4 Ways to Make Your Mental Health a Priority in your Life by Emma Sturgis

Because of the stress and fear caused by the pandemic, more people are coming forward to talk about their mental health struggles. Mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, affect millions of people around the world. The inability to cope with stressful events as well as other factors can lead to an increase in mental illness.

When you make taking care of your mental health a priority, you will be surprised at how many ways there are to help a variety of mental health issues. Here are four simple but effective ways to improve your mental health.  

(image: Pexels)

Practice Mindfulness 

According to the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, mindfulness improves mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.   Some people are skeptical about how mindfulness can create such positive results, but it really only takes a few days of regular practice to prove to yourself that being aware of what you do when you do it focuses your mind. When your mind is focused on a task in the present moment, it won’t engage in depressing or anxious thoughts. Definitely give it a go and see if it works for you.

Exercise Regularly If You Can

Physical activity is an excellent way to manage depression and improve your mental health.  Physical activity boosts the release of mood-enhancing chemicals in your brain. These endorphins can help reduce any feelings of sadness or anxiety, alongside other treatment. Exercise also increases blood flow to the brain, which can make you feel more energised and happier.  Furthermore, physical activity can help people cope with stress better by improving their coping skills due to the endorphin boost or just being outside in fresh air. Exercise is also a great way to spend time with others in a social setting such as an exercise class or do some gentle exercise at home.

Eat Healthy Meals 

Diet is an important part of our lives, we should make sure that we eat a balanced diet in order to nourish both our bodies and souls. There are many healthy food options whatever mental health condition you struggle with, which help you to look after your body and mind.

Get Professional Mental Health Assistance   

Talking to a psychiatrist can help you learn how to deal with your mental health condition. It’s especially important to be able to get professional assistance when dealing with a life-altering event or trauma. Talking about your feelings, fears, and worries alleviates stress and can help mental illness. 

Try these four ways to improve your mental health. Mindfulness increases productivity and reduces stress. Physical activity benefits your mental health in many ways. Following a balanced diet nourishes both body and mind. Talking to a mental health professional can help mental health recovery.

6 Ways Fathers can Assist New Mothers- Guest blog by Jess Levine

(image: Unsplash)

A new bundle of joy in the family is indeed a happy addition. While welcoming a new baby is a joyous event, new mothers also have a lot of things to keep in mind. Not to mention, mothers have to make huge adjustments in their routines, schedules, and even hobbies just to make time for the baby. 

New mothers are also recommended to get enough rest. However, with an infant to care for, most mothers would not even have much time for themselves. And that’s where fathers should step up. 

New mothers need both physical assistance and emotional support. Baby care and household chores are part of physical assistance. Emotional support can be done in various ways. But letting new mothers have a day for themselves is more than enough. Caring for a baby could get exhausting, and having a self-care day can help mothers refresh and recharge themselves after a gruelling week.

Fathers, or partners, can always help in both aspects. But aside from simply volunteering to change diapers and give bottled milk, here are some more ways to assist new mothers: 

  1. Have Your Fair Share Of Chores

This is one of the main things that partners can do to help eliminate the stress and burden of new mothers. Most of the time, your wife may not be able to wash the dishes or mop the floors because she needs to attend to the baby. 

So, why not volunteer to do the dishes every night? Or help with the laundry each week during your day off? Helping around the house will definitely lessen the physical stress for new moms. Offering to disinfect or sterilise the baby’s things is also a great idea. The extra time they get can be spent resting or bonding with the baby.

  1. Cook or Order Takeout (takeaway)

Just like household chores, cooking also takes time. Most new moms don’t even have the time to think about meal prep or planning. So, might as well just take things into your own hands! You can volunteer to either prepare breakfast or cook dinner so your partner can get more sleep. If you’re working long hours and there’s not much time for you to prepare dinner at night, then offer to order takeout instead. 

  1. Offer A Spa or Massage Day

New mothers direly need, and would highly appreciate, a self-care day. Sending them off to a spa or massage session would definitely lift up their mood and calm their mind. Doing this at least once a month can help improve their mental and emotional state. Mothers need a break from all that baby care too! But make sure to have someone reliable enough to care for the baby while mom is away. You can volunteer to do it yourself but if you need to take care of work or other errands, then you may hire a nanny or leave the baby with grandparents or a trusted family member for the day.

If it’s not possible for you or your wife to go out to a spa or massage service, then you can book a home service instead. You can also plan and prepare a homemade bubble bath that your wife can soak and relax in!

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  2. Avoid Adding More Pressure

New mothers might be overly conscious and anxious that they aren’t doing a great job with the baby and the house. On your part, you must also understand that they cannot fulfill household duties 100% all the time, since they also have a baby to care for. 

So, if you see that the kitchen is not clean, floors are dirty and unswept, and the laundry is already piling up, don’t take it out on her. Instead, ask her which task she may need help with and communicate how you can work together to make sure that basic household duties are still maintained while also caring for the baby.

Appreciate What She Does

New mothers are always overwhelmed, but a simple appreciation will make them feel happier and secured. Many new moms are always thinking that they aren’t doing a good job (even if they are). So, don’t forget to remind them that they are doing great and that you appreciate everything she does for the house and the baby. Most of all, it’s best to remind them that as long as the baby is happy and healthy, then they’re doing more than a good job already.

Encourage Social Interaction

The mental and emotional stress that new mothers feel is sometimes caused by being cooped up in the house for too long. While she can spend more time bonding with the baby and communicating with you, remember that a healthy adult also needs a well-rounded social relationship. 

So, encourage your wife to go out and see her friends over coffee sometimes! Recommend a mom group in your area that she may be interested in, or if your wife thinks she should see a therapist to help with postpartum depression or anxiety, then help her book a session.

A new mother would usually insist on being more hands on with her baby, and this is not a surprise, since it is just part of human nature. However, it does not mean that they don’t need the help and support from others—especially from a partner. 

Assisting a new mother would not take much time, a simple gesture and moment of appreciation can already do wonders. However, it’s important to also help them with physical tasks to ease their stress and burden. Most of all, it’s important to do these things consistently.

Author’s Bio:

Jess Levine is an experienced writer who loves creating articles that can benefit others. She has worked as a freelance writer in the past making informative articles and fascinating stories. She has extensive knowledge in a variety of fields such as healthcare, technology, business, finance, marketing, personal development, and more.

Check out her company here: https://www.spacetobeyou.com/

Being Kind to Myself: Social Anxiety, Mental Health and Life in Recovery.

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I really wanted to write today because the sun is shining, apple blossom is on the trees and Spring is finally here! I always feel more hopeful and happy once Spring is here but living with bipolar disorder and an anxiety disorder can mean that some days are harder than others.

This week, I have really struggled with low mood and social anxiety. I’m an optimistic person and sometimes I pack too much into my days and end up having a panic attack because I can’t cope. This is what happened to me yesterday when I decided it would be a great idea to pack in too much, including going across London and delivering many Body Shop orders to my customers and friends. My social anxiety was so high (I think largely due to being in lockdown) , I just wanted to hide and I ended up sleeping to escape my feelings and feeling super low. I am lucky that I understand what to do when this happens and I have a husband and family who support me too. I am still in therapy for my panic disorder and it has improved a lot but there are times when it gets triggered like this week.

I have also found that I am worrying more about what people think of me- if I have said the right or wrong thing or upset anyone. Its so silly but due to past rejection I get scared and those fears bubble to the surface.

On Friday, I had a really productive therapy session. There are a lot of worries about the future that I still hold and being able to unpack them in therapy is really useful for me. I am doing EMDR trauma therapy but a lot of it is talking out and facing those triggers one by one. I have a very good relationship with my therapist and having a session often calms my mind.

In positive news, last week I became an aunt to a beautiful baby girl, Cara Harriet who is the sweetest little baby. She is a joy and light in all our lives and I feel so lucky to have a little niece! My sister and brother in law are amazing 🙂

And in other good news, in April, my essay in the Book of Hope by Jonny Benjamin MBE and Britt Pfluger will be published alongside many others I look up to (Dame Kelly Holmes and my friend Hope Virgo). So there are good things as well as bad!

I am doing a lot better- I dont rapid cycle, I havn’t had an episode of mania or hypomania since 2014. My brain seems to like Lithium and Quetaipine (a mood stabiliser and anti psychotic). I have to learn to be kind to myself and practise self care, because my social anxiety is a fear response from the past.

Being kind to myself is of utmost importance. Heres a list of what I do when I am having a bad day: take a nap, have a bubble bath, read a book, hug the guineapigs and Rob, talk to Rob, a friend or family member, put on a face mask, cry, breathe and listen to calming music, watch a good TV show (I have been watching First Dates Teens), book in a therapy session, eat something nice, put some make up on, wash my hair, wear an uplifting perfume.

How are you kind to yourself on your bad days?

Love,

Eleanor x

How Can You Better your Mental Health?

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Your mental health is precious, and you’ve got to look after it as much as you can. We know sometimes this isn’t the easiest thing in the world as there are so many things that are beyond your control. We also know that even when things are okay, sometimes it’s still difficult to control the way that we feel. But, that’s why we’ve written this article, so that you’ve got some ideas as to the things that you can do to better your mental health. Keep reading if you would like to find out more.

Try To Relieve Whatever Stress You’re Holding

The first thing that we’re going to recommend is that you try to relieve whatever stress you are holding onto. We know that this isn’t easy, and we’re not saying it is, but it’s something that you’ve got to do if you want to recover. Your mental health is not going to benefit if you are constantly stressed. But, the only way that you are going to be able to relieve stress is if you know what is causing it. It’s for this reason that you’re going to have to think yourself or speak to a therapist and figure out what is causing most of the stress. From there, you can work out the best way to destress and take control, and this should ultimately end up improving your mental health. 

Hypnosis Might Be Worth A Try

Have you ever given much thought to trying hypnosis? Professional hypnosis involves interaction with you and the therapist to heal mental health issues going on in your life. For example, you can get hypnosis downloads that will help you to do whatever it is you’re aiming for. Hypnosis will involve your consent and its worth a try- Your mental health is worth it. Search for a recommended therapist.

Try Taking Up A New Hobby

The final thing that we are going to suggest is taking up a new hobby. Your mental health will always be worse if you are not distracting yourself from negative thoughts. You’re going to get too deep into things and you may spiral into anxiety or depression. Instead of doing this, find something that you enjoy doing, thats a positive focus. It can be a sport, or a game, reading, watching TV, completing some arts and crafts, whatever you want to do as long as it takes your mind off of your thoughts for a little while. Become immersed in whatever you are doing, and leave the rest of the world behind for a while.

We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now see some of the things that you can do to better your mental health . Something on this list should help, and if it doesn’t, there are also plenty of other things that can be done as well. Make an appointment to see your GP or therapist if your mental health worsens and take care of yourself- self care is vital.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

The Secret Signs of Anxiety.


(image: Unsplash)

We all think we know what anxiety looks like. It looks like hyperventilating, sweating, and a worried look on someone’s face. But the truth is anxiety looks like a lot of different things to different people, and there are some secret signs of anxiety too. 

While you can’t mask all of the physical signs like hair loss, increased or decreased appetite; a lot of anxiety is dealt with in secret. 

Even if you don’t personally have anxiety, it is important that you can spot the signs of anxiety in your loved ones. It will help you to help them. 

There are some common, yet not totally obvious signs that someone (or yourself) is suffering. It is important that you let them know that there are options for support. Sometimes a good conversation and regular therapy can help. Other times medication and rehabilitation like The Banyans might be the answer.

Headaches

Some headaches are caused by dehydration, and others are caused by stress. A stress headache usually happens because someone is holding their jaw clenched tightly, which causes tension in the neck, shoulders and up to the head. The clenched jaw may last through the night, and this will cause headaches. 

Eczema

Note that stress and anxiety cause an inflammation reaction in the body. This, in turn, will cause eczema to flare up. Another issue is that when people are anxious or worried, they tend to sweat more. The sweat will act as an irritant and increase the impact that eczema is having on the body. 

Sweating

As mentioned above, extra sweating can be a sign of anxiety. This is due to the adrenaline that is running through our bodies. The adrenaline is involved in the fight-or-flight reaction, and that ‘state’ is a high alert state. It causes sweating. 

Bad sleep

If you, or someone you care about, are often talking about how poorly they are sleeping, there is a good chance there is something deeper going on. Most often mental health fluctuations will cause a person to sleep more than usual or not at all. Insomnia, nightmares, sleepwalking, disturbed sleep are all common signs of anxiety and stress. 

Illnesses

Coughs, colds, aches, pains, and generally feeling run down are signs of anxiety too. Stress has an awful impact on your immune system. It promotes and overproduction of the hormones that regulate your immune system. This affects the ability of your body to produce white blood cells to fight infection. The weakened immune system means you are more susceptible to illness. 

Stress and anxiety will also impact your mood. It will make it more difficult for you to regulate your emotions. People who are feeling stress are usually irritable and can have mood swings too. Difficulty concentrating can also be a symptom as well as an issue caused by stress and anxiety. Decision making and memory are impacted too. 

If any of these things sound familiar to your then it is time to take steps to reduce your stress and anxiety levels or have a chat with a friend who is exhibiting signs. 

Make sure you look after yourself and speak to a doctor if you are concerned about your health.



This article was written by a freelance writer.


10 Tips to Avoid Covid Burn Out at Home and Help Your Mental Health.

(image: Unsplash)

There’s nothing inherently wrong about staying at home. On the contrary, it’s the perfect opportunity to focus on your work without the typical office interruptions. Besides, you don’t need to get up early to get ready for work anymore. Bliss! 

Or at least, that’s what you used to tell yourself during the first lockdown. But half-way through the second British lockdown, you’re finding it hard to stay positive about the situation. 

A simple chain of emails with a coworker makes your blood boil. They’re asking if you can edit your previous report. They don’t like the way it is written. They’d prefer a more energetic text. You roll your eyes. It’s an informative document, not a piece of poetry, you think to yourself. 

You bite through your lips during the next video call, trying to contain your frustration. Why are clients changing their minds again? They already gave the green light for the project, but now, they want everything redone again. You cheekily pretend the doorbell rang to escape the call for a few minutes while you try to calm down. 

Why is everything so unbearable these days? The answer is simple: Lockdown takes its toll on your mental health. Don’t be harsh on yourself.

Feeling tired, stressed out, and angry is a normal reaction during the pandemic. In any other situation, you would plan a relaxing vacation away from the hecticness of everyday life. Unfortunately, there is nowhere else you can go. So how do you take a break when you can’t go anywhere to recharge your batteries? 

#1. Book a few days off

You may not be able to go anywhere, but turning the laptop off for a few days can already make a big difference. Working from home means that you can’t truly compartmentalise work in the way you used to. There’s no way you can leave your office worried at the door when coming back home. The home office has brought work inside your home. A lot of professionals tend to check their emails on their phones, long after their working hours.

On top of that, you’re more likely to work longer hours at home, as there’s no rush to leave the office on time. Compared to the typical 8-hour day, it’s easy to see why you’re exhausted! Don’t be afraid to book some holiday away from the screen. 

Also its important to check with your office about their vaccination policy even if you are working from home or having time out. It is important to be safe and well.

#2. Reach out to an expert

Sometimes a short break isn’t enough to take your mind off work stress. Working from home makes you more vulnerable to mental fatigue, as you’re more likely to work overtime. However, when the fatigue reaches such a level that you feel emotionally empty and powerless, you may want to reach out to a doctor. Indeed, what you may be experiencing is burnout, the sensation that there is always so much to do and that you can’t meet the expectations that your work has from you.

You may not be ready to reach out to a therapist to discuss your issues, or perhaps you are not sure what you should be talking about. But you can reach out to an online doctor service to find tools and tips that can help you cope. You can consider treatment for anxiety, for example, which can help you relax. 

#3. Create a strict schedule

According to a LinkedIn study, many home-based employees feel the pressure to appear busy. Many are worried about how coworkers and managers perceive them. As a result, overtime has become the new normal. Britons working from home are doing the equivalent of 4 extra whole working days per month.

It is exhausting, both to the mind and the body. You need to create a schedule that respects your work/life balance. Reduce overtime by blocking time in your calendar for yourself and your family. For instance, if you’re unlikely to stop working at 5:30 PM, book an appointment for yourself after work. Why not schedule your home workout at 6 PM? Make sure as well to book lunchtime away from the desk, even if you’re only going to the kitchen to heat leftovers. You need to reclaim your spare time. 

#4. Introduce a soothing routine

How do you soothe the mind when anxiety won’t disappear? Making time for your mental health can transform your perception of lockdown, and also improve your productivity at work. Yoga is an excellent tool to let go of stress and clear your headspace. You can start noticing positive effects after only a few minutes of exercise. Making yoga a daily practice can help gradually take back control of your emotions and regain your peace of mind. 

Admittedly, yoga if not for everyone. Perhaps, you’d prefer a different kind of workout to alleviate stress. Or a relaxing bath after work. It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as you stick to it. 

#5. Seek new interests

Lockdown is shrinking the world around us. After a few weeks, your entire life revolves around your home office desk, the bedroom, and the couch in the living room. You feel trapped in a tiny routine. While going out is not an option, you can consider introducing new things in your daily life. Something as trivial as reading a book or watching a new TV show on Netflix can bring a sense of renewal and excitement. 

#6. Allow yourself to be lazy

The art of doing nothing is a complex skill to acquire. We live in a society that believes that productivity is the only way to create value. We reject unproductive and passive activities because we’ve been conditioned into thinking that doing nothing is bad. The truth is that doing nothing can give you the time and space you need to recharge your batteries. Sit on the couch and let time pass without checking your emails or reading the news. Your mind doesn’t need constant stimulation. On the contrary, the absence of intellectual engagement is necessary. The hyper-productivity race is destroying your sense of self and your mental health. 

(image: Unsplash)

#7. Stay in bed a little longer

Do you wake up feeling refreshed? No? You’re not the only one. A whopping two-thirds of people have been struggling with sleep quality since the beginning of the pandemic. The combination of pandemic anxiety and long working hours creates a sleep deficit. Ultimately, it affects your mood, your mental focus, and your energy levels. Why not go to bed a little earlier today? Don’t be afraid of changing your sleep routine to find what works for you. 

#8. Have realistic goals

In lockdown, I’ll learn a new language. 

I’ll get fit. 

I’ll repaint the bedroom. 

Don’t overdo it. Staying at home doesn’t mean you’ve got more time at your hands. Setting unrealistic lockdown goals will only stress you out. 

#9. Laugh

As silly as it sounds, laughing is still the best medicine when it comes to releasing stress and anxiety. Sit back and watch your favourite comedian on TV. Zoom with friends for an online quiz or an escape room game. Laughing your heart off is not just good for your mood. It helps to break the cycle of stress and self-guilt that leads to burnout. 

#10. Make time to go out

In winter, the seasonal affective disorder is at its worst. Even without lockdown, you’d be naturally getting less exposure to sunlight. But right now, it’s important to make time to go out of the house and walk in the sun. Whether you’re just going to add some seeds on the bird’s table in the garden or walking down the street to your local shop, you don’t need more than 30 minutes a day to regulate your mood. It can make a huge difference. 

Feeling drained, tired, and irritable is a normal reaction to lockdown. As more and more people are reporting mental health symptoms, it’s important to take preventive steps to avoid Covid burnout. Take back control of your routine and your mood as you’re staying at home. 


This article was written by a freelance writer
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The Book of Hope- 101 Voices in Overcoming Adversity by Jonny Benjamin MBE and Britt Pfluger. by Eleanor

To readers of my blog,

(image: Pan Macmillan/ Jonny Benjamin)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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.


Living with OCD during a global pandemic by Impulse Therapy

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Managing OCD without the stress of a global pandemic is challenging enough. COVID-19 has presented some unique challenges for many OCD sufferers, forcing people to be restricted to their homes, encouraging obsessive behaviours like handwashing and limiting access to in-person therapy. 

In this article, we’re going to break down the challenges OCD sufferers face in the times of COVID, along with how to support loved ones and how to access support. 

What are the new challenges for OCD sufferers?

People with OCD typically have behaviours that fall into the following categories:

  • Checking: Repeatedly checking tasks that have already been done, such as locking a door or turning off the tap. Checking behaviours can also include believing you have a medical illness and repeatedly getting medical exams or visiting the doctor. 
  • Contamination: A compulsion to repeatedly clean yourself and the surrounding areas. Being in a dirty environment can cause feelings of fear or anxiety. 
  • Symmetry and Ordering: The need for things to be in order and/or symmetrical. Behaviours related to symmetry and ordering can be triggered if things are not organised. Some people with OCD may experience hoarding behaviours which also fall into this category. 
  • Ruminations and Intrusive Thoughts: These are common for people with OCD. Intrusive thoughts experienced by OCD sufferers can sometimes be disturbing and violent, directed towards themselves or loved ones.

New behaviours and triggers are being experienced by OCD sufferers in all of the above categories since COVID-19. 

New Checking Behaviours

With OCD sufferers being confined to their homes, they may be experiencing more frequent checking triggers, repeatedly turning off lights before bed, locking doors, even repeatedly checking the news for updates. People with OCD checking behaviours may also convince themselves they have COVID-19, with a desire to repeatedly get tested while also experiencing paralysing anxiety around leaving the house through fear of infecting others.

New Contamination Behaviours

As you can imagine, experiencing contamination behaviours and triggers as an OCD sufferer during a global pandemic is a complete nightmare. 

OCD sufferers who experience contamination triggers likely already experience anxiety soothing behaviours such as repeatedly washing hands, cleaning themselves and their surroundings. COVID-19 will only be worsening these triggers and behaviours for OCD sufferers. 

With more emphasis being placed on how we wash our hands, the frequency of handwashing and using hand sanitiser, OCD contamination sufferers will likely be triggered whenever they are reminded of COVID-19 to do these behaviours compulsively. 

New Symmetry and Ordering behaviours

Spending more time at home in lockdown and isolation may be triggering symmetry and ordering behaviours for some OCD sufferers. They are constantly surrounded by their triggers, resulting in more frequent behaviour indulgences to ease anxiety. Frequent changes in COVID regulations could become a new trigger for OCD sufferers with symmetry and ordering behaviours. 

During lockdown, a lot of people have been inspired to ‘Marie Kondo’ their homes, organising and discarding items that no longer ‘bring joy’. Many OCD sufferers will be organising and reorganising their homes compulsively to ease anxiety. 

New Ruminations and Intrusive Thoughts

During a global pandemic, OCD sufferers could start to have intrusive thoughts about loved ones being infected with COVID-19. These thoughts can quickly spiral, with sufferers believing they are the cause of their loved one being infected, even if they are not showing symptoms or have tested negative.

People with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic, meaning they can have COVID and be infectious without showing any symptoms. Due to this fact, many people with OCD will convince themselves that they have COVID and are asymptomatic, causing them to isolate themselves possibly unnecessarily. 

How to support loved ones during these challenging times

As unfortunate and uncomfortable as it is, one of the best treatments for OCD is exposure and response prevention, a type of therapy that exposes the patient to the situations that make them anxious as a way of normalising these moments and learning ways to cope with the anxiety without resorting to the usual anxiety soothing behaviours. 

For the OCD sufferer, this means facing a lot of discomfort throughout treatment. If you’re living with an OCD sufferer who is struggling with frequently being triggered, possibly even by things you are doing, it may be tempting to stop what you’re doing that is triggering your loved one. However, it could be more beneficial long-term to behave normally, continuing whatever action you are doing that may be triggering, as a way of exposing your loved one to their trigger to normalise it. If you live with someone with OCD and are triggering them and don’t know how to behave around them, it could be worth speaking with a therapist to get some advice. 

Talking things through can always be helpful for anyone suffering from any mental health issue. If you can talk to your loved one about their OCD struggles in a patient, calm and empathetic way, this is a great way to support. 

How to access support as an OCD sufferer

Access to in-person therapy is currently limited worldwide due to COVID. If you’re looking for a way of accessing support, either for yourself or a loved one, there are online options. 

Online therapy is becoming more and more popular, with users enjoying the ease and accessibility without having to leave their homes.

The best form of treatment for OCD is therapy treatment using CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention). This type of treatment can be done in-person or online. 

Alongside therapy, there are many other tools that someone suffering from OCD can use to reduce and manage symptoms, such as worksheets, meditation, journaling and more. Each OCD sufferer is individual and has a unique experience. One person with OCD may struggle with contamination behaviours, while another could only ever experience ruminations. This is why everyone’s treatment plan will look a little different. 

When speaking with a loved one about getting help, remember to approach the conversation with patience and empathy. Seeking help for OCD is tough, and the person struggling may need time to come around and ask for the help they need. Discuss options with them in an open-minded way without any expectations. 

This blog was written by Impulse Therapy

15 Ways to Turn Your Home into a Self Care Sanctuary: by ImproveNet

Mental health plays a critical role in our lives, and self-care is an important aspect of our mental well-being. Self-care encompasses any activity we undertake to improve our emotional, mental and physical health. 

Make Your Home a Calmer Place

  1. Declutter and organize; donate or throw out what you don’t need
  2. Paint walls with calming colours — blue, green and pink are peaceful
  3. Cover walls with your favorite artwork, photos or inspirational posters
  4. Welcome plants into your life; greenery helps us feel more relaxed
  5. Light candles with soothing scents: lavender, citrus, pine, vanilla, jasmine
  6. Add essential oils to a diffuser; valerian, lavender, jasmine relieve anxiety
  7. Open blinds to natural light, purchase warm-toned bulbs, add dimmers
  8. Purchase soft, comfortable bedding to make you feel cozy and protected
  9. Weighted blankets have been proven to help ease stress and anxiety

Make Yourself More Comfortable

  1. Dress comfortably at home; PJs, a robe or cozy socks are relaxing
  2. Give yourself a home spa treatment with face mask, cooling gel, etc.
  3. Enjoy a long soak in the tub; add Epsom salts to relax muscles 
  4. Take care of your skin by exfoliating, dry brushing and moisturizing 
  5. Consider meditation, deep breathing or yoga to decrease stress
  6. Get plenty of exercise at home: stretch, dance, run on a treadmill

94% of Millennials reported making personal improvement commitments in 2015. Compare this with Boomers at 84% and Gen X at 81%. 

This guest blog and infographic was created by ImproveNet.