Practice Some Self Care This Week, It’s Important.

(image: Bodhan Maylove)

You’ve probably heard people talk a lot about self-care, but is it something you do for yourself? Self-care has many benefits for your health and wellbeing, but it’s easy to let life get in the way of taking care of yourself.

Self-care covers many basic things to help you stay fit and healthy, but it can also mean putting yourself first and taking a little ‘you’ time to get back on track. If you’ve been a little overwhelmed or run down, then taking some time for self-care could be what you need to bounce back.

Below you’ll find some of the things you can do to practice some self-care and do something great for yourself this week.

Check in on your health

How healthy do you feel right now? If you’re constantly tired, feeling run down or battling cold after cold, it could be a sign that you need to take care of yourself a little better. Forming some new healthy habits, including eating better and getting eight hours of sleep a night, can make a big difference to your health and make you feel more energised during the day.

Could your health do with a little boost? Shake yourself out of some bad habits and take some steps to put your health first.

Do something for yourself

Self-care can be about doing things for yourself, and that could include treating yourself too. Focus on doing things that will have a real benefit – a new hairstyle, for example, can work wonders for your self-esteem and give you a huge boost.

You could also decide to do something that’s been on your mind for a while. Do you have crooked teeth? Why not get some clear aligners and start transforming your smile? This could boost your confidence in a big way and is an investment in yourself worth making.

You may want to look after your emotions and speak to a therapist, journal, do some gentle exercise or speak to a friend.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s something for yourself that will make you happy and give you the lift you need.

Take an evening to relax and rebalance

We all need some time to pamper ourselves, and an evening of self-care could be just what you need. Consider it a mental health day, to help you take care of your mental health and help you find your balance again.

It could be as simple as lighting some candles, having a bath and treating yourself with a face mask – find things that keep you calm and relaxed and will help you shut off from the world for a little while. Make it a regular part of your routine to give you something to aim for as a reward for all of your hard work.

It’s easy to take self-care for granted, but it’s incredibly important to take care of yourself. Take a good look at your current lifestyle and whether there are changes you could make to improve your self-care. Putting yourself first isn’t a bad thing, and doing more of it could be just what you need to feel better inside and out.

This article was written by a freelance writer

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.

What It’s Like To Go Through Severe Depression as a Bipolar Episode: Looking Back by Eleanor

(image of Eleanors book Bring me to Light: Eleanor Segall/ Trigger and Welbeck publishing)

TRIGGER WARNING- DISCUSSES SUICIDAL IDEATION, SELF HARM AND BIPOLAR DISORDER. PLEASE READ WITH CARE

This weekend, I went home to my mums to celebrate the Jewish festival of Pesach (Passover) and have some quiet, family time. It was wonderful and because our religious laws mean we don’t use the internet, our phone on our festivals, it meant I had time for digital detoxing and switching off. But with that silence, came space. To think and reflect.

Something you may not know about me is that as well as being a writer, throughout the years I have been a prolific diary (journal) writer. The act of putting pen to paper and type to keyboard has always been therapeutic for me in my darkest moments. I found a diary I had written in 2013, when I was living with depression, suicidal ideation and self harm thoughts and actions.

The journal was covered in butterflies- always my symbol of hope. I don’t want to trigger anyone so I will say this carefully- essentially, I was so unwell that for me, my symptoms were: sleeping until the afternoon with a slight break for a meal or tablets, not socialising, finding it hard to wash due to increased anxiety and lethargy, feeling like I didn’t want to wake up the next day and wanting to harm myself in various ways- but being so frightened by these thoughts (because i knew they weren’t really Eleanor) that i had to vocalise them to my family and psychiatrist to keep myself safe. Thats what I did and its why I am still here today, in recovery.

I lived with this depression for about 6 months- my psychiatrist was encouraging me to try Lithium to stablise the bipolar but I wasn’t ready and wanted to see if Quetaipine could halt that. As we know, I became hospitalised for mania soon after in 2014 which led me to recovery and writing my book Bring me to Light.

When you live with an illness like bipolar disorder, you can sometimes forget the nuances of all the details of how you were when you were unwell. For me, I always felt that I handled the depressive episodes ‘better’ than the mania- just because I was able to keep myself as safe as possible by telling my family and doctor and changing medication. My psychiatrist had to come out to see me at home with a nurse as I was so unwell and I wrote out how I felt for him to know.

So many people live with terrible episodes of depression so this blog is just looking back and giving you some knowledge of how it manifested for me. Essentially, depression is a slowing down of the mind towards inactivity, darkness, misery, anxiety, agitation and it is often triggered due to changes in hormones and brain chemistry (if you have a family history its more likely to happen). Depression is not just low mood. Its paralysing. Its not wanting to be in the world and being in so much emotional pain. You may think of ways to harm yourself and you may dream of not being in the world. Or you may be ‘high functioning’. I somehow managed to go to friends weddings during this time despite spending the other days in bed til 5pm- I have no idea how- anti depressants and support helped greatly. However, my depression was dark and invasive.


Now, I had forgotten a lot of these finer details. For me, I never truly wanted to die- I wanted the uncontrollable bipolar to go! The suicidal ideation was my bipolar brain chemistry but also an expression of not coping with life and the bipolar moods I had been given- I was 24 and I couldn’t enjoy life- i was wracked with anxiety too. My mental health was fragile and unstable and it is no way to live- but what saved me, was being hospitalised and finding medication and therapy that has helped me to live in remission (thank God) for 7 years now.

I can say now that my brain chemistry is balanced and even if i ever get sad or frustrated, I don’t have those awful thoughts and if they ever come up, I can deal with them. I have such a supportive partner and family- my family and psychiatrist saved me as well as me trying to save myself- I frightened myself with my thoughts and I had some semblance of being able to keep myself going, which is not possible for everyone. It helped that my Dad has bipolar and could really understand what was going on for me too- he understood exactly how I was feeling but he knew it was the illness and not Ellie. I feel so lucky for that because not everyone has this. My mum, step dad and sister and wider family also were so supportive and never blamed me for being unwell. That helped too. My faith also has helped me dearly,

(Me at 25 when I was going through depression. This photo was a selfie taken when I was dressed up to go to a friends wedding and my sister had done my make up. There were no photos with messy hair or red eyes and tears. I never looked this good when I was in bed til 5pm most days in my PJs).

If youve got this far thank you for reading. My mission is to help others with these conditions feel less alone, through sharing my own experiences. I have been careful not to reveal what certain thoughts were here so I don’t trigger anyone.

If you live with depression and a host of other issues, you can recover again. Hold on. You will not feel like this forever and you can find a level of happiness and stability again. Reach for help, someone you trust, a help line, a psychiatrist and don’t give up.

Surviving Trauma Makes Relationships Difficult. Self Compassion Can Help: by Taylor Blanchard

(image: Unsplash)

You sabotage your relationships when things feel too calm.

You panic when your partner goes on a family vacation, believing that they’re leaving you forever.

Perhaps you can’t stand hugs or gentle touch.

Maybe you’ve wondered to yourself: “What in the world is wrong with me?! Am I just not cut out to have close friends or a romantic relationship?”

Actually, that’s not the case! You deserve close relationships– everyone does. If you resonate with these scenarios, though, you may have some unprocessed trauma– and that trauma may be making your relationships feel like a rusty, ungreased wheel.

You’re not alone. Here’s how trauma can blow our relationships off-course, and also, how self-compassion can help to ease that struggle.

Trauma Creates Hypervigilance

Trauma is any incident that overwhelms your ability to cope (abuse, neglect, or surviving a natural disaster, just to name a few examples). These abhorrent experiences cause our brains and bodies to swirl with cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.

After a seriously traumatic event (or relationship or childhood), our cortisol levels don’t always return to baseline. Often, the nervous system creates a new baseline of heightened stress response. In short: you don’t go back to being as calm as you were before the storm. Now, you’re hypervigilant all the time. You’re always stressed, always scanning for the next attack.

Unfortunately, relationships can’t be created without vulnerability, and vulnerability can’t happen if you’re constantly scanning for attack.

You might be hypervigilant in your relationships if:

  • You feel uncomfortable, fidgety, and unsafe during social situations
  • You constantly micro-analyse everything other people say to make sure they’re not going to hurt you
  • You constantly micro-analyse everything you say to make sure you don’t say anything “wrong”

Aversion to Intimacy

Trauma, and the excess cortisol it triggers, also creates an aversion to physical closeness. When we’re stressed  (i.e., when our cortisol is on full blast), our nervous systems naturally resist being touched.

Do you find yourself shrinking away from hugs? Do you feel an urge to run away when someone gently touches your arm? That’s likely a trauma response.

Of course, if you’ve experienced assault or physical or sexual abuse, this is a double whammy. Since your trauma came from physical touch, your brain has registered any physical touch as dangerous– on top of your increased baseline level of cortisol. Of course you’d feel sick at the thought of a hug! If this sounds like you, go extra easy on yourself if you struggle with relationships; this struggle isn’t your fault.

So, This Sucks… How in the World Do I Heal?

Yes, it sounds bleak. If this is you, you may feel hopeless. I’m with you; I’ve been there. It’s not hopeless, though. This is healable.

Therapy: Do I Even Have to Say It?

Yes, healing this will probably require trauma-informed therapy. You’ll be surprised at how fast you can begin to shift once you see a therapist who validates your traumatic experiences.

Here’s a hint: Psychology Today’s find-a-therapist tool can help you easily find a trauma-informed therapist. (Make sure to select “trauma focused” under the “types of therapy” menu.)

Now That That’s Out of the Way: Self-Compassion Comes Next

I’m 100% serious when I tell you: you deserve to go easy on yourself.

I say this with firmness, and yet, I forget to go easy on myself most days. Regardless, it helps immensely to stop comparing your relationships to other people’s relationships (both friendships and romantic relationships!).

Yes, it may likely take you longer to learn how to develop lasting relationships, both friendly and intimate. It may seem unfair that making and keeping tons of friends, as well as a life partner, comes so easily to some, while you’re struggling to simply text one person back.

Know what? It is unfair. You shouldn’t have gone through the trauma that you went through. What this means, though, is that you can recognize that you face more relational setbacks than someone who didn’t suffer the same trauma as you did. You’re starting further behind with a ball and chain tied to both feet.

Thus: you can stop comparing, and you can stop feeling like you’re “behind” somehow. Always try to recognize even your tiniest victories, even and especially the challenges which seem “easy” to other people.

Wrapping Up

Relationships make our lives juicy and sparkly, and so, if trauma has impacted your ability to form relationships (I’m with you!), then you’re probably struggling.

Try your best to go easy on yourself. You’ve been through a slog of painful experiences that, unfortunately, can make life on Earth feel like walking straight uphill all the time. Therapy helps. Self-compassion helps.

And yes, I know it’s tiring, but there is help for you out there. Just keep going.


Taylor Blanchard is a freelance mental health and wellness writer for hire. Her lived experience and extensive knowledge on mental health, emotional wellness, and spirituality guide her to create deep, compassionate blog posts, which she hopes will help people to feel less alone in the world. Self-care for Taylor looks like staring at the sky, drinking cacao while listening to metal, or cuddling with her rescue Pitbull mix.

5 Self Help Books to Set Your Intentions in 2022.

(image: Cottonbro at Pexels)

As a new year approaches, many of us will attempt to reflect on the past and plan for the future. However, if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that all the planning in the world can’t always stand up to what gets thrown our way.

That’s why setting broad intentions — rather than specific goals, which can make us feel trapped — at the start of the year (or indeed any time of year!) can be so useful: these intentions make us more resilient to life’s unpredictable hurdles, helping us stay focused on the present. 

If this is a new way of thinking, don’t worry; you don’t have to go it alone! Whether it’s talking to friends or listening to audiobooks and podcasts, there are plenty of places to seek out intention-based inspiration. In this post, you’ll find five self-help books to help you set your intentions as we transition into 2022.

(image: Artem Podrez at Pexels)

1. No Such Thing as Normal by Bryony Gordon

If you’re tired of the overly commercialized “wellness” and “self-care” industries, No Such Thing as Normal will feel like a breath of fresh air. Bryony Gordon, founder of Mental Health Mates, offers practical advice on subjects ranging from daily anxiety to therapy and boundary-setting, with the aim of reassuring readers that they’re not so alone in their mental health struggles. If one of your intentions for the new year is to take charge of your mental health, Gordon’s book will give you a solid foundation upon which to build your confidence and feel more empowered. 

2. Sensitive is the New Strong: The Power of Empaths in an Increasingly Harsh World by Anita Moorjani

Empaths experience overwhelming feelings that come with strongly sensing, and sometimes even absorbing, other people’s emotions. But in Sensitive is the New Strong, inspirational author Anita Moorjani argues that empathy can be harnessed as a powerful tool to help build stronger connections and live as your most authentic self. She includes personal anecdotes, meditation guidance, and self-care mantras to create an inspiring handbook for anyone looking to embrace their sensitivity and express their emotions more freely. Dive into this book to tap into your inner empath in 2022!

3. The Lightmaker’s Manifesto: How to Work for Change without Losing Your Joy by Karen Walrond

Praised by Brené Brown for breaking activism down into small and intentional steps, The Lightmaker’s Manifesto is a hands-on guide for anyone who wants to enact meaningful change in the world. And who better to trust for advice than leadership coach, lawyer, and activist Karen Walrond? In this book, she lists practical journaling and mindfulness exercises that you can implement into your everyday life, plus advice from fellow activists and thought leaders to help you become a true “lightmaker”. The result will inspire you to find causes close to your heart and lead a life of not just integrity and advocacy, but genuine joy. 

4. Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined by Scott Sonenshein

It’s also common to set professional goals in the new year — perhaps you’re gunning for a promotion, or maybe you want to get started on an ambitious new project. Whatever the aim, it’s important to have the right attitude to achieve it. In his groundbreaking self-help book Stretch, Scott Sonenshein debunks common myths around how to succeed in business and life. He explains that instead of striving for more and more assets, we should appreciate and stretch the resources we already have. If one of your intentions is to shift towards more of a growth mindset, then this is the book for you.

5. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

Ready to put an end to constant cycles of stress and burnout in 2022? Sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski have co-written Burnout to address the particularly severe ways that burnout affects women. The book covers scientific causes of stress, as well as holistic approaches and lifestyle changes to combat its effect on our everyday lives. Entering the new year with this wealth of knowledge will help you minimize the burden of societal expectations and leave you feeling empowered to tackle whatever the world throws your way — especially as a woman, but honestly as anyone determined to avoid future burnout.

Reading self-help books is, of course, only the beginning. But hopefully these books have given you a good starting point to go into the new year with strong, meaningful intentions! Good luck.

This article was written by a freelance writer.