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mental health Archives | A Box of Happiness

May = Mental Health Awareness

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Our mental health is the foundation on which the rest of our mind, body and soul functions. If you’re struggling with mental health the rest of you is surely going to suffer alongside it. Which is why our mental health is one of the most important things to look after. Its also the hardest thing to talk about for some reason, we feel ashamed if we suffer in this way. But the reality is that its something so many people have to battle with on a daily basis. 

From mild anxieties to depression and beyond. Neglecting to take care of these issues and seeking help when needed means they can spiral out of control very quickly.

Talking about it is a fundamental necessity. To get it into the open, to know that it is not shameful. To help each other and to remove the shroud of guilt surrounding mental health in this country. The last few weeks I have seen a small number of people telling their stories, encouraging others to do the same and that needs to continue. We need to stop the depression shaming that goes on, telling people to pull themselves together and get on with it is not helpful. Would you do that to somebody who was suffering with an injury? No, you would comfort and care for them until they are back to full health and that’s what needs to go on with mental health problems. But I also believe you need somebody who enables you to carry on functioning rather than sinking further in to that black hole that wants to consume you.

I don’t have a personal story to tell but I see what can happen in people that I love and care for, as somebody who hasn’t been in that position it is so difficult to understand what is going on in that persons head. So, it takes a gentle hand, a caring smile and a listening ear. To not push, just wait, just be there when they feel ready to speak and listen with no judgement.

I believe I am lucky to know when I am overwhelmed, when things are getting too much and I have learned to take time for myself in various ways. To know when to take a step back from the world and retreat in to my cocoon, my safe place. This weekend for example. In social situations I am a social person, but I enjoy my quiet sanctuary of home too. This weekend we had family to stay and spent a few days super busy, walking to the beach, running around and playing in that fresh sea air. There was no quiet sanctuary for me. By Monday evening, I felt the strain, the mental and physical exhaustion. Some people love to be surrounded by others, its how they function but for me I need to wind down in quiet solitude. So once the kids had crashed in their beds also exhausted, I ran myself a hot bubbly bath, grabbed my crystals and incense and had an hour floating in the tub. I felt the strain melting away, my breath easing to normal, the overwhelm shrinking back.

Life can be extremely stressful, especially when unexpected and uncontrollable events happen. It is human nature to want to be in control but that is not realistic. We all need to learn those coping mechanisms for when these things happen. Some people go in to action mode, trying to fix the problem, seeking solutions. While others may bury their heads in the sand. The important thing is learning your own coping mechanisms and what works for you. For me, I take a little time out, to clear my head and with that clear head allow a solution to form or realise that the situation isn’t as bad as it seems. And the way I do that varies, but it almost always involves being alone. Only then can I develop that self awareness needed. A little self care, a walk by the sea to allow the crashing waves to put my otherwise overactive mind in to a meditative state, a bubble bath with essential oils, a good book to take me to another world.

Meditation and mindfulness are wonderful ways to take care of that need to be calm when life gets a little crazy. Which is why May’s Box of Happiness is a mindfulness and meditation box. To help others learn more about and begin to practise these techniques that they may have otherwise never considered.

I would love to hear from others. How do you take care of your mental health? What do you think needs to be done to improve mental health awareness?

 

Breaking the Stigma Around Mental Health

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Today I attended the BuyYorkshire event at Leeds Royal Armouries where I had the pleasure of seeing Alastair Campbell talk about mental health.

Wow, what an inspiration. His talk was honest and frank about his own mental health issues, the way he recalls his episode of psychosis as though it happened just yesterday. Describing the feeling of his mind being made of glass – smashing into thousands of shards. Hearing what he describes as a ‘cacophony’ of voices and noise in his head.
The talk highlighted some very important points, things we can all do to break the stigma of mental health.

Stop being afraid!
Stop hiding from it.
“Be open, be proud” because just about everybody will be affected by mental health problems at some point in their lives and there isn’t anything to be ashamed about.

The stigma can only be broken with honesty on the subject and things are not going to change unless we do something about it. As Alastair points out there is a huge gap between the care we receive for physical health and mental health although both are just as important as each other for us to be healthy and happy. He describes psychosis as on par with being in a horrific car crash, being thrown out of the front windscreen – in that situation you would be given immediate care, however somebody suffering psychosis is expected to be seen within 2 weeks before they receive treatment in the UK.

We all need to break this stigma and push for change just like people before us pushed for womens rights, racial equality and gay marriage.

I always say we need to be the change we want to see in the world and this works in so many ways.

The end of the talk saw an opportunity for a quick Q&A, the most interesting question on the subject of mental health was how each and every one of us could take a call to action from the talk to which Alastair replied “Don’t avoid it, don’t look the other way”, if you see somebody in distress ask them if they’re OK. Just that can mean so much.

Be the change you want to see in the world, break the stigma and join our Happiness Revolution!

Positive Mental Attitude

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Positive Mental Attitude has helped me gain confidence, gain friends and become happier as a result.

Some people that know me may find it difficult to believe that once upon a time I was chronically shy. I still get nervous sometimes and in certain situations but nothing like I used to. I still blush in many situations for the slightest reason which makes me anxious because its quite clear for all to see that I am feeling uncomfortable. I have always had ambition but this really held me back. I was scared to tell people my dreams, fear of failure and ridicule were huge. It was only in my mid twenties (quick titbit of info, I am now 29, but sshhh, don’t tell everyone!) after I had my first daughter that I began to think ‘Why am I bothered what strangers think of me?’ do their opinions really matter? Should my happiness really ride on these things?
My husband really helped with this too, he doesn’t care what people think of him, he is unashamedly himself and he has pushed and encouraged me in so many ways. Although there will always be a part of me that resists. The same goes for my stress levels. Back in college I was known as a ‘stress head’, everything was such a big deal, I was highly stung and defensive. But now I try to think ‘don’t stress about those things which you cannot control’, life is going to throw you some curve balls but how you react to them is going to alter the situation. If you choose to let things eat you up, if you bury your head in the sand that is not going to solve anything.
Of course Mrs Stress still likes to rear her ugly head but I now have ways of dealing with her.
One thing I have always believed and always try to pass on to others is having an optimistic outlook. This may seem irritating to others sometimes but which one of us is happier, the optimist or the pessimist? If you wake up and something happens and you think ‘oh its going to be one of those days’ it will turn out to be one of those days!! Whereas if you wake up and think ‘today is a good day’ or if something happens that’s not in the plan and you think ‘oh well never mind, no point stressing about it’ you will automatically feel much happier and the day will breeze by. Because you have handled it, because you have not let it dampen your spirit. This is positive mental attitude. It also links back to something called the law of attraction, definitely look it up because its so interesting. But basically what you think you attract. Think of yourself like a magnet, if you are a negative person you are going to attract all the negativity; negative thoughts, feelings, situations, even negative people. Your vibe attracts your tribe!  However, if you’re a positive person you will do the opposite and attract all things positive.

Which brings me to my next point. Do not allow room in your life for negative people, those people that drain all the happiness from you, that suck your soul till you’re feeling dull and miserable. Those people that ‘dull your sparkle’ so to speak. That’s a total happiness killer. So don’t BE one of those people either! I try to only surround myself with people that make me happy, that respect my dreams, that have my back, the kind of people that are rooting for me, that say nice things, that are always supportive, that I trust 100% not to go behind my back and say things they wouldn’t say to me. They are the friends you need, even if you only have 2 or 3 friends like that, that is worth a million false friends.

Since changing my outlook on life, since trying to be a better person myself I have found I have attracted so much good in to my life, I feel happy because I appreciate everything that has come my way (Gratitude is a whole other blog post!). Positive mental attitude has brought me self-confidence (fake it till you make it baby!), it has brought me great friends and I am making new ones all the time, friends I would consider soul sisters, friends for life. By being pro-active and pushing myself through my confidence issues, I have my own business which is going from strength to strength, I am studying for a business degree, I am learning to drive and 2017 is going to be amazing! I will always have to work hard to appear to be a confident person, but I hope in time it will become less of an effort.

I would love for some of you to try changing your outlook, put a positive spin on everything, push yourself out of your comfort zone, smile at that stranger you see every morning on the way to work/school, speak to somebody you haven’t spoken to before, join a netmums group to meet new people.  Give some of these a try and let me know how you get on and how you’re feeling after a week!

What is Self Care?

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Self Care – You’ve probably heard of it but do you know what it is?
Self Care is what keeps you well, mentally and physically, those little things you do for yourself to unwind and relax. More and more of us are realising the importance of self care in an ever changing, fast paced world where we barely have two seconds to think. Running from one place to the next, constantly ‘switched on’ to the pressures around us. Self care is about switching off and re-fuelling again before we are running on empty. (I’m sure you know that feeling!)
We can practise little titbits of self care on a daily basis, to keep the tank topped up. Or have regular self care days. However works for you.

There isn’t a one-size fits all plan when it comes to self care, its just about doing those things that make YOU feel good. Later in the week I will be sharing a self care planner that I have made, for you to download for free!

For me that’s having a hot bubbly bath, candles lit around the bathroom, a face mask freshly applied, a cup of herbal tea or a cheeky glass of prosecco. I sink in to the soothing bath filled with relaxing essential oils, lay back and read a good book. Letting the warming feeling melt away all the stresses and strains of the day. This was my inspiration for A Box of Happiness, self care kits to encourage others to do the same. I see so many women; mums, professionals constantly on the go, burning the candle at both ends.

Practising self care isn’t just an indulgence, it is a great way of maintaining your mental health, reducing anxiety and improving self confidence. Something all of us could benefit from.

Here are just a few self care ideas for you to try this week, some take just 10 minutes out of your day, some will take some planning but will be worth it:

  • Have a duvet day, do nothing other than sit in your pyjamas with your duvet on the sofa and watch re-runs of your favourite teen series (mine is gossip girl!)
  • Take a pot of herbal tea in to the garden, drink it while listening to the birds sing.
  • Have a silent stroll along the seafront or river.
  • Read a book
  • Give yourself a full facial at home
  • Put some music on; sing at the top of your voice and dance like nobody is watching (because lets face it if you’re at home they probably aren’t!!)
  • Do 10 minutes of yoga
  • Meditate
  • Call a friend or relative and have a catch up
  • Arrange a coffee date with a friend
  • Go to a coffee shop alone, drink a caramel latte and read the newspaper
  • Go swimming
  • Laugh out loud
  • Watch your favourite old movie
  • Have a movie night with the kids, popcorn and all.
  • Walk in the woods, really look around and take in the wonders of nature!

For some people just doing the simple self care tasks like showering daily, brushing teeth, making nourishing meals are hard enough. That’s why we try to encourage these things. We all know when we take care of ourselves we feel so much better and it can be easy to get stuck in a vicious cycle of not taking care of ourselves and feeling bad, feeling worthless. You are not worthless. So take care of yourself, encourage others to do the same and make the world a happier place!

Let me know your little tricks of self care and share this post with anybody you think might need it! Love to you all!