Autumn Fair

5-8 September 2021 | NEC BIRMINGHAM

28 May 2020

Reflecting back on Mental Health Awareness week

It’s fair to say that after eight weeks (are we still counting?) of enforced lock down, Mental Health Awareness Week has never been more relevant, or well timed. Even more apt is this years theme of Kindness. After the last few months it is the kindness of others that has helped many people realise, they are not alone.

People have become more aware of what is happening around them, and three months ago we may have thought we were interfering in someone’s life and not asked if someone was OK, and three months ago, someone may not have answered truthfully. However, the past few months have made us more aware of the people around us, and given us permission to check in with people.

It has also given us permission to check in with ourselves. From the stress of self isolating on your own, Parenting and home schooling whilst working, parenting and home schooling whilst not working, doing our best to work at home, during a pandemic, the stress of being separated from family, the uncertainty that businesses have faced, it has never been more important to recognise that we have more to deal with at the moment, and we need to look after ourselves.

From talking to the team at Spring and Autumn Fair, and people within our network, we have all been forced to really look at the way that we live and work, it has given us some chance to reflect on some of the positive ways this period have impacted our lives, and we wanted to share those with you.

We have spent more quality time with our friends and family ( and we know the people we work with a lot better). 
Many of us have picked up the phone (or got out grandparents on zoom) and found time to reconnect more often. When our lives were full of work through the week, and social plans at the weekend, it was perhaps hard to find an hour to have a pub quiz night with the whole family or an extended friends’ group. It has given us the chance to make new memories with our families and friends in a very unexpected way.

It has also given us chance to really get to know the people we work with a lot better, from meeting family and children (often unexpectedly on a video call), To getting to know their pets, their taste in art work (and mugs), the rooms they work in, who literally can't survive without coffee... It's been nice really getting to know the teams we work with, and when we can finally get together - we will appreciate each other more.

We have assessed our own work/ life balance.
Whilst working from home for many of us has provided the challenges of entertaining and home schooling our families, it has provided had one benefit – the commute from the getting out of bed and going to the office is now less than a few steps. That time of our day when we routinely spent an hour on the train/tube/bus checking emails, or watching Netflix has been, temporarily, given back to us. Enabling us to all make family dinner times, and spend more quality time with our family in general. There has been much talk about the future of offices and the workplace, one thing is for sure, we have gotten used to having more time at home and gaining our days back, and its given us food for thought on what a work/ life balance should look like.

We have discovered new hobbies.
There has been a growing trend towards mindfulness for a long time, but with more time on our hands at home, well – who hasn’t bought a jigsaw or three? Gibson Games, a long time exhibitor of Spring Fair has seen a steady rise in the popularity of Jigsaws in general, (in 2017 they were included, alongside Milk and Gin, in the consumer prince index that measures inflation). During a time when we have become so digitally connected, these puzzles and games have not only provided a way of being more mindful, but also of giving us time to digitally detox, either on our own or with some one else.  From puzzles to macramé, board games to colouring books, crafting and games have seen a surge of popularity that will stay with us for a long time.

We have given ourselves permission to live slower.
For many of us, we do not realise the pace at which we generally live in the UK. From early starts, stressful commutes, ensuring our children and families are taken care of, constant connectivity, social commitments, it’s not surprising that a study by Oxford Economics for Sainsburys Living well index in 2018 found that the average adult in the UK gets on average 6 hours 19 minutes of sleep a night, with over half of all adults stating they do not get enough sleep.  One thing that this period has helped many people do is slow down, and prioritise ourselves.  With more restrictions and more time on our hands we have had chance to really consider what is important, and the importance of that digital detox from time to time.

The last few months has been a challenging period for us all, but there have been some positives that we have found in many of our lives, and kindnesses that we have seen in our own local community that have inspired us all. Mental Health Awareness Week has given us a chance to reflect on many elements, but mostly, how life has changed in the last few months and has made it more acceptable to talk about our mental wellbeing with the people around us.

Resources

Yale University: The Science of Well-Being
In this course you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.

Thrive Global

The Thrive Global community is packed full of insight and stories launched by Arianna Huffington with the aim to go beyond raising awareness and create something real and tangible that would help individuals, companies and communities improve their well-being and performance.

The Global Wellness Institute

Mental Health Foundation – Covid019 resources

Mind – Covid-19 information resources

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