Lady walking in the park

It’s World Wellbeing Week

This week marks World Wellbeing Week – an opportunity to start conversations and share ways to improve our wellbeing. But what is wellbeing and how do we care for it? Here, we explain more about why it’s important and share some of our top tips on staying mentally well.

What is wellbeing?

The word ‘wellbeing’ is a popular phrase; we see it all the time in articles or on social media, and we’re often told we need to look after it. But what does it actually mean and why is it important?

There isn’t a set definition of what wellbeing is, but it refers to how we are feeling and how well we are able to cope with life’s challenges. To better understand it, we can break it down into different aspects that influence and interact with each other.

The UK Office for National Statistics has identified 10 dimensions of wellbeing:

  • Mental wellbeing
  • Physical health
  • Personal financial security
  • What we do for work
  • Our relationships with others
  • Where we live
  • The natural environment
  • Education
  • The economy
  • Governance

Mental wellbeing

It’s no surprise that mental health challenges and how we’re feeling emotionally greatly affect our overall wellbeing. Good mental wellbeing doesn’t mean that we are feeling super happy all the time. In reality it means we are able to cope with difficult experiences and remain positive, while still feeling a full range of emotions. But when we face mental health challenges it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

How to improve wellbeing

Now that we know a bit more about what wellbeing is and why it is important, we can start to think about how we can improve it. You don’t need to do anything difficult; you shouldn’t be stressing about it as that will defeat the purpose. So, we’ve got five simple suggestions that you can try out.

  • Look after your physical health and do something active. This could be as simple as taking a short walk around your street, or dancing in the kitchen to your favourite songs!
  • Get out into nature. Being in the natural world has a really positive affect on both physical and mental health, you could combine this with the previous tip and go for a walk at a nearby park or somewhere you can feel at peace
  • Talk to your loved ones about how you are feeling. You might also find that they need someone to talk to and you can support each other
  • Take time to relax and try to get enough sleep
  • Do activities you love or try something new. Remember that you don’t need to push yourself, do what feels comfortable and leaves you feeling happy

Now that we have helped you to understand what wellbeing is and given you some ideas of how you can improve yours, make sure you add looking after your wellbeing to your daily routine.

With your help we can continue to support young people facing mental health challenges. If you would like to donate please click here – we would be so grateful.

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Men's Health Week

Men – It’s time for a health MOT

For many people, concerns around their general health took a back seat as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe.

This was especially true for people with ill mental health, with the pandemic and lockdowns often heightening feelings of isolation and helplessness.

With the pandemic quickly becoming the overwhelming focus of healthcare since 2020, many of us took our eyes off other serious health conditions. Now, it’s time for us all to make more of an effort to look after our health.

For this Men’s Health Week, from June 13 to June 19, men are being urged to think about getting a health MOT.

About Charlie

The Charlie Watkins Foundation was founded in 2017 after Charlie Watkins took his life when he was only 22. Sadly, Charlie never recovered from the loss of his mother when he was only nine years old.

There are many people who suffer from mental health challenges today. One in four adults and one in 10 children experience mental illness.

One in five people have suicidal thoughts and one in 15 people attempt suicide. While women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts than men, men are three times more likely to take their own life.

The Charlie Watkins Foundation was formed to better support young people who struggle with their mental health and wellbeing.

The foundation allows money to be raised in memory of Charlie and is a hugely important symbol for all those who continue to struggle through the same fight that Charlie had.

So, this Men’s Health Week, get back at the top of your game both physically and mentally, by focusing on what’s going on in your body and mind.

A look under the hood

At the Charlie Watkins Foundation, we believe looking after your mental health is paramount – but so is looking after your general health.

The NHS Health Checks have restarted after being paused during the pandemic and are the best way to get a health MOT.

This Men’s Health Week, why not book a visit to your GP for a check-up?

Or, the Men’s Health Forum has a free Man MOT for the Mind manual to help you improve your mental health at home.

We are so grateful for all donations which make a difference to the lives of young people who face mental health and wellbeing challenges. If you would like to donate, please do so here.

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Three top tips to help manage loneliness

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme for 2022 is loneliness. Here we share our three top tips on managing feelings of loneliness.

There are many definitions surrounding loneliness; some say that loneliness is simply sadness from having no company and others believe it is a state of mind that can lead to mental health challenges.

In truth, loneliness effects everyone very differently and there is a large distinction between feeling lonely and experiencing loneliness (our blog ‘Let’s talk loneliness’ discusses this definition in more detail).

There is no single cause or solution to loneliness, but there are things we can do to lessen the effects and improve our mental wellbeing.

  1. Do activities you enjoy

Keeping busy and stimulated can help ease the feelings of loneliness. This could be something simple like watching an episode of your favourite TV series or even texting a friend.

  1. Spend time with pets

If you have a pet, spending time with them is a brilliant way of managing loneliness. Our pets provide us with unconditional love and give structure to our days, ensuring we are meeting their needs which in turn, meet our own.

  1. Take a walk

If you have a dog, you’ll most likely be doing this regularly anyway! But even if you don’t, taking a short walk around the block and breathing in the fresh air can do wonders for your mental health and wellbeing.

What we’re doing to help

The Charlie Watkins Foundation strives to raise funding for vital projects to help young people across the UK who are facing serious mental health challenges.

Recently, we have opened Charlie’s Cabin, a summer house we have funded as part of the Youth Enquiry Service (YES) project GoGreen. Charlie’s Cabin aims to provide a safe space for young people who may be experiencing loneliness to share their concerns or simply chat with their peers or project leaders.

With your help, we can continue our vital work; and give support to young people who need our help the most. If you would like to help us to continue to make a difference, please consider making a donation.

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Stress Awareness Month

It’s Stress Awareness Month

To mark Stress Awareness Month, we discuss some of the main causes of stress and share some of our ideas on how to improve your mental wellbeing and support others.

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. In some situations, such as when working on an important task, a stress response can be beneficial and help us to be motivated. But too much stress can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health, making us feel like we can’t cope.

How stress affects us

Stress can affect us in lots of different ways. It can affect our mood: making us feel irritable or anxious. Plus, it can affect our cognition too, making it harder to concentrate or make decisions. It can also impact our sleep, leaving us feeling exhausted.

Being able to recognise when you’re feeling overwhelmed can help you avoid the situations that cause stress. You can also develop coping mechanisms to help when you do find yourself feeling stressed.

Coping mechanisms

Here are some ideas on how to cope with stress:

  • Talk to someone about how you’re feeling: it’s important we ask for help when we’re struggling
  • Plan and break tasks down into more manageable chunks: this will help you to not feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do
  • Do something active: physical activity can help use up nervous energy and is good for our wellbeing
  • Try using a positive mindset: this can be hard when you feel overwhelmed but thinking about what makes us happy in life can help us feel better

The NHS also has lots of resources online that can help you find ways to deal with stress, which can be applied to home life and at work.

Supporting others

About 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems each year, so most of us will know someone who has struggled with their mental health.

We all have different ways to deal with stress, but it’s great to share coping mechanisms that work for you as they could help others.

With this in mind, we can learn the signs that mean our friends and family are feeling stressed. That way, we can know when they might need our support.

Here are some ideas on how to support someone experiencing stress:

  • Be a good listener: ask your friend or loved one about how they’re feeling
  • Offer practical help: such as doing some chores for them if they can’t manage to do everything
  • Be patient: it might be hard for them to ask for help, but by being there for them you can show that you care about them

We can all feel stressed at times, but it’s important that we look after ourselves and others who are struggling to cope.

At the Charlie Watkins Foundation your donations help us to support young people who are finding it hard to cope with stress and other mental health challenges. If you would like to make a donation we would be so grateful.

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Aston Lark fundraising round-up

We are very grateful to insurance brokers Aston Lark, who dedicated the month of March to fundraising for the Charlie Watkins Foundation (CWF). Here’s a round-up of all of the fun activities they got involved in!

All employees from Aston Lark, an industry-leading independent broker with more than 55 offices across the UK and Ireland, took part in a wide variety of activities.

Take a look at what they got up to below:

  1. Tuck shops

    A few Aston Lark offices set up tuck shops – the Colchester office included breakfast crumpets in their offering while the Stourbridge office opted for a healthy buffet.

  2. An After Eight Challenge

    The Colchester office also hosted an After Eight Challenge with employees. If you’re not familiar with the challenge, you simply pop an After Eight mint on your forehead and try and slide it down your face. The first one to get it in their mouth wins!

  3. Bake sales

    Many of the Aston Lark offices held bake sales with lots of yummy treats on offer.

  4. Games events

    The Caterham office hosted a games week in their office with cakes while the Stourbridge office enjoyed a games afternoon. The Maidstone office and Renovation Plan in Burnham-on-Crouch also set up a Nintendo Switch to play with colleagues. The Surrey office similarly hosted a three-day Retro Mario Kart Play off!

  5. Dress-down days

    A few offices who held dress-down days have donated the proceeds to the cause.

 

Plus many, many more!

We’d like to say a big thank you to Aston Lark who raised a fantastic £1,600 for CWF throughout March.

We’ve so enjoyed seeing and sharing all the pictures from the Aston Lark fundraising activities and have loved the creativity and dedication of all the staff.

While every Aston Lark office supported CWF in March, their Colchester office is continuing to fundraise for CWF throughout 2022 – we are so thankful for this.

For more information on Aston Lark’s other charitable activities, click here.

If your business would like to support the Charlie Watkins Foundation, we can offer you a corporate partnership profile on our website, work with your PR team to provide tailored communications, help with fundraising events and support the objectives of your mental health committee.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can support us as a corporate partnership, please get in contact. We’d love to hear from you.

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Dr Zoe Burgess

Charity Today: Early intervention in mental health

Early intervention works to prevent problems from getting worse or even occurring at all.

We all have mental health, just like we have physical health, therefore it’s great that this is becoming a more discussed topic. But there is still plenty of room to improve, especially when it comes to the mental health of children and young people.

In our column on Charity Today, Advisory Board Member, Dr Zoe Burgess explains why early intervention is so important, especially for young people.

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International Day of Happiness

The importance of happiness

International Day of Happiness, on the 20th March, is a day to raise awareness about the importance of making our overall wellbeing a top priority. Here we talk about the importance of happiness for mental health and share ideas of how to practice self-care.

What is happiness?

We tend to think of happiness as a positive feeling or mood, but it’s more than just a moment of feeling good. People who are happy experience both positive and negative emotions, but they can fully embrace the good times and cope with the hard times.

In fact, research has shown that happy people are more likely to be successful in their careers and have better physical and mental health.

The pandemic has had a massive impact on our wellbeing. The 2021 World Happiness Report found that the UK was particularly affected, which is why the theme of this year’s International Day of Happiness day is ‘Build Back Happier’. We need to think about how to bring happiness back into our lives to improve our wellbeing.

The added benefit of improving our own happiness is that it can help others be happier too. Studies have demonstrated how interacting with someone who is happy can create a ripple effect, spreading happiness to others.

How to improve your happiness levels

The NHS has identified key areas to focus on to improve your happiness levels:

  • Stress: find ways to manage stress levels – check out our blog on five ways to take control of your stress.
  • Health: make lifestyle choices that positively benefit you, such as choosing healthy food options and doing exercise.
  • Enjoyment: find activities that you enjoy doing and feel a sense of achievement when you do.
  • Self-esteem: treat yourself with self-compassion, using a positive inner voice.
  • Resilience: this is important for helping you to cope with hard times. Remember that it’s ok to not be ok.
  • Others: ask for help from others and help them to be happier too. You can have a look at our blog on random acts of kindness for ideas of small things to do to spread happiness to others.

So why not celebrate International Day of Happiness by doing something that makes you happy?  You could make yourself happy (and us!) by making a donation to the Charlie Watkins Foundation, which you can do via our Enthuse page. Your kind donation will go to helping young people who are currently finding it very hard to experience happiness in their lives due to poor mental health.

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Random Acts of Kindness

Do a random act of kindness this week

Finding ways to support positive mental health is something everyone should try to achieve. But did you know something as simple as being kind can help? This Random Acts of Kindness Week, we look at how small acts can improve the wellbeing of yourself and others.

A random act of kindness is doing something nice for someone out of the blue to brighten their day. This could be as simple as telling a loved one you care about them or offering your seat to someone else on the bus. However big or small, it can have a big impact on their day and bring positivity to your own.

In fact, research has shown being kind to others can have a really positive effect on your own wellbeing. Plus, the more you do kind things for others, the more likely they will be kind to you in return!

Get involved

For this year’s Random Acts of Kindness Week, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is calling for everyone to #MakeKindnessTheNorm. The Foundation has a participant guide with many ideas of random kind acts. Also, Mental Health UK has a random acts of kindness challenge with 50 things to try. Why not have a go at a different one every day for Random Acts of Kindness Week?

Here are 10 ideas to get you started:

  • Call a friend to ask how they are
  • Write a positive review online for your favourite local business
  • Offer to make a tea or coffee for your work colleagues
  • Pick up some litter on your street
  • Send a handwritten letter to tell someone how much you care about them
  • Offer your seat on the bus or train to someone else
  • Tell your loved ones you care about them
  • Donate to a charity
  • Send your friend some flowers
  • Offer to help a friend with their errands

Remember, self-care is just as important as caring for others. So, make sure to do a random act of kindness for yourself too. You could treat yourself to a coffee at your favourite café, or just take some time to relax.

Your first random act of kindness could be to donate to the Charlie Watkins Foundation, which you can do via our JustGiving page. We would be so grateful and you would be making a difference to the lives of young people who face mental health and wellbeing challenges.

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Time to Talk 2022

Time to Talk Day 2022: The power of conversation

Conversations have the power to change lives. Today, on Time to Talk Day, we look at the importance of opening up about our mental health.

Time to Talk Day is the UK’s biggest mental health conversation – encouraging communities to come together to talk and listen. And it does so for good reason.

Why it is so important we open up

Mental health affects everyone – no one is immune from experiencing a personal crisis. Talking about how we feel can not only help ourselves but can also help others.

It may not be easy to say, at times it may feel awkward, for some it may be hard to find the words. But being there for someone can make a big difference.

There is no right or wrong way to talk about your health and wellbeing, and this reflected in this years’ Time to Talk Day theme, “However you do it” encouraging everyone to open the dialogue.

How you can do it

The most important thing we can do for one another is to listen. If we ask questions about how someone feels or what they may be going through, it can help to understand their experience better.

Talking is a powerful tool, but it is worth remembering to not always offer your own solutions to someone else’s problems. There are many tools and strategies to be considered on someone’s recovery journey – those decisions should be made by the individual.

It is also vital to be patient. Sometimes, someone just might not want to talk about their experiences – and that is fine. Opening the door to help in future is still a positive step.

Finally, it is important to remember to treat people the same. Experiencing a mental health problem is a difficult thing for anyone to go through; but it doesn’t mean they want to be treated any differently.

How you can get involved

First started in 2014 by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, Time to Talk Day helps to generate more than two million mental health conversations every year.

You can begin conversations with loved ones, organise events in your community, or share on social media using #TimeToTalk.

More information on Time to Talk Day and resource packs can be downloaded here.

At the Charlie Watkins Foundation we are committed to helping young people who face mental health and wellbeing challenges.

We fund vital initiatives which support young people with their mental health. We would be so grateful if you could please consider making a donation to support our projects via our JustGiving page.

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