BD Youth blog: Looking after your well being
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Our feature story in BD Youth Inspire - May is all about looking after your mental health and wellbeing - Mental Health Awareness Week runs 18 - 24 May. We speak to a handful of our BD Youth Ambassadors across the country to find out more about what their daily routines in our new normal entail.
At the moment, we are all stuck indoors as much as possible – unless you are a key worker. These guys are doing a great job, but we need to help them and ourselves to stay safe by staying at home. Everyone will have had plans for this time of year, whether they are dressage-related or maybe working hard for GCSE exams, A-level exams or university assignments. The current pandemic has thrown all of these plans in the air, but that’s okay. Everybody is in the same boat. Whilst we are all stuck at home there are lots of things that we can do to fill our time and to look after our own mental wellbeing as well as our physical health.
What is my mental wellbeing?
Your mental wellbeing is how you’re feeling right now, and how well you can cope with daily life. This can change all the time, sometimes because of things that happen to you, or sometimes for no reason at all. It can affect how we feel about ourselves, about others, and about things we face in our lives.
While life is suddenly so different to the ‘normal’ we have become used to, it’s important to look after and improve our mental health. Things that are helpful for you might not be helpful for somebody else, or might not be helpful in a different situation in future, so try and find things that suit you now.
Here are some top tips from our team of regional Ambassadors that might be useful during lockdown.
Central Ambassador Rosie’s top tip is to do something you love to do each day! Rosie’s favourite is baking, it makes her feel relaxed and allows her to focus on something rather than dwelling on the fact that her routine has changed. Trying new bakes and recipes makes her feel like she has accomplished something with her time.
North West Ambassador Lucy has found that rekindling hobbies, such as knitting and singing played a big part in her ability to cope with lockdown as well as her recent injury. “I found that a creative outlet gives a similar feeling of satisfaction to training and competing, but in a less pressured way.”
Learn something new
Why not try learning a new, or rekindling an old, passion for a musical instrument? Wales’ Ambassador Briony has been learning how to play the piano in her free time.
You could also try one of the many online language courses or learn how to knit, sew or find a DIY project!
“Something I like to do with all this free time is (try to) keep fit. There are lots of free online work outs available at the moment [like Joe Wicks’ PE lessons or BD #WednesdayWorkouts]. For me exercise is a great way to clear my mind and reduce any stress or anxiety I might have.” – Charlotte
Rosie is also staying in contact with her usual personal trainer and completing home workouts using her online classes. This keeps Rosie active and feeling great at home, whilst still supporting her trainer so that she can keep helping her when they’re allowed back to the gym!
We might all be at home but keep making healthier decisions when it comes to snacks and mealtimes , Briony’s top tip is to get into the habit of drinking water or squash instead of tea or coffee all day which might be tempting if you’re working from home! Staying hydrated will help you to focus and reduce tiredness.
Why not organise new ways to get together with friends, like video call quizzes or online photo competitions – or just share some of these ideas of ways to keep busy (or some of your own) with your friends and family?
Briony is looking after some of the other livery horses on her yard for their owners at the moment and has been surprising them with pictures of their horses under the blossom on the yard. Such a simple way to brighten their owner’s day as well as yours!
Connect with others
Technology mans that we can still stay in contact with friends, even if we can’t see them at the moment. Even a quick text, Facebook message or Snapchat might brighten someone’s day! – Charlotte
Taking time out to just relax can be key to looking after your mental health, whether this be taking a long bubble bath, spending time outside in nature or meditation.
“As a person who two to three years ago would have really struggled greatly with lockdown (let alone throwing an injury into the mix that left me unable to ride), I feel well placed to share my experiences of how to cope with all of this uncertainty. Especially now that I have come the other side of it (almost!). Meditation has already been a big part of life for the last few years. Whilst I know it may not be for everyone, daily practice has helped me to manage my emotions and more easily shake off negative thoughts. The related practice of gratitude training I think anyone can benefit from- as it’s all about focusing on what you are grateful for right now, as method of helping you to focus more on the present moment.” – Lucy McKeown (North West)
Something you enjoy
One of the best ways to relax is to find your ‘happy place’, something you enjoy doing, that you can get lost in and clear your mind. Lots of our Ambassadors enjoy reading and this is their way to relax and unwind, getting lost in a book reduces their stress and anxiety. Find a book, a series, or an author you enjoy and switch off from the world for a while – maybe with a warm drink, a blanket and some cosy slippers like Briony’s!
Relaxed pony time is a great healer! Whether it’s a really thorough groom or a good tidy of the tack room, really taking the time to do these less pressured activities, that are all too easy to put off, can be very therapeutic. Splitting these tasks up into smaller, quicker chunks is useful so that they don’t become too overwhelming. - Lucy
There are lots of great online courses you can take to improve your skills or brush up on knowledge for the future. “A lot of us in BD Youth should be in school, college or university right now and I’m sure we all have plenty of text books and online resources we could (or should) be using! GCSE and A Level exams might be cancelled for this year, but many of us will be continuing to study next year and it’s always best to be prepared!” - Charlotte
If you’re lucky enough to still be seeing your horses and ponies, why not make the most of it and enjoy spending time bonding? Giving them some extra TLC might help your mental wellbeing, as well as theirs, and you’ll come out of lockdown with a dazzling dancing partner ready to get back to work.
Briony has been taking the time to give her horses a full groom, some therapy with a hand held massager and remembering to apply hoof moisturiser every day. The small things can make a big difference to both you and your horse/pony!
Remember to stay up to date with the latest guidelines and regulations around horse exercise and care, check in to our Coronavirus Hub and Stakeholder toolkits for the most up to date advice.