Your Guide To Being Debt Free And With Good Mental Health in 2022

(image: Unsplash)

There is a strong correlation between debt and mental health which is often overlooked. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1 out of 2 adults with debts, also struggle from mental health and therefore it is something that certainly should be discussed more openly.

Not only can people with mental health such as anxiety or depression face difficulty with managing finances, but parallely, those with debt can often suffer anxiety or depression as a consequence. 

Debt can start with basic credit cards or types of personal loans and get out of control due to shopping online, gambling or by being unable to keep up by losing your job or form of income.

With 1 out of 10 Britons suffering with debt problems, circa 6 million people, it is something that we need to be more conscious about and today we offer some useful guidance and support to be debt free and have good mental health for 2022.

Speak To Your Creditors

The stress of having debt starts with the letters demanding payments and it is remarkable how such a small piece of paper can cause so much stress and anxiety. Also just the feeling of having debt in itself is a painful and uncomfortable feeling.

But one of the worst things you can do is avoid any communication with the creditor. In fact, just speaking to the creditor or company that you owe money to, can ease things. There are always options available to you if you are struggling to pay back a credit card or you are behind on a loan.

For instance, credit card companies can offer you a minimum payment, which is 10% of the balance and you can recur this each month until you want to pay in full. The fees for doing so are very, very small and there is just a tiny negative impact to your credit score – but it offers huge breathing space.

For lenders, they are likely going to be able to freeze interest, delay payment for several weeks and months or spread your repayments over a longer period of time, via something called an arrangement to pay. So whilst you will still owe the repayment, it will certainly help by being able to delay repayment until you can get back on your feet.

And just having some repayment schedule in place can stop any calls, texts or letters coming through the door and take some stress off your shoulders. 

(image: Unsplash: Towfiqu Barbhuiya).

Speak To a Professional 

If you are struggling with debt and are unsure where to turn, consider speaking to a debt professional. Not only are there lots of forums online, but there are charities who will answer you and help you for free, such as StepChange and Citizens Advice Bureau. These establishments will be very used to the types of debts and problems that you are having and they will know very quickly the best ways to calm things down and help limit any further fees and charges being applied.

Speak to Your Family and Friends

Whilst many people are too embarrassed to speak to their close circle of friends and family about their debt or their mental health, you will find enormous strength and support from the loved ones around you.

If you have some debts to pay off, you may find that borrowing money from family and friends can be a simple way to elevate this. It is common for parents to help with any debt problems and not request any interest back. You should always be planning on paying your family back though, because this is always healthy for a relationship. But certainly if you have lost your job and just need some breathing space, this can always be a viable option for you.

Don’t Be Shy to Ask For Help

Being strong in times of mental health or financial problems can sometimes add even greater stress, by just having to hold everything in or still be required to attend birthdays, pay for gifts or go to restaurants with people you love.

But being open and honest with the loved ones around you, can be one step closer to helping with your current problems and getting back on your feet.

Just Realise That Everything is Temporary

You might feel like your debt is taking over, but in reality, it may only be temporary. After all, debt is something that can be wiped out once you have repaid or part repaid.

You may want to avoid selling important things in your life, such as your house and your car, but do not be surprised how much junk is lying around the house that people are willing to pay money for. Whether it is books, CDs, DVDs or clothes, there are people on various apps, Facebook Marketplace or even car boot sales who are interested in buying these things and you could quickly gather a few hundred pounds in very little time.

You will be surprised how quickly you can get your debt sorted – and one step closer to financial freedom and better mental health.



This article was written by a freelance writer and contains links.

Assisted Living: How to help your Elderly Parents find their perfect Care Home.

When you were a child, your parents always took care of you. But now that you’ve grown up and may have kids of your own, it’s time to take care of them. And when their health starts to deteriorate, and they become too ill for in-home care, the question becomes: how do we find a great assisted living facility?

While the idea of having to send loved ones to an assisted living facility isn’t always a nice one, it’s often the best choice. Not just for their health, but for our own too

In this article, we’ll walk you through each factor so that finding an assisted living facility feels like less of a daunting task.

Image by Matthias Zomer via Pexels

 

What Types Of Care Homes Are On Offer?

The world of assisted living facilities is an industry that has snowballed. It’s now booming, and there are many things to consider before you make your final decision. The first step is understanding the different types of senior homes available.

A Care Home

This type of facility covers the personal and day-to-day care of your loved ones. They’ll handle things like washing, dressing, and taking medications on time. Many of them also provide activities and days out. But the quality and amount of these extras are provided depends on the home. 

A Nursing Home

Nursing homes cover all the same things as care home, but it’s provided by qualified nurses. So they’re a great choice if your parents have health conditions that need a little extra attention. 

A Care Home With Dementia Care

This type of home is targeted towards elderly loved ones with dementia. It’s designed to make them feel comfortable and to keep them safe.

A Dual-Registered Care Home

This facility accepts residents who have personal and nursing care needs. These homes mean that residents who arrive just needing personal care but eventually need nursing care don’t have to change facilities. Instead, they can stay in comfort in the place that has come to be their home.  

Choosing a Care Home

One of the most important factors when looking for a senior living facility is the level of care. If your loved one needs special attention due to dementia or any other physical disability, you should find a facility with specialized services to have their needs met.

There’s plenty to consider when it comes to looking at care homes for your loved ones. Before you get into the nitty-gritty, it’s worth taking the time to make a list of what’s important to you in your chosen assisted living facility. That way, you can quickly sift through the homes on offer. Because there will be plenty to get through.  

The Staff

The staff at an assisted living facility goes a long way in determining the quality of life for its residents. They must be attentive, caring, and responsive to the needs of each individual. When you visit your prospective home, it’s essential to ask questions about their staff.

The Food

The food served at a senior home is also vital. If meals are not nutritious or flavourful, it can cause malnutrition, weight loss, and other health issues for seniors. Ask if they provide three meals a day or if that depends on what residents choose to eat. It’s important to note that while dietary restrictions can be accommodated at some homes, you may want to find one with more robust catering options and for diets such as kosher or halal.

The Amenities 

Another thing to consider when looking for a care home is what kind of environment and amenities it provides. Does it feel open and welcoming? Is there an opportunity for outdoor activities? Are there pets on-site? How big of a community is there? These questions will help you determine which type of environment would best suit your loved one’s needs.

Amenities on-site provide your parents with something to pass the time, stay engaged, and most of all, feel a strong sense of community. 

Image by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

Always Involve Your Parent

When our elderly loved ones come to need further care that we can’t provide, it’s a challenging time. And while it’s difficult for us to come to terms with, it is just as difficult for them. For many elderly people entering care homes, it’s a massive change to their daily life. Some may not be aware of what it entails, so informing them if possible is important. 

Make sure that they’re a big part of choosing a facility. After all, they’re the ones that will be living there. While some health conditions may hamper their understanding of the situation, it’s essential to keep them as involved as possible. Making a list of what they want and then what they need can be helpful to find the best care home options available. 

So while finding a care home can be difficult, it ensures that the quality of your loved one of life remains high. When caring for them becomes too much for you to handle, assisted living facilities are there as a helping hand.

This article was written by a freelance writer and contains affiliate links.

Start up Founders 50% more likely to suffer from a Mental Health Condition by Daniel Tannenbaum

(image: John schnobrich- Unsplash)

A recent article in Forbes highlights that entrepreneurs and startup founders are 50% more likely to have a mental health condition than an average employee or member of the public. 

Running a startup is very stressful and there is a lot on the line, including your name, reputation and finances. The article highlighted that being an entrepreneur can lead to ‘self-doubt, imposter syndrome, loneliness and burnout.’

In a survey conducted, it showed that only 25% of startup CEOs have some kind of executive coach or therapist to help them overcome their daily anxieties and stresses – suggesting more support is needed to help those entrepreneurs manage the stress of running a high-risk venture.

Mental wellbeing is an important factor for any startup founder, Forbes continues. The levels of stress and anxiety can shape one’s creativity, productivity and ingenuity. Taking care and managing your stress will preserve your talent and innovation and help you to become the best leader possible.”

Daniel Tannenbaum, co-founder of startup news site TechRound and a partner at short term lender Pheabs, explains:

“Startup founders and entrepreneurs are often taking on a huge risk financially, with hopes that they can raise enough money, grow a large company or exit for huge sums.”

“In the short-term, this means taking a financial pay cut, working significantly more hours with the hope that their proposition becomes established and successful.”

“But the process can be incredibly stressful. For example, a lot of startups do not really make money until they exit or are bought out, so regardless of how many hours you work in the first few weeks, months or years, your financial position does not necessarily change. Bear in mind, that you might be missing crucial time with your family, loved ones or you are not fully present in the room because you ‘cannot switch off.’”

“Running a startup is a huge financial risk and there is always going to be someone better funded and getting more PR. So don’t sweat, just do it for enjoyment.”

“Meanwhile, it can be soul destroying to see other competitors in your space or people you know getting massive PR, large funding rounds or sales – and you can really start to doubt yourself and feel like you’ve hit a wall. It becomes a horrendous spiral of jealousy, anxiety and doubt, whilst you have been underpaid and overworked for too long.”

“More than 50% of startups fail, yet it doesn’t stop people creating them, and new businesses being created daily.”

“But I think before you get into a startup, it is important to manage your expectations and understand your vision.” explains Tannenbaum

“You might need to look at this like, ‘I am going to work hard for 3 to 4 years and then reassess if it does not work out.’”

“And also, you just have to do it for enjoyment,” he concludes. “After all, running a startup means that you are calling the shots, not having a boss and being able to hire who you want. So if you can enjoy the everyday part of running a business and a startup, that’s great, and if you happen to make a lot of money, well even better!” 

Daniel Tannenbaum is the co founder of start up news site Techround

What is the Connection between Mental Health and Addiction by Jennifer at Mandala Healing.

(image: Unsplash)


Everyone has their own mental health. But people who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or any other substance abuse are more prone to develop mental illness. While on the other hand, individuals who have mental illnesses are also more prone to developing drug, alcohol, or substance addiction. 

People struggling with addiction and mental health problems have complained about the co-occurring disorder. However, it can be tough to identify which one is the primary. A mental health diagnosis, such as clinical depression, can undoubtedly worsen an individual’s problems with addiction. Similarly, a person experiencing addiction may find that their mental health declines as their use grows. 

If these conditions are left untreated, then co-occurring disorders can lead to a nasty cycle of repeated addiction and worsens mental health symptoms. To overcome addiction and mental health issues, professional care is necessary at a rehab center like Florida Addiction Treatment

But before that, it is vital to understand the relationship between addiction and mental health when looking for help for yourself or a loved one. Because both addiction and mental health diagnoses are chronic medical conditions, they can be treated and managed with the right and approachable treatment while they cannot be cured. 

Understanding the Link Between Mental Health and Addiction:

You might wonder if mental illness can cause addiction or if addiction creates the perfect storm leading to mental health problems. However, in most cases, it is rarely clear which one manifested first. 

Addiction to drugs and alcohol or any other substance can occur due to people self medicating if they suffer from any mental health disorder. Self-medicating with addiction in times of crisis may provide temporary relief at first. But it may help you feel more comfortable connecting with your peers or boost your confidence. However, this is part of the danger of the link between mental health and addiction. 

Continued use is hazardous and develops the risk of addiction. What you look at as a remedy to your problem can quickly put you on a brutal cycle of misuse and abuse. 

Long-term use of addiction often produces side-effects such as anxiety and depression. Taking addictive substances alters your brain chemistry, and extended use of it only increases your chances of developing mental illness. 

People coping with these specific mental health conditions are more likely to get addicted to drugs or alcohol (but not in every case)-

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)


Potential Causes of Co-Occurring Disorders:

Addiction and mental health issues can occur because of many factors; however, some potential causes may involve genetics, age, and environmental factors. 

  • Genetics or family history-

Genetics can play a critical part in the evolution of both addiction disorder and mental condition. It has been studied that genes contribute to many health issues.

As genes are passed down from generation to generation, the family history of a disorder is also a strong indicator. Autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, major depression are all examples of conditions that can be spread through your genes. 

  • Environmental factors-

However, you don’t have to have the genes for a particular disease, which does not mean that you will develop the condition. The environment plays a key role in how their genes are expressed. 

High-stress environments, trauma, physical or sexual abuse can also contribute towards a co-occurring disorder. Looking at your friends and family engage in dangerous behavior like addiction can also play a key factor. People likely to follow the examples of those they are close with. When your close ones behave poorly, you may be more likely to as well. 

  • Age-

Exposure to certain things during teen years can also be an element. Being offered drugs or alcohol at an early age can also contribute to addiction and possibly mental illness. Since at an early age, the brain is still in the developing stage. Developing a mental health illness at an early age may also make you more susceptible to addiction. 

Treatment for Mental Illness and Addiction: 

The best treatment for both disorders is an integrated approach, where both the substance abuse problem and the mental illness are treated together. Whether your mental health or addiction problem came first, long-term recovery depends on getting treatment for both the disorders by the same treatment provider. 

Treatment for mental health may include medication, individual or group counselling, self-care measures, lifestyle change, and peer support.

Addiction treatment may include detoxification, managing withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapy, and support groups to help maintain sobriety. 

The Book of Hope- 101 Voices in Overcoming Adversity by Jonny Benjamin MBE and Britt Pfluger. by Eleanor

To readers of my blog,

(image: Pan Macmillan/ Jonny Benjamin)

I don’t really know where to start! I have been keeping this secret for almost two years.

Nearly 2 years ago, my friends, mental health campaigner/author Jonny Benjamin MBE and author and editor Britt Pfluger, approached me to be a part of their second book entitled ‘The Book of Hope: 101 Voices on Overcoming Adversity‘ (published with Bluebird/ Pan Macmillan in April 2021!).

They asked me to write a piece on how I found hope and recovery after being unwell and my (ongoing) journey with bipolar disorder that I wrote about in my own book Bring me to Light.

I won’t give too much away about the piece I wrote, but it does include my Dad’s story too and talks about life after being sectioned for a manic episode in 2014. It talks about hope, healing, recovery and living with mental illness. It talks about being afraid of the future, but finding light in the darkness.

Heres what Macmillan say about the book which is available for pre order on Bluebird Pan Macmillan website and Amazon. It also contains anecodotes from famous faces including Lemn Sissay, Zoella (Zoe Sugg), Joe Wicks and Dame Kelly Holmes.

There is always hope, even when we cannot seem to seek it within ourselves.

The Book of Hope is an anthology of 101 key voices in the field of mental health, who share not only their experiences with anxiety, psychosis, panic attacks and more, but also what helps them when they are feeling low. Compiled by award-winning activist Jonny Benjamin and author Britt Pflüger, the inspirational contributors in this book range from the likes of Lemn Sissay, Frank Turner and Zoe Sugg, to Elizabeth Day, Hussain Manawer and Joe Wicks; from authors, poets and musicians to charity workers, activists and psychiatrists.

Jonny Benjamin is known for his book and documentary film, The Stranger on the Bridge, which fought to end stigma around talking about mental health, suicidal thoughts and schizoaffective disorder. When his campaign to find the man who prevented him from taking his own life went viral, Jonny was one of a wave of new figures lifting the lid on mental health struggles. In this book, he brings together a range of voices to speak to the spectrum of our experiences of mental health and the power of speaking up and seeking help.”

It is a real honour and privilege to be a part of this project. A dream come true and I am so thankful to be able to share my story on this platform with truly important voices! We all have mental health and our voices deserve to be amplified.

The Book of Hope is available to pre order now and published in 2021.



The Flowers that bloom in Adversity: by Eleanor

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(image: Roxi Roxas Art)

I have wanted to write this post for several weeks, but so much has been going on personally and I have been really emotionally drained (and launching my new business too). Let start at the beginning.

At the end of May, my mother in law (who is carer for my father in law with terminal brain cancer) was taken very unwell. She was rushed to hospital with stroke like symptoms and put into an induced coma on a ventilator as her lungs were collapsing. We were super scared it was Covid as she was shielding anyway and it came completely out the blue, on the day of her 60th birthday after we had celebrated.

She is the main carer for my father in law and so my husband Rob had to move in to their house to care for his Dad and support his brother. (cue frantic phone calls to the doctors surgery, hospitals, Macmillan nurses and Jewish Care, all done by my incredible husband).

Thankfully, my MIL came off the ventilator to breathe unaided and she tested negative for Covid 19. We think she caught a severe bacterial infection and she then got pneumonia in her lungs. She was in hospital for 4 weeks and discharged 2 weeks ago and is making amazing progress with her physio team and her speech. She is still frail but she is recovering slowly.

This blog post I don’t want to make about my in laws because they are private people. Dealing with all these scary changes has been tough on my mental health (and everyones).

We are slowly slowly coming out the other side, although we know my FIL will worsen in time due to the nature of his illness.

So what flowers are blooming during this adversity?

-On Saturday will be our first wedding anniversary and we will spend it together. Its been a rollercoaster year but I am so thankful to have Rob by my side!

-I am loving my new Body Shop at Home business and my team and incredible managers. It really has been keeping me sane throughout this time of family lockdown and I can’t thank Sarah Cardwell enough for introducing me to the business. The products are so good for self care and healing too, which has been so needed and I have made lots of new friends. It keeps my mind stimulated and earns me income too- I am so grateful.

-Yesterday, Robs kind family member went over so we could spend some proper quality time together (thank you). We went for a walk in our favourite little village near by where there are cottages and flowers and village green and pond- I took lots of pictures of my dream cottages and gardens. Then, we got vanilla chocolate milkshakes (first time in a café post lockdown) and visited family. It was so special just to have US time, so rare in this current time for our family.

-This blog is continuing to grow and turning into a side business and for that I am ever grateful. I am also loving sharing peoples personal stories and hope it is a useful resource.

-Our guineapigs Midnight and Nutmeg are a source of joy and give great cuddles.

-Friends and familys kindness and messages help so much. I havnt had a therapy session in a while but will do.

I am feeling positive but there will be rough days ahead in the coming months. Today though, I am enjoying slightly more calm and peace again before the potential storm, and watching the flowers that are blooming in adversity.  

 

Self Care Tips for 2020: Guest blog by Anthony L.

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(image: Pexels)

Now that we are well into 2020 and the landscape seems to be changing every day. Social distancing, quarantine and pandemic are words that would have been foreign in the beginning of 2020 but have now become the new normal. Even though things are changing and it is easy to feel frustrated and disappointed, try to reflect on ways to care for yourself, no matter what the remainder of the year brings because self-care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

Set a routine

It is important to maintain a routine even though you might be staying home more than ever. Even though it might be tempting to stay in pajamas all day and wait to eat breakfast until the afternoon, sticking to the smallest parts of your old routine such as getting dressed and putting on makeup in the morning can give you that jolt of motivation you need.

Make sure to be intentional about planning your day and what you want to accomplish by setting a routine to stick to. Include time to get dressed, work, cook meals, do housework and some time for hobbies and leisurely activities that you enjoy (even if the way you do those things has changed a bit). 

Change your spaces

One of the primary areas that can fuel your energy and attitude are your surroundings. When being stuck inside all day, it’s easy to lose motivation in the same space you function in every single day. Enlighten yourself by shaking things up. Add some new decor or declutter and organize your home or apartment. With all of the additional time on your hands, it’s the perfect opportunity for some much-needed change. 

Start with a room you normally spend time in or one that you don’t. Begin by going through every item within and get rid of things that are no longer valuable to you. Then, re-organise what you plan to keep into a designated home. After you have re-organised everything you own, completely change your scenery. Get out of the house for some fresh air by taking a walk around your neighborhood or going for a drive.

Check up on your finances

Now that you may have more free time at home, it is a good time to check up on your finances. Start by setting a new budget to account for the changes in your lifestyle. For example, if you are spending less on gas and parking to commute to work but are spending more on grocery delivery, make sure to be mindful of this on a monthly basis. This is also a good time to tackle some financial goals you may have had but never got around to doing before.

For example, a good way to secure some peace of mind during uncertain times is to shop for a dependable life insurance plan if you do not have one yet. Purchasing a life insurance plan is a responsible money move to make and gives you and your family added protection. Sometimes it can be difficult to navigate the space of life insurance, which is why it can be an easy task to put off. If you find the right tools to simplify the process, however, the task becomes much more manageable and doing so during these uncertain times can be a good way to relieve some overarching stress you may have about finances. 

Try out a new hobby

When being at home and in the middle of balancing work and personal life, it can all easily blend together. One way to prioritize your “me” time is diving into learning a new hobby that you have always wanted to try but never had the time to do. Finding something new to explore is the best way to do something entirely for yourself. Whether it’s learning a different language you always wanted to learn or learning a new recipe, now is your time to begin. Watch YouTube videos with step by step instructions of recipes you want to try, or download a language teaching app, such as Babble.

You could also make a new fitness goal for yourself. Maybe try yoga, pilates, weight-lifting routine, or running. Exercise is the perfect outlet to investigate because it will contribute to a positive mind, body, and soul.  

Get creative

Being creative can look different to everyone. For some, this might strictly mean doing arts and crafts. However, there are several other platforms and actions that rely heavily on your personal imagination—for example, knitting, singing, painting, designing, doing puzzles, photography, scrapbooking, playing an instrument, sewing, gardening, upcycling, and more. 

Whatever leisurely activity you love becomes your outlet to be creative. When you do something you enjoy, your mental wellbeing benefits. Experts suggest that by being creative, you are able to submerge yourself within that task and distract your mind from anything that might have been bothering you. You ultimately manipulate your brain into a meditation-like state. Your heart rate decreases and your mood will be boosted because your brain releases something called dopamine. Also known as, “the feel-good chemical.” Without even knowing it, you’re putting your mind at ease while doing something you love during these uncertain times. 

Manage expectations

During these unpredictable times, it can be easy to think about plans you may have had that you have had to change or cancel. Thinking back to these events can lead to disappointment. This is a completely normal feeling, but remember to try not to dwell on the disappointment. Because the times have changed, it is important to change your expectations as well and try your best not to get hung up on the things you can’t control.

For example, if you are now working from home, don’t try to compare your current productivity to your productivity prior to the pandemic. Or if you are a parent now teaching your children at home, you don’t need to be keeping them engaged at the same pace as their teachers in school do. This is all new, uncharted territory and adapting to this new way of life will take time and patience. If you don’t manage your expectations, you set yourself up for disappointment so try not to be overly critical of yourself.

Keep an open line of communication

During stressful times, it is helpful to keep an open line of communication between friends and family. Even though you might not be able to be physically present in each other’s lives, you can take advantage of the technology that we do have to keep in contact with them. Group FaceTime, Zoom and virtual fitness classes are just a few ways to stay socially connected to help your mental health while being quarantined. If you find that you are particularly struggling, remember that most doctors are offering telemedicine so you can still keep appointments and talk to a professional who can help if you are overwhelmed.

Even though there is uncertainty regarding what the near future will bring, there are certain things you can do to minimize stress surrounding this uncertainty. Remember to take time each day to care for yourself to benefit your overall mental wellbeing.

This guest blog was written by writer Anthony L, promoting self care and mental wellbeing.

Maintaining a Healthy Work Life Balance, Why it Matters: Guest blog for Mental Health Awareness Week by Loveitcoverit

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(image: Unsplash)

 

When establishing and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, the overarching goal is clear; an individual should not feel as though their professional life is intruding on their personal time or vice versa. However, it’s always easier to explain than it is to physically manage – which is why it’s important to fully understand the implications of a poor work-life balance and the proactive steps we can all take to minimise any negative impact – such as poor mental wellbeing.

Although this challenge is known to many, you may not be fully aware of how prevalent it is across the entire nation. In fact, the Mental Health Foundation has commented that work-related stress costs Britain 10.4 million working days per year!

Now, as you would expect, the emergence of modern technology – such as smartphones – has drastically transformed our professional lives and, as such, it can be difficult to create concrete boundaries. Many of our devices can now take on the features and responsibilities of a larger computer system and so our working lives are available at just the touch of a button. So, how do we assess whether this detracts from our free-time and if this impacts our mental health?

Well, in recent months, this very topic has been investigated by mobile phone insurers, loveitcoverit.   

Their research found that an astounding 80% of workers identify their smartphones as a tool for their professional responsibilities, clearly demonstrating that they have surpassed the singular, social use that spurred their beginnings. So, whether it’s to communicate with colleagues, access working documents remotely or utilise organisational platforms, our mobiles have become an integrated part of professionalism on a wide scale. As such, it can be difficult to imagine the two in separation – but is this a good thing?

Overusing our mobile devices can be detrimental to our work-life balance as they create an access channel that is available to us at every hour. So, whilst leading mental health organisations emphasise the need for distancing measures – such as short breaks, time off and established social environment outside of work – our smartphones may act as a reminder of our professional responsibilities. In turn, this can lead to individuals feeling pressure to work outside of their agreed working times and intrude on their personal lives. 

Due to the sheer number of smartphone users across the country, this could mean that millions are facing the challenge. In fact, less than half of workers claim to have a ‘healthy’ work-life balance! 

Of course, this isn’t to say you should never complete a professional task in your free time, it simply means that you must actively monitor and manage how often this happens. This might seem a menial task, but it’s vital.

If you often find yourself feeling stressed due to your working life, then you could be at risk of developing illnesses such as anxiety or depression.

However, luckily, there are further actions we can take to ensure our balance does not tip!

 

Setting tangible guidelines

 We’re not saying that you must ignore your phone if a professional emergency arises, but it is important to make sure your working correspondence doesn’t intrude on your personal life. So, start with something simple – like enforcing a rule of no work related phone use after six on any weekday and perhaps not at all on the weekends.

Ultimately, it’s your decision to make, so find out what works within your routines and go with it!

 

Communicate with your employer

No one wants to be seen as a ‘complainer’, but if your work responsibilities are damaging your mental health it is important to speak up. Set up a meeting or informal chat with your manager to discuss how you’re feeling and why you feel that way. From there, you can work in tandem to better the situation and make wider improvements that benefit others too!

 

 Better understand your own situation

There is normally a tangible reason for any feelings of stress or anxiety but it might not be clear at first glance. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break and try to dissect your situation.

If you can understand what is causing your stress, you’re in a wholly better position to try and improve it, whether this is in reorganising your routine and methods or in talking to someone else at work!

 

Creating a healthy and sustainable work-life balance is imperative for our mental wellbeing, so we all must take the time to figure out how to best achieve it. Remember, the working world existed before smartphones did, so it’s a durable environment, and taking the time to figure out positive and progressive ways of moving forward will never be a waste.

 

This guest blog was written by loveitcoverit, mobile phone insurers in the UK at www.loveitcoverit.com 

The UK went into Lockdown and I went into Meltdown: Guest blog by Nicole

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(image: Nicole_no_filter)

The UK went into lockdown and I went into meltdown.

When I heard the announcement on the news, I was on my Mum’s sofa and I immediately felt the usual sick way that I do when I get anxious. I needed to get out of the house, so I quickly escaped on a walk with my dog. My thoughts were far from pleasant and I silently cried while I slowly paced around my local area. This marked the start of a tough couple of weeks.

I fell into the behaviours that you would probably expect from a person with anxieties, I was obsessed with updates on the lockdown, it became my most frequently searched term on Google! My skin condition, urticaria, flared up which happens when I experience stress. My sleeping got worse than usual and I was easily irritated by silly things. Most of all, I fixated on the negatives of my situation, such as the impact living alone would have on me.

I’m not going to pretend that I had an epiphany on day fifteen and I’m now thriving in my new life of one daily walk and it being a glam day if I put on jeans!

However, I’ve now established a flexible routine and I’ve settled into working from home.

I check the news once a day and I appreciate that I am lucky to be healthy and still have my job. However, I don’t give myself a hard time when I have a bad day and I don’t pay attention to unhelpful comments online, criticising people for struggling as there are others with more serious struggles. Of course, this is true, but I heard recently that, ‘you wouldn’t tell someone not to be happy, because there is someone happier’ and that has stuck with me ever since.

The most positive outcome of this situation for me, is that I am in touch with my thoughts, emotions and my behaviour, more than ever.

Some things that have helped me are:

  • Reawakening my passion for writing: As a Careers Coach, I regularly create resources and assist others with writing about themselves. However, it had been so long since I wrote for pleasure. I now record my thoughts in a journal, you are currently reading my second blog post and I rediscovered my love for writing poems. Writing has felt a bit like offloading to my best friend; I get out my thoughts and I then feel better. 

 

  • Walking: I think it’s amazing that so many people are focusing on their fitness, but I was previously anxious about my weight, so I don’t put pressure on myself to follow a rigid exercise routine. Pre-lockdown, when I had a crap day, I benefitted from getting out of the house and being around others; walking isn’t a substitute for this, but it helps me to get rid of negative energy by doing something active. 

 

  • Keeping my space tidy: This won’t work for everyone but a clear space, means a clearer mind for me. I also find cleaning quite therapeutic as it helps me to focus on the task in hand and not overthink. 

 

  • Paying it forward: I have been trying to spread some positivity remotely, for example, I suggested to my colleagues that we each send a card to another person in the team with a positive message. I also started an Instagram account to raise awareness of mental health and share experiences and strategies with others. As a people person, helping and connecting with others always lifts my mood. 
  • Revisiting coping mechanisms for anxiety: I have done a lot of research into cognitive behaviour therapy techniques over the last few years, as some of the principles are useful for my job in supporting young people. I have also personally been through this type of therapy; this helps me to reframe negative thoughts and therefore gain better control of my feelings and actions. 

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I still regularly think that I can’t wait for this to be over! I miss the little things in my life, but the lockdown has caused me to have a deeper appreciation for all the good aspects of it.

I have also realised that the little things ARE the BIG things. Being forced into this situation that I have no control over, has helped me to put less focus on other things that I can’t control.

I was previously anxious about being single as I am about to approach my 30th birthday, but I have gained a more positive perspective on this. I may not be able to control what happens TO me, but I can control what is IN me, which are my thoughts and how they make me feel and react.

Nicole is a careers coach and freelance writer in the UK and is on Instagram @nicole_no_filter

My crippling Anxiety once floored me. Now I wouldn’t be without it : Guest blog by Emma Johnson at Worry Knot Jewellery

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(image: Emma Johnson at Worry Knot)

Trigger warning: talks about self harm, anxiety, depression and mental illness 

 

For 10 or so years, throughout adulthood, I have battled on and off with something invisible and something I still don’t fully understand myself.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder. 

I’m now 29 but my illness started at about the age of 21. In my third year of University, I started to dread things, I started to worry about everything I said, did and I started to question if anyone liked me. I have always been apologetic but this was different. I felt like apologising for walking into a room. 

I was unable to switch off, unable to focus on my University work and I withdrew a lot socially. Life moved quite slow back then. 

For me I knew this was out of character. I’ve always been fun loving and outgoing, with a smile on my face. I became confused about who I was. I developed an uneasy feeling that would take almost 8 years to learn to sit with.

During the first few years of my disorder, I definitely still achieved a lot. I often feel my disorder makes me thrive more, sort of like overcompensation, a little bit like proving people and myself wrong. I graduated with a BSc in Psychology and at the age of 24, I went on to gain my MSc in International Development.

I don’t think I truly recognised these achievements until about the age of 27. 

Whilst studying my MSc life changed quite a lot for me. I had gone through a bad break up in my younger years but then I finally met someone who lifted me back up, who challenged my thoughts, someone who was completely different to me in every way. This was oddly comforting for me, a bit like escapism from my own ruminating thoughts. 

Then I entered the world of professional work. I started out as a fundraiser, and in my most recent role I tried my hand at facilitating group therapy. In 5 years I have moved through 4 jobs within the charity sector. Sometimes part time.

During this time my anxiety disorder would often become too much. I often sunk low and developed bouts of depression. I would cry and sob. I was back and forth to the GP, often teary, often red in the face and always a bit embarrassed, even though I didn’t need to feel embarrassed.

At one point I was signed off sick from work, bed bound for 3 months, with no motivation at all, just me, myself and my catastrophic thoughts. I was pretty exhausted, shaky, drained and more confused than ever. My physical symptoms manifested as sweating, chest pains, palpitations, shortness of breath and the odd panic attack. 

One thing I started to do was open up, I began to share things with my partner and colleagues. They let me cry if I needed and at the same time my GP was stabilising and finding the right medication to suit me. But I was clearly still unwell.

I quit another job I enjoyed through my inability to cope and my lack of self esteem. My Imposter Syndrome led me down another uneven path.  Always overworking. Always overthinking. Always overcompensating. I didn’t slow down until I was forced to.

Another behavioural symptom of my anxiety is skin picking and nail biting. In early adulthood I would sit for 3 hours picking at my face and over the years I have made the skin around my thumbnail so sore it would bleed. It is now scarred.

My need to fiddle with something to ease anxiety is always apparent. Earlier this year, I was talking to my friend about making jewellery and how cool it would be to make my own. I have always been into accessories, fashion and jewellery so I said I’d love to make something I can wear and carry with me discreetly but also fiddle with, to stop me from picking so much. 

She mentioned worry beads and I was intrigued. I wanted to make my own twist on them. A prettier version, merging them with jewellery design that I would more likely wear, so I did and my life has changed. I have started a small business called Worry Knot.

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(image: Emma Johnson at Worry Knot)

Alongside selling calming jewellery, I’m blog writing. I’m advocating more widely about the importance of opening up when confusing and sometimes debilitating symptoms develop. Not only is it therapeutic for me to make my jewellery but it’s extra therapeutic playing with this jewellery a few times a day. 

Having something to focus on, things to make and to write about has been crucial in managing my own anxiety, especially at such an anxious time for the world. I hope my jewellery can go on to help those feeling anxious not only now but going forward into the future too.

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(Images: Emma Johnson)

For more information please visit:  www.worryknot.co.uk and instagram.com/worryknotuk

You can also find me @worryknotuk on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Emma Johnson is a writer with lived experience of mental health issues. She is the founder of Worry Knot, a jewellery brand to help others who have anxiety.    worryknot