15 articles Articles posted in Mental Health

Online Counseling and Other Ways to Care for Your Mental Health

Whether you’re back to normal and going out and about, or still trying to isolate as much as possible, there’s little doubt about the fact that lockdown had an effect on the mental health of many people. As humans, we’re usually social creatures who need to feel a sense of togetherness and community, even if it’s something as simple as a chat to the other school mums in the morning, or a cheery hello from the person serving you in your local shop.

With this in mind, I’ve been thinking about ways that we can galvanise our mental health, especially if we have a second wave incoming, and I’m sharing them with you today:

Find a Counselor

Never underestimate the amount of mental wellbeing a counselor can offer, and thanks to technology, you don’t even need to be face to face. BetterHelp offers online counselling services, and can match you to the right mental health professional for you. Booking yourself in for a weekly chat to vent your frustration and fears can have a profound effect on your mental health.

Find a Hobby

Unless you live in a house which is equipped with all sorts of entertainment areas, the chances are, you were bored at least once during lockdown. Boredom can be devastating to your mental health and the overthinkers amongst us can dread time alone with their thoughts. Finding a new hobby can really help to combat this – I’ve taken up cross stitch since lockdown began and it’s something that’s really helped to give me a focus and a distraction.

Depending on your likes and interests, some hobbies are easier to do at home than others are. If you’re good with your hands and you love solving puzzles, consider hobbies like picking a lock, jewelry making, pottery (if you have the space), or even calligraphy. You can certainly pass the time picking up new skills or discovering new things.

Get Some Exercise

Keeping your body healthy can have a really big knock-on effect on your mind, not least of all because you release endorphins, the “happy hormones”, when you work up a sweat. It’s difficult with gyms being shut, but there are lots of exercise tutorials on YouTube. If that’s not your cup of tea, simply stick some headphones on and go for a walk.

Have a Spa Day

You don’t need to leave the house to treat yourself to some spa treatments – there are plenty of things you can do at home which will make you feel like a new person! Face masks, hair masks, long baths and even self-massage can all help you to feel like you’ve been pampered and nurtured, and taking the time to care for your physical appearance is vital to better mental health.

Do Something Nice

You’d be surprised at the mental boost you can get from doing something nice for someone else. Write a letter, send a box of chocolates in the post, you could even just mow an delderly neighbour’s lawn without being asked. The glow you get from doing something nice for someone else can really bolster your mental wellbeing.

Five Signs of Anxiety a Counselor Will Spot

Five Signs of Anxiety a Counselor Will SpotPhoto by Tonik on Unsplash

Anxiety is one of the most common forms of mental illness, with an estimated 1 in six people suffering from some sort of anxiety. For many of us, anxiety os something that we live with on  day to day basis, barely recognising the varying symptoms that we’re dealing with. However, knowing the different ways in which your anxiety manifests itself can be half of the battle in dealing with it, so I’ve put together a list of five of the most common signs of anxiety that your BetterHelp counselor will spot, even if you don’t:

Hyperactivity

While you may just think you’re being motivated and getting things done, going on a sudden overactive kick of doing something could be a sign of anxiety. Cleaning the house from top to bottom, overexercising or even talking too much can all be ways that we try to distract ourselves while dealing with the excess energy that anxiety can produce.

Irritability

Most people associate feelings of aniety with fear and worry, but for many people, aniety can actually look like irritability and snappiness. This is often due to the racing thoughts and feeling on edge that the excess adrenaline in your system causes. If someone close to you seems snappy and less tolerant than usual, try to remember that it’s not your fault and could be due to their anxiety.

Hoarding

We’ve all seen the “Extreme Hoarders” programmes on TV, where people live in houses which are so full of stuff that they have to climb over a virtual assault course just to get to bed, but hoarding doesn’t always look like this. Often, people who are hoarding because of anxiety will pick one item which is significant to them and hold onto it because it gives them some sense of comfort.

Dissociation

Dissociation is a feeling of being disconnected from your thoughts, feelings, memories, and surroundings. Often, when people are dealing with Dissociation, they don’t even realise that this is what they’re dealing with, and it’s only when they explain their feelings to a mental health professional that they realise thi is what’s happening. It sometimes resolves itself, but seeking help from a counselor is vital. 

Physical Symptoms

There are many physical symptoms which can result from having anxiety, and it’s not uncommon for sufferers to belive they’re having a serious health problem, such as a heat attack, when these symptoms occur. Sweating, heavy and fast breathing, hot flushes or blushing, dry mouth, shaking, hair loss, fast heartbeat, extreme tiredness or lack of energy, dizziness and fainting, and stomach aches and sickness are ALL symptoms which can result from anxiety and can all make you believe you have a physical sickness.

The Healing Power of Looking Forward

The future seems bleak right now. The present ain’t so rosy either. Yet, even the darkest clouds has a sliver of silver lining. We just need to be of the right mindset to be able to see it. Every time we turn on our TV or scroll through our social media feeds, we’re met with images of tragedy and prognostications of doom and gloom. In this context is it any wonder that we’re all cooped up feeling depressed, anxious and frustrated? We’re naturally inclined to catastrophise- to jump to the worst case scenario and feel despair. Believe it or not, it’s a psychological defense mechanism. However, I think we can all agree that it’s not a terribly helpful instinct under the current circumstances.

Image by Pexels via Pixabay

We can acknowledge the troubles of the present while still keeping a hopeful eye on the future. Indeed, a healthy sense of anticipation can actually have a profoundly positive effect on our mental state. Having something to look forward to can make your outlook and disposition much cheerier. It can help you to focus on positive outcomes rather than getting dragged into despondency. Here are some things you might want to concentrate on looking forward to…

Helping out in your community

All over the country, we’re seeing a revived sense of community. This is our opportunity to be the best versions of ourselves and help our neighbours, our vulnerable and the NHS. From picking up shopping or medicine for eldely neighbours to sewing scrub bags for nurses, there are lots of ways in which you can help out.

Making improvements around the home

Another thing we can get excited about is making some improvements to the home which might have been put off under different circumstances. Rather than bemoaning how long we have to spend at home, we can focus on making our homes the best they’ve ever been!

Planning your next holiday

One thing’s for sure, the next holiday you take as a family will be the most satisfying and exciting you’ve ever taken. Whether you’re planning on jetting off to a far flung country or simply considering taking the family for a weekend by the beach, the air will smell that much sweeter, the food will taste that much better and your memories will be that much more vivid as a result of your prior quarantine.

Buying a new car

While, of course, we shouldn’t rely on material possessions to make us happy… there’s no denying the satisfaction of treating the family to a big purchase. And looking forward to buying a new car may be something that the whole family can get behind. Head on over to Choosemycar.com to look at car finance deals. You may be surprised by how many great deals there are, even if you don’t have outstanding credit.

Having a fun day out as a family

Finally, it’s not just the big things that we’re all missing. It’s the little things too. We’re all looking forward to spending a day in the park without wondering if we’re spending too long there. Or heading to the cinema on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Or enjoying a meal in a restaurant together. All the little things that make for treasured lifelong memories.

Having something to look forward to doesn’t mean you’re burying your head in the sand or refusing to acknowledge the severity of the situation. It simply means that you’re choosing to hope. And that can make a huge difference to the person you choose to be right now.

How To Help A Loved One Suffering From Addiction

Addiction affects friends, families and loved ones. Knowing how to help the person addicted can be quite a struggle. It’s hard to know when to get help, how to get help and how to approach the person. Helping an addictive loved one get help can mean the difference between life and death.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of addiction is important when deciding if it’s time to approach a loved one about their problem. When their abuse starts to interfere with their daily life, causes memory loss and they have accidents, it’s time to talk to them. They may not realize their is a real problem or might not want to admit it. A loved one on the outside of the issue can give them the perspective they need to know it’s time to get help. Addiction isn’t just about an event that happens once or twice. If they get drunk and stumble in causing a stir once in a year, they might have just had a bad night. Watch for patterns over a period of time. They may try to hide it or say they only drink socially. Note a difference in their physical statute and/or their behavior when you believe they are inebriated.

Trust

It’s hard to trust an addicted person many times. They may have let you down due to their addiction even if it isn’t in their control. You have to step back and realize it’s more important for them to trust you than for you to let your hurt take over. Don’t nag or lecture them about the addiction. You want them to be able to talk openly about the problem and vent about it to you. They may swear up and down they can change, but an addicted person will not change until they are forced to face the consequences of their actions. It can be hard to trust them due to this fact, but you have to trust they will listen and get help when you approach them about their issues.

Compassion

It’s important to help your loved one by using compassion. The thing they most need is someone that listens and understands. Many times the addicted person feels as if someone is suffering with them and actually going through the process with them. This means they understand you recognize their pain and are trying to truly help. They feel heard and seen so they aren’t alone. Fighting addiction alone is crippling to many addicts. They know someone truly cares and wants to help them without criticizing them through the whole journey. They may understand you have no clue about addiction and what it does to their mind, but they also understand you’re trying to step in their shoes and won’t let them fail.

Communicate

Keep all lines of communication open and free of judgement. You need to learn more from the person about their addiction daily and let them vent about their frustrations. They may feel like a failure or feel they cannot be helped. Listen to them and be open with your concerns as well. Don’t lecture them about their addiction, but be a listening ear offering positive words. This will help them as they go into recovery knowing someone is on their side.

Working on Myself

Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash

I’ve not talked about it on here very much, but last year, I did a round of high-intensity therapy to try to help me with some issues that I’ve been dealing with for many years. My sessions finished just before Christmas, but I’ve been trying to do some work on my own before going back to see my therapist again, mostly around ways to improve my feelings of confidence and self worth. It’s really hard, trying to change a lifetime of negative feelings, but I’ve come up with a little list of things that I’m planning to try, in order to help. Here they are, in no particular order:

Treating Myself to New Things

I have a real problem with buying myself clothes or anything that’s solely for me, but it’s something that I need to change. Wearing nice things gives you a mental boost and makes you feel happier, and I’m planning to treat myself to a new summer wardrobe over the next few months so that I go into the nice weather feeling confident.

Dancing Queen

I’ve never been an amazing dancer, but dancing is always something I’ve loved to do. I used to go to a belly dancing class and absolutely loved it (not to mention hours spent on the dance floor every Friday and Saturday night!). It’s a place where I can do an activity which is just for me, and maybe make a few friends along the way, too.

Maintain Friendships

I’m a bit of a weird creature – I’m very sociable and can chat the hind legs off of a donkey, but actually making myself leave the house and have a social life has become increasingly difficult over the last decade. I’ve promised myself that 2019 is the year that I try to connect with people more and actually make an effort to make plans.

Ignore the Haters

When you’ve spent your whole childhood being mocked and criticised, it’s really hard to eject all those bad words from your brain. I’ve still got a whole section of my brain dedicated to remembering it all and I’m making an effort to let it go. It’s probably the hardest part of all this as most of it is deeply ingrained, but I’m doing my best to remember that people who truly love me would never want to tear me down, only build me up.

Do you have any amazing tips for improving self-confidence and self-worth? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

How to Deal With Baby Blues and Post Partum Depression

It is true that the birth of a child is a joyful news. Unfortunately, at the same time, the process takes a huge physical, mental, and emotional toll on the new mother. Every mother and every single childbirth is different and therefore, every mother responds differently to this overwhelming experience. While some women comfortably manage to go with the flow and get the hang of it, others go through phases of emotional meltdowns, mood swings, and unexplained depression. In some cases, they might also feel detached from their baby and in extreme cases, they might also feel suicidal. These are classic signs of baby blues and postpartum depression (PPD).

Every 1 in 7 women in the United States has been known to suffer through PPD to some extent. Unfortunately, the existence of PPD is not a common knowledge among most people and as a result, the situation gets worse in many cases and can even affect other relationships of the patient. If you or any new mother around you is suffering from any such symptoms, here are a few ways in which you can deal with the problem.

Healthy Diet

Childbirth makes a woman’s body ultra sensitive to your surrounding. Her hormones are messed up and her body responds instantaneously to whatever she consumes. This response could be either positive or negative depending on what kind of energy is she exposed to. The best thing that a woman can do to herself due to this time is to eat the healthy diet that helps in her healing process. Increase intake of vitamin-rich foods that helps the body sustain its energy levels and keeps the mood swings under control.

Postpartum Exercises and Meditation

We are not talking about a rigorous cardio or weight lifting at the gym. However, there are certain yoga moves and meditation that can help repel all the negative energy and channelize the positive energy around you. Yoga and meditation can work wonders to heal your mind, body, and soul and help your emotional meltdowns.

Positive Support System

Nothing can help a new mother than a group of supportive loved ones who can understand her situation and help her heal during this time. It has been observed that new mothers who have a strong and positive support system around them who help her with child care while they can rest and sleep heal much faster and are happier, healthier mothers. Involve a father, grandparent or uncles, and aunts who can help to share the stress and let you take some time off so that you can relax while they also get to develop their bond with the child.

Psychotherapy

Baby blues are fairly common in the initial three weeks and can be dealt with by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, mental relaxation, and positive support system. Unfortunately, in some cases, the symptoms fail to go away and the situation aggravates to the worst kind of depression. In worst case scenario the patient may even feel suicidal and can also take a toll on her relationship with the partner. Therefore, if the symptoms persist after four weeks of childbirth, it is best to consult a psychotherapy. You can find some of the most competent psychotherapists at claritychi.com who can talk to you and help you cope up with your depression so that you are able to enjoy your journey and take care of your child in a better way.

THE PURGE (AKA, Don’t Stand Still or Mum Will Throw You in the Bin)

Before Christmas, we were lucky enough to be given a brand new sofa, and in preparation for this, I cleared every stick of furniture out of our living room and cleaned the carpet the day before it was delivered. As it turned out, I quite like having a lounge which isn’t stacked high with toys and other clutter, so much of what we moved has sat in the dining room since the beginning of December, making the room look like a huge version of Monica’s secret closet.

THE PURGE

Last week, I decided that enough was enough; we couldn’t live with one room that looked like one of those storage units, but the rest of the house was by no means ready to receive all of the stuff from my Room of Shame.

And so began…THE PURGE!

I started with the airing cupboard, taking out all of the duvet sets and sheets, and storing them in under-bed boxes, giving us a huge empty cupboard to use for other things. Then I moved on to the girls room, where I managed to clear out SIX black bags of clothes and two massive IKEA bags full of toys for charity, as well as four bags of rubbish, which gave us a whole bunch of empty storage in which to put all of the new things they got for Christmas. Next, I moved on to that dead space at the bottom of the wardrobes that I tend to fill up with things like old pairs of curtains and blankets which don’t really have another home, and managed to fill up two more bin bags of stuff for the charity shop.

My next job is to tackle The Room of Shame, but now that the rest of the house is so much clearer and we have plenty of space to tidy INTO, it doesn’t feel nearly as daunting – I don’t feel the need to start Googling ‘storage near me‘ anymore so that I can just move half of our belongings elsewhere!

The nice thing I’ve noticed is that the decluttering has had a really positive knock-on effect for my mental state, and our lives as a family. I’m taking more interest in other housework because the house looks nice and I want to KEEP it looking nice, and Sausage has a clear desk to do her homework on, rather than perching up at the coffee table each evening. BB has also taken an interest in helping me (in exchange for pocket money, of course!) to put washing away and do other little jobs, which is a habit I’m more than happy for her to get into. I think I’ll make The Purge a six-monthly thing so that we stay on top of it and don’t feel like we’re perpetually drowning in old clothes and toys!

Do you have a purge every now and again, or are you a bit of a hoarder? Do leave me a comment below.

Maternity Matters Week 4 #maternitymatters

I can’t quite believe this is the fourth Maternity Matters linky already! We really hope you’re enjoying the process of sharing and reading so many great posts as much as we are. Seeing how pregnancy and birth experiences vary so much from person to person is as beautiful as it is informative and that uniqueness is exactly what’s at the core of Maternity Matters.

As usual, we’d love it if you displayed our badge, either on your individual posts or in your sidebar, and we’d also be grateful for anyone who isn’t already to follow the Maternity Matters Facebook and Twitter accounts.



MaternityMatters~ Mum's the Word

Maternity Matters Linky Week 3 – #MaternityMatters

One thing that Susanne and I set out to do when we started Maternity Matters was give parents a voice, regardless of how difficult the subject they’re talking about might seem, which is why in the past few years, Maternity Matters has covered topics such as birth trauma, SIDS, Post Natal Depression and PND. Pregnancy and labour can be incredibly beautiful experiences, but they can also be difficult and potentially traumatic, and we felt strongly that by collecting stories from a variety of experiences we might be able to help people who needed information, or those who simply needed to feel that they weren’t alone.

If we’ve managed to help or educate even ONE person since we started, then I think I speak for us both when I say that we feel we’ve accomplished something worthwhile. Writing about our experiences has been hugely cathartic for both myself and Susanne and encouraging others in the same way is a huge part of the Maternity Matters ethos.

So, in that vein, here’s the form for the third #MaternityMatters linky – we’d love you to link up any posts, old or new, positive or difficult, anything pregnancy, maternity, baby or health related that you’d like to share. As ever, we’d love you to comment on as many of the shared posts as possible and don’t forget to grab our badge!



MaternityMatters~ Mum's the Word

On Days Like Today…

stressOn days like today, I struggle to cope.

On days like today, when the baby is crying, the house is a mess, my head is banging, I’m feeling guilty for not being able to give Sausage as much attention as I should, the dog is whinging, every noise from our neighbours makes me feel as though my head will explode and I struggle to cope.

On days like today, when the baby is inconsolable, it doesn’t matter if I pick her up or put her down or cuddle her or give her a time-out, I struggle to cope.

On days like today when there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, where I have to choose between writing or housework or getting the exercise I so desperately need, I struggle to cope.

On days like today, all I want to do is hide my head under a duvet but I can’t because bedtime isn’t for another two hours and I struggle to cope.

On days like today, I end up hating myself because I question whether having another baby was the right thing to do, and I’m struggling to cope.

On days like today, I’m counting down the minutes until the evening routine – bath, pyjamas, inhaler for Sausage, bottle for Burrito Baby, lights down, all quiet, because until that time, I struggle to cope.

But cope, I do.

Even though I feel like I won’t, like my brain is going to melt and my heart is going to stop beating, I make it to bedtime. Even though I feel like I won’t.

And I look at my girls with their sleepy eyes and my Husband who’s got the same haunted expression as me, mentally patting himself on the back for getting through another day whilst simultaneously trying to forget that we have to do it all again tomorrow, and I know that on days like today when I struggle to cope, things will be alright in the end and for every day like today, there’s a dozen good days that I struggle to remember through the stress and sleeplessness.

On days like today, I may struggle to cope, but I still consider myself the luckiest person in the world.