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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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

A post shared by Gemma (@gemcals) on

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!

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!

 

Twitter Self-Care Giveaway

Follow me on Twitter and RT the above Tweet to be in with the chance of winning over £60 worth of my favourite self care items including;

Ends 4th April!

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Anxiety Self-Help / My Journal

If you know me in real life, you’ll know I don’t go anywhere without a pen and my journal. And it’s not your everyday journal, titling each day with the date and what I had for breakfast. It’s the most messy, confusing and inconsistent diary you’ll ever read. (Not that I’m going to let you read it.)

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But, it is an absolute life saver for me. Whenever I’m feeling anxious, I take out my journal and write about it in that moment. I’ll ask myself questions such as;

How am I feeling?
What are my symptoms?
What is causing me to be anxious?
What are the positives in the situation?
Why everything will be ok.

And, questions like these really help me ground myself when I find my mind is spiralling out of control and losing all logical thought. They help me to see the positives in a situation, swaying my focus from negative thinking.

Often I find myself having an anxiety attack before doing something I know should be excited about. I know I’ll have fun and that it really will be fine, but just because it’s not in my routine it sends off huge alarm bells. So, I find it really helpful to list the positives in this sense. These could be things like;

I’ll be with people I know and who will look after me if things go bad.
I won’t be too far from home.
I can leave if I feel too unsafe or scared.
I’ve been here before and it was fine.

A lot of the time I feel anxious because of things like lack of planning or I if feel vulnerable about going to a place I’m not familiar with. But, if I know I will be able to take myself away from a situation/people (by going home or to somewhere I feel comfortable/safe) it tends to stop the anxiety altogether.

Not just thinking these things but writing them down and reading them back, sometimes saying them out loud, really helps me to take a step back from the emotion and fear, and analyse a situation with logic (as we all know logic and anxiety don’t go hand in hand.)

If you suffer with anxiety and find it difficult to ground yourself during an attack I’d recommend giving this a go! I know not everything works for everybody, but you may be surprised!


Happy Friday and I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

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Mental Health and Why You Need To Lose The ‘Miracle Cure’ Mindset

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the miracle cure doesn’t exist. I wish it did, but it just doesn’t. And, the sooner you realise this, the sooner your recovery will begin.

The problem with Mental Illnesses and Disorders is that they’re largely and collectively still a grey area. See, we can’t just open up the skull and point at a part of the brain and say ‘yep, just tweak that one a little’ and ‘oh, just rewire that somewhere else!’ Believe me, I wish we could.

So, we must experiment with the techniques, medications, therapies, self-care routines etc. that are out there to find what best suits and helps us. We’re all different and not everything works for everybody. And a spoiler with a lot of these: You have to want to help yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate it when people say that just ‘being positive’ will solve your deepest and darkest mental issues, because they see you’ve perked up today. What they don’t realise is as soon as you’re alone or in comfort, the mask falls right off and the base of your emotions and thoughts is still there. Ah yes, hello negativity, it’s been a few hours.

I saw a psychiatrist a little while back and he said to me that you need to practice the self-help techniques on your good days too.

There’s no use waiting until you’re hiding under your duvet to say ‘Let’s start some CBT!’. And it’s true, you’re lucky if you find me out of bed that day. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so in theory practicing a self-help ritual for three weeks will help form a routine. Which is definitely a lot easier than it sounds, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything solidly for 21 days. But, I think it’s definitely worth a try.

So, my point here is just to stop looking for the miracle cure. First, start looking for those little sparks of happiness that you find in each day. Whether it’s putting your make up on, going out for a walk, reading another chapter of a good book – whatever it is, keep doing it! Self care in my opinion, is anything that makes you authentically happy. So I urge you to think about what things make you feel this way!

Write them down, schedule them into your daily life, ask yourself why they make you feel good and find similar things you can do! Here are some of the things I practice for self-care:

  • Reading
  • Having a nice hot shower
  • Watching a funny movie
  • Going out for a walk/generally getting fresh air
  • Literally just pushing myself to get up and have a cuppa’
  • Tidying my room
  • Diffusing Essential Oils

And secondly, trust that your counselling or therapies provide some form of help and to utilise those as well as you can. Some things may seem like they’re never going to help you, but give them a chance and allow yourself to explore the help you’ve been offered.

Take your time, keep your mind open and look for positivity in your every day life. You don’t have to be ‘better’ next week, next month or even next year. You just need to believe tomorrow will be a better day. You can do this! 

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Mental Health & Wellbeing Warriors / The Facebook Support Group

I have found one of the best helps for me with my mental health, is by talking to others, and especially those who understand. So – to help me and hopefully those around me I have created an online Mental Health support group on Facebook, called Mental Health & Wellbeing Warriors.

And, I am inviting you to join!

I’m still in the process of deciding how I will manage the group, and what are the best techniques to use to help people interact, but obviously I only created it a day and a half ago – so it will come together!

But the general idea is a safe and understanding group that will provide you with;

  • Honesty
  • Friends
  • Self Help
  • Positivity
  • Encouragement
  • Useful Tips
  • Community
  • ..and more!

If you’re interested, please follow this link and request to join, you’ll be sure to be greeted with a warm welcome!

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(I love penguins)

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If you are interested in becoming an Admin for the group please drop me a message or email!

#MentalMovement / The Happiness Planner (And Why You Need One!)

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It’s no secret that my love for journaling, pretty notebooks and planning is second to none. I spend half my days scribbling something totally random down in any one of my 3,000 notebooks (seriously, I have a notebook dedicated to the populations of countries…) So, when I stumbled across The Happiness Planner I just had to have one!

When I received my parcel with the planner in I was so excited to open it. The planner is perfectly packaged in a box which is coloured corresponding to the planner. And as well as the planner itself, the box provides you with a pen, clips, and cute posters to reflect and plan the year ahead – just what I needed!

Happiness Tools

As explained by ‘The Happiness Planner’

Throughout the Planner you will be guided to create Your Happiness Roadmap and integrate that into your daily life. You will be prompted to:

  • Discover yourself
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses
  • Integrate more of what makes you happy into your daily life
  • Plan to make changes to the things that make you unhappy
  • Set goals that you want to achieve and write down action plans
  • Start each day with an inspirational quot and an exciting thought
  • Pinpoint your focus for each month and each day
  • Rate yourself on your energy level and happiness level
  • Reflect on your day and see things from the positive side
  • Reflect on your month and set goals for improvement
  • Reflect on 2017

Read my full review here.

#MentalMovement / The Beurer TL60 Bright Light: How Light Therapy Changed My Mornings

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of disorder that occurs seasonally. People suffer particularly in the Autumn & Winter, when the days are shorter and there is less daylight.

Symptoms of this disorder can include;

  • Low mood
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of libido
  • Insomnia
  • Tiredness or feeling lethargic (lacking in energy)
  • Sleeping for longer periods and struggling to rise in the mornings
  • Craving carbs and gaining weight

Most people are affected by the change in seasons and experience improved moods when the sun is shining and the daytime is longer. But, those with SAD (1 in 20!), experience far more severe symptoms.

One recommended way of treating Seasonal Affective Disorder is with light therapy. This has been medically proven to improve symptoms of SAD within a week of exposure. The Doctor may also recommend it to you.

Whilst I don’t struggle specifically with SAD, I do struggle with the ‘winter blues’. This time of year is always a lot tougher for me, as my anxiety and depression really peaks. So – this year whilst struggling with my mental health, I decided to try light therapy.

Keep reading here.

My ‘Things To Do When I Haven’t Got Anything To Do’ List.

Have you ever had one of those days? When you have nothing to do, getting up and functioning like a normal human being is the last thing you want to do. If you do, I feel your pain.

I tend to have one of those days at least twice a week, and a way I’ve found to combat them is by doing something on my ‘Things To Do When I Haven’t Got Anything To Do’ list. (Catchy I know.)

Here is my current list which seems to evolve and grow often – (let me know of any suggestions you might have to add!)

  • Read a book
  • Watch a documentary
  • Walk the dogs/go for a walk
  • Find a new app or game on my phone
  • Write a blog post about how I’m feeling
  • Draw a picture
  • Drink some water & take vitamins!
  • Find new blogs to follow
  • Colour in one of my colouring books
  • Find some new Social Media handles to follow
  • Be active on Social Media
  • Do some cleaning
  • Watch Harry Potter
  • Spend some time scrolling on Pinterest
  • Send a thoughtful message to somebody
  • Do some yoga or stretching
  • Declutter
  • Research new self-help techniques
  • Play the PlayStation
  • Take a shower
  • Watch Pretty Little Liars
  • Have a face mask
  • Pluck my eyebrows
  • Do my make up
  • Shower the dogs
  • Meditate (or try)
  • Go for a swim
  • Find a free online course
  • Read the news
  • Research a mental health disorder
  • Sit in front of the SAD Light
  • Have a coffee/cup of tea
  • Watch a funny movie
  • Read encouraging emails from The Happiness Planner
  • Moisturise
  • Do some baking/cooking
  • Find new music/rediscover old music
  • Watch YouTube videos
  • Sit outside & breathe
  • Take a bus to somewhere new
  • Find free books on Apple Books app
  • Play online Poker