Showing posts with label Therapist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Therapist. Show all posts

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

RĂ­adh 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


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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.

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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, 5 December 2016

A Trail of Glittering Experience

I have been recently discovering a lot of snails about my garden...

And, I, in my tendency to succumb to the seduction of a silent reverie, found myself wondering about snails, their purpose, and why they are the way they are. Why a shell? Why have they their houses on their back?
Then I thought ‘Snails are independent in a weird way’.
They rely on themselves for their shelter, their security; unattached 
to anything but themselves. 
They travel leaving only a trail of glittering experience of the path they’ve taken, despite how long it has taken them.

A snail didn’t choose to be a snail, it didn’t choose to be slow and burdened with its shell, but despite its wavering purpose in nature, it still carries itself and travels to a new place, independent of all that surrounds it, and irrespective of what humanity thinks of it.
With its beautifully grotesque shell, intricately designed by the hand of nature, the snail climbs up walls, unaware of what is before it, never questioning.
It goes on, until a bird comes and ends its insignificant life, fulfilling its purpose as a meal for its avian predecessor on the food-chain... and the world goes on.

And I think, perhaps I’m too like this snail. I, too, am burdened by an unreckonable force upon my back, that is, my Mental Health. With such a heavy burden I’m tempted to wait in hope of a winged figure to pluck me from the perils of my physical encasement on this Earth.
But, despite the weight, and the fear of an ominous shadow, I have become accustomed to it.


“despite its wavering purpose
in nature, it still carries itself
and travels to a new place, independent of all that surrounds it, and irrespective of what humanity thinks of it”
I, too, can keep going despite what humanity thinks of me. It’s only with my beautifully grotesque mind, my perseverance and struggle that I can leave my glittering trail of experience. 
Perhaps my purpose is to show that despite the weight of my mental illness, I can still travel to new places, explore new grounds and live, unattached to the stigma and social ‘impressions’ of what it means to have a Mental Health problem. To show, that despite all the odds, I can still live.
I have come out of my shell and accepted who I am.
My Mental Health disorder has conditioned me to be strong, to persevere through everything that life offers. I chose to turn something negative into something positive, so going to therapy, taking medication and working on myself holistically has taught me to realise that I can have control over how I feel.
I consider what I thought was a curse, as a blessing. I feel blessed because what was once a burden is now a monument that signifies my success through the toughest struggle that I’ve ever endured, and I’m leaving my glittering trail of experience.

Living with a Mental Health disorder doesn’t define who I am as a person. Having a Mental Health disorder does not make me any less a dreamer, any less a daughter, sister or girlfriend. Being a snail doesn’t mean it’s any less an insect. Having a Mental Health disorder means I just have something extra to deal with in my daily life.
There was a time when I considered myself ‘cursed’, questioning why I was inflicted with such mental torment, convincing myself that I was being punished.
How I perceived my Mental Health disorder is indicative of how society can penalise and ostracizes anything that is ‘abnormal’ or ‘taboo’. In the daylight hours society doesn’t blatantly outlaw those who have Mental Health issues; in fact, it encourages inclusion and well- being of everyone. It’s only in the dark corners of quiet moments, when the day has yawned and the tie is pulled off, that the other face of society looks warily from the corner of its eye upon us and wonders are we actually monsters, psychopaths and murderers like the people in those horror movies.

Society paints a sloppy picture using only limited colours to portray those with Mental Health issues. 
We deserve to be painted by our own experienced hands, we who have experienced the inner turmoil that Mental Health can cause. If each of us could choose to contribute to what Mental Health is like using our own artistic technique, our own stroke of the brush, our own unique colour upon the canvas of society, then perhaps the art depicting Mental Health wouldn’t be abstract art, but simply naturalism, a reflection of our minds, our struggles, beautiful dashes of colour with trails of glittering experience. 
We owe it to ourselves to keep going and to make our own purpose despite what nature has given us. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Let it Go

The animated movie ‘Frozen’ craze has lasted longer than any typical Irish winter. This is primarily because it breaks the conventional Disney plot of ‘Princess meets Prince, Prince saves Princess from evil Villain, and Princess and Prince live happily ever after’.






Frozen actually empowers females, both young and old, by showing that two sisters can save each other without the need for a Prince.
The breakthrough of the advocacy of female independence in the Disney plot has seen ‘Frozen’ become one of the highest grossing animated films ever.
After watching it a few times I realised there was another reason why I loved it, and then I was hit with a whole different emotional avalanche when I discovered what it was.
I could relate my personal experience of my mental health struggles with this Disney movie.


Let me tell you why...
In Arendelle, young Princess Elsa has strong powers that enable
her to turn anything to Ice. Anna, Elsa’s younger sister adores her, and they play together until Elsa accidentally hits Anna on the head with her power and almost kills her. Their parents bring them to magic trolls in order to save Anna’s life and make her forget that her sister has any such powers. Elsa returns to the castle and shuts herself up in her room for fear of hurting Anna with her increasing power. Later, their parents die and on her coronation as Queen, Elsa is forced to open the gates of her castle to celebrate with the people. Anna meets Prince Hans at the party and wants to marry him. Elsa does not accept the marriage and loses control of her powers freezing the town of Arendelle. Elsa flees to the mountain and Anna teams up with the peasant Kristoff and his reindeer Sven and the snowman Olaf to seek out Elsa and plead with her to stop winter in July.

They find Elsa in her icy castle who tells Anna to leave due to the fear of hurting her again but she accidentally hits Anna in the heart. Only true love can save her sister from death. At the end of the movie it shows that the true love comes not from a Prince, but from the love and protection of her sister. Anna is saved as an‘act of true love that can thaw a frozen heart’ and realises that Elsa can save Arendelle.





After watching ‘Frozen’ I sat and I reflected on how remarkably well I could empathise with Elsa, an animated character with magical powers. Not that I have magical powers like Elsa, but because I too have a burden that I find hard to control.
I never thought I would be able to say that Disney, whether intentionally or not, has shed light on what it’s like to live with a mental health issue.
Elsa’s power is like our own mental health issues. We hear her power being called a “curse’’ and “sorcery’’. But it scares her, like the way we are frightened ourselves by what goes on in our minds.
Like Elsa, we don’t want to burden others and so can inadvertently hurt those closest to us. Elsa’s sister was made to forget and this brought more fear onto Elsa. As our fear grows, the negative power of our minds grow, and like Elsa, we isolate ourselves.
Similar to Elsa’s power there is a certain beauty of the mind. It’s like a snowflake, intricate but hard to understand, and can be painfully cold on us, just like ice.  
Society, like the trolls to Elsa, tells us “You must learn to control it. Fear will be your enemy.’’
Her Father tells Elsa “Conceal, don’t feel it, don’t let it show’’ which actually reinforces the belief of ‘I am different’, and causes more fear for Elsa.
There is a stigma placed on Elsa, just as there is one attached to ‘having a mental health difficulty’, which causes us to retreat from being ourselves due to fear and the belief that we are ‘different’. 
We create a prison for ourselves. Like Elsa who sits in cold ice, we sit in pain, not talking, becoming worse; sacrificing ourselves for the emotional safety of others and to bring no shame or fear.



As Elsa is expected to fulfil her duties and roles as Queen, we too, are expected to live normally. Since her parents have died we are also reminded that sometimes we are on our own to deal with our mental ill health, and that sometimes we have to rely on ourselves because others won’t understand.
During her coronation Elsa doesn’t want to take off her gloves because it will reveal what she wants to hide. Similarly, sometimes we fear having to take off our smiling masks as it may reveal our mind and our pain.
As Elsa’s power is revealed she is called a ‘monster’ by someone who doesn’t understand. She’s afraid of herself and she runs from others shouting “stay away from me’’, which reminds us that sometimes we don’t have to be told anything, we just have to see the fear and shock on other people’s faces. This causes Elsa to run away up into the mountain where she can be herself.
Elsa becomes isolated once again, she’s Queen of the kingdom of isolation but she’s happy because she is “alone and free” because society now knows and she decides to ‘let it go’. However, can we really be alone? Does the isolation not remind us of the sometimes cold and barren plain of mental illness?
We, like Elsa, feel the freedom and relief when we can be ourselves and when people know who we really are without having to hide anymore. Yet, we can become defensive and continue to push people away, but what we don’t realise is that friends and family are the ones who will actually save us. Anna’s love for Elsa makes her go up into the mountain and face obstacles to get to Elsa, and Anna tells Elsa “We’ll make the sun shine bright, we can face this thing together and everything will be alright.’’ But we don’t realise that pushing our loved ones away can actually hurt them, like Elsa hurts Anna. Over time, when things are at their worst, we realise that family and friends and people who won’t let us go are the people with the magic that saves us, and their “act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.”



We can be strong like Queen Elsa, but we’re stronger with our loved ones around us. We shouldn’t let society and its ideals of personality and pretences of sanity scare us from being who we truly are. We shouldn’t hide and we shouldn’t think we’re different, because we’re unique.

We soon realise that the support of those around us is actually stronger than the power of our mental illness, and that kind of support is magical. Just ‘Let it go... and rise like the break of dawn’’





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