5 Lessons Football Has Taught Me About Life And Mental Health by Rose Atkinson-Carter

(image: Unsplash: Konstantin Ekdokimov)

It’s true what they say: the best lessons are taught outside the classroom. We’re all constantly learning and growing in the most unexpected ways and dedicating yourself to any sport or hobby is bound to teach you more than you imagined, if you’re open to it.

I’ve played football for almost 20 years and learned a thing or two about dedication and persistence, which have affected my approach towards my mental health. Sure, there have been times when I’ve felt like the cons have outweighed the pros — training in a blizzard is never fun — but when all is said and done, football has helped me weather my own personal storms.

Along the way, I’ve picked up a few practical life skills and lessons that extend beyond the football pitch, to that big game called Life.

1.   A healthy routine can get you through tough times

The first lesson football taught me is to consistently show up for myself, especially on the days when I don’t feel like it. Growing up, building habits was never something I gave much thought to. Football practice was just second nature.

My football “habit” has been essential in getting me through times of low motivation and stress. Motivation is not a flat line — it’s something that fluctuates. There will be days when motivation alone will not be enough to get us to lace up and buckle down, and taking a mental health day is never something to be ashamed of. However, playing a team sport, or at least having a schedule to follow, is a great way to help yourself along on days when you need an external motivation to keep going.

2.   Prioritising ‘hobbies’ can create balance

When work piles up, it’s easy to stop prioritising your own wellbeing and to lose sight of what’s important in the grand scheme of things. Playing football has forced me to consider my priorities and this has, in turn, helped me create balance.

Sometimes, playing a sport when you’re busy with other things adds pressure. It’s tempting to cut out the ‘non-essentials’ — the hobbies and things that don’t seem to contribute to your career or relationships. However, I’ve found that prioritizing football has had a net positive effect on my life. It feels counterintuitive, but letting your mind take a break allows you to clear your mind, reduce stress, and work and feel better.

3.   You don’t always have to get along to produce great results

You don’t need to get along with everybody to get results. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you don’t all need to be BFFs to win a game.

Teamwork isn’t about creating a group of like-minded individuals who see eye-to-eye on everything. It’s about identifying everyone’s individual strengths and using that aggregated power to pull in the same direction. So while you don’t have to love everyone’s company, the team — the people you surround yourself with — is incredibly important in shaping your experiences.

4.   When you feel like quitting, ask yourself why

Wanting to quit something is quite natural, especially the longer you’ve spent doing something. When the urge to quit strikes, it’s good to explore where that feeling is coming from. For me, playing with strangers at university was incredibly stressful, but I eventually had to acknowledge that the problem wasn’t football, but social anxiety.

One thing that has helped me find answers has been to first recognise the feeling, and then try to drill down and understand where exactly it’s coming from. Asking myself ‘what is it that I think will happen if I don’t quit?’ helps me identify the elements of activities I dread or have negative feelings about (e.g. “I will have to keep seeing stressful person X every day”), which then means I can make conscious decisions without rushing into quitting.

5.   Quitting doesn’t make you a quitter

Then there are the times when you try a few more times, and the feeling of wanting to quit still remains. While football taught me a lot about perseverance, I’ve also had a hard time knowing when quitting might actually be the best thing for me.

A common misconception is that quitting is the easiest option, or that quitting “makes” you a quitter. But think about it this way: leaving something behind involves making an active decision to change. The trouble is, if you don’t know what you’re trading it in for, it’s much easier to just keep going with the status quo.

Quitting something after careful consideration can actually be the best way to continue to show up for yourself. Ultimately, there’s a huge difference between giving up on yourself and giving up something that no longer brings you joy and comfort.

Football, to me, has always been more than just fancy footwork. From showing me how to get up after a few tackles to accepting defeats and working hard towards my goals, it has been one of my most influential teachers. As the final whistle blows, I hope some of the lessons it has taught me can be useful to you as well.

Rose Atkinson-Carter is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors hoping to get published with the world’s best book editors, designers, and marketers. She loves to advise authors on topics like book formatting and literary copyright — and to play football, of course!

6 Ways Living By The Waterfront Can Improve Your Mental And Physical Health By Rachelle Wilber

If you want a change in life, moving to a waterfront community may offer you a great new perspective. Buying a home that’s next to the ocean can have many advantages and improve your physical and mental health in different ways. 

Stress Reduction 

Waterfront living can reduce your stress and help you feel better physically and mentally more of the time. When you’re feeling stressed, the calming maritime scenery and the sounds of ocean waves crashing onto the shore can put you into a better mood almost instantly. The reduction in stress can also be good for your blood pressure and heart health and soothe your body and soul. 

Possibly Less Air Pollution 

You might be exposed to less air pollution if you live next to the ocean. Studies show that air pollution is often higher in valleys because of topography and temperature factors. With less air pollution, you’ll be able to breathe easier and inhale more of the clean oxygen that your mind needs to function at its best. 

Less Crowding Than in Big Cities 

Waterfront communities are often less crowded than big cities. Living in an overcrowded community can expose you more to communicable illnesses that are passed from other people. You may also feel more stressed and combative if you have to contend with large numbers of people in your daily life, and you may avoid these problems by buying a waterfront home instead. 

Chance to Connect More with Nature 

Being around nature offers you one of the best ways to minimise your problems and view life from a broader perspective. When you look out onto the ocean each day from your home, you’ll have the chance to connect with nature more and think about what’s most important in life. As you search for your new home, you can choose from many waterfront homes for sale that can put you in better touch with nature. 

Encourages More Physical Activity 

You may be inspired to get out and exercise more if you live by the ocean, which can help improve your physical fitness and keep your stress levels in check. People often like to jog and ride their bikes next to the sea, and seeing these passersby near your home can encourage you to join in on the activities. You may also be inspired to take up boating if you see boats on the water frequently. 

Cooler in the Summer 

Even though you’ll still likely get plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures if you live by the ocean, you probably won’t have to deal with the heat spikes that you would if you lived farther inland. Excessive heat can cause breathing problems and lead to other serious health conditions. The hotter temperatures can also make you feel more irritable, and living next to the ocean can help you keep your cool with the sea breeze. . With all the different waterfront homes that are on the market, you should have no trouble finding the house that’s the most suitable for you. 

Remember to think of what is best for your mental and physical health, as well as needing to be near your support networks.

Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer based in San Diego, California.

Drowning In Debt: 4 Ways to Help You And Your Mental Health.

(image: Pixabay/Pexels)

Debt can quickly become overwhelming. What may have started as a single personal loan a few months ago, can quickly turn into multiple loans, credit card bills and rent/bills arrears. Eventually, you may reach a point when you’ve exhausted all borrowing options. At this point, it may seem like there’s no escape, however there is always a way out of debt – it may just be a case of seeking out professional debt help.

Additionally this can take a toll on your mental health- stress due to debt can cause insomnia, anxiety, depression and a host of ailments too. You may despair or wake up scared to carry on. You may fear the debt letters or emails and phone calls. The uncertainty is difficult for anyone.

There are four common ways to get out of heavy debt. You can learn more about these below.  

DMP

A DMP (debt management plan) is an agreement to continue paying off your debts, but at a reduced rate. If you cannot keep up with the current monthly debt repayments, a DMP could help lower these to make them more affordable. While you can negotiate debt payments with creditors yourself, choosing a DMP allows professionals to do the negotiating for you. 

DMPs do not cover priority debts (e.g. mortgage, council tax debt etc.) and are informal agreements that lenders can go back on at any time. They can also have a serious negative impact on your credit score. The benefit of these forms of debt relief is that almost anyone who is struggling with debt can apply for them and you will not be added to an insolvency register.

DRO

DRO stands for debt relief order. This is a legally binding order in which all of your debts are temporarily halted for a length of time (usually about a year). This period of time is known as a ‘moratorium period’ and is a chance to improve your financial circumstances. If after the moratorium period, you have tried to improve financial circumstances but not been successful, your debts will be written off. 

To apply for a DRO you must have debts no more than £30,000 and a disposable income of less than £75 per month. It is recommended for those that have assets less than £2000. Lenders must abide by a DRO, unlike a DMP. A DRO also applies to priority debts. Just be wary that you will be added to an insolvency register.

IVA

An individual voluntary agreement (IVA) is another option. It is similar to a DMP in that you continue to pay back your debts but at a reduced rate. Unlike a DMP, it is legally binding. IVAs typically last 5 to 6 years, after which any outstanding debt may be wiped.

IVAs are available to anyone with unsecured debts over £7000. Unlike a DRO, they are recommended for those with assets over £2000. Like a DRO, you will be added to an insolvency register. You can check out this site for more IVA advice

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is sometimes seen as the most extreme option and has a certain stigma around it, but there are times when it can be the best option. The bankruptcy period lasts 12 months – during this period, any non-essential assets you own and excess income you earn are used to pay off your debts. At the end of this period, you are discharged and any remaining debts are written off.

Bankruptcy is only an option for those with debts over £5000. You will be added to an insolvency register and you may find that you are not able to borrow any money for a certain period after. The advantage of bankruptcy is that all your debts are wiped after a year, making it quicker than IVA.

Whichever option you choose make sure you look after your mental health and wellbeing and get support from loved ones and those around you. This may include visiting your GP if you need too.

This article was written by a freelance writer and edited by Eleanor Segall.

Need to Relax? 5 Unbeatable Ways To Unwind by Dixie Somers.

(image: adobe stock royalty free)

Sometimes life can be overwhelming. Whether it’s an extra project at work, adjusting to a new schedule or city, or trying to start a new exercise routine, your body can become overly stressed. Fortunately, there are many ways to relax yourself, and while some work better than others, there is no shortage of ways to take care of yourself. Here are five unbeatable ways to unwind and get rid of that extra stress. 

Make a List of Today’s Triumphs 

While making a list may seem like the complete opposite of what you’re used to when it comes to unwinding, it’s more therapeutic than you think. Some people even take solace in checking off to-do lists, as it makes them feel accomplished. Taking the time to write down all the things that went right today is a great way to put your mind at ease. Many times, we end up focusing on all the things that went wrong and forget about all the things that went right. 

Having an attitude of gratitude goes a long way for your mental wellbeing. By being grateful for all that you have and all that you’ve done, you cultivate peace in yourself, as well as self-gratitude. These emotions are the exact opposite of tension and uncertainty, and can help rewire your anxieties into something more positive and soothing. 

Consider Colouring 

This suggestion may garner some confusion at first, colouring is in fact a great way to help distract the mind and promote calmness. It allows your creativity to flourish, which recharges the brain. Whether it’s using an adult colouring book or just creating your own style with some coloured pencils, colouring can be a great way to unwind and recharge.  

Even if you’re not the artistic type yourself, there are plenty of ways to enjoy colouring and being creative. There are a plethora of sources online or in craft stores for unwinding by colouring. If you are more artistic, consider taking a painting class, or finding a paint-by-numbers booklet at a hobby store. Whatever your skill level, colouring can be a quiet, peaceful way to relax and enjoy some colour therapy. 

Soak in a Hot Tub 

Hot water has always been a fantastic way to help soothe the body and ease pain. Consider talking to a certified hot tub company if you would like a bigger, more luxurious way to enjoy a hot soak than in your bathtub. 

 Determine the best hot tub to meet your needs, whether it’s indoor or outdoor, and be sure you have enough room for either. Some great features of hot tubs include an audio system, jets, low lighting, cooling systems, and so forth.  

Go for a Walk 

Walks tend to be underrated when it comes to de-stressing. However, they are one of the best and most affordable ways to do so. Simply putting your body in motion and taking in the scenery can do wonders for clearing your mind and making your body feel good. Consider taking walks in different locations to help improve their effect on your mental health. 

If you live somewhere with walking trails, use them. They can take you to places near your home that you never noticed before. Walks in local parks and even shopping districts can be therapeutic as well. Taking the time to slow down and enjoy nature is a must for anyone in life, and is an unbeatable way to relax when you’re under a significant amount of stress. 

Turn on Your Favourite Tunes 

Music is another timeless way to help let the overactive mind escape into a state of soothing calmness. Consider turning on some music and relaxing on the couch. Or, if your schedule is too busy to take time to sit down, consider flipping on your favorite music while you’re working on something. This will help to distract your mind and allow it to unwind. 

The type of music you turn on makes a huge difference in your mood. Easy-listening music, such as instrumentals or classical music, can help to calm your mind and ease into yours. If you’d rather listen to something other than music, there are plenty of apps, online channels, and audio files for ASMR–listen to ocean waves, chirping crickets, or birdsong to keep you at ease. Maybe you want to learn something as you unwind–tuning into an insightful audiobook or a guided meditation can both be amazing ways to keep your mind tuned-in while you’re relaxing.  

When your life gets stressful, having a multitude of ways to unwind and soothe your brain and body is a must. The above are viable methods that you can add to your arsenal to ensure that you can always handle any bouts of stress that life throws at you. Try mixing up your routine every now and then so things feel fresh, relaxing, and keep helping you push on.  

This article was written by freelance writer Dixie Somers, based in the USA.

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

(image: free image)

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

Spend Time Outdoors 

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

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

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

(image: free image)

Increase Exercise 

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

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

Seek Professional Advice 

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

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

Get Creative 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small But Powerful Ways To Improve Your Mental Health.

Photo by Anastasiya Gepp

How many people do you think are currently struggling with their mental health and want to know how to improve it? The answer will probably surprise you; around a quarter of the population have a mental health disorder, and this can either be minor or something that needs serious medical attention. 

That’s a huge number, and it could be that you are one of these people. If that’s the case, it’s crucial to know what you can do to improve your mental health and ensure that you start to feel better. Of course, medication and therapy can be the ideal solutions in some cases, and it’s important to see a medical professional for help no matter what. However, if you can do as much as you can at home to help yourself, things will get a lot better.

Read on for some useful suggestions about some small but powerful ways to improve your mental health.

Take Mental Health Breaks Throughout The Day

If you’re feeling as though you’re struggling with your mental health on any given day, you should be able to take a mental health day. This means staying home and doing what you need to do to feel more positive. This will be down to you, but some people like to go for walks in nature, catch up on sleep, read a book, enjoy a spa day at home, and so much more. 

However, if you can’t take a whole day for any reason (although it’s wise to try if you can), taking a mental health break of anything from ten minutes to a couple of hours is the next best thing. When you are starting to feel overwhelmed, take some time for yourself. Not only can you protect your mental health in this way, but taking breaks when you’re busy can actually make you more productive rather than put you behind because when you get back to what you were doing, you are more focused and feeling healthier. 

Look For The Positives

As much as we all love technology, sometimes it serves as a negative force in our lives. Social media, 24-hour news feeds, online newspapers, and even channels like YouTube, can offer us a glimpse of the bad things that are happening around us, and when you have a mental health disorder, this can make things worse. Even if there are positive things happening, it can be hard to see them through all the negative things. 

However, in order to improve your mental health, it’s important to change things and ignore the negative to see the positive. The easiest way to do this to begin with is with your own life. Stop scrolling through social media if you know it upsets you and makes you angry, and instead focus on the good things all around you. That could be anything, no matter how small. Perhaps you notice a flower blooming. Your coffee might be delicious. Your little one might make you laugh now that you’ve seen ways to help your baby rollover. There are hundreds of tiny but important positive things happening all around you all the time. When you are feeling down, look for them. This will help to make you feel better, but it will also distract you from your feelings, and that will improve your mental health as well. 

Ask For Help When You Need It 

They say that communication is the cornerstone to a healthy relationship, and that is true not only with other people but also with yourself. If you trust your partner or a friend, it might help to talk about some of the problems you’re having and get those concerns out of your brain. This can help make things clearer. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open when you feel safe to do so. Emotional stress can sometimes make other problems worse in your relationships with your spouse and other people.

And if you feel like you can’t talk about your mental health, there are multiple types of therapeutic interventions that might help you work through some of the problems you’re having.

When you start to feel like you can’t handle day-to-day tasks or when you often think bad things about yourself or other people, it might be time to ask for help or talk to someone about what’s been going on.

Exercise Every Day

When you stay active and work out every day, your blood flow improves all over your body. With more oxygen in your body and more blood flow, you feel more energetic, fresh, and mentally alert.

If you work in an office, it’s even more important to exercise and do other physical things. Exercise not only keeps our bodies in good shape, but it also keeps our minds in good shape. You don’t have to pay a lot to join a gym to do that. A simple walk is all you need. The most important thing is to do this every day. 

Exercise is good for your mental health, but it also makes your bones and muscles stronger, which keeps you from getting hurt while working out or running errands. Since being injured can be a terrible thing for your mental health, exercise can help in this way too. 

Expose Yourself To Sunlight (Carefully)

A lack of vitamin D can lead to a number of mental health problems, like Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. When you go outside in the sun, your body releases endorphins, which are also known as “happiness hormones.” These hormones make your brain work better.

So, take a break from your normal routine (which we already know is a good thing to do) and go outside. But make sure you wear sunscreen so you don’t get a sunburn.

Learn To Live In The Present 

When a person stays stuck in the past, they are more likely to have mood swings, depression, and anxiety. Negative self-talk like “Why did people do this to me?” steals a person’s happiness and makes them miss opportunities in the present. Try not to think too much about the future and learn to live in the present. By doing this, we can be much more prepared for anything that might happen in the future, so there is no need to worry about it.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

How To Stay Emotionally Healthy During A Divorce: by Lizzie Weakley

(image: Karolina Grabowska: Pexels)

When you are in the midst of getting divorced, you may be surprised at just how much it will drain you emotionally. Whether you have been married only a short period of time or perhaps for decades, knowing you will soon be divorced can be a scary thought that may leave you very depressed, which can result in you making poor decisions as your divorce moves forward. If you want to emerge from your divorce with some emotional health, here are some steps you should take along the way.

Don’t Stay Isolated

As your divorce process moves forward, don’t make the mistake of staying isolated. Instead, stay in touch with your family and friends. If your social network is now cut in half due to your divorce, make new friends by perhaps attending church/synagogue or learning a new hobby- whatever feels right for you.

Don’t Blame Yourself

When couples divorce, it is not unusual for one spouse to blame themselves for the marriage breaking up. Even though there is usually fault to be found on both sides in most divorces, this does not mean you should continually beat yourself up emotionally day after day about your marriage ending. Instead, you need to accept that it happened, plan your future, and try to move forward as best you can. You should reach for support if you need it.

Write Down Your Thoughts

During your divorce, you will be having plenty of meetings with your divorce lawyers and others as well. Needless to say, you may feel a bit drained at the end of the day. If you have plenty of thoughts running through your mind, take some time to write them down in a journal. By having the chance to express your innermost thoughts in this manner, it can be a great way to relieve stress and keep your emotions in balance. Another option would be to talk about your feelings with a therapist when you are ready.

Take Care of Yourself

Last but not least, taking care of yourself physically will play a big role in keeping you feeling ok emotionally. Therefore, you should eat healthily, exercise regularly, and treat yourself to something special now and then, such as dinner at your favourite restaurant, a relaxing vacation, or getting pampered at a day spa. By doing so, you will find many things that were eating away at you will suddenly not seem nearly as important. Self care is vital in the aftermath of a relationship breakdown.

Though you may wonder what the future will hold for you after your divorce is final, looking after yourself and your mental health will pave the way for a new chapter in your life.

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer, based in the USA.

Mental Health At Work: First Aid Products Have Surged In Popularity In 2022.

(image: MHFA England)

Awareness days, weeks and months have helped to familiarise people all over the world with the term “Mental Health First Aid”. Now, first aid retailer FirstAid.co.uk reports a 260% uplift in interest for MHFA products on their site, noting that an increase in work-related stress, depression and anxiety cases each year is the most likely driving force.

The retailer has now sold more Mental Health First Aid items this year so far than everyday travel and motoring first aid kits.

Data from the Health and Safety Executive shows that cases of work-related ill health (of which 50% are stress, depression and anxiety) have risen almost 28% since 2015, despite physical injuries being in decline since 2000.

Their data also shows that 820,000 people in Great Britain suffered from work-related stress, depression and anxiety in 2021, compared to 441,000 people who sustained a physical injury at work.

“According to Mental Health First Aid England, one in six people of working age in the UK is experiencing symptoms of mental ill health at any given time.” Says Mike Thakoordin, MHFA Instructor and Suicide First Aid Associate at FirstAid.co.uk“We know that around 81% of employers have increased their focus on employee mental health since the pandemic began, and it is fair to say that awareness days and events are doing their part to sustain that focus. 

“During the first week of Stress Awareness Month in April we had an 85% increase in the number of people visiting our stress-related products compared to 2021, and we’re anticipating a similar surge between Suicide Prevention Day in September and World Mental Health Day in October as individual and business shoppers research items and guidance that can support those who are struggling.”

(image: Unsplash)

While events and awareness days like these play a big part in the ongoing rise in interest around mental health-related products online, it’s the persisting growth in the number of people struggling with poor mental health that is likely the bigger factor at play. Despite several years of employers saying they’re taking mental health more seriously, the reality is that a huge number of people each year still find themselves with too much work, not enough rest, workplace politics issues and concerns over job security – among other things.

“For several years running now, the HSE has reported an increase in the number of people taken ill by work-related stress, depression and anxiety.”  Thakoordin goes on to say. “Poor workplace mental health has knock-on effects in many other areas, and we hope that this increase in people shopping for MHFA materials translates into a greater number of workplaces offering meaningful, consistent support.

“With the 2-day Mental Health First Aid course recently being updated, now is the time to get enrolled and play your part in making workplaces safer from a mental health perspective.”


For information on how to recognise stress in the workplace, and advice on dealing with stress,
visit FirstAid’s Stress In The Workplace page.

This article was written in collaboration with First Aid.co.uk

5 Valuable Tips for Communicating With a Parent/ Person with Dementia

(image: Unsplash)

Due to various factors, including the ageing population, dementia is on the rise. In the future, it could touch the lives of half the population, becoming one of the most common degenerative diseases. 

When a parent gets dementia, it can sometimes be disorientating and upsetting. All of a sudden, their behaviour changes and it’s not clear what’s going on. They just don’t seem like themselves and they can’t take on board what you say. 

Adjusting to this new reality can be challenging, but this article is here to help. In it, we run through some tips for communicating with a person who has dementia so that you can keep your relationship with them strong. 

Give Them Your Full Attention

Communicating with a person who has dementia becomes challenging when you don’t give them your full attention. Misunderstandings are common, so trying to watch TV or do the dishes at the same time as talking to them is a bad idea. 

Instead, address your parents directly in quiet surroundings. Make sure that there is nothing else going on at the same time, including screaming kids and so on. When approaching your parents, use non-verbal cues, such as touching them on the shoulder to indicate that you want to talk to them. 

State Your Words Clearly

Language can be fuzzy sometimes. But when our brains are healthy, most of us can get by. 

However, that’s not the case when your parents are receiving dementia care. It is considerably more challenging for them to understand what is going on and their surroundings. 

Therefore, always state your words clearly. Avoid raising your voice, as your parents may mistake this for aggression unless they are also hard of hearing. 

When you speak, use the same wording. Prepare yourself to repeat what you need to say several times.

Ask Simple Questions

If you do ask questions, keep them simple. Ideally, you want questions that your parents can answer “yes” or “no” to. Refrain from asking open-ended questions, such as “what type of food do you prefer?”

Break Down Activities Into Smaller Chunks

Telling a patient with dementia that they need to go shopping or get ready for the day is generally a bad idea. That’s because these tasks involve multiple smaller steps that they need to go through. To a healthy person, this all seems simple. But for a patient with dementia, it is considerably more challenging. 

For this reason, try breaking down tasks into a series of smaller steps. Instead of telling your parents to get ready, ask them to put on each item of clothing one at a time. 

Distract And Redirect

Sometimes people living with dementia can become frustrated and angry. Many do not understand what is going on. 

Because of this, it’s a good idea to distract and redirect. These psychological techniques make it easier for you to manage difficult interactions. Focus on the feelings they have and offer support, but then if that doesn’t work, offer immediate redirection, such as suggesting getting something to eat or going for a walk. 

It can be really challenging when a parent or family member has dementia- it can affect both mental and physical health. You may find yourself feeling exhausted, stressed and frustrated too- as well as sad that the person you love is being affected so much. Your loved one may also feel like this at the beginning and struggle with any loss of memory or function. Make sure they get the correct support and you look after yourself too- by practising self care and speaking to a therapist if need be.

This article was written by a freelance writer and contains do follow links.

Taking Lithium for Bipolar Disorder: Side Effects by Eleanor

Pre Lithium in 2010 (skinny minny)

Post Lithium (on my wedding day in 2019)

I first heard about Lithium carbonate, a natural salt and the ‘gold standard’ medicine for bipolar disorder, when I was in my teen years. My dad was taking it to help his bipolar episodes- Lithium is known to stabilise mood and stop mania and depression from occurring or lessening their impact. I knew then that it was quite a strong drug, that you would need blood tests and that it caused weight gain. But it really helped my dad with his illness.

Fast forward to 2004, I was just 16 and had been diagnosed with bipolar in hospital. My brain was still growing and both I and my psychiatrist were reluctant to try Lithium at that stage, so I was started on Carbamazepine, another mood stabiliser. It was only when this medicine stopped working about 10 years later in 2014, when I was struggling with suicidal depression and anxiety (which then turned into a manic episode that I was hospitalised for), that I seriously considered taking Lithium to help me, like it helped my dad.

Lithium was first found to have benefits for patients with bipolar disorder in the 1950s, with a discovery by psychiatrist John Cade. Even today, we still don’t know what causes the disorder, but it is believed that Lithium stabilises mood – particularly mania. The psychiatrist.com notes this,

The real breakthrough in lithium therapy came in 1952, when Erik Stömgren, a Danish psychiatrist and head of the Aarhus University psychiatric clinic in Risskov who had read Cade’s article, suggested to a staff psychiatrist at the hospital, Mogens Schou, that he undertake a randomly controlled study of lithium for mania. Random controls were just being introduced to psychiatric drug trials at that time, and Schou randomly assigned patients to lithium or placebo by the flip of a coin. His results were published in a British journal with the article concluding, “The lithium therapy appears to offer a useful alternative to [electr[electroconvulsive therapy] since many patients can be kept in a normal state by administration of a maintenance dose.”

For me personally, Lithium treatment has changed my life in a number of ways- both good and not so good. Lets start with the good, I havn’t had an episode of mania and psychosis or suicidal severe depression in 8 years, which is largely down to medication helping my bipolar brain chemistry. It has worked for me- which is amazing- and I never thought I would find an effective treatment to help me. I have bipolar 1, the most severe type and although Dad has the same and was helped, I never thought it would lead me to remission. In fact, in 2014 when I was under the home treatment team after hospital, one of the nurses asked me to consider whether Lithium might not work for me and I might have to live with episodes… needless to say I cried as was very fragile and asked her to leave! She was wrong, thankfully.

On to the bad things: Lithium in combination with an antipsychotic Quetaipine has caused me to put on a lot of weight, as it slows metabolism. I also have to have 3 monthly blood tests to check my lithium level is within the correct range as too much is toxic to the body. Thankfully, I drink enough water and eat enough salt so I have never had a toxic reading but its a very careful balance..I have to always look after myself. Another bad side effect is skin sensitivity and acne- Lithium causes spots- so I have had to adapt my skincare regime and diet accordingly. Sometimes certain foods plus Lithium can trigger this too. Again, I have to pay more attention to my physical health as a result of taking Lithium and Quetaipine

The weight gain in particular has been a worry for me and is something I am working on., especially as diabetes runs in my family. Then there is the Lithium thirst…

Lithium as mentioned is a salt, and as it metabolises in the body, makes you incredibly thirsty. You have to be careful not to get dehydrated. Hence my love affair with Robinsons squash and the occasional ice cold fruit juice. No matter how much I drink, I can never fully quench my thirst, even if well hydrated. Lithium thirst is not the easiest… but Robinsons is my friend as its lower in calories and more delicious than plain water! And now I am thirsty again… haha

So I have a love-hate affair with Lithium. Brilliant for my mental health, not so great for my physical health at times. There is also a concern because over time Lithium can cause kidney and thyroid issues, which is why I have blood tests too. So its not perfect, but it really helps me to live my life and have stable mental health. Over time, its important i am monitored. I have been on it 8 years, but it could start causing problems at some point.

Additionally, when I please G-d get pregnant one day, my lithium levels will need to be monitored (but thats a blog for another time).

I don’t have nausea or trembling on Lithium which is good, but the other side effects (particularly weight) have not been so pleasant. I am so grateful though to have a medicine that keeps me well and out of hospital, able to live a life that some others take for granted.

Thanks to all who voted for this blog. If theres anything else you’d like to know, just ask a question and I will respond.

Eleanor x