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Five ways to support wellbeing in science

Just like our physical health, our mental health can impact our wellbeing and our ability to live our lives. When we think about what good mental health is, it usually means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need or want to.  

Our working conditions and environment can have a huge impact on mental health and, equally, someone’s mental health can have a significant impact on performing well in their job. Research shows that nearly 1 in 7 people experience mental health problems in the workplace

Being aware of mental health at work has become even more pertinent as we live with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and cope with rising cases of eco-anxiety – something which people working in atmospheric science may be prone to experiencing. 

On the lead up to Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 in May, we’re promoting ways to improve mental health and support wellbeing in the research community. 

Connect

There is strong evidence that social relationships, including those with people at work, are critical for promoting wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health.  

With this in mind, we can encourage connections with people in person and online. Talk to a colleague instead of sending an email, even if it’s on the phone or via Zoom or a Slack call. You could put five minutes aside to ask how a colleague is feeling or what their weekend was like, and really listen when they tell you. Maybe speak to someone new, attend a conference, or reach out to a person at work who you’ve not heard from in a while. 

Be active

Being physically active on a regular basis can help to promote your wellbeing, and it doesn’t have to be intense to feel good. 

Taking a break to go outside at lunchtime, perhaps with a friend or colleague, can boost your wellbeing and help you to connect as well. You could try doing some easy stretches before or after work, or even build these into your working day while sitting at your desk. 

Take notice

Studies have shown that savouring ‘the moment’ can enhance your wellbeing. Taking time to take notice, be curious, and enjoy the environment around you can be a real benefit to your mental health, and other people’s too. 

A few ideas could be to get a plant or a picture for your work area, have a ‘clear the clutter’ day, take a break from work in a different place, or remind yourself to notice how your colleagues are feeling or acting.

Learn

The practice of setting goals has been strongly linked to higher levels of wellbeing. Continued learning through life can also enhance self-esteem, social interaction, and maybe even physical activity too. Why not learn something new today? 

Find out something new about your colleagues, sign up for a class or a seminar, research something you’ve always wondered about, or simply discover a new word. 

Give

According to social research, committing acts of kindness can increase a person’s wellbeing. By helping others, we can nurture our own good mental health too. 

Cheer on a fellow teammate by sending an encouraging message or endorsing them to another colleague, find the positives in a negative situation, recommend something you’ve enjoyed, reminisce about good times or group achievements at work, tutor someone, or perhaps send a written note or care package in the post. 

Your ideas and experiences

The five ways to wellbeing – connect, be active, take notice, learn and give – are inspired by a set of evidence-based public mental health messages, curated by the Mental Health Foundation and the charity Mind. Let us know what you think about them and how you look after your wellbeing, by joining @AtmosScience in the #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek conversation.

If you would like to know more about being a mental health champion for staff and students across the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, please let us know by contacting edi@ncas.ac.uk.