Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Personally, this is unquestionably the best book I’ve read when it comes to the topic of depression. The author, Matt Haig, is so brave writing a book that focuses on his own personal experience of depression, and by doing this I honestly think he will help many sufferers and also people who care for those suffering with depression. As I’m a sufferer myself, I know that depression can be an isolating, frightening and misunderstood illness, and I truly believe that this book is able to help a sufferer feel less alone and bit more understood. This book really grasps what depression is like, how it can take over your life, make you feel like you are not yourself anymore and how it really sucks the life out of you.

 Matt describes his own personal experiences with the illnesses, the lowest points of the illness ,what he has done to try and get better, how he has found ways that sometimes help him, and the things that he wants to live for, all with a bit of added humor! I think I can really relate to Matt as he explains that he finds solace through reading and writing, which is exactly how I cope. I still really want to try writing a book one day, so it really was encouraging reading that this helped him. He also recommends some of the books which he read when he was unwell, so I might give them a try next!

 I definitely think it will be also helpful to recommend this book for someone who loves you and is trying to help you with this illness, to help them see it from the inside as well as the outside, it offers some clarity and insight that a person really suffering might not be able to put into words very well for themselves.


Why exercise is so beneficial for the mind

When we're depressed, we particularly feel tired and lethargic and lack any motivation to do anything.However, by just increasing our exercise levels it can make an enormous impact on our mood as it stimulates the body to produce natural anti-depressants called serotonin. By exercising on a regular basis, it:

 - Makes us feel less tired
- Makes us feel better about ourselves
- Improves our ability to think more clearly
- Helps us think about something other than focusing on other helpful thoughts
- Uses up the adrenaline resources created by anxiety and anger
 - Increases motivation
- Creates a sense of achievement
 - Stimulates the body to produce natural anti- depressants
 - Makes us generally more healthy

 When it comes to beating depression over the long–term, it is argued that exercise is more powerful than medication. It’s not that medication doesn’t work — it does. But exercise does something that medication doesn’t. It proves a new identity to yourself. Each time you finish a workout, you reap the benefits of an increased sense of self–confidence.


Anxiety App's

1. Headspace
This app is honestly my all time favourite. It's so easy to use, the male voice over is very relaxing and best of all - you get the first 10 days free!  I found it was so helpful that I actually bought the full version. I find I do my 10 minutes a day when I'm feeling the most stressed (i.e after a day at work, an argument, an exam). I really find these 10 minutes of just sitting still, breathing and doing a quick once-over on your body and mind feels incredibly valuable and I always look forward to the next session. Read my full review here, which I did a few weeks back.

2. SAM
My initial thought when I got this app, was the realisation that I have several phobia's and I'm anxious a lot. The anxiety tracker asks you to rate your scale of anxiety/tension, thoughts or physical senstations which I find really puts into perspective of how anxious I'm actually feeling. The best thing about this app (from my opinion anyway) is the anxiety toolbox. You can simply find activities within the app that work for you, and just move them in here! Saving a hell of a lot of time in the long run.

3. Calm
I'm going to be honest here, the only thing I like about this app is the fact you can change different scenes on the open page of the app. I really didn't find the 7 day meditation helpful as the woman's voice annoyed me so much, but I guess it's each to their own. However, I did find the 2 minute sessions help, if I didn't have enough time for my 10 minute Headspace sessions!

4. Don't Panic
The best thing about this app is that it's not just for anxiety. It's for stress, worry, anger, depression and panic attacks too, which is literally everything I need help for when I'm on on the go. The app is made by Coventry and Warwickshire NHS, and was recommended to me from the Mental Health department when I had a bad turn. It's a bunch of audio recordings which are all about 10-15 minutes long, and provide information about the mental health difficulties and how to manage them. I really recommend listening to this once a week for a full benefit, and even showing it to your family/friends/partner to help them understand too.


5 ways to take care of yourself

It is often said that in order to overcome depression, you have to take care of yourself. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning to manage stress, setting limits on what you’re able to do, adopting healthy habits, and scheduling fun activities into your day.

 1. Aim for eight hours of sleep. 
 Depression typically involves sleep problems. Whether you’re sleeping too little or too much, your mood suffers. I know for me, my depression definitely got worse when I had little sleep as I also suffer from insomnia. So, now that I'm on medication that also helps me sleep, I'm feeling so much better! Make sure you're on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits such as less caffeine, more exercise and reduced mobile/laptop use before bed.

 2.Expose yourself to a little sunlight every day. 
 Do you know that lack of sunlight can actually make depression worse?! So make sure you’re getting enough. Take a short walk outdoors, have your coffee outside, people-watch on a park bench, or sit out in the garden. Aim for at least 15 minutes of sunlight a day to boost your mood.

 3.Keep stress in check. 
 Not only does stress prolong and worsen depression, but it can also trigger it.  Figure out all the things in your life that stress you out. For example, work overload, un-supportive relationships, or taking on too much. Once you’ve identified your stressors, you can make a plan to avoid them or minimize their impact.

 4.Practice relaxation techniques. 
A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.

 5. Care for a pet. 
 Pets can bring joy and companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get you outside of yourself and give you a sense of being needed—both powerful antidotes to depression. Sadly, my Mom won't let me have a dog (though I'm still working on it) so I just have to stroke other peoples dogs instead.


Flower Power

 I was feeling a bit down this morning, so I though't I'd pop and get myself some pretty flowers for my bedroom to cheer myself up. I mean, everyone knows that flowers make you happy, they're just so colourful and pretty to look at! Like, who doesn't feel genuinely happy when you receive flowers or even buy them for yourself?! They not only brighten your mood, but also the mood in your home and the people around you. It has also been found that pretty flowers are linked to the reduction of stress and also the symptoms of depression and anxiety! So come on kids, reduce your stress and buy some flowers! They don't cost a fat lot, the one's that I've just bought (pictured above) were only £3.50 from Sainsbury's.


5 Benefits Of Positive Thinking

1) Having a positive mind will attract positive events.
It is said that if we decide to become positive, we can make the so called “law of attraction” work for our favour. The main principle of the law of attraction is that “like attracts like”. I mean, think about it logically, if you decide to make positive thinking your regular way of seeing life, imagine how many great things you can attract into your life!

 2) Great relationships.
When you choose to have a positive attitude, you will start to notice a lot of positive qualities in people. You may also start to ignore their faults,  therefore creating more meaningful friendships and great relationships. Having a positive attitude will create a very good and positive atmosphere around you!

 3) Better first impression.
 By making positive thinking your priority, you will more than likely always make a great first impression. It is just common knowledge that people are attracted to kind and friendly personalities, so this great first impression can have a big impact on the development of your future relationships.

 4) Better over all health. 
Who knew that positive thinking can even be beneficial for your health?! It has been shown by several scientific studies hat people with a good, positive “vibe” are less likely to suffer from depression and they get ill more rarely than the negative thinkers.  That’s why, taking care of our thoughts – is taking care of our health!

 5) You will notice the amount of good things in your life. 
 Sometime people live their life without knowing how blessed they really are, they take things for granted and forget to be thankful. When people live their live complaining about the future, without appreciating the things that they already have, then, they risk to lose even this. Therefore, appreciation and gratitude, can bring more of good things to be thankful for into their life. So, let's all start to be thankful eh!



Zen Colouring Advanced Art Therapy

I recently bought this in Morrisons, after seeing it advertised on the TV. I've wanted it for a while, but always been convinced it's such a silly idea, and pretty childish!  But, I thought,  hell why not?! It's such a good idea. Whenever I feel down, stressed or anxious, I always feel like I need to do something but never feel like watching anything or writing anything or listening to music as it just doesn't appeal to me. However, the other day I was feeling extremely anxious and worked up and thought I'd try a page of this book, and honestly, it worked! Within 5 minutes of colouring (feels so weird writing that!) I had calmed down and had a less bogged up mind.

I highly recommend this book and others in their collection for everyone, not just those suffering with mental illness. It's a nice activity to do to relax after a long hard day at work, college, school or university.


De-cluttering your life

It's widely known that clutter and mess can really affect your mood. It makes you feel stressed, down and clutters your mind. In fact, it turns out that clutter has a profound affect on our self-esteem as well as our mood. CELF’s anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists have found that there is a strong link between high cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects.The more stuff, the more stress women feel. So ladies (and gentlemen), keep your house tidy and de-cluttered!

 I've been feeling a bit down in the dumps recently, so I decided a way to make me feel better, would be to clean and de-clutter my room. I whacked the Madness greatest hits on my record player, and filled 2 black bin liners full of old clothes I didn't need, old make-up I didn't use or jewellery that had gone all rusty. I then cleaned my surfaces and made my bed, and you know what? It made me feel a 100 times better. So honestly, give it a try when you're next down, it really does help!


A quick beauty haul

I know this post probably isn't going to be good for your bank balance (neither was it mine), but sometimes meditation, diary writing and exercise just doesn't get rid of your bad mood. I find that just going out and splurging on things that you really want (not need) really makes you feel good about yourself. Although it isn't a long time fix, it really does make me feel happy for a short while! That is, until I check my bank balance after then I feel really really guilty..

5. Barry M Gel Eyeliner - £5.49

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