We’ve pulled together a great selection of links, hints and tips to help you and your family eat well and be well.
To help you to plan for and eat a balanced diet, we have listed some ideas and inspiration to help you in the kitchen.
• Plan your meals: creating a weekly menu and a shopping list of all the ingredients you’ll need can save you money and help limit your food shopping to once a week.
• Food delivery: most local supermarkets offer online shopping and delivery, which means you avoid having to leave the house. If you can't get secure a delivery slot, consider companies such as Mindful Chef, Gusto and Hello Fresh who deliver pre-planned meals.
• Batch cook: by making batches of healthy food to freeze you can defrost and reheat meals as and when you need them. Just remember to set aside enough time to create all the dishes you’ll need for the week.
• Keep a good stock of beans and tinned tomatoes: they’re a great standby and can be the basis of many great tasting meals that can be whipped up in half an hour.
• Make a pot of soup: you can create a healthy soup with almost any vegetables you have lying around - healthy, nutritious and quick.
• Visit the BBC for healthy recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner
• On a budget? Visit Cooking on a Bootstrap and Jamie Oliver
• The Association of UK Dieticians produces a jam-packed online magazine, Healthier You, that is a great resource.
• The British Heart Foundation’s online recipe finder is also a good bet.
The reality is we‘re not burning the same number of calories as we did when before lockdown. Here are some ideas on how to stay active to help improve mental health, boost the immune system, reach the NHS recommended exercise guidelines and make us feel better about the current situation. Remember, always exercise within your limits.
The NHS Live Well website will help you gain a better understanding of how much exercise you should do and what type! Check out the recommendations for early childhood young people and older adults to help keep the whole family active.
There are lots of free virtual options out there that will help you recreate an exercise class vibe in your home. We’ve listed a few of the options currently available.
The government has advised that we can all exercise near our homes which means we can still enjoy exercising outside for the time being.
• Cycling is one of the best ways to keep fit and socially distance yourself from others. You can find out where the nearest shared use path is on our website.
• Running. Lace up your trainers and off you go. Before you head off, it might be a good idea to plan your run using a free app like Strava, MapMyRun or RunCoach to ensure you rack up the miles close to home. If you are new to running, try the NHS’ Couch to 5k programme.
• Walking is also a great way to get an all-round workout. Just 30 minutes of putting one foot in front of the other can help increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat and boost muscle power and endurance – and you don’t need any special equipment to enjoy it! Check out Visit Falkirk for some great ideas
Whatever form of exercise you choose to do outside follow Scottish Government guidance, including staying 2m away from others.
You don’t have to jump around to build up a sweat. There are other ways you can keep active without even knowing it.
• Carry out that spring clean you have been putting off. The moving around and the vacuuming will help raise the heart rate. Plus, having a clear out will declutter your home and improve wellbeing.
• Got a garden? If the weather is dry you can get outside and tidy up, cut the grass and hedges and paint fences (all the things you have been putting off). You can even have a chat with your neighbours, but remember to stay 2 metres apart.
• If you have got kids in the house, why not play games with them? Skipping, a game of tig or even hopscotch. Or you could create an obstacle course and time each other to see who completes it fastest. Get creative and you'll be exercising without even knowing it!
• If the idea of a 30 minute exercise class fills you with dread, try out the NHS’ 10 minute workouts - a great introduction that might spark a new passion?
It’s totally understandable that you are missing your fitness buddies. You might not be able to run, jump and sweat with them just now, but you can still have some fitness fun by setting challenges or competitions that you can all take part in during the week. For instance, if you used to play a regular five-a-side match, why not set up a league table to see which player ran the most miles, burned the most calories during the week? Our Falkirk Sport Facebook page has some great ideas for challenges, head on over and check it out.
Anxieties over your own health and that of loved ones can feel overwhelming at the moment. Social distancing can make us hyper vigilant when outside, in addition to spending most of our time cooped up at home, either alone or with family.
Lack of personal space, freedom and control can make life feel stressful, frustrating and intense. To help you stay mentally strong and boost positivity amidst so much uncertainty, we have listed some hints, tips and advice to help you through these challenging times.
Need urgent mental health support? Call NHS24 on 111 or speak to your GP. If you feel you’re in crisis and require immediate assistance call 999.
We will all experience poor mental health issues from time-to-time. Recognising when we need additional support is a good way of developing an understanding of how we feel, what affects our mood, and importantly helps us to take action to keep ourselves well.
If you feel you are not coping, have noticed little things such as changes to your mood or that things are starting to get on top of you, speak to your manager. If you are not comfortable speaking to someone at work, here are a list of organisations that can help:
• Breathing Space
• Choose Life
• Falkirk District Association for Mental Health
• NHS Inform – Your mental wellbeing
• SAMH, Scotland’s national mental health charity
• Scottish Recovery Network
• See Me
Keep in touch and stay connected with the person, even a simple daily check-in via email, WhatsApp or text can lift someone’s spirits or pick up the phone/organise a virtual catch up and really listen.
If you are worried about a work colleague, let your manager know as quickly as possible, they should be the calm voice of reason and reassurance. They can also set up weekly one-to-ones and small team chats over the phone or virtually, to create a safe place for people to be open about how they are feeling.
The more effort you put into communicating with others at this time, the more chance you have of helping them understand their feelings and what support they may need before they become overwhelmed.
Keeping connected is especially important for colleagues who live alone and who might be feeling more isolated than those who have friends or family.
Please also see Cruse for advice on coping with grieving in isolation and how to support someone grieving
Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety so having access to good quality information about Coronavirus can help you feel more in control. Trusted sources include:
If you are feeling stressed or anxious, consider how you feel when you have constant exposure to media coverage and graphic news stories. Although it is important to stay informed, consider taking a break from the media if you feel things are getting on top of you.
Remember to eat and drink regularly and healthily, allow time for sleep, rest and respite every day and consider setting a time to get up and a time to go to bed.
You may not be able to visit friends and family just now but you can still stay connected to them using technology or by telephone – build in time to make that happen because it’s important to stay in touch.
Most of all, be kind to yourself. None of us have been in this situation before so it is important not to beat yourself up if things don’t go quite to plan. If you feel you are struggling don’t be afraid to ask for support.
Exercising, relaxing and getting enough rest is a must to maintain good mental health. Taking good care of yourself may require a little extra time and effort, but it’s worth it. Making time to unwind and enjoy life is an important part of maintaining good health.
When practiced regularly, deep relaxation, like meditation, relieves stress and anxiety and improves mood and may potentially decrease blood pressure, relieve pain and improve your immune and cardiovascular systems.
Regular relaxation, preferably on a daily basis, is essential to maintain our wellbeing. Anything you enjoy doing can count as relaxation – it doesn’t have to be lying in a darkened room but you can do that is you want to!
• Using aromatherapy oil in the bath – a long, hot soak is good for mind and body.
• Read a magazine or a book in a comfy chair with a cuppa.
• Use the one time you are allowed to exercise a day to enjoy a leisurely stroll near your home.
•Try a new form of exercise at home.
Get relaxation inspiration from Mind, the mental health charity
The goal of meditation is to focus and understand your mind, eventually reaching a higher level of awareness and inner calm. Regular meditation can help you to control your emotions, enhance your concentration, decrease stress and even become more connected to those around you. With practice, you’ll be able to achieve a sense of tranquillity and peace.
Remember, there are many ways to meditate so try a few different types to see what works best for you. Headspace – Meditation for beginners is a good place to start.
Created by the NHS, the checklist is a great way to reflect and be mindful at the end of each working day.
• Take a moment to think about today.
• Acknowledge three things that were difficult. Let them go.
• Consider three things that went well.
• Choose an action that signals the end of your shift/working day.
• Now switch your attention to home.
• How will you rest and recharge?
Reading is a great distraction, one of the best ways to de-stress – and fill the time during the recovery phases. Here are some resources you might want to try:
• Falkirk Libraries app offers free access to magazines, books and audiobooks, if you have a library card. Not a member? Temporarily join online
• BorrowBox is a great resource all local school children can tap into.
• Audible has made 100s of its audio titles available for free during the Coronavirus pandemic. No log-ins, credit card or passwords required.
• Theory Test Pro use your time to study for the theory test when plans to sit your driving test have stalled.
We understand the concerns that COVID-19 raises for you and your family. If your family has a reduced income as a result you might find yourself in financial difficulty. There’s lots of support available to make your money go further and guidance on what to do if you’re struggling. You can find financial advice at Citizens Advice and Money Saving Expert.
No matter if you live alone, with a partner or housemate, or you add kids into the mix, it’s been a major adjustment for everyone – even for those who regularly work from home a few days a week.
On this page you will find practical advice on working from home to help you achieve a sustainable work/life balance.
What you must do
. Regardless how you have approached working from home, we have listed some hints and tips you should be mindful of.
• Set up a designated workspace: create a dedicated space to work in, somewhere you can focus on tasks without being distracted and set up with everything you need for a normal working day – computer, phone, large cup of coffee. Ensure you have a reliable and secure internet connection, the necessary hardware and software and remote access to our network plus how to get IT support
• Get dressed: It is always a good idea to follow the normal pre-work routine including getting dressed (which is often harder than it sounds). You don't need a suit and tie, just comfy clothes you would be happy to wear in a virtual meeting.
• Write a realistic daily to-do list: just like in the office, set out a list of achievable tasks to focus on for the day. It won't always be possible to stick to that routine but try to, burnout can happen just as easily at home as in the office.
• Stay connected: it’s too easy to get consumed by work at home because you don’t have all the distractions of the office. Make sure to join team chats, group emails and virtual meetings to stay connected, find out what everyone else is working on and to share what’s on your plate. Make time for non-work chats too just as you would in the workplace and use video calling to maintain face-to-face contact.
• Communicate clearly: we have all read emails incorrectly – and sent emails that people have read incorrectly – so remember to be clear and concise. Picking up the phone or having a virtual chat is also a good way to hear (and see) communication cues to help you avoid misinterpretation.
• Ask for support: don’t be afraid to speak out when you need assistance, further training or support. You may not be physically sitting next to your team but they are still your teammates and they will want to help if they can.
• Take a break: all too often when you work from home you sit down and don’t move for hours. If you find this happening regularly try scheduling breaks to stretch your legs in your diary.
• Noise: the office is usually full of noise, for home working try listening to your favourite music or you could even create a playlist to share with your team.
Anyone with children who is working from home... well, let's just say, the juggle has become very real. Olympic gold medallist Greg Rutherford highlights exactly what you are facing.
So, what can be done to ease the pressure and make it easier for adults and children to come to some sort of understanding?
• Establish a routine: it worked when they were babies so hopefully having a rough timetable for the day will help everyone feel a little safer – and calmer – and give you space to work.
• Share the juggle: young children tend to need more attention than teenagers, so if you have a partner in the house tag team childcare throughout the day to give you both space to concentrate.
• Eat together: before Coronavirus it was not always easy to get everyone to eat together at the same time. One benefit of being in the house together is that mealtimes can become family time.
• Give ample warning: if you’re going on a call or a virtual meeting pre-warn the kids that you need some quiet time. If you are speaking with someone you don’t often speak with, tell them in advance a visitor may appear on screen... at any given moment.
• Adjust your work habits: speak to your manager about starting or finishing work earlier or later than normal, or you may need to take time out during the day and make it up later in the night. You will get the work done, but maybe not in that traditional 9am to 5pm window.
• Find a safe place to work: designate an area of the house as your workspace; an area where you will get as much peace and quiet as is possible yet still be able to hear your children.
• Remember it’s hard on them too: if you think adjusting to life in lockdown is hard for adults just imagine what’s going on in a child’s head. If they seem more emotional than usual be mindful of the fact this is surreal for them too.
• Make time for them during the day: if you have older children it’s easier to explain to them that you need to work. Younger children might not understand so try to break away to read them a story or build something with Lego®, it may buy you uninterrupted time later in the day.
• Headphones (the noise cancelling ones): they are a good option when you really need to concentrate.
It doesn’t matter if you have kids or not, our current situation is hard, very hard. There will be days when you are totally on it and other days when you just want to sit down and cry.
When it all becomes too much:
• Reach out to friends, family and colleagues. The vast majority are in the same boat and feeling it too.
• Be realistic with your manager. If you are finding it hard to cope speak to them. They may be able to offer your support or find a solution that works for you both.
• Take care of yourself. Sleep and eat well and try to exercise to help you cope.
• Visit our Mental Wellbeing page for more information you might find useful.
Using a laptop or desktop PC:
When using a laptop or desktop PC at home it is important to take regular breaks away from it, particularly if you are doing prolonged work. Here are some useful tips for getting comfortable:
• Where possible sit at a desk or table when using a laptop.
• Sit with good posture - feet firm on the floor, elbows slightly above the desk or table surface.
• The desk height should allow you to rest your arms comfortably with your elbows bent at about 90°.
• If you have an office chair adjust it so that your back is supported and your feet touch and rest flat on the ground.
• Use a separate keyboard and mouse if you can, so the laptop can be put on a stand and have the screen opened at eye level.
• Small screens on the laptop can make text harder to read and can increase the strain on your eyes. If you are able to, plug your laptop into a computer monitor.
• Ensure the monitor can be raised to a comfortable height – the top of the monitor should be level with your eyes when sitting down. If you wear multifocal lenses, adjust the monitor to a comfortable position so that you're not tilting your head up or down too much.
I can't get my elbows in the right position and get my feet flat on the floor at the same time.
Try using something solid to rest your feet on to allow you to raise your chair height. This should let you get high enough to position your arms appropriately.
I can't get the monitor high enough or I don't have a laptop stand.
Try raising the monitor up using either a strong box or hardcover books.
I don't have an office chair
Find a comfortable straight back chair and work using that. You can also use a cushion to support your back. If you're doing this make sure you take a regular break to stand up and move around at least every hour.
I don't have a monitor to plug my laptop into and I'm having difficulty with the size of text on the screen.
Use the zoom slider in the bottom right hand corner to increase the text size of Office documents you're working on. You can also Google how to change the zoom to make text and icons larger and easier to see for your PC or laptop and specific programs
I'm having trouble getting an external monitor to work with my laptop
The following steps should allow you to connect a monitor to your laptop although the steps might vary slightly:
• The additional screen needs to be plugged in to a power source and connected to the laptop with the relevant cable (HDMI or VGA)
• Turn on the laptop and log in (do not log into Citrix yet)
• Click on the windows/start button in the bottom left hand corner of the screen
• In the search bar type "extend"
• An option will appear which says duplicate or extend a connected display (on some older laptops this may be display settings) – click on this
• Under multiple displays it will say Duplicate these displays – using the dropdown change this to Extend these displays
• In some cases, you may need to click detect to find the additional screen
• The laptop screen will normally be assigned as screen 1 with the additional screen as 2
• You will be prompted if you want to keep the changes – select yes and you will not need to go through this setup each time
• You can now log into Citrix as normal.
• When you are at your normal desktop click on the arrow at the top of your screen
• Select window
• Move the screen across so it is showing on both the laptop screen and the additional screen and double click
• You should now have two screens.
We have introduced an Employee Assistance Programme(EAP) with effect from 1st May 2020. The EAP provides a free confidential service for advice on a wide range of work and personal issues for all staff.
The Provider of this service is Work Stress Management (WSM). The EAP is a self-referral process and does not require any referral by a line manager. If you needs help with a situation, either work or personal, you can contact Wellbeing Solutions Management who are providing the service directly and they will be able to put you in touch with a counsellor to suit your needs – this can either be done online at www.employeeassistance.org.uk or via a free 24/7 helpline service – 0800 171 2181 which is a dedicated line for Falkirk Council and Falkirk Community Trust employees.
The types of services being offered through this service include:
A copy of the Employee Assistance Helpline Leaflet can be downloaded here for your information.
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