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Sleep and anxiety

lady lying awake in bed wants to overcome issues with sleep and anxiety

There are plenty of benefits to a good night’s sleep. However, we sometimes find ourselves tossing and turning with feelings of dread and unease. If you find yourself in this position, there are some simple things you can do to help manage your sleep and anxiety.

Why can’t I sleep?

Many people suffer from sleep problems, including the inability to fall asleep, regularly waking up during the night and not being able to fall back asleep again, and early waking. The cause of some sleep problems may be related to physical health, for instance the effect of a health condition or medication you are taking. However, often the underlying cause is psychological, for instance symptoms of anxiety, depression or trauma. It is important to seek help from your GP for these underlying psychological problems.

You may be someone who finds that as soon as you lie in bed emotions or thoughts come to the surface. This may be a sign that you’re not attending to these emotions in your waking hours. Make time to know what you’re feeling and try and find an outlet, such as a journal, creating a worry list or talking to others for support.

If this doesn’t improve things, then think about talking to your GP about potentially accessing a talking therapy or you can self-refer to our service.

What can I do to improve my sleep?

Sleep hygiene is a set of good habits that can help improve sleep. Here are some tips and recommendations to help overcome issues with sleep and anxiety:

  • Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day and avoid naps. A regular routine helps train your body for sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine for four to six hours before bedtime as they are both stimulants that affect your sleep. Instead have some warm milk or chamomile tea.
  • Don’t use alcohol to help you sleep. While it may make you sleepy in the immediate short-term, it has a negative effect on the quality of your sleep and can lead to you developing a dependency.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep, try to distract yourself with breathing exercises, meditation or deep muscle relaxation.
  • Avoid using smartphones, tablets or other electronic devices for an hour or so before you go to bed as the light from the screen may have a negative effect on sleep.
  • Try not to clock-watch. A lot of people worry about not getting enough sleep, but watching the clock makes you more tense and anxious, which leads to you being more stimulated and less likely to fall asleep.
  • Your bed is for sleeping so try to help entrench this connection by not using it as a place to do other activities, such as watching television, eating or surfing the internet.
  • Develop rituals before bedtime. For instance, having a warm bath can help you feel sleep, or do some meditation or stretching exercises.
  • A good diet can help with good sleep. Try to avoid heavy meals before bed. However, an empty stomach can be quite distracting so if you’re hungry, have a light snack.
  • Your bedroom ideally needs to be dark, quiet, tidy and be kept at a temperature of 18C and 24C

Helpful resources

Sleepio is an online sleep improvement programme based on CBT principles. It’s free for people living in London. Download it here:

Overcoming Insomnia and Sleep Problems: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques by Colin A. Espie

If you are experiencing some of the issues mentioned…

If you feel you need additional support to overcome your concerns with sleep and anxiety, our Talking Therapies service may be able to help. You can register for the service by completing this self-referral form.

This story was originally published in the Winter 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.



Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Talking Therapies, Uncategorised
Posted on: 9th September 2020

Overcoming back to work anxiety

lady looking out of bedroom window

If you have been working from home since lockdown began, it is likely that you have not set foot into your office. As lockdown continues to ease and we are settling into a ‘new normal’, you may be feeling anxious about having to return to work. Thoughts around whether it is safe to commute or if there are enough safety precautions in place may play on your mind.

Adapting to any kind of change can be challenging. But when you add anxiety around catching the virus and transmitting it to others, it is hardly surprising that you would be dreading returning to the office. Instead of staying home and keeping safe from the virus, you’re now being told it’s okay to catch public transport and return to your pre-pandemic lives.

These feelings of unease are completely normal and you are not alone in feeling them. There are also some things you can do to help ease return to work anxiety.

Talk to your employer

If you’re feeling anxious about your  return to work, talk to your employer and colleagues and share your thoughts with them. Chances are they are feeling some of the same feelings you are. If the main source of your anxiety is commuting, ask your employer if you can work flexibly so you can travel outside of busy periods or work from home a couple days a week.

Be prepared

Lockdown has meant that a lot of us have had to adapt to new patterns – whether that’s work, sleep or routine. Give yourself time to adapt to returning to work. Start doing things that you would normally do pre-pandemic such as going to bed early and waking up when you normally would when you’ve had to go into the office. Similarly, make sure you’re finishing at your usual time so you’re maintaining a pattern. You may feel obligated to work longer hours to catch up on time lost from the office but overworking can affect your mental health.

Remember to be gentle with yourself on your first few days back because you’re not used to commuting or working in an office.

Be kind to yourself

It’s especially important to be kind to yourself during this transition period. Taking care of your body and mind may help ease your anxieties so make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting a good night’s sleep.

Remember to also take time out for yourself and do things that relax you, such as:

  • Meditating
  • Going for a walk or a run
  • Reading a book
  • Doing something mindful like drawing or writing

Know what support is available for you

Alongside speaking to your employer and expressing any concerns you may have about returning to work, it’s important to be aware of any policies and measures being put in place by the company you work for. It’s also important to be aware of your rights when it comes to working during the pandemic.

Helpful resources

Here are some resources you may find useful to help with managing stress and anxieties associated with returning to work:

Are you experiencing some of the things mentioned here?

If you need extra support or need to speak to someone, you can refer to our Employment Team. They can provide you with practical advice on returning to work, knowing your employment rights and signposting you to other services for more information. You can self-refer to the service on our website.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Employment
Posted on: 3rd September 2020

Tips for mental wellbeing during the ‘new normal’

mental wellbeing during a new normal

With lockdown easing, it may feel like we are taking significant steps back to normal life (or ‘new normal’). However, as official advice continually changes, many of us may feel like we are riding an ‘emotional rollercoaster’. You might be feeling reluctant or anxious to take the first trip on public transport, or going to a socially distanced meet up with friends. For those who have been shielding over the past four months, even the smallest step may seem like a big challenge to overcome.

With this in mind, below are some useful tips to help you to look after your mental wellbeing as lockdown restrictions lift.

Take your time

With the world slowly getting back to normal, you may feel a pressure to engage with everything straightaway. However, there’s no need to rush, and doing everything at once may leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Instead, ease yourself back into your normal pre-lockdown schedule and plan out your activities so you only have a couple per week, leaving time to relax and recuperate between each ‘new’ experience. Whether that be scheduling the first time that you commute back into work (if you are able to do so), meeting up with friends, or going to the shops. That way, it will feel less overwhelming as you adjust to new experiences.

Planning can be helpful

If you’re nervous about catching public transport or meeting up with friends, planning can help you feel more in control. Try and travel during off-peak hours or plan a quieter route and plan out how long it would take. You could also write a list of things that you would need to take with you on your trip, such as, a mask, hand sanitiser and your wallet.

While things may seem uncontrollable during this time, it’s important to remember that there are things that you can control.

Don’t forget to breathe

Take things one moment at a time and remember to breathe. It may sound simple but when we experience stress, our breathing gets faster and shallower. When you feel yourself getting worked up, breathe slowly and deeply into your belly to override your stress response so that you feel calmer.

Meditating before leaving the house can help you relax and find a sense of calm. Here are some resources you can use to help you meditate:

Give yourself a break and be kind

It’s important to be kind to yourself and not beat yourself up if you’re struggling to get into a ‘new normal’ routine. Remind yourself that we’re currently living in extraordinary times and it’s okay to feel hesitant about going back to normal.

By practising self-kindness and compassion, it may help you to become more accepting as things return to normal. It is also a great way to improve your emotional wellbeing.

Stay informed but not alarmed

As we adjust to a ‘new normal’, it’s helpful to keep an eye on the news due to the changing Covid-19 landscape and the ongoing updates regarding what you are and aren’t allowed to do.

However, tuning in to every single development can easily become overwhelming. To stay informed but not alarmed, try the following:

  • Get your information from reputable sources rather than from opinions on social media where people are venting and voicing their concerns (which can then increase your own distress).

  • Focus on developments locally rather than globally when estimating your risk of contracting Covid-19. This helps you to be appropriately concerned rather than get caught up in anxiety.

Need extra support?

We’re here to help. We are still accepting referrals during the current pandemic. We offer the following services:

  • Talking Therapies (IAPT) – Short-term support for when you experience difficult emotions, such as, low mood, worry and stress
  • Peer Support – Wellbeing workshops, one-to-one peer support, peer support groups, social activities and peer support training with other people who have had similar experiences to you
  • Employment – Advice and support to gain and retain paid employment, improve your employability skills and know your rights in the workplace
  • Navigators – Practical support with a range of issues including benefits, debt, housing options, access to health and social care services and support to access specialist advice and information
  • Self-Care – Support and activities that help you to take care of your own mental, emotional and physical wellbeing

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 26th August 2020

Housing and mental health

Woman stressed looking at bills

Housing and mental health problems are often linked. Poor mental health can make coping with housing problems more challenging. Homelessness or housing issues can cause a deterioration in your mental health.

What impacts can housing have on mental health?

Your relationship: Struggling with your rent payments or living conditions can cause arguments and place a strain on your relationship.

Sleep: Stress, worry and noise may keep you awake at night and disturb your sleeping pattern.

Your social life: Living in an unsecure environment can negatively affect your self-esteem and cause you to withdraw from social situations. Decreased levels of interaction can produce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

On your career: Your housing situation might depend on you being able to carry on working. If your mental health is affecting your ability to keep up your job, this can cause housing problems.

Physical Health: If you live somewhere that is damp, mouldy or dirty, it can affect your air quality and you risk developing respiratory problems. Additionally, if your housing has inadequate facilities, this can impact how you look after yourself i.e. personal hygiene and maintaining a balanced diet.

Practical difficulties: Having a mental health problem can make it harder to:

  • Keep on top of bills and rent
  • Talk to landlords or people from housing associations.

Stress and anxiety: Feeling unsafe or living in a dangerous environment can generate feelings of stress and worry which may increase any anxiety you may be experiencing.

Our Navigators meet people who are struggling with complex housing issues regularly. While every case is different and has its own unique set of factors, our Navigators use their expert knowledge of local services to tailor their support to your individual needs.

Sarah’s story

Sarah was struggling with rent arrears after moving out due to over-crowding issues. Physically, emotionally and financially, Sarah found it impossible to resolve this issue alone. A consequent cut in her benefits coupled with a lack of support from her landlord caused a severe decline in her mental health.

Sarah met with our Navigator, Maeve, and they developed a Wellbeing plan together that focussed on building Sarah a support network. Maeve accompanied Sarah to meetings with her landlord and spoke on her behalf to several agencies that provide specialist advice.

After this additional support, Maeve and Sarah began to talk about ‘endings’. It is natural to feel apprehensive about support coming to an end. Our Navigators will help build your confidence by equipping you with information on your rights and entitlements and make sure you possess all the tools and resources necessary to feel able to access services without their support.

In this case, Sarah was notified of:

  • Her local Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s drop-in times
  • Benefits support offered by the Department of Work and Pensions and
  • Other wellbeing services such as Peer Support that could address her social needs.

Experiencing some of the issues mentioned here?

Navigators offer practical support with a range of issues and support you to access specialist advice, information and other services. Refer to the service on our website.

This story was originally published in the Spring 2019 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well, Navigator
Posted on: 13th August 2020

Find out more about… Well Read Play Reading

Well Read Play Reading Poster

Play reading is a great opportunity to escape, get creative, explore characters and meet new people. Paul O’Mahony from The Playground Theatre explains how Well Read Play Reading works and shares feedback from attendees of the online sessions.

The Playground Theatre runs the Well Read programme. The premise is simple – we meet together to read plays and talk about them. Our actors run the sessions and introduce the play and hand out parts as we read, to ensure that everyone who wants to read gets the chance to. The plays we read vary enormously. We’ve read everything from Greek tragedy to modern farce but we always want to choose material that people will enjoy and can find accessible.

When did Well Read start?

Well Read started two years ago at St Charles – The Playground’s co-artistic director Anthony Biggs worked with One Community Project Lead Cate Latto to organise weekly play readings as part of their wider One Community programme. The sessions were enormously popular – we constantly heard from participants about how our sessions were a brilliant way to meet, have fun, and discuss ideas and themes without feeling the stress of making it personal. The various worlds we explored in the plays meant all participants could enjoy the experience.

What do attendees think of the online sessions?

After everything went into lockdown we felt the need for Well Read was even greater. These sessions are wonderful for helping to deal with issues connected with isolation which is what many of us are now coping with. We started our online groups six weeks ago and the response has been fantastic:

‘For an hour and half you are taken out of your same old lock-down surroundings and transported to the Highland moors, the crofter’s cottage, the London Palladium etc’

‘I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying these play reading sessions. It has made such a difference to the lockdown situation. I really look forward to Tuesdays and Fridays. It transports me away from all the worry and terrible news… I also love the variety, from old favourites such as Beckett to new playwrights who I’d never encountered.’

‘Amid this crisis, it’s great to have something so enjoyable and mentally stimulating to do. And while we are still stuck in our homes, it feels as though we have been out and enjoyed the company of others for a while. I’ve enjoyed all of the plays that we’ve read.’

Interested in attending a Well Read session?

Community Living Well offers Well Read as part of its Self-Care services. You can self-refer to the service using our online form.

Well Read runs every Tuesday at 2pm and every Friday at 11am on Zoom. Sessions usually last for 75 to 90 minutes. There is no pressure to read, so if you would rather just listen that’s absolutely fine. If you would like more information, you can email Paul O’Mahony at [email protected]

This story was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well, Self-Care
Posted on: 2nd August 2020

Managing stress and anxiety during Covid-19

Woman looking out the window; managing stress and anxiety

During this uncertain time, you may find yourself worrying about a range of issues coming up and feeling increasingly overwhelmed or anxious. Not being able to engage in your usual routine can affect your mental health and you may notice difficulties in motivating yourself or a drop in your mood. You could also be worried or anxious about things like money, family, whether you have the virus or work. It is important to remember that you are not alone and that others are feeling it too. Anxiety and worry affects us all but may be more prominent at this time.

Why do I feel anxious and worried?

Fear, anxiety and worry are understandable and inevitable emotions. It is our natural response to difficulties. Think about worry as a form of self-talk in our minds where we air out our current problems; it helps us make decisions and take actions to problem solve. Feelings of anxiety and worry can be a good thing as they act as current thoughts that require attention, for example, having to wash your hands after going out or touching surfaces and keeping a safe distance to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

When does worrying and anxiety become a problem?

When we start thinking about the future or things beyond our control, our emotions can become difficult to tolerate. These are also known as the ‘What if…’ scenario. When we feel anxious, adrenaline is activated in our bodies warning system resulting in anxiety symptoms. We may find the more we worry, the more we are anxious and a pattern of worry and anxiety emerges.

Whether we are anxious or worrying about the future or the present moment, there are some things we can do to help manage these thoughts and emotions.

Pause and take a moment

It is important to take a moment to yourself when you start experiencing feelings of anxiety or worry. If you are in the middle of doing something or in the presence of other people, excuse yourself and find a space where you can pause, breathe and take a moment.

Observe and 5-minute rule

You may or may not know what has brought up the feelings of anxiety and worry so it is important to understand why you are feeling the way that you do.

Take five minutes to think and write your worries down. Then decide which ones you would like to act on.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I worried about?
  • What am I reacting to?

Pull back

Once you have unearthed how you are feeling and why you are feeling that way, ask yourself what advice would you give a friend who is experiencing the same thoughts and emotions. This will help put your thoughts and emotions into perspective and will help you take a step forward into overcoming them.

Know everything will be okay

Be safe in the knowledge that if the feeling of ‘What if…’ occurs, you can solve it as you have with other difficulties.

Helpful resources

Managing stress and anxiety during a pandemic: online workshop

Talking Therapies are offering a one-hour online workshop to discuss tools to help support you during this time, including, managing worries about Covid, looking after yourselves, coping with the increased uncertainty the pandemic presents and evaluating the information you read about Covid.

If you’re interested in attending this online workshop, you will need to register to our Talking Therapies service by completing this form. You can also call the team on 020 3317 4200 or email [email protected].

This story was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 21st July 2020

Coping with bereavement during a pandemic

Coping with bereavement

Losing a loved can be emotionally devastating – whether that be a partner, family member, friend or pet – and may be particularly challenging at the moment because of changes taking place to try and stop the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19). We have compiled some information on bereavement, things that can help and resources to help you if you need advice or are struggling to cope.

What is bereavement?

Bereavement is the experience of losing someone important to us. It is characterised by grief, which is the process and the range of emotion we go through as we gradually adjust.

Bereavement affects everyone in different ways, and can involve a range of emotions. Grieving has no time limit. People deal with bereavement in their own way and in their own time. Feelings of grief can also happen because of other types of loss and changes in circumstances, for example:

  • the end of a relationship
  • the loss of a job
  • a decline in the mental or physical health of someone we care about.

In these challenging times, bereavement and grief may be particularly difficult to process but there are things we can all do to help.

Talk to someone

Being bereaved can be one of the loneliest experiences that you or someone you love may go through. Being around family and friends can be one of the most helpful ways to cope. If you are not able to be with family and friends due to lockdown, feelings of grief and loneliness may intensify. You don’t have to be alone with your grief, even if you may be physically alone. Call or text a friend or family member or contact a helpline if you need to talk to someone.

Look after yourself

While this may sound obvious, sometimes it’s easy to forget and you want to hide away. Try and get some fresh air and sunlight everyday – even opening a window can help. If you can, go outside for a run or walk or do some exercises at home, such as walking up and down the stairs. Keep a regular routine of getting up and dressed and have your meals at regular times, whether you are on your own or with a family group.

It is okay to not feel okay

You may find some days you have more energy and the grief is not all consuming and this may make you feel guilty. This is normal and is all part of grieving. Equally, there may be days when you feel you are struggling – this is normal too.

Supporting someone who is bereaved

You might have friends or family who have been feeling bereaved and you may not know how best to support them. Staying in contact and letting them know you are there for them to talk about their feelings can be enormously helpful.

Bereavement advice and support

Whether you’re experiencing bereavement, or know someone who is, and need emotional or practical support, get in touch with these helplines or visit their website for more information.

NHS Bereavement Helpline

Contact this helpline for advice, guidance and practical support following a bereavement. The helpline is open everyday from 8am to 8pm

Phone: 0800 2600 400

Cruse Helpline

Contact the Cruse Helpline for support and advice on some of the practical things that need to be done following the death of a loved one.

Phone: 0800 808 1677

Cruse Bereavement Care

The Kensington and Chelsea branch of Cruse Bereavement Care has information on some of the normal emotions you may feel after the loss of a loved one. They also offer bereavement counselling to help people who are having difficulty coping with bereavement.

Phone: 020 8964 3455

Email: [email protected]

Originally published in the Spring/Summer 2020 Community Living Well magazine, this article has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 9th July 2020

Applying for extra support during the Coronavirus pandemic

Applying for extra support during the pandemic

2020 has brought on a lot of uncertainty to everyone across the world. Financially things have changed for a lot of people, with lockdown, furlough and shielding being introduced along with redundancies being made. These are all temporary and there is support available. Our Navigators have put together some information to help you navigate through the support you may be eligible for.

I have been furloughed…

Your employer can use the government Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to pay you. You need to be paid through PAYE and on the payroll on or before 19 March 2020. Your employer will need to inform the government you have been furloughed and you will be paid 80% of your normal pay. You can read more on how furlough may impact you on the Citizen’s Advice Website.

I am self-employed

You may be able to claim contribution based or new-style Employment Support Allowance (ESA) if you are self-isolating. This is based on your National Insurance contributions for 2 tax years (2017-2018, 2018-2019). For a step-by-step process of applying for ESA, you can visit the Citizen’s Advice Website.

Can I get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

This may be relevant to you if you have to self-isolate because you or someone you live with has sysmptoms of coronavirus. To be eligible for SSP you need to:

  • Be an employee
  • Earn more than £118 a week
  • Be sick for four full days or more in a row (including non-working days)
  • Follow your employer’s rules for getting sick pay

You can check your rights to sick pay on the ACAS website.

I have never claimed benefits

If you have not claimed benefits before you may be eligible to apply for one of the following:

Universal Credit (UC)

You can apply for UC online, using a simple step-by-step process. You will need to do an identity check and use your online UC journal to work with your job coach.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

This is the new Disability Allowance. You start your claim after a short phone interview by calling 0800 917 2222. The Department of Work and Pension (DWP) will then send you a PIP application form that asks for information about how your health condition/disability affects you. You must send the form back to the DWP before the date allocated on the front of the form.

The job-centre has suspended most face-to-face meetings and assessments until June 2020. Some assessments may be held over the phone, it is important to keep up-to-date following your application to ensure you have provided all of the information requested.

Visit the GOV.UK website to find out more information on PIP.

To check what benefits you may be eligible for, you can use the Benefits Calculator on the GOV.UK website.

I am struggling to pay my bills

You may be struggling to pay your rent, Council Tax, mortgage and energy bills. While it is important that you do not ignore your bills, some bills may cause you more problems if they are left unpaid. These are priority debts. You can check if you have priority debts on the Citizen’s Advice Website.

For further support with your specific problem, you can visit the Citizen’s Advice website and talk to a debt adviser.

Experiencing some of the issues mentioned here?

Navigators offer practical support with a range of issues and support you to access specialist advice, information and other services. Refer to the service on our website.

This story was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well, Navigator
Posted on: 30th June 2020

Living well during Covid-19 with a long-term health condition

Living with a long-term health condition during Covid-19

Having a long-term health condition (such as diabetes, respiratory or cardiac conditions) during the pandemic can bring extra challenges to our ability to manage our health and wellbeing. During this time of uncertainty, our daily lives have changed a lot. If you have a long-term health condition, it is important to continue your routine to help you stay well. Here are our tips to help you manage your long-term health condition during this time.

Monitor your condition

It is important to continue monitoring your condition and be aware of how you are feeling. When planning your daily routine, make sure to include your checks (e.g. tracking your blood glucose) and your medication.

Feel prepared

Think through a normal week: how will it be affected and what do you need to do to solve any problems? Who do you need to get in touch with for help and support?

Have a plan for getting your prescriptions

Make sure you have a plan with your GP to organise repeat prescriptions. If you are unable to leave the house because you are shielding, meaning you are considered a vulnerable person and need to stay indoors for 12 weeks, organise to have a friend or family member to pick up your prescriptions. If you don’t have a family member or friend to do this for you, get in touch with your pharmacy as they may be offering a delivery service. There may also be volunteers in your area to help deliver your prescriptions to you.

Speak to your GP

If you normally would stay in touch with your GP, ask them how they will continue to support you during this time with appointments and follow-ups.

Keep support numbers and important information nearby

Have a list of important phone numbers, including your GP surgery, pharmacy, local support and information somewhere easy to find so that you have all the information you need in one easy-to-access space.

Stick to facts

Find credible sources you can trust such as GOV.UK or the NHS website and fact-check information you read or hear from other people. You might also want to consider limiting the time you spend watching, reading or listening to news, including on social media.

Look after your body

Our physical health has a big impact on how we feel mentally. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly, if you can. It may be a scary thought leaving your house during this time to go out for a walk. However, you can stay indoors and try a home workout or walk up and down the stairs.

Be aware and recognise your skills and strengths that have helped you to manage

When times are tough, it is easy to forget your ability to manage. Remember that you have managed well outside of Covid-19 and you can continue to manage while in self isolation.

Helpful resources

Living well with a long-term health condition: online workshop

Talking Therapies are offering a one-hour online workshop to help you manage with a long-term health condition during the pandemic. The workshop will cover a range of topics such as managing worries about our health and COVID, continuing to move with a meaningful routine during isolation, how to decipher information about COVID and much more.

If you’re interested in attending this online workshop, you will need to register to our Talking Therapies service by completing this form. You can also call the team on 020 3317 4200 or email [email protected].

This story was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 23rd June 2020

Employment during the pandemic

Employment during a pandemic

During these uncertain times, your job may be affected as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve compiled some information on what furlough is and how it may affect you, tips on how you can find temporary work and where you can find more information and support.

What is furlough?

The term furlough essentially means sending employees home when there is not enough work to do, with a guaranteed payment to them, until the company has sufficient work so they can bring the employee back. If this happens, the government has announced a Job Retention Scheme which will provide grants to companies to pay their employees 80% of their wages, capped at £2,500 a month providing they joined the company before 19 March 2020. It would be up to the employer if they want to top up the 80% to 100%. Workers on zero-hour contracts can also be furloughed. In all instances, if the employee does not agree to be furloughed, then the company could proceed with a redundancy process following the usual procedure.

Furlough doesn’t mean termination of contract; you are still employed by them but you cannot work for them during this period. You can however work for another employer.

Rules on annual leave laid out by the government have been relaxed. Previously, employers were handed penalty notices if their employees didn’t take their annual leave. The new rules mean up to 4 weeks of unused leave can be carried into the next 2 years. You will continue to accrue annual leave whilst on furlough.

Looking for work during the coronavirus pandemic

Although some businesses have been forced to close until further notice, there are still some who continue to operate by working from home or are considered essential roles.

For non-essential roles, your interview would likely be over the phone or video call. For essential roles such as supermarket assistants, the interview would be face-to-face.

Get in touch with our employment team for some interview tips.

Where can I find work?

In response to the virus, there is a huge recruitment drive for people to fill essential roles. Supermarkets would be looking for store assistants, delivery drivers and warehouse workers; you can find opportunities on individual company websites. The NHS are keen for retired nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants to return, as well as those interested in roles such as porters, cleaners, bed buddies, ward helpers and support workers. These roles are advertised on the NHS Jobs website. Other essential roles include food delivery drivers for companies like Uber Eats and Deliveroo to service those who are self-isolating.

I’m self-employed. Can I get support?

There is support for you if you’re self-employed. The government has recently introduced a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Under this scheme, self-employed workers will be able to apply for taxable grants up to 80% of profits (capped at £2,500 a month) to combat loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic. The government will look at your tax returns from the last 3 years to see if you’re eligible. In addition, you need:

  • To have filed a tax return for 2018/19
  • To have self-employed profits that are less than £50,000 per year and it must make up more than half of your total income

You don’t need to apply for this scheme. HMRC will contact you if they think you are eligible.

For more information

Citizens Advice have more information about the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).If you are not eligible for SEISS, the temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is open to self-employed people and offers access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to six years. More information can be found on the GOV.UK website.

This story was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 18th June 2020

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