A PADDINGTON Bear-inspired self check-in is showing early signs of reducing stress, depression and anxiety under the state's pandemic lockdowns.
They key lesson from the Victoria University study was in routine - just like Michael Bond's Paddington Bear popping in for a chat with Mr Gruber at 11am each day.
Ballarat residents are now encouraged to tap into the Victoria University Elevenses Program, even grabbing their own cup of hot cocoa and sticky buns - if they want - for the chat or just to take a page out of Paddington Bear's book for their own inspiration.
Elevenses started as a 15-minute daily video series of mini-interventions with strategies to support mental health, connection and well-being among the university's staff and student population during the first lockdowns. New topics were released daily at 11am.
Victoria University clinical psychologist and researcher Alex Parker, who leads the project, told The Courier routine was important to maintaining well-being, even prior to the pandemic. She said structure and consistency had proven beneficial even more so in a time of such great upheaval.
"It's been there for people to dip into when they can but the most important thing for any mindfulness or similar techniques is there is greater benefit the more frequently you do it," Professor Parker said.
"We started in the first lockdown and while we're still going we were always going to wind it down from being daily but participants begged us to keep going - even if they don't use it every day, they known it's there and can log in.
"Everyone at the end of the week would tell us how they were going and update their well-being....This showed no mental deterioration (despite going out and back into tighter lockdowns), which was another impetus for us to keep going.
"We found we protected mental health and well-being, which is really exciting and rewarding."
Elevenses draws on experts from a range of topics, including: stress management; exercise; diet; mindfulness amid home schooling; relaxation; and, stress and alcohol consumption. Each episode shared evidence-based advice for well-being.
Professor Parker said it was important people find techniques and strategies that work best for them, mentally and physically, for health during the pandemic. She said often this could mean trial and error.
For Paddington Bear, there is often also a marmalade sandwich tucked under his hat "in case of emergencies".
A range of Elevenses videos are now available, free to the general public, via YouTube channel VU Elevenses.
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