How are our Lifestyles linked to our Mental Health? by Anna Witcherley, Founder of Head Hacks

(image: Pexels)

Our health and wellbeing aren’t solely dependent on how our brains and bodies work; they’re also influenced by how we live. Making healthy lifestyle choices is key in supporting our mental health; influencing our self-esteem, confidence, energy, motivation, mood, and even our ability to sleep.

Want to know more about what you can do to support your health and wellbeing? Here are 5 key areas to get you started!

Get active

We know exercise is beneficial for our health and wellbeing; even being active for 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week can positively impact our mood, creativity, thinking and sleep. If going for a run or to the gym isn’t your thing there are so many other ways to get moving; including going for walks, climbing, cycling, dancing, surfing and table tennis (to name just a few). 

Check out Head Hacks, a new directory website, run by a qualified Occupational Therapist, where you can search for fun things to do, locally and online, to help you get active in a way that suits you!

Sleep

If you find yourself struggling to switch off at night, or you feel you’re not getting the quality of sleep you need to feel rested there are a number of things you can do to help yourself. These include:

  • Avoiding screens for at least 30 minutes before going to bed
  • Increasing physical activity and exposure to natural light during the day
  • Avoiding drinking caffeine for at least 6 hours before going to bed
  • Avoiding smoking for at least 2 hours before going to bed
  • Maintaining a general bedtime routine, for 30 minutes before going to bed (by doing things in roughly the same order around the same time each evening).

Mindfulness

When talking about mindfulness a lot of people may link it with meditation and yoga; however mindfulness comes in many different forms. If meditation or yoga aren’t your thing why not try ‘mindful doing’? The aim is to keep your mind present while doing an activity you enjoy or that fits into your routine, (like going for a walk, cooking, eating a meal, doing the washing up etc). Try to minimise distractions and instead focus on your current thoughts and feelings, and what you’re doing (using all your senses). 

Having purpose

Having a sense of ‘purpose’ is the feeling your life has some meaning or direction; without this we can feel anxious, low, bored and unmotivated. If this is something you feel you’re lacking here are some ideas to help you find more purpose in your life:

  • Voluntary work
  • Learn a new skill
  • Develop a sense of community by connecting with others over a shared interest e.g. joining a local activity group
  • Spend time thinking about what is important to you and form one or two goals around this (remember to break these down into manageable steps!)
  • Read (research has linked reading with feelings of purpose)

Connecting with others

Positive and meaningful relationships are vital to our health and wellbeing; providing us with a sense of belonging, self-esteem, and emotional support.  However you prefer to spend time with people, find a way to connect with others in a way that suits you; some of us prefer having one or two close friends, for others it’s family, and some prefer socialising in larger groups. 

To sum up

Research shows us that how we live; our relationships, how we spend our time, our sense of purpose and belonging, all vitally contribute to our health and wellbeing. Now that Coronavirus restrictions are easing, there are increasing opportunities, both in our local areas and online, to get involved in activities that are important to us, and that will help support our health and wellbeing.

Head Hacks is a new online directory, setup by a qualified Occupational Therapist, which aims to link people up with these activities and groups, as well as sharing useful information about managing health and wellbeing. Check it out to find fun things to do near you! Anna Witcherley is the founder of Head Hacks and wrote this article.

Wellbeing Tips and Activities for Children: Twinkl Blog featuring Eleanor

(image: Twinkl)

I was approached by childrens learning website Twinkl to contribute some tips and ideas for the wellbeing of children this Autumn. I am delighted to be featured in Twinkl’s recent blog – Autumn Leaves: Wellbeing Tips & Activities for Children.

Check out some of their resources for wellbeing and resources for mental health too, including in partnership with Mind charity.

Thank you so much to all at Twinkl and I hope my tips are helpful. I used to work as a teaching assistant and was trained in safeguarding too, so hope you enjoy reading the blog!

The Benefits of Seeking Mental Health Support and Help.


(image: Pinterest)

When it comes to our mental health, it can feel like a good idea to keep our feelings in. However, talking about your thoughts and worries is extremely powerful. Seeking the right advice, whether it be from a friend or a professional, can help you achieve better mental wellbeing. For those who worry about speaking up about their issues, here are five reasons why you should. 

Find the best solution

Whatever you are dealing with, speaking to an expert or a friend may help you find the best solution. There is no use in being left in the dark and not working on it. The issue may never be resolved if you avoid talking about it. 

For instance, you may have been in a recent accident on the road and worry about who to talk to to get the help and compensation you need. It will be best to seek advice from your local car accident attorneys to ensure you can overcome the issue and find the best solution. 

Peace of mind

Those dealing with feelings of stress or anxiety can benefit from seeking the right advice to know that they are not alone. There are millions of people worldwide that deal with these emotions. Although you may feel alone, seeking advice will help you understand you are not and can be supported.

Speaking up to a friend or expert can give you peace of mind and continue with life with less weight on your shoulders.

 

Save you time

You may need advice for financial reasons or legal issues from an expert. Instead of trying to resolve the issue yourself, you can ask an expert to deal with the issue of concern for you. You will get the best result and save you time.

Life can be too short to waste time. Thus, always seek advice when you are spending too long trying to resolve an issue. 

Build up confidence

Seeking advice can also make you more confident to confide in friends or experts in the field in the future. If you are someone who often tries to deal with issues alone and feels stressed, or doesn’t find an ideal solution, then start asking for help. You will save time and reduce stress whilst building up the confidence to ask for help on a more regular basis.

Improve your wellbeing

Whatever you are asking for advice on, from finances to mental wellbeing, you will be able to improve yourself. You may feel happier or acquire knowledge that you did not know before. Thus, you can feel happier and better informed. 

Even if the advice you receive leaves you with one small tip, that one tip could help you resolve the issue if it is recurring. Or, you can offer advice to someone else and help them when they require assistance. 

The next time you question whether it is worth asking for advice, think back to these tips and reassure yourself.

Samaritans Helpline: 116 123 (UK)

This article was written by a freelance writer .

Be Ur Own Light Blog turns 5!

(image: Peach Blossom)

Be Ur Own Light is 5! I cant believe its been 5 years since I began this as a therapy blog as I was suffering from severe panic from trauma and lost my job. I love this blog and will continue to write to break the stigma around mental illness.

This year, Vuelio awarded us as a Top UK mental health blog again which is just incredible. We were also nominated in the Mental Health Blog Awards 2020.

This year we have worked with some amazing writers and organisations on mental health. Thank you:

OCD and Break Ups- Brooke Chaplan

Pocket book of love and Happiness- Trigger Publishing review

5 Ways Therapy can heal your family- Samantha Higgins

Why people are using weighted blankets- Calming Blanket

How to make your surroundings more calming if you have anxiety- Daniel Tannenbaum

Mental health tips to get you through lockdown- Chantal Shaw

How debt impacts your mental health- Ian Sims

Life under lockdown: by Chloe Walker

Lockdown and mental health by Graham Morgan MBE

Best employee benefits for mental health: Daniel Tannenbaum

We will beat this, it will get better: Jenny Nguyen

Covid 19, mental health and work: Danielle Strouther

5 ways to evaluate body mind and soul: Daniel Torres

5 ways you can reduce anxiety- Samantha Higgins

How to help teens with mental illness succeed at school- Brooke Chaplan

Stuck in self isolation? Useful DIY projects- Brandon Smith

My crippling anxiety floored me, now I wouldnt be without it: Emma Johnson, Worry Knot Jewellery

UK went into lockdown, I went into meltdown- Nicole

How to help loved ones with alzheimers- Hannah Boothe

How to avoid burnout during a pandemic- Jade Mansfield at Worsley centre

Maintaining a healthy work life balanace- Love It Cover It


On DBT, art and healing- Violette Kay

How to protect your mental health during the pandemic- Mary Davis

How managing my space helps my mental health- Poppy Duffree- Organise with Poppy

Relaxing places to visit to calm coronavirus anxiety

Bamboo sheets for less anxiety at night

Self care tips for 2020- Anthony L

Redecorating your bedroom for improved mental health- Rosette

 5 things that could be triggering your depression- Samantha Higgins

Escaping outdoors is beneficial to mental health- Amy Sloane

How to work and be a mother during the pandemic- Miranda Davis 

Overcoming the impact of substance abuse on mental health- Anita Ginsburg

How to minimise stress for the elderly in senior living- Johnny Kershaws

15 Ways to turn your home into a self care sanctuary- ImproveNet

Living with OCD during a global pandemic- Impulse Therapy

Managing emotions for better mental health

Taking care of your mental health when a loved one passes away

Checking in on your elderly loved ones mental health during the pandemic

Identifying the source of your eating disorder and finding recovery- Anita Ginsburg

Self care activities to do for those who love to be alone- Regina Thomas

Out of Office by Fiona Thomas- book review by Eleanor   

Using yoga to improve productivity at home: Daisy Moss

The difference between a psychiatrist and psychologist- Anita Ginsburg 

Moving to another country- are you escaping your baggage?

10 tips to avoid covid burn out at home and help your mental health

How to help others when you have lived experience of mental health

Coping with menopausal anxiety and panic attacks by LadyCare menopause

Home improvements to help mental health

5 ways a relationship can hurt your mental health- Miranda Davis

Life is Finite

The secret signs of anxiety

Digital detox ideas for mental wellbeing

How can you better your mental health?

Developing a new found confidence in yourself for the festive season

How to plan for your future in difficult times

Depression and what you should know

Planning for the future to ease your mind

and I wrote some personal articles too!



Thank you for continuing to read and for the support for so long, it means everything to me.

Lets keep breaking the stigma!

Love, Eleanor xx

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.

Moving to Another Country: Are you Escaping Your Past and Emotional Baggage?

(image: Pexels)

Readers of this blog know all too well that life can sometimes take a turn for the worse at times. You can start the year with high hopes, only for things to go catastrophically wrong later on. 

Many people go through tough times and wonder whether upping sticks and moving away might help. They think that moving to a new country will give them a fresh start and allow them to leave the past behind where it belongs and move forwards with their lives. 

But is that really what happens? Well, it depends. 

Seeing The New Location As A Fresh Start

One type of person sees moving to a new country as a blank slate – a fresh start. They’re not the kind of person who spends all night getting angry about what went wrong in the past. Instead, they accept what happened and choose to move forward with their lives. They never look back. 

This type of person can get on well with moving to another country. The change of location isn’t the important thing. That’s just a backdrop. The primary decision is to take control of one’s life and move forwards. When you go to another country, you’re proving to yourself that you can make major life changes, and you have control over your life. You’re no longer tethered to a situation in your home country. You’re free to conduct your business as you choose. Self-mastery is the name of the game. 

When you go to a new location with this mindset, it colours everything that you do. It’s a decision you’ve made. And so it feels like you have ownership over the situation. Even though things have been tough, you’re moving on with your life and doing the things you have to do to reestablish control. It feels natural and healthy. You’re a master of your destiny. Moving away has nothing to do with trying to escape the negatives. It’s about embracing the positives. You look for a studio apartment for rent, and you start a new life. It can be a challenge, but it’s also a heck of a lot of fun. 

Seeing The New Location As An Escape

But there’s a dark side to moving to another country. If you think moving is a way to escape how you feel, you’re sadly mistaken. You might be living in a different apartment building in a foreign country, but that doesn’t mean that your memories and feelings disappear. Yes – you might find yourself in a totally different culture. But that’s pretty much irrelevant if you’re bringing all the same feelings and emotional baggage with you. 

Seeing the new location as an escape is a trap. You think that by moving, you’re doing something to alleviate your experience. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, you’re changing location and dragging all the old feelings with you. It’s not moving that gives you the sense that you’re escaping your problems – it’s taking control. When you feel like you have some sort of autonomy, that gives you the mental space to create a life for yourself on your own terms. 

But if you’re feeling homesick and still thinking about your country of origin, that’s a recipe for depression. You’re not looking forward – you’re looking back. And you inevitably feel hopeless and futile. 

Your World Becomes A Lot Bigger

Moving countries should be about making your world bigger. It can help you to leave your past behind, but it is not all that’s required. You can move to another country, but if you don’t process what happened to you, then you’re not really leaving your problems behind. Paying different government taxes is no substitute for emotional understanding. 

When you allow your move to fill your life with new opportunities, things suddenly become more clarified. Everything opens up, and you’re suddenly able to pick a direction and go with it. It can be a frightening experience sometimes, but it is essential for living a rich and fulfilling life. 

Usually, people leave their country of origin to escape past unhealthy relationships. Going abroad offers a degree of safety. But it also takes you out of a dysfunctional network of friends and family. You’re able to breathe the free air and start afresh. You’re no longer tied down to a particular social group. And you don’t have to observe its traditions or customs. It’s a liberating experience. 

Sometimes, that feeling alone is sufficient to make the move worthwhile. But, ultimately, that’s a choice that you need to make. The question of whether you should go to another country is a personal one.


This article was written by a freelance writer.

Checking In On Your Elderly Loved Ones Mental Health during the Pandemic.

(image: Pexels)

This is a difficult time for many people’s mental health. The 2020 coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic has been completely unexpected and has taken up the most part of most of our lives and conversations throughout the past year. Massive changes have taken place that can all impact mental health, ranging from fear of the virus to difficulties with social isolation, difficulties with social distancing and difficulties with job losses, financial instability, reduced income and troubles keeping up with financial commitments.

The list goes on and on. But chances are the people often hardest hit by this virus are the elderly. Even those who do not battle the virus itself have had to lead more sheltered and isolated lives since the start of the year and, if you have an elderly loved one in your life, it’s important to do your utmost to help them right now. Here are some suggestions that can help you to achieve this!

Make Sure They Have the Most Up to Date Information

The first step that you need to take for your loved one during this pandemic is to make sure that they have the most up to date information on the virus, current guidelines, current restrictions and any other useful information.

The rules and the regulations that we are living by are all changing on a really regular basis and it can be hard for the elderly to keep up. Bear in mind that many of us get our news updates from social media and online news apps. The elderly often rely on newspapers, which only arrive once a day and which they may not actually be able to get their hands on while they are isolating. The radio can help too. Make sure that they are in the know to make sure they feel comfortable and know what’s going on.

Check In On Elderly Relatives in Care Homes

Sure, many elderly people are in care homes where you are not able to visit them right now. This reduces virus spreading. But you should still check in on them. Most care homes will take care of your loved one well. But there have been instances of neglect or misconduct throughout this pandemic and you’re going to want to call your loved one and check everything is okay. If there are any issues, you may need to reach out to a nursing home abuse attorney.

Buy and Deliver Their Essentials for Them

If your loved ones still live in their own homes independently, you may need to get their essentials for them and drop them off on their doorstep. This minimises contact with them, but also ensures that they have the food that they need, the medication that they need, the toiletries that they need and the cleaning products that they need. Many are unable to head to the shops themselves – especially if it means taking public transport.

Now can be a hard time for the elderly and the pandemic could be taking its toll on their mental health. But by following the steps above, you can help to give them peace of mind and reduce their stressors.

This article was written by a freelance writer

8 Tips on Managing Your Emotions for better Mental Health.

(image: Pexels)


Having emotions and expressing them is a part of the human experience. Regardless if they are positive or negative emotions, the most important things about your emotions is how you express them. The response to your emotions can help you in so many other areas of your life, it is important to know how to control your emotions well, to help your mental health.

If you know how to properly work with your emotions you will likely make better decisions, your relationships will flourish, your everyday interactions with people you pass by or coworkers will improve and you will be better equipped to take care of yourself.

If you are tired of being run by your emotions, we have practical tips that can help you manage your emotions no matter what life throws your way.

Understand The Impact Of Your Emotions

Your emotions are important. Intense emotions can remind you that you are alive. It is also common for emotions to overwhelm, whether something good happens or if something terrible happens. That is why it is important to have a strong understanding of the impact your emotions play in your life. Emotions can make life worth living or it can make things unnecessarily difficult.

Take some time to consider how your emotions impact your life. You may have a lot of conflict in your friendships or other relationships. You may have a hard time relating to other people, so you may isolate yourself. Unmanaged emotions can also lead you to have issues in your professional life at work and in your academic life in school. It is very likely that you will have emotional and physical outbursts. Spend some time with yourself and determine how your emotions are affecting your life up to this point. Where has it led you? Once you put a name to your emotions, it will be easier to keep track of your problem areas making it easy to track your progress.

Regulate Not Repress

Managing your emotions does not mean repress or suppress them. You should still be expressing your emotions. Expressing your emotions is healthy and imperative to stable mental health. If your goal is to not feel something, strongly reconsider. Sometimes you may subconsciously do it, not even realizing. Bottling up your emotions may seem like a quick fix, but it causes more problems down the line. Repressed and suppressed emotions can lead to things like anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, muscle tension and pain, stress management issues and substance abuse.

Remember that your goal is to control your emotions, not pretend they do not exist. You cannot shop it out, smoke it out, drink it out. You have to deal with your emotions head-on. That is the best way to take control of your emotions. The goal is balance.

Know What You Are Feeling

It can be difficult to control something you are unfamiliar with. Get familiar with your feelings. Constantly check in with yourself about how you are feeling. When you check in with your moods and feelings, you will be better equipped to respond to any and every emotional trigger you may face throughout the day. It could also stop you from making purely emotional decisions that may not be the best decisions to make.

Throughout your day, ask yourself how you are feeling. If you are feeling good or bad, ask yourself why you feel this way. Maybe you are having an emotional reaction to what someone did to you or for you. Before getting upset with them, consider if the inciting situation has a different explanation aside from the one you are currently telling yourself. Sometimes it is the stories we tell ourselves that are the main cause of our discomfort.

Once you have done all of that, ask yourself what is the best way to get out that emotion. Should you scream? Should you vent? Another question to ask yourself is if there is a better way to cope with your feelings. Sometimes screaming is not the best way to cope. Instead of screaming at your significant other, scream in a pillow at home instead. Maybe taking a few deep breaths is more appropriate.

As long as you are thinking about alternatives to your current situation and your feelings, it will be much easier to control your emotions instead of working off of your knee-jerk reaction.

Be Accepting Of Your Emotions

Avoid downplaying your emotions. Give yourself permission to feel those feelings. Do not feel about feeling those feelings either. Do not invalidate your experiences! If something makes you so happy you could leap into the air, do it! If something makes you feel super sad, express that. Do not tell yourself to “calm down” or “it’s not that serious.” It is serious to you and that is what matters.

Once you become more accepting of your emotions, the good ones and the bad, you will become more comfortable with them. The more comfortable you are with your emotions the less likely you will react to a triggering situation in a way that does not serve you best.

The impulse to judge your emotions is common and everyone struggles with this in different variations of difficulty. Remember that your emotions are not good or bad. They are neutral. They hold useful information that can help you improve, even if the emotion itself may feel unpleasant.

Journal

Before you cringe at the thought of keeping a journal, try it out. Writing down your emotions and the responses you have to those emotions can help you clearly see patterns. Often when something happens that triggers intense emotions, you may have the instinct to run through the situation in your mind over and over again. Take it a step further and put words on paper. Sometimes the act of writing something can help you reflect more deeply on your feelings and your triggers.

Think of journalling as a way to keep track of the things that trigger you. Once you know your triggers, you can catch yourself before falling back into those patterns that no longer serve you. If you want to truly reap all the benefits journaling has to offer, make sure that you stay consistent with it at least once a day. Make note of all your triggers and reactions to those triggers. Use your journal to explore different, more productive ways to express your emotions.

Remember To Breathe

That sounds too good to be true, but remembering to breathe can impact the way you process your emotions. Life happens fast. Sometimes it happens so fast, we barely have time to process. Taking some time to yourself to deeply breath can clear your mind in a moment of rage or it can help you fully enjoy a moment. Taking a deep breath gives you between the moment something triggered an emotion and your reaction to it. In between that breath you can check in with how you are feeling and why. You can ask yourself those questions like what is the alternative explanation that makes sense. All of that can happen in the time it takes for you to complete a few deep breaths.

If breathing deeply is not your thing, do not worry! It can be your thing! All you have to do is try. Get in a comfortable position and try deep breathing exercises before you start your day. When you take a few deep breaths, remember to breathe from your diaphragm as all deep breaths come from there. Once you have breathed in so much that your belly is rising, hold it in for three counts and release slowly. You can take it a step further and add a mantra that you say to yourself while doing your breathing exercises.

Understand That There Is A Time And A Place

Expressing your emotions is imperative to being able to control them, but you must understand that there is a proper time and place to express those emotions. There are some situations in which an emotional outburst is acceptable. Maybe you lost a loved one and are stricken with sadness and anger. Crying into your pillow, punching your mattress or screaming is a great way to express emotions.

The challenge comes when there is no space for you to do these things. You then have to determine if expressing your emotions in this way is the time and place. You cannot yell at your boss and expect to keep your job. You cannot slap the cash register because your card got declined otherwise you will go to jail. You have to be mindful of your surroundings and what the situation calls for. This can help you determine if this is the right time and place to express your emotions in this way.

Give Yourself Space To Process

Sometimes triggering emotions happen so fast, it can be overwhelming to process. That is why giving yourself space to process is so important. When you create a mental distance between yourself and your emotions by taking a walk, watching something that makes you laugh, talking to someone you love and spending a few minutes with your pet, you are better able to process those difficult emotions.

We are a Top 10 UK Mental Health Blog 2020- Thanks Vuelio!

Today I received the most amazing news that top PR and communications company Vuelio have listed us as a Top 10 UK Mental Health blog for the second year in a row!

It is such an honour to make this list with other amazing blogs- everyone who runs them works so hard to provide content and keep updating them. Congratulations to everyone else on this list 🙂

We are at number 6 and you can check out the list here!

Thanks Vuelio!

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

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(image: Mental Health Blog Awards)

Hi friends,

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

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

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

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

From Mike Douglas, founder of the awards:

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

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

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(image: Mental Health Blog Awards)

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

 

With love and thanks,

Eleanor 

x