This blog has been produced as part of a mini-series on stress for Mental Health Awareness Week. Get up and Go Hello! Firstly, I may have set myself up for a fall here by deciding to be grander than I am! Mini-series! It just sounded […]
I’ve been spending this week considering the subject of stress in support of Mental Health Awareness Week 2018. The central question asked being “Are we coping?” Singing for stress In my profession as a counsellor we are actively encouraged to monitor our stress levels […]
All work and no play In support of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I’ve been considering the ways in which we can manage stress, which is this year’s theme. In the second of my mini-blogs I thought I was raise the concept of PLAY! […]
This blog has been produced as part of a mini-series on stress for Mental Health Awareness Week.
Get up and Go
Firstly, I may have set myself up for a fall here by deciding to be grander than I am! Mini-series! It just sounded exciting and I couldn’t resist! Unfortunately it means you will have to endure more mini-blogs around the subject of stress. But that’s a good thing right? We all need to be reminded of ways to manage our stress levels. Very often when life gets busy we don’t pay attention to ourselves. We only notice when it hits a critical point; when we are flattened by a virus or start getting cold sores, eczema flare ups or other physical indicators of stress. To support and celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week I’m aiming (notice I said aiming….) to do a mini-blog a day with a top tip for managing your stress. They are not rocket science but they do work. I’ll offer up a few options which I recommend to my clients and which I use myself. Yes, counsellors get stressed too!
TIP no 1: Walking outside in nature
Get your trainers on and get out now! Go anywhere. It would be great if it were somewhere green but it actually doesn’t matter. But set a positive intention as you do this. Not “I’m going to get this over and done with” but “I wonder what I’ll see on my walk today”. I recently joined a month long challenge to get out for a walk every day and post a picture of something that I noticed in nature, maybe being a bit creative with it. I love it!! It’s made walking so much more interesting. I’ve always got my phone at the ready to snap a lovely landscape or fabulous flowers and foliage! (not easy to say). But it’s also made me slow down and really notice my surroundings. Paying attention to things I wouldn’t normally notice. This week it’s been gothic archways and blossom. Who knew! I’m also a big fan of a daisy. They just make me smile, which is the point really. A walk whilst being good exercise is a chance to let the stresses of your day ebb away for a few moments and an opportunity to let your mind clear out the mental clutter to make space for other stuff. Nice stuff. Interesting insights or maybe even an outline for a novel! Why not! It’s a chance to daydream…..gosh do you remember that? When we just let our minds wander WHEREVER THEY WANTED TO! It’s widely recognized that a walk in nature has a positive effect on mental health, so what are you waiting for. Just get up and go!!
It’s one week on from the Manchester bombing and it feels like the world has shifted on its axis. Many lives changed in that one moment and, as observers of this tragic event our lives changed too as we try and make sense of the incomprehensible and move forward.
It’s inevitable that adults and children alike will feel anxious and upset at times. This is a perfectly normal reaction to a traumatic event. I was reading through the information put out by “newsround” on how to help young people cope with bad news. It was beautifully simple and has a resonance for adults too. Sometimes it’s good to get back to basics when it comes to looking after ourselves. The article can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/13865002. Here are my own personal tips for dealing with anxiety and stress at this difficult time.
Go for a walk in nature. Much has been written about the positive effects of “green therapy” on mental health. As well as releasing natural endorphins which boost your mood, gentle exercise will reduce and dissipate the stress hormones in your body. If allowed to build up these hormones can lead to reduced immunity and illness. So even if it’s only for 10 minutes go to a local park, lake or field and just pay attention to the sights and sounds around you.
There’s a tendency to isolate ourselves when we are feeling anxious or low and yet this is just when we need our friends the most. Friends are a useful distraction and often a great leveller. They will probably offer a different perspective on what we’re thinking and that can be helpful. When we are anxious our thoughts become more extreme and our sense of danger increases. A good chat with a friend can help to reduce this fear reminding us that we are ok and importantly, that we are not alone.
After a traumatic event like the Manchester bombing, it can feel like we are overwhelmed by news and sad stories about what happened. Whilst it’s important that we hear this information to allow us to process it, too much of it can have a negative impact on mood. It can be useful to limit how often you or your children read Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and News websites. Make time to look at other things which are light-hearted, positive or simply just not related to the event. We all need balance in our lives and it’s ok to step away from the information overload sometimes. It doesn’t mean we don’t care.
Do something positive
When negative things happen in our lives it can be hard to make sense of it and we can feel a bit lost and helpless. In these instances it can be good to find a way to make a positive contribution – this could be just for yourself or for the community. I was really taken by how many people turned up to donate blood after the bombing. It was such a simple yet powerful thing to do. You may think “well one pint of blood won’t make a difference” but when 500 people do the same that’s a lot of lives potentially saved. Maybe you will be moved to fundraise to generate money for the victims. Perhaps you will decide to “seize the day”, go on that trip you’ve been promising yourself, get that tattoo, change jobs, write a novel. Whatever it is, you can use this experience in a positive way. It really does help cut through the negativity filling you with a powerful sense of achievement. In the words of one of the victim’s families #bemoreMartyn.
Find space in silence
When things get too much sometimes it can be helpful to find a place to just be quiet. Our minds will be operating at double-speed most of the time and it can be hard to be aware of our thoughts never mind process them. A quiet place to practice a little mindful meditation, reflection or prayer can settle and soothe jangled nerves. Sit comfortably, take a few nice deep breaths then just allow your thoughts to come and go. Just watch them, observe them but don’t get tangled up in them. Your thoughts are merely mental events. They are not the truth and cannot harm you. Allow them to rise and fall in your awareness like clouds across a sky. Sometimes they will be light clouds, sometimes dark. But like all things, they will pass. If you’d like to try a guided meditation then follow this link to access free mindfulness meditations. I’d start with the 3 minute breathing space which is a mini-meditation designed to settle and calm. http://www.franticworld.com/resources
There’s been a hoo-hah about “Mindfulness” for some time now. To some it’s the latest thing, a panacea for all ills. There’s “mindful parenting”, “mindful birthing”, “mindfulness for depression” to name a few. To others, it’s still deeply rooted in mystery and weirdness with images […]
I’ve been meaning to start a counselling/well-being blog for ages but in fairness have just been putting it off! Procrastination you might say! I have found all manner of excuses. “I don’t know what to write about, I’ve nothing interesting to say, I have a new website and don’t know how to add a blog”. But, there comes a time when you have to face those fears and JUST DO IT! Whatever it is. Whether it be committing to going to the gym, clearing your clutter, going for a walk every day, or not using your phone as much. I guess we all have things we desperately want to change but very often don’t. Change is hard, as is commitment. Perhaps I knew if I started a blog I’d have to continue to do it. My inner critic was saying “ah but you won’t keep it up, you’ll be too tired. You’ll get bored of it, you usually do, don’t bother”. So I didn’t for a while and yet somehow it was always on my “to do”list.
I started to think how I would actually feel if I did write a blog. Happy, motivated and maybe a little bit proud of myself. From that I started to consider how I might make it happen. What resources did I need? (Lap top and word press instructions). I also needed to schedule some time to do it (a quiet Sunday afternoon when I had little else planned). But the most important thing I needed what to just sit down and START. What’s the worst that could happen? I didn’t manage it – ok that’s fine. I wouldn’t understand what I was doing? Then I’d need to seek advice from the website company. And so here I am, one quiet Sunday, having got my lap top, read through my wordpress guide (well I only read a bit because I don’t do instructions!!) and clicked on “new post”. The rest as they say…is history.