Staff across University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) are being encouraged to ‘Be Mindful’ and try something new in order to improve their personal health and wellbeing.
The Trust launched the #FlourishAtWork campaign in March 2016 to raise awareness of the impact that physical and mental health can have on our daily lives – both inside and outside of the workplace – and how small changes can make a huge difference to how we think and feel.
Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive, UHMBT, said: “So far, we have been focusing on the benefits from moving more and exercising, and also the impact good nutrition and hydration has on the way we feel.
“As important as looking after our physical health is taking care of our mental health. This is why we are using this newest stage of our Flourish campaign to help staff understand why being mindful is so important. Nowadays, people lead busy lifestyles, and sometimes achieving a healthy work life balance can be difficult. In some cases, this imbalance may cause people to feel stressed or anxious.
“Being mindful isn’t about just clearing your mind. It is about learning to be aware of your thoughts and feelings and how you deal with the ones that aren’t important or relevant to the moment. It isn’t a new ‘fad’; the practice has been around for thousands of years and studies have found that it can help reduce physical and psychological stress and bring positive changes in well-being.”
Each stage of the Flourish at Work campaign has included a challenge for UHMBT staff, and the Be Mindful stage is no different. Evidence suggests that learning something new and getting creative can help your wellbeing and mental health. That’s why, UHMBT staff are being challenging to clear their minds and do something creative for ten minutes a day, three to four times a week.
To help give them a head start, the Trust is giving away mindful colouring books and origami sets to staff who want to take part in the challenge, and asking that they share photos of their creations each week, along with a rating of how they felt after doing the activity.
David Walker, Medical Director, UHMBT said, “Mindfulness is about considering the experiences and thoughts that influence how we feel and act. It helps us to learn to be aware of our thoughts and feelings and how we deal with the ones that aren’t important or relevant to the moment. Being aware in this way can also help us to notice signs of stress and anxiety early and deal with them better.
“Our challenge is a fun way for staff to give being mindful a go, but it is only one of the ways staff can get involved. Other ways include mindfulness taster sessions, our first Health and Wellbeing day on 9 November, meditation courses, stress questionnaires, relaxation videos, stress toy giveaways, and much more.
“Everyone, regardless of age, can benefit from being mindful so we are actively encouraging everyone, not just UHMBT staff, to give it a try. It can help some people who experience mental health problems, such as stress, anxiety and depression, but it’s also for those who simply want to improve their mental health and wellbeing.”
There are lots of ways that we can all be more mindful in our days to day lives. Here are just a few examples from NHS Choices:
- Take notice of yourself: Remind yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you
- Notice the ‘every day’ things to interrupt our ‘autopilot’: Things such as the sensations of things, the food we eat, the air moving past the body as we walk, etc
- Try new things: From as simple as sitting in a different seat in meetings or going somewhere new for lunch; to new sports or travel destinations
- Watch your thoughts: Notice your thoughts but don’t be tempted to indulge in them. A handy tip is to imagine yourself standing at a bus station and seeing ‘thought buses’ coming and going without having to get on them and be taken away
- Name thoughts and feelings: some people find it helpful to silently name them: “Here’s the thought that I might fail that exam”. Or, “This is anxiety”
- Free yourself from the past or future: If you find yourself ‘trapped’ in the past or future for more than a few minutes, use the mindful approach to bring you back to the here and now
More information on the Trust’s Flourish campaign and updates on how staff are getting on with creative challenge can be found on the Trust’s website at: https://www.uhmb.nhs.uk/flourish/.
For more information on the benefits of being mindful, visit NHS Choices at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/mindfulness.aspx