We have put together a collection of wellbeing sessions, click on the links below. We will be adding to these sessions regularly so please check back for more ideas.
Action for Happiness Calendars
Action for Happiness creates inspirational calendars each month. Each month has a theme, take a look at this month’s calendar on the below link. You can download the calendar as an image for sharing or a PDF for printing… maybe you could save it as your screen saver as a reminder each day!
Treat yourself like you would your best friend!
Imagine you are your best friend – what would you tell yourself right now – try looking in a mirror and telling you, your best friend, what you love about yourself and what you are grateful for about yourself – an achievement, an attribute, anything – and there will be things – think long enough and we are confident you will have a list!
5-minute breathing meditation
Sometimes as soon as we wake up we rush around, being very busy. So we are going to give our self permission to stay still and take a few moments to become aware of the environment around us, noticing the quality of the light in the room or wherever you happen to be; noticing the sounds indoors and the sounds outdoors, and gently tune into your breath and prepare yourself for the day.
Breath is always there to use if we are feeling anxious or stressed, the breath can help us to feel grounded and calm. Don’t worry if you did not manage to focus on your breath, but to congratulate yourself for having a go.
Please listen to a 5-minute breathing meditation:
Take some time to focus on your body, movement and your posture in a mindful way. Moving your body in a mindful way is much different than exercise or working out. This is about tuning into your body. One way you can move your body is by looking at the sky, the flowers, the trees and the environment you are surrounded by. Find a way to move that makes your body feel good, maybe try yoga or a gentle walk.
To get you started here is a 5-minute yoga, link for it below.
Here’s an exercise to help with your motivation, and who better to do this than Mr Motivator himself.
Mr Motivator is back on the BBC encouraging the nation to enjoy exercise with his unique style. Enjoy, this really made us smile.
Drinking water is important, we all know that, we can last weeks without food but only a few days without water. 60% of our body is made up of water so being dehydrated can affect us both physically and mentally.
Benefits of drinking water include:
- It may improve our memory and mood
Research has shown that even mild dehydration can affect memory and mood. The brain needs water too.
- It may help to manage anxiety
- It can help reduce sugar cravings.
Being thirsty can often be mistaken for being hungry. Next time you have a sugar craving, try a glass of water first.
- It may improve exercise performance.
- It may help prevent constipation
- It may help prevent kidney stones
- It may help reduce headaches and migraines
- It may help reduce the risk of bladder infections
- It may help to reduce a hangover
The NHS recommends that we drink between 6-8 glasses or cups of water a day, though this need to be increased during exercise and during hot weather as we lose water through sweat.
So what have you got to lose, tap water is free and Manchester has some of the best tap water in the country!
Have a laugh
When we laugh we produce more positive thoughts. Each time we laugh, smile and connect joyfully with one another we are creating new positive neural pathways in the brain, which affect us physically and mentally.
When we think positively we see more possibilities, more opportunities – the world widens in front of our eyes (our peripheral vision literally expands). Laughing helps us to be optimistic, to look for solutions, to become hopeful and happier. It helps us focus on what is going well rather than what has gone wrong.
Laughing helps keep us cheerful, even when times get tough.
Make a playlist
Research suggests that music can stimulate the body’s natural feel-good chemicals (e.g. endorphins, oxytocin). It can help energise our mood and provide an outlet for us to take control of our feelings. Music can even help us work through problems in our lives.
Maybe put a list of music together that makes you feel good and lifts your mood. Our Wellbeing Coordinator, Jeanette has chosen this song as a starter for her list. What will be on yours?
Try some origami
Origami is an ancient, peaceful craft that is not just for children it can also be used as a way to enhance mindfulness for people of all ages. As the mind starts to get absorbed, you give in to the moment and let yourself be distracted. As the design comes into fruition, you feel a sense of satisfaction and achievement. Not only does it allow you to be in and focus on the present it can also be a way of showing appreciation to your friends and loved ones by giving them your creations.
There are many online tutorials, her’s a link to making an plane as it reminds me of my childhood. Get ready to watch those plane fly!
The Five Senses
Why not try to sit comfortably, maybe put some light background music on, and spend some time concentrating on:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
If you enjoyed this exercise you can follow this link to a short meditation for inner peace with the wonderful Yogi Adriene. Get comfy and enjoy your ‘refresh and reset’.
One of our Wellbeing Coordinators, Jeanette shares some tips about her sleep routine:
I don’t know about you but since the government restrictions my sleep routine has gone out of the window, I have found it hard to sleep at night. Here are some tips that might help if you are having the same problem.
Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep.
Avoid napping in the afternoon. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.
Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eyeshades, earplugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you and objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up during the night.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening. Alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine can disrupt sleep. Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep. If you can, avoid eating large meals for two to three hours before bedtime. Try a light snack 45 minutes before bed if you’re still hungry.
Time to wind down. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading. For some people, using an electronic device such as a laptop can make it hard to fall asleep, because the particular type of light emanating from the screens of these devices is activating to the brain. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid electronics before bed or in the middle of the night.
Do something relaxing. If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine.
If you’re still having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor or to find a sleep professional. You may also benefit from recording your sleep in a Sleep Diary to help you better evaluate common patterns or issues you may see with your sleep or sleeping habits.
One of our Wellbeing Coordinators, Jeanette talks about her pets helping her cope while she has been at home:
I found my dog and cat have been a godsend, while I have been working from home my dog knows when I feeling a bit blue and he is always there wanting to comfort me. When we go for walks first thing in the morning it’s nice to go out in the fresh air and hear all the birds singing and watching the squirrels playing. This lifts my mood and sets me up for the day. The last thing at night my cat comes for a snuggle which sets me up for the night.
If you don’t have a dog go for that morning walk and listen and look for all the different birds and wonderful thing that you have been missing out on, maybe take pictures of the birds and find out what type of bird it is, look for a red squirrel which is very rarely seen.
Pets, especially dogs and cats can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. Caring for an animal can help children grow up more secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults.
Here are a couple of pictures of Jeanette’s pets!
Fly over Rochdale
Why not make some time to make yourselves a cup of tea and see if you can spot any familiar landmarks or maybe yours or a friend’s house as you watch the drone footage flying over Rochdale!
It was filmed in 2018, what you can you spot that has changed?
10 Minute Workout
Today’s wellbeing session promotes physical activity. The NHS have created 6 lots of 10 minutes work outs, one for every day of the week including a rest day. They’re equipment free too and are short enough to fit into your break time!
Does it sometimes feel like your mind jumps from one thing to another or your thoughts are swirling around instead of leading you to the conclusion you need? Maybe you open your mouth and find it difficult to express yourself? Here you can read about how journaling could be great for your wellbeing and can be used as a stepping stone to talk about certain feelings and situations that are difficult to express.
How are your muscles and joints finding working from home during lockdown? Whether you’re propped up at a kitchen table or another temporary workstation, you may not have the same supportive setup that you would in an office. You may find that your shoulders, neck or back are hurting after long days spent sitting down awkwardly.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. Try these stretches, specially designed for you to do at your desk or wherever you’re sitting with your computer, to help ease the strain.
Grow Vegetables from Scraps
Isn’t it wonderful when you nurture something and watch it grow? You may be surprised to learn that there are many common vegetables that can be re-grown from scraps… and this link shows you how! This could be a lovely little project for your windowsill at home.
Simple Foot Massage
Why not try relieving any stress you are feeling with a simple foot massage that you can do on yourself. Reflexologist Michelle Ebbin shares some quick and easy ways to relieve stress by massaging the solar plexus reflex point!
3 Minute Meditation
Deepak Chopra, physician, educator and author of “You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why It Matters,” leads you through a short 3 minute meditation to help you focus on the day ahead.
Create a Self Soothe Box
Young Minds’ blog talks about how to make a self soothe box. It’s a great way to help you feel more grounded and relaxed. It’s aimed at young people but it’s a lovely idea for all ages!
You can find and gather things that help you to feel calm, or that engage your senses. You might choose a scented candle, your favourite picture or snack, cards, a book, a bit of play dough or soft material. Put your objects into a box so you can come back to them any time you want to relax and feel calm.
Creativity and art therapy are valuable tools for emotional wellness. One tool you can use may be right in your pocket attached to your phone… a camera.
Picking up a camera helps to not only be present and creative, but you are actually practising mindfulness, which reduces stress and helps leave you balanced and ready to take on the rest of your day. This article takes you through top tips for capturing a mindful photo
Here’s a video from meditation expert, Jody Shield showing her stress relief ‘tapping’ exercise which you can do in 2 minutes.
Her “tapping” exercise, which she uses to tap on the feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out consists of a series of tapping movements on various parts of the body to be done while repeating both negative and positive sentences like “I feel stressed out and overwhelmed” or “I choose to relax.”
Draw a Scribbly Cactus
Creative activities are important for staying healthy and connecting with the world, and evidence shows that making art lowers stress and anxiety.
This wellbeing session is a video on how to draw a Scribbly Cactus! This isn’t for ‘arty’ people – this is for everyone! No prior drawing experience is required, you can take part even if you haven’t drawn anything for years or are totally new to drawing.
All you need is:
2. Pen or pencil
This session guides you through a body scan which flows through each part of your body and leaves you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Cognitive Shuffle Technique
If you ever have trouble sleeping the Cognitive Shuffle is designed to interfere with the kind of thoughts that keep you awake, helping you to drift off to sleep.
The importance of being kind to yourself
This article talks about how important it is to be kinder to ourselves in difficult times. My favourite tip from it is to write a letter showing support and comfort and address it to yourself.
Deep Breathing Exercise
This wellbeing session guides you through a deep breathing exercise. Once you’ve learnt these steps you can take this exercise anywhere with you and use it whenever you feel tense.
You can read more about these steps and the benefits of deep breathing here:
- Sit upright in a comfortable chair with your feet placed side by side on the floor. Close your eyes.
- Place one hand on your belly, with your pinky finger just above your belly button.
- Start to pay attention to the rise and fall of your belly. What you are feeling is your diaphragm, working to draw air in and out of your lungs.
- Notice that as you breathe in, it feels like a balloon is being filled with your hand. As you breathe out it should feel like the balloon is deflating.
- Place your other hand on your chest. You will want to try to keep this hand as still as possible and to just let the diaphragm do all of the work of breathing. While you are at it, keep your shoulders relaxed — you don’t need your shoulders to breathe!
- Inhale slowly to the count of three.
- Then exhale slowly to the count of three, thinking the word “relax” as you do so.
- Stay focused on the action of your diaphragm. Your bottom hand should move outward as you fill your lungs with air and move inward as you exhale.
World Earth Day
To mark World Earth Day and to celebrate its 50th anniversary here is a fascinating video that explains the secret language of trees.
They check in with their neighbours, share food, supplies and wisdom gained over their lives, all while rooted in one place. Something that feels very real to us at the moment.
Peregrine Falcons at Rochdale Town Hall
Peregrine falcons have been nesting outside the clock tower at Rochdale Town Hall since 2008… and you can watch them here! I hope you enjoy watching these beautiful birds throughout their nesting period as they raise their young at the top of Rochdale’s most historic building.
10 Minute Mindfulness
This relaxation exercise is from the Mental Health Foundation and is narrated by Mindfulness expert, Professor Mark Williams. It features a series of breathing and visualisation techniques.
For a bit of fun, here are a couple of riddles, get yourselves a cup of tea and your thinking caps!
Did you know that birds are actually dinosaurs? The only surviving dinosaur! You can use the spring weather to do a spot of bird watching either from your garden or your window. Birdwatching can help you connect with nature, it can be calming and meditative, it could also be a welcome change of scenery from your desk and computer.
This article helps you spot 19 common British birds, which ones will you see?
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This session guides you through a Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise. This uses a technique that involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups leaving your body feeling relaxed and calm.
Is it an apple? Is it a tree? It looks a bit like a dog with a handbag. How about trying a spot of cloud watching through your window or, if you can, safely go out to your front or back garden. This exercise encourages us to be in the moment and use our imagination. It can be very relaxing too. Even if the clouds are dark, gloomy or floaty, staring at the sky can fill you with awe and wonder! If you see any funny shapes do share. You can also look at these facts about clouds from the Met Office:
5 Minute Meditation
Here’s a meditation which focuses on being thankful and appreciative. Relax for the next 5 minutes and listen to his calming words…
We all have a little voice within ourselves that tells us when we can or cannot do something and most often that little voice is giving us a million and one reasons why we can’t. Positive affirmations are a great tool to rewire our subconscious mind and therefore train our little voice from being in a state of negative thinking to a positive one.
- Step 1. Choose a negative thought – For example, ‘I can never do anything right’
- Step 2. Externalise the negative thought – Write down the negative thought, tear it up and throw it away
- Step 3. Find the opposite – Instead of saying ‘I can never do anything right’ say ‘I believe in my skills and abilities’
- Step 4. Say it out loud and repeat to yourself
Here’s a chair yoga exercise. It’s a great way to stretch those muscles and leave your body and mind feeling refreshed…
This is a guided meditation, find yourself a comfortable place to sit or lie and enjoy…
Leaves on a Stream
This wellbeing session is about noticing your thoughts, good and bad, and letting them pass by. Click the link, close your eyes and imagine the most beautiful stream….
Yoga for better sleep
You may be noticing that your sleep is being affected during the lockdown, this article takes you through some steps you can take before bed to help you drift into a deeper sleep including 5 restful yoga poses.
If you’re working from home your hands may be feeling tension from spending a lot of time at your keyboard, here are some hand stretches to help ease those small muscles that we seem to be using so much at the moment!
We are here for you during these difficult times. If you need support with your mental health and wellbeing please contact us.
Our confidential Information Line remains open and can be reached on 01706 752 338 or 0800 107 0729. If we are unable to get to the phone please leave a message and we will call you back.
We are open to new referrals. You can self-refer on our website, please click on this link.