As many of you know, last year I began working as a consultant (and now manager) for the Body Shop at Home. This was after leaving a job due to severe panic attacks that left me not able to attend work or leave the house daily (related to past trauma) . I eventually lost that job, as I had to leave so many ‘normal’ workplaces that weren’t able to accommodate me.
My confidence was on the floor. I lost my job, we lost the flat we were going to buy and then in March, we went into lockdown.
I have had to face many dark times throughout my life, as I am sure you have. However, in the darkest of times I have learnt one important thing- resilience. Resilience is something that helps me when I am on the floor, sobbing my eyes out from a panic attack (or in the past when I felt low and suicidal). Resilience got me through my GCSES, A levels and University. Resilience (and medication) somehow got me through being sectioned in 2014 for my bipolar and having to recover to live again.
I am not perfect but I know what it is like to have no confidence, no self esteem, to be highly anxious or severely depressed and for each day to be a struggle. To feel like you are wading through treacle or for every fibre of your being to be stressed with anxiety.
When I talk to people about my Body Shop journey and the opportunities that it has brought me and my manager Sarah (who also lives with mental illness), people not only can’t believe it but they also tell me:
‘I can’t do what you do, you have so many supportive friends.’
‘I can’t do what you do, I feel really low in confidence and low on time’.
While it is true I do have wonderful friends and a good network, I still had to build my group, build my business and build my team from nothing. From scratch. I had to familiarise myself with the products, learn what they do and their ingredients. I had to make contact with new people and find new customers via my network. I had to sell to friends and family….which I was petrified of doing.
I thought I couldn’t sell a product as I had never worked in retail. My anxiety and confidence was really low and it took a lot to go live and share the products, play games like bingo and go live in the group.
But people got behind me and because they did, my confidence began to grow. I realised I loved what I was doing. I was good at it. I could help others and work from home with flexible hours. I could rebuild again.
But what I want to ask you is:
Why can’t you do what I do, if you want to do it?
Why can’t you say yes to an exciting opportunity- and have support from me and a great team? Why can’t you devote an hour in your day to your Body Shop business?
All it takes is a yes, a leap of faith and slowly building confidence. There is no pressure, coming from a background of mental illness, I want to empower and support others (not count sick days). I want to uplift and help, in the spirit of my manager Sarah who is wonderful too.
If you want to change your life and start on a new journey, drop me a message and reach out.
It’s no surprise that our mental health is affected by the culture around us and our technology-based lifestyles. Every day we are bombarded with stimuli and information that influences our mental and emotional states and alters our opinions and worldviews. This is happening all the time, every day.
Today, we spend so much time online that it has become second nature, and we are losing important social skills and mental abilities that were once considered essential for a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to remember the impact technology has on us and adapt our lifestyles to include more nourishing practices. You can do this with a digital detox, read on to discover more.
Spend time offline
Depression comes in many forms and is very common. You can be mildly depressed due to a situation eg something that happened in work, or clinically depressed meaning you have a low mood that doesn’t seem to go away and only medication seems to help. Any state of depression can be exacerbated by using the Internet.
Those who overuse the Internet are prone to depression, researchers have found. This may be due to the lifestyle of heavy Internet usage that limits social contact and encourages a stay at home mentality, but it could also be caused by mental feedback loops when feeling of depression and low mood are reinforced through Internet behaviour.
Naturally, there are several solutions to the issue. If you experience low mood coupled with high Internet usage, consider switching off for a period or limiting your usage in the week. Instead of Internet usage, try a different activity such as talking to friends and family or taking a nature walk.
Limit SmartPhone Usage
Smartphones are a wonderful invention, as are mobile phones for seniors; they are portable computers and communication tools, essentially. But there are some underlying issues associated with them, especially with regards to mental well being. It’s thought, for instance, that high smartphone usage can increase anxiety and feelings of unease and restlessness. It’s no wonder with so much of our lives dependent on them.
Smartphones can increase anxiety due to our attachments to using them. We not only store important everyday information on them; we also communicate through them, socially and for work. In some ways, our smartphones have become our gateway to the world, and it’s difficult to put them down sometimes or go a few minutes without checking them for updates.
Although it’s challenging a successful digital detox will involve a reduction of smartphone usage. You can limit your usage by making certain rules for yourself. The phone is not allowed in the bedroom, for instance, or you are only allowed a certain percentage of screen time per day. Train yourself to use the smartphone less and create discipline by opening up other avenues of communication.
Log Off Social Media
The Internet is useful for many things, but no one knows what it’s main purpose is; that said if it’s meant for anything, it’s meant for communication. Social media is an online phenomenon that has emerged or evolved throughout the age of the Internet, from chat rooms in the early days, to MySpace and then Facebook and others. There are now 2.7 billion Facebook users worldwide.
Although this platform is an excellent way to communicate with friends and relatives globally, to start businesses, sell things, and market services, there are some hidden dangers that can lead to anxiety and depression in people, some of whom are unable to escape from their online habits.
Everyone on Facebook presents the best possible image of themselves, which leads to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem when some people start comparing and contrasting. The reality is that many people experience issues in their lives, and no one is as perfect as how they like to be perceived. Logging off social media for a time can greatly benefit your mental wellbeing.
Social Media Dangers
The dangers of social media extend beyond low self-esteem based on comparisons. Facebook and Instagram may be the catalyst for such conditions, but the conditions can then manifest in various ways and cause long term mental and physical health issues. Disorders such as anorexia and addiction can worsen from heavy usage.
A phenomenon that affects mainly women is an increase in body awareness and adaptive behaviour based on the effects of social media. Since so much of social media feeds are occupied with perfect images, some women feel pressured into conforming and changing their body shape to achieve positive attention. This encourages eating disorders like anorexia or body dysmorphia.
This all points to a reduction in social media usage for improved mental wellbeing. It should also highlight the consequences of comparing ourselves to others. You can limit your social media usage by deleting your apps for a period, perhaps a week or a month. It doesn’t mean you have to leave the website, but train yourself to develop healthier online habits.
Improve your Sleep
Researchers have found that the average person requires eight hours of sleep per night to go through their full sleep cycles. What’s more, your sleep should happen through the night due to your circadian rhythms – these help keep the chemicals in your brain properly balanced so that you regulate and maintain optimal mental wellbeing.
Technology can influence and disturb your sleep patterns and cause insomnia in extreme cases. Harford researchers discovered that the blue light from laptops phones and devices was sufficient to reduce the levels of melatonin in your system. Melatonin is the chemical responsible for putting you to sleep. So using your screen every night in bed might cause you to fall asleep later and feel more drained in the morning.
A digital detox is recommended if you find your sleep pattern is disturbed for some unknown reason.
Make your bedroom and technology-free zone. Leave all your devices elsewhere in the house and take a book to bed instead. Reading a book does not have a digital glow and should help you fall asleep faster. You might also delay your technology usage in the morning shortly after waking.
Above all, look after your mental wellbeing and detox when you need to.
We all think we know what anxiety looks like. It looks like hyperventilating, sweating, and a worried look on someone’s face. But the truth is anxiety looks like a lot of different things to different people, and there are some secret signs of anxiety too.
While you can’t mask all of the physical signs like hair loss, increased or decreased appetite; a lot of anxiety is dealt with in secret.
Even if you don’t personally have anxiety, it is important that you can spot the signs of anxiety in your loved ones. It will help you to help them.
There are some common, yet not totally obvious signs that someone (or yourself) is suffering. It is important that you let them know that there are options for support. Sometimes a good conversation and regular therapy can help. Other times medication and rehabilitation like The Banyans might be the answer.
Some headaches are caused by dehydration, and others are caused by stress. A stress headache usually happens because someone is holding their jaw clenched tightly, which causes tension in the neck, shoulders and up to the head. The clenched jaw may last through the night, and this will cause headaches.
Note that stress and anxiety cause an inflammation reaction in the body. This, in turn, will cause eczema to flare up. Another issue is that when people are anxious or worried, they tend to sweat more. The sweat will act as an irritant and increase the impact that eczema is having on the body.
If you, or someone you care about, are often talking about how poorly they are sleeping, there is a good chance there is something deeper going on. Most often mental health fluctuations will cause a person to sleep more than usual or not at all. Insomnia, nightmares, sleepwalking, disturbed sleep are all common signs of anxiety and stress.
Coughs, colds, aches, pains, and generally feeling run down are signs of anxiety too. Stress has an awful impact on your immune system. It promotes and overproduction of the hormones that regulate your immune system. This affects the ability of your body to produce white blood cells to fight infection. The weakened immune system means you are more susceptible to illness.
Stress and anxiety will also impact your mood. It will make it more difficult for you to regulate your emotions. People who are feeling stress are usually irritable and can have mood swings too. Difficulty concentrating can also be a symptom as well as an issue caused by stress and anxiety. Decision making and memory are impacted too.
If any of these things sound familiar to your then it is time to take steps to reduce your stress and anxiety levels or have a chat with a friend who is exhibiting signs.
Make sure you look after yourself and speak to a doctor if you are concerned about your health.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
Dealing with mental health problems is tough, especially when there is a stigma. ”Man up? Why don’t you man up?!” (you don’t need to). However, you get to a point where you strike a balance that lets you lead a healthy and productive lifestyle. You’re on an even keel, which is essential as it stops the intense emotions and feelings.
Still, this isn’t the end of your journey. Once you get to a point where you feel you are on top of things, you might want to help others reach the same summit. After all, there’s no greater sensation than giving back. Here’s what you need to do.
You understand the warning signs better than anybody because you’ve been through the ordeal. You also know that people who are finding life difficult tend to bottle up their emotions and push them deep down. As a result, the likelihood of a fellow sufferer reaching out isn’t realistic. Instead, they’ll suffer in silence. Reaching out can be as basic as asking them if they are okay, or letting them know that they have a shoulder to lean on if they want. And, with the development of tech such as Zoom, you don’t have to be in the same room to eliminate loneliness or anxiety.
Share Your Story
Be honest – did you open up to anyone who asked about your issues? No, because it’s tough when there isn’t a sense of empathy. People who haven’t experienced what it’s like don’t understand, making it hard to relate to the pain. You’re different. Having dealt with it, you are better positioned than anyone to offer advice. Of course, they don’t know that until you share your story. Revealing what you went through will encourage them to trust you, ensuring your advice doesn’t fall on deaf ears.
Make It Your Career
If you love helping others and have a passion for mental health, you should consider turning it into a career. Your experience makes you well placed to get to grips with the complexities of the industry, and the advancements in technology mean it’s easier than ever to become certified. Becoming a counsellor is never a walk in the park, but some features make it simpler to juggle. For example, attending an online course instead of being on-campus. Or, doing it part-time to ensure it doesn’t overwhelm you and get in the way of your routine. You’ve got something to offer, so don’t be afraid to show it!
Due to your success story, you will want everyone to try the method you used because it has had positive results. That’s perfectly acceptable since people draw on their experiences when helping others. However, no two individuals are the same, which means you must be flexible when providing your opinions. Sure, you can lead with what assisted you, yet it’s essential to keep an open mind and encourage whatever makes them happy. Also, never guarantee anything as there are no sure things with mental health.
It’s a process, an unpredictable one with lots of twists and turns, so you need to be prepared for ups and downs.
There’s nothing inherently wrong about staying at home. On the contrary, it’s the perfect opportunity to focus on your work without the typical office interruptions. Besides, you don’t need to get up early to get ready for work anymore. Bliss!
Or at least, that’s what you used to tell yourself during the first lockdown. But half-way through the second British lockdown, you’re finding it hard to stay positive about the situation.
A simple chain of emails with a coworker makes your blood boil. They’re asking if you can edit your previous report. They don’t like the way it is written. They’d prefer a more energetic text. You roll your eyes. It’s an informative document, not a piece of poetry, you think to yourself.
You bite through your lips during the next video call, trying to contain your frustration. Why are clients changing their minds again? They already gave the green light for the project, but now, they want everything redone again. You cheekily pretend the doorbell rang to escape the call for a few minutes while you try to calm down.
Why is everything so unbearable these days? The answer is simple: Lockdown takes its toll on your mental health. Don’t be harsh on yourself.
Feeling tired, stressed out, and angry is a normal reaction during the pandemic. In any other situation, you would plan a relaxing vacation away from the hecticness of everyday life. Unfortunately, there is nowhere else you can go. So how do you take a break when you can’t go anywhere to recharge your batteries?
#1. Book a few days off
You may not be able to go anywhere, but turning the laptop off for a few days can already make a big difference. Working from home means that you can’t truly compartmentalise work in the way you used to. There’s no way you can leave your office worried at the door when coming back home. The home office has brought work inside your home. A lot of professionals tend to check their emails on their phones, long after their working hours.
On top of that, you’re more likely to work longer hours at home, as there’s no rush to leave the office on time. Compared to the typical 8-hour day, it’s easy to see why you’re exhausted! Don’t be afraid to book some holiday away from the screen.
#2. Reach out to an expert
Sometimes a short break isn’t enough to take your mind off work stress. Working from home makes you more vulnerable to mental fatigue, as you’re more likely to work overtime. However, when the fatigue reaches such a level that you feel emotionally empty and powerless, you may want to reach out to a doctor. Indeed, what you may be experiencing is burnout, the sensation that there is always so much to do and that you can’t meet the expectations that your work has from you.
You may not be ready to reach out to a therapist to discuss your issues, or perhaps you are not sure what you should be talking about. But you can reach out to an online doctor service to find tools and tips that can help you cope. You can consider treatment for anxiety, for example, which can help you relax.
#3. Create a strict schedule
According to a LinkedIn study, many home-based employees feel the pressure to appear busy. Many are worried about how coworkers and managers perceive them. As a result, overtime has become the new normal. Britons working from home are doing the equivalent of 4 extra whole working days per month.
It is exhausting, both to the mind and the body. You need to create a schedule that respects your work/life balance. Reduce overtime by blocking time in your calendar for yourself and your family. For instance, if you’re unlikely to stop working at 5:30 PM, book an appointment for yourself after work. Why not schedule your home workout at 6 PM? Make sure as well to book lunchtime away from the desk, even if you’re only going to the kitchen to heat leftovers. You need to reclaim your spare time.
#4. Introduce a soothing routine
How do you soothe the mind when anxiety won’t disappear? Making time for your mental health can transform your perception of lockdown, and also improve your productivity at work. Yoga is an excellent tool to let go of stress and clear your headspace. You can start noticing positive effects after only a few minutes of exercise. Making yoga a daily practice can help gradually take back control of your emotions and regain your peace of mind.
Admittedly, yoga if not for everyone. Perhaps, you’d prefer a different kind of workout to alleviate stress. Or a relaxing bath after work. It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as you stick to it.
#5. Seek new interests
Lockdown is shrinking the world around us. After a few weeks, your entire life revolves around your home office desk, the bedroom, and the couch in the living room. You feel trapped in a tiny routine. While going out is not an option, you can consider introducing new things in your daily life. Something as trivial as reading a book or watching a new TV show on Netflix can bring a sense of renewal and excitement.
#6. Allow yourself to be lazy
The art of doing nothing is a complex skill to acquire. We live in a society that believes that productivity is the only way to create value. We reject unproductive and passive activities because we’ve been conditioned into thinking that doing nothing is bad. The truth is that doing nothing can give you the time and space you need to recharge your batteries. Sit on the couch and let time pass without checking your emails or reading the news. Your mind doesn’t need constant stimulation. On the contrary, the absence of intellectual engagement is necessary. The hyper-productivity race is destroying your sense of self and your mental health.
#7. Stay in bed a little longer
Do you wake up feeling refreshed? No? You’re not the only one. A whopping two-thirds of people have been struggling with sleep quality since the beginning of the pandemic. The combination of pandemic anxiety and long working hours creates a sleep deficit. Ultimately, it affects your mood, your mental focus, and your energy levels. Why not go to bed a little earlier today? Don’t be afraid of changing your sleep routine to find what works for you.
#8. Have realistic goals
In lockdown, I’ll learn a new language.
I’ll get fit.
I’ll repaint the bedroom.
Don’t overdo it. Staying at home doesn’t mean you’ve got more time at your hands. Setting unrealistic lockdown goals will only stress you out.
As silly as it sounds, laughing is still the best medicine when it comes to releasing stress and anxiety. Sit back and watch your favourite comedian on TV. Zoom with friends for an online quiz or an escape room game. Laughing your heart off is not just good for your mood. It helps to break the cycle of stress and self-guilt that leads to burnout.
#10. Make time to go out
In winter, the seasonal affective disorder is at its worst. Even without lockdown, you’d be naturally getting less exposure to sunlight. But right now, it’s important to make time to go out of the house and walk in the sun. Whether you’re just going to add some seeds on the bird’s table in the garden or walking down the street to your local shop, you don’t need more than 30 minutes a day to regulate your mood. It can make a huge difference.
Feeling drained, tired, and irritable is a normal reaction to lockdown. As more and more people are reporting mental health symptoms, it’s important to take preventive steps to avoid Covid burnout. Take back control of your routine and your mood as you’re staying at home.
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.
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
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!
Few of us follow a healthy eating plan all the time. While you should try your best to keep a healthy diet, due to mental ill health and/or life trauma, some people go on to develop eating disorders as a result (such as anorexia and bulimia).
There are a wide range of eating disorders that sprout from a wide range of mental, emotional, and environmental issues. If you have an eating disorder, it is important to get to the root of the psychological aspect and take steps to move towards recovery.
Here are some things you can do.
Keep a Journal
You may have already tried using a food journal to track everything you eat, your calories, your macros, your weight, your water intake, exercise, or any combination of the above. Unfortunately, many people feel that this type of journal causes them to obsess over what they’re eating. This can actually be detrimental to recovery unless carefully supervised by a doctor or therapist.
However, journalling can still be helpful. Instead of focusing on calories or other factors in your food, take a look at yourself and how you feel about your food instead. For example, you might notice trends in your eating habits. Are there some foods or meals you’re avoiding altogether? Why? You can write about how you felt before, during, and after eating. This could include how you felt physically—hunger, pain—or emotionally. Finally, you might notice certain triggers that affect your eating habits.
With this information, you can get a good idea of whats going on, what might be causing the disorder, and what to do to help your mental health. Your journal should feel safe and supportive in your journey towards good health again.
Avoid parts of food journalling that make you feel unsafe. You may need to talk with your therapist to find a good balance.
Consult a Therapist
As mentioned above, a therapist can be very helpful in helping you provide insight and guidance in overcoming your eating disorder. If you can, try to find a therapist who specialises in eating disorders. They can help you identify emotional or environmental issues that may be triggering your eating disorder. Additionally, they will likely be able to recommend certain steps to help you break unhealthy eating habits. Not every tip or idea will work for everyone, so you and your therapist will have to work together to identify what works for you, what doesn’t, and what is counter-productive.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you don’t already know what category your eating disorder falls under, your doctor may be able to advise you. They will look at factors like your medical history, family history, and associated factors. The doctor might recommend certain types of testing or procedures to learn more about your eating habits- including blood tests and your BMI. They may also recommend certain diet changes or plans to help you reach healthier eating habits and improve your mental wellbeing.
Explore Treatment Options
As you learn more about your situation, you can look into possible treatment options for eating disorders that could help you to deal with and overcome the problem. Nutritional guidance, weight management programs, and support groups are common ways of helping people to recovery.
Eating disorders can cause many difficulties especially when you are feeling low or your mental health is declining. That is why its so important to find out the source of your eating disorder so it can be effectively treated and overcome. Learn all you can, consult professionals, and if it is available for you, join an eating disorder treatment program to achieve your goals back to health.
This article was written by freelance writer Anita Ginsburg