By: Athena Kung
As the UK enters into another nation-wide lockdown, taking care of your mental health has never been more important. In light of today (Friday 6th November) being Stress Awareness Day, here at the SLAs we thought we would compile a list of some favourites to hopefully inspire or encourage a more stress-free lifestyle. After all, the most sustainable thing we can do for ourselves is to start by looking after ourselves from the inside out, ensuring every day we are at our best, and in the now. With life having shifted significantly owing to COVID-19 for so many around the world, and changing yet again in the UK now, it’s never been more important to start looking out for ourselves, and incorporating elements of self-care into our daily routines, in whatever way we can. So whether it’s taking a few minutes every day to pause and reflect, finding new additions to incorporate into your daily routine, or reaching out to loved ones for emotional support, it’s all about finding a balance that works for you.
Note: the below are suggestions only, of what we like to do to look after ourselves from the inside out, here at the SLAs. They are not meant to be taken as professional advice and suggestions.
Journalling works differently for everyone, but in general journalling is the process of articulating your thoughts, feelings, goals, struggles and the like in a tangible, written form. Journalling is an individual and unique process, and so there really isn’t a ‘right’ way to journal. Some people find journalling helps them see links between feelings, thoughts and behaviours, while others find that it helps them clear their head and destress, after a particularly overwhelming day at work. The process of journalling also helps some individuals know themselves better, and be more self-aware of what they like, what their boundaries are, and any unhealthy habits they might have.
On a whole, journalling has been found to:
have a significant impact on one’s mental health;
boost an individual’s mood;
manage stress, anxiety, and depression;
help an individual work through and process previous traumatic events.
While we can’t exactly offer step-by-step instructions on how to journal, we do have a sustainable journal in mind worth checking out:
A family-run business based in Nantes, France, where respecting the environment is key, when it comes to their journal-making process.
In particular, the cardboard used for the journal is recognised by the Blue Angel, the eco-label of the federal government of Germany (a bit of context: the Blue Angel is considered a reliable guide for sustainable consumption, and has been setting high standards for environmentally-friendly product design for over 40 years). Paper is sourced from durable forests, and comes from 100% recycled fibers (FSC, PEFC and ISO 14001 labels). It’s also whitened without chlorine, minimising water pollution during the production process.
Journalling while wishing to live a more sustainable lifestyle has never been easier. Especially when CALEPINO’s journals are made entirely of recycled materials, and without any dangerous substances. Oh and, each journal is individually controlled and assembled by hand. Talk about unique.
After a long day of Zoom calls and staring at a screen, there’s no better way to relax and wind down for the evening, then lighting a candle. The soft, subtle scent of a lit candle, slowly diffusing around the room. The gentle flicker of the candlelight, casting a delicate warm glow. But it’s not just the aesthetics of lighting a candle - the soft illumination also helps us to calm down and reach a more meditative state, perfect for winding down after a day’s work. Here’s a favourite of ours:
Sustainable scents for the home inspired by life in Durham, a small picturesque town in the Northeast of
England. Candles are created with your health and wellbeing in mind. Shunning paraffin wax (a substance which releases harmful fumes when burned), South Road Studio candles are created with a natural blend of coconut, rapeseed, and Paraben-free fragrance oils. Candles are produced individually by hand in Durham, and shipped with sustainable materials too
Pick from scents inspired by the iconic Durham Cathedral, or a stroll along the Riverside. It’s time to kick back and relax, with confidence there are no toxic fumes around you.
If candles aren’t really your thing (especially with young children, or energetic furry friends), diffusers are an alternative to helping aid relaxation, reflection and rejuvenation.
Made with a non-toxic oil base, and using sustainably-sourced willow reeds, Bamford’s luxury diffusers scent your home for up to 6 months. Bamford was created to encourage a more conscious and nurtured living; a slower pace of life, being mindful of our eco-footprint, and looking after the earth.
Bamford has also been awarded the Butterfly Mark by Positive Luxury, in recognition of their sustainable commitments company-wide. Products are created following careful assessment of the entire supply chain - from the raw materials used, to packaging and shipping.
Sit back, and take a few moments to reflect and pause. What went well today? What was a happy thing that happened today? What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
Looking after our body itself is also quite literally, another form of self-care. Not only can mental health affect your skin, your skin can also affect your mental health, especially by having a routine. In light of all the uncertainty and changes in our lives today, having a skincare routine can help to add some structure and stability back into our lives.
A favourite of ours is ede - a vegan and organic skincare and wellness project with a mission to incorporate aromatherapy into our daily lives. Firm believers that how we feel in our mind and body reflects on our skin, ede plays on our sense of smell to help us take ownership of our wellness. Sometimes, maybe what we’re missing is an uplifting scent to get us ready for the day ahead. What better way to start the day, than with a skincare routine that smells good, and helps us feel good on the inside too?
Reaching out to loved ones
In addition to caring for our physical well-being, it’s equally important to care for our emotional well-being too. Having to be apart from family and loved ones is not easy, and everyone copes with this distance in their own way. Sometimes, a phone call while on a walk does wonders. Or maybe, setting time aside every day to call a friend or family member, and just catching up uninterrupted, for an hour. Whatever means you employ, just remember that your loved ones are always here for you, and they really are just a call away. Just like how comforting it is for you to hear the voice of your loved ones, it’s just as comforting for them, to hear yours. Share how you’re feeling, the good and the bad. We might be living in lockdown and in isolation from our loved ones, but that doesn’t mean we have to be emotionally distanced too.
Something we came across when wishing to send mail to loved ones, was #PositivePost by Bookblock. Bookblock are raising money for the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal, to help ensure that NHS staff and volunteers have everything they need to care for themselves. #PositivePost was created with support from 60 contributors, and consists of a range of free isolation-inspired postcards to help you reach out to loved ones during these strange times, and all you need to pay is a postage fee.
All they ask in return is a donation of an amount of your choice, to the COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.
(Image by: Neil Stevens)
Practicing mindfulness and taking deep breaths is something we love to do with Calm.
Calm creates unique audio content to help tackle the largest mental health challenges of today: anxiety, insomnia, stress and depression. Choose from the app’s content library, get comfy and warm, and lose yourself to the audio programs taught by world-renowned mindfulness experts, at any time and place.
Another app we’re loving is Balance.
Balance is the world’s first personalised meditation app. Instead of browsing through prerecorded content, the app begins by asking you about your goals and meditation history.
You’ll then be offered a tailored meditation experience, based off of what you want to achieve. Balance is currently extending their free one-year membership offer until November 30th. You can unlock your free year by downing the app from the Apple App store now.
It’s okay to feel alone, confused, lost, and/or uncertain. So many people are feeling these feelings now as well. But know that while you might be physically apart from your loved ones, they are only physically away from you, and not emotionally disconnected. If it’s some time to yourself that you need, it’s okay to do that too, and set up the boundaries you need, to protect the place and space you are in now. What we all do to feel okay differs, and so it’s okay to set up all the boundaries and distance that you need, if that’s what helps you cope. Just remember to feel everything you need to feel, and do what you need to do, to feel better. It’s so important to be in the now.
If you do find yourself struggling, and would rather talk to someone outside of your household and support bubble, you can reach out to the following contacts, free of charge:
Calling Samaritans, at 116123 (UK-wide)
Texting SHOUT to 85258 (UK-wide).
In this article we’ve compiled a short list of our top favourites, and we hope they serve as a practical solution of some sort, as the UK enters into a second lockdown. Whilst there’s so much uncertainty and frustration floating around, and it’s so easy to lose ourselves in these negative thoughts, we hope that reading this article has inspired you in some way to be more conscious, present and mindful, during such a precarious time we find ourselves in. If self-care was never part of your daily routine previously, we hope that reading this article has inspired you in some way to care for yourself, during the second lockdown.
If you are able to, below are some mental health charities to support:
Anxiety UK (Charity providing support to those who have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition)
Men’s Health Forum (24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email)
Mental Health Foundation (Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities)
Mind (Promotes the vies and needs of people with mental health problems)
Papyrus (Young suicide prevention society)
Refuge (Advice on dealing with domestic violence)