How Escaping to the Outdoors is Beneficial for Mental Health: by Amy Sloane

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(image: https://drive.google.com/file/d/15tymBGUxaR6XX6ThQU5dDzwgGuLBQvey/view)

 

There are so many people who suffer from debilitating mental disorders. Sometimes, people don’t recognise it. Often, people know something is off, but the mind is so powerful, it can convince a person that they’re totally fine. 

In many cases, it takes a person hitting rock-bottom before they recognise that they need real help. Thankfully there are ways to keep yourself as well as possible.

Consider some of the ways of escaping the outdoors can be extremely beneficial for your mental health.

 

1. Unplugging from Regular Life

The hustle and bustle of regular life can be very taxing on the mind. Between taking care of the children, making sure your spouse is okay, and holding down a well-paying job, you can lose yourself. Then, when you add exercise, adequate rest, and healthy eating to the equation, it can all become so overwhelming. Don’t even mention friendships. So many adults suffer from a lack of true friendships.

Thankfully, you can enjoy great food, wonderful friendships, and memories when you intentionally escape to the outdoors. Call a few friends to see if they’d be interested in going on a camping trip with you. When you all can get away to reset your minds, reconnect with one another and enjoy the fresh air, you can kill a few birds with one stone. 

Plus, vacations are necessary for mental health. When you take time for a quick sabbatical, studies show that you’ll increase your chances of showing up in a healthier way when it’s time to get back to regular life.

 

2. Solitude in Nature

There are countless benefits to being outside in nature. This is why camping in Utah in USA is an excellent idea. You’ll get to fall asleep under the stars, and you’ll experience true solitude. Nature is proven to help improve your overall mood. It helps you decrease any anxious feelings. 

Think about a time when you were really angry and needed to go for a walk to cool down, you’re probably not walking on a treadmill to calm down. An outdoor walk is helpful mainly because of the fresh air and the calming feeling of being in the open.

As you escape into solitude, you’ll become more attracted to activities that allow you to be outside. Whether this means that you schedule a camping trip once a quarter or you shoot hoops at the local basketball court, the feeling of being outside is unmatched. Plus, when you’re able to get outside and get active, you’ll release endorphins. 

Endorphins are really instrumental in boosting a person’s mood. They’re also helpful in boosting a person’s overall feelings of self-esteem and confidence.

 

3. Overstimulation

There are so many factors that come into play when you’re overstimulated. However, it’s a good idea to focus on the main culprit: smartphones. While smartphones can be amazing pieces of technology, they’re also the outlets that allow you to constantly check your email messages, respond to text messages, and scroll through social media. Even when you don’t need an update on what the President’s latest moves are, you’re getting alerts from the major news outlets.

While smartphones provide a tremendous amount of access, they can also provide a ton of overstimulation. When you’re visiting a campground, you’ll still get a signal from your mobile carrier. 

However, don’t be surprised if the signal isn’t as strong as it would be if you were at home. Knowing this, you have an excuse to pull away from all of the messages and instant responses people expect from you. Escaping to nature gives you an opportunity to put away your tech-savvy devices, put a ‘do not disturb’ message on your systems, and unplug.

As you find ways to intentionally take care of your mental health, remember that it’s not in vain. As you prioritize self-care, you’ll feel better and stronger. When nothing is wrong, it’s easy to assume that you’re completely invincible. Unfortunately, you’re not. Life chips away at you when you don’t check in with yourself. 

Even if you’re not always able to get to a campground, a simple walk around the neighborhood can help you clear your mind and get some fresh air. By escaping to the outdoors and prioritizing self-care, you can play a major role in keeping yourself sane.

 

This guest blog was written by writer Amy Sloane.

 

 

5 Things that could be triggering your Depression by Samantha Higgins.

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(image: Iforher.com)

Almost everyone goes through an episode of depression at some point in life. For some, the problem is severe and protracted. During the episodic depression, bouts leave you feeling hopeless and exhausted, making it difficult to be productive and present in your daily life. Although depression is a severe health condition, treatment brings hope to the affected. Once depression symptoms are controlled, knowing common triggers and how to avoid them can save you from a depressive episode.

It is important to seek help in the form of treatment from a doctor- whether that is medication or counselling.

Feeling Overwhelmed

When you feel that stressors, such as tight deadlines, are too challenging to manage, you become overwhelmed. Emotional overwhelm is more than feeling stressed. It means you are completely submerged by emotions and thoughts about your current problems, to a point of feeling paralysed.

It is a scary and confusing experience that might leave you with limited functionality and an inability to think and act rationally. Whether caused by stressful times at your workplace or traumatic experiences of loss, overwhelm can trigger depression. Minimise depression triggers by knowing your limits and boundaries of what you can take in and what can cause overwhelm. For overwhelming tasks, break them down into smaller, manageable tasks for you to complete in steps.

 

Financial Worries

Money woes are a common source of stress that can cause a depressive episode. Focus on projects that increase your financial stability like side hustles. Avoid concentrating on what you do not have since it increases your worry. Customize your budget and do regular reviews to stay aware of your cash flow and financial situation.

Create a savings plan and make monthly deposits to the account so that you are less worried about the future. Go for local events that are free or cost-effective so that you can socialise at a budget. Remain engaged with your hobbies or spend time with loved ones to avoid overthinking about your financial situation.

Seek support from your doctor, if needed.

 

Alcohol Abuse

Some people indulge in alcohol and other substances to cope with depression. Most are drawn to alcohol’s sedative effects to help distract them from feelings of sadness. While alcohol can relieve some of depression’s symptoms in the short term, it can worsen depression in the long run.

As a person experiences the financial and social consequences of alcohol misuse, their worries increase, and relationships deteriorate, leading to an episode of depression. This leads to a vicious cycle of alcohol abuse to self-medicate some symptoms of depression. If taking antidepressants for depression, avoid alcohol since the depressant effects of alcohol counterattacks the effectiveness of antidepressants.

 

Poor Sleep Habits

There is a direct relationship between poor sleep and depression episodes. People that sleep less than six hours and more than eight hours have a high risk of experiencing recurrent depressive episodes than those who sleep the recommended six to eight hours. Practice good sleep habits, such as maintaining a consistent bed and wake time.

Turn off all electronics hours before bedtime to avoid overstimulation for better sleep. Reduce any source of discomfort, such as an old mattress. Look for the best adjustable mattress bases for maximum comfort and relaxed nighttime. Take a warm bath, meditate, or have a warm glass of milk to help you fall asleep fast.

 

A Poor Diet

Dietary habits can lead to depressive episodes. Consume more healthy foods with a focus on whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables for improved mental health. Limit processed and refined foods, including junk and fried foods. Look for foods high in selenium like whole grains and Brazil nuts to reduce anxiety and improve mood, making depression manageable.

Go for vitamin B sources such as egg, poultry, fish, and lean meat as they help to reduce the symptoms and risk of mood disorders, including depression. Eat food rich in zinc or use zinc supplements to enhance the effectiveness of antidepressants for better depression management. Hydrate regularly with water or soft drinks for better moods.

Depression can be life-changing due to frequent worries, but treatment- medication and counselling can help manage the disorder. Make lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet, better sleep, and less worry for improved well-being. 

 

This guest blog was written by Samantha Higgins.

            

 

Best Ways to Redecorate your Bedroom to improve Mental Health: Guest blog by Rosette.

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(image: Pinterest)

In recent years, mental health has been in the spotlight because society has been starting to learn about how important it is. This is welcomed progress, as more people are now educating themselves and looking for ways to help themselves achieve good mental health. Amidst your search, you will find that small things can help, such as redecorating your room.

Creating your own space is a good opportunity to check on your well-being. Your environment has an effect on your mood and emotions. Arranging and fixing what surrounds the place where you spend most of your time at home is a simple way of focusing on yourself especially in times when you need to do so.

In times where you need to take a break and rest your mind, your room is the nearest place you can go to. If you’ve been feeling down, mentally exhausted, or feeling some unrest, how about you tweak your own space a little?

Here are the best ways to redecorate your room to improve mental health:

 

Declutter

If your room is messy, it’s highly likely that you haven’t done some organising in a while. I know some people like the way their room is arranged, but let’s face it, it’s a good feeling when clutter is taken away from your own space. A simple step to take to reorganise your thoughts is to reorganise your room. At times when you feel confused, try decluttering. Get rid of the stuff that you don’t need and save your brain from the distraction that a mess creates.

 

Let the light in

The amount of light inside your room also affects your mood. Research suggests that sunlight is thought to reduce stress and to relax the body. Keeping your space in tune with the natural rhythms of the day aids the body in maintaining the circadian clock, our internal 24-hour clock that keeps our sleep and wake cycles running regularly and smoothly. 

So move your curtains aside and open your windows to allow some natural light in your room. In addition, make sure that your curtain set lets you see the sun and if not, you can search for a DIY hardware store around your area where you can purchase the parts that you need.

Display a centerpiece that will lighten up your mood

There is something about seeing something as a centerpiece of a room that affects how you feel. A focal point inside your own space gives off the vibe that you would want to feel once you enter it. According to author Stephanie Roberts, creating a focal point that makes you happy will help you feel relaxed from the get-go. Display something that does that in your bedroom where you tend to always tend to look so you can always see it.

 

Get plants

Houseplants have been linked to many psychological benefits including reduced anxiety and lower blood pressure. In addition to that, plants also remind you of self-care and can give you an appreciation of the little things. Watering plants is like a reminder to take good care of yourself, while watching it grow makes you feel a sense of accomplishment and that the simple stuff that you do matters.

 

Make a useful layout

You should not feel lost in your room. It should be easy to navigate and see where everything is. Moreover, designate space for the stuff that you do. Declutter to find space for a desk where you can use your electronic devices at. Using your phone or laptop on your bed can interrupt your sleep cycle. Design everything to optimise your hours of rest separated from the other activities that you do inside your room and place items where it needs to be.

Wrapping up

Redecorating your room benefits your mental health and helps you feel calmer, while you are decorating and with the finished result. It’s a great way to build positive thought patterns and reduce stress. It also proves that we should not overlook the simple and normal tasks for they can serve as a form of  small therapy for when we need it the most.

 

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Author’s Bio:

Rosette has a knack for anything DIY. She spent her younger years learning about the different hardware tools and equipment in the hopes of establishing a hardware business in the future. Her career options may have changed, but today, she continues to write so passionately about her first love.

Self Care Tips for 2020: Guest blog by Anthony L.

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(image: Pexels)

Now that we are well into 2020 and the landscape seems to be changing every day. Social distancing, quarantine and pandemic are words that would have been foreign in the beginning of 2020 but have now become the new normal. Even though things are changing and it is easy to feel frustrated and disappointed, try to reflect on ways to care for yourself, no matter what the remainder of the year brings because self-care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

Set a routine

It is important to maintain a routine even though you might be staying home more than ever. Even though it might be tempting to stay in pajamas all day and wait to eat breakfast until the afternoon, sticking to the smallest parts of your old routine such as getting dressed and putting on makeup in the morning can give you that jolt of motivation you need.

Make sure to be intentional about planning your day and what you want to accomplish by setting a routine to stick to. Include time to get dressed, work, cook meals, do housework and some time for hobbies and leisurely activities that you enjoy (even if the way you do those things has changed a bit). 

Change your spaces

One of the primary areas that can fuel your energy and attitude are your surroundings. When being stuck inside all day, it’s easy to lose motivation in the same space you function in every single day. Enlighten yourself by shaking things up. Add some new decor or declutter and organize your home or apartment. With all of the additional time on your hands, it’s the perfect opportunity for some much-needed change. 

Start with a room you normally spend time in or one that you don’t. Begin by going through every item within and get rid of things that are no longer valuable to you. Then, re-organise what you plan to keep into a designated home. After you have re-organised everything you own, completely change your scenery. Get out of the house for some fresh air by taking a walk around your neighborhood or going for a drive.

Check up on your finances

Now that you may have more free time at home, it is a good time to check up on your finances. Start by setting a new budget to account for the changes in your lifestyle. For example, if you are spending less on gas and parking to commute to work but are spending more on grocery delivery, make sure to be mindful of this on a monthly basis. This is also a good time to tackle some financial goals you may have had but never got around to doing before.

For example, a good way to secure some peace of mind during uncertain times is to shop for a dependable life insurance plan if you do not have one yet. Purchasing a life insurance plan is a responsible money move to make and gives you and your family added protection. Sometimes it can be difficult to navigate the space of life insurance, which is why it can be an easy task to put off. If you find the right tools to simplify the process, however, the task becomes much more manageable and doing so during these uncertain times can be a good way to relieve some overarching stress you may have about finances. 

Try out a new hobby

When being at home and in the middle of balancing work and personal life, it can all easily blend together. One way to prioritize your “me” time is diving into learning a new hobby that you have always wanted to try but never had the time to do. Finding something new to explore is the best way to do something entirely for yourself. Whether it’s learning a different language you always wanted to learn or learning a new recipe, now is your time to begin. Watch YouTube videos with step by step instructions of recipes you want to try, or download a language teaching app, such as Babble.

You could also make a new fitness goal for yourself. Maybe try yoga, pilates, weight-lifting routine, or running. Exercise is the perfect outlet to investigate because it will contribute to a positive mind, body, and soul.  

Get creative

Being creative can look different to everyone. For some, this might strictly mean doing arts and crafts. However, there are several other platforms and actions that rely heavily on your personal imagination—for example, knitting, singing, painting, designing, doing puzzles, photography, scrapbooking, playing an instrument, sewing, gardening, upcycling, and more. 

Whatever leisurely activity you love becomes your outlet to be creative. When you do something you enjoy, your mental wellbeing benefits. Experts suggest that by being creative, you are able to submerge yourself within that task and distract your mind from anything that might have been bothering you. You ultimately manipulate your brain into a meditation-like state. Your heart rate decreases and your mood will be boosted because your brain releases something called dopamine. Also known as, “the feel-good chemical.” Without even knowing it, you’re putting your mind at ease while doing something you love during these uncertain times. 

Manage expectations

During these unpredictable times, it can be easy to think about plans you may have had that you have had to change or cancel. Thinking back to these events can lead to disappointment. This is a completely normal feeling, but remember to try not to dwell on the disappointment. Because the times have changed, it is important to change your expectations as well and try your best not to get hung up on the things you can’t control.

For example, if you are now working from home, don’t try to compare your current productivity to your productivity prior to the pandemic. Or if you are a parent now teaching your children at home, you don’t need to be keeping them engaged at the same pace as their teachers in school do. This is all new, uncharted territory and adapting to this new way of life will take time and patience. If you don’t manage your expectations, you set yourself up for disappointment so try not to be overly critical of yourself.

Keep an open line of communication

During stressful times, it is helpful to keep an open line of communication between friends and family. Even though you might not be able to be physically present in each other’s lives, you can take advantage of the technology that we do have to keep in contact with them. Group FaceTime, Zoom and virtual fitness classes are just a few ways to stay socially connected to help your mental health while being quarantined. If you find that you are particularly struggling, remember that most doctors are offering telemedicine so you can still keep appointments and talk to a professional who can help if you are overwhelmed.

Even though there is uncertainty regarding what the near future will bring, there are certain things you can do to minimize stress surrounding this uncertainty. Remember to take time each day to care for yourself to benefit your overall mental wellbeing.

This guest blog was written by writer Anthony L, promoting self care and mental wellbeing.

Bamboo sheets- A potential cure giving better quality sleep and less Anxiety at night.

 

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(image: Cosy House Collection)

With around 33% of people getting less than the recommended amount of sleep (less than 7 hours), many have turned to using bamboo sheets as a way to cool them down in the warmer months and reduce sleep stress and anxiety.

We are all getting worse quality sleep year-on-year, no doubt impacted by the intense box sets we watch on Netflix just before bed, blue light coming from our phones, ongoing stress and money woes.

The start-up and tech industry is seeing a wave of new inventions to help with sleep, from cooling pyjamas, weighted blankets, noise defenders and sleep monitoring apps.

However, one of the latest products to win over sleepers is bamboo sheets and pillow cases. This soft and light fabric is quickly being the first choice over traditional cotton or linen.

Bill Fish, the co-founder of sleep resource, Tuck, explains: “Our first choice when looking for breathable sheets is linen. It tends to be cooler than cotton, but more importantly the quality of the fabric can look and feel good for years to come. If you are looking for eco-friendly breathable sheets, bamboo is an excellent choice. It is hypoallergenic, and also feels gentle to the touch.”

Bamboo, made from the bamboo plant, is known for being light, comfortable and its properties are soft and breathable. Being thermo-regulating, bamboo works by keeping cool in the heat, and staying warm in the cold, making it perfect for summer and winter and something that you can use all year around.

The breathability of bamboo should help those with stress and anxiety, which is unsurprisingly the leading cause of insomnia.

In addition to helping people sleep through temperature control, bamboo sheets are hypoallergenic and can help produce better quality sleep by reducing stuffiness of the nose and head.

Bamboo sheets and pillow cases may not be the full answer for a bad night sleep or ongoing sleep issues – however, it is should certainly be seen as way you can optimise your sleep and living surroundings, in addition to the right lighting and avoid using your phone before bed.

Other notable methods to improve sleep quality including avoiding caffeine and alcohol up to 8 hours before you go to sleep, adjusting the light in your room, reviewing your mattress or speaking to a Doctor for professional advice.

Bamboo sheets are available from Cosy House Collection for less than $60 (£50) and includes one fitted sheet, flat sheet and 2 pillow cases.

This blog was written by Cosy House Collection for quality luxury yet affordable home essentials.

Relaxing Places to Visit to Help Coronavirus Anxiety.

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Needless to say, life is not as we know it in 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic.

Hopefully this summer we will be able to travel somewhere and when we can, we should focus our energy on traveling to places that are relaxing and can help us ease our minds. 

Here are a few relaxing places to visit: 


Southern California

Unplug and relax with the sound of the ocean waves along the beaches around Southern California. You can stop off at Long Beach and cross the Gerald Desmond bridge for scenic overlooks, head out for more relaxing nearby at Huntington Beach where you can walk along the pier and then spend time on the sandy beach, and wind your way along the California coast stopping at towns and beaches as you like.  


Seven Sisters, East Sussex, England

The Seven Sisters is where to go if your idea of a relaxing holiday is being surrounded by green hills, the English Channel, and the countryside. The name is given to the seven white calk cliffs along the coast, where you can go for a coastal walk and get a view of all seven across the water from Seaford Head. Located just a couple hours outside of London, this is a convenient destination go to that is close enough but far enough from the city. 


Provence, France 

Provence is a beautiful and beloved region in France. Walk through the lavender fields, see the gorgeous vineyards, and enjoy the views of the Alps from Provence for instant relaxation. It feels like you are in another world while here, where you can connect with your surroundings and enjoy the energy and local culture. 


Sanibel Island, Florida 

Sanibel Island is an island located just south of Fort Myers. It is a gorgeous spot with sandy beaches, fewer crowds, and a National Wildlife Refuge that you can venture to when you want a break from the beaches and get to hiking and being in greenery. Especially if you are in the United States, this is a destination you can travel to for a relaxing and different feel without having to leave the country. 


Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming 

Located amongst the Rocky Mountains and south of Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park is known for its natural beauty, offering of solitude, and jagged peaks. You can go rafting along the Snake River, drive the 42 Mile Scenic Loop Drive and stop off at Jenny Lake, Snake River Overlook and Oxbow Bend, go fishing, go hiking along the many trails, and so much more. It is a wonderful destination for pure relaxation, adventure, and to immerse yourself in nature. 

As long as you take precautions (social distancing and wearing masks if near others), visiting these destinations should be relatively low risk and you can find yourself relaxing on a beach, in a park, or a beautiful lavender field. Make sure you have enough space around and if its crowded, move to a quieter spot.  

 

This blog was written by a guest blogger for our blog.  

 

How Managing my Space helps my Mental Health: Guest blog by Poppy Duffree at Organise with Poppy

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(image: Poppy Duffree)

Hi everyone, my name is Poppy and I’m a Professional Organiser and Declutterer based in Bristol. 

It’s been a tricky time for a lot of people forced to stay inside unexpectedly and our home environment is playing such an important role in supporting us during this period. 

Clutter and an unorganised space intensifies feelings of chaos, being out of control and stress. It’s more important than ever that we do everything we can to keep our spaces calm so that we feel safe and can relax inside.   

A little about my story and how I got to where it was today. Seven years ago I found myself with severe anxiety and many of the triggers were work-related. After a round of effective CBT, I handed my notice in. I needed a fresh start, to feel ‘free’ again and to take some time to find what I wanted and needed out of life. At the time, that came in the form of deciding to go travelling around the world, with no set plan and no return date. 

That decision forced me to look at ALL my stuff. In the midst of my anxiety and unhappiness I had bought so many things to try and mask those feelings, to give me moments of excitement and distract myself from the real problems I was facing. Moving out of a shared flat in London with no plans to move elsewhere, I had no choice but to drastically cut back what I owned to place in storage.

I went from being able to pretty much being able to fill a Luton Van with a tail lift, to about six small boxes and four suitcases. I’d never felt so liberated, free and felt physically lighter. That really taught me the value in having fewer possessions – having so much stuff around me had been contributed to my anxiety. When we start to think about it, we realise that possessions take up our time; they need looking after, moving around, re-organising, fixing and then ultimately – disposing of. This can be stressful and often why these things feel so overwhelming. 

I love working as a Professional Organiser and Declutterer because I get to help people gain control of their environments and feel freer and lighter, which is incredibly rewarding. I still have to manage my own mental health carefully and I know that having an organised physical and digital space is something that supports me. As many of us know, sometimes it’s hard to control how we feel and so anything that we can do to support us and makes things easier when we are having days that are harder than others, is invaluable.  

Decluttering and organising physical items is now a very ‘on trend’ thing to do and the mental health benefits are widely recognised. It’s great that there’s so much help and information out there on this topic and the majority of the clients that I work with are primarily seeking assistance with physical items. However, what is often left out of the narrative is decluttering and organising your digital space. 

Let’s say we have our physical surroundings organised and it’s helping to support us in feeling calm and in-control. We’re sitting at home and we open our laptops and phones and are met with a barrage of unorganised files, unnecessary content, emails we’ve left unread for months and notifications everywhere. All of a sudden, our environment is actually our digital space, as that is where our focus is. It can be very overwhelming, draining and cause us anxiety and stress.

Given how much time we spend in our digital spaces, it’s so important we declutter and organise them  like we would our physical environments so that they also support us. 

 

Some top tips for digital organisation:

 

  • Phone Apps: Delete phone apps you no longer use. This reduces notifications and means less app to have to update. 
  • Social Media: Declutter your social media feeds. Be in control of the content you are seeing and unfriend/unfollow those accounts that do not provide you with content that is useful or positive. 
  • Desktop: Clear your desktop of all documents and folders. Opening up your computer to be met with clutter can be an instant stressor, before you’ve even begun working on anything. 
  • Newsletter Emails: Reduce unnecessary newsletters. Search for the word ‘unsubscribe’ in your inbox and it will bring up any newsletters you’ve subscribed to. This allows you to start going through those that you no longer want and unsubscribing to them, meaning less emails coming in in the first place. 

 

I’d recommend doing a deep-dive into all things digital so that all your clutter is cleared and you have organised documents so you can remain focused on your priorities, rather than having to fight off distractions. 

Not everyone can afford the services of a Professional Organiser and so during lockdown, I’ve been creating some resources and workbooks that are more budget friendly, to help people get organised and clear out their spaces (physically and digitally) from the comfort of their own home. 

I’ve created a 25 page step by step workbook to help you with this called The Ultimate Digital Declutter and Organisation Workbook’. It’s broken down into four key areas; desktop, emails, phone and social media. There are a variety of tasks with step by step instructions to help you get organised with ease.

The link between our environment and our mental health is very real and so I’d love to offer you 25% off with the code ‘BEUROWNLIGHT25’ to help you tackle this area. 

If you do decide to put any of these into action, I would LOVE to see your before and after pictures, screenshots or figures. Please feel free to tag me in them @organisewithpoppy if you’d like me to share them with my followers too! 

Happy Organising! ☺

 

Poppy | Organise with Poppy

Instagram – regular tips: https://www.instagram.com/organisewithpoppy/ 

Workbooks – downloadable PDFs: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/OrganiseWithPoppy 

Website – in-person services: http://organisewithpoppy.co.uk 

 

Poppy Duffree is a professional organiser and declutterer, based in Bristol UK, with her business Organise with Poppy. She is a guest blogger for us and is offering all readers 25% off her services. 

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How to Protect Your Mental Health During the Pandemic: by Mary Davis

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These days of the coronavirus pandemic are filled with anxiety and fear unlike anything else we and the world has experienced since World War II. It’s important to stay in tune with yourself and remember it is okay to not feel totally well and to be feeling more anxious. 

Here are some ideas to help your mental health during the pandemic: 

 

Get moving

You’d be surprised what physical activity does for you, both in terms of physical health and mental health! In terms of mental health in particular, it can help decrease anxiety and improve moods. While gyms and studio classes are closed and it is easier than ever to get an effective exercise in with guided tech at home, now is a great time to become familiar with fitness apps. There are many different ones to choose from: you could try the 30 day fitness challenge app for example to get into a new routine and find the perfect guided workouts work for you! Whether its workouts, barre, or even taking the stairs more, try to move as much as you can. 


Try meditating, mindfulness or prayer

Finding stress management techniques that resonate with you is crucial as stress is an inevitable part of life. The ideal time to start up a mindfulness practice is when times are good so that you have established a practice in times of stress, but it can still be incredibly powerful if you are starting out now!

Just remember to be patient with yourself. There are a lot of practices out there, such as meditation, mindfulness, and prayer, so you have options. If you are unsure of where to start, start with daily deep breathing exercises. 


Avoid alcohol 

Avoid or at least monitor alcohol intake in times of high stress in order to protect your mental health. Alcohol is often used to ‘self-medicate’, but while it can release endorphins in your body, it is classified as a depressant. It significantly impacts your central nervous system, and in times of stress you want to be in tune with your body and paying extra care to your nervous system rather than confusing it. 


Seek a therapist and do appointments via Skype or Zoom

Seeking help is a sign of strength! If you need help or need professional support as you work through stress and/or anxiety, seek a therapist. Many therapists do appointments via Skype or Zoom and if you find one in your area, you can transition to in-person appointments when possible. 


Practise self care

Self care looks different for everyone, and finding what makes you feel good and content is so important. Try cooking, at-home facials, taking extra time on your skincare and giving yourself a face massage, baths with Epsom salts, and quality sleep. 

 

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(image: Samantha Carbon)

 

All of these things can contribute to healthy living and can help us get through the pandemic. They are also great habits to incorporate into your lifestyle to continue caring for your body and mind. 

This guest blog was written by freelance writer, Mary Davis.

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

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(image: Eleanor Mandelstam (Segall))

 

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

Maintaining a Healthy Work Life Balance, Why it Matters: Guest blog for Mental Health Awareness Week by Loveitcoverit

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(image: Unsplash)

 

When establishing and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, the overarching goal is clear; an individual should not feel as though their professional life is intruding on their personal time or vice versa. However, it’s always easier to explain than it is to physically manage – which is why it’s important to fully understand the implications of a poor work-life balance and the proactive steps we can all take to minimise any negative impact – such as poor mental wellbeing.

Although this challenge is known to many, you may not be fully aware of how prevalent it is across the entire nation. In fact, the Mental Health Foundation has commented that work-related stress costs Britain 10.4 million working days per year!

Now, as you would expect, the emergence of modern technology – such as smartphones – has drastically transformed our professional lives and, as such, it can be difficult to create concrete boundaries. Many of our devices can now take on the features and responsibilities of a larger computer system and so our working lives are available at just the touch of a button. So, how do we assess whether this detracts from our free-time and if this impacts our mental health?

Well, in recent months, this very topic has been investigated by mobile phone insurers, loveitcoverit.   

Their research found that an astounding 80% of workers identify their smartphones as a tool for their professional responsibilities, clearly demonstrating that they have surpassed the singular, social use that spurred their beginnings. So, whether it’s to communicate with colleagues, access working documents remotely or utilise organisational platforms, our mobiles have become an integrated part of professionalism on a wide scale. As such, it can be difficult to imagine the two in separation – but is this a good thing?

Overusing our mobile devices can be detrimental to our work-life balance as they create an access channel that is available to us at every hour. So, whilst leading mental health organisations emphasise the need for distancing measures – such as short breaks, time off and established social environment outside of work – our smartphones may act as a reminder of our professional responsibilities. In turn, this can lead to individuals feeling pressure to work outside of their agreed working times and intrude on their personal lives. 

Due to the sheer number of smartphone users across the country, this could mean that millions are facing the challenge. In fact, less than half of workers claim to have a ‘healthy’ work-life balance! 

Of course, this isn’t to say you should never complete a professional task in your free time, it simply means that you must actively monitor and manage how often this happens. This might seem a menial task, but it’s vital.

If you often find yourself feeling stressed due to your working life, then you could be at risk of developing illnesses such as anxiety or depression.

However, luckily, there are further actions we can take to ensure our balance does not tip!

 

Setting tangible guidelines

 We’re not saying that you must ignore your phone if a professional emergency arises, but it is important to make sure your working correspondence doesn’t intrude on your personal life. So, start with something simple – like enforcing a rule of no work related phone use after six on any weekday and perhaps not at all on the weekends.

Ultimately, it’s your decision to make, so find out what works within your routines and go with it!

 

Communicate with your employer

No one wants to be seen as a ‘complainer’, but if your work responsibilities are damaging your mental health it is important to speak up. Set up a meeting or informal chat with your manager to discuss how you’re feeling and why you feel that way. From there, you can work in tandem to better the situation and make wider improvements that benefit others too!

 

 Better understand your own situation

There is normally a tangible reason for any feelings of stress or anxiety but it might not be clear at first glance. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break and try to dissect your situation.

If you can understand what is causing your stress, you’re in a wholly better position to try and improve it, whether this is in reorganising your routine and methods or in talking to someone else at work!

 

Creating a healthy and sustainable work-life balance is imperative for our mental wellbeing, so we all must take the time to figure out how to best achieve it. Remember, the working world existed before smartphones did, so it’s a durable environment, and taking the time to figure out positive and progressive ways of moving forward will never be a waste.

 

This guest blog was written by loveitcoverit, mobile phone insurers in the UK at www.loveitcoverit.com