Does Retail Therapy Help your Mental Health?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

We all have been through it or at least heard about the term ‘retail therapy’ before. To many, retail therapy is the act of shopping to relieve stress. It is a coping mechanism that can be used to deal with emotional issues.

A study by the University of British Columbia found that people who shopped when they were feeling sad or angry were more likely to feel better afterward. Shopping may be a way for people to temporarily forget about problems and focus on something else. For many, getting over a bad day could be as easy as going to the online shop adidas offers or visiting your local retail store. 

Retail Therapy does not work for everyone, and some may find it counterproductive because it can lead to feelings of guilt and shame after spending money on items that are not needed or wanted. So, what benefits can we get from retail therapy, and is it something that can work for you?

What are the Benefits of Shopping as Therapy?

Shopping is a great way to improve mental health. It can be a form of physical and emotional therapy. Shopping in store can be a form of physical therapy as it allows people to get up, walk around and explore new places.

 It also provides an opportunity to take care of oneself by indulging in self-care. Shopping can be an emotional therapy as it allows people to express themselves through buying things they want or need, while getting rid of the things they don’t want or need anymore.

Relaxation

There are many ways to improve your mental health. Many people choose retail therapy as a way to relieve their stress and improve their mood. Retail therapy is an effective way to unwind because it helps people to change the focus of their thoughts from negative thoughts, such as worry or anger, towards positive thoughts, such as excitement or anticipation.

Sleep Improvement

It is important to note that retail therapy has been shown to have positive effects on mental health, but it should not be used as a replacement for professional help. There are different types of sleep deprivation, and insomnia is one of them.

 Sleep deprivation can lead to mood swings, irritability, trouble concentrating, and more serious problems like obesity or diabetes. In a similar way, Insomnia can lead to depression or anxiety disorders, which can lead to other problems such as substance abuse or an eating disorder.

Improved Mood and Happiness

There are many reasons why retail therapy can help you improve your mood. One of them is that it makes you feel like you have accomplished something, which boosts your self-esteem. Another reason is that retail therapy is seen as self-care and an easy way to distract yourself from negative thoughts or feelings. 

Self Control 

Retail therapy provides you with a sense of control and relief. You can use it to distract yourself from your negative thoughts and feelings. While retail therapy is not always a good idea, it can be helpful in some situations. For example, if you are feeling frustrated or lonely, retail therapy might provide you with the joy and excitement that you need to feel better about yourself. It’s important to remember that the benefits of retail therapy are temporary and that this technique should be approached with care.

Disadvantages of Retail Therapy

While there are many advantages and benefits to retail therapy, there are many ways that it could have a negative effect on you. So, it’s essential to remember that retail therapy is not for everyone. It has been proven to be helpful for people who have depression and anxiety, but it also has its downsides. People who have a shopping addiction can find themselves in a difficult situation when they feel the need to buy something new every time they are feeling down or sad.

The person will not be able to control their shopping habits because of their addiction and wants the feeling of gratification from buying something new. They may also buy things impulsively without thinking about what they need or even if they have the money for it. When this happens, the person might start making poor financial decisions which could lead them into debt or bankruptcy.

It’s important that you lookout for signs of shopping addiction while taking part in retail therapy. 

Signs of Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction is a serious problem that is becoming more and more common. It can lead to numerous mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and stress. It’s important to be able to tell the difference between the occasional shopping spree and a full-blown addiction. Signs of shopping addiction include:

  •  Spending too much money on clothes or other items for yourself or others
  • Having difficulty controlling your spending
  • Spending hours at a time looking for things to buy
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed after shopping
  • Putting off, paying bills, saving money, or doing other important tasks in order to spend money on things you don’t need

Once you find yourself showing signs of your addiction, it is important to get help because it can lead to mental health issues. It can also lead to a lack of self-control, which in turn can lead to other problems.

Knowing When To Getting Help

So, to answer the question: Can retail therapy help with your mental health? The answer is yes, but that yes comes with a warning beside it.  

While retail therapy can be great for helping your mental health. It’s important for you to remember that everything should be taken in moderation. Retail therapy is great for helping you to get over a bad day today. However, when it starts to have a negative effect on your mental health instead of helping, it’s time for you to get professional help.

Don’t ever spend more than you have and if you find that you are regularly. support is available for you. You are not alone.  


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

Options for Improving Your Mental Health and Overcoming Alcohol Addiction by Rachelle Wilber

(image: R Wilber)

Alcohol addiction greatly impacts on your mental health and general wellbeing. Fighting addiction should be your ultimate goal, making it possible to take control of your life. There are numerous options available to help in overcoming addiction and improving your mental health. Here are several options.

Alcohol is extremely addictive and has the potential to ruin mental health and peoples lives. These are just a guide, please consult with professionals.


Connect with Others

A great place to start is it to get out and start meeting other people at support groups. It helps to share positive or similar experiences, which will aid your mental health and self esteem. . You can also consider others and build emotional support if able. Avoid people who want you to relapse back into addiction and who enabled it too! Seek support for you to move forward, even if slowly.

Be Active 

Exercising and getting involved in activities release the endorphin hormone, also known as the happiness hormone. This can also help your general health as you recover slowly. Get involved with community causes and help raise funds for 5k, to 10k walks once you feel able.

Learn New Skills 

Learning new skills helps connect with others and builds a sense of purpose. Try taking a responsible role when volunteering that has an immediate impact, be it at work or in the community like cooking for the homeless- as long as you are in recovery and feel able.

Be Mindful 

Getting into a male alcohol addiction treatment program (or a mixed program/ one for women) can help you in being mindful as it is one of the crucial aspects taught. It helps you consider yourself and the positive changes you have made while recovering from alcohol abuse. Being mindful helps you understand yourself better and take the necessary steps to ensure mental health is protected. 

Be Kind 

Being kind to yourself and placing your feelings first will make it easier to recover from alcohol addiction. Avoid comparing your progress with others and discard people’s opinions of your progress. Allow yourself to make mistakes while finding the right ways to be mentally free. 

Celebrate Your Small Wins 

Celebrate small wins even if you have milestone goals you want to achieve. Start with celebrating finishing the alcohol addiction treatment program. Celebrate your sober days!

Write it Down 

A great way to improve mental health and overcome addiction is by documenting everything. It helps in processing all emotions to gauge triggers to avoid them. It will also allow you to self-reflect on progress, relieve stress, and inspire creativity. 

Reach for Support

Remember to get into local support groups or even stay in touch with members of the alcohol addiction treatment program. Consult a professional (GP or psychiatrist) if the urge is unbearable to avoid relapsing into addiction and keep you on the road to your recovery.  

This article was written by Rachelle Wilber, freelance writer.

How to Overcome the Mental Distress of Recovering from Cancer by Rachelle Wilber

(image: Pexels)

Recovering from cancer is a long, challenging process that takes a lot out of you mentally and physically. Even when you achieve remission and start to regain your energy, the negative effects on your mind can persist. If you’re not sure how to deal with the emotional and psychological aftereffects, it’s easy to become overwhelmed or despondent. However, with the right approach, you can overcome that mental distress and regain a sense of contentment.

Talk to a Professional

If you’re dealing with mental distress during cancer recovery, seeing a therapist or counsellor could be helpful for your mental health. Some professionals specialise in assisting people in coping with major illnesses, and they can often give you beneficial insight. Sometimes, getting a fresh perspective from an outside source can be effective for solving problems that you’re struggling with. You don’t have to commit to monthly or weekly sessions, but it’s worth at least trying out with a session or two, and you can decide at that point if it’s right for you- and what you need.

Find a Wig to Match You

For many patients, chemotherapy is an effective treatment method for achieving remission, but it also comes with several negative side effects. One of the most well-known of these side effects is the thinning or loss of your hair. For some people, this is a difficult change to get used to, and some of the wig options available aren’t particularly appealing. However, there are places where you can purchase custom made lace wigs, which can give you back the look you prefer and help restore that self-confidence.

Find a Creative New Outlet

If you don’t have much to do with your free time during cancer recovery, it leaves a lot of opportunities for your mind to drift toward negative thoughts. This can become a powerful cycle in which the depression can fuel itself and worsen over time. To combat this, try finding a new hobby or creative pursuit that you can develop a passion for, when you have the energy to do so. Having something to do each day that you’re genuinely looking forward to will make a massive difference for your outlook, and it’s also good for the brain in general to keep you occupied. Some days you may just want to lie on the couch and rest- thats OK and listen to your body.

There will always be challenging days when you’re recovering from something as traumatic as cancer, but a positive mindset is still achievable. Try not to let the rough days define you and be kind to yourself. You could try something good for your mental health like meditation, art or reading if you have the concentration.

Remember that it always seems darkest before the dawn, and you will get through it- reach for support from a therapist, partner, friends and family.



Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook:

@RachelleWilber;

https://www.facebook.com/people/Rachelle-Wilber/100009221637700/

Winter Mental Health and Anxiety Update by Eleanor

Hi everyone,

I have spent a number of months avoiding and not taking action on one of the main issues that has. been happening in my life.

As you know, I have spent many years living in the shadow of having bipolar disorder and panic disorder (social anxiety and panic attacks) and possibly also PTSD symptoms from my last hospitalisation.. that I didn’t realise that my panic disorder is essentially agoraphobia too. (Oh got to love my overly anxious nervous system and imagination that creates panic!),.

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed. You fear an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd.

For me, this means that I can struggle to leave home alone at times, socialise, go out on public transport, go out to eat, go into a shop, travel anywhere alone including walking and that I panic and avoid and retreat from situations.. When I am going through a period of low mood, the agoraphobia/panic disorder can worsen.

I am managing my panic attacks through therapy and speaking to my therapist works. However, being indoors all the time through Covid and changing my working patterns to working from home meant that my agoraphobia got heightened. I didn’t want to be around crowds because I could get Covid. I didn’t want to go on public transport in a mask- because I might get Covid. I didn’;t go in a shop because people were there- but once vaccinated, this hasn’t changed. Really this was masking deeper anxiety and fear of the world in general- feeling uncertain after a job loss and starting a new career and feeling intensely self conscious too about weight gain on my medication.

Today on facebook, I had a memory from 12 years ago (when I was 21) which informed me that I had been on a night out at Ministry of Sound nightclub in London for a gig and I was also coordinating London Booze for Jews ( a Jewish student bar crawl) – despite the fact I didn’t drink. I have always been social but nights out in bars and clubs are just not my thing these days at the grand old age of 33 (grandma alert).

I know my panic is not the whole of me. In the past I have completed a degree and masters at drama school, travelled to India, Israel, places all over Europe and volunteered in Ghana for 7 weeks. Despite my anxiety, I run two small businesses, have managed to release a book, written for well known publications and achieved many of my dreams. I also met my wonderful husband and am not only proud to be a wife, but an auntie (and hopefully one day a mother too).

I am still Ellie and still the person I was inside before trauma hit.

Despite all of the amazing things above, I have been struggling with getting out of my 4 walls. So this is a diary entry to say: I will get better and get out the flat more. I will try and expose myself to feared situations. Above all, I will be kind to myself and take slow steady steps. I will lose the weight too!

All friends/fam are welcome to try and coax me out and help too!

Tsunami of Mental Health Problems have manifested during the Pandemic: by WebDoctor.ie Online Doctor

(image: WebDoctor.ie)

Online Doctor Service WebDoctor.ie, based in Ireland, saw a 240% increase in the number of mental health related consultations from January 2020 to August 2021.

The Online Doctor Service has also seen a 210% increase in the overall number of consultations from the same dates.

This increase reflects a ‘Tsunami’ of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, which have manifested during the pandemic,” explains WebDoctor’s Clinical Director Sylvester Mooney. Mental health issues such as reactive depression and anxiety affected all ages and demographic groups.

Anxiety Surrounding the Reopening of Society

There has been a 76% increase in anxiety levels among Irish people, according to WebDoctor.ie. There are significant mental health concerns regarding the reopening of society as colleges, workplaces and schools get back to normal.

Aware, who provide free support and education services to those impacted by depression, anxiety and mood related disorders saw an 80% increase in the number of helpline calls they received in April, May and June of 2020 compared to the same months in the previous year.

The organisation are currently seeing concerns arise over the anxiety surrounding the reopening of society. “People are anxious to return to the workplace and return to in-person social settings, explains Stephen McBride, Director of Services at Aware.

Young Women and Eating Disorders

WebDoctor.ie have also observed a doubling of reported depression from 9% to 19%, and rates of eating disorder in young women have also increased by a very significant 41%.

There are no nationally dedicated adult in-patient public beds for people with eating disorders. Instead, eating disorder in-patients are treated in general or psychiatric hospitals. Given that the most recent CSO figures also show that suicide was, and remains, the biggest cause of death among Ireland’s young adults under 24 with men particularly at risk, it’s clear that a major post-Covid mental health crisis is well under way.

Dr Sylvester Mooney, WebDoctor’s Clinical Director stated that “many younger people who are presenting to our GP’s have been seriously impacted over the last 18 months. They’ve had significant disruptions to their college education, lost opportunities for important social interaction, their career prospects have been damaged. For a lot of patients we see, they’re very anxious and nervous about what the future may hold.”

Mental Health Support and Funding

With HSE levels of mental health funding at only 5%, which is very low by international standards (the UK is at 13%), it seems apparent that the mental health sector needs much greater levels of funding support.

When asked about the level of funding for mental health services in Ireland due to this significant increase in pandemic-inflicted anxiety levels, neither the HSE nor Minister of Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler responded to our request to comment.

Dr Sylvester Mooney believes that we are only now starting to see the fallout from the Covid pandemic on mental health.

This is a sponsored blog from Webdoctor.ie using research in Ireland from August 2021.

Treatment Options for Recovering from an Eating Disorder by Kara Masterson

(image: Pexels)

Treatment for an eating disorder depends on the type of disorder you are suffering from (such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder) and can vary with each individual. In most cases, treatment will include therapy, education about nutrition, and monitoring. There may also be medications prescribed that can help address a disorder as well as treatment for any health concerns that may have been caused by the disorder. 

Therapy for Eating Disorders 

The first step in treating an eating disorder is therapy sessions that may last just a few weeks or many years, depending on the severity of your illness. Therapy is designed to help you develop a good eating pattern and exchange unhealthy habits for healthy ones. Therapy will also help you understand how eating is connected to your mood as well as how to cope with stressful situations. You will be given the chance to develop problem-solving skills that are more constructive and that can better serve you going forward.

There are three types of therapy used to treat eating disorders and you may enter one, two, or all three of these types to manage your disorder. They include: 

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy – this therapy focuses on behaviour, thoughts, and feelings as well as how to recognise and change distorted thoughts 
  • Family therapy – this therapy is designed to help your family help you establish healthy eating patterns as well as how to cope with a loved one who is living with an eating disorder 
  • Group cognitive-behavioural therapy – therapy conducted with others who are dealing with the same type of eating disorder in order to address thoughts, feelings, and behaviours 

Nutrition Program 

Another part of your therapy will include a nutrition program. You may work with a registered dietitian or other nutritional experts to help you better understand your disorder. They will create a program designed to help you work toward a healthy weight, practice meal planning, and take steps to avoid dieting or binge eating. As part of the treatment options for eating disorders, they will also help you recognise how your eating disorder negatively impacts your nutrition and health while helping you establish a realistic eating pattern you’ll be able to follow. 

Eating Disorder Medications 

There is no medication that can cure an eating disorder, but there are medications that are used in conjunction with therapy that may lead to better success. Antidepressants are the most commonly used, especially if your eating disorder includes binge eating or purging. Another drug that is sometimes used for binge eating disorders is Vyvanse which is thought to help impulsive behaviours that can lead to bingeing. 

Suffering from an eating disorder can be debilitating and it is an illness that is not only difficult for the person suffering from but also their loved ones who feel helpless. There are treatments available and it is critical that you get help for your eating disorder as soon as possible- reach out for support.

This article was written by freelance writer Kara Masterson

The Flowers that bloom in Adversity: by Eleanor

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(image: Roxi Roxas Art)

I have wanted to write this post for several weeks, but so much has been going on personally and I have been really emotionally drained (and launching my new business too). Let start at the beginning.

At the end of May, my mother in law (who is carer for my father in law with terminal brain cancer) was taken very unwell. She was rushed to hospital with stroke like symptoms and put into an induced coma on a ventilator as her lungs were collapsing. We were super scared it was Covid as she was shielding anyway and it came completely out the blue, on the day of her 60th birthday after we had celebrated.

She is the main carer for my father in law and so my husband Rob had to move in to their house to care for his Dad and support his brother. (cue frantic phone calls to the doctors surgery, hospitals, Macmillan nurses and Jewish Care, all done by my incredible husband).

Thankfully, my MIL came off the ventilator to breathe unaided and she tested negative for Covid 19. We think she caught a severe bacterial infection and she then got pneumonia in her lungs. She was in hospital for 4 weeks and discharged 2 weeks ago and is making amazing progress with her physio team and her speech. She is still frail but she is recovering slowly.

This blog post I don’t want to make about my in laws because they are private people. Dealing with all these scary changes has been tough on my mental health (and everyones).

We are slowly slowly coming out the other side, although we know my FIL will worsen in time due to the nature of his illness.

So what flowers are blooming during this adversity?

-On Saturday will be our first wedding anniversary and we will spend it together. Its been a rollercoaster year but I am so thankful to have Rob by my side!

-I am loving my new Body Shop at Home business and my team and incredible managers. It really has been keeping me sane throughout this time of family lockdown and I can’t thank Sarah Cardwell enough for introducing me to the business. The products are so good for self care and healing too, which has been so needed and I have made lots of new friends. It keeps my mind stimulated and earns me income too- I am so grateful.

-Yesterday, Robs kind family member went over so we could spend some proper quality time together (thank you). We went for a walk in our favourite little village near by where there are cottages and flowers and village green and pond- I took lots of pictures of my dream cottages and gardens. Then, we got vanilla chocolate milkshakes (first time in a café post lockdown) and visited family. It was so special just to have US time, so rare in this current time for our family.

-This blog is continuing to grow and turning into a side business and for that I am ever grateful. I am also loving sharing peoples personal stories and hope it is a useful resource.

-Our guineapigs Midnight and Nutmeg are a source of joy and give great cuddles.

-Friends and familys kindness and messages help so much. I havnt had a therapy session in a while but will do.

I am feeling positive but there will be rough days ahead in the coming months. Today though, I am enjoying slightly more calm and peace again before the potential storm, and watching the flowers that are blooming in adversity.  

 

The Road to Recovery: On PTSD, Trauma and the Future… by Eleanor for Mental Health Awareness Week

Trigger Warning: sexual assault, details of assault and severe mental illness

Hi everyone,

Its been a while but I thought I would put type to keyboard and write a blog for more mental health awareness.

Since my book was published, I haven’t written many follow up personal blogs, purely because the launch of my life story into the public domain felt overwhelming and scary. 6 months on, I am used to it being out there but I have been working hard in EMDR trauma therapy to help myself.

See, the truth is that right now the Bipolar Disorder for me is stable and under control on my medicines. I still get side effects- weight gain, dry mouth and thirst, but my mind is generally healthy in terms of the Bipolar- no mania or depression. Anxiety and panic yes but Bipolar, not really at the moment.

Yet, almost lurking unseen after I left hospital in 2014 and began my recovery was the fact I was traumatised by my experiences of going into psychosis (losing touch with reality via delusions, false beliefs) and my experiences when being sectioned. I will just give an overview as the rest is in my book- but this included- being restrained, being attacked by other patients and seeing them self harm, being injected with Haloperidol (an anti psychotic) in front of both male and female nurses in a part of the body I didn’t want, being chased round A and E by security men in genuine fear of my life, dealing with lawyers and going to tribunals while ill, thinking I had been abused by family and was locked up by a criminal gang and fearing my family were against me. My bipolar mind could not cope.

Just before this all happened, I was very vulnerable and was sexually assaulted by a man I knew through friends and all of this trauma stayed with me.

I did what most of us with severe mental illness and assault survivors do- I tried to rebuild my life. I tried to work in schools helping children with special educational needs. I tried to work for a mental health charity as a peer support worker for people like me. I began to blog and write and share as therapy- from charities to national newspapers. Bit by bit, as I wrote out what I has been through, I started to slowly heal. But, the symptoms of the extreme panic remained. I lost jobs because of it. I became depressed. I started dating but I often had to cancel dates- (before I met Rob, my husband who listened to me talk about it all and didn’t bat too much of an eyelid.)

I was in a state of flux, a state of transition. I knew I had trauma still living in my brain and body. I had been physically and sexually assaulted, I had been mentally violated- I had been sectioned twice in a few months and now I was sent home to try and rebuild my life as a 25 year old single woman.

I share this important blog, not to share that I am a victim- because I am not. I want to share that I believe for about 5 years, I have been suffering with some of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). My therapist believes the same.

The panic attacks that grip me with fear before work or the day ahead when I have to leave the house. The fear of going out or travelling at night alone. The fear of being taken advantage of and having to trust men again (thank you to my husband for helping ease this pain). The fear of exploitation, of losing my mind, of not trusting mental health professionals any more.

My panic attacks get triggered by certain events- it could be having to speak about my life or book, or seeing people I don’t feel comfortable with, of feeling exposed, of worrying about others judgement. I am still healing from all I have been through and experienced. The PTSD means that I have to take medication (Propranolol) to function sometimes. It means that I experience flashbacks in my body- I feel gripped with fear, I get chest pain and shallow breathing and I start to cry. I had one the other day at 4am….. thank the lord for meds so I could calm down and sleep.

My therapist is incredible and we have been working since October to process the roots of my trauma and panic disorder. We use a combination of rapid eye processing with talking therapy which helps to tackle each and every trauma- and we are still at the tip of the iceberg. It takes time to process the deep rooted experiences in my brain- we are getting there slowly.

For me, in many ways my future is uncertain. My medicines have long term physical side effects. Motherhood will be more of a challenge due to medication and my mental health- I am still processing the choices I will have to make, which I will write in another blog.

I want to end this blog by saying- if you know someone with anxiety, PTSD, another anxiety disorder or something like bipolar or schizophrenia- Be Kind. You never know what someone has gone through.

The NHS waiting lists for help are too long, services are too underfunded- all my treatment has been private provided by my family due to being stuck on a list for years. I am lucky, not everyone is. 

I hope this blog gives some information about my experiences of PTSD since leaving hospital 6 years ago. It is by far the most personal thing I have posted since publishing my book but I hope it helps you feel less alone.

Positivity and Hope are key.  Meeting my husband and my therapist changed my life for the better as I slowly rebuild and find an equilibrium again.

Love,

Eleanor x

My crippling Anxiety once floored me. Now I wouldn’t be without it : Guest blog by Emma Johnson at Worry Knot Jewellery

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(image: Emma Johnson at Worry Knot)

Trigger warning: talks about self harm, anxiety, depression and mental illness 

 

For 10 or so years, throughout adulthood, I have battled on and off with something invisible and something I still don’t fully understand myself.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder. 

I’m now 29 but my illness started at about the age of 21. In my third year of University, I started to dread things, I started to worry about everything I said, did and I started to question if anyone liked me. I have always been apologetic but this was different. I felt like apologising for walking into a room. 

I was unable to switch off, unable to focus on my University work and I withdrew a lot socially. Life moved quite slow back then. 

For me I knew this was out of character. I’ve always been fun loving and outgoing, with a smile on my face. I became confused about who I was. I developed an uneasy feeling that would take almost 8 years to learn to sit with.

During the first few years of my disorder, I definitely still achieved a lot. I often feel my disorder makes me thrive more, sort of like overcompensation, a little bit like proving people and myself wrong. I graduated with a BSc in Psychology and at the age of 24, I went on to gain my MSc in International Development.

I don’t think I truly recognised these achievements until about the age of 27. 

Whilst studying my MSc life changed quite a lot for me. I had gone through a bad break up in my younger years but then I finally met someone who lifted me back up, who challenged my thoughts, someone who was completely different to me in every way. This was oddly comforting for me, a bit like escapism from my own ruminating thoughts. 

Then I entered the world of professional work. I started out as a fundraiser, and in my most recent role I tried my hand at facilitating group therapy. In 5 years I have moved through 4 jobs within the charity sector. Sometimes part time.

During this time my anxiety disorder would often become too much. I often sunk low and developed bouts of depression. I would cry and sob. I was back and forth to the GP, often teary, often red in the face and always a bit embarrassed, even though I didn’t need to feel embarrassed.

At one point I was signed off sick from work, bed bound for 3 months, with no motivation at all, just me, myself and my catastrophic thoughts. I was pretty exhausted, shaky, drained and more confused than ever. My physical symptoms manifested as sweating, chest pains, palpitations, shortness of breath and the odd panic attack. 

One thing I started to do was open up, I began to share things with my partner and colleagues. They let me cry if I needed and at the same time my GP was stabilising and finding the right medication to suit me. But I was clearly still unwell.

I quit another job I enjoyed through my inability to cope and my lack of self esteem. My Imposter Syndrome led me down another uneven path.  Always overworking. Always overthinking. Always overcompensating. I didn’t slow down until I was forced to.

Another behavioural symptom of my anxiety is skin picking and nail biting. In early adulthood I would sit for 3 hours picking at my face and over the years I have made the skin around my thumbnail so sore it would bleed. It is now scarred.

My need to fiddle with something to ease anxiety is always apparent. Earlier this year, I was talking to my friend about making jewellery and how cool it would be to make my own. I have always been into accessories, fashion and jewellery so I said I’d love to make something I can wear and carry with me discreetly but also fiddle with, to stop me from picking so much. 

She mentioned worry beads and I was intrigued. I wanted to make my own twist on them. A prettier version, merging them with jewellery design that I would more likely wear, so I did and my life has changed. I have started a small business called Worry Knot.

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(image: Emma Johnson at Worry Knot)

Alongside selling calming jewellery, I’m blog writing. I’m advocating more widely about the importance of opening up when confusing and sometimes debilitating symptoms develop. Not only is it therapeutic for me to make my jewellery but it’s extra therapeutic playing with this jewellery a few times a day. 

Having something to focus on, things to make and to write about has been crucial in managing my own anxiety, especially at such an anxious time for the world. I hope my jewellery can go on to help those feeling anxious not only now but going forward into the future too.

emmajohnson1

beads

(Images: Emma Johnson)

For more information please visit:  www.worryknot.co.uk and instagram.com/worryknotuk

You can also find me @worryknotuk on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Emma Johnson is a writer with lived experience of mental health issues. She is the founder of Worry Knot, a jewellery brand to help others who have anxiety.    worryknot

 

Mental Health Blog Awards 2020- Vote for Us! : by Eleanor

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(image: Mental Health Blog Awards)

Hi friends,

Voting is now open (first round) for the Mental Health Blog Awards 2020 and we have been nominated in the Blogger of the Year Category.

We would love you to vote for us, to recognise all of our hard work- including that of our guest bloggers, in battling mental health stigma.

I started the blog 4 years ago and it is an honour to be nominated.

You can vote for us- listed as Eleanor at Be Your Own Light here and please also vote for others in other categories if you are aware of their work! There are some incredible people nominated.

From Mike Douglas, founder of the awards:

“I am delighted to welcome you to the Mental Health Blog Awards. 

I look forward to continuing to celebrate the amazing work, effort, energy, emotion and so much more you all put into raising awareness, supporting, signposting, explaining and comforting in 2020.”

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(image: Mental Health Blog Awards)

First round voting closes on 1st May and you can vote here: https://s.surveyplanet.com/bG5vzH_q

 

With love and thanks,

Eleanor 

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