Using our Mind & Body Health and Wellbeing Toolkit

Discover some of the innovative ways to use our Mind & Body Health and Wellbeing Toolkit to help support you and your team.

Toolkit contentNow more than ever, looking after our own mental health and wellbeing and supporting those around us is essential. As you work tirelessly each day to serve our patients, staff, students and communities, it can be easy to overlook you and your team’s wellbeing.

Our Mind & Body Health and Wellbeing Toolkit [pictured right] is one of the ways King’s Health Partners can support your mental and physical health. The toolkit, launched in March 2019, offers a range of ideas, initiatives and resources to support your health and wellbeing, developed collaboratively by expert physicians, psychologists and dieticians who are part of our Mind & Body Champions network. The toolkit is available free to all staff and students, in addition to our COVID-19 Health and Wellbeing pages, which offer national guidance and accessible resources to support your physical and mental health.

With more than 70 pages of resources, you may be wondering how to best use the toolkit to support your, and your team’s health and wellbeing during this challenging and uncertain time. Below are some recommendations on how to best use the resource:

Encouraging communication and support

Our toolkit offers several quick-fire methods to keep you and your team connected and open with one another. Though this can be difficult to make time for with a packed schedule, but small additions (pg.4) can make a big difference.

Establishing fortnightly or monthly peer support sessions or clinical reflection sessions that last just 10 minutes can help managers stay informed about how their team is doing and ensure colleagues feel supported at work.

Allocating “break and walk” time on a busy day with a short walk outside, to the shop or round the block, can give you some vital headspace by yourself or give you time to unwind with a colleague working with you on the hospital site, recognising social distancing, or virtually.

There are many amazing resources available to staff and students that are free and easy to access, from apps to help a good night’s sleep to collaborative learning resources. We would encourage you to share these with staff, through a noticeboard, word-of-mouth, on your intranet homepage or through newsletters.

Responding to your emotions

Recognise how you are feeling

Many staff and students may be experiencing, or have experienced, burnout or emotional exhaustion during this challenging time. Emotional and physical exhaustion from your own experiences, or through exposure to the trauma of others can lead to feelings of powerlessness, anxiety and more.

If recognised, however, support can be accessed to help support you. Our toolkit outlines a “Three R” approach to follow in identifying and managing these feelings:

  • Recognise: Explore potential causes and warning signs outlined in the toolkit, many of which we explore in this article.
  • Reduce: Seek support where you can, from colleagues, friends, family or by exploring the resources we offer through this toolkit or on our COVID-19 Staff Health and Wellbeing page.
  • Resilience: Take action to care for your physical and mental health more broadly to help build stronger foundations for when challenges come your way in future.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is about paying attention to what is happening in the moment and taking a stance of kindness to yourself and others, often cultivated through guided practice. It can improve awareness of our own experience, our clarity and emotional response to certain situations.

We encourage the practice of mindfulness as it can be done anywhere, by anyone, without need for specific equipment or clothing, but has extensive benefits such as reducing anxiety and stress.

The King’s Health Partners Mindfulness4All resource offers free meditation sessions accessible to all staff and students to help you get started with practicing mindfulness.

Look after your body

At King’s Health Partners we fully understand how connected mental and physical health are. During times of stress, anxiety and burnout it is important we do what we can to look after our bodies.

Adopt healthy habits:

Hydration and nutrition are essential in promoting good physical health, maintaining a balanced diet of 2,000 – 2,500 calories a day along with six to eight glasses of water.

To ensure not just a healthy diet, but also a healthy relationship with food, our toolkit explores mindful eating (pg.37).

There are certain habits that signal you may need to be more mindful, such as eating out of boredom, anxiety our stress or skipping meals and not paying attention to your body’s hunger signals. There are some easy things you can do to practice mindful eating:

  • Let your body catch up with your brain – if you often eat too quickly and feel overfull, it is beneficial to slow down and listen to your body.
  • Know your hunger signals – think about whether your perceived hunger is an emotional response or your body needing nutrition.
  • Develop healthy eating environments – eat at a time that works best for you, somewhere you can take a short break to attend to your plate.

Keep active throughout the day:

Even if we are meeting the guidelines for physical activity each week, some of us may be spending large portions of the day continuously sitting. A recent study found that that breaking up prolonged sitting every 20 minutes with a two-minute walking break improves the adverse effects of sedentary behaviour. (pg.16)

If you are concerned you are not getting enough activity throughout your day, there are some great easy ways to get in some light exercise that compliments your other activity, such as:

  • Standing up or pacing whenever you use your phone throughout the day.
  • Standing or walking for meetings where possible.

Improve your sleep:

Sleep is important for restoring physical and mental health. It refreshes the mind and repairs the body. Lack of sleep can cause fatigue, poor concentration, mood disturbances, impaired judgement and more.

The toolkit explores the full sleep cycle, and how the brain moves through two broad categories: Rapid eye movement (REM), which makes up one quarter, and Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which makes up three quarters of the sleep cycle (pg. 52).

Experts typically suggest that the majority of adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep daily. Though this may not always be possible, our toolkit outlines some ways to encourage the best possible sleep:

  • Make time to relax your mind: schedule half an hour before bed of time to wind down by reading a book or practicing your breathing, making a conscious effort to avoid bright screens or things that might trigger feelings of stress or worry.
  • Assess your sleeping environment: make sure the room is at a temperature you find comfortable (often between 20-25 degrees celsius) and is as dark and quiet as you want it.
  • Make a sleep diary to identify what does and does not help: you may find it difficult to work out what is causing poor sleep, so recording information about what you have done that day or evening and how you slept as a result can help you get to the source of the problem.

Several resources are available to staff and students to encourage good sleep. Visit our COVID-19 Staff Health and Wellbeing pages to explore some of the options available.

You can explore the full toolkit here.

Liked this article? Read free mindfulness sessions now available on our Learning Hub.