Life is Finite: How to Deal with this and our Mental Health.


(image: thefreshexchange.com)


Humans are probably the only species on the planet that know that life is finite. Practically every other creature that ever existed did so in a state of blissful ignorance. The end of life wasn’t some dark, horrible certainty that needed pushing to the back of the mind. It just didn’t exist psychologically. 

We have no such luxury. As thinking beings, we have to confront this issue, one way or another, and somehow try to make peace with it. It’s not easy. 

Over the years, you can see some of the strategies people used to try to do this. One method was believing in the afterlife and in the soul – somewhere that you’d go once your physical body finally gave up. For many people, this is a core tenet of faith. For others, it is not. The idea that we could somehow pass away into nothingness seems like a tragedy.

Aging is currently a big issue in our society. The number of people over the age of 65 is the highest that it has ever been. And it is going to continue to grow as the population changes. Fewer people are having babies, and more people are living into their seventies, eighties, and nineties. It’s a big difference compared to just a few decades ago. 

In this context, we are all having to learn how to deal with our finite lives. But what’s the best way to do it? 

Get Comfortable With It 

Nobody likes the idea that we’re here for a small amount of time. We have these unlimited imaginations. And yet, we’re confined to these Earthly bodies.

One piece of advice is to try to find ways to become comfortable with the fact that life doesn’t go on forever. It seems taboo to even talk about it, especially when there are people around us approaching the end of their lives. But it is critical that we address the issue internally. Unless we can somehow make peace with it, we’ll never find peace in ourselves. We will always have this gnawing feeling at the back of our minds that the whole show will come to an end. That’s no way to live. 

Talk To Somebody About It

Sometimes, chatting to somebody you trust can help you come to terms with the facts of life. If you don’t have anybody in your life who fits the bill, then there are plenty of helplines available including Samaritans or you could talk to your GP or a therapist/ psychologist if it is beginning to impact on your day to day living and mental wellbeing . 

In many cases, just getting the words out can help tremendously. Speaking your mind to a sympathetic person is a great way to come to terms with reality. 

Prepare For It

The finitude of life can also be scary for another reason – the fact that we aren’t always prepared for the end of it. We can spend weekends worrying about what will happen to our loved ones when we are gone. 

We can’t go on living forever. But we can make financial arrangements to ensure that people who depend on us are taken care of in the future.

Setting up a policy to provide a lump sum to your relatives and dependents is relatively straightforward. And getting free gifts with life insurance is always a bonus. 

Complete Your Goals

Having the discipline to complete your life goals is a real skill and one that relatively few people ever manage to master. Ideally, you don’t want to get to the end of your life only to look back on it and regret that you didn’t live it the way that you wanted. You need to feel like you completed your goals – or at least took control and moved towards them. 

Sometimes taking the plunge and just getting on with things that you’ve left on the back burner is the best way to cope with the fact that life is limited. When you pursue that which is truly important to you, a lot of the worries and concerns disappear. You know that you’re making the best possible use of your time – and you’re grateful for it. 

Appreciate What You Have

Yes, the facts of life can be tough to accept. But it is also worth appreciating the fact that you’re here in the first place – a very unlikely event when you consider all the people who could have been born throughout history. That’s some consolation when you think about it. There is always goodness and hope in life- make the most of it.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

5 Ways a Relationship can Hurt your Mental Health by Miranda Davis

(image: free image)

The Adverse affects of relationships on mental health

Relationships have the power to affect mental health negatively. If you don’t know how they can affect you, it’ll be hard to lay down a great foundation to ensure you don’t fall victim. Take a step to lay down the rules for a positive relationship.

What if we told you that your relationships have the power to affect mental health? It’s true; your relationship status can affect mental health. But, finding out how relationships affect mental health isn’t a simple mathematical equation. There’s a lot more that has to go into it, and to be honest, it’s complicated. 

Relationships Have The Power To Affect Your Mental Health

Fact: We all desire to have real connections through stable, long-term relationships with our “ideal partners.” Whether you meet a potential partner after checking out the best dating sites review or through a mutual friend doesn’t matter. What we think about most is the optimism and the excitement we feel once we click with someone else. We never stop to consider what can affect the mental health of the people in a relationship.

Unfortunately, even the most glamorous relationships come with associated risks and can affect mental health. To affect mental health positively, there have to be some previously laid out rules that lay the groundwork for a great relationship.

Without knowing what these boundaries are and the risks associated with a relationship, we are prone to unknowingly affect our mental health. So, what relationship factors affect mental health negatively? Read on to find out.


Lack Of Sex Can Increase Stress Levels
Well, well, this shouldn’t be so surprising. If you’re wondering, “can loneliness affect your mental health?” here’s your answer. When you have an intimate partner within your vicinity, chances are, you will have frequent sex. The bonds created during the act of bonding are so outstanding that they have the power to affect your mental health. 

Frequent sex can lead to greater satisfaction with your relationship. If there’s less sex, then other aspects of the relationship are affected too. The less sex you have, the more prone you are to affect mental health.

Stress levels will soar, and you’re more likely to exaggerate aspects such as financial disagreements, responsibilities over chores, and parenting disputes. While there may be other underlying issues, lack of sex and intimacy is an undeniable factor that can affect both partners’ mental health.

Relationship Difficulties Can Cause Anxiety

Whenever couples are having relationship difficulties, there’s bound to be full-blown anxiety. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. Anxiety can lead to marital problems. Surprisingly, some research suggests that marriage can protect you against anxiety. Confusing, right?

Well, it depends on how you look at it. For marital issues to affect mental health negatively to the point that they cause anxiety, there have to be underlying issues that aren’t resolved. Problem-solving in a relationship has to be done in a way that allows both parties to express their feelings to deal with matters conclusively.

Once an issue is dealt with, both parties become anxiety-free and display better mental health. On the other hand, married people have potential “shoulders to cry on,” and this kind of emotional support is a great way to affect mental health positively.

Sleeping Problems

Unless your partner snores and keeps you awake through the night, sleeping next to them can help you fully relax during the night. But it isn’t that simple. If there are conflicts or insecurities in the relationship, you will have a more inadequate sleep because of thinking through issues during the night.

This, in turn, escalates problems such as insomnia or daytime fatigue. As a result, there’s a vicious cycle with leeway to affect the mental health of both parties negatively.


Social Pursuits Affect Mental Health

Many people wonder, “why does quarantine affect mental health?.” Couples in healthy relationships have to socialise. Socialising is a great way to boost mental health positively. Leisure time may include meeting family and friends, visiting their favorite restaurant together, or even spending the weekend sampling the latest nightclubs.

However, since there are limited opportunities to get so involved during quarantine, spending more and more time without socialising with other people can take a toll on the relationship. When couples spend time socialising, there’s more opportunity to improve their mental health positively.

Since humans are social creatures, we feel better when we make connections with others. But, even this shouldn’t be excessive. Too much can result in alcohol dependency and self-destructive behavior, which has the potential to affect mental health negatively.


Toxic Relationships Can Lead To Physiological “Fight Or Flight” Responses

Toxic relationships can lead to physiological responses that may urge you to either run from the stressor or fight it. These are common reactions that stem from mental, physical, or emotional abuse. Regardless of the stressor we face, we condition our minds to respond. These kinds of reactions leave us feeling drained and have the potential to create poor mental health. 

Conclusion

Whether we like it or not, relationships can affect mental health either positively or negatively. Their effects are worse if they’re negative. To ensure that relationships don’t have a platform to affect mental health negatively, you have to take the necessary precautions to safeguard yourself against negative repercussions.

What do you think is the COVID effect on mental health? What precautions would you put in place to protect your health?

Author’s bio:  

Miranda Davis is a freelance writer in the relation and psychology area. Miranda is interested in such topics as building healthy relationships between people, love/sex compatibility, and how to find the right balance in life in general. She is currently doing specific research on the topic. Miranda loves cooking and long-distance walking.




Home Improvements to help your Mental Health.

(image: Unsplash)

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you are probably spending more time in your home than ever before. As a result, you’ve probably started to pick apart its every flaw, as you are stuck within the same four walls each day. Therefore, you may have decided to make some changes!

With that in mind, here are 5 changes you can make to your home that will make your life easier!

  1. Remove Clutter

Though it can be hard to let go of items we once loved, a cluttered home is never going to look as good as a home that is free of clutter. Therefore, you need to be ruthless. If you no longer use an item, and it does not have a strong sentimental value, donate it to charity or throw it away. 

When you remove clutter from your home, you will feel more organised and focused. It also means you’ll have to clean less – so it is a win-win situation! Furthermore, it also creates the illusion that your home is much larger than it is, giving you plenty of free space to take part in activities such as home workouts and Yoga

(image: Unsplash)


2. Technology

Technology is designed to make your day-to-day life easier, and we now have endless possibilities at our fingertips. As a result, you should make the most of all available technology when renovating your home. For example, if you or a member of your home suffers from mobility issues, then why not install a stairlift or platform lift? Terry Lifts are on hand to answer any questions you might have about their lifts, and can help with every step of the process – form installation to lift maintenance, so be sure to get in touch with them to find out more!

You can also make use of technology on your mobile phone, by installing remote control light bulbs. This means you never have to get out of your warm bed to turn off the light ever again, you can simply tap a few buttons on your phone!

Making home improvements to boost your mental health is so important now we are spending more time at home.



This article was written by a freelance writer.

MENtion Health: A Panel event and Campaign for Men’s Mental Health by Superdrug

On Wednesday 4th November, National Stress Awareness Day, Superdrug invited me to a zoom virtual panel event highlighting men’s mental health.

They said, ‘The event will aim to break taboos and increase the conversation around the mental health challenges that men have faced during the current coronavirus pandemic. ‘

We had a chance to listen to some famous and insightful panelists, including

Professor Green – Award winning musician and patron of CALM charity

Chris Hughes– TV personality

Matt Johnson– Broadcaster and mental health advocate

Alexander Leon– Writer and social change advocate

Dr Amir Khan– Doctor and best selling author

(image: Superdrug)

In October 2020, Superdrug conducted research to find out how the pandemic is currently affecting people’s mental health.

The research was conducted among 3419 of its customers. Key findings are highlighted below:

● 86% of people believe men find it more difficult talking about mental health issues than women

● 82% of people believe there’s still too much stigma attached to mental health problems

● 71% don’t think employers take mental health problems seriously enough

● 80% of people would like to see mental health services being made more accessible to people

● 66% people said that their mental health is still being impacted by the pandemic.

As a result, Superdrug decided to launch a new service, known as Mind Care Superdrug. There will be an online doctor for people to find mental health support, with a video consultation and people will be referred to appropriate services. This will be a huge step forward and is an amazing thing to do!

Matt Johnson opened the panel, introducing each pannelist in turn to discuss men’s mental health. For me as woman, I recognise how important it is for men to speak out about their feelings after generations of stigma around mental health.

Professor Green talked about his battle with life long anxiety, saying ‘You just want to get out out of your own skin’, anxiety can be difficult but in life we encounter difficulties and learn to build resilience. Prof Green experienced anxiety as a child and teenager and still deals with it to this day and promotes talking about men’s mental health. He also spoke later in the discussion about self harm in men, to include drug and alcohol abuse and his familys own experience of suicide.

Chris Hughes then spoke about his anxiety and panic attacks, saying he was ‘proud to discuss it openly now‘. He said that before he became well known, he would get anxiety in the workplace that he tried to distract from by going to the gym. However, it didn’t work as well and now he is in the limelight, he has experienced panic attacks, which would manifest as pins and needles in his body and hyperventilation. Hughes shares about his mental health to help others, especially men, through it so they stop bottling feelings up.

Alex Leon told us that he was (in his words), ‘gay, brown and didn’t fit in’. He reminded us that LGBTQ and minority communities often have poor mental health due to a lack of acceptance. He said that 75% of suicide rates in the UK are men and that the narrative that ‘big boys don’t cry and men should just get on with it‘, should be addressed. Leon asked ‘what forms of stigma do men face?‘ and said often it is ‘Be stoic’ ‘be unemotional’ or ‘here is what a man or boy should be‘ – which all lead to poor mental health outcomes.

Dr Amir Khan also introduced himself and his work as a doctor in the UK- a GP working with mens mental health. He agreed with a lot of what Alexander Leon said and offered some profound insights.

The discussion then came back to Professor Green, who told the discussion that sadly his Dad and uncle had died by suicide and he felt mental illness ran in his family. He has struggled with depression and said, ‘ We all chase happiness. You should feel highs and lows- when I don’t feel anything is when I worry’.

Chris Hughes said we must normalise the conversation around mental health and Alex Leon added that self compassion is so important.

I very much enjoyed the panel discussion and really appreciated the chance to hear from great speakers on mens mental health. Superdrug are definitely ahead of the game!

I wasn’t paid for this article but Superdrug sent me a box of wellbeing goodies including Vitamin D tablets, vitamin tea, lavender and peppermint essential oils, sleep aids, moisture socks for feet with marula oil and a pampering skin and body set. Thank you!

Our wellbeing and mental health is so important. You can learn more about Superdrugs mental health campaign here: https://onlinedoctor.superdrug.com/mental-health-and-relationships/

How to Work and be a Mother during the Pandemic: Guest post by Miranda Davis

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If you are a working mom/mum during the pandemic, we will help you balance things. Working for others has become an activity from home, and sometimes we get clueless about what to do next. This article aims to help you out with being a working mother.

The pandemic was surely a surprise to anyone, especially any working mom/mum. It started slowly, and most people hoped it would not spread out of China. Unfortunately, it did spread, and we are living through it every day. We have to go out only wearing masks and only when we need to (if you are going out all the time, that is very risky for you and the others too). Washing hands frequently has become the standard. Shaking hands with anyone is out of contemplation if you are taking things seriously. Now, what about a working mother and COVID?

People with children are being forced to homeschool their kids while still managing to work (those who are not unemployed!). Things are not that easy. Now, look at mothers. It is common sense that a lot of them are single, living alone with their children while being a working mother during the day. A mom/mum who is also working at home is genuinely having the hardest of times. 

In the face of difficult facts, we have put a lot of thought into ways to help moms/mums (those living with a partner or alone with their children) through this difficult time. We know that moms/mums are very capable of enduring and overcoming tough times. Still, sometimes we get out of creativity, our energy gets completely wasted away. What should a working mother do in such situations? 

How working mothers balance life sometimes is a mystery. Even more, during the pandemic. If you are a mom/mum trying to figure that out, the tips below should help you.

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The first tip is to have a schedule that has the possibility of being flexible. This means that while it is suitable for a working mother to have a program that helps them stay organised, this same schedule should be adjusted to suit you. Sometimes your children might get hurt doing something, or other unexpected things happen. Give these things the time and attention they require. Then the question “are working mothers happier?” does not have to be answered negatively.

Now, this one does not apply to single mothers (sorry,single moms, ). If you are taking care of children with someone else (a father, stepfather, your current boyfriend, or other family members), try to come up with a schedule that lets you do the work as a team. You will benefit from not getting overloaded both with work and taking care of children. 

In case you are a single working mom/mum, things have surely got tougher for you, since the beginning of the pandemic. We genuinely hope you have assistance from some family members. Still, there are moments when you are a working mother, all alone with your children.

On these occasions, depending on the age of the child, you can get them to understand why working is essential. Keep them busy right beside you when you are working on your computer. When you are finally away from work, have a good time with your kid (or kids). Forget about work and being a working mom/mum, and just enjoy each other.

Then, at the end of the day, if you still have some energy left, get some time for yourself. You deserve it.

This works both in the case of you being a single working mom/mum or if you are a mom/mum who has duties shared with a partner. Take advantage of naps! Seriously. When your kid gets his/her nap in the afternoon, use this time to get rid of your workload. This strategy surely has been used since forever, but it is still important to remember it, to prevent overwhelm with juggling everything. 

One of the most important things during times when you are a working mother at home is to set boundaries. These boundaries have two sides. You should know that you need to focus when you are working, and when you are finally done with it, you need to disconnect. Shut down your computer, do not look at your phone, and enjoy time with your family. You will regain positive mental energy from doing this, and you will feel thankful for that.

We understand that being a working mother during quarantine is one of the hardest tasks. Thus, we sincerely wish that the few tips carefully written above have some use for you. If you have developed other ways of dealing with this and think they are beneficial, you are more than welcome to share them in the comments. After all, the question is, can working moms/mums have it all?

 

Author’s bio:  

This article was written by Miranda Davis, a freelance writer in relation and psychology area. Miranda is interested in such topics as building healthy relationships between people, love/sex compatibility, and how to find the right balance in life in general. She is currently doing specific research on the topic. Miranda loves cooking and long-distance walking. 

 

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.

            

 

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.

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

How to Avoid Burnout during a Pandemic: Guest blog by Jade Mansfield at the Worsley Centre

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(image: Tee Public)

One of the major causes of burnout happens when we’re in situations with minimal amounts of control over what we can do. Nowadays, it can seem like stress and burnout are a normal part of modern day working life. The World Health Organisation listed burnout as an occupational phenomenon and they define burnout as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.

During the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a lot of pressure to spend our time focused on productivity. These have been seen in the form of achieving full productivity at work or working from home and also being productive by working on self-improvement. The focus on productivity came from the idea that if you focus on driving forwards during the pandemic, this will help get you get through it. While this is true some people, others will need this time to focus on their mental health and simply do less. Getting through a pandemic is not a one size fits all. 

Put simply, you should listen to your body and do what you want to do, instead of what the world says you should be doing. Acknowledging that we are all living in an impossible era is the important first step. There is an adaptation period that needs to happen and this period will be longer for some people than others.

While you should try your best to fulfill your work duties, you are allowed to voice if you are struggling. You do not need to work full time, learn a new language, start baking, take up a new hobby and exercise more if you don’t want to. Take it one step at a time, if you finish work or finish your working from home hours and want to spend your free time on something productive, then do and if you don’t, relax. 

How to avoid burnout

While we have covered a little on current pressures to be productive, this section will dive into the absolute fundamentals.

 

Get enough Sleep

Key workers, those working from home and those who have been furloughed all need sufficient sleep. This can be particularly difficult for key workers who are working long, hard shifts and also for those who are simply stressed out by living through a pandemic. 

Typically, during your normal routine, you need six to eight hours of sleep each night.but if you’re doing more than your usual routine, you will need around eight hours a night, plus one period of relaxation during the day. Relaxation can be just sitting somewhere quiet for 10 minutes.  If you’re approaching burnout you need eight to nine hours of sleep each night, plus two breaks. 

Stress can make it difficult to sleep, so be mindful that to get a good night’s sleep, you’ll need to combat your stress levels. 

 

Exercise More or Exercise Less

Exercise helps alleviate stress which is great for creating a good sense of well being. Those who exercise regularly can experience increased energy and productivity. Regular exercise will help you get a good night’s sleep, which will go a really long way for your mental health. 

The most important thing when exercising during a stressful time is that you only exercise when you’ve had enough rest. Otherwise, you may plummet yourself further into burnout, especially if you don’t usually exercise. You need to listen to your body, nobody seems to tell you to exercise less, but if you’re burned out, you should. 

 

Don’t Ignore Stress

Short-term stress that is manageable could easily turn into burnout over time. You should voice your stress to employers if you’re still working and reach out for any available help. You can also practise deep breathing, meditation, and other relaxation techniques that can help calm you.

Keeping your mind on track and continuing practicing positive thinking. Small techniques like these can work surprisingly well. It can be extremely difficult to remove ourselves from high stress and demanding roles, but just by taking five minutes out where you can really make a difference in terms of mental health. This will positively impact on your ability to do your role as well as everyday tasks. 

Outside of work, try and not put yourself in situations that may cause you unnecessary amounts of stress. Your brain can only take so much psychological stress at one time.  

If productivity is really what you want to improve on during the pandemic, remember that productivity is not the start, it is the end product of other positive actions you’ve taken to get there. Productivity without burnout will happen when you look after your mental health.
This blog was written by  writer and psychologist Jade Mansfield – The Worsley Centre, a centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling.