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self care 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?

 

The Lost Art of the Duvet Day

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I used to prescribe my teenage self regular duvet days, once a month.
A day to stay in bed, read books, eat ice cream and chocolate and just be me.
With no pressure from the outside world to do anything else.
No homework, no housework, nothing else other than what pleased me.

Then life began to get in the way, all the responsibilities that adulthood brings; the work stress, the children, whether I’ve paid the bills, is there food in the house? The mum guilt of whether I have cuddled my babies enough that day, do they feel loved, are they happy?
The multitude of items on my to-do list increasing day by day. There appears to be no time for those duvet days that made me feel so refreshed and relaxed.

Now, after many years out of practise I have lost the art of the duvet day. I cannot sit still. I can possibly manage a duvet hour but even then there are ten thousand things running through my brain that I just MUST get done. I put the kids to bed and then do the housework, or study, or check my work emails, or make a few orders. I actually find it impossible to sit and watch a film from start to finish.

So, I ask you, how do we as busy adults learn to switch back off again?

That is something I plan to rediscover and I hope you will come along with me for the journey. Follow my journey on Instagram @aboxof_happiness

We all have self-care thrown in our faces every where we look these days but it really is so important to take that time for yourself to recharge. Are you putting the most stress on yourself? Does the kitchen sink being empty of dishes really make a difference to your life? Probably not.

Today I prescribe a duvet day. Or tomorrow, or the next day but schedule it in. Work out a time when you can just be at home on your own, not doing the dishes, or scrubbing the floor. But just spending time with you before you burn out.

This morning, I had a meeting scheduled which was cancelled for the second time this week. At first I was a little put out that my entire days plans would alter (for a control freak this is hard to handle!), but then I figured this was a serendipitous moment that would allow me to start the day with a whole new slate. I could make a dent in that giant to do list, but instead I made a big pot of coffee and sat in my giant bay window which was awash with sunshine. The only sounds were the seagulls soaring high above the sea. That quiet, a mug of coffee that I would get to finish before it got cold (I lie, it did get cold, mainly because it was a mug made for giants!), the vase of roses on the windowsill. I felt a huge sense of gratitude, that life, although imperfect was pretty perfect in that moment. And this is the switching off that I need, that thing they called mindfulness. We all need to slow down and appreciate these little things instead of always striving for perfection.

So, take that duvet day, take a moment for mindfulness and be grateful for everything that IS perfect right now, in this moment. Stop rushing from task to task on that list, it will still be there in a few hours and you will have the calmed mind that will be able to tackle each thing just a little more effectively.

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The Power of the Mind

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The mind has amazing power over our lives, our emotions and has the ability to do amazing things. Ever noticed how having a pessimistic outlook can change the course of the day? Think about this….You wake up, stub your toe on the door, spill the milk on the floor while making your breakfast – there are two ways it can go. You say angrily, ‘It’s going to be “One of those” days’ and so it is and you have a hell of a day. Or you tell yourself to snap out of it and take 5 minutes over a coffee to recharge, get some positivity and travel to work noticing all the beauty around you, the sun shining, the birds singing and spend the rest of the day upbeat.

As Buddha said ‘The mind is everything; what you think you become’ which as an article in breathe magazine (issue 8, page 16) shows, through research on the placebo effect – if we expect something to happen it will bring about that expected result be it positive or negative as ‘the brain is in control’ (Newlyn, E, 2017, Breathe Magazine, Issue 8, Page 17).
In the same article Emma Newlyn gives some great advice about creating your own placebo effect to give your life a little boost of positivity, if you’re a naturally pessimistic person this may take a bit of practise but will be well worth the effort for your mind, to alleviate low self-confidence and negative feelings. She recommends using the mind power you waste on worrying to turn it around into a positive response, focusing on something good and so occupying the mind in a more positive way to ‘take the body out of its cycle of stress’.
You can also use the power of the mind to visualise an image of what you want to achieve, this is something I do regularly when I struggle to sleep. Imagining how a situation will go, or at least how I would like it to go. Try it the next time you have a job interview or presentation. See yourself sat in your smart outfit, confident, smiling, answering the questions with ease. You will go in there with a little bit more positivity, a little more confidence and who knows you may even get the job.

Give these bits of advice a try and let me know how it works out for you.

In my next post I will be sticking with the theme of mind power but focusing more on positive affirmations and how words can shape your life, emotions, wellbeing and self- confidence.

This blog post was inspired by Issue 8 of Breathe Magazine – if you haven’t seen it I would highly recommend grabbing a copy, there’s so much wonderful advice surrounding a variety of topics that all lead to increased wellbeing.

 

New Start September

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September sees the beginning of many things, the beginning of autumnal weather, the beginning of a new school year – in our house that is starting Year 2 for the 6-year-old, starting pre-school for the 3-year-old and starting my third and final year of my business and management degree at a brand-new university, with brand new people! New beginnings and big changes like this can be daunting and a little frightening for some but taking on new challenges, learning something new and making new friends opens our minds up to new and wonderful things as well as boosting self-confidence as you realise how adaptable you really are. Nothing amazing happens if everything always stays the same, does it?

The dark nights closing in on us and the weather turning a little more chill makes September a great time for setting some new goals and assessing where you’re at with the goals you set at the start of the year. How close are you to achieving them? Is there anything you can do now to make sure you achieve those goals before the end of the year?
Your goals can be anything that makes YOU happy, as big or small as you like. They can be short term e.g. get up a little earlier tomorrow morning or long term e.g. Run the London marathon in 2020. The important thing to bear in mind is not just the goal but how and when you will achieve it. So if you were to plan to run the London marathon in 2020 you would think about what you need to do to actually achieve that, you would most probably train regularly, improving your fitness and health in the time leading up to it.

Doing that one thing for you is a great way to practise some self-care and improve your general wellbeing.
I am somebody who regularly sets goals and reflects on how far I have got to achieving them. And today I set some new ones. I turn the big 3-0 in January and would love to be fit and healthy and rock an amazing dress to celebrate.

Goal ONE – Be fabulous at 30.
As I am starting my third year of uni I will graduate next year and with what I have achieved in my studies so far am on track to graduate with a first. I think about this often and so that’s another goal.
Goal TWO – Graduate with a first.
I have been trying to pass my driving test for 2 years now, I now have to start again with my theory test as I have sadly failed a few times and left it so long my theory expired! I don’t want to beat me, I need to pass my driving test.
Goal THREE – Pass driving test!
Now that I have decided my goals I need to decide what small steps I need to take to achieve them. Little steps on a regular basis will make it easier to achieve.

Why not share your goals for the next few months, next year or even your 5 year plan and the little steps you need to take to get there? Grab a notebook and make it your goal diary, set those goals, reflect on your progress and smash them!

LemonMint Foot Soak

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How beautiful has the weather been these last few days? I know many of you will have struggled to cool down with the heat but that’s where our LemonMint foot soak comes in, it is most definitely our product of the month.

If you follow us on social media you will have seen this delicious creation featured in the June Box of Happiness! (Order yours before Friday!) Its also been a big seller on its own, its available through our Etsy shop by itself or make a create your own box and request it in the notes section!

Its a beautiful mixture of Himalayan pink salt and Epsom salt (for fantastic detoxification), lemon peel, peppermint and essential oils of lemon, peppermint and eucalyptus. I chose those oils for their anti-bacterial, cleansing and refreshing properties but they are also great for anybody that suffers with allergies. So if you’re a hay fever sufferer try inhaling deeply while using the soak for some relief. It truly is an amazing way to soothe tired and hot achy feet after a long day.

Lemon and Peppermint are such a beautiful combination, they are fresh and inviting and leave your tootsies tingly fresh!

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!