Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Steps to Self-Care


Steps to Self-Care

Self-care is something that should be taken so seriously.  It’s as important as our need, and right for food and water to sustain us.

Self-care is not about ‘looking good’ as social media may suggest. You have to actually enrich the energy that resides within you.
Our society glorifies ‘busy’, and it’s a trend that we’re all trying to keep up with, much to the detriment of our mental health and overall wellbeing. We’re simply not taking the time out that we need, irrespective of whether or not we think we deserve it. 





The fact that ‘Replenish: Acting on Mental Health’ is just under a year old and yet booked by numerous companies and businesses to deliver ‘Mental Health in the Workplace’ workshops is suffice to indicate that the need for, and recognition of, self-care is becoming more prevalent.  After all, how can a business be prolific in its output of services and goods if its workforce isn’t in optimum health?





On a Personal Level

For myself personally, self-care is a sacred factor in maintaining my wellbeing. Living with a mental health disorder alongside being a therapist means that it’s not a choice, but a necessity. 
After all, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. 
So whilst I am on medication for my mental health, AND as knowledgable in the field of mental health care and support as I try to be, I still am very conscious of the fact that my mental health can still be quite precarious and inclined to deteriorate if certain steps are not taken and efforts maintained.
So a few of the Replenish team have compiled a list of the steps that we all should take to ensure optimum wellbeing because mental health wellbeing isn’t dependant on ‘one solution’, unfortunately. It’s the realisation that wellbeing and recovery is comprised of smaller pieces that accumulate to make up a customised and personalised jigsaw of wellness.   




As I go through these steps you’ll see why ‘Replenish’ is made up of various professionals of various fields that are conducive to acting on mental health.

Each steps is written by a professional within Replenish and you will be able to contact as they've listed their contact details below. 

To begin with, Yasmin will detail the importance of her role as an Occupational Therapist in developing a lifestyle conducive to good mental health.





Occupational Therapy

Yasmin Leake ||Occupational Therapist ||
Helping you Balance

As an Occupational Therapist, one of our main focuses is understanding the importance of and creating a balance between a human’s occupations. 
Occupational balance is a way of being, cultivated by a multitude of self care, productivity and leisure occupations.  Balanced engagement in such occupations should promote feelings of positivity, satisfaction and achievement. 
I am therefore a firm believer in working with my clients to review their current daily routines and find strategies that will achieve a balance in their daily routine. 
By investing time in balancing your self care, productivity and leisure occupations, you are likely to benefit from an increased sense of well being and able to manage stress more effectively. 
There is no quick fix to managing your mental health, instead focus on making your whole health a priority every day and you will see positive changes. 
One of my favourite habits I practice every day is going for a 30 minute walk. I try to do this in the morning time when I first wake up, it’s my ‘me’ time, it allows me to be in nature and calm my mind before my working day commences.  It could also be an idea to incorporate an after dinner walk in the evening as an opportunity to unwind and distress from the day. 
If you would like any additional tips/help in creating an occupational balance please contact me at:
yasmin.leake@gmail.com   


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Step 1
Medication

Michelle Harkin || Pharmacist||


Taking medication for mental health is only one of many tools. It can help reduce symptoms enough to enable a person to pursue and receive benefits from lifestyle changes, support groups and counselling. As a pharmacist,  I am aware that most people don't particularly want to feel that they need medication for any illness, but if appropriate, taking care of yourself in the best possible way is always a good thing and is not a sign of weakness.
---- 





What Caroline has to say...


Medication isn’t for everyone. It’s not needed by every person who has anxiety and or depression because depending on the severity of your condition, you can manage it without pharmaceuticals. However, I have a clinical diagnosis of O.C.D, the “tenth most debilitating disorder in the world” according to the World Health Organisation. So basically, I need my medication to help me function and to live a ‘normal’ life. 

When I think a client could benefit from an natural aid to promote calm I always recommend ‘C.B.D. oil’. I wish I had this oil when I was a teenager rather than the placebo of ‘Kalms’ and ‘Quiet Life’. 

So what is CBD OIL?
CBD hemp oil is from the Cannabis plant, however it is legal because it doesn’t have THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient that gives that ‘high’. 

What does it do?
All humans have what is called our ‘Endogenous Cannabinoid System’  that regulates our mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation, pain, and immunity response.
However our lifestyles can cause stresses that interfere with our mood, sleep and all those other important elements of health. So taking CBD oil regulates any imbalances in our already existing cannabinoid system. 

Buy CBD oil HERE

 What else can it be used for:
Whilst I myself use if for hormonal times, it’s often used by many to help with:

- Anxiety
  - Epilepsy    
      - Cancer pain
       - Chronic pain






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  Step 2
Diet & Supplements

Ríadh Egan || Nutritionist||

Nutrition and supplementation for your mental health

Like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets premium fuel. This is why adequate nutrition is so important for our mental health. Eating high quality food that contains lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress - the “waste” produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells. 

Your brain can be damaged if you ingest anything other than premium fuel. If substances from “low premium” fuel (such as those you get from processed foods) get to the brain it has little ability to get rid of them. Diets high in sugar are harmful our brain and promote inflammation and oxidative stress. 


Vitamin Supplementation 

Vitamin B complex 

The B complex vitamins include 11 vitamins essential to mental health and well being. They cannot be stored in our bodies therefore we must depend on our diet to supply them. They can be destroyed by alcohol, refined sugars, caffefine and niacatine. 

Oral contraceptives in women can deplete the body of vitamins B6. this particular nutrient is needed for normal mental health functioning. In such cases vitamin B6 can improve mood. Deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause depression and in B6 can disrupt the formation of neurotransmitters in the brain.

According to a study reported in neuropsychobiology, supplementation of nine of these vitamins improves mood in both men and women. This mood improvement was particularly associated with vitamin B2 and B6.


Folate 
When we hear folate or folic acid we usually think of women in pregnancy or trying to conceive. But actually it is something I recommend for individuals with a mental health illness. 

It has been observed that people with depression have blood folate levels, which are, on an average, 25% lower than healthy controls.
Low levels of folate have also been identified as a strong predisposing factor of poor outcome with antidepressant therapy.

 Folic acid can enhance the effectiveness of antidepressant medication according to studies. 




Vitamin D 

Also known as the Sunshine Vitamin as we get it from the sun. Living in Ireland or any other country that really only sees the sun a couple of months in the year, means that the majority of the population can be deficient in Vitamin D. 

Buy 'The D' Here HERE 


Vitamin D receptors have been found in many parts of the brain.
Some of the receptors in the brain are receptors for vitamin D, which means that vitamin D is acting in some way in the brain. These receptors are found in the areas of the brain that are linked to the development of depression. For this reason, vitamin D has been linked with depression and with other mental health problems.


Exactly how vitamin D works in the brain isn’t fully understood. One theory is that vitamin D affects the amount of chemicals called monoamines, such as serotonin, and how they work in the brain.5 Many anti-depressant medications work by increasing the amount of monoamines in the brain. Therefore vitamin D may also increase the amount of monoamines, which may help treat depression.



Feel Good Foods for your Mental Health 
 Spinach 
Avocado 
Strawberries 
Pineapples 
Green Tea 
Almonds
Tomatos 
Dark Chocolate 
Asparagus 


Should you need any information on nutrition or supplementation please free feel to get in touch. 
Phone: 0863529366

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Step 3
Yoga

Sophie Dechant || Yoga Instructor ||

Are you really Breathing? 
I know you’re breathing .. about 25,000 times a day. 
But are you really aware of all these breaths you take? 

Stop Right Now

  • Place both hands gently on your belly EXHALE all of the air out of  your lungs through your nose.

  • Now inhale (through your nose) slow and strong right down deep to your belly, pushing your hands softly outwards.

  • Exhale again. 

  • Inhale thoroughly. Keep moving your hands with your breath. Up and down. Up and down.
-
                                           
 Now you’re breathing. 
This is abdominal breathing, the first way yoga students are taught to breathe.
Breathe properly and you send oxygen flooding into every cell of your body...yes, your cells breathe. Breathing is important because our cells need a constant supply of oxygen so they can produce energy. Without oxygen cellular function is impaired and and cell death is possible.
So we can see that breath is the very essence of life. In yoga we call it Prana, which is known as 'life force'.
Breathing calms the autonomic nervous system and induces a sense of calm and relaxation. 
It helps us deal with unnecessary impulsive reactions and reduces our stress levels.
Starting with simple abdominal breathing will benefit you physically and mentally


--


Step 4

Self-Respect and Self-Awareness
Natasha Clyde Mulhern || Counsellor ||

When I feel low & anxious I feel worthless, like I have nothing interesting to say to my friends, family, colleagues. Especially colleagues & customers - the people who least know me. The paranoia is relentless & persistent & exhausting. The internal dialogue - 'they think I'm boring/stupid, they wish I'd hurry up, they think I'm weird because I don't go on work nights out or drink, I'm the only one who makes mistakes' and on and on the list is endless.

When I'm having a 'bad day' I see no point in anything, there's no colour, everything is messy & dis-organised. I just want to stay in bed. I feel like I am merely going through the motions, functioning at the lowest level necessary, existing - NOT living.
That is what anxiety does to you. It robs you of your personality, robs you of your confidence and robs you of your identity. 


My only thought can be HOPE. Recovering from the way I feel on those 'bad days'. I can tell those of you who feel like this that your emotions do come back in recovery. Your confidence and personality gradually return in little strips, building up in layers, until eventually you feel like the person you were before you became ill.

It takes commitment & tenacity. It takes speaking up, confiding in your 'tribe', being honest with yourself & with them. Totally honest. If you can't say it out loud, technology is your friend - put it in a text, just start the conversation.

Everyone's self-care is different. For me it's taking quiet time out, detaching, re-charging. My work is busy, both physically & mentally demanding, so quiet time is vital for me. I like to spend time with people who are close in my circle, people I feel safe with. Movies, pamper time, naps, meditation - these are all things I enjoy & make time to incorporate them into my life. It's absolutely vital for me. 

I read a lot about anxiety & obsessive thoughts. Meeting Caroline has been an absolutely pivotal part in my recovery. Finally I felt like I could speak about how I was feeling, without fear. It was absolutely liberating. I drove home exhilarated after my first group session - I WAS NOT ALONE.

One thing I've read & utilise now on the daily is this :
"Never say yes when you mean no, and never say no when you means yes"
'




Simple but effective. Try it. I was a people pleaser even to my detriment on most occasions & now I realise I also need to please myself. 
I've started challenging negative thoughts when I have them and try to list facts to support the thoughts - the majority of the time they are unsupported.
I am the most impatient person, this I know. With everything in my life, not just wanting to be well. Recovery, I am told, will come in time. There is no time limit or magic cure. Everybody is different and some people will recover more quickly than others. Medication & therapy which works for one person might be totally ineffective for you - as I've discovered. Yes, it's frustrating - please trust me, just be patient and your body will take care of itself in its own time.
Remember this - you deserve to BE WELL. If you are struggling to be taken seriously by health professionals then be aware that you can take an advocate with you to help speak with you. I took Caroline with me to get the ball rolling. It started my journey towards reclaiming good mental health & has given me confidence to speak up to my GP since.

---

Please feel free to join our Replenish group for more vital information on how you can Act on your Mental Health:

Work with us: Replenish
 



Monday, 24 July 2017

Lagos, Portugal : Part 3 ft. Inish Pharmacy

Being Irish and fair-skinned is a clear indication that I've had ancestors not too acquainted with the Sun. As much as I love it for the surge of Vitamin D and the great benefits to my mental health, I still am cautious of its dangers.

Tan, courtesy of Bellamianta and maintained by Palmers 

Before I left I asked Paul of 'Inish Pharmacy' for information for you and I to keep in mind during our days of being in the sun, even when it comes and pays us a visit to Ireland. Albeit, not very often. 

People often ask me why I love the sun so much if I wear SPF 50.

Well, the reality is that whilst I would tan eventually after a long time in the sun, I just don't see the point in trying to get a tan just for it to fade. I don't want to risk getting skin cancer for vanity reasons. I just wear a moisturiser with a self-tanner in it. I apply it every night whilst I'm on holiday.
Before I go on holiday I apply Bellamianta's 'Self-Tanning Gradual Moisturiser' in the run up, and then two nights before I go I put on Bellamianta's 'Rapid Mousse'.

To continue the maintenance of tan throughout the holiday I wear Palmer's  'Natural Bronze Gradual Tanning Lotion'

Otherwise if I didn't, I'd just get paler as the holiday progressed!! 

So why does SPF really matter?

Pharmacist Paul of Inish Pharmacy told me 

 "When exposed to the sun, our skin needs to be protected from UV rays. The most high profile risk from sun damage to our skin, is skin cancer. With over 10,000 new cases in Ireland each year, it is the most common form of cancer in Ireland. When choosing a suncream, it's important to check that the product has enough protection for your skin type. There are two main things to look for, the strength of protection or SPF level but also whether or not the product protects against both UVB and UVA. Some products will only protect against UVB, which gives protection against harmful UVB rays that are the main causes of skin cancer, but offer no protection against UVA, which mainly causes skin ageing and winkling. La Roche Posay Anthelios Light Fluid and Bioderma Photoderm Max Cream are excellent choices in this regard with the Photoderm cream slightly more moisturising" 


If you're anything like me and the rest of the population, you really don't want premature ageing in exchange of a fading tan, right?

So fake tanning is the healthiest and safest way to be tan before, during and after your holiday.

Laughing at the sun trying to penetrate the Factor 50 on my skin

 I was also curious to ask Paul about 
Food Poisoning and Dehydration because my stomach hasn't really recovered from my younger days of Whisky and Raw Chilli's (WTF?!) and so I'm a little susceptible to getting sick.

Last Summer in Sicily I got Sun/Heat Stroke because I went for a run in the morning and then spent the day on the beach without being in the shade the entire day. I thought it was from food I had earlier because I was being uncontrollably sick when I got back to our place. I was so scared because I thought I would have to go to the hospital as I wasn't even keeping water down.
Eventually I had stopped being sick and I slept for 15hour straight whilst my boyfriend bought out half of the local pharmacy. 

From that point on I vowed I'd come more prepared if there would be a repeat occurence.

I explained to Paul that this was what happened and he was able to clarify that it was Heat/Sun Stroke.

Paul explains that Heat/ Sun Stroke is 

" a condition where the body overheats and cannot cool itself down like it normally would, leading to symptoms such as dizziness and headache, cramping, feeling sick, a fast pulse rate and heavy sweating and a dark coloured urine. This can happen if you are in a very hot climate but also if you are exercising vigorously you can suffer from heat exhaustion / heatstroke. 


What to do?

"The main thing is to move to a cool place, out of sunlight. Lie down and remove as much clothing as possible so that the skin is exposed. This will help the body cool down. Have someone apply a cold wet towel to dampen the skin and gently fan the skin, this will help your body regulate temperature again. It is very important to drink plenty of fluids."


I find that when I'm sick even at home or abroad, Dioralyte are usually what I would use or recommend to others. Even Paul recommends...

"...everyone to pack some Dioralyte before travelling. These sachets are easily packed and contain vital salts and electrolytes which your body needs to replace in times of excess fluid loss. This doesn't necessarily need to be after having diarrhoea or vomiting, even when you sweat a lot more than usual it is easy to become dehydrated in hot weather if you are not replacing the fluids by drinking plenty of water."





I understand that we don't want to be bloated on holiday, especially when our mid-riffs are seeing the light of day for the first time in 6 months. I always wanted to know how to stop that bloating and irregular 'movements' if you know what I mean, but Paul answered my question without me even having to ask it because he suggested that taking...

 "...a good quality probiotic, such Bio-Kult or Proven, can help you avoid some stomach upset while travelling. When we are on holiday we are out of our regular routine, often eating different foods and at different times of the day. All these things can contribute to upset stomach, with diarrhoea, bloating or constipation all possible. Probiotics not only help your digestive health, they are also good for your immune system and skin, so if you are worried about getting sick on holidays, this is a good idea to start a probiotic a few days in advance of travelling."

No sucking in that tummy needed, just pop a probiotic 

Thanks to Paul with his generous advice to myself and you, I was able to enjoy my holiday with a little less bloating, and a lot more confidence in keeping myself safe from sickness and sun dangers.



Stephen and I

My Godmother/Aunt and I

My boy modelling for 'Daz' washing powder advert...

Probiotic Perks

Playsuit thanks to DV8

I've always loved the combination of Orange and Blue





                     I hope you've enjoyed my holiday posts as much as I've enjoyed my holiday.

Out of them all, which was your favourite outfit I wore out of  Part 1 and Part 2?  I'm curious to see if it's the same as my favourite.

Remember I'm on:

✈︎Instagram
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Friday, 21 July 2017

Lagos, Alvor, Portugal:Part 2



After we visited Villamour, the following day we drove to a bustling little fishing village called Alvor. Being a vegetarian meant there wasn't much choice on the menu for me considering Ariel's friends were being fried, grilled and flambéed left right and centre. 

I enjoyed my fishless meal considerably, nonetheless.

I've been LOVING, and I mean LOVING 'Delta' coffee here. I'm hoping they have it back home in Ireland.
What I call my 'Tina Turner' dress is from Primark and my shoes are from Zara

Oh I wasn't aware a photo was being taken... 

On Wednesday my boyfriend got here. I picked him up from the Airport and then brought him back to the apartment where my Mama and Aunt had made dinner. Red Wine, Olives, Breads, Etc. You get the idea. It was delicious.

On Thursday evening I decided to wear a lovely 1930s-esque dress from iClothing based in Ireland.
I love pieces that give a vintage echo, and this long wrap dress inspired me to take the vintage theme a little further by putting my hair up and wearing little droplet earrings. I felt I was seeing my boyfriend off to WWII. I have an imagination, I know.

Shop the dress here 








Off to the beach, as usual

Have a read of Part 1 here.

Keep an eye out for my upcoming blog post on how I prepare for holiday ft. Inish Pharmacy.
 


Monday, 17 July 2017

Lagos, Portugal : Part 1



Lagos is a rustic town in Portugal's Algarve. Its coast is chopped up with the strength of the Atlantic ocean, renowning it for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

I've been here for four full days and I've just (about to use a cliched word) wanderlusted about. The first day I lay by the pool and read. I'm reading J.D Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye'. I don't even don't what to make of it, even though I'm half way through it. I'm enjoying it nonetheless.

Medieval Gate


I see a dog...
...approaching dog...


Dog was non-responsive to me...Burned!


The next day we rented a car. I've been the designated driver. I must say, it was quite the novelty driving on the RIGHT side of the road on the left side of the car on the motorway. I've picked it up quite easily...

We drove to a place called Villamour, about an hour away.




Sunday arrived.

And with it came the moral obligation to go to mass. Yes, MASS!

In 27 degree heat my Mother and aunt had me in a beautifully ornate chapel may I add, for 1 hour and 10 mins listening to a Portugese version of mass.

I was silently quoting Father Ted quotes to keep myself amused...

..."Sure didn't the Lord himself go on holiday for two weeks to get away from his Father..." I murmured to myself.

In a bid to divert their attention from actually going into mass: "Mammy g'on take a photo of me"






 Thankfully, an hour later I was on the beach...










My beach bag contents


 Keep an eye out for a few more posts...

Remember to have a look at my 'Packing Process' video on how I managed to fit 10 days of outfits into cabin luggage.



Snapchat: @red_dutchess
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