Wellness Wednesdays at New Directions

Lifting spirits

The start of a New Year often brings certain challenges to many, however with national lockdowns, the cold mornings and dark nights, we knew we had to do something extra special to ensure spirits were lifted for everyone at New Directions.

HR Manager and accredited Mental Health First Aider, Alex Rowlands is extremely passionate about the wellbeing of our staff.

“It’s all too easy to forget our own wellbeing, investing just a little time in ourselves can make all the difference. We compromise daily with every day things, so let’s stop for a moment and reflect on what you can all do differently each day to promote self-care.”

“Many of us are finding the lockdown harder than ever so we were very excited to introduce “Wellness Wednesdays” to provide useful tips and motivational challenges to encourage all employees to keep a positive mindset and promote self-care.”

Alex Rowlands, HR Manager

From healthy cooking challenges and ten-minute exercise routines to our very own uplifting New Directions playlist on Spotify, everyone in the company got involved, and spirits were certainly lifted, so we’re delighted to share our top tips in hope to help others in these difficult times.

Tip 1: A balanced & healthy diet

A healthy diet not only helps you maintain a healthy weight and immune system, but it also does wonders for your mood and energy levels.

Try introducing Super Foods into your diet. Not only are they tasty but they are great for you! This includes berries, fish, leafy greens, nuts, whole grains, yoghurt, legumes, and tomatoes.

The high vitamin and mineral content found in superfoods can help your body ward off diseases and keep you healthier. When incorporated into a well-balanced diet, these foods can promote heart health, weight loss, improve energy levels and even reduce the effects of aging.

The clue is in the word Super.

Tip 2: Get moving

For many, the thought of exercise can be weighed down with feelings of stress and obligation. But all exercise really is, is movement and moving doesn’t need to feel like a chore. It is one of your body’s most basic functions after all!

As well as the physical positives of exercise, moving your body can also improve your mood and help towards combating anxiety, depression and stress. Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking will increase your mental alertness, energy, and help elevate your mood.

Your daily exercise could be as simple as going for a walk. Dependant on your circumstances, if this is a lap of the garden or a walk to the shop, it all makes a difference. Try making things more exciting by including a daily step challenge that is suitable to you!

Take a look at these top tips for staying active, even whilst sat at your computer from Alex and Dr Ben Matthew from At 36.

Tip 3: Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water each day is crucial; to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood. If you’re not the biggest fan of water consider other healthy fluids such as no added sugar squashes, low fat milk or herbal teas. Or why not make your water more interesting by adding lemon or some cucumber! For more ideas click here.

Tip 4: Listen to music

Did you know that music releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical in your brain? And your dopamine levels could go up to 9% higher when listening to some of your favourite music. Because of this, we created our own uplifting music playlist for all our staff to tap into when they feel themselves going a bit flat. Give it a listen!

Tip 5: Take time to relax

Relaxation techniques can help you cope with everyday stress. Here is our guide to relaxing the mind and body:

Relaxing the mind

– Take slow, deep breaths or try other breathing exercises for relaxation
– Have a soak in a warm bath
– Listen to soothing music
– Practice mindful meditation
– Keep a journal – some people feel more relaxed after they write about their feelings
– Take time away from technical appliances

Relaxing the body

– Do yoga. You can get books and videos to do at home or take a yoga class
– Take a walk or do some other activity. Making time to do things you enjoy can also help you relax
– Get a massage or have someone give you a back/neck rub
– Have a warm drink that doesn’t have alcohol or caffeine in it, such as herbal tea or warm milk
– Rest, let the hussle and buzzle of life just stop for a while to take a rest

Tip 6: Don’t be afraid to ask for support

It’s a difficult time for many and there is no shame in admitting you’re struggling. By talking to others about how you’re feeling you can break down stereotypes, improve relationships, aid recovery and take the stigma out of something that affects many of us.

There are a number of apps, support lines and free programs out there to help you through whatever you’re feeling if you’re struggling to find someone close to you to talk to. See below support options:

Support Lines

Samaritans – freephone – 116 123 – www.samaritans.org
Saneline – 0300 304 7000 – www.san.org.uk
Anxiety UK – 08444 775 774 – www.anxietyuk.org.uk
OCD Action – 0845 390 6232 – www.ocdaction.org.uk
Bereavement Advice Centre – 0800 634 9494 – www.bereavementadvice.org
Debt – Stepchange – 0800 138 1111 – www.stepchange.org
National Debtline – 0808 808 4000 – www.nationaldebtline-org
Depression UK – www.depressionuk.org
Family Lives – 0808 800 2222 – www.familylives.org.uk

Free Apps

Headspace – www.headspace.com
Moodscope – www.moodscope.com
Sleepio – www.sleepio.com
Wellness Recovery Action Planning

Always be kind to yourself!