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Coronavirus stress? Take 5!

Training Matters (TM) understands pharmacy teams are under a great deal of pressure in these unprecedented times, so take look at these activities to help keep your health and wellbeing in check

Going above and beyond to support customers and patients is second nature to pharmacy teams and never has this been more necessary than in the current healthcare climate. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to exceptional demand on time, resource and health and pharmacy teams across the UK are stepping up and offering invaluable support and care.

But while looking after customers and patients is important, so is looking after your own health and wellbeing. It can be difficult to see past the stress and pressure but taking time out – even for just five minutes – can make the world of difference to your outlook and ability to face a busy day head on.

TM is committed to supporting your physical and mental health and wellbeing, so here are some ideas that you can squeeze into a busy day, whether at work or at home.

Work place relief

1. Meditate

This doesn’t have to be on a mountain top somewhere or at a spa retreat. Find a quiet place alone for five minutes to collect thoughts and most importantly, breathe. Slow breathing for five minutes can help release built up tension in the body.

The NHS recommends this calming breathing technique for stress, anxiety and panic takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere:

  • Let the breath flow as deep down into the stomach as is comfortable, without forcing it
  • Try breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth
  • Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count from one to five
  • Then, without pausing or holding the breath, let it flow out gently, counting from one to five again. Keep doing this for three to five minutes.

Mindful magazine also published a six-step guide to desk meditation, which can be put into practise in a dispensary, the staff room or even at home.

2. Stroll

A quick walk, even if it’s just a couple of minutes around the block in the fresh air, can blow away the cobwebs and help the mind refocus. The change of scenery and little bit of physical activity creates an opportunity for the mind to think and digest all the information thrown into a busy day before getting back to it.

3. Switch off

The influx of bad – and sometimes fake – news and unhelpful group chats sharing a myriad of worries can often make mobile phones a vortex of doom and gloom. So take a break, turn off the notifications and let the mind free itself, even for a few minutes. Everyone will still be there when you’ve had chance to recoup.

4. Stretch out

A five-minute stretch throughout the day can really help to relieve tension, especially in the shoulders and back. These sitting-down stretches suggested by the NHS can also improve flexibility, balance and strength. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/sitting-exercises
If you’re on your feet all day and don’t have the luxury of a sit down, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy also has some simple stretches, some of which can be done standing.

5. Power up

Not feeling like there is time to eat or drink can cause blood sugar levels to drop, affecting mood and concentration. Make a hot drink, grab a snack and allow the body to recharge and refuel. There is always time for a five-minute biscuit break and you’ll feel much more able to tackle the next task.

Got your back

NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) have issued information on the first in a series of psychological support for all NHS staff, including those working in primary care, to support their mental health and wellbeing during the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have worked with apps such as Unmind, Headspace, Sleepio and Daylight to waive costs for the NHS workforce and give them free access from now until the end of December 2020. An NHSmail email account may be required to access some of the apps.

Further information on how to access this support is available on the NHS Employers website.

At home chillout

1. Unwind not rewind

Take five minutes to vent about a busy day but then put it to bed. It’s not helpful to dwell on the day gone or worry about the days ahead so value this time to recharge and recover. Turn off the phone and the news and try opening a book, listening to a podcast, watching a movie or playing with the kids or pets. The Covid-19 pandemic can feel all consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.

2. Cook up a storm

It is important too try and maintain a healthy and balanced diet to ensure the body is getting its essential nutrients. And because everyone is in isolation, there are plenty of YouTube stars and celebrities making their own cooking videos at home to gain inspiration from. For example, Jamie Oliver’s Keep Cooking and Carry On tv show that provides tips on easy to follow recipes (see box below).

3. Work it out

Staying activity is a great way to de-stress, keep fit and tire the body alongside the mind. Like the increasing number of cooking videos online, there is also an abundance of workout and fitness videos emerging, which can be found through a simple search on Google or YouTube. Many have been made bearing in mind people might not have any gym equipment or much space in their homes. If a step by step guide is more your thing, the NHS has a 10-minute cardio at-home workout plan.

4. Be mindful

Mindfulness is a word being thrown around a lot at the moment. So what is it? Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment and benefits are thought to include decreasing sadness and stress and increasing happiness and focus. Why not give it a go? Mental health charity Mind has some tips on practising mindfulness in a variety of ways that do not need any special equipment.

5. Pause productivity

Although using time productively is important, after a long day it is absolutely okay to do nothing at all. And this includes not overthinking and worrying about not being productive. Rest, recuperate and recover.

Editor’s picks

P.E. with Joe has taken the country by storm, with hundreds of thousands of children and parents joining fitness coach, TV presenter and author Joe “The Body Coach” Wicks each day at 9am for a 30-minute PE lesson. If you’re not able to join in live, each work out is saved on Joe’s YouTube channel so you can fit it in whenever you can and revisit the sessions at a later date. And who says you need to have children to have a go?! 

Yoga with Adriene is a personal YouTube favourite. Whether you’re a complete novice or a yoga aficionado, actress, writer, entrepreneur and yoga teacher Adriene Mishler offers free yoga and mindfulness activities, ideal to keep you busy and in tip top shape during quarantine. Try this office break workout, which requires no equipment, can be done anywhere, and even has a guest appearance from Benji the dog to brighten your day.

If food is more your thing, you can always count on Jamie Oliver. His new programme Keep Cooking and Carry On is currently being shown on Channel 4 at 5:30pm each day. If you miss it or don’t have time to watch a full programme on catch up, some of the individual recipes are being uploaded to YouTube, alongside the TV chef’s recipe archive, for your viewing pleasure. I’ve got my eye on the homemade bread…

US food magazine Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel has gained a cult following, with some great recipes, amusing challenges and some banter thrown in for good measure. The team are now in quarantine and are doing challenges in their home kitchens – who knew there were 32 different ways to make a pizza?! Delve into their archive for more entertainment and ideas, such as at-home gourmet Krispy Kreme doughnuts – delish!

Gareth Malone has amazed and entertained us on numerous occasions, creating and conducting choirs for military wives, celebrities and Invictus Games participants. But his latest project turns his attention to the masses for the Great British Home Chorus. Follow his rehearsals live or later on YouTube and sign up to email alerts to hear the latest news. If you’d rather listen than sing, he has also created Spotify playlist Home Malone.

It’s an oldie but a goodie! Carpool Karaoke with James Corden has become a global hit since the inaugural edition with the late, great George Michael for Comic Relief in 2011 and his first Late Late Show outing with Mariah Carey in 2015. There are now over 60 in total, including editions with Michelle Obama, Paul McCartney and most recently Niall Horan, so plenty to get through during quarantined evenings and days off.




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