Mental Health Mondays | Change

mental health

After today’s counselling session, I’m so glad I get to just sit down at my computer and write down exactly whats on my mind – the last 30 minutes of my session was really tough, but I know that its what I need in order to heal, next week I’m being psycho-analysed and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. But, as always my sessions are open & free for me to talk about anything I want, sometimes we don’t even have a topic and we just end up finding something to talk about which is relatable. Today I started the session by talking about something which has really been bothering me this past week, and after talking its really put things into perspective and has helped me decide on this week’s MHM topic!

There comes a time in our lives when things change. Sometimes these things can’t be helped and sometimes change is needed. Yet sometimes many of us try to spend a great deal of time trying to avoid change, but it inevitably catches up with us. Whether its a change in a new job, moving to a new city or, the end of a relationship. Sometimes we’re not ready for that change and it can be seen as a shock when it happens – being able to cope with change can sometimes mean you’re a resilient person.

It’s easy to become fixated on an event which we have no control over, or towards people who might never change their actions or attitude, but instead of worrying about the situation and focusing on blaming others, being a resilient person means you’re more concerned about what you can control. Instead of looking for a bad in the situation, ask yourself why this change happened, look and see if you can take responsibility for the situation or analyse and move forward. One of the hardest thing about change is that 9 times out of 10, you feel a sense of loss. Even positive changes can make you feel a little bit sad. In these changes, its important to acknowledge the loss, and pay attention to what you’ve learned from the experience.

One of the things we may not know about change is the emotions we face. Change can be difficult because it often challenges how we think, how we work and sometimes the sense of our identity, we often react to change by using our emotions, you may feel that you’re shocked, angry, coming to terms with a new situation and then acceptance may come. However, the progress through these emotions are rarely linear – there is no clear cut way to decide how we’re going to feel in these situations. Next time you’re feeling these types of emotions, ask you’re if there has been a change in something recently – and you’ll be surprised at your answer.

As much as we hate to admit it, not a lot of people like change. Its easy to fall into simple routines and expect everything to be plain sailing, so when something does happen, it throws us of our game. One of the things I’ve learnt is that it’s normal to want to avoid things that we fear because it reduces our anxiety in the short term, yet avoidance of change can prevent us from learning that things aren’t as dangerous as we think.

After putting together a little list, I’ve decided to share it with you in hope that next time a change happens, whether it’s big or small – you can incorporate these tips into your evaluation of the situation. If you’re anything like me, and your brain is constantly over thinking then these will help you to rationalise the situation and hopefully leaving you feeling less upset and are able to accept the situation more.

Before doing anything, think the situation through and ask yourself ‘whats the worst that can happen?’ – most of the time, we’re scared of change because we’re afraid of the unknown, and the best way to deal with the unknown is to think things through. Even if you’re a visual person, write down the pro’s and con’s of the situation and sometimes, it’s not as bad as it seems at first, and if it is, it may just take some time getting used to it.

Concentrate on the things you can control – when a change happens, its important to find out how much control over the situation we actually have. I’ve learnt to believe that if we don’t have control over the situation, then honestly, we probably cant do anything about it.

Accept the situation – if the change is beyond control, then instead of worrying, try and take a reflective approach. View it as an opportunity to learn and grow, don’t take it as a set back, and you may find it brings you peace of mind!

Manage your stress – improving your ability to handle stress will help you when you’re dealing with change. Even by incorporating mindfulness into your routine will help you feel instantly calm.

Just remember, that regardless of the change, wanted or unwanted, it doesn’t reflect you as a person. It doesn’t mean you’re not good enough to someone if they can’t accept you, it doesn’t mean you’re not right for the job just because you didn’t get it, and it certainly doesn’t mean that YOU should change yourself. Change is just a way of life, and sometimes, as hard as that pill may be to swallow it, we just have to do it.

Mental Health Monday’s | Sleep

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Hi lovelies, & Happy Monday! I can’t believe how quick the weekend’s go, and before we know it’s Monday again! I hope you all had a great weekend and are feeling ready and motivated for this week ahead!

After being an insomniac for so many years, one of the hardest relationships I have is with sleep – which then leaves the burning question of Why can’t I sleep? Primarily, for one, one of the reasons is because going to sleep becomes one of my un-safe zones. It means I have horrible flash backs, nightmares and panic attacks, leaving me scared to sleep.

Having the feeling of exhaustiveness while trying to get on with your day can honestly make your day 10x harder. You’re left feeling sluggish and un-motivated. It’s been scientifically proven that getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is the right amount and you should wake up feeling amazing! But for those of us who struggle to even get 2 hours sleep a night, it can be a horrible task of knowing you need to go to bed.

After years of struggling and finally being diagnosed, I was put on sleeping medication. At first, it felt like a welcome. I was sleeping for 5-6 hours a night and honestly thought I had cracked my sleeping, even if I was getting a little aided-help. But 3 years on, my sleeping medication sucks. It leaves me with the opposite effect and no matter how tired/un-tired I am, if my body is not ready to sleep, then no amount of sleeping medication will help. Or on the other hand, if I can fall asleep – I have trouble staying asleep and the constant battle of trying to sleep leaves you feeling more awake than ever.

There are many different causes for not being able to sleep, in my case it is past trauma. If you’re wondering if you have any underlying issues which may be manifesting, then speak to a doctor and you really might be able to accept that insomnia is because of your mental health.

Another feeling I have when I’m unable to sleep is the horrible feeling of hyperarousal. Meaning when I’m ready to sleep I’m feeling guarded, tense and on edge which causes me so many problems when I’m trying to sleep – some people may also find that being more sensitive to sound means it disturbs our sleep too.

I have finally accepted that insomnia is a part of my mental health conditions, and therefore I no longer fight the fact I can sleep, but, one thing I have found that helps is to change little habits throughout my routine to try and help improve my ability to even feel tired.

Sticking to a schedule – I have found that it is so important to have a regular time slot you stick to, to get into bed (maybe between 9-11pm) which then gives your body time to relax. Once you stick to a schedule, your body will get used to going to bed at the same time every night, and this should train your mind into telling yourself you’re actually tired.

Pay attention to what you’re drinking/eating – by this, I’m not telling you what to eat at all! But going to bed either over-full or hungry will also stop you sleeping, your mind will be concentrating on food and then make you feel irritated. Avoid coffee past 2pm, I don’t drink coffee as it gives me heart palpitations but even through CBT exercises, its scientifically proven that drinking coffee can boost your stimulations and make it harder for you to sleep.

Healthy sleeping habits – avoid sleeping throughout the day, and I understand this is an extremely hard one, especially when you haven’t slept throughout the night and all you want to do is sleep. Make sure you’re going to sleep a little earlier that evening, and hopefully you will find it easier to sleep. Try and make sure your room is a relaxing place, and try to limit your activities in the bedroom (now now) – I’m talking about make sure you don’t eat in your room or do everything, your bedroom should be associated with sleep. Try and keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature with what you’re comfortable with – even try and use an eye mask which can help to block out any distractions.

Try and relax – try and practice relaxation exercises before bed in order to release muscle tension and to slow down your breathing. Many people can experience worry when they go to bed at night, so by trying mindfulness, it can help you to separate your worries.

If there are any other sleep habits that you find help – then please drop them below!

Mental Health Monday’s | Self Care on a bad day

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Happy Monday lovelies – I can’t believe we’re already in June. My month is literally jam packed with dissertation writing, *pls pray for me* which means its so important I’m also looking after myself, physically and mentally. Its inevitable that some mornings we wake up and just think, nope! or when were having such a bad day that all we want to do is snuggle up on the sofa and watch netflix. Most of the time its because we’re not looking after ourself, you may think because you took 5 minutes out of your work day and had a scroll through Instagram that it’s doing you the world of good – when in fact, its probably making you feel worse.

It’s so important to make sure that you include some self care into your daily/weekly routine, if you have a spare 10 minutes to do something then you have time to take care of yourself. I used to constantly burn myself out and think that because I wasn’t actually ‘doing anything’, that I was looking after myself.. but how wrong was I. Over the years, I’ve loved hearing more about self care and actually how important it is to our mental health. Often, if I’ve been having a rough time, I’ll mentally calculate if I’ve had any time for self care, and 9 times out of 10, I haven’t.

One of the easiest ways to incorporate self care into your day is having having a shower or a bath (which ever one you prefer) – but instead of just bathing, make sure you’re using some of your favourite products which you know boosts your mood. A bath bomb or a candle can really make a difference, it helps to make us feel relaxed as gives us that time to just not worry about anything. If you wake up feeling a bit flat, then have a shower in the morning as the water will help wake you up and hopefully help you feel a little bit more motivated.

Make sure you’re using Mantra’s – honestly this is so helpful. Make a list of all the things you’re grateful for, or write down something inspiring for the day: “today will be a good day” or “you’ve got this”. You’ll be surprised at how this can make you smile in the midst of the day.

Take deep breath’s – honestly, it’s that simple.

Binge watch your favourite series/films – having a quiet and calming surrounding will instantly soothe you and remind you you’re in the here and now. Having your favourite programmes on will also help you to feel much better, your mind is distracted and it stops you from feeling even flatter. If you find you don’t have much time to sit and watch Netflix, play some motivating Podcasts while you do the things you need to – again, this gives you some background noise and helps you to stop feeling lonely. Sometimes if I’m feeling particularly low and know I need to incorporate some self care, I just like to sit and listen to something I’m interested in, it stops me from dwelling and helps me to relax.

Get some sleep – this is hard for me as I’ve been an insomniac for years and really struggle to sleep. But usually, if we’re feeling pretty crap then we tend to neglect sleep, but it has one of the biggest impacts on how we feel, physically and mentally. It’s so important to notice when you’re feeling tired and run-down, and listen to your body by trying to get in some decent shut-eye. If you also struggle sleeping, then just try and make sure your environment is as quiet as possible, you may not be able to sleep but at least this way, your mind has a little time to rest.

Now, self0care isn’t something that I do occasionally, I make a conscious effort to make sure I push myself to incorporate self care into my every day routine, with one simple goal – to try and maintain good mental health. These habits that I use have slowly helped me feel much better when I’m having a bad day. The more confident we feel in ourselves, the more we understand who we are, and why we’re doing it. Having a structured self-care routine has really changed my whole outlook on how I experience things – if I don’t take care of myself, then I don’t naturally enjoy things. Remember, to make yourself your number one, once you do this – everything else will start to fall into place.