Mental Health

Loud

Poignant words as we collectively cry out for the injustice for George Floyd and other people of colour who are mistreated. #blacklivesmatter

WORD...breathed

In the final moments of his life, it is documented, George Floyd was heard calling for his mother. I do not know how loud was his cry given that Derek Chauvin was kneeling on his neck. But it was loud enough for those present to hear him. As well as others around the world.

Diana Spalding of the Motherly website wrote, “When mothers around the world heard this, we let out a collective wail. Because deep down in the depths of our beings, all we ever want to be able to do to is come when our babies call us.” Shared humanity. Shared agony. The humanity of another has to be recognized for agony to be shared.

Ms. Spalding continued in her article, “I’m here, my love, I’m here. George Floyd’s mother couldn’t say that. But we can. Not in time to help Mr. Floyd, but please, dear God…

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Family relationships, Mental Health, Social Media, Wellbeing

How to intentionally rest whilst being present with my family

Posted with permission @mindinharrow from Instagram

I am thankful for a week’s rest from work and other admin but it’s been a challenge to switch off and stay off social media. However I now see the mental tiredness that being on a screen so much brings and the greater sense of peace that resting from it brings.

Taking more time for self-care and resetting boundaries with my family have also been of benefit over the week. Although I didn’t intentionally plan it, there’s been breakthrough as I’ve had a mini retreat and more time for God, soaking up the healing environment of the hills and mountains . More to follow on Instagram this coming week….

Mental Health

How journalling helps you to recognise and manage your emotions

I know it’s been a bit quiet from me recently on the blog front. The beginning of lockdown was quite easy to manage but the past two months or so my mood dipped. I’ve been trying to focus on improving my wellbeing, including facing how I’m really feeling by journalling. For a while I found myself not really wanting to address how I felt and so stopped writing my ‘morning pages.’ These are the equivalent of writing a journal, although somewhat longer (prescribed as 3 pages per day.) See Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, for more details.

Instead, I’m now writing a few lines (sometimes more) when I wake up to summarise how I’m feeling. I might add in what’s really helped ( a high point) or emotions I’ve really been wrestling with. It helps me to make sense of where I am emotionally but also may help me to gain some fresh perspective or problem solve about how to move forward. James Pennebaker is a social psychologist who’s done extensive research into the power of expressing emotions, either verbally or in writing and how this can enable emotional, as well as, physical recovery from illness. More about his research and its health benefits are discussed further in the Writing for Recovery training workshops I lead. Click here to contact me to find out more about the workshop or to make a booking.

Gratitude is another kind of journalling that focuses on what you are thankful for each day. When I first heard about this, the advice was to think of 3 things that you’re thankful for just before going to bed. That way you go to sleep in a contented frame of mind. Current advice during lockdown is to write 5 or 10 things to say thank you for, and as a Christian I tend to frame it as “Thank you God for….” but you can also put it as “I am thankful for…”. To be honest, appreciating 5 things from my day is usually enough for me. A friend of mine had said that keeping a gratitude journal has really helped her to keep her mood on an even keel throughout lockdown.

How about having a go at journalling for yourself? All you need is a notepad/ Pc/ mobile and pen to get started: try writing one word to describe how you currently feel. What’s contributed to you feeling that way?

As you start to write, the words may just start to flow and you find yourself getting a few paragraphs down without thinking too much about it. Even if you recognise the emotion you’re currently feeling, that’s encouraging self-awareness and can lead to further reflection about why later on.

I’d love to hear how you get on, so please add a comment below or email me.

Mental Health, Social Media, Wellbeing

Your Social Media Connections Come at an Emotional Cost

Here is the blog I wrote for the Kings College London Alumni website last year but is still relevant, particularly whilst we’ve been on screens more during lockdown:

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/anita-kelly-your-social-media-connections-come-at-an-emotional-cost

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Family relationships, Mental Health, Wellbeing

Perspective (Five Minute Friday writing prompt)

Depending on your perspective of this Lockdown situation, you can see things in a positive or negative light, or oscillate between the two.

I know I started off very calmly and positively. My elder son’s school closed first and I took it in my stride. Then my younger son’s school also closed but there was a plan for being given and handing in work from home so things were ok. Gratitude was emphasised by my friends and I used this to remember what God has given us: a home, food to eat, each other and beautiful sunny weather to do things in the garden as a family. For someone who is often quite anxious I was surprisingly calm!

With all 4 of us at home, we started to work out a plan to share study space in the lounge and dining room, especially for our son studying for exams. At times, this positive attitude has given way to low mood, fighting the uncertainty of when lockdown might end and some sort of new normality appear. The challenge has been to keep reminding myself that this time will pass and we will be given our freedom to roam wherever we want to outdoors at some point. Lockdown isn’t forever!

This blog is taking part in this week’s Five Minute Friday, check out https://fiveminutefriday.com/2020/04/23/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-perspective/ for more information.

Mental Health

10 things to be thankful for during this time of self-isolation

Today, one of the writing groups I attend decided to have an online meeting, and this is what I write on the topic of “Underground.”

It feels like, in our current climate, we’ve gone underground. Hidden away in our homes, unable to experience much of the outside world, cut off from our families and friends, apart from the gift of the internet or our phones to stay in touch. Even our church buildings have been closed down, to limit the virus’ spread.

Some of us would love to hide under our duvets until the threat of Coronavirus has passed, fall asleep and wake up when we can go back to normality. Have the freedom to exit the house whenever we want to, travel by public transport to the shops, visit our friends and go about the daily hustle and bustle.

However, there are some benefits to this ‘underground’ existence:

  • A slower pace of life
  • Time to breathe
  • Time to appreciate the natural world around us
  • Be thankful for being alive
  • More time to connect with others
  • Less stress as there is less work to do
  • Less pollution, as cars stay parked at home
  • No commute time to work
  • A new appreciation for our teachers, NHS staff, shop workers and delivery drivers.
  • A plethora of songs about coping with threat of Coronavirus and how to stay safe!

For myself, personally:

  • More time to play in the garden with my kids
  • Time to play a board game or swingball
  • Catch up on paperwork that’s sat there, undone
  • Seeing the birds hop and feed in the garden
  • Water the plants and plant new seeds with my son
  • Time to cook from scratch, try new recipes and eat fresher
  • Connect more with my creative side: sketching, writing, making cards
  • Baking a malteaser cake for my son’s birthday
  • Having afternoon tea at home to celebrate my birthday
  • Looking out for our vulnerable neighbours, buying them some shopping
  • Video calls with old friends who we’ve not been in contact with for a while
  • Groups moved to online meetings, enabling us to chat, write and share together.

Although we may feel cooped up and socially isolated, this too will pass. We will get through it, taking it one day at a time. Hold onto hope, trust God to bring us through and to the end of the pandemic. To a strengthened community spirit and a more outward focus rather than just on our own individual lives.

Mental Health

Review of Shabari Does Tropic hydrating mini-facial

It was a bitterly cold, winter’s day as I arrived at Shabari Does Tropic for my mini-facial. It was wonderful to get into the warm and be introduced to the Tropic skincare range close up.

Shabari uses Susie Ma’s Tropic vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, natural skincare range and I was in for a treat as I waited for her to work her magic. To see the full range of products she sells, go to her website.The Tropic skincare products used for my mini-facial.

I really valued Shabari’s thorough approach by doing a fact find about my skin beforehand, checking if I had any allergies. Being vegan-friendly products, I didn’t need to worry about reacting to lanolin (derived from sheep). She carefully checked ingredients on the products she intended to use, to check for perfume as I have had reactions in the past.

Starting with the Smoothing Cleanser, followed by a vitamin-rich toner, Shabari quickly put me at ease as she explained the benefits of each product. As I have sensitive, combination, slightly dry skin, and rosacea, she tailored Tropic products to my skin type, including a face scrub to remove any dead skin cells and a rich moisturiser to deeply hydrate my skin. With it being Winter, it’s important to have a more moisturising skin cream, to protect skin from drying out. The Skin Feast moisturiser formed a protective layer over my face, but did leave it feeling a little oily. My skin works well with a relatively simple cleansing regime, as it can react with breakouts if too many products are applied. My skin felt nourished and calm after the facial, even several days after!

Along the way, I learned that standard lip balms contain petroleum-based ingredients, which Tropic products don’t contain. Shabari finished off by applying some of the Lip Love lip balm, with Shea butter, rose hip and cocoa butter, leaving my lips feeling smooth and moisture replenished. Particularly good for stepping back out into the driving sleet and wind!

My radiant-looking skin after Shabari’s (on the right) fabulous facial.

She also gave me an after-care sheet to make sure I didn’t get any reactions after the facial.

I would definitely recommend Shabari for her relaxing and rejuvenating facial as well the gentle but very effective Tropic skincare products , they suited my skin very well.

Mental Health

The Mind and Soul Foundation – * Day 12: Leave some lights UP! * Yeah, we know the tradition is that all the lights and decorations have to be taken down by tomorrow. But this time of year is bleak and dark, and the time after Christmas can feel pretty dismal. So we’re in favour of nominating some ‘winter lights’ and leaving them up – at least till the days start getting brighter. Can you make yourself a corner somewhere warm where you can leave up some lights, and maybe add a candle or snuggly cushion/blanket, somewhere you can curl up and hide if you need to, to get you through the January and February gloom? 💡 💡 💡 Thank you so much for joining us on the #12DaysOfWellness – how did you get on? | Facebook

The Mind and Soul Foundation – * Day 12: Leave some lights UP! * Yeah, we know the tradition is that all the lights and decorations have to be taken down by tomorrow. But this time of year is bleak and dark, and the time after Christmas can feel pretty dismal. So we’re in favour of nominating some ‘winter lights’ and leaving them up – at least till the days start getting brighter. Can you make yourself a corner somewhere warm where you can leave up some lights, and maybe add a candle or snuggly cushion/blanket, somewhere you can curl up and hide if you need to, to get you through the January and February gloom? 💡 💡 💡 Thank you so much for joining us on the #12DaysOfWellness – how did you get on? | Facebook
— Read on m.facebook.com/mindandsouluk/photos/a.311562155571162/2764419170285436/

Mental Health, Trainer, Blogger, Writer

The Light Shines in the Darkness…

Advent: A time to reflect on darkness and light.

Hope yet shines through the despair.

Jesus Christ, fully God, yet fully man, comes to Earth, clothed as a baby.

So much mystery and contradiction.

The Messiah, the chosen 1,

Born of a virgin in a lowly stable

Yet the Saviour of the world.

I love to light our Advent candle, remembering the truth that the light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not overcome it.

So for me, it resonates with the truth that whilst I may be battling depression, the Light of the World is my Living Hope. I will not be afraid. The Light has overcome the darkness. VICTORY ETERNAL- no more suffering, no more tears. Jesus wipes them away and holds me and says “It will all be ok. This pain will end.

Joy, the antidote to fear is brightening my world.

Here’s the link to Five Minute Friday whose word prompt today was Darkness.

Family relationships, Mental Health, Trainer, Blogger, Writer, Wellbeing

The Easy way to De-stress…by Singing!

“God inhabits the praises of His people.”

Psalm 22:3, The Bible.

Image Source: Oleg Magni via pexels.com

Have you read the research that says that singing is good for our wellbeing? There are now many choirs up and down the country for exactly that reason. In fact, in Harrow, More Than A Choir, Harrow Community Choir, was formed to benefit those of us with mental health issues, to boost wellbeing and self-confidence. When we try a new skill, this can build self-esteem and doing something pleasurable, rather than something necessary, can give us a dopamine hit, boosting our mood.

Over the past few months, my mood had been slowly going downhill, to the point where my husband brought up the issue whilst we were on retreat in Wales. I found myself bursting into tears and it enabled me to bring to the surface some of the problems that had been bothering me.

Since then, with my husband’s support, I’ve been seeking medical and spiritual help but started to focus again on singing worship songs to God in my daily quiet time. Initially, I would listen to “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength,” by Rend Collective whilst walking in the park or sing whilst in the shower. It was then I realised the power of singing out praises to God, despite my low mood. It encouraged and uplifted my spirit as I took my eyes off my personal situation and lifted my eyes to Him. So now, I’ve added singing some worship songs back into my prayer time, usually at the beginning to put the focus back onto God.

Whether it’s singing in the shower or verbally calling out praise to God during your prayers – how can you worship God and give Him praise today?