Coping strategies

I have to admit, I have stolen this from one of my CBT sessions so it's not exactly my own ideas. But, I find it so useful that I just have to share it with you all, just in case you find yourselves in a time of crisis! We all have times in our life when we feel overwhelmed by our emotions or have unhelpful thoughts. This is a list of some strategies that are helpful in the short-term. They are for times when you need to get through and you cannot do anything more to help right away. Honestly, give it a go, you might find it works just for you!

 A useful way to replace the overwhelming feelings or unhelpful thoughts is with thoughts and activity that focus on other things:

 With Activities:
 Engage in exercise or hobbies; do cleaning; go to events; call or visit a friend; play computer games; go walking; work; play sports; go out to a meal; have decaf coffee or tea; go fishing; do gardening; go for a run.

 With Contributing: 
Contribute to someone; do volunteer work/ give something to someone else; make something nice for someone else; do a surprising, thoughtful thing.

 With Comparisons:
Compare yourself to people coping the same as you or less well than you.  Compare yourself to those less fortunate than you.

 With opposite Emotions: 
Read emotional books or stories, go to emotional movies; listen to emotional music. Be sure the event creates different emotions.Ideas: scary movies, joke books, comedies, funny records, religious music, marching songs, inspiring songs; going to a newsagents and reading funny greeting cards.

 With Pushing away: 
Push the situation away by leaving it for a while. Leave the situation mentally. Build an imaginary wall between yourself and the situation. Or push the situation away by blocking it in your mind. Refuse to think about the painful aspects of the situation. Put the pain on a shelf. Box it up and put it away for a while.

 With other Thoughts:
 Count to 10; count colours in a painting or tree, windows, anything; do puzzles; watch TV; read.

 With intense other Sensations:
 Hold ice in hand; squeeze a rubber ball very hard; stand under a very hard and hot shower; listen to very loud music; put rubber band on wrist, pull out, and let go.


The Little Book Of Mindfulness

More and more of us are suffering from the stresses and strains of modern life. Mindfulness is an increasingly popular discipline that can not only help alleviate the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression brought on by the pressures of our daily existence but can actually bring calm, joy and happiness into our lives. After researching mindfulness, I came across a book called The Little Book of Mindfulness. I'm going to be honest here, I was drawn in by the adorable size of the book, and the cute illustrations. This little book is filled with tips, exercises, advice, meditations and further resources that will enable people at every level to follow the breath, still the mind and relax the body, whilst generating and boosting a feeling of well-being and contentment that will permeate every aspect of everyday life.

 I find that Mindfulness is the easy way to gently let go of stress and be in the moment. It has increasingly become the slow way to manage the modern world, and it doesn't involve chanting mantras, becoming a monk or setting aside hours of time for meditation. I have definitely found this book easy to read, and it definitely helps clear my mind after a stressful day. I highly recommend this book - and it's under £5! You can buy it here, and you can even have a sneak preview before you purchase it!


Headspace App

Meditation is a great way to relax after a stressful day at work/uni/college/school, or even just a stressful day. As I suffer from anxiety, meditation really helps me to relax, and to clear my head if I'm bogged down by unnecessary thoughts or feelings, and helps me see things more clearly. At first, I really wasn't keen on the whole meditation idea, as all I could picture was monks, whale noises and lotus positions in fields. However, when I saw this app on the iTunes store, I thought I'd give it a shot.

After it downloaded (it's free by the way!), you also got 10 sessions of guided meditation for free. I did the 10 sessions, and I loved it. It was completely free of whale noises and monks, and provided 10 minutes daily of pure relaxation and mindfulness! Each 10 minute session is narrated by Andy Puddicombe, who created Headspace and is also a former buddhist monk.  It's so easy to do, and everyone can create 10 minutes a day for this, right?

After going through with the free 10 sessions, I have recently just purchased the monthly meditation. Although it is £9.99 a month (very pricey!), I do truly believe it has such a positive impact on my mental health, so I do recommend it. If you are still curious, just download the app and give the 10 free sessions a try. You never know, you might just fall in love with it as much as I did. And if not, you haven't lost much of your life!



5 reasons why you should keep a diary

I've recently just bought myself a diary/notebook, to write down all my thoughts and feelings, upcoming events, lists and recipes. This is one of the recommendations therapists give you, as it gives you a time to reflect and the end of every day. I definitely recommend it for people suffering with depression/anxiety. Although people nowadays keep blogs or vlogs, and record their lives on social media, very few of us put pen to paper and write down our experiences. Why not try it?

 So why am I doing this? And why do I think you should too?

 1. You can keep yourself organised.
I always find I overbook things, forget certain dates or things I have to do. I find that having a book where I can write all these things - keeps me organised and with a less cluttered mind!

 2. You can record your thoughts and feelings. 
remember how things made you feel on certain days or in certain places, so your memory is more detailed.

 3. This is a kind of therapy after bad days.
Getting your feelings written down on paper feels much better than keeping them to yourself. It can also help you think about things more clearly, and maybe even help decide how you feel about things if you are unsure.

 4. It helps you maintain your positive mental attitude.
It's always good to write down a good thing you've done each day, or even a good thing about yourself each day - just to keep up the positive mind set!

 5. Gives you something to look back on. 
 In a year or so, you can see how you have developed as a person. Whether you've became more positive, more organised, or even more out-going.


5 ways to instantly make yourself feel grounded

During my CBT, I learned a variety of ways to make myself feel better, short term and long term. I felt that most of the things I was told didn't really benefit me, so I don't really use them much now. However, the thing I use the most are these five things, which I find are an instant pick me up. I believe all of these can be beneficial to people suffering with depression or anxiety, or even if you're just feeling a bit down in the dumps.

1. With Vision
Buy one beautiful flower; make one space in a room nice; light a candle and watch the flame. Wear a piece of clothing or jewellery that is in an empowering colour. Set a place at the table, using your best things, for a meal. Go to a museum with beautiful art.Look at nature around you. Go out in the middle of the night and watch the stars. Walk in a part of town that you like. Have a manicure. Look at beautiful pictures in a book. Go to a ballet or other dance performance, or watch one on TV. Be mindful of each sight that passes in front you, not lingering on any. I find buying myself pretty house decor and flowers really work for me.

2. With Hearing
Listen to beautiful or soothing music, or to invigorating and exciting music. Pay attention to sounds of nature (waves, birds, rainfall, leaves rustling). Sing to your favourite songs. Hum a soothing tune. Learn to play an instrument. Be mindful of any sounds that come your way, letting them go in one ear and out the other.

3. With Smell
Use your favourite perfume or lotions, or try them on in the shop; go to The Body Shop or Lush  and sniff their fragrances; spray fragrance in the air; light a scented candle. Put lemon oil on your furniture. Put potpourri in a bowl in your room. Boil cinnamon; bake biscuits, cake, or bread. Smell the roses. .I find lighting incense really works for me.

4. With Taste
Have a good meal; have a favourite soothing drink such as herbal tea or hot chocolate (no alcohol); treat yourself to a dessert. Put whipped cream on your coffee. Sample flavours in an ice cream shop. Suck on a piece of peppermint. Chew your favourite gum. Get a little bit of a special food you don't usually spend the money on, such as fresh-squeezed orange juice. Really taste the food you eat; eat one thing mindfully.

5. With Touch
Take a bubble bath; put clean sheets on the bed. Pat your dog or cat. Have a massage; soak your feet. Put creamy lotion on your whole body. Put a cold compress on your forehead. Sink into a really comfortable chair in your home, or find one in a luxurious hotel lobby. Put on clothing or a scarf that feels nice. Brush your hair for a long time. Hug someone. Experience whatever you are touching; notice touch that is soothing.



On the road to recovery from depression: a happier, healthier, stronger me

The reason I am starting this blog, is that I've been struggling with severe depression and anxiety for about 5 years now. After seeing various therapists and being on medication, I decided that this all wasn't working (apart from some parts of CBT), so I had to do something about it myself. Hopefully this blog will also help other sufferers!

This new way of thinking all started in October 2014, where I had a panic attack at a festival, which resulting in me having to be seen by a group of paramedics to calm me down, as I was convinced I was going to die! After then, it all went down hill. My confidence plummeted, I didn't want to socialise, I spent all my days crying and in bed, I became irritable, and just lost all enjoyment. Then it came to me, I was having a relapse. I suffered from depression since I was 15, so this wasn't knew to me. However, for some reason, this seemed to be a much worse spout than usual. Immediately, I rang my doctors, and decided to go home for a bit. They put me on the CBT waiting list, which could take 6 weeks they said. I was furious, and scared. I felt so bad, that I was worried I would do something awful within them 6 weeks, so I decided to go to my University doctors. Even though they were very understanding, they said they couldn't help me as I was already on the Healthy Minds waiting list. Again, I was left infuriated, distraught and panicked. How can they make people with severe depression wait that long for an hour session?!

Luckily, I had friends and family to support me. Even though I couldn't continue working, I still managed to maintain my Uni coursework, and passed it to a good level.  Through eating healthily, exercising, and taking part in mindfulness, I started to get back on track again. Christmas and my 20th birthday came, and I was happy as ever.  I started therapy, and the CBT therapist was amazing. I was learning how to cope with my depression and anxiety, and put on some anti-depressants. I was feeling optimistic, positive and determined that I could get through this. However, come February, I had an extreme bad turn. I was suicidal, didn't want to be here, and nearly ended up in an ambulance. I would never wish that week that I experienced on anyone. Again, therapy helped me to some extent, but this scare made me realise I needed to change my lifestyle.

Since then, I've been trying to exercise frequently, eat healthier, get out the house every day, meditate and read more. And honestly, it's the best therapy I've had. Yeah, I do have down days or even weeks, but making sure I stick to this regime, I can usually stay sane and positive! I am now finished with CBT (though still on medication), and I'm 10x happier than I was half a year ago. I've decided to come back to blogging, as my Mom pointed out, that writing and blogging was one of the things that made me happy and occupied right before I went on a downhill spiral. So from now on, I'm going to combine these things, and carry on writing, and not what I usually write about (though I might occasionally throw in the odd fashion post!). I thought I'd start to all share with you what I do with my life now; to keep me relaxed, happy, busy, and a more positive person.
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