Depression and What You Should Know

(image: healthyplace.com)

We have a lot of mental health awareness in the modern day. Barely a week goes by without it being mentioned that mental health is important, and that it’s “OK not to be OK”. By now, for sure, we’re all quite aware of mental health. What might be needed more from this point on is mental health understanding, because while people and organisations are more than ready to acknowledge the existence of conditions like depression, fewer are forthcoming with any practical help.

One of the problems that we have right now is that mental health issues were ignored and mocked for so long that – now we have some acceptance of their impact – a lot of people don’t have the language to deal with them. Well-meaning people might say “depression is an illness, just like X”, and not really understand that it can be seen as an unhelpful statement. It would be helpful for people with depression if the following facts were widely known.

A good day with depression doesn’t mean the problem is gone

A lot of the language used around mental illness, and particularly depression, portrays it as a steady, relentless grind – and it sure feels like that most of the time. As a result, when someone who has been suffering opens up, has a laugh and is “more like their old self”, their loved ones might see light at the end of the tunnel. Depression is a complicated condition, unfortunately, and even that brief spell of happiness might trigger a period of guilt, which deepens a depressive episode. This complication is part of what makes it so insidious.

“Looking on the bright side” isn’t a productive strategy

It’s easy to understand why people try to talk around someone dealing with depression by pointing to all the positives in life. It would seem like a productive strategy, because if they see a bright side, they will surely feel better. Right? Unfortunately not. While there are plenty of useful tips for dealing with depression, this is not one of them. Reminding people of how life is good and could be worse is more likely to make them feel like, on top of all the bad things they are feeling, they’re also ungrateful. It doesn’t help.

Depression doesn’t come from any single source

Some people believe that depression is a response to negative life situations. Others argue that it is a result of underproduction of serotonin in the brain. Both sides are right, and both are also wrong; depression isn’t solely chemically-driven, nor is it purely down to circumstances, and this means that you can’t fight it with medication alone. At the same time, it may not be possible to fight it without medication. Finding the right combination to beat depression (or at least sideline it) isn’t an overnight thing, but it is achievable. 

The best advice you can give someone with depression is that, in time, things will get better and that’s all you want for them. Acknowledge that it will take time, and that you’ll be there for them, but don’t ever try to argue them out of it.

This article was written by a freelance writer

Body Shop, Confidence and Mental Health: ‘I can’t do what you can do.’


As many of you know, last year I began working as a consultant (and now manager) for the Body Shop at Home. This was after leaving a job due to severe panic attacks that left me not able to attend work or leave the house daily (related to past trauma) . I eventually lost that job, as I had to leave so many ‘normal’ workplaces that weren’t able to accommodate me.

My confidence was on the floor. I lost my job, we lost the flat we were going to buy and then in March, we went into lockdown.

I have had to face many dark times throughout my life, as I am sure you have. However, in the darkest of times I have learnt one important thing- resilience. Resilience is something that helps me when I am on the floor, sobbing my eyes out from a panic attack (or in the past when I felt low and suicidal). Resilience got me through my GCSES, A levels and University. Resilience (and medication) somehow got me through being sectioned in 2014 for my bipolar and having to recover to live again.

I am not perfect but I know what it is like to have no confidence, no self esteem, to be highly anxious or severely depressed and for each day to be a struggle. To feel like you are wading through treacle or for every fibre of your being to be stressed with anxiety.

When I talk to people about my Body Shop journey and the opportunities that it has brought me and my manager Sarah (who also lives with mental illness), people not only can’t believe it but they also tell me:

I can’t do what you do, you have so many supportive friends.’

‘I can’t do what you do, I feel really low in confidence and low on time’.

While it is true I do have wonderful friends and a good network, I still had to build my group, build my business and build my team from nothing. From scratch. I had to familiarise myself with the products, learn what they do and their ingredients. I had to make contact with new people and find new customers via my network. I had to sell to friends and family….which I was petrified of doing.

I thought I couldn’t sell a product as I had never worked in retail. My anxiety and confidence was really low and it took a lot to go live and share the products, play games like bingo and go live in the group.

But people got behind me and because they did, my confidence began to grow. I realised I loved what I was doing. I was good at it. I could help others and work from home with flexible hours. I could rebuild again.

But what I want to ask you is:

Why can’t you do what I do, if you want to do it?

Why can’t you say yes to an exciting opportunity- and have support from me and a great team?

Why can’t you devote an hour in your day to your Body Shop business?

All it takes is a yes, a leap of faith and slowly building confidence. There is no pressure, coming from a background of mental illness, I want to empower and support others (not count sick days). I want to uplift and help, in the spirit of my manager Sarah who is wonderful too.

If you want to change your life and start on a new journey, drop me a message and reach out.

Digital Detox Ideas for Mental Wellbeing.

(image: Unsplash)

It’s no surprise that our mental health is affected by the culture around us and our technology-based lifestyles. Every day we are bombarded with stimuli and information that influences our mental and emotional states and alters our opinions and worldviews. This is happening all the time, every day.

Today, we spend so much time online that it has become second nature, and we are losing important social skills and mental abilities that were once considered essential for a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to remember the impact technology has on us and adapt our lifestyles to include more nourishing practices. You can do this with a digital detox, read on to discover more. 

Spend time offline 

Depression comes in many forms and is very common. You can be mildly depressed due to a situation eg something that happened in work, or clinically depressed meaning you have a low mood that doesn’t seem to go away and only medication seems to help. Any state of depression can be exacerbated by using the Internet. 

Those who overuse the Internet are prone to depression, researchers have found. This may be due to the lifestyle of heavy Internet usage that limits social contact and encourages a stay at home mentality, but it could also be caused by mental feedback loops when feeling of depression and low mood are reinforced through Internet behaviour. 

Naturally, there are several solutions to the issue. If you experience low mood coupled with high Internet usage, consider switching off for a period or limiting your usage in the week. Instead of Internet usage, try a different activity such as talking to friends and family or taking a nature walk. 

Limit SmartPhone Usage 

Smartphones are a wonderful invention, as are mobile phones for seniors; they are portable computers and communication tools, essentially. But there are some underlying issues associated with them, especially with regards to mental well being. It’s thought, for instance, that high smartphone usage can increase anxiety and feelings of unease and restlessness. It’s no wonder with so much of our lives dependent on them. 

Smartphones can increase anxiety due to our attachments to using them. We not only store important everyday information on them; we also communicate through them, socially and for work. In some ways, our smartphones have become our gateway to the world, and it’s difficult to put them down sometimes or go a few minutes without checking them for updates. 

Although it’s challenging a successful digital detox will involve a reduction of smartphone usage. You can limit your usage by making certain rules for yourself. The phone is not allowed in the bedroom, for instance, or you are only allowed a certain percentage of screen time per day. Train yourself to use the smartphone less and create discipline by opening up other avenues of communication.  

Log Off Social Media

The Internet is useful for many things, but no one knows what it’s main purpose is; that said if it’s meant for anything, it’s meant for communication. Social media is an online phenomenon that has emerged or evolved throughout the age of the Internet, from chat rooms in the early days, to MySpace and then Facebook and others. There are now 2.7 billion Facebook users worldwide. 

Although this platform is an excellent way to communicate with friends and relatives globally, to start businesses, sell things, and market services, there are some hidden dangers that can lead to anxiety and depression in people, some of whom are unable to escape from their online habits. 

Everyone on Facebook presents the best possible image of themselves, which leads to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem when some people start comparing and contrasting. The reality is that many people experience issues in their lives, and no one is as perfect as how they like to be perceived. Logging off social media for a time can greatly benefit your mental wellbeing. 

Social Media Dangers 

The dangers of social media extend beyond low self-esteem based on comparisons. Facebook and Instagram may be the catalyst for such conditions, but the conditions can then manifest in various ways and cause long term mental and physical health issues. Disorders such as anorexia and addiction can worsen from heavy usage.

A phenomenon that affects mainly women is an increase in body awareness and adaptive behaviour based on the effects of social media. Since so much of social media feeds are occupied with perfect images, some women feel pressured into conforming and changing their body shape to achieve positive attention. This encourages eating disorders like anorexia or body dysmorphia. 

This all points to a reduction in social media usage for improved mental wellbeing. It should also highlight the consequences of comparing ourselves to others. You can limit your social media usage by deleting your apps for a period, perhaps a week or a month. It doesn’t mean you have to leave the website, but train yourself to develop healthier online habits. 

Improve your Sleep

Researchers have found that the average person requires eight hours of sleep per night to go through their full sleep cycles. What’s more, your sleep should happen through the night due to your circadian rhythms – these help keep the chemicals in your brain properly balanced so that you regulate and maintain optimal mental wellbeing. 

Technology can influence and disturb your sleep patterns and cause insomnia in extreme cases. Harford researchers discovered that the blue light from laptops phones and devices was sufficient to reduce the levels of melatonin in your system. Melatonin is the chemical responsible for putting you to sleep. So using your screen every night in bed might cause you to fall asleep later and feel more drained in the morning. 

A digital detox is recommended if you find your sleep pattern is disturbed for some unknown reason.

Make your bedroom and technology-free zone. Leave all your devices elsewhere in the house and take a book to bed instead. Reading a book does not have a digital glow and should help you fall asleep faster. You might also delay your technology usage in the morning shortly after waking. 

Above all, look after your mental wellbeing and detox when you need to.

This article was written by a freelance writer

How to help others with their Mental Health when you live with it yourself.

(image: Pexels)

Dealing with mental health problems is tough, especially when there is a stigma. ”Man up? Why don’t you man up?!” (you don’t need to). However, you get to a point where you strike a balance that lets you lead a healthy and productive lifestyle. You’re on an even keel, which is essential as it stops the intense emotions and feelings.

Still, this isn’t the end of your journey. Once you get to a point where you feel you are on top of things, you might want to help others reach the same summit. After all, there’s no greater sensation than giving back. Here’s what you need to do.

Reach Out

You understand the warning signs better than anybody because you’ve been through the ordeal. You also know that people who are finding life difficult tend to bottle up their emotions and push them deep down. As a result, the likelihood of a fellow sufferer reaching out isn’t realistic. Instead, they’ll suffer in silence. Reaching out can be as basic as asking them if they are okay, or letting them know that they have a shoulder to lean on if they want. And, with the development of tech such as Zoom, you don’t have to be in the same room to eliminate loneliness or anxiety.

Share Your Story

Be honest – did you open up to anyone who asked about your issues? No, because it’s tough when there isn’t a sense of empathy. People who haven’t experienced what it’s like don’t understand, making it hard to relate to the pain. You’re different. Having dealt with it, you are better positioned than anyone to offer advice. Of course, they don’t know that until you share your story. Revealing what you went through will encourage them to trust you, ensuring your advice doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

Make It Your Career

If you love helping others and have a passion for mental health, you should consider turning it into a career. Your experience makes you well placed to get to grips with the complexities of the industry, and the advancements in technology mean it’s easier than ever to become certified. Becoming a counsellor is never a walk in the park, but some features make it simpler to juggle. For example, attending an online course instead of being on-campus. Or, doing it part-time to ensure it doesn’t overwhelm you and get in the way of your routine. You’ve got something to offer, so don’t be afraid to show it!

Be Flexible

Due to your success story, you will want everyone to try the method you used because it has had positive results. That’s perfectly acceptable since people draw on their experiences when helping others. However, no two individuals are the same, which means you must be flexible when providing your opinions. Sure, you can lead with what assisted you, yet it’s essential to keep an open mind and encourage whatever makes them happy. Also, never guarantee anything as there are no sure things with mental health.

It’s a process, an unpredictable one with lots of twists and turns, so you need to be prepared for ups and downs.



This article was written by a freelance writer
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The Difference between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist. Which can best address your needs? By Anita Ginsburg


It’s always important to seek professional help if you are dealing with a mental health issue. Unfortunately, finding a professional can be harder than you might think. Even if you can find someone for you, you’ll still have to decide upon which type of professional with whom you should work. For most, the answer comes down to knowing the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.


What Is a Psychologist?

Generally speaking, a psychologist is a person with an advanced degree in psychology who works with patients on their mental health. These individuals usually use various types of talk therapy to help individuals work through a diverse number of mental health issues. When many people think of the basic idea of therapy, they’re thinking about what a psychologist does.

When to Choose a Psychologist

It makes sense to choose a psychologist when you’re looking to address your mental health issues without medication. Attempting to change behavior of the long-term is usually best done with the help of a psychologist, especially if you’re looking to get to the root causes of why you feel how you feel. It should be noted, though, that even those who do seek medication can often work with a psychologist as well as a psychiatrist.

What Is a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is specifically an individual who holds a medical degree and specialises in psychiatry. While psychiatrists do conduct many of the same types of therapy as psychologists, they differ from psychologists because psychiatrists can prescribe medication to their patients when needed.

When to Choose a Psychiatrist

The most common reason to choose a psychiatrist is because you are considering the possibility of pursuing some type of medical treatment for your mental health problems. This can range from specific types of medical therapies to medication, but all of these therapies do require a psychiatrist’s oversight. While most do choose psychiatrists because of the medical angle, many psychiatrists do still use talk therapy in a manner similar to psychologists.

It’s important to know what you want from therapy before you make a choice between a psychologist and a psychiatrist. While each type of professional does deal with mental health from a specific angle, whether one is better than the other has everything to do with your personal situation. While you will ultimately need to make the choice between the two, choosing to pursue at least some kind of therapy is a good step on the path to a brighter future.

This article was written by freelance writer Anita Ginsburg

MENtion Health: A Panel event and Campaign for Men’s Mental Health by Superdrug

On Wednesday 4th November, National Stress Awareness Day, Superdrug invited me to a zoom virtual panel event highlighting men’s mental health.

They said, ‘The event will aim to break taboos and increase the conversation around the mental health challenges that men have faced during the current coronavirus pandemic. ‘

We had a chance to listen to some famous and insightful panelists, including

Professor Green – Award winning musician and patron of CALM charity

Chris Hughes– TV personality

Matt Johnson– Broadcaster and mental health advocate

Alexander Leon– Writer and social change advocate

Dr Amir Khan– Doctor and best selling author

(image: Superdrug)

In October 2020, Superdrug conducted research to find out how the pandemic is currently affecting people’s mental health.

The research was conducted among 3419 of its customers. Key findings are highlighted below:

● 86% of people believe men find it more difficult talking about mental health issues than women

● 82% of people believe there’s still too much stigma attached to mental health problems

● 71% don’t think employers take mental health problems seriously enough

● 80% of people would like to see mental health services being made more accessible to people

● 66% people said that their mental health is still being impacted by the pandemic.

As a result, Superdrug decided to launch a new service, known as Mind Care Superdrug. There will be an online doctor for people to find mental health support, with a video consultation and people will be referred to appropriate services. This will be a huge step forward and is an amazing thing to do!

Matt Johnson opened the panel, introducing each pannelist in turn to discuss men’s mental health. For me as woman, I recognise how important it is for men to speak out about their feelings after generations of stigma around mental health.

Professor Green talked about his battle with life long anxiety, saying ‘You just want to get out out of your own skin’, anxiety can be difficult but in life we encounter difficulties and learn to build resilience. Prof Green experienced anxiety as a child and teenager and still deals with it to this day and promotes talking about men’s mental health. He also spoke later in the discussion about self harm in men, to include drug and alcohol abuse and his familys own experience of suicide.

Chris Hughes then spoke about his anxiety and panic attacks, saying he was ‘proud to discuss it openly now‘. He said that before he became well known, he would get anxiety in the workplace that he tried to distract from by going to the gym. However, it didn’t work as well and now he is in the limelight, he has experienced panic attacks, which would manifest as pins and needles in his body and hyperventilation. Hughes shares about his mental health to help others, especially men, through it so they stop bottling feelings up.

Alex Leon told us that he was (in his words), ‘gay, brown and didn’t fit in’. He reminded us that LGBTQ and minority communities often have poor mental health due to a lack of acceptance. He said that 75% of suicide rates in the UK are men and that the narrative that ‘big boys don’t cry and men should just get on with it‘, should be addressed. Leon asked ‘what forms of stigma do men face?‘ and said often it is ‘Be stoic’ ‘be unemotional’ or ‘here is what a man or boy should be‘ – which all lead to poor mental health outcomes.

Dr Amir Khan also introduced himself and his work as a doctor in the UK- a GP working with mens mental health. He agreed with a lot of what Alexander Leon said and offered some profound insights.

The discussion then came back to Professor Green, who told the discussion that sadly his Dad and uncle had died by suicide and he felt mental illness ran in his family. He has struggled with depression and said, ‘ We all chase happiness. You should feel highs and lows- when I don’t feel anything is when I worry’.

Chris Hughes said we must normalise the conversation around mental health and Alex Leon added that self compassion is so important.

I very much enjoyed the panel discussion and really appreciated the chance to hear from great speakers on mens mental health. Superdrug are definitely ahead of the game!

I wasn’t paid for this article but Superdrug sent me a box of wellbeing goodies including Vitamin D tablets, vitamin tea, lavender and peppermint essential oils, sleep aids, moisture socks for feet with marula oil and a pampering skin and body set. Thank you!

Our wellbeing and mental health is so important. You can learn more about Superdrugs mental health campaign here: https://onlinedoctor.superdrug.com/mental-health-and-relationships/

My Book Bring me to Light turned 1!



Yesterday, on 5th November, my book Bring me to Light: Embracing my Bipolar and Social Anxiety (with Trigger Publishing) turned one!

Today, I got this lovely review from a Twitter follower Robin so I thought I would share it here:

It is an amazing book, really enjoyed reading it. An honest and open account of life with bipolar, your strength of character shone through. Thank you for being so open and writing it. – Robin Josephs

I wrote my book to help others and dispell the stigma about severe mental illness. Everyone is human and everyone has mental health. Whether you have never suffered or whether you have depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar, OCD, BPD or EUPD, self harm, addictions, PTSD etc- I would love everyone to be more open if they feel able.

I hope my book explains what being in hospital can be like but that you can recover.

You can get your copy on Amazon and in all good book shops now 🙂

Happy bookversary to me! Thank you to YOU for supporting my blog, reading this and helping get my book deal. To everyone who has bought a copy and to my fab editors Stephanie and Katie.


8 Tips on Managing Your Emotions for better Mental Health.

(image: Pexels)


Having emotions and expressing them is a part of the human experience. Regardless if they are positive or negative emotions, the most important things about your emotions is how you express them. The response to your emotions can help you in so many other areas of your life, it is important to know how to control your emotions well, to help your mental health.

If you know how to properly work with your emotions you will likely make better decisions, your relationships will flourish, your everyday interactions with people you pass by or coworkers will improve and you will be better equipped to take care of yourself.

If you are tired of being run by your emotions, we have practical tips that can help you manage your emotions no matter what life throws your way.

Understand The Impact Of Your Emotions

Your emotions are important. Intense emotions can remind you that you are alive. It is also common for emotions to overwhelm, whether something good happens or if something terrible happens. That is why it is important to have a strong understanding of the impact your emotions play in your life. Emotions can make life worth living or it can make things unnecessarily difficult.

Take some time to consider how your emotions impact your life. You may have a lot of conflict in your friendships or other relationships. You may have a hard time relating to other people, so you may isolate yourself. Unmanaged emotions can also lead you to have issues in your professional life at work and in your academic life in school. It is very likely that you will have emotional and physical outbursts. Spend some time with yourself and determine how your emotions are affecting your life up to this point. Where has it led you? Once you put a name to your emotions, it will be easier to keep track of your problem areas making it easy to track your progress.

Regulate Not Repress

Managing your emotions does not mean repress or suppress them. You should still be expressing your emotions. Expressing your emotions is healthy and imperative to stable mental health. If your goal is to not feel something, strongly reconsider. Sometimes you may subconsciously do it, not even realizing. Bottling up your emotions may seem like a quick fix, but it causes more problems down the line. Repressed and suppressed emotions can lead to things like anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, muscle tension and pain, stress management issues and substance abuse.

Remember that your goal is to control your emotions, not pretend they do not exist. You cannot shop it out, smoke it out, drink it out. You have to deal with your emotions head-on. That is the best way to take control of your emotions. The goal is balance.

Know What You Are Feeling

It can be difficult to control something you are unfamiliar with. Get familiar with your feelings. Constantly check in with yourself about how you are feeling. When you check in with your moods and feelings, you will be better equipped to respond to any and every emotional trigger you may face throughout the day. It could also stop you from making purely emotional decisions that may not be the best decisions to make.

Throughout your day, ask yourself how you are feeling. If you are feeling good or bad, ask yourself why you feel this way. Maybe you are having an emotional reaction to what someone did to you or for you. Before getting upset with them, consider if the inciting situation has a different explanation aside from the one you are currently telling yourself. Sometimes it is the stories we tell ourselves that are the main cause of our discomfort.

Once you have done all of that, ask yourself what is the best way to get out that emotion. Should you scream? Should you vent? Another question to ask yourself is if there is a better way to cope with your feelings. Sometimes screaming is not the best way to cope. Instead of screaming at your significant other, scream in a pillow at home instead. Maybe taking a few deep breaths is more appropriate.

As long as you are thinking about alternatives to your current situation and your feelings, it will be much easier to control your emotions instead of working off of your knee-jerk reaction.

Be Accepting Of Your Emotions

Avoid downplaying your emotions. Give yourself permission to feel those feelings. Do not feel about feeling those feelings either. Do not invalidate your experiences! If something makes you so happy you could leap into the air, do it! If something makes you feel super sad, express that. Do not tell yourself to “calm down” or “it’s not that serious.” It is serious to you and that is what matters.

Once you become more accepting of your emotions, the good ones and the bad, you will become more comfortable with them. The more comfortable you are with your emotions the less likely you will react to a triggering situation in a way that does not serve you best.

The impulse to judge your emotions is common and everyone struggles with this in different variations of difficulty. Remember that your emotions are not good or bad. They are neutral. They hold useful information that can help you improve, even if the emotion itself may feel unpleasant.

Journal

Before you cringe at the thought of keeping a journal, try it out. Writing down your emotions and the responses you have to those emotions can help you clearly see patterns. Often when something happens that triggers intense emotions, you may have the instinct to run through the situation in your mind over and over again. Take it a step further and put words on paper. Sometimes the act of writing something can help you reflect more deeply on your feelings and your triggers.

Think of journalling as a way to keep track of the things that trigger you. Once you know your triggers, you can catch yourself before falling back into those patterns that no longer serve you. If you want to truly reap all the benefits journaling has to offer, make sure that you stay consistent with it at least once a day. Make note of all your triggers and reactions to those triggers. Use your journal to explore different, more productive ways to express your emotions.

Remember To Breathe

That sounds too good to be true, but remembering to breathe can impact the way you process your emotions. Life happens fast. Sometimes it happens so fast, we barely have time to process. Taking some time to yourself to deeply breath can clear your mind in a moment of rage or it can help you fully enjoy a moment. Taking a deep breath gives you between the moment something triggered an emotion and your reaction to it. In between that breath you can check in with how you are feeling and why. You can ask yourself those questions like what is the alternative explanation that makes sense. All of that can happen in the time it takes for you to complete a few deep breaths.

If breathing deeply is not your thing, do not worry! It can be your thing! All you have to do is try. Get in a comfortable position and try deep breathing exercises before you start your day. When you take a few deep breaths, remember to breathe from your diaphragm as all deep breaths come from there. Once you have breathed in so much that your belly is rising, hold it in for three counts and release slowly. You can take it a step further and add a mantra that you say to yourself while doing your breathing exercises.

Understand That There Is A Time And A Place

Expressing your emotions is imperative to being able to control them, but you must understand that there is a proper time and place to express those emotions. There are some situations in which an emotional outburst is acceptable. Maybe you lost a loved one and are stricken with sadness and anger. Crying into your pillow, punching your mattress or screaming is a great way to express emotions.

The challenge comes when there is no space for you to do these things. You then have to determine if expressing your emotions in this way is the time and place. You cannot yell at your boss and expect to keep your job. You cannot slap the cash register because your card got declined otherwise you will go to jail. You have to be mindful of your surroundings and what the situation calls for. This can help you determine if this is the right time and place to express your emotions in this way.

Give Yourself Space To Process

Sometimes triggering emotions happen so fast, it can be overwhelming to process. That is why giving yourself space to process is so important. When you create a mental distance between yourself and your emotions by taking a walk, watching something that makes you laugh, talking to someone you love and spending a few minutes with your pet, you are better able to process those difficult emotions.

Bereavement, PIP, Promotion and Panic by Eleanor

 

 

Hi lovely readers,

So much has been going on that its been a little overwhelming so I didn’t feel able to sit here and type out my feelings. But today, I feel like I can share so here goes.

My dear father in law passed away from brain cancer at the age of just 67 last month. This was expected, after a two year battle, rounds of surgery and chemo and radiotherapy and being told they could do no more treatment as he had two aggressive tumours and they couldn’t operate further. However, it was still immensely painful when it happened (although we were all with him at a nursing home) and we had the funeral and week of mourning (shiva) as per Jewish tradition. I moved in to my in laws home that week to be there to support my husband, brother in law and mother in law.

We will all miss him terribly- a truly wonderful man and it was a privilege to know him.

Despite this sadness in our family, some positive news has followed. I had applied and been awarded a disability benefit called PIP (Personal independence payment) and been awarded it due to my bipolar disorder and panic attacks impacting on my mental health and ability to work outside the home. This greatly helps our situation and means I can work alongside it too in my role at the Body Shop from home and around my writing (my book Bring me to Light is available here) . We also found out that Rob is being taken off furlough and returning to work on the 1st September- he has been furloughed for 6 months and this was a huge relief for us, as you can imagine.

Additionally, a few weeks ago I got promoted to Area Manager of my Body Shop team, team Hope. This means I manage a team of consultants/ manager in training and help them to develop their businesses too. I feel incredibly lucky to do a job that I love from home and be so supported by my manager Sarah and all my wonderful team mates too. I truly love this job and hope to make it my full time career eventually. The products are so good for self care too.

Now on to my mental health. My anxiety has returned with a vengeance these past few weeks. One night I was up til 5am with panic and insomnia (feeling tearful, restless and pumped with adrenaline) so took some prescribed anxiety medication. I also use a lavender pillow mist which helps me to sleep better too. I have had to cancel and reschedule things. I am not good with change and my anxiety is being triggered. I have a wonderful therapist and so I will definitely book in another session with her soon because I can feel myself dipping a little.

The guineapigs are adorable and good for cuddles and I have had a lot of support from friends and family, so thank you for that, and from Rob too.

How is everyone?

Eleanor xx

 
Infographic by Mindful Urgent Care

How Escaping to the Outdoors is Beneficial for Mental Health: by Amy Sloane

outdoors1

(image: https://drive.google.com/file/d/15tymBGUxaR6XX6ThQU5dDzwgGuLBQvey/view)

 

There are so many people who suffer from debilitating mental disorders. Sometimes, people don’t recognise it. Often, people know something is off, but the mind is so powerful, it can convince a person that they’re totally fine. 

In many cases, it takes a person hitting rock-bottom before they recognise that they need real help. Thankfully there are ways to keep yourself as well as possible.

Consider some of the ways of escaping the outdoors can be extremely beneficial for your mental health.

 

1. Unplugging from Regular Life

The hustle and bustle of regular life can be very taxing on the mind. Between taking care of the children, making sure your spouse is okay, and holding down a well-paying job, you can lose yourself. Then, when you add exercise, adequate rest, and healthy eating to the equation, it can all become so overwhelming. Don’t even mention friendships. So many adults suffer from a lack of true friendships.

Thankfully, you can enjoy great food, wonderful friendships, and memories when you intentionally escape to the outdoors. Call a few friends to see if they’d be interested in going on a camping trip with you. When you all can get away to reset your minds, reconnect with one another and enjoy the fresh air, you can kill a few birds with one stone. 

Plus, vacations are necessary for mental health. When you take time for a quick sabbatical, studies show that you’ll increase your chances of showing up in a healthier way when it’s time to get back to regular life.

 

2. Solitude in Nature

There are countless benefits to being outside in nature. This is why camping in Utah in USA is an excellent idea. You’ll get to fall asleep under the stars, and you’ll experience true solitude. Nature is proven to help improve your overall mood. It helps you decrease any anxious feelings. 

Think about a time when you were really angry and needed to go for a walk to cool down, you’re probably not walking on a treadmill to calm down. An outdoor walk is helpful mainly because of the fresh air and the calming feeling of being in the open.

As you escape into solitude, you’ll become more attracted to activities that allow you to be outside. Whether this means that you schedule a camping trip once a quarter or you shoot hoops at the local basketball court, the feeling of being outside is unmatched. Plus, when you’re able to get outside and get active, you’ll release endorphins. 

Endorphins are really instrumental in boosting a person’s mood. They’re also helpful in boosting a person’s overall feelings of self-esteem and confidence.

 

3. Overstimulation

There are so many factors that come into play when you’re overstimulated. However, it’s a good idea to focus on the main culprit: smartphones. While smartphones can be amazing pieces of technology, they’re also the outlets that allow you to constantly check your email messages, respond to text messages, and scroll through social media. Even when you don’t need an update on what the President’s latest moves are, you’re getting alerts from the major news outlets.

While smartphones provide a tremendous amount of access, they can also provide a ton of overstimulation. When you’re visiting a campground, you’ll still get a signal from your mobile carrier. 

However, don’t be surprised if the signal isn’t as strong as it would be if you were at home. Knowing this, you have an excuse to pull away from all of the messages and instant responses people expect from you. Escaping to nature gives you an opportunity to put away your tech-savvy devices, put a ‘do not disturb’ message on your systems, and unplug.

As you find ways to intentionally take care of your mental health, remember that it’s not in vain. As you prioritize self-care, you’ll feel better and stronger. When nothing is wrong, it’s easy to assume that you’re completely invincible. Unfortunately, you’re not. Life chips away at you when you don’t check in with yourself. 

Even if you’re not always able to get to a campground, a simple walk around the neighborhood can help you clear your mind and get some fresh air. By escaping to the outdoors and prioritizing self-care, you can play a major role in keeping yourself sane.

 

This guest blog was written by writer Amy Sloane.