Coming Home For The Mental Health Awareness Shabbat And Self Care by Eleanor

Happy new year everyone! Gosh its nearly the end of January and I havn’t written a blog for a while so thought I would share some things that have been happening here and talk a bit about mental health stuff too.

Firstly, my mental health is fairly stable at the moment, as has been the case for a number of years. I don’t get typical bipolar depressive or manic episodes on my medications and this year is my 9th year out of hospital , which is always a positive. However, I still suffer with anxiety and stress and get overwhelmed so have to pace myself! I have bad days too where things feel too much but thankfully they don’t escalate into a depression.

So for the positives- I have achieved some huge anxiety wins for me. Since November, I have been on the tube (first time in 3 years), I have gone up to the West End with Rob to the theatre using public transport, my panic attacks have been lessening, I have been able to see more people in person and I also passed my probation at work and have been made permanent (huge win!). I am someone who struggles with agarophobia when I feel more anxious and stressed and going out alone can still be a challenge.

I have been allowing myself to venture into previously anxiety provoking situations- for example, I get cabs alone home from work. I had to start doing this last year and it helped me get back into the world again. It wasn’t easy due to many fears I had but I have been able to do it, slowly. My job is also hybrid so I can work from home too- but getting back out into the world and having kind work colleagues at an office has been such a vital part of my recovery too. My therapist has been so helpful in dealing with the panic attacks and anxiety and I do still get triggered but at the moment on a lesser scale. I still find blood tests, hospitals and general health stuff scary because of what I have been through. I really recommend therapy.

I sometimes do have to cancel arrangements when things feel too much so am sorry to anyone I have had to postpone… its not easy and I hate doing it as I feel bad… but I am learning the balance of looking after me and socialising too. I don’t always get it right but I am trying.

Then, my friend in Bushey, Lee, texted me a few weeks back and asked if I would like to speak in my childhood community for the Jami (Jewish charity) Mental Health Awareness Shabbat. I hadn’t done public speaking about my story since before Covid in 2019, when I spoke with my Dad Mike at Limmud and at Chigwell shul (synagogue, my husbands community). I have had drama training so for me speaking publicly as someone else is OK, but when I have to stand up and share my own story, I get nervous as its so personal. The first time I was asked to speak in a shul at Belsize Square, I made it to the community but my Dad had to give the talk by himself as i was too panicked to attend the service. I managed in time to dip my toe in slowly, always with the support of my Dad and my therapist.

This talk in Bushey felt significant. It’s the Jewish community I grew up in and was a part of until I was 23. I felt like I was going home. The Bushey team told me they had two other speakers, but would I like to speak and share my story with bipolar disorder?

I thought to myself… I am ready, my panic attacks and social anxiety are more under control. To me being asked to come home to Bushey shul was a sign. My Grandpa Harry passed away in 2021 from Covid- and he and Grandma had lived in Bushey since the 1990s, when we were little. Our family lived in both Bushey and Bushey Heath and I studied at Immanuel College, across the road from our home and my grandparents. The area contains so many happy memories for me. I knew the new senior Rabbi and Rebbetzen, as he had officiated at my grandparents funerals and was so kind to our family. My Dad is also still a member of the shul and I still know a lot of people who live in the community too. Its a very special community and one I am proud to be from (and still feel.a small part of despite not being a local anymore).

So, I decided, with my Dad and Rob’s support on the day (and anxiety meds), that I could stand up in shul and speak with the other two speakers on the Shabbat (sabbath) morning. My Mum and step dad were supporting from afar and looking after our guineapigs.

The senior Rabbi and Rebbetzen hosted us for the Friday night which was wonderful as we got to meet lots of new couples and see the Ketts, the other Rabbi and Rebbetzen! For lunch after the service, we went to Lee’s house, which was very special as she was my batmitzvah teacher and is a good family friend.

I was initially told the talk was going to be in a break out room- but on the day it was decided that it would be from the pulpit. Last time I ventured to that pulpit and stood up there was when I was 12 years old, sharing my batmitzva portion of the Torah. The year my Dad was very ill and diagnosed with bipolar. I became ill just 3 years later.

Now, here I was back as a married woman of 34, revealing about the mental illness that had found its way into my family and caused a lot of devastation. However, the main reasons I wanted to stand up and talk about bipolar disorder are because I know that this illness runs in families, many Jewish families struggle with it. I wanted to give the message that you can live with this illness but you can have periods of remission, recovery, you can find hope.

And as I spoke to the audience of people – many of whom I had known since my childhood, who saw me grow up and saw my family eventually leave Bushey for Edgware, I felt humbled. I felt honoured to be asked to speak and I hoped that by sharing my own journey with bipolar (being diagnosed at 16, in hospital twice, the last time in 2014 for a very serious manic episode), that I could touch someone who needed to hear it. My Dad gave me permission to tell his story too.

When I grew up in. the early 2000s, talking about mental illness and particularly in Jewish spaces, was not the norm. I hope that through sharing my own journey and my Dads (he was undiagnosed for 9 years until he was 44), that I will have helped someone.

Most importantly, I felt I had come home. The kindness and warmth shown to me by the members of the Bushey community who I have known since I was a little girl was something so incredibly special and touching. People confided in me after the service about their own struggles. Others thanked me for sharing my story. I was hugely touched by the other two speakers who spoke after me about their own journeys with mental health and their children’s. I won’t name them here in case they want to be anonymous but I learnt so much from them and their experiences.

So I want to say a huge thank you to Lee, to the Rabbis and Rebbetzens and to everyone in Bushey who I have known for years and have loved- for hosting us, for inviting me to talk about something so personal in such a special community. It touched my heart. I really hope it helps.

I genuinely did not know how I stood up there to speak to 90 odd people- what kept me going is knowing I was doing this to help eradicate the stigma of mental illness but also I hope that the words I spoke gave comfort to anyone going through mental illness, that it does get better. It can improve. You won’t be ill forever.

When I was unwell in 2014, Jonny Benjamin MBE was speaking and sharing about mental illness. He taught me that sharing your story to help others is vital. So thanks Jonny for all your support too (whether you knew you gave me the courage or not :).

I also want to thank Jami charity, Laura Bahar and Rabbi Daniel Epstein. I was part of the volunteering team that helped set up the first mental health awareness shabbat. The project has blossomed and is now annual and it is truly wonderful to see.

What I want to clarify is that although I am currently a lot better with my anxiety, it is very much a grey area, day by day thing. That can be hard for people to understand- how one day you can be great with loads of energy and the next you have to stay home and recuperate- self care. But I think knowledge of mental health is increasing now, so do check in with your friends and family and offer a safe space without judgement- its so helpful.

Thank you again for reading this if you got this far. You can do whatever you put your mind too- reach for help from medical teams, medication, therapists and never give up.

With gratitude and love,

Eleanor

x

How To Tell If You Or A Loved One Needs Psychiatric Help by Brooke Chaplan.

(image: free image)

Mental illness can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. It is important to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental illness in order to get help as soon as possible. Knowing what to look for can be tricky, so here are some common warning signs that you or a loved one may need psychiatric help.  

Unexplained Changes in Mood and Behaviour  

One of the most common signs of mental illness is a sudden and unexplained change in mood or behaviour. This could include changes in sleep patterns, eating habits, energy levels, attitude towards others, or motivation levels. If you notice any sudden shifts in these areas that last more than two weeks and cannot be attributed to a specific event or life change, it may indicate an underlying mental health issue.  

Negative Self-Talk or Rumination  

Another sign that someone needs professional help is if they frequently engage in negative self-talk or ruminate on the same thoughts over and over again. For example, if they often say things like “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t do anything right” without any basis for those statements, this could be a sign that something more serious is going on beneath the surface. Additionally, if someone spends hours every day thinking about their mistakes from the past without being able to move forward—this could also be an indication that professional help is necessary.  

Isolation from Friends and Family  

Finally, if someone begins isolating themselves from friends and family members more often than usual—or does not seem interested in having conversations with them—this could be another indicator that something more serious is happening mentally. It’s normal for people to want some alone time once in a while—but if you notice your loved one consistently avoiding social activities and interactions with others over long periods of time—it may mean they need extra emotional support from a professional psychiatrist before they can get back on track.   

Other Behaviours

Other behaviours you should watch out for is frequent tearfulness, self harm thoughts or ideas, suicidal thoughts and ideation- as this indicates someone is reaching a crisis point with their mental health. In some there may be an increase in activity or mania. This can lead to psychosis- where your mind loses touch with reality, common in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (but can also happen outside these conditions).

Mental health issues are complex and often difficult to recognise at first glance. However, it’s important to understand that early intervention can make all the difference when it comes to managing mental illness effectively. If you notice any of these warning signs in yourself or a loved one—don’t hesitate to reach out for help!

Professional psychiatric services should always be sought out when necessary as this will create better outcomes for everyone involved in the long run. In the UK, that may be via the NHS but due to overwhelmed services, if you can afford private treatment, go down this route as it will be quicker!

This article was. written by Brooke Chaplan, freelance writer.

Methods for Helping Your Addiction Recovery by Kara Masterson.

(image: free image)

Addiction recovery is a challenging process, but there are certain methods that can make the experience a bit easier to handle. These methods can range from creating a support network to seeking out counselling services that can help you navigate the recovery process and help hold you accountable. As a result, following these tips can help make addiction recovery smoother and more successful.

Create a Support Network

Creating a strong support system of family members, friends, and certified professionals who understand the challenges of addiction recovery is essential to your success. Your support network should be made up of those who have your best interests at heart and will provide you with unconditional love and encouragement as you navigate through this difficult time. This type of positive reinforcement will help keep you motivated and on track during your journey toward sobriety.

Seek Out Counselling Services

Professional recovery programs and counselling services may offer a variety of methods and coping mechanisms to help you in the recovery process; such as individualised therapy sessions, group therapy, family counselling, and recovery coaching. These services provide an important opportunity to explore past experiences and underlying issues that have caused or contributed to your past substance abuse, as well as new ways to cope with the underlying triggers and a better understanding of yourself and the things you may be dealing with.

With the guidance of a trained mental health therapist or addiction specialist, addiction recovery patients can develop effective strategies for managing and overcoming their triggers, cravings, and other difficult emotions without relapsing back into old habits. Thus, seeking out counselling services from experienced professionals is an invaluable asset to recovery success.

Practice Self-Care

Lastly, another important tip for making addiction recovery smoother is to practice self-care. This means taking care of yourself physically by eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep each night. It also means taking care of yourself mentally by setting aside time each day for relaxation activities such as yoga or meditation. Additionally, it’s important to focus on positive thinking and avoiding negative self-talk which can be detrimental during this delicate time in your life.

Making addiction recovery smoother requires dedication and effort from both yourself and those around you who are supporting you on this journey toward long-term sobriety. By creating a strong support network, seeking out professional counselling services, and practicing self-care daily, you can set yourself up for success in overcoming your addiction issues once and for all. With these tips in mind, you’ll be better equipped to make addiction recovery easier than ever before!

Kara Masterson is a freelance writer.

How Car Accidents Affect Mental Health And What To Do About It: by Stubbs Law Firm

(image: Will Creswick: Unsplash).

Car crashes can be some of the lowest moments in any individual’s life. In the aftermath of any accident, it’s common for medics to immediately focus on any physical injuries sustained by the victims. However, in addition to physical wounds, many victims also suffer psychological trauma that may last long after their physical injuries heal.

Studies by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs reveal that more than 20% of car accident victims develop mental trauma, while approximately 10% of victims develop full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD. This psychological trauma can significantly lower the victim’s quality of life if not addressed.

Car accidents can affect your mental health in the following ways.

1. Emotional distress

Many people struggle with severe anxiety and emotional distress in the few weeks and months after the accident. Recurring nightmares, fearfulness, and avoidance of any form of vehicle travel are common psychological distress symptoms in the aftermath of a car crash. This psychological trauma can be hard to shake off, especially when physical injuries are permanent.

2. Anger and mood swings

Drivers may struggle with guilt and sadness, especially if they were responsible for the crash. Passengers and other victims may channel their anger and frustrations at the driver for causing the crash. Negative thoughts can affect the victim’s relationships at work, home, and school.

3. Depression

High-stress levels can quickly plunge a car accident victim into depression which causes many people to seek refuge in drugs and alcohol abuse. Common signs of depression may include sleeping disorders, appetite loss, suicidal tendencies, and emotional outbursts. Post-car crash depression can be challenging to diagnose and treat without the involvement of a mental wellness specialist. 

4. Regression in children

Psychological trauma affects kids in many ways that may affect their mental and physical development. Some common symptoms of regression and mental trauma in children may include loss of concentration, poor grades in school, and bed-wetting.

Ways to improve your mental health state post-accident

It’s necessary to seek professional help if the mental trauma lingers over a few weeks and affects your social and family relationship.

Therapy

Recovering from mental trauma after an accident becomes easier when you seek professional help. A psychologist will guide you on the next steps and what medication to take depending on the severity of your condition. Group therapy with other accident victims can go a long way in relieving stress and helping you ease back to your normal life.

Seek legal help

While victims may receive compensation for physical injuries sustained during car crashes, insurance companies may downplay the psychological impact of such events, especially for victims who don’t suffer physical injuries. Psychological trauma can impact your ability to work and provide for your family hence the need to seek compensation through personal injury claims. Your compensation may help pay for therapy and offset any lost income from car crashes. When seeking legal help from an attorney, provide accurate details of the crash and include medical details from your doctor’s consultation.

Stubbs Law Firm is vastly experienced in various legal solutions, from personal injury to insurance disputes. We help car crash victims get justice, and appropriate compensation for all injuries suffered in car accidents.

This non-sponsored article was written by Stubbs Law Firm.

Anxiety And Climbing, Not Carrying Mountains. by Eleanor.

(image: Quote CC)

This week was a good week. Generally, my bipolar has been stable for a while. I am able to go to work and hold down two jobs somehow and I also passed my probation (in the words of Borat, Great Success!). But there are times when things are overwhelming and I feel like a wobbly mess. Like today.

I achieved my goals that I came up with when I was in the middle of agoraphobia a few months ago. My panic disorder reset itself to a healthy level thanks to therapy and things improving at work. As such, I have been able to see more people face to face and this week I was able to go to Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club with my Dad to see Natalie Williams and Soul family Motown show (my Chanukah present). We have been before over the years and love going to see them and going with my Dad makes me feel safe as he drives us.

However, I often find that something like that is followed by a day of needing to slow down and look after me as I can feel a little depleted and more anxious. Its just a bit of a pattern my mind goes too. The cold and dark weather also do not help with this and I start just wanting to stay at home. I have also been putting myself under too much pressure and end up exhausted.. any other perfectionists/achievers do the same?

So, I couldn’t go to see friends and some family this weekend and had to cancel arrangements which wasn’t great. However, my baby nephew was born last week and had his Jewish naming ceremony yesterday which was special as Rob and I carried him in on a special pillow. We then hosted my mum and step dad for shabbat (Jewish sabbath) lunch- so I am seeing that as a big achievement despite everything. In the past, I wouldn’t have even been able to attend it- so I know I am in a better place. However, I also had to cancel other family plans which I don’t feel good about.

I think I have just been trying to do way too much as I always do when I feel a bit better and I am sorry to those I have had to let down due to increased anxiety. I know its not my fault, its an illness, but I still feel bad.

One positive, at the ceremony I was able to see my two aunties who I hadn’t seen for a while (which was one of my goals too) so that made me so happy.

Overall, I am doing well but I am still dealing with the panic and anxious thought patterns at times… and its learning a) what the triggers are b) what I can do to help myself when it happens. I have had about a month off from seeing my therapist so probably need another session soon. I think I just need a quiet day watching Netflix.

(image: Grow Together Now)

Rob and I are getting away over Christmas so hopefully that will be a good time to recharge and reset my batteries after a very busy year for both of us.

My sister said to me today to remember to be kind to myself, so that is what I am going to do. Though I do feel a little bit sad at having to cancel plans. Though I look back at the past few weeks and realise that I have done a lot in terms of seeing people- so maybe its all just too much and I need to plan less.

I am mostly healthy and life is generally good. Heres to climbing mountains, not carrying them all the time- and not feeling guilty if I can’t achieve something.

Love,

Eleanor x

It’s Not Just The Therapist or Psychiatrist Alone: Why Treatment Centres Matter in Mental Health.

(Image: David Travis at Unsplash)

It’s not just the therapist or psychiatrist alone. The treatment centre/hospital matters in mental health.. It’s not that therapists are bad or unimportant; they can be critical in helping people with mental health concerns start on the road to recovery. However, sometimes treatment centres can have a huge impact on mental health and well-being, as a whole.

Lasting Impact of the Environment

First, the environment in which individuals with mental health concerns receive treatment can have a lasting impact on their mental health. Is the institution warm and welcoming to visitors? Or does it feel sterile and cold? Does it have adequate resources to meet the needs of its patients? Or is it underfunded and overcrowded? All these factors can have a significant impact on recovery, as they may create feelings of anxiety or alienation in the patient. For example, if the institute has Knightsbridge Furniture and a welcoming waiting area for visitors, it may make people feel less anxious about their treatment, because the furniture is designed to provide comfort.

Supportive Staff Members

Secondly, supportive staff members are paramount for mental health recovery. Not only do staff members need to be competent and knowledgeable about the latest treatment techniques and practices; they also need to be warm, welcoming and supportive towards their patients. They should be able to provide a safe space for individuals with mental health concerns to explore their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or punishment. This will help foster an atmosphere of trust and healing at the treatment centre/hospital.

Accessible Resources

Third, centres should strive to make resources accessible and available to those in need. Mental health concerns can often be complex and multifaceted, so individuals may require a variety of services. Treatment centres should provide access to everything from basic mental health services such as counselling, to more specialised resources like crisis intervention teams or support groups. If these resources are not readily available, then individuals might not get the help they need when they need it.

Appropriate Levels of Care

Fourth, treatment centres must provide appropriate levels of care for the patients they serve. This includes ensuring that each individual gets the right combination of treatment and support based on their specific needs. For example, a patient with severe depression or other severe illnesses may benefit from both medication management and psychotherapy while someone with mild anxiety may only require weekly therapy sessions.

A Holistic Approach

Finally, centres should strive to provide a holistic approach to mental health care. This means taking into account not only the individual’s diagnosis or symptoms, but also their lifestyle, environment, and social support system. Taking these factors into consideration can ensure that individuals receive the most appropriate treatment for their unique needs. Additionally, it can help facilitate long-term recovery and prevent future issues from developing.

It is clear that when it comes to mental health recovery, a treatment centre/hospital plays a vital role in helping individuals achieve positive outcomes. From providing supportive staff members to making resources accessible and offering a holistic approach to care – institutions must strive to meet the needs of those they serve in order to ensure the best possible outcomes.

So, while it is important to have a skilled therapist or psychiatrist, never underestimate the importance of a supportive and well-resourced treatment centre as part of that overall care. Together, they can provide individuals with everything they need to start on their journey to mental health recovery.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

Tips for Identifying and Overcoming Seasonal Mood Changes by Brian Thomas.

(image: free image)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that some people experience with the changing of seasons. Usually, it is associated with the transition from fall into winter, but it can also happen during the summer. Either way, there is a noticeable pattern with signs of SAD due to many external factors. Here are some ways you can identify SAD and work to overcome some of the symptoms. 

Spend Time Outdoors 

SAD is thought to be caused by fewer hours of sunlight due to the shift of the planet’s position going into the autumn and winter months. It is also believed to be linked to the production of melatonin, a hormone that we produce when it is dark outside. Not getting enough sunlight can affect your mental and physical health. Therefore, it is important to remember to get outdoors and soak up the sunshine even during the colder months. 

Snow activities, such as snowshoeing, skiing, and sledding are all fun ways to spend time outside in the cold, if you’re in a country where you have snow. Weather permitting, a walk around the neighbourhood is a more manageable daily outdoor activity that you can do with a furry friend or family member.

Not only will you be able to maximise your vitamin D intake, but you will also be able to spend quality time with your walking partner. If you’re finding it difficult to leave the house to get your vitamin D, consider taking a supplement or buying a sun lamp. 

(image: free image)

Increase Exercise 

Exercise can help boost energy levels by producing endorphins, giving you that “runner’s high” feeling and keeping your SAD symptoms at bay. Some of the outdoor activities listed above are also great methods of exercise, but if you can’t get outdoors to get active, have no fear. There are many at-home workout videos on the internet that you can follow along with. Whether it’s yoga, Pilates, or HIIT, find what works for you and get into a routine. 

If getting outside of the house is high on your priority list this time of the year, we hear you. Try taking a tour of a local fitness center or gym that you’ve never been to. You may find that you enjoy being around other people who are as motivated to move as you are. Not every “New Year’s Resolution” has to start on January 1st, you can set goals on your own time.

Seek Professional Advice 

If you feel like you’re experiencing more than just a case of the blues, consider talking to your doctor or therapist about next steps. Medication may not be right for everyone, so it is important to consult with your healthcare professional about what is best for you. These conversations are not always easy to have, but keep in mind that your mental and physical health always come first. 

If addressing your mental health seems intimidating or you don’t have a therapist, consider an online teletherapy service. Over the past few years, virtual appointments have grown in popularity because of their practicality. Many people feel more comfortable in their homes than in an office,which is important for a productive session. 

Get Creative 

Writing and journalling are two ways to get your thoughts onto a page and out of your head. This tip is especially important to consider if you feel like you’re stuck in a creative rut. You can draw, write fiction, or find prompts to follow online.

Gratitude journalling is a great way to reflect on what you are thankful for in your life and is especially relevant with Thanksgiving coming up. This holiday season, consider sending a Thanksgiving card to the people in your life that make you feel grateful. It will make them feel appreciated and you are sure to feel good about it too. 

You can even try a meditation colouring book. In the past, it may have seemed like an activity meant for a younger group. But now, it is gaining popularity because it can be calming and a great way to focus your mind for a while. When you’re finished, you’ll have a piece of art that you created and can hang up wherever you’d like. 

During these cooler and busier fall and winter months, it is important to make time for yourself and your mental health. SAD is not something to be ignored or swept under the rug. If you are looking to read more about mental health, check out our other blog posts! 

Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult a medical professional if you are seeking medical care or treatment. 

Brian Thomas is a contributor to Enlightened Digital. He enjoys reading and researching tech and business. When he’s not looking into the latest trends, you can find him out cycling.

How to Address Issues Harming Your Mental Health.

(image: Unsplash)

It is so important to look after your mental health. Many people struggle with their mental health and with illness that feels beyond their control and often they will need medication or therapy to help them. However, there can be other issues that need to be addressed if they are harming your mental health.

Learning to appreciate the issues that you may have overlooked is the first step to success. If any of the following are relevant to you, address them ASAP. you should find that your mental health reaches a far more stable place.

Untreated PTSD

If you have tried fixing a mental health issue without getting to the root cause, the benefits will be restricted. So, finding the right PTSD therapies that get to the bottom of poor mental health could be the greatest decision you make. It will provide significant direct rewards. Working with a therapist and understanding your personal situation is essential if you want to improve it.

Almost everyone has experienced at least one traumatic experience. So, it’s could be likely that mental health issues you experience will have PTSD, or a similar issue, linked to them.

Worries Behind The Wheel

The knowledge that you are in a potentially vulnerable position can be the biggest cause of anxiety. A car that has experienced problems or required frequent trips to the garage could be causing anxiety if you rely on it to get to work and travel independently. There may also be finanical worries for you.. A professional service like Edmunds can help you appraise your current car and upgrade to a better model. This could make you feel more comfortable and reduce anxiety.

Financial Worries

Money problems are the most common source of stress. So, it could be the underlying reason why your mental health continues to hit hurdles. While there is no magic spell to suddenly make the problems fade, you can at least feel a weight is lifting from your shoulders. Good organisational skills are the key. Learn to trim the fat from your ongoing expenses, and you’ll see a big impact.

Not Enough Daylight

Spending more time outside in the fresh air can work wonders for your physical and mental wellness. Experts like Raleigh Bikes can help you find a new hobby that encourages more time outside. The fitness benefits are also supported by enjoying improved air quality. As well as vitamin D, serotonin, and experiencing life. It’s an issue that many people struggle with. Thankfully, you no longer need to!

It’s especially important in the colder months when it gets darker to try and get some exercise to help your wellbeing.

The Wrong Network

Your support network can have an impact on your life, in relation to your mental health. The right people will build you up and guide you through tough times without leading you to poor decisions. Sadly, the wrong friends cause you to make regrettable choices. Likewise, they may pressure you to support them, potentially financially. This could drag you down even when you’re in a good place.

So make sure you look after each aspect of your life and self care, in order to improve your health and overall wellbeing.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

Managing Mental Health When You Start College Or University.

(image: Pexels: Ketut Subiyanto)

Going to college or university is one of the most exciting life events we experience, but it can also be one of the most daunting. This is a period of upheaval and change, which often triggers a mixture of emotions. If you’re preparing to start a new course or move to a different town or city, here’s a handy guide to managing mental health.

Make your new base feel like home

One of the best ways to settle into a new area and adjust to a different routine and environment is to make your new base feel like home. Whether you’re living in student accommodation or you’re renting a flat or a house, try to be proactive in creating a homely, welcoming feel. Decorate your bedroom and turn it into a sanctuary that makes you feel relaxed and calm. Put photographs up on the walls, use soft furnishings to add a cosy feel and choose colours that you love. Create a space that celebrates your style and personality and makes you feel safe and comfortable. 

Socialise

Making friends is one of the biggest challenges for students. Some people are naturally very sociable and they’ll start conversations and build relationships without even thinking about it, but for others, creating bonds is more difficult. Try to socialise and meet people through activities, lectures, classes and group sessions and societies and clubs. Use your hobbies and interests to find people with shared passions and don’t panic if you don’t click with the people in your flat or on your course immediately. Keep putting yourself out there and you’ll find your crowd. It’s important to be yourself and to find friends who make you feel confident and valued. You shouldn’t feel like you have to change or put on an act. 

Look after yourself

Going to university is synonymous with partying, staying up late and embracing the experience of living in student halls. It’s fun to go out and enjoy a few drinks with new friends, but try to look after yourself as best you can. Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, keep an eye on how much you drink and try to follow a healthy diet. Exercise daily, spend time outdoors, hang out with friends and keep in touch with family members. 

(image: Pexels Pixabay)

Don’t be afraid to talk

It can be incredibly stressful to start a new life at university, especially if you’ve never been away from home before, or you find it hard to make friends. If you’re struggling with your mental health, or you feel anxious or low for a prolonged period, don’t be afraid to talk. Open up to friends you trust or relatives, speak to your GP, or research resources you can access through your college or university. It may also be helpful to speak to others who are in the same boat via online communities and social media groups. There are also free helplines you can call such as Samaritans 116 123 (UK).

Going to college or university is an adventure, but it can also be an upheaval. It’s crucial to look after yourself and manage your mental health. Socialise and make friends, create a happy, calming home environment and take care of your body and mind. Talk to people and seek advice if you are finding life tough. 

This article was written by a freelance writer.

The Anxiety Train: A New Year by Eleanor

(Image: Unsplash)

Hi everyone,

I had been amazed over the summer by how much better I was doing with certain aspects of my anxiety and panic. I had a few panicky moments/ days but I was able to pick myself up and feel better quite quickly after.

At the moment though I can feel myself dipping back into anxious patterns. I had a panic attack in bed a few weeks ago, triggered by certain life stressors. Since then, I wake up flooded with anxiety and not feeling able to face the day/ feel like a doormouse and want to hibernate or hide. Sometimes this happens if I get triggered by something eg life stress or it can happen as the fluctuating rhythms of bipolar disorder. I am usually OK by late afternoon/evening but the mornings can be hard.

Change in seasons with less light, feeling extra pressures can lead my mind to try and protect me from a perceived fear due to past traumas (fear of judgement, fear of feeling exposed). This can mean that seeing people. going out a lot etc can become very difficult- welcome to social anxiety again. However, I know that this will not last forever.

This week, I had a good session with my therapist who advised me to try and take more time in the mornings to write, practise breathing and think about whats going on for me, with the aim of reducing anxiety. I do find this really hard as my default can be to shut down to look after myself (and hide away/sleep)- as my brain (subconscious) perceives a threat somewhere…

I have been through this before and come out the other side- and so I know I will be OK (and ironically, there is no need to panic over it) but its still stressful… and I just wish it wasn’t like this.

I am a person who loves routine and when I get out of a routine or pause, anxiety can flood in too.

I call it the anxiety train because it feels a bit like riding a fast train/ a roller coaster of ups and downs. It doesn’t stop fully but it can suddenly hurtle me and I have to calm myself. Its based on previous behaviour patterns that served me at a time when my brain thought it needed to protect me as a teenager and although I have had years of therapy and take medication, it can sometimes come back.

I will be alright in the end, you’ll see (Mrs Potts- beauty and the beast). I have lots of support but wanted to be honest about where I am.

We are approaching a Jewish New Year, and I pray that I will be blessed with better health and less anxiety coming (as well as good things and health for my loved ones).

Thanks for reading and allowing me to be honest,

Shana tova and only happiness. If you’re struggling, please reach out to someone you trust/love or Samaritans helpline. My DMs are open too,

Eleanor x