en English
020 7471 0580 [email protected]

Safeguarding Adults and Covid-19

“Safeguarding adults means protecting a person’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.”

 

With the global pandemic taking over and the potential for a second wave on the horizon, it is key that safeguarding adults is at the forefront of our thinking and remains an organisational priority.

The pandemic has highlighted key vulnerabilities in people due to age, disability, an impairment or poor mental or physical health.

In addition, due to lockdown many businesses/organisations have closed, which has increased the financial hardship faced by individuals due to unemployment.

Perpetrators therefore continue to exploit such situations and individuals leading to more vulnerable members of our community.

 

Key safeguarding issues that have become more apparent during this pandemic include:

Money scams

Fraudsters claiming to help people out of financial difficulty, generic money scams which are more successful due to lack of contact with family members

Domestic violence

Perpetrated by and against both adults and children due to families living n confined spaces for long periods of time together

Neglect

Due to carers not being able to meet people as often or spend enough time with people. Or a lack of inspection of care homes and hospitals

 

Evidence has also highlighted that social isolation is key during this time and exacerbates the vulnerabilities of individuals as abuse or neglect may go undetected for a period of time.

Therefore, it is key that we are aware of these contemporary issues and continue to diligently report issues to the local safeguarding teams.

Safeguarding duties and responsibilities apply to adults who:

  • have care and support needs
  • are experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect and
  • are unable to protect themselves because of their care and support needs.
     

If any kind of abuse or neglect is suspected or disclosed, professionals have a duty to report this regardless of consent due to risk.

Therefore, if you have a safeguarding concern to report for adults in any area, please contact the local authority (council) where the abuse took place to find out how best to report it.

 

By Arti Modhwadia
Head of Adult Services and Safeguarding Adult’s Lead

 

Helpful contacts

Action Fraud: 0800 555 111

Victim Support: 0808 168 9111

National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk – run by Refuge)

The Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327 (For male domestic abuse survivors – run by Respect)

The Mix: 0808 808 4994 (free information and support for under 25s in the UK)

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428 (run by Galop)

Samaritans: 116 123 (24/7 service)

 

Emergency Numbers

In all emergencies: 999

 

Safeguarding Teams

Adults

Ealing

0208 825 8000

0208 825 8000 (out of hours)

Email: [email protected] 

 

Hammersmith & Fulham

0208 753 4198 option 3

0208 748 8588 (out of hours)

Email: h&[email protected]

 

Hounslow

0208 583 3100

0208 583 2222 (out of hours)

Email: [email protected]

 

Kensington & Chelsea

0207 361 3013

0207 373 2227 (out of hours)

Email: [email protected]

 

Westminster

0207 641 2176

0207 641 2388 (out of hours)

Email: [email protected]

 

Harrow

0208 420 9453

0208 424 0999 (out of hours)

Email for community service users: [email protected]

Email for mental health service users: [email protected]

 

Children

Ealing

0208 825 8000

0208 825 8000 (out of hours)

Email: [email protected]

 

Hammersmith & Fulham

0208 753 6600

0208 748 8588 (out of hours)

Email: [email protected]

 

Hounslow

0208 583 6600 option 2

0208 583 2222 (out of hours)

Email: [email protected]

 

Kensington & Chelsea

0207 641 4000

0207 641 6000 (out of hours)

Emails: [email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

 

Westminster

0207 641 4000

0207 641 6000 (out of hours)

Email: [email protected]

 

Harrow

0208 901 2690

0208 424 0999 (out of hours)

Email: duty&[email protected]

 

Mental Health Teams

Single Point of Access West London: 0800 328 4444 and 0300 1234 244 (24-hour help)

WLMHT (H+F, Hounslow and Ealing): Email: 

Single Point of Access Central and North: 0800 0234 650

West London CNWL: Email: 

CAMHS Ealing: 0208 354 8160

CAMHS Hammersmith and Fulham: 0208 483 1979

CAMHS Hounslow: 0208 483 1798 /  0208 483 2050 / 0208 630 3237

CAMHS Kensington and Chelsea: 0203 317 3599

CAMHS Westminster: 0203 317 5999

 

Author: Chris Gilbert
Posted on: 20th November 2020


Life Changes During a Pandemic

I think we’re all pretty aware of how chaotic things have been this year – COVID-19 has thrown the whole world into turmoil and we’re not sure what’s going on from one week to the next. On top of this daily instability, I seem to have found myself going through some big life changes during this time too!

Back in March I was new to Mind, having only started at the end of February. This meant that by the time working from home was implemented and lockdown hit, I’d only actually spent about 3 and a half weeks in the office. It’s so odd to think that I’ve been with my team longer via Zoom than in person (but they’re all amazing and I feel close to them, so that’s great!). It’s definitely been a challenge settling in to a new job whilst everyone is also adapting to working from home and meeting via Zoom.

More personally, I started a new relationship during all of this too! Having been slowly dating for a few months, my boyfriend and I ended up having the dreaded “talk” the day before the first lockdown was announced. This meant that as soon as we got into a relationship, we didn’t see each other for over 2 months then could only see each other outdoors before eventually having a normal relationship. Finally able to have a normal relationship and seeing each other, we’d finally booked a week off in November to go away together and spend more time together – only for lockdown 2.0 to hit! This means limited contact outside again for the next month as we don’t live with each other.

Finally, I moved out of my shared house due to terrible housemates. I’m now living in Surrey for a couple of months with my aunt and uncle, which is great because I am in a nicer environment (I’m sure there are plenty who relate with horrendous housemates!), have nice people around in the form of my aunt and uncle, and the bonus is can save money. Moving is stressful at the best of times, but doing it whilst working full time AND during a pandemic is absolutely manic. I had a feeling a new lockdown was coming so pushed myself to work faster and be moved before it happened (and was in my new place 6 days before the new lockdown announcement so clearly timed it well)!

To summarise, during this year I have: gotten a new job, started to settle in only to then have to adapt to working from home; packed my entire life into boxes and moved home; entered into a wonderful relationship but had to deal with months of not seeing my partner. But – I did it! Overall, the biggest thing this has taught me is that I can do more than I realised or gave myself credit for. If I can do all this during a lockdown and pandemic, then I can tackle anything else thrown my way!

My gratitude has also increased hugely as a result of these changes. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful job and team around me that made working from home so early on doable. I’m also grateful for wonderful friends and a relationship that has lasted such big difficulties already (so is hopefully very strong!). I’m grateful to have family to look out for me and take me in to give me a more tranquil work environment.

I’d encourage everyone else to take stock and reflect on what has been a particularly difficult year for us all and congratulate yourselves for getting through it and anything you’ve overcome during this time with such a big shadow cast over us all – even if that victory is simply “I got through it” (or should I say “am getting through it”, my optimism is making me a bit pre-emptive!).

 

By Jade Reed

Project Support Officer

Author: HFEHMind
Posted on: 6th November 2020


Feeling Under the Weather

The season is changing as we are moving into Autumn. The weather is getting colder and wetter; the amount of light we are getting is decreasing. Beyond weather, students are starting to settle into their new academic year and workplaces are getting busier. Not to mention, harsher COVID restrictions are starting to be put into place.

 

These changes may be influencing our general mood and behaviour. We may be finding we are feeling less motivated than we were in the Summer, or we are feeling “under the weather”. Alongside a dip in motivation levels, you may also be finding that your self-care routine is dwindling, affecting your mood further. But why is it so common to feel this way at this time of the year? There could be several reasons that can contribute to a dip in mood levels:

 

Summer is over

As Autumn begins, we mourn the Summer that has passed and brace the winter that is coming. When September hits, we try to get back into the swing of the routines that may have been dropped over the summer, and this could be a source of anxiety. Some may still associate this time of the year with going back to school, which can bring about a sense of trepidation. Not to mention those who are heading back to school – either to learn or to teach.

 

Seasonal change

In Autumn, it gets lighter later in the morning and darker earlier in the evening. This means we’re getting less sunlight, ultimately affecting how we feel. It only takes 5-15 minutes of sunlight to increase Vitamin D in the body, which helps reduce inflammation, modulate cell growth and keeps our bones healthy.

 

Getting your dose of daylight can also affect how well you sleep at night, as sunlight exposure produces a hormone called melatonin (responsible for helping you sleep). Another hormone the brain releases from sunlight exposure is serotonin, a hormone associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel regulated.

 

Weather to motivate

In the Summer, it is generally understood that individuals feel brighter and more motivated, in comparison to the colder, wetter months. However, there is some research to suggest that in rainier seasons, people work more, simply because there is less distractions (12% workers admitted to extending their lunch break during good weather).

 

These are some reasons, which suggest how the change in season can affect some people, and it is worth highlighting that it does not affect everyone the same way. Some people may thrive in Autumn and enjoy the warmth of a hot drink and staying indoors. Some may not be bothered by the change at all. However, roughly 1 in 15 people in the UK is significantly affected by the dull weather.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is thought to cause a biochemical imbalance of the brain, associated to the lack of bright light. SAD can be presented as having sleeping problems, lethargy, overeating, depression, social problems, physical and behavioural problems.

 

How to make the most of Autumn

  • Get as much natural light as possible. Try to get that 15 minutes of daylight during your lunch break. If this is not possible, there are SAD lamps available to help produce serotonin and melatonin levels during the darker days.
  • Keep to a routine. Because it can be difficult to motivate yourself during the colder seasons, if you make a schedule of what you need to get done, you’re holding yourself accountable. Schedule in your workouts, phone calls and time to yourself.
  • Practice mindfulness. It can be difficult to highlight the positive things happening in the moment when you’re not in the mood, so it can be useful to notice what’s happening in your body. Are your shoulders tense, do your eyes need a rest from the screen, do you need to stretch your legs? Pausing to notice your body senses is a great first step to grounding yourself.
  • Put your waterproofs on and go outside. It’s really easy to stay cooped up inside when there’s limitations to where you can go and with who. However, feeling the cool air on your face and in your lungs is a great way to feel fresh and reset yourself.

 

If you would like to find some more information about SAD, visit:

 

NHS for an overview and treatments:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/

 

Mind for causes, self-care and treatments:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/about-sad/

 

The Mix for symptoms, causes and treatments:

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

If your mental health has been affected, contact your GP for an appointment, or call the Samaritans on 116 123 if you need to talk to someone immediately. 

 

By Jessie Au

Education Mental Health Practitioner

Author: HFEHMind
Posted on: 23rd October 2020


Pandemic Puppy

“Get a puppy” They said. “It’ll be fun!” They said.

As most parents prepared for their kids to start at school, I prepared to send my fur baby to a puppy creche. It was only when I went home, without him, that it hit me how much this little man meant to me.

Though my fur baby is an absolute joy, my introduction to ‘pawrenthood’ was like an unexpected slap in the face! I was so unprepared for what was about to go down. Believe me.

As if a pandemic wasn’t stressful enough, I pushed myself to finish my house renovation, moved in and decided the house needed a puppy.

Day one was shocking. Putting rugs down was a thing of the past. My skirting boards became fair game as chew-toys and we did not get one minute to ourselves.

No one tells you about the sleepless nights, that lead to arguments because you’re both just so tired! Or the incessant biting that leave scars on your arms and holes in your best clothes!

Well, maybe they do tell you. But the gorgeousness of a baby bundle of fur overpowers all logic in your brain!

After many sleepless nights, lots of crying and despair we decided to take control of the situation. With the help of a great colleague, I got him a puppy trainer. And slowly the experience got better. We’re still not there yet. But it’s a definite work in progress.

He still makes regular cameo appearances on my Zoom calls. To call him anything less than a HFEH Mind employee would be a travesty! It was only last week a colleague alerted me to the fact that she could see him on the video, climbing on my front door and helping himself to my post. We no longer have use for our paper shredder and I’m not sure I’ll ever know what that bill was.

He’s also super clever but his intellect is used in the most sneaky ways! He can steal food off the countertops without us even noticing! Or nick socks from the laundry rack outside. When there is silence, there is trouble.

It was an absolute learning curve for us and a steep one at that! Though we had our tough times…. and believe me they were tough! To see him grow, learn and thrive- makes it all worth it!

He’s also taught me a thing or two about my own wellbeing:

 

  • To have work-life balance. I’ve struggled to achieve for the last ten years. But now I know he needs my time, so I prioritise clocking off at 5. I’m still not perfect at this but it’s better than before.

 

  • To understand that cleaning is not the most important thing in life. I spent 18 months renovating my home waiting for it to be perfect and clinically clean! I quickly learned it wasn’t going to stay like that with my bubba. Now I accept that he loves to play, which inevitably makes the house untidy. So ‘clean’, is good enough.

 

  • To take regular breaks. Normally he jumps onscreen during phone calls or meetings that have gone on for way too long. And though we’re working on the ‘don’t jump on me’ thing, it highlights that I need a break and he needs attention.

 

So, were they right when they said it would be fun? Yes. Definitely. It is fun. It’s a joy and a privilege to be a puppy mum to my little man! But it is hard. It requires commitment, being open minded and just letting things go with the flow.

 

By Arti Modhwadia 
Head of Adult Services and Safeguarding Adult’s Lead

Author: HFEHMind
Posted on: 9th October 2020


Book Review – Barking, By Lucy Sullivan

Content warning: mental illness, suicidal thoughts, hospitalisation.

 

Lucy Sullivan’s debut graphic novel, Barking, follows Alix Otto, a young woman haunted by the death (and possibly the ghost?) of her friend, and by a black dog that only she can see. It opens with Alix standing on a bridge over the Thames and the dog goading her to jump, when she’s picked up by the police and quickly taken to a psychiatric ward, where most of the book is set.

 

The black dog as a metaphor for depression dates back at least as far as Samuel Johnson[1] but Sullivan’s version is portrayed with unusual force and malevolence, a snarling, scribbly presence, sometimes lurking in the shadows of a scene and other times bursting out from the panel borders. The dog is also the voice of Alix’s intrusive thoughts, in speech bubbles scattered across the page, disrupting and confusing the narrative as they disrupt Alix’s thought processes.

Having a second character voice the protagonist’s interior monologue reminded me strongly of Sarah Kane’s work, particularly her play 4:48 Psychosis, and as in Kane’s work the impression is of someone under intolerable pressure, caught between the relentless haranguing of her inner voice on one side and the alienating, jargon-ridden speeches of the medical professionals on the other.

 

The art style is loose and scribbly, reminiscent of Bill Sienkiewicz at his scratchiest, or Dave McKean having a particularly bad day, and with a confidence and fluidity to the figure drawing that demonstrates Sullivan’s background as an animator and life-drawing tutor. The art is perfect for the book and inextricable from the story it’s telling, but is hard to decipher at times, and might prove a barrier to people who are new to reading comics.

 

Barking is presented as a graphic novel rather than a memoir, and while Sullivan has been very open about her own experiences with mental ill-health in interviews, she’s also been clear that this isn’t  autobiography. Having said that, she clearly knows what she’s talking about. Some of the details – the evangelical nurse pushing Jesus as a miracle cure, for example, or the weird, elliptic conversations during group therapy sessions – chimed uncomfortably closely with my own experiences as a psychiatric in-patient.

 

The psychiatric ward as depicted here is a brutal and frightening place; definitely part of the problem rather than the solution. While this isn’t a universal experience of psychiatric hospitals, it’s common enough that it definitely should be part of the wider conversation about mental ill-health and its treatment. And the depiction isn’t entirely one-sided – Sullivan offers us a ray of hope by having one nurse, at least, show compassion towards Alix

 

This is a brilliant and challenging book about depression, but perhaps not one to read when you’re actually depressed. But if you’re feeling brave and you’re interested in the current state of the art of comics as an artform, I’d say it was necessary reading.

 

Barking, by Lucy Sullivan

Published by Unbound, 2020

ISBN 978-1-78352-880-6

128pp Hardback, £16.99

Available to buy from Lucy Sullivan’s website: https://lucysullivanuk.com/

 

If you’re currently affected by depression, contact your GP for an appointment, or call the Samaritans on 116 123 if you need to talk to someone immediately. HFEH Mind also has a list of other sources of support in the West London area: https://hfehmind.org.uk/get-support/advice-and-information/

 

By Daniel Bristow-Bailey

[1]     http://alienson.com/files/Black-dog-as-a-metaphor-for-depression_a-brief-history_by-Paul-Foley.pdf

Author: HFEHMind
Posted on: 21st September 2020


Pandemic Parenting

As schools begin to return, I have had some time to reflect on the last few weeks (20 to be precise!) of how our home lives entirely changed overnight. Becoming a full-time homeschooler, continuing to work full-time whilst maintaining parental boundaries has been quite the challenge to say the least. Whilst it’s been quite an insightful experience, personally for me it’s time for my child to go back to school.

It all started so well with organised timetables, scheduled breaks, exciting experiments and Spider-man lunges with Joe Wicks to start the day. We were full of enthusiasm and thought it will only be for a few weeks at the very most. After all, I would be only be homeschooling one child, how hard was this going to be? The first few weeks went well, we even made it into the school newsletter, I thought ‘we’ve got this’ apart from the odd eye roll, we were thriving.

The novelty of ‘school’s out for summer’ for a 9-year-old was about to wear off and the reality of lock-down soon began to sink in. There have been slammed doors, tantrums, refusals to do pretty much anything other than play on the Nintendo switch and far too many days in pajamas. With everything used from bribery and the dreaded phrase every child hates ‘I’m going to have to call your dad if you don’t get on with your work’ – yep that’s right I had to go there.

I’ve worried relentlessly about the screen time; the school have been very organised but with all activities on Google classroom there hasn’t been much time away from the laptop. I have worried the online activities are not sinking in as much as the classroom activities would but what is the alternative? Our pre-Covid screen time rules have gone out the window, and left us negotiating time allowed for ‘free-time screen time’ versus allocated screen time for schoolwork.

During the pandemic I have learnt to pick my battles; core subjects have remained non-negotiable with others fading away. I can safely say my neighbors are pleased the French-horn was short lived. But the constant football and basketball (accidentally) being kicked over the wall into their garden I’m sure is wearing thin.

Parenting can be challenging at the best of times and the current pandemic is inevitably making parenting more stressful. Being a parent, teacher, and friend, has been incredibly difficult to maintain. I’m constantly questioning am I doing the right thing? Is my child happy? Somedays it feels like all I do is tell them to stop doing this or that or re-do their work again, whilst questioning is this what you produce at school or a special treat for me?

Balancing work and homeschooling are a challenge on their own, personally it is not something I would choose to do again. When my other half leaves for work each morning all jolly, all I can think is ‘take me with you!’ I personally do not feel qualified for this teacher role and welcome the time when I do not spend my evenings planning and researching tasks for the next day to keep my son immersed. As the weeks past trying to maintain professional at work was a thing of the past. Once your son pops into Zoom meeting to show the team his painting of a rainbow Heli-fish (Helicopter fish of course) it’s safe to say, our once bliss work-home balance has completely merged into one.

Reflecting on the last few months also gave me time to appreciate the fun memories we have made and cherish the time we have spent together. I have more appreciation for my son’s teacher’s than ever before, and I am fully prepared to apply for a place on ‘are you smarter than a 10-year-old.’

 

By Rachel O’Shea – Mental Health Advice Caseworker

Author: HFEHMind
Posted on: 8th September 2020


The Little Things Add Up

Since spending so much time at home during lockdown, I’ve realised I will do absolutely anything to put off little tasks. Whether its replying to a text; sending a parcel back at the post office; or sorting the flowers that are wilting in the kitchen; I just can’t seem to do it at the time at which it needs to be done.

Why is it so easy to look at these jobs and think, ‘I’ll sort that later’, knowing full well that it will be a long time before that happens. The list of jobs will then pile up, along with negative thoughts about myself for not being on top of things.

When I finally do these tasks, I feel a wave of relief and any anxiety I was experiencing is suddenly lessened. The more of these ‘odd jobs’ I do, the more my other worries – the ones I can’t do anything about – don’t seem as bad. Completing these tasks gives me an element of control, that during these corona times, is very hard to come by.

It’s taken me a while to realise this is the case. I don’t think I really appreciated the weight that these little ‘to-dos’ carry and the negative effect that endlessly putting them off can bring. But it makes sense, since we are so hugely influenced by our environment and it’s easy to forget that we need to look after it. Just by realising this, it doesn’t make it easy to suddenly do all of the boring chores I have waiting for me. Maybe I need to change the way I think about these tasks? Here are two suggestions that I’ve found helpful.

Firstly, I think it’s important to set aside enough time for the task. Not an abstract ‘later’, as we often do, prioritising other ‘more important’ things ahead of them. If we keep pushing them to the back of the queue, we’re not acknowledging the importance of them. Setting a specific time and completing the task can give you a sense of achievement.

It might also be useful to think of it as doing something for our ‘future self’.  It can be tricky to do something nice for ourselves as we often don’t see ourselves as deserving. It’s easy to put off the things we should do to feel better. But maybe it’s useful to think about the person you will become in an hour, or a week, month or year?  What if you were able to view your future self as a person who is worthy of being treated well? What if those tasks you put off, you complete as a ‘gift’ to  future you. Often, it’s a lot easier to do something nice for a stranger. For example doing the washing up late at night so that future you doesn’t have to come downstairs to dirty plates first thing in the morning.

This is just a reminder to take out your recycling, book in your car for that M.O.T and send that letter. Whether you just make enough time in your day, or imagine you’re doing it for your future self, you’ll definitely feel better for it.

By Emily Muntz

 

 

Author: HFEHMind
Posted on: 31st July 2020


What Is Hate Crime?

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) define hate crime as any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim, or anyone else, as being motivated by “hostility or prejudice” based on one or more of the following personal characteristics:

  • Race or ethnicity
  • Religion or beliefs
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Transgender identity

Hate incidents and hate crimes can take many forms including:

  • Physical attacks – including physical assault, damage to property, offensive graffiti, neighbour disputes and arson
  • Threat of attack – including offensive letters, abusive or obscene phone calls, intimidation, and unfounded, malicious complaints
  • Verbal abuse or insults – including offensive leaflets and posters, abusive gestures, dumping of rubbish outside homes or through letterboxes and bullying at school or in the workplace.
  • Threats, harassment, and bullying
  • Online abuse

There is no place for hate crime, it can have a significant impact on victims as it targets a fundamental part of their identity. We know from research that victims of hate crime are more likely to suffer repeat victimisation and serious psychological impact. Hate crime is also a damaging social problem that harms entire families and communities, as well as individual victims. Failure to recognise and effectively target hate crime and hate incidents can lead to victimisation of individuals and vulnerable groups, as well as the destabilisation of entire communities.

If you think you have been a victim of a hate crime or incident contact the police, victim support, your GP, a parent, safeguarding lead, tutor, teacher, counsellor, support worker, friend or colleague. It is important to report all Hate Crime.

Change takes courage.

 

By Carmen Coke-Alphonse – Mind HFEH Safeguarding Lead

 

Author: HFEHMind
Posted on: 17th July 2020


Mood on shuffle: how does music affect how we feel?

Music plays a central role in our lives, whether we realise it or not. It is frequently used to entertain and amuse us, as well as being a very powerful means of influence. Music is in everything around us; films and television, advertisements and even shops and restaurants have music playing in the background! But music goes beyond this, and it can be a powerful tool in allowing us to connect more with our emotions and get through challenging times.

Our brains are incredible.  They absorb information and enable us to learn patterns that we hear and their associations with different contexts. You only have to think of a scary film you’ve seen to remember that visceral reaction you felt throughout your body when the villain jumped out in front of the ‘good guy’ in a dark alleyway… Do you remember what music was playing in that scene? No? Well we can assume it probably wasn’t a jolly sounding folk tune as it’s unlikely that this would give you the same feeling of fear – we’re just too used to hearing this sort of music in a happy context such as Heidi to believe that a scare is coming…

But the amazing thing is, most of this happens without us even realising and there is so much more that music does behind the scenes. One study looked at the brains of people whilst they listened to music and saw an increase in activity and when people were playing instruments, they saw the whole brain light up. It also activates areas in the brain that can distract you from pain – that’s why music can really help if you’re exercising or getting a painful tooth filling.

Music genre is also important – when we listen to music we like, our brains release dopamine causing us to experience feelings of pleasure and it can also reduce our levels of stress hormone (cortisol) causing us to feel calmer. You might wonder then, why do we sometimes actively listen to sad music? One argument for this is that it makes us feel understood by the musician and therefore less alone. Certain music has also been found to help us use energy more efficiently and even improve our memory and learning ability. The benefits are endless!

Here are some ways you can use music to support your mood 

Find out how music affects you by asking yourself these questions:

  • Does it make you feel better or worse? Does it make your body feel a certain way?
  • Can it change your mood?
  • Are there any particular genres/artists/lyrics that you find helpful or unhelpful to listen to?

Create playlists for different moods and times of day

Or if you can’t be bothered to make your own, most music streaming sites have ready-made playlists. When I hit a block writing this I searched for ‘music to help you concentrate’, clicked play and sure enough, managed to get some more sentences down!

Don’t listen to songs associated with bad memories

Music is powerful in evoking memory which is great sometimes but less good when those memories are unpleasant.  If it brings up bad memories, skip the song!

Listen mindfully

How often do you listen properly to the lyrics in a song? Try really noticing the lyrics in songs you like and think about what they mean to you.

For musicians – try writing a piece of music yourself

It can be a great way of expressing your emotions and connecting with others (if you choose to share it!)

 

If you’d like to learn more about music and the brain click here.

 

By Molly Phillips

Author: HFEHMind
Posted on: 3rd July 2020


The Attitude of Gratitude: giving thanks is good for us

At HFEH Mind we do something called Wellbeing Wednesday tips. Every week, we ask someone different across our teams to reflect on what keeps them happy and well. This is then shared across the whole organisation for some mid-week inspiration.

After hitting a wall when it came to writing a blog post, I realised that there’s value in sharing what works for me. So today I’m talking about gratitude – something that I practice regularly and especially during stressful and difficult times, as a way to support my mental health.

You may think of gratitude as one of those ‘fluffy’ buzzwords. It links with wider self-care activities – another buzzword many people view simply as a hashtag on Instagram not to be taken seriously. However, self-care is any activity that we do deliberately to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. And in that sense, it’s incredibly important and plays a huge part in enhancing our resilience.

It’s safe to say that most people, if not all, are on that pursuit of happiness. Job satisfaction, a loving family, healthy and productive relationships, inner peace, freedom and adventure – whatever happiness looks like to you. However, in this indefinite pursuit of happiness, how often do we spare a minute to be genuinely thankful for what we already have?

In its simplest form, gratitude refers to a ‘state of thankfulness’ or a ‘state of being grateful’. In positive psychology, gratitude is a way of acknowledging the good things of life. Thanking others, thanking ourselves, Mother Nature, or indeed a much higher force – gratitude can enlighten the mind.

Appreciating what you have can have a healing effect, and can allow you to experience less frustration, envy, and regret. Personally, I’m somebody who experiences frequent imposter-syndrome. Not feeling quite good enough is something I have to manage daily. However, my gratitude practice helps. It forces me to reflect upon my mood, my relationships, my accomplishments – and clarify my priorities. What have I achieved so far that allows me to feel good right now? What am I thankful to have experienced? What everyday things do I have access to that I shouldn’t take for granted?

There’s no denying that gratitude in all forms is associated with happiness. Whether we say ‘thank you’ to someone or receive the same from others, we feel satisfied. Neural mechanisms that are responsible for feelings of gratitude have grabbed attention of researchers for years. Some studies have shown that when we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin – two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions. By consciously practicing gratitude every day, we can strengthen these neural pathways until it becomes a more natural state of being.

Now there’s also research that suggests gratitude can counteract depression, as well as support your physical health. The jury is still out on those studies – please do take them with a pinch of salt – practicing gratitude is certainly not the be all and end all of life satisfaction. However, I’ve found that it’s one method that allows me to appreciate life as I know it – and has been especially valuable to me at the moment. I’ve outlined some quick tips below for developing your own practice:

Invest in a journal

Disclaimer: I’ve always been a big fan of the journal and getting my thoughts and feelings out of my head and onto paper. Your journal doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive – it just has to be yours. You’ll invest more of your time and energy into something when you feel a connection to it. 

Accessibility

Find the right notepad or book that compels you to use it every day, and then keep it somewhere you typically frequent – perhaps on your nightstand so you’ll see it before you go to sleep or when you wake up each morning.

Set a realistic goal

Be realistic about how many things you’re thankful for – this will likely change with your mood that day. Try starting with five things and building from there. Sometimes you’ll approach your list feeling rubbish, and the idea of being thankful will seem ridiculous. When this has happened to me, I’ve written down that I’m grateful to actually be making the time.

Write it by hand (if you can!)

Try and keep things old school with your gratitude journal. I’ve found that there’s something about the kinetic process of writing it down by hand that allows me to be a bit more aware and thoughtful. However, a gratitude list should be something you want to do, not a chore. So if typing up 5 things on your computer helps you maintain the practice then do it! Don’t give up all together if you feel your habit slipping – switch your approach.

 

By Amy Woodward

Author: HFEHMind
Posted on: 18th June 2020


Our Supporters & Partners

X