Quick Tips: The Power of the To-Do List for Motivation

Depression is a real motivation sucker and can leave you feeling incredibly empty and hopeless. One way I have found to combat this is by writing and following to-do lists. It seems fairly trivial but trust me, ticking those boxes off is very rewarding!

Here’s my to-do list for today which I have completed;

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I wrote this list before I went to bed last night, so I knew I had a list to complete when I woke up. This encouraged me to get up and out of bed, instead of the usual staying in bed until it’s frowned upon.

As you can see, some of my to-do’s are very simple day to day tasks, so never think that anything is too small – if you feel accomplished doing it, then write it down and get it done!

The feeling of satisfaction I get after completing a list is a very positive one and a reminder that I can get up and see the day, no matter how hard my mind tells me I can’t. This is a perfect bridge to setting yourself up for a good day. Give it a go, you could be pleasantly surprised!

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Mental Health Week / It Doesn’t End For Everybody

I have been blown away by the support for Mental Health Awareness Week online. It warms my heart to see so many people that genuinely care and want to raise awareness for this cause. It’s so important to battle stigmas, help those who are suffering, both openly and in silence, and to help those that don’t quite understand the importance of mental health yet.

However and like my title says, this week doesn’t end for everybody.

When I wake up tomorrow morning around 10am, I’ll still need to persuade myself to get out of bed. I’ll still look at myself in the mirror whilst brushing my teeth and think, ‘What’s the point?’. I’ll still take myself to the kitchen and avoid making breakfast because I just can’t be bothered. And, I’ll still return to my bed as soon as possible, seeking comfort & isolation in my metaphorical, mental fort.

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It’s like this for many, and I will never stop my efforts to help others suffering with their mental health, and you shouldn’t either. Too many people suffer in silence and hide it from those around them due to shame or embarrassment.

Your mental health is nothing to be embarrassed of; you should be proud of the battles you’ve fought and the strength you have built. You are a warrior, wear that badge with pride.

“You don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared or anxious.” – Lori Deschene 

I urge you to reach out to people, ask how old friends are, offer your support to those who seem unhappy and make that extra effort with those who seem to be isolating themselves. You will never truly know what someone is going through, and as for mental illness, a lot of the time you’re unlikely to spot it. The best way we can combat this is by offering our support to those around us. We can talk about mental health online to let people know that we care & understand and continue to raise awareness.

Please if you’re suffering and don’t now what to do, just talk about it. It’ll help more than you know.

Product Review: Aromatherapy with Stress No More & FitAir

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week Stress No More are offering 20% off all Aroma Diffusers with the code AROMA20 – don’t miss out. (Offer ends 14/05/17.)

I was lucky enough to receive a FitAir Eden Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser with FitAir Aromatherapy Oils with Carved Wood Storage Box from the lovely Stress No More to try for myself – so, thank you very much!

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If you’ve read previous posts from my blog you may know that aromatherapy is something I rate highly with management of my anxiety and stress levels. After purchasing a diffuser starter kit last year, I fell in love. I could hardly wait to get into bed each night, put together a new blend of oils and relax.

After getting in touch with Stress No More, who have been very supportive of me, they recommended trying this set of oils and diffuser (which they use in their office!) and I was delighted at the opportunity. Anything to do with essential oils and you can count me in!

First impressions with these products; the diffuser is compact, simplistic and portable. Unlike a lot of diffusers, you are able to charge this one (providing up to 50 hours with each charge) and put it where you like. It actually fits in my handbag, which is great! I’ve always wanted to take my other diffuser away on holidays but it just takes up too much suitcase space!

The size takes nothing away from the effectiveness of the product itself, as rather than diffusing with water, you diffuse the oils alone. So, you literally screw a bottle inside the diffuser and you’re away. You can use a standard 10ml oil, but they also provide you with an empty bottle to make your own blends. 10/10 for convenience!

The technicality of the product is great. It comes with different intensities and you use these depending on the size of the room that you’re in. You can also set a timer for up to 1, 2 or 4 hours, so if you’re going to bed you don’t have to worry about turning it off or wasting any of your oils. If you enjoy convenience and are looking for a high quality product, I would 100% recommend this diffuser.

The oils themselves are 100% Pure and you can buy them individually as well as the set. As well as diffusing, you can use them for massage with a carrier oil or pop a few drops in your bath.

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In the box you receive the following 6 oils (as quoted on each bottle);

  • Energise & Revitalise; an energising mix of citrus and uplifting pure essential oils. Containing Lemon, Scotch Pine, Rosemary and Lime.
  • Strength & Harmony; combining clearing Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Pine, Peppermint and Tea Tree to banish Winter blues.
  • Sensual & Arousing; combining the juicy aroma of Sweet Oranges, sensuous Ylang Ylang, Patchouli and sweet floral Palma Rosa.
  • Focus & Concentration; to help keep you on top form and a great companion during exams or when working. Combining Rosemary, Basil, Peppermint and Pine.
  • Relax & Mindfulness; to leave you feeling relaxed. Containing relaxing Lavender & Marjoram, balancing Bergamot (FCF) and calming Petitgrain.
  • Invigorate & Inspire; to kick start your day. Containing uplifting Orange & Lemon oils, comforting Mandarin, stimulating Pine and reviving spearmint.

Both products are rated 5 Stars on the website and I can see why. They’re convenient, simple to use and great for aromatherapy beginners. If you don’t want to get caught up in which oil does what, and what oil blends best with another, this set of oils is definitely the way to go.

Overall, I’m very pleased with these products and they work brilliantly together. I enjoy being able to carry this around with me and use it when I wish!


Find out more about Essential Oils – #MentalMovement / How Essential Oils Could Improve Your Mental Health

Check out my product review of The Beurer TL60 Right Light for Stress No More – #MentalMovement / The Beurer TL60 Bright Light: How Light Therapy Changed My Mornings

 

 

Mental Health Month: 5 Ways That You Can Get Involved

There are many ways you can get involved with Mental Health Awareness Week & Month, and please don’t think just because you don’t suffer with Mental Illness it means you shouldn’t get involved!

  • Hashtags

    There are various hashtags floating around on Twitter/Instagram etc. Make sure every time you Tweet anything related to MH you use the tags! (#MHAW #MHAW2017 #MentalHealthMonth #MentalHealthWeek …)

  • Twitter Chats

    If you’ve never joined in with a Twitter Chat fear not, they’re pretty simple! All you do is follow the specific hashtag (make sure you click the ‘latest’ tab!), answer the questions and respond to others using the hashtag in your Tweets! I will be hosting #LetsChatMH tomorrow night at 7.30pm GMT. 

    You can also join the following that are related to MH:

    Wednesdays @ 8pm GMT – #MHChat
    Thursdays @ 8.30pm GMT – #TalkMH
    Sundays @ 8pm GMT – #PosiMH

    If you’re interested in getting involved in more chats, have a look at the list I compiled here!

  • Reading & Sharing Blog Posts

    For some people there’s nothing more settling or helpful than a good, honest post from someone who suffers with their own Mental Health. I encourage you to read others’ posts related to their MH as this will help better your knowledge of MH as a whole, and don’t forget sharing is caring!

  • Use That Retweet/Share Button

    If you see something particularly powerful or that could be helpful to others suffering, why not share it?! It takes maximum of 10 seconds of your time and could really help someone. If you follow the hashtags you’ll be sure to find something interesting!

  • Offer Support

    If you see someone reaching out for help, don’t ignore it! You never know if that’s their final cry for help. Offer your support, and always say you’re there to talk if they need you. The power of talking to someone who wants to help you and understand is hugely underrated.

I’m going to try and get involved with Mental Health Week & Month in any way I can so if you’ve got any good ideas or suggestions throw them my way, and I hope to see you at tomorrow’s Twitter chat!

 

To The Ones I Love, from Me & My Mental Illness

Compared to a lot of others, I wouldn’t say I’ve got a lot of people close to me. But the people that I do have close to me, I treasure very much. My boyfriend, my family and my friends mean the absolute world to me and without them all, I don’t know who or where I’d be.

So, first of all, this post is an apology.

And, I know people often say you shouldn’t apologise for the way you are, but the guilt is often unbearable. I truly am sorry. But, I guess I’m not apologising for who I am, but rather the ramifications of that. I’m snappy, I’m quiet, I’m loud, I’m too opinionated, I’m rude, I’m forgetful, I’m confusing, I’m exhausting, I’m indecisive – I’ve no doubt that I can be hard work to be around. These emotions and reactions aren’t me they’re the result of my mind being under a lot of strain and stress, but I promise I won’t be like this forever.

I’m not only mentally draining, but financially draining also. I don’t often see people talk about their finances when writing about their Mental Health, but it’s something that causes me a lot of stress and I feel through constant worry, stops me from getting ‘better’ in a lot of ways. I don’t currently work and am in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), desperately seeking help to get back to work. As I believe, through such severe anxiety of going to work, I’ve now developed a phobia of it and it just sends me into mental turmoil. I check job sites every single day hoping that ‘perfect’ job will arise. Who am I even kidding here? 

Anyway, I digress. I’m sorry for the financial strain that I’m offloading onto you. I promise that I want nothing more than to go to work and earn myself a living. I want to lead a normal life, and do normal every day things; like going to work. If this ever becomes too much for you, I understand you must leave. I would never want my mental health to start damaging other peoples’ mental health. I would hate myself even more.

Here is my thank you.

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetTo the one I love, you have stuck by me through the hardest time of my life and for that alone, I owe you my life. I know I’m not nearly out of this rut yet but I promise when I am, I will make sure you know just how grateful I am for all that you have dedicated to and done for me. You have made me feel loved when all I ever felt for myself was hatred, you have made me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry, you’ve pulled me through depressive episodes and held my hand through panic attacks that I thought would never end – you have shown me that hope and love exists and that’s been the brightest light in the dark. I cannot express enough, my gratitude for you and all that you’ve done for me. You are everything to me and I love you so much.

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To my Mum, you are an inspiration with the battles you have conquered. You are always there for me through everything I go through, and you get it. That’s something that’s difficult to find and I’m so grateful for it. Thank you for trying your hardest to help me, and for supporting me each and every day. You are my Guardian Angel.

IMG_5586To my Dad, your determination falls second to none and if I carry even half of that, I know that I’ll succeed with happiness one day. You’re always there for a chat and have an open mind to whatever I wish to talk about, thank you so much.

To my family, I often feel some of you have turned a blind eye to what’s been going on with me and I guess I understand. I understand that you don’t quite understand, and that you have your own problems to deal with, I also know that me reaching out is half the battle but burdening you is something I do not wish to do. Regardless of this, thank you for making me smile and laugh through dark times.

To my friends, I’m sorry I’m quiet sometimes but I often need time to myself. Thank you for sticking by my side through my hardest days, that alone means the world to me. I’ve a lot of friends that drifted over the years, but you never did. Thank you for asking how I am, for endless laughs and for being there night and day.

Thank you to you all for being here along the way, you may not quite understand the mental battles I am currently challenged with, but it’s important to me that you’re still here.

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The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, A Calmer You by Chloe Brotheridge

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I’ll tell you now, I am incredibly guilty of judging a book by it’s cover. And, that was literally what had drawn me to this book at first (shame on me). It is so beautiful, and makes my book shelf look totally gorgeous!

But, oooobviously what brought me to read it (and cheekily ask for a copy from the lovely Chloe herself, thank you!) was the title itself. It’s simple, easy to understand and straight to the point. Perfect for an anxiety sufferer such as myself.

The problem I have found previously with Mental Health related books is that they allow too much dedication to profanities. Sure, the phrases ‘Life’s too short’ and ‘Tomorrow is a new day’ are inspiring, but realistically they’re just not going to help me move forward.

This book is separated into easily digestible chapters which touch on helpful subjects andIMG_7291 self-help tips, that you can bring into your everyday life as slowly or as quickly as you feel comfortable with.

It sections off different parts of your everyday life and delves into where we might be going wrong and how we could turn that around.

Through subjects and topics such as diet, exercise, worrying, schedules, alcohol, self-esteem, mindfulness, meditation and many more, we learn of the affects of seemingly small habits that can cause a much larger butterfly effect on the health of our minds, negatively and positively.

Another great thing that separates this book from a lot of Mental Health related reads is that it provides us with helpful advice, but then also gives us ‘exercises’ to utilise that advice. These exercises are bite size ideas, given throughout the book and are also a part of ‘The Anxiety Solution Toolkit’ in the final chapter, which gives you space to write things down. I find this all incredibly useful, and in my opinion the more something is broken down, the better!

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Chloe is a therapist and also a sufferer herself, so you can trust that these are tried, tested and successful techniques. This meant more to me reading this as I often don’t find a connection with books that are written by those who haven’t suffered themselves, as I find them to be more like ‘textbooks’ than anything else.

Overall, I found this book an effortless and enjoyable read, with giggles and quirks along the way. Chloe becomes your best friend throughout the book, building your trust and reeling you in with each and every word.

From The Anxiety Solution by Chloe Brotheridge

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I would absolutely recommend reading this if you suffer with anxiety, and also reading it and reading it again, which is exactly what I plan to do! And, whilst the book is generally directed at female readers I definitely wouldn’t discourage males to read it.

As well as this book, Chloe has a website with lots of useful resources and links, check out Calmer You here and also have a watch of the video below!

Film Review: Disney Pixar’s Inside Out

Inside Out is a Disney Pixar movie based inside the mind of an 11 year old girl named Riley, rated 8.2/10 by IMDb.

The movie begins with an introduction of five emotions that are physical characters inside of Riley’s mind; Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust.

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They navigate Riley’s mind and reactions through a control panel in a space age looking ‘headquarters’. Memories are created that form in the shape of glass balls, colour coded by emotion. These balls are then fed through a big tube into Riley’s mind from headquarters.

giphy (2)We are then introduced to the ‘islands’ of Riley’s mind, these are created by ‘core memories’ which look similar to memories, but glow brightly. The islands build up Riley’s personality; Honesty Island, Hockey Island, Family Island, Friendship Island and Goofball Island.

The storyline itself surrounds Riley’s big move to a new city from Minnesota with her Parents and the emotional challenges this can cause a young girl to have. Whilst Joy seems to be the dominant emotion at the beginning, trying very hard to keep Riley happy, the trail of events invite the rest to the forefront of Riley’s mind. giphy (3)

After an accident happens with Joy and Sadness, they are both, along with the core memories, sucked through the tube that takes memories into Riley’s mind. This causes the islands to be ‘down’ and Riley’s reactions to be turbulent with just Anger, Fear and Disgust left at headquarters.

With no clear route back to headquarters for Joy & Sadness and challenging events happening in Riley’s life left, right and centre, the islands begin to fall and are forgotten.

Joy and Sadness traipse through Riley’s mind experiencing their own challenges, but eventually make it back to headquarters along with the help of Riley’s imaginary friend from her childhood, Bing Bong, who they find amongst her memories.

Joy and Sadness get back just as Riley is running away from home. And, instead of Joy taking control of things she lets Sadness take the reins for once, telling her “Riley needs you.”

Once Sadness takes hold of the controls, Riley returns home. Joy passes the core memories to Sadness who puts them back where they belong. With Sadness’s touch they turn blue, encouraging Riley to feel sadness for these memories and tell her parents that she misses home.

Sadness pulls Joy to the control panel and they press a button together whilst Riley hugs her parents. This creates a new core memory which is coloured both happy and sad, bringing back all the islands. With this new experience new islands form and they expand their control panel to allow all the emotions to take control at the same time.

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I found this ending to be very profound for a children’s’ movie, but it really made me think. Instead of living for one emotion at a time or trying to feel Joy 24/7, it encourages you to allow all of your emotions to be felt to have a healthy mind and reasonable reactions. This allowed Riley’s mind to expand and form more ‘islands’, building on her personality and wisdom. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and the message it conveyed and I hope that children understand the moral of the story.

Walking For Your Mental Health

Even as a qualified fitness instructor, I find the idea of strenuous exercise quite daunting. I’ve fallen off the wagon and been quite lazy over the last few months, especially since I quit working at the gym. Gathering motivation when you’re depressed is very difficult unfortunately.

However, I try my best to keep my fitness up with something I genuinely enjoy, and that’s walking. Walking is probably one of the most underrated forms of exercise in the fitness world as it’s deemed ‘not enough’. But, this post is to tell you that it absolutely is enough and you 100% will receive great benefits from regular brisk walking.

The physical benefits of walking can include;

  • Reduced risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease
  • Increased cardiac & pulmonary fitness
  • Encouraged weight loss and reduction of body fat
  • Increased bone strength
  • Increased muscle endurance
  • Boosted immune system

The mental benefits of walking can include;

  • Improved mood with the release of endorphins
  • Reduction of stress & anxiety
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Improved memory
  • Increased relaxation
  • Helps to control addiction

I enjoy walking for a lot of these reasons but for a few personal reasons too. As I’m not working at the moment I find it very difficult to separate my days, so it all ends up a big blur at times. So, it’s very important for me to get outside as part of a daily routine.

I also genuinely just love being outside in nature. The smell of fresh air is far too underrated and I could happily sit outside for hours with the sun on my face taking big, deep breaths. I find it so relaxing and it really helps me to feel at peace.

Walking ticks a lot of boxes for me and that’s why I love it so much. I’m very lucky to live in Cornwall as I’m surrounded by lots of beautiful places and the coastline is all around me, so there’s always lots to explore.

If you’re struggling with your MH and haven’t allowed your body some exercise, I would definitely recommend giving regular walking a go! Find advice from the NHS on starting out walking here.

Here’s a walk I went on yesterday evening – beautiful!

 

When Did My MH Suffering Begin?

This is a question I’ve often been asked, and that I’ve asked myself too. Really, I don’t know? I don’t know if there was ever a definitive moment in my life where I can say – that was it. Has anybody had that moment?

Although I’ve only recently recognised that I’ve had anxiety (since Nov 15), thinking back I’ve a feeling it was always there in one form or another. I don’t remember an awful lot of my childhood, but a small but potentially traumatic event happened when I was very young, which I won’t delve into for respect for that person. But, after that things weren’t quite right.

As a little girl I was always frightened. I was always afraid of being away from my Mum and more specifically my Dad, who I latched onto. I used to cry a lot, over silly little things. I’ve a memory of being in Primary school and my teacher asked me to get something from a drawer but I couldn’t find it, and my first instinct was to cry.

I never went to sleepovers because I was frightened of being away from home. One night I tried staying at a friend’s house (literally a five minute walk from home) and my Dad to pick me up as I was crying and felt sick, I just wanted to sleep in my own bed.

As I got older I stuck to my own friendship group, there were 2 or 3 of us. I always felt people didn’t like me or thought I was weird, but I was happy with the friends I had. It was the same as I started Secondary School, I was very timid and focused on my school work. I did make new friends and get invited out, but I was always very afraid and this is when I remember the trips to the loo (to put it politely) beginning, and the strong feeling of nervousness. Every social event would cause me to feel this way, but I didn’t think much of it or really recognise it.

When I was 14 my Dad had a major stroke and was hospitalised for four months. This was a trying time for my family and I avoided being at home. I never really felt emotional although I love my Dad to pieces, I guess I covered it up more than anything and just was very empty. During this time I started going out and drinking more, covering it up as well as certain teenage troubles I was having.

My motivation for school work dropped considerably, I’d always find myself doing the minimum I could to get by and that’s exactly how it stayed through my GCSE’s and into college. I never knew what I wanted to do in college and actually touched on 7 different A Levels. After skipping lecture after lecture, fuelling my social life and bleeding my education dry; I left with one full A Level and two half A Levels. I had no desire or chance at university and not a clue what I’d ever be doing with my life. This is when I finally admitted I was depressed and started taking Anti-Depressants first.

Eventually, I found a Business Administration Apprenticeship (Nov 13) where I started my career as a Letting Agent. Fast forward that (to Nov 15 when I identified my anxiety) you’ll find me throwing up in the toilet at work desperate never to return.


Sorry for the boring life story this post has become, I guess it’s been kind of therapeutic for me to write it down and really pick apart seemingly little events happening in my life. But, really it was more a point to show that MH struggles appear in lots of different ways and sometimes you may not always realise, simply just suppressing the feelings and emotions.

Mental Health Awareness is so important and should be included in School Education for both children and teachers. I feel early identification of Mental Health struggles could prevent a lot of illnesses developing. Young people need to identify if they or someone they know begins to struggle with their MH so they can be provided with the necessary support they need.

We are so impressionable in our younger years and deserve the focus on our Mental Health as well as our education.

Self Esteem: Being a Girl in The Blogging World

Over these last few months as I’ve started blogging, I have been blown away by the community. There is nothing like having your own group of blogger cheerleaders encouraging and congratulating you at every milestone.

But unfortunately, being a girl in the blogging world means the tons of beauty and fashion bloggers are unavoidable. And, don’t get me wrong I love cheering others on too and these girls are so talented and beautiful they absolutely should be blogging. But, I can’t help but feel inadequate because of this. I mean I’m not exactly your run of the mill girl blogger and I probably do my make-up once a week, if that.

Honestly – I’m not very good at my make-up, I don’t have the loveliest most expensive clothes and my hair isn’t silky smooth. I don’t go out everyday and drink soy lattes and I don’t eat Instagram worthy breakfasts. Normally, I wouldn’t be too fussed about these things but lately (and especially today) I’ve been feeling very self-conscious and low in myself. I did my hair and make up, and then decided I looked awful, wiped it all off again and then sulked in my bed before a nap.

I am surrounded by beautiful, self-taught make up gurus being buried with gorgeous free clothes who are doing great things with their lives. It’s just not very good for my mental health or self-esteem at all.

Ideally I think I need a bit of a break from Social Media and to focus on myself again for a little while, although sadly I find it quite difficult. I often sit on my phone to fill a gap of time rather than doing something constructive or caring for myself.

I’m aiming to read more as I have some lovely books to read (three to review!), and want to start playing my keyboard more too.