Connect with the people around you: family, friends and neighbours.
Social relationships are important to support wellbeing and to keep us well
We are all being urged to follow advice on social distancing as an essential part of slowing the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). It is vital we should all be taking these steps to help reduce the transmission of coronavirus, while at the same time maintaining our relationships with people around us; family, friends, colleagues and neighbors.
Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. They can:
- help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth
- give you an opportunity to share positive experiences
- provide emotional support and allow you to support others
There are lots of things you could try to help maintain or build stronger and closer relationships:
- if possible, take time each day to be with those you live with, for example, try arranging a fixed time to eat dinner together
- try switching off the TV to talk or play a game with your children or family
- phone a friend or family member who needs support or company
- make the most of technology to stay in touch with friends and family, Video-chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are useful, especially if you live far apart
- consider volunteering in your local area. For Covid-19 volunteer opportunities search the Volunteer Now website https://www.volunteernow.co.uk/
- search and download online community apps on the NHS apps library https://www.nhs.uk/apps-library/category/online-community/
- if you are over 60 and feeling lonely or anxious you can benefit from the Age NI ‘check in and chat’ service free of charge. The service will answer basic queries and provide a reassuring call about concerns during this period .To receive a regular call, contact Age NI Advice on 0808 808 7575 (9am-5pm Monday-Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep learning - Use this time to try something new, rediscover an old interest or find a new one. It is very important keep our mind active at this time.
“Change is the end result of all true learning.”
Leo F. Buscaglia
Such was the quote we used in the introduction to the programme for the 2020 Belfast Festival of Learning. Little did we know then how much life would drastically change as we very quickly had to deal with Covid-19 and learn how to adapt to life in lock down. It has been a period that has made learning even more crucial and relevant, as we found ourselves faced with the necessity of finding new and creative ways of how to connect with and support each other during the lockdown - and now recovery - stage of the Covid-19 global crisis.
The Public Health Agency (PHA) is helping us stay up to date each day with developments in Northern Ireland on Covid-19. It is also giving guidance on how we can use the Take 5 steps to wellbeing, which includes learning, whilst staying at home.
We are all learning how to do things differently for now; learning new ways of doing things and how to enjoy ourselves. Use this time for some discovery. Learning new things gives us a sense of achievement, increased confidence and enjoyment."
Many of us are spending more time at home than we ever thought possible and we need to be mindful of the stress that this can bring; we have had to find new ways to manage our health and wellbeing and maintain close relationships throughout the lockdown stage. Moving into the recovery stage will also bring challenges that we will have to learn how to deal with.
At a city level Belfast has developed new ways of supporting its citizens in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis – new partnerships were formed across organisations, groups and sectors to get help to all those who need it in communities across the city. These new partnerships provided the planning and co-ordination needed to deliver essential food, fuel and healthcare and to build and maintain crucial social networks to take care of the most isolated and vulnerable amongst us. We have learnt many lessons from these new approaches and responses that we need to take forward into the "new normal" ahead.
On a global level UNESCO organised a series of live webinars to enable cities from across the world to present and discuss specific initiatives, in response to Covid-19, that have been developed to meet the needs of their citizens in terms of health, education and social care, including a focus on the most vulnerable and isolated groups. It has been very powerful to see this global exchange of knowledge and learning to help us cope with the crisis we all face. These webinars lasted many weeks and recordings and notes of webinars on Covid-19 responses can be found on this link
UNESCO Learning Cities' response to Covid-19
Technology is now playing a key role in keeping people linked in with vital support; many of the opportunities for learning, getting advice and making social connections are now free, online and are more accessible than ever. Whilst this has been a lifeline for many, we also face the challenges of making sure no one is left behind through the digital divide that exists in many communities across the city.
As a learning city we know that learning happens all the time; it is a key part of building and maintaining quality of life and learning has never more important than now, at a time when our quality of life has been under extreme threat. As we emerge from this global pandemic, we will begin to collate the learning that helped to best protect and support our families, communities and cities. Belfast, as a Learning City, will have much to share of this learning, and we will share it, to ensure as much as possible that these insights, knowledge and learning come with us into the future.
To take part in sharing your story of learning in Covid-19, please use our Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/BelfastLearning and Twitter @Belfastlearning
Keep Learning Videos
Be active - Exercising makes you feel good.
Find an activity you enjoy; one that suits your level of mobility and fitness and one that can be done without interacting with others outside your household. Being physically active will also promote and support your emotional wellbeing.
You can build up your exercise throughout the day with single bouts of exercise or physical activities of ten minutes, click here for 10-minute workouts.
Remember to protect your skin from the sun when outside, for more information click here.
The key is to include exercise in your daily routine, why not start your day with a Wake up, work out?
Getting out of the house into fresh air can really help break up the day, and is the perfect opportunity do some exercise.
You could go for a walk or run, cycle, play a game, garden or dance.
Click on the links below for more information:
Remember you can still connect with people if you are out walking or running by saying hello or smiling, as long as you stick to current NI social distancing guidelines.
Alternatively, here a few exercise ideas you can do at home or in your garden:
Remember, it is important to warm up before exercising, click here for a quick example of how to warm up.
No equipment? No problem! Don’t let having no equipment put you off exercise. Getting your body moving is the most important thing.
What about children? Here are some fun ways to keep children active at home:
Remember to have screen time limits, for more information click here.
Click here for our Active Belfast page.
Are you working in the area of health & physical activity?
Join a virtual workout class or live movement session online. For older adults organisations like Age & Opportunity and Siel Bleu are hosting virtual sessions on their Facebook pages.
Institute of Public Health has developed resources which you may find useful -
- Report providing a comprehensive overview of the evidence on the consequences of physical inactivity in older adults. You can access the report here. Organisations can freely use this additional resource. Download here
- Information on recommended national guidelines and a list of activities to help keep active during this time. Click here
- Click here to access a graphics pack for content you can use on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to share the message on the importance of physical activity at this time of social distancing.
- TEN WAYS TO KEEP ACTIVE AT HOME - Find information on recommended national guidelines and a list of activities to help keep active during this time. Click here.
Sport NI Framework for resumption of Sport and Physical Activity is available to download
Updated guidance on outdoor training and coaching in Northern Ireland
Be Active Videos
The Eatwell Guide below is what a healthy diet should be made up of:
For more information, click here.
Check out the links below for some information and ideas for staying healthy.
Take notice - Stop, pause, or take a moment to look around you.
What can you see, feel, smell, or even taste? Look for beautiful, new, unusual or extraordinary in your everyday life and think about how that makes you feel.
Take time to look around and listen to all the noises in your garden and your street and during your daily exercise (whilst maintaining social distancing).
Ideas to get you started...
Paying more attention to the present moment- mindfulness- can help improve mental wellbeing. The NHS Mindfulness for Mental Wellbeing pages have lots of tips and advice.
Salute to the sun
Activities such as yoga and tai chi can help develop awareness of your breathing. See our ‘Be Active’ section for more information & don’t forget your suncream!
Take notice of the great outdoors
Take notice whilst taking a walk around your local neighbourhood or with a walking group. Or try an activity such as geocaching or join the stone painting/finding/hiding craze-search ‘Love on the rocks’ on Facebook to find out more!
See things differently
Have a clear the clutter day, visit a new place for lunch or take a different route on one of your regular journeys.
Drawing, painting or photography are all great ways to help you focus on your surroundings.
Keep a record.
Write a diary - Keep a scrapbook - Start a blog
It can be easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much.
Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing. You can check your mood using this simple mood self-assessment quiz.
Here are some useful links:
Take Notice Videos
Give - Do something nice for a someone
Smile, seeing yourself and your happiness linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and will create connections with people around you.
Helping, giving and sharing are associated with increased self-worth and positive feelings
It is important to emphasise that we are all helping our community and our health service by staying at home. This is the greatest gift you can give right now.
There are also some things you can do whilst at home that benefits you and the person receiving support:
- check by telephone on neighbours or people you know in your community who may need some extra assistance
- phone a friend-staying at home can make staying in touch difficult. You could help make someone’s day by picking up the phone and saying hello. You can make a real difference!
- Stay in touch virtually using social media
If you know an older or vulnerable person who has been advised to self-isolate, there are still plenty of things you can do to help them, including:
- staying in touch over the phone
- checking if they need any shopping or help
- encourage others to stay in contact
- encourage them to keep active by moving around the house or spending time in the garden/ outdoor area
When supporting others, it is important you help safely:
- wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds
- stay at least two metres away from people you’re helping
- do not go inside the homes of anyone you do not live with, especially people who are vulnerable or self-isolating
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): overview and advice
Volunteer Now has launched its ‘#HelpEachOther’ campaign to help safeguard those most at risk in the community. And, in response to an increasing number of requests by people looking for opportunities to help their local community during these uncertain and changing times. If you are keen to volunteer or are an organisation who would like to involve more volunteers as a result of COVID-19, you can find out more or register your interest:
As we begin this journey together we ask you to listen to the public health guidance and stay safe, look out for each other and look after your mental health.
This is temporary and there are brighter days ahead!