This guest blog was written by film maker and musician Violette Kay. Her film the Joy thats Mine Alone about life with art and bipolar disorder, can be viewed at :
This guest blog was written by film maker and musician Violette Kay. Her film the Joy thats Mine Alone about life with art and bipolar disorder, can be viewed at :
(image: Eleanor Mandelstam (Segall))
Trigger Warning: sexual assault, details of assault and severe mental illness
Its been a while but I thought I would put type to keyboard and write a blog for more mental health awareness.
Since my book was published, I haven’t written many follow up personal blogs, purely because the launch of my life story into the public domain felt overwhelming and scary. 6 months on, I am used to it being out there but I have been working hard in EMDR trauma therapy to help myself.
See, the truth is that right now the Bipolar Disorder for me is stable and under control on my medicines. I still get side effects- weight gain, dry mouth and thirst, but my mind is generally healthy in terms of the Bipolar- no mania or depression. Anxiety and panic yes but Bipolar, not really at the moment.
Yet, almost lurking unseen after I left hospital in 2014 and began my recovery was the fact I was traumatised by my experiences of going into psychosis (losing touch with reality via delusions, false beliefs) and my experiences when being sectioned. I will just give an overview as the rest is in my book- but this included- being restrained, being attacked by other patients and seeing them self harm, being injected with Haloperidol (an anti psychotic) in front of both male and female nurses in a part of the body I didn’t want, being chased round A and E by security men in genuine fear of my life, dealing with lawyers and going to tribunals while ill, thinking I had been abused by family and was locked up by a criminal gang and fearing my family were against me. My bipolar mind could not cope.
Just before this all happened, I was very vulnerable and was sexually assaulted by a man I knew through friends and all of this trauma stayed with me.
I did what most of us with severe mental illness and assault survivors do- I tried to rebuild my life. I tried to work in schools helping children with special educational needs. I tried to work for a mental health charity as a peer support worker for people like me. I began to blog and write and share as therapy- from charities to national newspapers. Bit by bit, as I wrote out what I has been through, I started to slowly heal. But, the symptoms of the extreme panic remained. I lost jobs because of it. I became depressed. I started dating but I often had to cancel dates- (before I met Rob, my husband who listened to me talk about it all and didn’t bat too much of an eyelid.)
I was in a state of flux, a state of transition. I knew I had trauma still living in my brain and body. I had been physically and sexually assaulted, I had been mentally violated- I had been sectioned twice in a few months and now I was sent home to try and rebuild my life as a 25 year old single woman.
I share this important blog, not to share that I am a victim- because I am not. I want to share that I believe for about 5 years, I have been suffering with some of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). My therapist believes the same.
The panic attacks that grip me with fear before work or the day ahead when I have to leave the house. The fear of going out or travelling at night alone. The fear of being taken advantage of and having to trust men again (thank you to my husband for helping ease this pain). The fear of exploitation, of losing my mind, of not trusting mental health professionals any more.
My panic attacks get triggered by certain events- it could be having to speak about my life or book, or seeing people I don’t feel comfortable with, of feeling exposed, of worrying about others judgement. I am still healing from all I have been through and experienced. The PTSD means that I have to take medication (Propranolol) to function sometimes. It means that I experience flashbacks in my body- I feel gripped with fear, I get chest pain and shallow breathing and I start to cry. I had one the other day at 4am….. thank the lord for meds so I could calm down and sleep.
My therapist is incredible and we have been working since October to process the roots of my trauma and panic disorder. We use a combination of rapid eye processing with talking therapy which helps to tackle each and every trauma- and we are still at the tip of the iceberg. It takes time to process the deep rooted experiences in my brain- we are getting there slowly.
For me, in many ways my future is uncertain. My medicines have long term physical side effects. Motherhood will be more of a challenge due to medication and my mental health- I am still processing the choices I will have to make, which I will write in another blog.
I want to end this blog by saying- if you know someone with anxiety, PTSD, another anxiety disorder or something like bipolar or schizophrenia- Be Kind. You never know what someone has gone through.
The NHS waiting lists for help are too long, services are too underfunded- all my treatment has been private provided by my family due to being stuck on a list for years. I am lucky, not everyone is.
I hope this blog gives some information about my experiences of PTSD since leaving hospital 6 years ago. It is by far the most personal thing I have posted since publishing my book but I hope it helps you feel less alone.
Positivity and Hope are key. Meeting my husband and my therapist changed my life for the better as I slowly rebuild and find an equilibrium again.
(image: Tee Public)
One of the major causes of burnout happens when we’re in situations with minimal amounts of control over what we can do. Nowadays, it can seem like stress and burnout are a normal part of modern day working life. The World Health Organisation listed burnout as an occupational phenomenon and they define burnout as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.
During the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a lot of pressure to spend our time focused on productivity. These have been seen in the form of achieving full productivity at work or working from home and also being productive by working on self-improvement. The focus on productivity came from the idea that if you focus on driving forwards during the pandemic, this will help get you get through it. While this is true some people, others will need this time to focus on their mental health and simply do less. Getting through a pandemic is not a one size fits all.
Put simply, you should listen to your body and do what you want to do, instead of what the world says you should be doing. Acknowledging that we are all living in an impossible era is the important first step. There is an adaptation period that needs to happen and this period will be longer for some people than others.
While you should try your best to fulfill your work duties, you are allowed to voice if you are struggling. You do not need to work full time, learn a new language, start baking, take up a new hobby and exercise more if you don’t want to. Take it one step at a time, if you finish work or finish your working from home hours and want to spend your free time on something productive, then do and if you don’t, relax.
How to avoid burnout
While we have covered a little on current pressures to be productive, this section will dive into the absolute fundamentals.
Get enough Sleep
Key workers, those working from home and those who have been furloughed all need sufficient sleep. This can be particularly difficult for key workers who are working long, hard shifts and also for those who are simply stressed out by living through a pandemic.
Typically, during your normal routine, you need six to eight hours of sleep each night.but if you’re doing more than your usual routine, you will need around eight hours a night, plus one period of relaxation during the day. Relaxation can be just sitting somewhere quiet for 10 minutes. If you’re approaching burnout you need eight to nine hours of sleep each night, plus two breaks.
Stress can make it difficult to sleep, so be mindful that to get a good night’s sleep, you’ll need to combat your stress levels.
Exercise More or Exercise Less
Exercise helps alleviate stress which is great for creating a good sense of well being. Those who exercise regularly can experience increased energy and productivity. Regular exercise will help you get a good night’s sleep, which will go a really long way for your mental health.
The most important thing when exercising during a stressful time is that you only exercise when you’ve had enough rest. Otherwise, you may plummet yourself further into burnout, especially if you don’t usually exercise. You need to listen to your body, nobody seems to tell you to exercise less, but if you’re burned out, you should.
Don’t Ignore Stress
Short-term stress that is manageable could easily turn into burnout over time. You should voice your stress to employers if you’re still working and reach out for any available help. You can also practise deep breathing, meditation, and other relaxation techniques that can help calm you.
Keeping your mind on track and continuing practicing positive thinking. Small techniques like these can work surprisingly well. It can be extremely difficult to remove ourselves from high stress and demanding roles, but just by taking five minutes out where you can really make a difference in terms of mental health. This will positively impact on your ability to do your role as well as everyday tasks.
Outside of work, try and not put yourself in situations that may cause you unnecessary amounts of stress. Your brain can only take so much psychological stress at one time.
If productivity is really what you want to improve on during the pandemic, remember that productivity is not the start, it is the end product of other positive actions you’ve taken to get there. Productivity without burnout will happen when you look after your mental health.
This blog was written by writer and psychologist Jade Mansfield – The Worsley Centre, a centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling.
(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.
(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.
(Images: Emma Johnson)
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.
(image: Mental Health Blog Awards)
Voting is now open (first round) for the Mental Health Blog Awards 2020 and we have been nominated in the Blogger of the Year Category.
We would love you to vote for us, to recognise all of our hard work- including that of our guest bloggers, in battling mental health stigma.
I started the blog 4 years ago and it is an honour to be nominated.
You can vote for us- listed as Eleanor at Be Your Own Light here and please also vote for others in other categories if you are aware of their work! There are some incredible people nominated.
From Mike Douglas, founder of the awards:
“I am delighted to welcome you to the Mental Health Blog Awards.
I look forward to continuing to celebrate the amazing work, effort, energy, emotion and so much more you all put into raising awareness, supporting, signposting, explaining and comforting in 2020.”
(image: Mental Health Blog Awards)
With love and thanks,
Reducing anxiety at the moment in our every day lives is so important.
Having anxiety is something that many people have challenges with. It is estimated that about 1 in 5 adults have an anxiety disorder and that more than that will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.
The symptoms of anxiety include feeling restless or on edge, being easily irritated, difficulty controlling feelings of worry and having difficulty sleeping, amongst others.
If you feel that you may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety, there are many things you can do to help reduce and manage those feelings.
1. Look at Lifestyle Choices
A number of different lifestyle behaviours could contribute to your anxiety. Drinking alcohol, taking drugs, eating junk food will all play a big role in how you feel. For example, excessive drinking or the use of drugs can cause a multitude of health problems including liver and kidney damage. It also causes mental illness such as drug and alcohol addictions. You may need further support from a psychiatrist or rehab unit if you are struggling with addiction or mental illness.
On the opposite side, exercising regularly and eating healthy foods are proven to boost your mood, increase the chemicals in your brain that make you feel happy and improve your overall physical health.
If you want to manage anxiety, consider looking at your current lifestyle choices and if there is anything you have the power to change. Be honest in your assessment but know you have options for assistance. Making a big lifestyle change is hard but if there is something you know is causing your mental health and anxiety to worsen, it is a good idea to remove that from your life if possible.
2. Talk to Your Family and Friends
Even if you think your family and friends would not understand, you might end up getting some of your most valuable support from them. You should not ever feel you have to hide any of your mental health concerns from them, unless you know that they would react badly.
Try to avoid shutting people out, being secretive about your mental illness or becoming defensive when people ask.
True friends will listen and care. There is still a stigma to mental illness but it is important to find someone you trust.
3. Set Boundaries
If necessary you can set boundaries for yourself. This could mean letting people know there are certain activities you don’t participate in. It could also mean a limit on how much time you spend with friends and family, in order to practise self care and recuperate.
Many people who struggle with anxiety disorders find that setting up a schedule for themselves that they are consistent in keeping can greatly reduce feelings of anxiety. It helps them to feel more in control and gives them a structure that feels secure.
Setting boundaries is a way for you to have control over your situation and environment, although these should not be too rigid. There are certain things that can’t be controlled that can increase anxiety.
4. Let Go of Things You Can’t Control
If something is out of your control that is causing your anxiety there are ways that you can cope with these feelings. One suggestion is to write down how you are feeling to help let those emotions go. The BACP tells us that, “It can help to express this anxiety in a way that you can control. That could be writing down what you feel, or keeping a journal.”
You can also try making a list of things you are grateful for, or use breathing and relaxation techniques.
If you are still struggling to cope with things out of your control seek help from a professional.
5. Get Professional Help
You could turn to all types of mental health professionals to get help, including GPs (physicians), psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and therapists. You may be referred for talking therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness or EMDR therapy for trauma. They may also recommend medication for you too.
In the UK, you would go via your NHS GP who can refer you on to see a psychiatrist or to IAPT for counselling. Also check out the Counselling Directory website.
When searching for a good therapist in the USA, Karen Whitehead, who does counseling in Alpharetta, GA tells us that, “Psychologists (PsyD), Licensed Social Workers (LMSW/LCSW), Licensed Professional Counsellors (LPC), and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) can all evaluate and treat mental illness, provide talk therapy, support and feedback, and teach coping strategies such as mindfulness.”
Your counsellor will be able to help you better assess your situation and get to the core of your anxieties. Even if you already know why you get anxious, you can benefit from learning coping skills.
Your counsellor can indeed equip you with tools adapted for your specific needs. You will have feedback on what is and what is not working. You can learn to live with, manage and in many cases, recover from anxiety.
You Are Not Alone
Do not ever think you are alone when it comes to your anxiety. Try not to beat yourself up if setbacks occur or you have a bad day.
Talk with your therapist about ways that you can help to further reduce your anxiety. They will be able to help you.
This blog was written by freelance writer Samantha Higgins.
(image: Mercury News, Daphne Sashin -USA)
We are currently living in strange times, where the majority of people are practicing “Social Distancing”. This has become the norm for most people for a couple of weeks or months. Its only a few months of the first year of the new decade, and no one expected coronavirus to have such an impact of everyday life.
Many people out there are worried and anxious about what is happening, you are not alone. We are all in this together and we can beat this virus. My blog is all about me and my anxiety and how I been coping during these difficult times.
Let me start by saying that even before coronavirus, I have suffered from anxiety for most of my life. I am always constantly worried and stressed about what the future holds. It is the uncertainty that makes me so nervous. Sometimes I just want to stay in bed and not talk to anyone.
It was when something in my life happened, I decided to take matters into my own hands in order to help deal with my anxiety. I decide to self-refer myself and attend CBT classes provided by the NHS. My counsellor has been so helpful in helping me to put things in perspective. I learnt different ways to help me deal with the anxiety. During the week, I still continue with my CBT lessons, but it is done by telephone.
I really appreciate the work the NHS does. They work so hard to try and help people struggling through hard times and saves people’s lives.
When I first heard about the coronavirus, it was okay but then when we started to get cases in UK, my anxiety levels started to kick in. I realised that I suffer from health anxiety too, where I would often check online the symptoms and some days, I convince myself that I have coronavirus.
Social media and the news are reporting about coronavirus and this made me more anxious about what the future holds and if I will be able to survive through this time. It started to get really bad after a few days, as cases in the UK kept increasing and we had deaths in the UK.
Things started to get bad with my mental health as I started to develop symptoms of the virus. One Saturday evening, I started to develop a high fever and started panicking. I had so many thoughts running through my head and ended up calling NHS 111. All they said was ‘it’s a cold’. During that time, I was so scared and my anxiety levels was so high. That evening I found it hard to sleep but I drank a lot of water. The next day I was okay, but decided not to go in to work. It was the right decision to make.
At work, the decision was made that everyone would work from home until further notice. During the first few days of working at home, it was good because it was great to have freedom of what I wanted to do at home, as we won’t have this much free time again. As time went on, I could feel my anxiety levels increasing and my mind kept wandering to the worst things that could happen to me and my family.
We are in tough times and it is affecting everyone mental health, even if you don’t admit it but this is the time we can work on ourselves and pick up a hobby we enjoy. I suffer from loneliness and I often need others to support me. This is the time you can reconnect with past friends. I recommend reaching out to an old friend and talking to them.
We all go through the same things and know that this bad situation will end very soon. We don’t know when, but we will beat it together.
In order to help with my anxiety levels in this situation, I focus on myself and try to find ways I can help others in this situation. I want to help others who are suffering and find ways to inspire them, that everything will be okay. Having fresh air when you are on lockdown is very important. I have a garden and once in a while I go out for a walk.
We need to protect our mental health. It is okay to be struggling. It’s okay to lose your footing and scramble to stay upright. It’s okay to be screaming on the inside or outside. It’s okay to be scared or anxious or depressed. You are not alone and people are here to support you.
We will get through this together and use this time to do something you always wanted to do. We will beat this! It will get better!
This blog was written by freelance writer Jenny Nguyen, in the UK.
(image of Ardmore, Scotland by http://scotlandwildlife.blogspot.com/2011/07/tobermory-to-ardmore-bay-isle-of-mull.html )
My name is Graham Morgan. This is my story of how I’m coping under lockdown.
I have just got back from walking Dash the dog round Ardmore. There was not a person in sight; just the sound of the curlews and the crows, the roar of the cold wind in the trees and the sound of the waves on the seashore. It gave me a chance to think and ponder on this first day of lockdown. It blew my tiredness away. As I reached the point; I looked along the Clyde to Dunoon; where my sister works as a midwife and hoped she was ok and thought about my brother, a medical director and psychiatrist; having to make decisions about the future that no one should have to make.
Driving the two minute journey home I passed the post office van ; strange to see the postie with his mask and blue gloves. I felt slightly guilty for being out and had to remind myself that we are allowed one exercise session a day; that walking the dog counts as that.
I am so lucky compared to others. My friend phoned last night to say he had just managed to get home after breaking the news to his friend’s sister that that friend had killed himself days ago. Back to an email saying he was sacked from his job and that his tenant. who he shares his house with, was leaving the house as London, feels too unsafe. To deal with that?
I found out recently a Twitter friend was passing round my book on a psychiatric ward. The thought of being back in hospital but with no visitors and all the restrictions that happen now, fills me with horror; makes my last hospital stay feel pleasant.
Yesterday a young man contacted me on Facebook to say how much he enjoyed my book START and how he was now in self isolation. I remembered he had been in hospital for months and months; was just getting used to his first flat; getting back to education, finding joy in his creativity. I remembered the loneliness I felt when I lived alone; those days when there was no one to speak to, to share a smile with. How it tore at me! Slapped me to the ground with sadness. I think of so many friends who are already lonely; lost in their lives, lacking the energy to even make a cup of tea.
I am indeed lucky. So far in our tiny household we have got over the twin’s meltdowns when we took them out of school last Monday. How frightened they were and how much they miss their friends. Home schooling for the moment is fun, I imagine, as the weeks go, by it will get harder. We are lucky we still have perspective; not to get angry and argue because of our own anxiety.
I am used to being awake in the early hours, yet somehow I am sleeping OK at the moment and have decreased my drinking.
My understanding of the world (due to my beliefs at the moment) is that I am evil and bringing about its destruction; I think I am partly responsible for the fires and floods; the wars but, for some reason, coronavirus seems to have nothing to do with me. I have no idea why, but it is a relief.
I have more realistic worries, like the special care my Mum made to get a long tight hug when I left her in England to go back up to Scotland.
We have been working from home and have been more or less self- isolated since Monday because my partner has asthma and yet her separated husband is a key worker and looks after the kids too. There is relief that these are ‘real’ worries that I can grasp; not my usual ones.
The most pressing concerns are how to work from home as well as home schooling the children; how to get bread and eggs. The biggest inconvenience has been having to queue outside the chemist for my anti depressants; thankful that my GP realised I was taking them too infrequently and that now I am back up to the required dose I feel so much more relaxed.
I have one quandary; a minor one. I went to get my jag (injection) yesterday for my mental illness. The CPN (community psychiatric nurse) who gave me it had no more protection than normal. It was quick and painless.
He said he didn’t know where the community mental health team would be soon; they may be based with another more urban one by my next appointment. He said that if I, or anyone else near me, got any symptoms I was to phone in but that he had no idea what they would do if I did; that I might have to take oral medication.
At that I was lost because, of course I would have to; not doing so at such a time would cause so much trouble but, at the same time; I am on a community section because I cannot make myself take medication, how can I agree to that, if it happens?
I have my work, I have food, my lovely family and Dash the dog who cuddles tightly up to me every night. I have my writing, my books, my music. So many people I know have nothing approaching that.
I think I am glad I don’t have the imagination to see the scale of what is happening and am not torturing myself with the ‘what ifs’. Good luck to all of you who may not be in such a good place. Let us all help each other as best we can over the coming weeks.
Graham Morgan has an MBE for services to mental health and is the Author of START (by Fledgling Press) a memoir of compulsory treatment, love and the natural world. Available from Amazon and Waterstones on line.
He can be found at @GrahamM23694298 on twitter and at Graham Morgan – author; on facebook or at the Scottish Booktrust Live Literature database at https://www.scottishbooktrust.com/authors/graham-morgan
(image: Money Under 30)
With the coronavirus outbreak, it is a worrying time for many of us financially. With that in mind, today we would like to share this about debt and mental health:
Worries about money can hugely influence your overall wellbeing. A study conducted in 2019 showed that 9.5 million people in the UK have issues with their mental health, in direct relation to money woes, whilst a staggering 18 million worry about lack of money daily (source:N26).
How mental health impacts your finances
Research conducted by National Debtline indicates that approximately one in four adultswill experience an issue with their mental health within any given year. It is worth noting mental health incompasses a range of conditions and experiences, including:
● Bipolar disorder
It is also worth highlighting that having a mental health issue or condition does not automatically mean you will struggle with finances or debt. However, it may make it harder to deal with. Research indicates that around half of all adults in the UK who are having debt problems also have a mental health issue (source: National Debtline).
It can causes a vicious cycle of problem health and finances
Unfortunately, feelings of stress, anxiety and even depression relating to growing fears about lack of money can lead to a vicious circle. It can impact your finance management abilities in a variety of ways. For example, serious anxiety or depression may cause you to lose energy or avoid your debt entirely. This may lead someone to avoid keeping up to date of their finances.
Problems with mental health could also affect finances if it means that it reaches a serious point where the person is required to take time off work. Depending on their individual circumstances (such as whether they are entitled to sick leave or not) this could mean a sharp reduction in their income. Unfortunately, this might have the unintended impact of making their mental health worse.
Other signs that debt is causing an impact on one’s health mentally include:
● Become overwhelmed or sick at the thought of the debt you are in
● Starting to withdraw completely from family and friends due to debt anxiety
● Symptoms of preexisting mental health conditions such as depression, are worsening
● Struggling to eat properly
● Struggling to sleep
● Regularly underperforming at work
What you can do if you are in debt and struggling with mental health
Do not suffer in silence, there are a number of places you can turn to that are confidential and free. This includes services such as the Samaritans or Mind. There are also debt charities dedicated to providing advice on how to get out of your debt, such as StepChange and National Debtline.
If you are looking to lower or consolidate your debts, you can look at debt management companies, but please note that they make take a fee for using their services
If you need help in the current crisis with getting Universal Credit or other welfare benefits for job loss or want to know more about managing your finances, check out the government and money websites such as MoneySavingExpert by Martin Lewis.
This blog was written by expert and freelance writer Ian Sims.
(image: Self Care Pursuit)
If you’re stuck at home during the Coronavirus outbreak and need some tips to help with your mental health, you have come to the right place.
Being on lockdown can make us all feel depressed and more anxious. Self care for ourselves and our families are more important than ever.
Here are some suggestions of things to do to help your mental health and self care at the moment:
– Follow an exercise video- Listen to guided relaxation (I recommend channels ‘Relax for a while’ and ‘Michael Sealey’ on Youtube).
– Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal- this helps to clear your mind.
– Nourish your body with healthy food and stay hydrated, so important to get help with groceries if possible and drink lots of water.
– Have a bath to help relax you and keep you feeling good.
– Watch stand up comedy on Netflix, Amazon Prime or on TV.
– Do a puzzle, if you enjoy them.
– Play a board or card game.
– Limit your exposure to the news to once a day if you are able to stop anxious thoughts.
– Bake/ cook – good for being mindful and creating something delicious, with a sense of achievement.
– Read a book and let your mind imagine.
– Go for a walk in nature (responsibly and if your country’s guidelines allow you to!).
– When you get up- make your bed and don’t stay in pyjamas all day, to get you into a good routine and positive mindset.
– Have a phone or zoom chat with positive influences in your life.
– Tidy your home as best you can.
– Play upbeat music (and dance or sing).
– A few drops of pure lavender oil in your bath or a lavender pillow spray to help you fall off to sleep and help reduce anxiety.
– Learn a new skill- many online courses are being offered.
– Break down the tasks that are overwhelming you in to small achievable chunks.
If you are having persistent overwhelming negative thoughts or feelings please tell someone- speak to a trusted friend or family member, your GP, the Samaritans on 116 123 (UK- you can also email them if you prefer), a counsellor.
Things can and will get better.
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, look after it.
Chantal Shaw is a guest writer from the UK and the sister of our founder Eleanor.