Running for Mind
On Sunday 22 April, I took part in this year's London Marathon. My goal was to raise £1,000 for Mind, as well as to run 26.2 miles around one of my favourite cities.
I remember watching the London Marathon on the television as a child, full of admiration for the people taking part, dreaming that I might get to take part in it one day and, of course, looking out for familiar faces (famous and unknown) on the screen.
Despite those dreams, it was only in adulthood that I stared entering races. Initially, I took part in 5K races to raise money for charity. Gradually I built up to 10K races and, eventually, half marathons.
Each year I would enter the ballot for a London Marathon, taking my chances along with hundreds and thousands of hopeful entrants, and each year I received the 'sorry you haven't got a place' letter. That was, until October 2016, when the letter I had been hoping for arrived.... congratulations, it said, you're in!
I immediately decided that I would run for Mind. A dear friend of mine, Fog, had died in the summer of 2014 and Mind had been his family's chosen charity. That decision made, I set up a fundraising page, downloaded a training plan and hit the pavements.
My training was going really well until the spring of 2017, when I picked up an unfortunate knee injury. The good news was that my knee hadn't suffered any structural damage, the bad news was that recovery times for injuries like mine were unpredictable. I deferred my London Marathon place and crossed my fingers that I would be back training in time for the 2018 London Marathon.
It was during the months that I couldn't run that I realised how much I relied on running to release the stresses and strains of everyday life. I was one of the lucky ones though, and by September 2017, I was able to start my training again. It was very strange to start with, I couldn't even run 5K. Slowly, but surely, the distance I could cover increased and I started to believe that I would make it around the marathon, even if I had to walk some of the way.
The winter of 2017/2018 wasn't great for those of us with marathon places, but I held fast to the dream of completing the London Marathon and stuck to my training plan despite the snow and rain.
April 2018 arrived, marathon day got closer, and the weather improved. The improvement was so great, that the 2018 London Marathon was the hottest to date.
I can honestly say that the London Marathon was the most wonderful experience. It exceeded all my expectations and I will admit to squealing with joy as I crossed Tower Bridge! Along the way I met the most incredible people, many of whom were running to raise money for charities close to their hearts. The sense of community I shared with the other Mind runners and the amazing Mind supporters helped to keep my spirits raised. I enjoyed every moment of the race, which is just as well as it took me 6 hours and 34 minutes to get to the finish line!
Thanks to my amazing family, friends and colleagues, not only did I achieve my ambition of completing the London Marathon, but I also smashed my fundraising target. So far I have raised over £3,000!
Dr Jennifer Unsworth
Mental Health Awareness Week
14th – 20th May
This year Mental Health Awareness Week is all about stress and how we cope with it.
At Springfield Mind we know that stress is a key factor in poor wellbeing. Making people feel valued and supported with good information and guidance can develop people’s ability to manage stress and improve wellbeing.
We are asking employers and employees to thing about addressing stress in the work place during Mental Health Awareness Week in 2018.
Is your workplace the biggest cause of stress in your life?
Looking after your own mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical health. We spend about 90,000 hours of our life at work so it should not be a surprise that this has a big impact on our mental health, sometimes positive sometimes negative.
By improving your mental wellbeing you are more able to cope with pressure and stress in your life.
Here are some pointers to help you:
- Figure out what are the causes and signs of stress
What is causing my stress? uncertainty, being overwhelmed, lack of control, being under pressure. The causes might be due to one big thing but more often its lots of small pressures.
How are you feeling? irritability, anxious, racing thoughts, no longer enjoying things you used to like, loss of humour, loneliness and overburdened can all suggest you are stressed.
How are you behaving? eating, smoking, drinking more than usual, restless, snapping at people, constant worry, procrastinating, unable to concentrate.
Physical symptoms? headaches, high blood pressure, teeth grinding, feeling exhausted, sleep problems, tight muscles.
Identify what makes your feel stressed, quite often regular issues or one off events can trigger your feelings. Take a little bit of time out to think about anticipating these issues spending time planning and problem solving can go a long way to helping.
Time management can put you back in the driving seat. We all have a best time of the day when we can concentrate and be most productive, try and get the most challenging stuff done during these periods. Making a list is a great way of prioritising but make it small and achievable, things we don’t achieve just add more stress.
Keep yourself well, taking breaks and taking things slowly can increase your productivity. Let’s make time for our own fun and invest in enjoyable and relaxing activities that we and our families enjoy. Keep it healthy, there is a treasure chest of resilience waiting for you which will kill off those stressful feelings. Restricting our time on social media & emails, keeping fit, eating well and spending quality time with family and friends will surprise you with a generous reward.
- Reach out for other support networks
Make time to talk to colleagues, friends and family about your mental wellbeing – encourage others to talk about their stresses and strains. By sharing our burdens we can support one another through challenging periods in our lives.
Springfield Mind has a vast number of tools to support you and your mental wellbeing. We offer a range of one to one sessions, peer support and walk in sessions at our hubs in Stratford, Leamington Spa and Warwick – give us a call 01789 298615.
Is stress costing your business?
The Health and Safety Executive has some bad news for us all, in 2016 we lost 11.7 million days to stress in the workplace, one in three fit (read sick) notes issued by GP’s was for poor mental health and on average people signed off with stress are off for 23 days.
At Springfield Mind we have spent a lot of time working on solutions to help our community and businesses. Improving the mental wellbeing of employees returns excellent results for businesses reducing sick days, less staff turnover and improved employee morale. Essentially a mentally friendly workplace will result in improved performance for your business!
Here are our top tips to get you on track:
Get mental health on the appraisal agenda and start a dialogue in team meetings. The more open we are and talk about our mental wellbeing and stress the more people are going to feel supported and start learning how to cope.
Request a time to talk toolkit from Springfield Mind, get some literature and materials out and about that promote talk!
Encourage employees who are struggling with their mental wellbeing to get support. Springfield Mind offers free support to individuals through a variety of projects, get in touch!
Training your Managers on wellbeing lays the ground work for the culture of success you are working hard to create. Managers need to understand employee rights and responsibilities alongside how to manage a team to optimise wellbeing and provide employees with an emotional attachment to the workplace.
How many first aiders do you have in your business? Now ask yourself how many mental health first aiders do you have in your business? The truth is we are 100 times more likely to have to support someone in crisis with their mental health than we are to perform CPR.
Get your workforce mentally aware – get an understanding in the workplace about how you can support one another to better mental health and to combatting stress.
- Look after your own wellbeing
Let’s make time for our own fun and invest in enjoyable and relaxing activities that we and our families enjoy. Keep it healthy and there will be a treasure chest of resilience waiting for you which will kill off those stressful feelings. Restricting our time on social media & emails, keeping fit, eating well and spending quality time with family and friends will surprise you with a generous reward.
Are you starting to see sickness levels dropping, is your staff retention and motivation increasing and most importantly is your business performance improving?
These are Springfield Minds strategies for a mentally resilient workforce. Why not contact me to arrange a wellbeing conversation and see how we can help support you with workplace training. We have a 98% satisfaction rating for our training and for every pound you spend with Springfield Mind is another pound going towards supporting improved mental wellbeing across Warwickshire. & Worcestershire.
Tel 01789 298615
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