5 Tips on How to be a Happier Person

These are tips from mental health professionals, so are by no means are my own words, or words that I'm trying to pass off as my own! They're just a collection of tips that I've found and put together for you guys, I hope they'll help as they've certainly helped me!

1. Remember that your negative thoughts are not true. They’re just thoughts.
 "Sadly, many people make the mistake of believing the negative things that their ‘inner voice’ tells them, often without even being aware of their right to question whether these things are accurate! When it comes to mental health care, many people still think you will need to spend years exploring your childhood or past in order to get better. That’s simply not the case nowadays. Catch, challenge, and change negative thoughts.” - Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

2. Start your day by reminding yourself one positive thing about your life.
"This can be a small observation like enjoying beautiful weather or something more profound like recognizing you have achieved one step towards a life goal (working in the industry you always dreamt of, have a best friend who you are grateful for, etc). We tend to hold onto negatives a lot stronger than positives so this can be a small way to give yourself a moment to check in with the ‘happier’ thoughts and realities.”
- Jess Allen, NYC-based cognitive behavioral therapist

3. Anyone can benefit from therapy, so consider making an appointment for a checkup.
 "There is a stereotype that many people have about the unique person who chooses to see a therapist. ‘They must be an emotional wreck,’ or ‘they can’t take care of their own problems,’ or ‘they must be crazy.’ That last one is probably the most popular and worst misconception of them all!
It takes a lot of insight and emotional awareness to realize that you want to enlist the services of a trained mental health therapist to get the right help you need. Yes, there are some clients who seek therapy when they are at the absolute lowest emotional point in their lives, but there are also just as many who simply want to become emotionally healthier people to enhance their work and intimate relationships. No problem is too small or large when you come to see one of us. It’s all welcomed because our job is to meet you where you are at in life, not where we or anyone else thinks you should be.”
—Gabriela Parra California-based counselor

4.Don’t think about your work responsibilities at home, and vice versa.
"Be present when present, which requires dropping the guilt. Guilt has no benefits for anyone. When you are at work, stay focused, when you are home, give it your undivided attention. Doing your best in each place will keep you sane and feeling good about your output.”
—Samantha Euttus, work-life balance expert

5.Stop checking your smartphone randomly. Instead, give yourself specific times to catch up on social media and email.
"Most people would be happier (and less stressed) if they checked their phone less. A study of college students at Kent State University found that people who check their phones frequently tend to experience higher levels of distress during their leisure time (when they intend to relax!).
Instead of willing ourselves to just check less often, we can configure our devices and work time so that we are tempted less often. The goal is to check email, social media, and messages on your phone just a few times a day — intentionally, not impulsively. Our devices are thus returned to their status as tools we use strategically — not slot machines that randomly demand our energy and attention.”
—Christine Carter, Ph.D., happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Cente.


6 Ways to Look after Your Mental Health at Uni

As Uni is starting back now, I thought I'd dedicate a post about suffering with mental health problems whilst at Uni. I suffered with severe depression throughout my 2nd year at Uni, and I honestly think if I didn't have the help of therapists, lecturers and flat mates/course mates; I would of dropped out. Hopefully, this post will help you all throughout the year!

1. Seek Help for Your Problems
This is such a big thing at Uni. Remember, you're not alone. Wether that's telling your parents, your house mates, your course mates, or your lecturer; they will help you, I promise. I told my lecturers to start with, and they were so reassuring and helpful (it also stopped them bugging me about my attendance if I physically and mentally couldn't make it out of my bedroom that day). My friends at uni were so supportive, I can't thank them enough (if you're reading this guys, much lovin'!). I also visited the University mental heath/counselling service, and they were also great, but I went home to get my proper therapy instead as I felt more comfortable.

2. Try and force yourself to socialise
This was a hard one for me. When I felt really low, the last thing I wanted to do was to go out of my room and sit with my friends (no matter how much I loved them). But, when I actually did, I felt so much better for it.

3. Try and excercise
I know you've heard it all before, so I won't bore you with it all. But even just 20 minutes of excercise a day can really boost your seratonin levels - and get rid of that horrible mood! I know most Uni gyms give you a year free if you're in halls (that's what I did), and after that they give a discounted fee. I joined a different gym in second year though, as it worked out cheaper at only £17 a month with the student discount! It was even great to just getting out the house or away from the library!

4. Try and cut down on stimulants
 I know as a student, it's extremely hard to do this. But trust me, your mental health will thank you for it. As much as I love coffee, it really does ruin my sleep pattern and increases my anxiety. By cutting down on tea, coffee and energy drinks you will have a much better sleep, and less stress in the long run!

5. Don't drink all the time
Again, this is extremely hard to do as at student. But alcohol can make your depression and even anxiety 10 times worse. It's okay to socialise with your friends over a few drinks, but don't make it a regular habit, as it can lead to other health problems as well as a decreased mood.

6. Keep an eye on your sleep patterns
The first week or so at University will stretch all sorts of boundaries, including how long you can manage without sleep. I'm terrible at this, but napping throughout the day and a poor sleep routine can affect your mental health (who would of thought napping was such a bad thing eh!). I also found getting some fresh air and light in the morning helped me start the day with a smile.


5 Myths about Anxiety

1. It's uncommon 
 Let me just say, this is soooo far from the truth! Like, every man and his dog (okay, not every man and his dog) has a bit of anxiety in their life. No, they may not of been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder etc, but I've realised that most people do suffer from some sort of anxiety. So if you do suffer, you're really not alone!

2. Alcohol and drugs can help Anxiety
Now, I've learnt this the hard way. Kids, don't do it. It won't make you better, it'll just make you 10x worse. I mean, I find that temporarily the booze helps me calm down and gives me a little bit of confidence. But after the drunkeness wears off, my anxiety is at it's highest. Imagine being startled and screaming at your phone lighting up? Yeah, that's me.

3. Some people are just worriers and can't be treated
Though there probably is a genetic component to anxiety, it's not to say it can't be treated and kept under control. Effective treatments, ranging from medication to various types of therapy (like CBT), can help keep anxiety at bay. I know CBT has really helped reduce my anxiety.

4. You can only get anxiety if you are a nervous person
The truth is, anyone can suffer from anxiety. Believe it or not, it is one of the most common mental health problems, with  than 1in 10 people diagnosed with the condition at some point in their lives. 4 million (bloody hell) people in this country also suffer from phobias (which is a type of phobia) which can be an irritation fear of flying, or moths (picked these two cause ya know, I'm scared of 'em both). You do not have to be a nervous person in general to suffer from any of these problems.

5.Having an attack of anxiety can lead to a heart attack
You may laugh at this one- but I actually got asked/got told this one before. Believe it or not, a panic attack will not give you a heart attack. Yeah, panic attacks can be extremely frightening experiences. You will most likely have chest pain, feel breathless, and have a rapid heartbeat. You may even feel like you are going to die because your heart is beating so fast. But besides all this, during a panic attack you are not in physical danger.



4 Tips to Help Manage Anxiety

1.Distract yourself
For the past 9 months, I have been influenced by my therapist who has always said, “distract, don’t think.” My thinking (even though I thought I was doing the right thing by using cognitive-behavioral techniques)was actually making things worse. He told me to stop reading and analysing all those self-help books, and to work on a word puzzle or watch a movie instead. He also suggested that I surround myself with people as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for cognitive-behavioral techniques and mindfulness. But when I reach a point of disabling anxiety, it’s more beneficial for me to just distract myself.

I have found only one full-proof immediate solution to anxiety. And that is exercise. Wether thats running, waking or swimming.t doesn't matter what you do, as long as you get that heart of yours working hard. You don’t have to be training for a marathon to feel the antidepressant effect of exercise. Even picking the weeds and watering the flowers has been shown to boost moods. Aerobic exercise can be as effective at relieving mild and moderate depression as SSRI's.

3.Use visual anchors
My therapist told me that he looked up to the clouds.For me, it’s a candle. I don’t now why, but just staring at fire really calms me down. I also love staring at bonfires when I have the chance, as I love the feeling of warmth on my face and the beautiful colours of the flames. I gueess this is how I can justify my love for candles! If I don't have a candle handy,  I downloaded an app called 'Virtual Candle' which calms me down when I start to feel anxious.

4. Laugh
 I don't know about you, but even just whacking on a funny film, programme or even Youtube video, immediately makes me feel better. Though, it does much more than relieving any crushing anxiety. It diminishes both physical and psychological pain and fights viruses and foreign cells,. You have no doubt experienced a moment when you were crippled by anxiety until someone made you laugh outloud, and in doing so anxiety lost its hold over you. Just another reason to laugh all the time, eh?

Do you have any tips on how you manage your anxiety?


Moments of Serenity

I picked up this book in a Glasgow gift shop, and I just had to share it with you. Its by Esme Fielding, and it's definitely the best 'serene' book I've seen and read. It's not exactly the cheapest I've found, at £6.99, but it certaintly is worth the price tag. The synopsis at the back of the book, pretty much describes the whole book; 'It can sometimes be hard to escape from life's little pressures. Let the beautiful photographs and words of wisdom collected in this book bring you peace, help you appreciate the wonders of the world around you and allow you to approach those daily challenges in a calm and measured way.'

Personally, I think it's nice just to read a page a day, so the book lasts longer (as it's not a big book) and so it also gives you something nice to look forward to every morning. I find by even just reading one page a day, it really does make me calmer and happier. It sounds mad, but it's actually working! The photography is just beautiful, as are the words. You can buy this book here.

What do you think? Will you be buying this book?


How an Activity Diary can help reduce depression..

One of the useful things I got told to do by my therapist, was to create an Activity Diary or an ACE log. I simply just logged what I did daily, and rated how much I enjoyed the activity, and how much I felt I achieved from doing the activity. Yep, it's as easy as that. It really helped me realise, that by doing just 1 thing a day that I enjoyed, it really improved my mood.

It's important to get a healthy balance of activities which give you a sense of achievement and enjoyment.  Choose activities which are important to you, have positive meanings, or are purposeful, and you might want to plan rest periods too. Keep your goals realistic – set achievable limits.  For example, aim to walk for 15 minutes each day rather than running for 1hour (guilty), or wash the dishes rather than spring clean the whole house. You can find links to download your own activity diary here or here.

One last thing - I was thinking about starting up my own 'self-help box', where simply, you guys would get a box full of goodies that have helped me in the past, or I think will help you. You don't have to have the box for yourself, it could be for a friend who you think needs cheering up! Think chocolate, colouring books, candles etc..  What do you all think? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!


5 Natural Remedies for Anxiety

If you have an anxious moment, a cuppa' chamomile tea might help calm you down. Some compounds in chamomile (known as matricaria recutita, a bit of a mouthful I know), tie to the same brain receptors as some drugs do, such as Valium. It's also a mild muscle relaxant, that can help relieve stress, anxiety and even depression. In addition to being calming, chamomile tea also offers health benefits for helping cure a cough as severe as bronchitis, a fever or an inflammation of the skin.

2) Green Tea
They say that Buddhist monks could meditate for hours, being both alert and relaxed. One reason may have been an amino acid in their green tea called L-theanine. Research shows that L-theanine helps curb a rising heart rate and blood pressure, and a few small human studies have found that it reduces anxiety. It's been proven that just 200 milligrams of L-theanine can really help you focus! You can get that much L-theanine from green tea, but you'll have to drink around 5 cups of it!

3) Excercise
Exercise is safe, good for the brain, and a powerful antidote to depression and anxiety, both immediately and in the long term. It's universally known that if you exercise on a regular basis, you'll have more self-esteem and feel healthier.One of the major causes of anxiety is worrying about illness and health, and that reduces when you are fit.

4) Lavender
Lavender's one of my favourite remedies as it really helps me sleep. Just putting a drop of this on my pillow each night really helps with my anxiety and insomnia. Research shows the scent lowers heart rate and blood pressure, putting you in a relaxed state.

5) The 4-7-8 breath
Ok, I'm not recommending that you turn blue, but breathing has been shown to be effective in lowering stress and anxiety. This technique was told to me by Mom, and really does help! One reason it works is that you can't breathe deeply and be anxious at the same time. To do the 4-7-8 breath, exhale completely through your mouth, then inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Now let it out slowly through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat at least twice a day.


My week in pictures

1. Las Iguanas
I recently visted Las Iguanas for the first time, and I am in love with the restaurant. They provide options for any dietray needs (i.e vegan, vegetarianism, gluten free etc), and all the food is and looks delicious. They also do 2 for 1 cocktails, to which I was sold by. So yes, I had to have 2 Pina Colada's, it'd be silly not too..

2.Cuttin' n' Stickin'
This may seem like a weird one, but it's actually so therepetuic. My friend Emily came round last Sunday, and we spent the whole day cutting and sticking and laminating. Later on my Mom joined in, and also agreed how thereputic it is. Plus, you're also helping a friend. Win win situation.

3. Lazy (Dominoes 2 for) Tuesdays
After a long day at work, I wanted a lazy evening with an easy watching film and junk food. As it was Tuesday, I ordered a dominoes (2 for the price of 1). I went for a ham&pineapple pizza, which is definitely going to be my new favourite. I also popped on the new Disney film, Inside Out. I absolutely loved this film, definitely going to buy it on DVD when it comes out!

4. Ed's easy Diner
At the weekend, I flew up to Glasgow to see my sister & her financee. I introduced them to Ed's diner (one of my favourite places to eat), and they were thrilled with the juke box! It's such a nice touch, and it only costs 20p a song - which all goes to charity!.

5. Whole Foods
Whilst in Glasgow, we visited Whole Foods. I've been obsessed with Youtuber's Whole Foods hauls recently, and have been so jealous of the fact they have a Whole Foods in their city or near them! So, when Sarah said she had a voucher for Whole Foods, I was so excited to go!  The food is a bit pricey, but the whole store is so unique. Look at all the cool fruits you can get!

6. Public Gardens
It was also nice to visit the touristy parts in Glasgow, including these lovely gardens. The park was huge, and this was only just a little snippet of how beautiful the park was. I wish we had places like this in Birmingham!

I also thought I'd mention my blog header. This was created by the lovely Conor Adams, who does lovely illustrations. So talented! He's open to requests.



A few happy links to kick off your September

Be Happy   - Here, you can sign up and get an inspriring, positive quote (or a 'daily delight' as they call it), directly in your email box each day. I love little things like this.

Calm - This is one of my favourite websites. I've got the app, but for some reason I just prefer the online site. I love how you can flick between a variety of soothing backgrounds, depending on whatever mood you're in. I also love the relaxing sounds the site provides. Just perfect for a quick 5 minute meditation.

Pinterest -  Not your conventional 'happy site', but for some reason pinterest has me captivated recently. Whenever I feel down or sad, I just decide to make myself a new board, or add to an old one. Getting myself all excited over interior ideas or baking recipes distracts myself from the stresses and downs of daily life.
Spotify - This is my go-to playlist at the moment. It has me dancing around my bedroom constantly, and instantly lifts my mood. Though, I really need to remember that my next door neighbours can see me from their kitchen!

 Feel free to post some happy links in the comments below, I'd love to check them out!

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