Dear Friend…

In the latest of our blog series, ‘Dear Friend…’ volunteer and blogger Kara is answering some of the mental health and wellbeing questions we have during this challenging time. This week’s questions is about ideas and activites to help people express their emotions

‘During lockdown I have found it increasingly difficult to express my emotions. Can you suggest any activities I can try, which will help to improve my mood and maintain my wellbeing?’

Dear Friend

Lockdown restrictions, changes to the ‘stay safe’ messages and in our day to day lives have caused many challenges to maintain positive mental health. The fact you’re looking for some ways to improve your mood and promote your wellbeing shows what a great insight you have developed already, well done for that!

I feel that therapeutic creative classes can be a particularlyeffective tool to help with emotional expression, especially for those times whenwe can’t express our feelings in a constructive way, or for many of us when we discover we can’t express them at all! Creative expression enables us to either explore and reflect the emotions insideus or it can give us a break from the day to day stressors that we experience.

Creativity works

Here at Second Step we offer creative writing and therapeutic art sessions (including our new North Somerset Wellbeing classes) in various ways. We have writing for wellbeing live sessions on the Zoom platform. These are open to our enrolled Bristol Wellbeing College learners. We also have pre-recorded sessions on YouTube for mindful writing and therapeutic art sessions that are open to everyone in need of a boost.

These have been specially designed to help express and release difficult emotions. Our YouTube channel also hosts some fun wellbeing sessions like singing along with Martin,artistic sessions of pebble painting, therapeutic art, as well as a comforting baking cupcakes class with Sophie, for those times whenwe need warmth and a smile!

Our live sessions can be found here and the YouTube channel here.

Five Ways to Wellbeing

We believe maintaining the five ways to wellbeing can really help to ensurea better quality of life. Are these aspects of your life in balance?

  • Connection – Keep talking, skyping, emailing and texting, by using your support network or our phone support. Attend your therapy sessions, your Second Step group sessions, sign up for our online wellbeing cafes and explore your connections around you. If you need more support with this…check out our YouTube channel, or contact us through our website.
  • Learning – Gives us a sense of purpose, helps to build our self-esteem and to find who we are through the things we like.  The same goes for creating something; a batch of cupcakes, a piece of art or a poem. This connects us to our selves and shows us what can come out of focus and dedication. It also creates that much needed space for time out! We have some lovely sessions on Zoom including making picture postcards, mindful portraits, and making mindful pattern squares so do click above to see if there’s something of interest for you…
  • Take Notice – This is the technique of staying in the moment while being present. In particular this helps with stress relief or anxiety. Meditation and mindfulness are useful for reducing negative thoughts, plus regulating emotions and attention, when your mind is too busy for comfort. Click here for our pre-recorded take notice session with mindfulness exercises.
  • Be Active – Staying active promotes positive brain chemistry,:endorphins are our friends!. If you can get out in nature at the same time even better! If not, there are lots of resources online to explore. If you are a beginner like me, try this video it promotes real people and real fitness rather than an unachievable goal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0c-4nZjIWQ&t=650s
  • Give – Everyone has something to give. Ass a member of the community there are so many little gifts that can make a difference to another: a smile, a gift of time for a group or a favour for one of your neighbours. To explore this further click here.

To support our wellbeing, we need to pay attention to both our physical and emotional selves.      We call it boosting your mood, there are three parts to this: food, sleep and activities.

A balanced diet is key, so healthy nutritious food from all the food groups incorporating as much fruit and vegetables as possible, good sleep hygiene, which you can read about in one of my previous blogs which looks at sleep in more detail here and then making time for activities that you enjoy is important.

Second Step are currently running a #WhatMakesMeWell campaign on social media,sharing stories of how art and creativity have kept clients from our North Somerset Wellbeing College well during Covid-19. So do join us and help turn social media into a more positive space…

Follow #WhatMakesMeWell on Instagram here.

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