NHS staff reminded to relax to boost mental wellbeing and manage stress

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To coincide with national stress awareness day (4th November 2009) South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust staff have been reminded to put into practise the knowledge they gained at relaxation classes, helping to reduce tension and boost mental wellbeing.

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem in the course of a year and NHS staff aren’t immune to this.

In order to combat stress and help staff to relax, relaxation sessions have been held to encourage staff to notice the first signs of tension and unwind.

Not only does relaxation help to reduce tension it is recommended for reducing high blood-pressure, anxiety and stress.

Everybody experiences tension and stress has become part of life. There is a strong relationship between tension and wellbeing. But not only can it affect our mood, it can gradually cause many physical and mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, headache, body aches, hypertension, heart diseases and digestive problems.

Tension can lower our immunities to various infections and it can slow recovery from major traumas to the body.

The aim of the relaxation sessions was to help Trust staff understand the meaning of tension and relaxation, to develop awareness of presence of tension in the muscles and to learn to relax so that they can do so when needed.

Staff were invited to 45 minute relaxation sessions, held during lunch breaks, to learn how to relax and become more aware of parts of the body in which the muscles are particularly tense.

The method of relaxation involved tensing and relaxing the muscles alternately with the goal to learn the difference between the states of tension and relaxation.

After the relaxation exercises, staff learnt how they could incorporate the relaxation methods into everyday life, whether it be at work, driving a car or in the gym.

Clinical psychologist Rajendra Joshi, who ran the sessions, said: "Relaxation is an important part of taking good care of yourself. It is a common enough word, yet very few of us have had much experience with real relaxation. Real relaxation is a focused, intentional period of time during which one is mindful and alert, yet one’s muscles are relaxed. It is not necessarily as easy as it might sound, but when you get good at it, it restores energy and boosts mood and performance levels better than any other activity."

The relaxation training sessions were very well received by the staff and all sessions were fully booked.

Trust secretary Helen Robinson, who attended one of the sessions, said, "I found the session really good! The group leaders went through the techniques clearly which made them easy to follow. I intend to keep up the tips and will try and remember to think about the techniques in my day-to-day routine."

The sessions were so successful that the Trust is now planning on conducting one or two booster sessions in the future.

For more information on looking after your mental wellbeing, visit the Trust’s website at www.southwestyorkshire.nhs.uk or follow the Trust on Twitter at www.twitter.com/allofusinmind

NHS staff reminded to relax to boost mental wellbeing and manage stress

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