The best employee benefits supporting Mental health: by Daniel Tannenbaum

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(image: Policy Bee)

 

In 2020, many startups and companies are implementing strategies or creating employee benefits that put mental health first. This is a welcome change that shows just how far attitudes towards mental health have changed in the past decade, becoming no longer a taboo.

Here are the firms that are supporting mental health amongst staff members best:

Equipsme

The London-based startup Equipsme has created an inexpensive employee benefit that means employees can benefit from comprehensive yet affordable health insurance policies. Whatever the size of the business, companies can insure staff with plans from as little as £7 per month per person.

Customers get 24//7 GP access, online health checks, nurse support and 3 physio sessions as standard with the option to upgrade to stress support for as little as £1.50 per person per month, optical and dental cover for £7.50 per person per month too.

Sweaty Betty

The hugely popular activewear brand strongly promotes to staff a healthy mind and body and keeping stress in the workplace to a minimum. How does the firm do this? Each week, it gives its employees the chance to join lunchtime yoga classes to help them relax. There is also the chance to join running clubs and start later in the day if they so wish, all with the aim of helping with stress management.

Ernst & Young (EY)

Ernst & Young makes mental health a big focus in its organisation, providing not only private healthcare, but also free online health assessments in a counselling service that can be used by not only staff members but also their families. It is completely confidential and available for 24-hours.

yulife

yulife is another exciting London startup that incentivises employees to look after their mental health by promoting healthier lifestyles. The company has radically shaken up the life insurance industry for the better with their insurance package.

For example, businesses who take up yulife insurance policies can reward their employees through earning yucoin. Yucoin is earned by engaging in a healthy lifestyle, tracked by staff in a daily app. This includes doing exercise and meditation.

By accumulating yucoin online, staff can then redeem these for real life rewards at shops, restaurants, and much more.

Innocent smoothies

The company is known for providing a range of employee benefits that puts the needs of its staff first. This is particularly the case when it comes to mental health. For example, the smoothie firm is dedicated to reducing work stresses through the inclusion of a free gym and breakfast to all staff. It also provides a yoga club to its employees and a 100% confidential 24 hour employee assistance programme that means they can talk to someone privately if they need to.

 

This blog was written by writer Daniel Tannenbaum.

Lockdown and Dealing with Mental Health: Guest blog by author Graham Morgan MBE

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(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

 

Life under Lockdown: Keeping yourself busy at home: Guest blog by Chloe Walker

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(image: https://www.cottagesforcouples.com/)

As Covid-19 continues to spread and the world scrambles to stay a step ahead, many of us are finding ourselves isolating at home in unprecedented circumstances. All around the world governments are increasingly ramping up safety measures to protect both their medical staff and their most vulnerable citizens.

As we all adapt to a new and still rapidly changing world, there are challenges to our wellbeing, financial security and even mental health.

On the other hand, many people are now realising that life in lockdown offers many unique advantages. Just because you’re self-isolating or social distancing, it doesn’t mean that life has to be put on hold completely. In fact, now could well be the time to capitalise on the extra time spent at home to do things that otherwise would have taken the back seat.

Here are a few ideas for ways to make sure your time under quarantine is spent wisely.
Get your garden ready for spring

In the UK, the first glorious days of spring have appeared, reminding us all that there’s plenty to be grateful for. Warmer and brighter days lure us outside again after a long winter. If your garden needs some love, put on your wellies and know that a little outdoor work could do wonders for stress levels.

Gardeners know that work in the yard is never really finished. Still, avoid mowing your lawn too short for now. According to mowing specialists Mowers Online, “As the growing season starts selecting the blade height to 50mm will give optimum grass blade thickness which is crucial for growth. This height may seem rugged at first but remembering that grass blades are solar panels for the lawn and the more energy created, the more luscious the lawn.”

Finding time to garden during the Spring will keep you occupied, physically active and out there getting essential vitamin D.

Try some spring cleaning

In the same spirit, why not use the longer, brighter days to inspire you to clean up a little? If you’re now working from home, you may find yourself with extra time on your hands – and the opportunity to get around to all those deep cleaning jobs that have accumulated over the year.

Lift your spirits by clearing away clutter, reorganising drawers and cupboards, shampooing the carpets or cleaning the windows. The lockdown will end eventually, and you’ll really appreciate a bright and shiny home to see you through the challenges that will come with getting back to work again.
Bring a little of the outdoors indoors

It’s now well understood that nature has an incredible ability to relax us and boost mental wellbeing. As most of us try to manage the inevitable stresses the coronavirus has brought with it, we can turn to nature to recalibrate, de-stress and remind ourselves of what’s important.

Even if it’s gloomy outside, bring a little nature indoors to get the benefits. Stonehouse Furniture suggest ‘‘A window box on the outside is a great way to add a splash of colour to your day as you do mundane kitchen chores. Spring bulbs, miniature daffodils, polyanthus and summer bedding plants are a very cheap way to add nature and colour to your kitchen outlook.’’
Enjoy cooking
Now’s the time to get in touch with your domesticity! There’s more time now than ever to really relish the joys of preparing fresh, healthy, home-cooked meals for your family. With grocery shop orders being a little unpredictable, you likely have a stock of ingredients on hand anyway. Why not get creative and try some new recipes you were always too busy to attempt before, or concoct your own meals? Rope in the family for some quality time cooking together, and experiment with different daily routines.

Can’t find your usual ingredients in the store anymore? Accept the challenge and eat something a little more exciting and out of your culinary comfort zone. Have too much fresh food on your hands? Try batch cooking and then freeze the extra food for emergencies.

It may at first seem limiting to have to stay at home, but use your imagination and reframe staying at home as a great opportunity instead. Get stuck into that hobby you’ve always put off, or flex your creativity with painting, poetry, crafts or knitting. Stay fit indoors by doing yoga or YouTube workouts, enjoy your pets, or have your own mini party in the living room with your favourite music. Films, books and musical instruments are your friends right now.  Keep in touch with your literal friends online, or get out some board games to play with the family.

The coronavirus has challenged us all to prioritize what’s truly essential: our mental and physical wellbeing. Take this opportunity to reconnect with yourself, with nature, and with those you love, and you’ll soon wonder why you don’t spend more time at home!

This blog was written by freelance writer Chloe Walker, who is based in the UK.  

Coronavirus Thoughts: Acts of Kindness and Mental Health by Eleanor

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(image: Readers Digest)

Dear friends,

This has to be the strangest time in all our lives. Not being able to leave the house for fear of passing on a deadly virus, all the family working from home, worrying that symptoms are indeed Covid 19.

This outbreak has already infected friends and potentially family. I think I may have had a mild version and have been isolating for at least a week already, and now until the danger passes. Thinking of all my friends who are affected and anyone who has the virus or whose life is being disrupted because of it.

There are good things happening- acts of kindness, communities pulling together, sunshine and flowers and spring blooming. Supermarkets opening for NHS workers and the vulnerable, the homeless being housed in hotels, financial help from the government (although can we please help our self employed workers more?).

I do worry though about the impact the virus will have on those with mental health conditions. My appointment with a psychologist to help me with my PTSD has been postponed and no new date given. I can’t go to see my therapist either but I think will organise a Skype call so that we can continue the EMDR trauma therapy I have been having. Medication supplies are so far unaffected.

I am lucky to live with family at the moment and have the support of my husband, mum and step dad and wider family too. For those living alone, having to buy groceries and navigate this new and scary world alone is terrifying for them. I was heartened to see this week, the Jami appeal for the vulnerable in the Jewish community. Mental illness does not discriminate and with all the pressures at present, suicide remains a real risk. We can combat this through checking in on friends and family regularly and signposting them to emergency support such as the Samaritans or crisis teams.

It is a scary time but we all must pull together and reach out to each other, by video call, phone call, whatsapp message or more and try, from our homes, to look after the vulnerable and our neighbours.

Most importantly, we must look after ourselves and our households and try to stay well.

How are you coping?

Love,

Eleanor x

Coronavirus Anxiety: Self Isolation by Eleanor

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(image by Eleanor using Canva.com)

 

Hi friends,

Those of you who follow me on social media will be aware that due to fatigue, a non persistent dry cough and feeling warm/sweaty (but no full blown fever thank God), I am self isolating at home for 2 weeks as a precaution.

I am doing alright today, slept a lot as had little energy and had chicken soup and Paracetemol. It is very unlikely I have Covid 19, probably just another virus but due to the current climate, I am taking precautions. I also have a surgical face mask which I am wearing to protect my husband, mum and step dad, in case it is anything more sinister. I have friends who are also self isolating and who are NHS front life staff that I am worried about.

In truth, this kind of isolation is something I am used to as with my anxiety I work from home. However, this is an unprecedented situation and one that we have never seen before in our life time. It is scary and the news feeds can cause anxiety.

I have decided that :

1)I will limit how often I check the news about coronavirus and will try not to listen to LBC overnight- I love LBC but I think this is best as there is rolling news coverage.

2) I will increase self care, rest and relaxation time- in order to stay sane, this may mean getting fresh air in our garden.

3) I will take each day as it comes and do as much as I can while in isolation.

4) Get enough sleep and eat healthily

5) Stay in touch with friends

 

What are you doing to manage your anxiety around coronavirus?    

Love,

Eleanor x

Why People are using Weighted Blankets to cope with Anxiety: by Calming Blanket

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(image: Calming Blanket)

Weighted blankets have been found to have a number of key benefits to those that use them. One of the biggest advantages of using weighted blankets has been its ability to reduce stress and anxiety in users. But how do weighted blankets work, and how does it impact on people’s levels of anxiety? We decided to take a closer look.

How do weighted blankets work against anxiety?

It works in a few different ways, but the main factor it all comes down to is these blankets’ ability to stimulate the body’s proprioceptive input. This input in our body is important, as it helps the body recognise and establish environment awareness.

The awareness trigger is key, as this can help the brain get access to the body’s environment at a much quicker rate than without this type of blanket. This can help the brain to feel more relaxed, having a domino relaxation effect on the rest of the body.

In short, this entire process stimulated by the proprioceptive input, helps to reduce feelings of anxiety, because of the light pressure that is applied to the body.

In addition, for many people suffering from anxiety, lack of sleep unfortunately also goes hand in hand, and weighted blankets also tackle this too. This is because this light blanket pressure helps to release the hormones serotonin and melatonin. The former is known for having a huge impact on mood, while the latter helps with falling to sleep.

Interestingly, it is also believed that the feeling of a weighted blanket has similar emotional benefits to that of a hug or a baby that is swaddled tightly. The main reason for this is the release of the hormone oxytocin, known for helping to make people feel calmer and more relaxed.

Where can I find a weighted blanket?

The best weighted blankets on the market are by the Australian company Calming Blanket – and are recently available to buy in the UK.

Available for adults and children, they provide a range of super comfy weighted blanket options (2.2kg, 4.5kg, 6.8 kg and 9kg) that only use super soft fabric, as well as providing inner ties which do an important job of making sure weight is distributed evenly across the blanket.

 

This blog was written by Calming Blanket, a weighted blanket company that helps people with anxiety.

Taking a Weekend Break, Finding your Perfect Wellbeing Holiday : by Wellbeing Escapes

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(image: Wellbeing Escapes, Euphoria Retreat)

It’s cold and wintery here in England and you will be dreaming of relaxation and calm, a retreat away from the stresses of daily life. Thinking about a health and wellness escape in the UK or abroad? Go no further than Wellbeing Escapes who are experts at bringing you the finest wellness holidays.

From yoga and meditation and digital detox retreats to luxury spa holidays in the Maldives, Greece and Morocco, there is something for everyone! Wellbeing Escapes say they offer an award winning service with flexible pricing and discounts to make sure you get the most out of your booking.

Wellbeing Escapes gifted me a wonderful pack of spa products which gave me a flavour of their unique wellbeing holidays, as these are used by their partners. This included various oils and room sprays (with calming scents like lavender) designed to help you relax and recharge.In looking at their holidays, I would like to focus on the weekend spa retreats, as often we just want to take time out at the weekend to revitalise.

Wellbeing Holidays say,
’If you are in need of some rest and relaxation, a weekend spa break is the perfect solution. Hop in the car and be at an idyllic countryside retreat in a few hours or take a short flight over to Europe for some added vitamin D. Spend time with a partner, a best friend or simply take some time for some well earned me-time. We’ve designed our exclusive spa programmes which make weekends that extra bit special. Relax with a selection of massages, facials, body scrubs and get your heart beating fast with the daily group fitness classes and then simply relax by the swimming pool.’

 

Spa weekend break in Europe:

Euphoria Retreat- Mystras, Greece

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(image: Wellbeing Holidays, Euphoria Retreat, Greece)
Euphoria Retreat is in a beautiful destination in Mystras, Greece. Euphoria means a state of wellbeing for body and mind, helping you to heal and transform your health. Relax in the beautiful turquoise pools and spa, in idyllic surroundings. This retreat serves to help physical, mental and spiritual balance, with a complete digital detox too (so no phones in the spa). There are personalised treatments , consultations, dietary guidance, exercise and mental coaching to help you achieve the concept of a blissful life (Euphoria).

Facilities include treatment rooms, outdoor pool, sphere pool, relaxation areas, tepidarium, Finnish sauna, infrared sauna, ice fountain, steam room, experiential showers, speleotherapy-salt room, watsu pool, sanctuary deprivation pool, Californian hot tub, gym, Pilates studio and yoga!.

You are also near a UNESCO world heritage site at Mystras, so there is a lot to explore.

For more about this beautiful, calming retreat see:

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(image: Wellbeing Escapes, Euphoria Retreat)

Other weekend breaks abroad include Portgual, Venice, Merano (Italy), Cyprus, Morocco and Spain (Marbella and Alicante). See here: https://www.wellbeingescapes.com/all-hotels/weekend-spa-breaks-t119

 

UK Weekend Spa Break
Grayshott Health Spa, Surrey, UK

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(image: Wellbeing Escapes, Grayshott Spa)

Want to get away but don’t want to go abroad? Wellbeing Escapes have your perfect weekend spa break. They say, ‘Idyllically set in the 47-acre estate of gardens and grounds which used to be home to Alfred Lord Tennyson, Grayshott Spa is brimming with old world charm and elegance. The spa is located close to Guildford in the village on Grayshott which approximately one hour by train from London. Inside the historic country house, Grayshott has been refurbished to combine the best of old and new, creating a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere.’

The house and spa have beautiful grounds and woods to walk peacefully in nature. Just one hour from London, you can escape quickly and easily to this wonderful retreat. Grayshott is renowned for its holistic approach to wellbeing through therapies to alleviate emotional and physical stress. Example treatments include Reiki, Aroma face massage, detox salt baths and more. You can relax in the spa steam rooms and sauna or play golf, tennis and swim in the indoor and outdoor pools.

There are 59 rooms and suites and a delicious balanced menu. Group classes include yoga, aqua fitness, power walks and tai chi, to help restore balance.

What are you waiting for? To get some wellness and calm back into your life, visit this health spa today.

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(image: Wellbeing Escapes, Grayshott Spa)

 

You can contact the award winning Wellbeing Escapes to book your break in the UK or globally now at https://www.wellbeingescapes.com/ . ‘Pioneers in wellness travel since 2005’

Eleanor received a gifted pack of spa products,  in exchange for a blog on wellbeing escapes. 

Looking to the Future and Life Dreams: by Eleanor

 

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(image: 123RF.com)

Hi friends,

It has been a while since I have written a personal blog as there has been so much going on here that I was just focusing on getting through it all. Robs dad had surgery to remove a second brain tumour and is thankfully recovering well, the surgeon amazingly got all the cancer. Success.

Alongside this, I have been in therapy since November with a wonderful therapist and we are doing EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing therapy). This therapy helps to process trauma that can get ‘stuck’ in the brain if not processed. That trauma can stem from childhood upwards- I was an anxious child from an early age even though I had a good childhood! I have also been through a lot due to my bipolar episodes and hospitalisations. So, I am working with my therapist to process memories and we are doing it slowly.

My therapist will either ‘tap’ on the side of my legs while I recall the memory to help process it or my eyes will follow a light or her finger as we process. Understandably, there has to be a lot of trust in this type of relationship as well as me being protected and not triggered by the therapy. For this, we have developed a ‘safe place’ memory that I go to when we bring up anything too distressing. We have just started to go deeper with this and I will update you with our progress. I am far less anxious than I was and it has been really helpful to build a positive, working relationship with my therapist.

The reason I started therapy was because I was having intense panic attacks and finding it difficult to manage my life due to it. I hope that by working on these triggers that I can react differently and live a healthier and better life. Stay tuned!

A month or so ago, I also went to see my psychiatrist for the first time in 2 years, mainly as I had worries about my weight and physical health. My medications means I have put on a substantial amount of weight and this is worrying me health wise more than anything. I have been advised to diet and exercise and maybe work with a nutritionist. So, this will also be a new journey and I will try my best with this, not easy as the meds may stop me losing weight due to slowing metabolism or encouraging cravings. We considered reducing my Quetaipine, a mood stabiliser and anti psychotic to help but because I have been more mentally stable, I have decided to keep it at the same dose for now.

Rob and I have also started to look at new homes, which has been good. There is a lot happening right now and important that I rest, look after myself and keep calm.

Life with bipolar disorder can be uncertain. I have some fears about the future, which I will talk about in another more detailed post. My medicines thankfully keep me mentally well, but coming off them for future life changes eg pregnancy could be a big risk for me and one I am not sure I should take due to being bipolar 1 (risk of mania and psychosis). This is not currently imminent, but is still a future fear, especially as I love children. A decision for a later date.

Overall though I am hopeful and excited about life and will keep you all updated with my therapy and health journey and news.

Thanks for reading and following Be Ur Own Light as we come up to our 4th anniversary,

With love,

Eleanor x

 

 

‘The Meaning of Normal’: Living with a sibling with mental illness : Guest post by Shira

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(image: Thought Clothing)

It hasn’t been normal for so long that sometimes I forget what normal should feel like. When I try to think about it, it feels like a glimpse into someone else’s life, and I am an invasive stranger, trying to reach something that doesn’t belong to me.

What is normal?

Sometimes I think I remember it.

Sometimes I think that normal is that time when I was six and you were three and we didn’t fight. When we played hand in hand like every other child, and our entire world was pink and purple, and the most important thing to us was that our dolls had shiny blonde hair.

And we would play every game under the sun, from barbies to dollhouse to the convoluted imaginary ones that only we knew the rules to, and even then did we ever really know the rules?

I was a witch and you were the princess. We were both witches. We were both princesses. I stole your magic time machine but you found another one, and our living room became the entire universe as we ran through it, believing wholly in the pictures we created, the way that only children can.

But did we ever really exist like that? Were we ever those idyllic children, the children that every parent wishes to have?

Maybe our normal is all the times when I was ten and you were seven and we would push and shove and slap. You were my younger sister who could do no wrong and I was the older one, always blamed for both our shares of misdemeanours.

“You should know better!” They would shout

“But she started it!” I would pout.

“It’s not true!” your bottom lip would stick out.

I think we all know that I probably did start it.

We would fight and yell and cry and shout, never giving in, never admitting that we were wrong. Because we weren’t wrong. We were both right, all the time, every time, and the other was always painfully mistaken. And we roared and yelled and scratched each other, but knew only to cry when a parent was looking. And if nobody was looking, well then nobody would see if we punched back just one more time.

But were we ever really like this? Two demonic screaming children who were never silent and never content with just each other? Were we really the children that every parent dreads to have?

Maybe our normal is the way we grew apart as we grew older. When I was 15 and you were 12 and I would pretend not to know you as I walked past you in school. And maybe our normal is the way we would come home from the same school at the same time separately, both of us walking different routes from the bus because being seen with one another would be unacceptable. Maybe that’s what all teenagers do. Maybe that really was our normal.

Maybe our normal was what came next.

Maybe the years we didn’t talk to each other was what we were always heading towards. Because one day we would put down the dolls, and one day we would run out of things to fight about and we would just…exist.

One next to the other.

Sitting in silence.

Neither speaking.

Neither bothering to reach out first.

Because now I’m 18 and you’re 15 and I don’t remember the last time I spoke to you. The house is thick with anger, so thick that it poisons every interaction, and I couldn’t even tell you what I’m angry about. Because the sister I played with, the sister I happily fought with but would jump on anyone else who dared fight with her is in pain. So much palpable pain, and for the first time I couldn’t just make it go away.

Was I angry with you?

Yes.

Was I angry with myself?

Yes.

And so I let this become our normal. A normal where two siblings exist side by side, but don’t even know how to speak without offending. Where everything I say hurts you and everything you say angers me.

So we made this our new normal.

And I don’t care.

I don’t care.

I don’t.

I care.

And now I’m 20 and you’re 17 and I’m 3000 miles away. But this is our normal now. We don’t speak. We can’t speak. But it doesn’t even matter because there’s nothing to speak about anymore. How can I ask how you are when I already know the answer, and I know it’s not an answer I want to hear. How can you ask how I am when you’re too focused on making it through your own day without worrying about mine?

And anyway, it’s been a long time since we told each other how our day was. Not since I was 14 and you were 11 and we would awkwardly walk home from the bus stop together, backpacks moving up and down and up and down as we compared notes about school, neither of us loving it, neither of us willing to admit that out loud.

But we are not those children anymore, and we don’t have any shared experiences to talk about anymore.

I wonder if you miss me like I miss you. I wonder if you count down the days to my birthday too, hoping that we will both make it past 17 and 20, willing time to hurry up even though maybe all I really want to do is turn back the clock.

And then you are 18, and it’s been 18 years since I sat by your tiny cradle in the hospital and cried when we left, maybe because I wanted another chocolate bar from the hospital vending machine, or maybe because secretly I don’t want to leave my baby sister in a cold hospital far far away.

But now you are 18 and I’ve still left you in a hospital far away and it’s still just as hard to leave you there as it was all those years ago. But a 21 year old can’t lie down on the floor and have a tantrum so I keep going and keep going and this is our normal now.

A normal where you’re there and I’m here. A normal where we won’t speak for months on end but then I text you and tell you I miss you and now you answer me too, and I think you miss me too. A normal where we joke and laugh at stupid posts we see on Instagram,  tentatively, both of us till remembering when you were 14 and I was 17 and we ripped each other apart with words until neither of us said anything at all. Is this our normal now?

What is normal?

I looked it up for you.

 

NORMAL:

  • Conforming to a standard, usual, typical, or expected

 

But who gets to decide what that standard is? How do we know when something that once wasn’t normal now is, and if what was once normal is now anything but? Do we decide that? Or do others who stand by and watch get to decide that for us?

I’m sure someone could tell you the scientific answer. I’m sure there is a video out there with a detailed and meticulous answer laid out for us to study.

I’m sure somebody could tell us the answer. Maybe we haven’t even been normal, maybe we always were.

Maybe the imaginary games of our childhood were always meant to turn into imagined grievances causing real rifts. Maybe we were meant to grow apart and then come back together again, a little rougher but a little kinder. Maybe none of it was normal, or maybe all of it was.

Sometimes I wish I could change all of it. If I hadn’t said what I said that one day, or if I hadn’t slammed my door that one time, or if you hadn’t called me that name under your breath, things would all be different now.

But sometimes I know I can change none of it. And maybe that’s ok. Maybe if we hadn’t played all those games as children, if we had never walked down the road together from school, if I had never sent the texts you eventually answered, things would all be different now.

Normal isn’t for us to decide, it isn’t for me to determine. All I know is our normal is all we have, and I wouldn’t change us for the world.

About:

Shira is a writer living in Israel, drawing on every day life experiences. Her sibling lives with a diagnosed mental illness and she has bravely shared their story here.

 

 

 

5 Ways Essential Oils can help your Mental Health and Wellness. By Essential Olie

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Essential oils have made incredible strides in popularity over the last decade. There are hundreds of people that swear by essential oils as a cure for almost any ailment. That might not be quite accurate, but essential oils do have definite benefits.

One of the benefits of doTERRA essential oils that has some of the most research is with mental health. Because scent is so strongly tied to emotion it makes sense that essential oils would be able to help with your emotional state. Especially if you are using the correct oil and method of inhaling the scent.

Finding the oil that works best for you can be a process but it will certainly smell great. There are a lot of different ways that essential oils can help with mental health difficulties. These are five of the most notable ways essential oils can help your mental health and overall wellness. 

 

1. Diffusing

Probably the most common way to inhale essential oils is by using a diffuser. A diffuser works when you put a couple of drops of your chosen oil into a diffuser filled with water. The mix of water and oil turns into a vapor that fills your home with a pleasant scent that can help alter your mood.

The diffuser is especially a great method if you are trying to affect your mental health. Because scents are so tightly tied to emotion, surrounding yourself with a pleasing scent can turn your entire mood around. That includes making you calmer or happier on a bad mental health day. 

Great oils to use in your diffuser for a bad mental health day are lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, jasmine, and lavender. Lavender is also a great choice if you want to sleep or need to destress. Finding the oil that makes the most difference for you might take some time but the natural benefits of essential oils are definitely worth the time.

 

2. Massages

A massage in itself is a great way to help you manage mental health issues. It is not a cure-all but it is certainly helpful and a great resource. Adding essential oils to a massage help increase the health benefits and works double on your mental well-being. 

It has been found that massages do help some people with depression and anxiety. Because a massage is great for releasing toxins and helping you relax it is a natural way to lessen stress and depression. Making it an aromatherapy massage and letting your massage therapist rub oils into your skin that make you feel happier is a wonderful way to improve your mental health.

There are even studies done that show aromatherapy massages can have great benefits for people struggling with their mental health. Allowing your body the healing effects of a massage can help with both your physical and mental health. Adding in the natural benefits of essential oils to help the massage along only helps you feel better faster and for longer.

 

3. Carrier Oils

Something a lot of people do not realize is how powerful essential oils can be. They are a concentrate that, while natural, can still be harmful if not used properly. Putting essential oils on your skin without a carrier oil can result in reactions and even burns if you are not careful.

Luckily, carrier oils are wonderful and have benefits of their own. Coconut oil is a prime example of carrier oil that allows you to get the most out of your chosen essential oil. You can use the mix of coconut oil and essential oils as a lotion so your skin can absorb the mood-lifting benefits or as a hair product so the calming scent stays with you all day.

Jojoba oil and St. Johns Wort are also excellent carrier oils. Jojoba oil is very similar to coconut oil in its uses and benefits. St. Johns Wort can actually make certain oils digestible if you feel an oil would be more effective ingested. You should always make sure oil is safe to ingest and talk to a doctor before you start trying to take essential oils orally.

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4. Spa Day

Giving yourself the time you need to relax and destress is a wonderful thing to allow yourself. It is very common for people to feel they are not allowed mental health days or that they do not have an excuse to be so stressed. Everyone needs a break some days and allowing yourself that break can be of great benefit to your overall wellbeing.

Letting yourself have a small spa day is a great way to relax and also incorporate essential oils into your self-care routine. Putting a few drops of a calming oil into your bath or a diffuser in your bathroom will help you calm down and give you all the benefits of using essential oils. Even just lighting a candle with some essential oils in it before bed is a good way to relax and get better sleep.

Incorporating essential oils into your self-care routine or adding them to a spa day is a great way to make sure you are soaking up all the benefits essential oils provide. Especially the calming and stress relieving oils will be helpful to you during a mental health day or a spa day. Letting yourself enjoy the calming benefits of essential oils while you give yourself a break is a wonderful thing to do for your mental health and overall wellness.

 

5. On Fabric

Putting oils on fabrics is especially helpful for children. It can also work for adults who need help sleeping or who prefer their clothes to smell a certain way. Putting a few drops of oil onto a fabric allow that piece of fabric to provide the healing benefits of the essential oil while smelling great for quite a while.

Many parents find putting a few drops of a calming oil on their child’s favorite stuffed animal is a good way to help them stay calm and have a better sleep. The same applies to adults who put a little bit of oil on their pillowcase or bath towels. Even a few drops of oil in your laundry can provide a great smell with mental health benefits.

Office workers might find it helpful to have a calming oil on their desk chair or oil to help them concentrate. Students might prefer an oil dotted on their hoodie or scarf to sooth them during tests and classes. Putting a little bit of oil on fabric to allow the soothing health benefits to stay with you all day is a great way to soothe children and adults alike.

Essential oils are an amazing natural way to improve your mental and overall health. They have been proven to have calming benefits as well as mood-altering benefits. Using them as a resource to benefit your mental health is a natural way to make yourself feel better.

Important to note:

You should remember that essential oils are not medicine and should not be the only way you are trying to fix your mental health. Talking to a doctor or therapist is always a good place to start while using essential oils to help. There are a number of ways you can use essential oils to benefit your mental health as well as just your overall state of wellbeing.

Using a diffuser for your home, massages for your body, oils for your skin, and fabric for when you are not in your home will allow you to incorporate beneficial essential oils into every part of your life. 

Remember to give yourself a break and your brain a chance to recuperate so you can always be functioning at your best. Those are just a few of the amazing ways essential oils can help with your mental health and overall wellness.

 

 

This sponsored content was written for you. Learn more about Essential Olie- essentialolie.com.au