Categories
Mental Health Real Life Stuff Self Care

Important Announcement

Okay, I need to write this because this is important. To anyone currently living with and battling with a mental health condition… You are awesome. You don’t feel it, but you are. Each day you are holding your head above water by whatever means available to you.

You are no less inspiring than the most motivational of motivational speakers.

You are no less strong than the strongest of weight lifters.

You areano less important than the most prominent VIP and no less valid than any other human being on this planet!

Having a mental health crisis is not a sign of weakness or failure, it is a symptom of an illness that you can, with the right support, manage and recover from. If that means medication, take it! If it means changing your lifestyle, do it. If it means lessening your contact with toxic people, bid them a hearty buh-bye and start taking your life in a better direction, one the serves you.

Let go of “should”. I should be able to cope better, I should be dealing with this better, I should be happy. You are where you are. Be gentle with yourself and know that with support you can get to the place you want to be, but please, do not feel ashamed of where you are now.

Our brains are a part of our body and there is no distinction between an ill body and and ill mind so stop beating yourself up!

If your body isn’t getting enough vitamin D, take a supplement. If your brain isn’t getting enough seratonin, get some from your doctor and let yourself feel better.

If your shoulder is strained from over use rest it. If your mind is strained from prolonged stress, rest it!

If you’re injured in a car accident, physiotherapy can help you put your body back together. If your mind is injured through trauma, taking therapy could help you put your mind back together.

There are so many causes of anxiety, depression and mental illness but I’m telling you now, being a failure is not one of them!

So please, KEEP GOING. I promise you are worth it.

Categories
Mental Health Real Life Stuff Self Care Uncategorised

Mending the Pessimist

Had you asked me if I were an optimist, up until a very short time ago I would have said “Yes, of course”. I always try to see the best in everyone and in every situation. I go to work each day hoping for a positive experience and I go to bed each night fully expecting to wake up the next day. That’s optimism, right?

But while I always believed my glass to be half full, there was a constant fear I’d knock it over. The more I thought about it the more examples I could find of times when I would be hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

My boss would ask to speak to me and my heart would pound as I wondered what I had done wrong. What shortcoming was about to be exposed? I felt like I wasn’t enough and it was only a matter of time before everybody else would see the truth.

A letter arriving in the post would send my head spinning and my skin would flush with fire. I would be sure it was going to be a bill I couldn’t afford to pay (despite the fact I’ve always been fortunate enough to have sufficient to pay them).

If I was invited out for an evening fear would set in. I’d know I wasn’t going to have fun and I would feel out of place.

Yes, it turns out I am a pessimist, or at least I was. I am now choosing to identify as a recovering pessimist.

I feel like I have been taking antidepressants for so long they have become a part of my identity. Am I predisposed to depression due to being a pessimist or am I a pessimist due to depression, and can I change?

I decided to rewire and retrain my brain. To switch to positive thinking and optimism and to move away from a negative mindset and I found an amazing place to start.

Let me tell you a little bit about REBT.

When I decided that a new way of thinking was in order I did a quick Google Search. This is one of the first things that came up when I typed in ‘can you change from being a pessimist to an optimist’.

So what is it? Well it stands for Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy and it’s part of the same family of therapies as CBT.

It is founded on the belief that our emotions are not disturbed by events themselves but our interpretations of those events.

According to the founder of REBT there are 10 cognitive distortions that act as lenses we experience things through.

1. Mental filtering – focusing on negative events rather than any positive outcome.

2. Jumping to conclusions – assuming the worst.

3. Personalisation – Disproportionately blaming yourself when things go wrong.

4. Black and white thinking – All or nothing, good or bad, right or wrong.

5. Catastrophising – believing things to be much worse than they are.

6. Overgeneralization – everything ALWAYS goes wrong.

7. Labeling – I’m useless, I’m a failure etc.

8. Should and Must – This should happen this way, this must not happen!

9. Emotional Reasoning – viewing a situation based on how we felt in that moment.

10. Magnification and minimisation – magnifying other people’s positive attributes while minimising your own.

There are 3 basic ‘Musts’ that cause the distortions.

1. I must do well and win the approval of others or else I am no good.

2. Other people must treat me fairly or else they are no good.

3. I must get what I want when I want it or else I can’t stand it.

REBT uses the ABCDE Method to look at our thoughts and reframe them into more healthy and helpful ones.

A – Activating event. An event that happens in our environment.

B – Belief you have about the event that has happened.

C – Consequence. The emotional response to your belief.

D – Disputing the unhelpful belief.

E – Effect of deactivating the unhelpful belief.

So in my case, one of my massive triggers and fears was making a mistake at work.

A – Going to work.
B – If I make a mistake it will be terrible. I will get in trouble with my boss and lose my job and end up destitute.
C – Panic attacks, crying, being off work sick.

With reflection and effort I’ve got to D & E.

D – People make mistakes all the time and they’re rarely serious enough to result in dismissal. I always work hard and try my best and as long as I do that, the odd mistake from time to time is okay.

E – I am calmer, more forgiving of myself and happier at work.

The ultimate goal in this is to shift your thinking from the three musts to the three types of acceptance, these are…

1. I am imperfect and that is ok. I have worth regardless of my shortcomings.

2. Other people will treat me unfairly at times and that is ok. It does not remove their worth or my own.

3. Life doesn’t always have to go to plan or be pleasant. It isn’t awful and it is usually at least bearable.

So there it is, a very brief summary of REBT. I’ve personally found it really helpful.

If you’d like more information on REBT there is a great course (which I found really helpful) on Udemy that is currently on offer.

Categories
Forward Thinking Mental Health Real Life Stuff Self Care

A Gateway to Greatness

Do you want to know an easy way to increase your confidence and boost your mood? It requires very little effort and no money whatsoever. Interested? Of course you are!

In my quest, moving towards a more positive frame of mind, I have stumbled upon something marvelous. You can do it it in as little as five minutes a day, but within this time a new skill will become a part of you and shine from you with radiance and confidence.

So what is this awesome thing that’s going to change your mood, your energy and your life? Well it’s you, more specifically your body language.

You see, your body is a mirror of your emotions and while most people are aware of this, they don’t perhaps realised that the same can be true in reverse.

If you see someone hunched over, closed off, with the head down and their hands clasped, odds are they aren’t in a good place. Likewise someone that has their head Held High the body language is open and relax with a big broad smile, there probably doing much better right?

Well here’s the magic part. Our body and our brain are connected and create feedback loops.

Try this…adopt the body language of a person in a sad or withdrawn state. Lower your head, draw your body in a small as you can, cross your arms or ring your hands. How do you feel? I’m guessing you started to feel a bit sad, or anxious, or both.

Now try this… widen your stance, smile broadly, place your hands on your hips and hold your head high. Own your space and smile. Keep that smile going, get it to reach your eyes. This a power pose.

Do you feel better? Even just a tiny bit? I thought so.

This isn’t mystic hippie stuff. This is science, real actual science, and it works. If you need proof have a look at the pictures I’ve included in this blog. There was a time I would never want to share a full length picture of myself, but since looking at these new techniques I’ve really started to feel the confidence my body is portraying.

Body language confidence example

Practice power posing in the bathroom in private for a few minutes each morning and whenever you get the opportunity. Embrace the new confident you and in no time at all this will become natural and require little thought or effort.

There are loads of amazing free resources online where you can learn about body language, positivity, power posing, and lots more.

The bottom line here? You are amazing, you are worthy and you deserve your place in the world, so hold your head high and own your space!

Here’s a great starting place, check out this amazing video from Vanessa van Edwards all about the art of body language for confidence.

Categories
Forward Thinking Mental Health Real Life Stuff Self Care Uncategorised

Stop!

Blue Sky over a path

It might seem strange to be starting with a post about stopping but bear with me…

I have been working on shifting my mindset in so many different ways and the plan was to see what worked what didn’t, and to write about the things that did. To write, not as an expert, but a veteran. To show tried and tested ways to feel better.

I have lots of things I’m going to write about in the coming weeks on my mission to change my thought process and shift my mindset to one that serves me, rather than enslaves me. I have decided however, that rather than writing as a veteran who’s been through it I’m going to write these pages and let them serve as a journal. I will chart my progress and put it out there for all to see. I hope it will be interesting and I hope it will be helpful. The reason I want to do it this way is because what works for me might not work for others and likewise, what works for others might not work for me so if I try something that I don’t find useful it may help someone else.

Before I get to any of the ‘how’ I want to say this… Changing the Habit of a lifetime it’s hard work! It can feel exhausting and it is ok to rest when you need it. Stamina builds over time. Nobody does a marathon in their first attempt at running, they train they build endurance and they keep going on their journey – but when they are tired they rest. The more they train the longer they are able to go between rests.

I’ve always been a very all or nothing sort of person. I would stop at the first set back because what’s the point? I wanted to go from zero to expert in one giant leap and obviously that isn’t the way of the world. What I’m learning now is slow and steady wins the race. You’re allowed an off day and it’s ok to stop, just as long as you remember to start again.

And this brings me to last night. Last night after a lot of good days I hit a wall. My mind was crammed with all the things I’ve been learning, body language, facial expressions, feedback loops, REBT, breathing, tone of voice, the list goes on. I was knackered and quite frankly I couldn’t be bothered. I wanted to put it all down and let my head just do what it wanted. I didn’t have the energy to be positive. Do you know I did? I had a glass of wine and I gave myself permission to exhale. I watched some telly with my husband and I cuddled my dog and just relaxed.

Today I feel ready to go again, ready to pick up the tools that I’ve been learning to use and keep going. Life is a marathon not a sprint, so let’s dust off our running shoes and get to it.