It’s mental health awareness week this month and never has there seemed like a better time to focus our attention on this. Alongside the overt public health crisis bubbles away a quieter but no less potent crisis surrounding our mental health. Increased social isolation, loneliness, health anxiety, stress and an economic downturn are creating a perfect storm to challenge our wellbeing.
It’s crucial that we look after ourselves and each other. Never before have the self-care practices of daily exercise, fresh air and healthy food been more essential. Nailing these basics feel key to getting through the days at the moment. But alongside these individual practices, as social creatures we also need ways that we can act collectively, with others and for others. We feed on collective action.
1. Run errands for your local community
Doing odd jobs for people in your local area is a great way of getting you out and about exercising as well as connecting with neighbours. Through Good Gym ‘missions’ you can do a good deed and support those in need while also getting your essential exercise. Missions include dropping off essential food deliveries for people who are self-isolating, delivering medical prescriptions, and supporting people coming home from hospital by moving furniture to allow for a hospital bed to be moved in. All missions are carried out according to safety guidelines, with training given. There are good gym groups all over the UK. Check out this one and find yours.
2. ‘Pay-it-forward’ with Ourmala yoga classes
Ourmala’s online yoga classes aim to soothe and restore your mind and body from daily stresses. Ourmala also provide ‘trauma-informed’ yoga classes to help refugees and asylum seekers who have experienced trauma and every yoga class you take with them helps to fund this.
3. Eat well while supporting independent and sustainable suppliers
The Farms to Feed Us database was created to make local and sustainable produce accessible to us while we’re at home and to support independent producers and suppliers across the UK. It contains small scale farmers, growers, dairies, wineries, bakeries and independent shops that all now sell directly to consumers, delivering either locally or nationally.
Order your tasty goods from suppliers on this list to support a healthy and sustainable food system while you enjoy your healthy meals.
4. Switch off your phone and get playful with nature
As we stay home both adults and children are spending more time indoors and in front of screens. Children are spending less time playing outdoors and connecting to the natural world which is having a negative impact on their health and wellbeing.
We know that unplugging and bringing nature into our everyday lives is crucial for keeping us calmer, happier and healthier. While the outdoors is less accessible than it usually is, there are still lots of ways we can connect with nature from our homes and our neighbourhoods.
From making a planter out of plastic bottles to learning about bugs, our Backyard Nature campaign is full of resources and activities that can help you and your family enjoy nature at home and on your patch, whatever kind of space you have.
For children, connection to nature is best made through play – whether it’s outdoors or indoors. To help children connect to the natural world during the coronavirus crisis, Semble’s Outdoor Classroom Day campaign will be sharing ideas for nature-oriented play that can be done from anywhere – your garden, balcony or even your living room. This will make them happier and more able to cope during this difficult time – and beyond.
5. Donate food with your dancing feet
Taking a dance class with The Food Chain raises money for their COVID-19 Emergency Groceries Appeal. The weekly classes are suitable for all ages and all abilities. No experience required, only a sense of humour and your dancing feet. Wednesdays at 5pm and Saturdays 11am.
6. Start a ‘Tiny Revolution of Connection’
It’s often the tiny steps that form the foundations of connection. And the small stuff that ripples on to bigger impacts. Come together through creativity and get playful in your community with these ideas from Fun Palaces. From pom-poms with a purpose, to adopting a local plant, these suggestions are ways you can connect a little more to your local community through creative and thoughtful acts.
7. Action is the antidote to fear
Get closer to your community and volunteer. Feeling powerless is a big cause of stress. When we’re worried, taking action is the quickest answer to feeling better. We feel empowered and calmer when we feel able to do something. We are dealing with lots of bad news right now. Working with others to help create positive solutions shows our brains that there are good things to celebrate too. So get closer to people that are creating positive change and get stuck into helping.
If you have a project or activity that’s bringing us together, supporting communities or organising a collective response sign up your project on semble.org. We’ll shout about what you’re doing so others can find your project. We’ll also share funding news and practical resources to help you take action.
More from Semble on community action during Covid-19
We’re running workshops, writing resources and sending updates on social media and email to support community action in the current climate. Be the first to know about future workshops, funding opportunities and more:
> If you run a community group join the Semble network here
> If you support community action subscribe to the Semble mailing list here
Register for our upcoming workshop ‘Overcoming Fear and Building resilience’ here