It seems that more and more people are currently feeling the negative mental health effects of lockdown, so it has never been more important to practice a bit of self-care. You could be forgiven if your self-care has suffered over the last year what with lockdown keeping you away from your usual activities and perhaps money worries or job loss limiting what you can spend on your wellbeing.
But the good news is you don’t need to spend anything - there are plenty of free alternatives here in Wales that can help boost your mood and your mental and physical wellbeing without spending a penny!
We’ve rounded up our favourite freebies for exercising the body and mind:
Focus on the Present
ACTivate Your Life – This free online course from NHS Wales is designed to help you improve your mental health and wellbeing and to control and cope with any feelings of anxiety. It teaches practical ways of dealing with thoughts and feelings that may be causing you distress. ACTivate Your Life was developed by a doctor and it fits in with the NHS Wales message that has been rolled out during the pandemic – ‘Help Us Help You’, which encourages people to take charge of their wellbeing by using self-care methods where they can.
Learn Something New
Openculture – Openculture offers free online courses, movies, podcasts, books and lectures from the great and the good, too, on any topic you can imagine. Learning a new skill or expanding your knowledge can give you a real sense of achievement which is great for your self-esteem.
Netflix – Netflix isn’t just there to help you binge on Bridgerton and The Queen’s Gambit, you can dip into handy bite-sized meditation sessions on there too, delivered via the Headspace programme. Why not give it a go and calm your mind? https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/81280926
Train Your Mind
Silvercloud – the Silvercloud Online CBT programmes give people in Wales access to practical ways of boosting mental health and of creating a more positive mindset. To access the service, you should be 16 or over, have mild to moderate levels of depression, anxiety or stress, have a GP in Wales, or be a resident in Wales and not be receiving secondary care services. This is another service provided by NHS Wales that people are being steered towards, to encourage them to 'Help Us, Help You'. https://nhswales.silvercloudhealth.com/signup/
NHS Wales free home workout videos – Daily physical exercise is essential for physical and mental wellbeing, and you can access free home-workouts online for all abilities. Some just last for ten minutes, so you can ease yourself in slowly if you need to.
Eat More Healthily
NHS One You Eat Better – Lockdown has seen many of us comfort eat a bit more, and there is something about this time of year that makes us all reach for the hot chocolate or the red wine more often. The NHS One You Eat Better programme is a handy online resource and app that helps you make simple swaps and changes to cut down on fat, sugar and salt. It has some great, tempting recipes to set you on the right path.
Sleeping tips on YouTube – Deep, satisfying sleep is vital for helping us feel good and function well. There are any number of useful videos on YouTube to dip into for sleeping tips – just don’t watch them minutes before bed. We need to power-down long before bed-time!
CALL Mental Health Listening Line – This valuable 24/7 resource means there is always someone at the end of the phone if you need a listening ear. CALL can also signpost to support in your local community and a range of online information. Call 0800132737, text 'help' to 81066 or visit callhelpline.org.uk
Volunteering Wales – Volunteering can help you feel as if you are doing something useful, it can take you mind off your worries and it can help you feel connected to other people and your community. There are many ways to volunteer while you are staying at home, for example through befriending someone who needs support over the phone. You can find ways to help at Volunteering Wales.
All of these tools are designed to help you integrate self-care into your daily life, but it is important to remember that if you are having a more serious mental health issue you should talk to your GP in the first instance.