boost your mood.

  • Set goals

Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose - think about things you want or need to do that you can still do at home. It could be watching a film, reading a book or learning something online.

  • Keep your mind active

Read, write, play games, do crossword puzzles, sudokus, jigsaws or drawing and painting. Find something that works for you to keep your mind active.

  • Take time to relax and focus on the present

This can help with difficult emotions, worries about the future and can improve wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help some people to deal with feelings of anxiety.

  • Get outside or bring nature indoors

Spending time in green spaces in accordance with government guidelines can benefit your mental and physical wellbeing. If you can't go outside, spend time with the windows open (where safe to do so) to let in fresh air or arrange space to sit with a nice view.


Staying healthy whilst working from home

It is important to stay informed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this in itself can be stressful.

For the best and most up to date and relevant information, visit the links below for some suggestions of support to help manage health and wellbeing. There is also a PDF below which includes more helpful tips on how to stay healthy during the pandemic:




Living Streets - Walking and Coronavirus


For more information about any specific support that could be offered from a workplace health and wellbeing perspective email sarah.oliver@eastriding.gov.uk

Employee Assistance Programme

For confidential support and practical advice when it's needed most a confidential Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is open to all council employees. The EAP is a complementary service to existing council Wellbeing at Work initiatives.

There is support available when members of staff don't know where to turn, including the following:

  • Telephone counselling support
  • Personal legal advice and financial information
  • Advice and information across a range of health and wellbeing matters
  • Access to an online portal for further advice and support
  • Speak in confidence to a third party with anonymity assured
  • Available 24/7, 365 days a year.

To access the Employee Assistance Programme in confidence call 0800 107 6147 and quote 'East Riding of Yorkshire Council'


A series of free online mindfulness courses are also now available for staff to listen to in their homes.

Mindfulness meditation involves sitting silently and paying attention to thoughts, sounds, the sensations of breathing or parts of the body (as guided by the facilitator) and gently bringing attention back to the breathing when the mind starts to wander.

Using a range of techniques such as the body scan, mindfulness allows staff to know directly what is going on inside and outside themselves, moment by moment.

Mindfulness can help increase employees' mental health and wellbeing, focus and concentration and decrease stress.

To view different versions of mindfulness online, visit one of the following links:


or Google search "Bangor University free audio downloads" (CMRP)


or YouTube: search for "Mark Williams meditations"


or YouTube: search for "Jon Kabat-Zinn meditations"

www.mindfulhealth.co.uk - guided mindful movement (visual)

Staff can practice bringing awareness to everyday activities (such as tooth-brushing) by placing attention on any of their senses, rather than thoughts.

Further information:

For more information and support about how to improve your mental health, visit happyandwell.me or www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/

Guidance (for members of staff to also view) on Mental Health. 


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