Mental Health Awareness Week: Kindness & Self-Compassion.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme is kindness.  While a lot of the focus will probably be aimed at being kind to other people, I would like to focus on Self-kindness and the positive effects it can have on our physical and mental wellbeing.

In my last blog, Why Now May be a Good Time to Start Meditating, I highlighted how dangerous negative thoughts and emotions, such as anxiety, can be for our health. 

The further we traverse into the uncharted territories that this pandemic is presenting to the world then the more important actions such as kindness are.  As people become more afraid and stress increases, words such as kindness, love and care seem to get forgotten, replaced by anger, frustration and an urge to find someone to blame.

Numerous studies have shown that emotions such as anger and hatred can be a significant cause of premature death.  Dr Redford Williams at Duke University, and Dr Robert Sapolsky at Stanford University have conducted studies that showed how anger, rage and hostility are particularly damaging to the cardiovascular system.  Read more

Why Now May be a Good Time to Start Meditating.

Being in a prolonged period of stress and fear is exhausting, and it will be having a massive impact on your mental and physical well-being.

An 8 year study of 68,222 adults (published in the British Medical Journal) found that even mild anxiety produces a 20% greater risk of death.

Research also shows that negative emotions such as fear, pessimism and resentment depress our immune system.

That’s the bad news; the good news is that there is something we can do to help ourselves; to aid in boosting our immune system and our general well-being, and that is ‘meditation’. Read more

Strange Days….. Dealing With Self Isolation, Fear & Panic.

“Panic is a sudden desertion of us, and going over to the enemy of our imagination.” – Christian Nestell Bovee

The current situation with Coronavirus has probably given a lot of people an insight into panic, and how our brain and body reacts to situations of immense stress and fear.

The well used phrase ‘panic buying’ sums it up perfectly.  As soon as we are confronted with fear, we go into fight or flight; this is our primeval reaction that has been hardwired into our brains during prehistoric times (Understanding Anxiety, Panic & Depression: Part 1 – Anxiety).  This is just another example of where this built-in response isn’t really suited to the modern world.  It is natural to want to protect ourselves and our loved ones, hence why some people have turned to stockpiling food, but this has a negative effect on the communities that we live in. Read more

Anxiously Stepping into 2020.

Usually I head into a new year with a level of optimism and hope, and 2019 was no exception.  While I was still struggling with my mental health I had plans and ideas that I thought would change things, especially financially.

The end of 2019 was bumpy to say the least; notably, I had started level 2 of the counselling course in September, but had to give it up after three weeks because I had a complete meltdown, and couldn’t do it.  I also lost my PIP benefit.  Both of these had a massive impact on my mood and self confidence.

While there were successes in 2019, my overriding feelings from the year were ones of increasing frustration and failure.  All the plans and goals had slipped away to nothing; I felt as though I had slipped down the mountain, past base camp and back to square one. Read more

Is This Why People Give Up?

A couple of weeks ago I contacted the Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service (They offer talking therapies and are part of the East London NHS Foundation Trust) to try and get some additional help for my anxiety and depression.

I was originally given their leaflet by my GP because I asked him about finding additional help; you can self refer, so I said I would contact them myself.  I left it for a while but recently my depression became worse so I decided to see what they could do.

What they offer is limited because the NHS only endorse CBT, counselling and medication as mental health treatments; I am already having counselling (not via the NHS because they only offer a set number of sessions.  I had ten with an NHS therapist who didn’t really seem interested) and I wouldn’t touch anti depressants again, so I guess I was going to be left with CBT, which would be better than nothing.  I had CBT before via the NHS but it didn’t really work because I was fighting my old company at the time, and this hindered any progress, so it was agreed I would stop.  I thought that maybe now it would be more effective. Read more