Social Media and our Mental Health

I will be the first to admit it, I spend a crazy amount of time online throughout the day. My iPhone is an extension of my hand as there is always a photo opportunity or a pretty Instagram feed to scroll through for inspiration.

Social Media is a minefield of positives and negatives and as a Mental Health professional I sit back from time to time and think, ‘How is this affecting our Mental Health?’

I have read around a lot of research on social media and its links to low self esteem, Anxiety and Depression.

Did you know that 56% of people aged 18-25 spend more than 3 hours a day on social media?

Comparison is the thief of joy…

There is always going to be someone who is always skinnier, prettier or has a nicer house and we all think ‘where the flip did I go wrong?’.  It’s difficult but we need to be content with what we have. Just because someone else portrays a happy and care free life does not always mean that they are more fulfilled. Remember, people are only sharing the things they want  you to see, rarely will you see the negative stuff, the arguments, the work pressures or the credit card debt accrued in trying to have a ‘perfect life’ – nobody’s life is perfect no matter how amazing their Instagram profile leads you to believe. #nofilter? I think not.

SM1

‘Likes’ do not make you a better person…

Social media is addictive and our smile can beam from ear to ear when a photo gets a certain number of likes or we get a few more followers. Although this might give you boost of confidence for a short period of time, the number of ‘likes’ you get on Social Media should not validate you as a person. You are more than that, trust me. You are individual, unique and special in so many ways…your worth cannot be measured in ‘likes’.

There is always one…

Ten positive comments and one negative comment, which one will we dwell on? People can hide behind social media and say nasty things because they think that they can get away with it (I hear the term ‘keyboard warrior’ mentioned from time to time, more like keyboard cowards). In my experience in the mental health field, ‘pain causes pain’, although the comment may be hurtful, I always think about what might be going on with the individual that made them hurtful things in the first place.  All behaviour makes sense but that does not make it right. If you feel you cannot deal with the person, block them, delete them and do whatever makes you feel better. Its cathartic on so many levels.

IMG_8188

FOMO…

A.K.A Fear Of Missing Out

It’s the pressure we feel that makes us want to do what everyone else is doing, go to the same place everyone else is going and having the need to share it to prove our lives are just as good as theirs. This can give us a sense of anxiety that our lives are not as ‘Instagrammable‘ as everyone else’s. I think to myself, why are people doing this to themselves??

I’m a bit of a rebel in that if someone is going to a ‘cool place’ I tend to go the opposite way and find something different. I see this ‘anxiety’ to please others so much on my feeds I just want to tell people to relax and live the life YOU feel comfortable with! We  categorically cannot please everyone and you will just wear yourself out trying to do so.

SM2

It’s not all doom and gloom…

For every person I see on social media that makes me ‘eye roll’, there someone that inspires immense creativity. I have met so many people through blogging and social media that are truly amazing. It’s a great way to find people with similar interests and the same life values as you. I have had some super luck in finding a few lovely people who now I consider friends and if it wasn’t for social media we may have never met!

How can I help myself?

Switch off. Literally.

Set the phone or laptop down and take time out from social media, our poor brains need a rest after a long day at work or looking after the kids. Use the time to have a relaxing bath or read a book. Being continually ‘switched on’ our brains cannot cope with the information overload which leads to exhaustion.

Do not use social media before bed.

I have a rule of no technology in the bedroom but I still find myself having a last scroll through (1 hour later…) before going to bed. Social media can effect our sleep pattern and the light of our phones messes up the bodies natural ‘wind down time’ so if you must look, make sure you switch your screen to night mode. If we don’t get a proper rest our body cannot cope which can lead to physical and mental exhaustion.

Talk to someone.

If you feel that it is all getting you down and your feeling of Anxiety or Depression is getting in the way of you living your life. There is always someone to talk to (and I mean face to face talking with a cup of tea not over whatsapp messages)… A friend, your GP or someone you trust.

I hope to continue to inspire others and make my social media channels a happy and positive place. Always be yourself and try and not succumb to the perceived way of life you think you should be having, happiness always comes from within yourself and not from external gratifications.

Much Love,

Judy xo

 

Advertisements

Beating The January Blues

Ah, the January blues…

Nothing quite like the feeling of finding those jeans a little tighter, the bank account depleted and freezing your butt off as you head out to work in the pitch black.

Does any of this sound a little bit too familiar?

Fear not, here are some little tips to make those blues melt away.

Plan a break away:

 

NYC. Image via Pinterest

 

Okay, guilty as charged. Hubster and I have booked a holiday for March and I am so excited!! There is nothing more satisfying than marking each week off on the calendar and a tiny bit of bragging to work colleagues and friends. Plus, the countdown can be one of the most exciting parts! woohoo!

Ditch the Junk:

 

Errr yeah..only wish my wardrobe looked like this! Image via Pinterest.

 

I blitzed my dressing room just before going back to work and it felt so so good. It’s one of those tasks that I admit to constantly putting off, as it’s one of those situations where it gets a lot worse before it gets better. However my local charity shop was glad of the donation. Remember, tidy home tidy mind!

New Years Resolutions:

 

Be the best possible version of YOU. Image via Pinterest.

 

‘You are never to old to set a new goal or dream a new dream’ C.S Lewis.

Setting yourself simple goals is a great help to motivate you. It can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the lift, partaking in a Dryathalon or finally enrolling on that course. Do it!

Me Time:

 

My Happy Place…

 

It’s time to break out those LUSH bath bombs that were in your Christmas stocking. Over the festive period of visiting family and friends, partying and lets face it…general mayhem, it’s important to have some time just for you. Whether it’s a relaxing bath, curling up with a good book or booking in for a mani-pedi. Go on, you’ve earned it.

Blow Away the Cobwebs:

 

Another Happy Place… North Coast of Ireland. January 2016.

 

One of my favourite (and yet simplest) things to do in January are walks at the seaside. I find the sea air refreshing and the crashing waves very therapeutic. When I get back it feels like everything is just that little bit clearer. Walking or any form of exercise is one of the most underused and underrated antidepressants. Grab your coat, mittens and pompom hat and off you go!

Much Love,

Judy xo

Minding Your Mental Health at Christmas.

img_1739

Christmas can be an exciting time for some and a stressful event for others. Whether you suffer from a Mental Illness or not it can be a difficult time of the year.

It may be your first Christmas without someone special, maybe you find the busy crowds a bit overwhelming or you feel the self inflicted stress trying to get everything done for the ‘perfect Christmas’.

Money

Of course we want to get our friends and family the presents they deserve, but setting a budget that is within your means and sticking to it can help avoid unmanageable credit card bills which could impact your Mental Health further. If you need financial advice you can get some information here.

img_1743

Alcohol

Of course with Christmas comes more parties and social drinking. Although alcohol can help us feel relaxed, it is also a depressant. Drinking excessive amounts can lower your mood. Stick to the recommended unit intake and you should be able to maintain better physical and mental wellbeing.

Food

We cant help ourselves during the festive period and we do tend to over indulge. This in turn can prompt lower self esteem and body image. Alternatively if you have a history of an Eating Disorder, the quantity of food and the focus on food may be stressful.

Maintaining a healthy diet and weight can improve your mood and can work towards preventing symptoms of lethargy and low mood that many of us feel during the busy festive season and dark winter months.

So, here are some ways to help look after yourself this Christmastime. 

I get by with a little help from my friend…

Helping others is good for your own mental health and wellbeing. It can help reduce stress, improve your mood, increase self-esteem and happiness and even benefit your physical health. So visit your elderly neighbour (John Lewis raised awareness this year with their advert for Age UK), volunteer some of your time at a local charity or community initiative.

img_1740

And Relax

I always find you do not realise how exhausted you are until you have a few days off. If you are luck enough to have some time off over Christmas, have some ‘Me Time”, try out mindfulness techniques (I’ve written about some in a previous blog post), go for a walk or a long soak in the bath. Go on you’ve earned it…

img_1741

Catch some zZzZz…

With all the parties and disruption yo your normal routine and sleep pattern, it’s important to ensure you remain well rested. It’s a well known fact that sleep quality is linked to better mental wellbeing. So take a look at your sleep hygiene, as an increase in alcohol, less physical activity and increase in stress can have a big impact.

img_1738

I hope you have a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year, but if you need a little more support over the next few weeks, I will add some charities below.

Much Love,

Judy xo

The Samaritans

BEAT- Eating Disorder Charity

Debt and Money worries- Citizens Advice.

Help with Alcohol- Alcohol Support Services

Mind

World Mental Health Day 2015, Battling Stigma in Mental Illness.

Today is World Mental Health Day, take a moment to read this short post about Stigma, Mental Illness and Hope.

Hey Everyone,

Today is world Mental Health Day, and the theme this year is ‘living in dignity’.

Mental Illness isn't how you should define a person.

As a Mental Health professional I thought it best to mark today with a short piece on Mental Health, stigma and hope.

“One in four adults and one in ten children are likely to have a mental health problem in any given year. This can have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people in the UK, and can affect their ability to sustain relationships, work, or just get through the day”. Mental Health Foundation.

Stigma still surrounds Mental Illness, and we must work harder to tackle these out of date and ultimately misinformed attitudes most people seem to hold onto.

Stigma is treating someone differently because of a Mental Illness.
Stigma is treating someone differently because of a Mental Illness. *Image via Pinterest.

So how can we help those with Mental Illness live in dignity?

We all have mental health and by failing to treat people with mental health problems with dignity we make it more difficult to ensure that everyone takes steps to safeguard their wellbeing and to seek help, as it can lead to self-stigma, low confidence, low self-esteem, withdrawal and social isolation.

Educate yourselves. Knowing some facts about mental illness can mean a lot to people who need understanding at this difficult time in there like, you can get some facts here.

Prevention is better than cure.

Simple things like keeping active, eating well, sharing your problems with someone you trust are all things that you can do as an individual everyday to help.

If you feel the scales starting to tip and finding it hard to cope, please seek help, talk to a friend or your GP. I will include some help lines and websites at the end of this post.

Situations were you feel there are no ways out i.e debt, poverty, physical health issues, abuse there is ALWAYS someone to help, so do not feel you have no other alternative. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes on your situation can work wonders.

There is hope.

No matter how awful you feel today, it will get better. There is another way out if you let people in.

Image via Pinterest
Together we can beat Mental Illness and Stigma.*Image via Pinterest

For those who are having problems at the moment, recovery from Mental Illness is possible, and I have personally seen so many people at different stages of their journey go on to lead a life free of their disorder. What we must remember is that where there is understanding, there is hope.

So how are you going to help with the fight in battling stigma?

Judy xo

*Links to some helplines and websites.

Websites

BEAT, Eating Disorders.

Mind Your Head

Young Mind, Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Mind

Helplines

The Samaritans- 116 123 (UK and Ireland)

Lifeline (NI only) 0808 808 8000

If you are interested in my previous posts on Mindfulness you can find it here and simple steps to mental wellbeing here.

Simple Steps to Improve your Mental and Physical Wellbeing!

Hey Frenchies!

With all this miserable weather at the moment, we probably aren’t getting the ‘boost’ we need from the summer sun! If you were lucky enough to go on a holibob to the sunniest of destinations, you might be in a bit of a slump coming back to reality *sigh*.

As I have discussed before, a positive mind equals a positive life, and we all need that little reminder and much needed top up once in a while wether we are prone to a little slump in our mental health or not.

My five simple tips for you all are;

  1. Talk to people– Shock, horror. Talking to people? In this ever social media driven world we are more isolated than ever. Instead of chatting to your friend over WhatsApp, use it to make arrangements to meet for a coffee, get out, talk and enjoy the social interaction. Joining local groups, getting involved in the community, striking up a conversation with a neighbour, it all helps.
  2. Mindful or Mind-full?- You may have read my post a while back about mindfulness, if not you can find it here. Take that important me time to reflect on the positive things in your life and practice mindful awareness of the here and now, trust me it works!
  3. Keep Moving- This, I cannot stress enough. Exercise releases the happy hormones and research shows that it has a positive effect on those with depression and anxiety. Grab you coat, the kids or the dog and head out for a brisk walk, if exercise is tough for you try your best to find an activity that is suitable for you.
  4. Keep on Learning- Striving towards personal goals, rather than external rewards will give you the best sense of satisfaction and will last far longer. It also encourages interaction with others and increases your self esteem, so how about signing up for that course you’ve been thinking about for the last four years? Go for it!
  5. Give a Little, Get a Lot- Random acts of kindness are good for the soul. It could be as simple as helping an older person out of Tesco with a weeks shopping, volunteering your time, taking a meal over to your sick neighbour, whatever it may be your actions will have a knock on effect to others, in turn making them feel good and creating positive social interactions! One of my favourite phrases is, ‘It is nice to be nice’.

I hope you enjoyed reading my 5 steps! Is there anything that you would advise? Is there anything that has helped you? I would love to hear from you.

Much Love,

Judy xo

Mindfulness: Finding the Balance.

Mindfulness has become quite topical and almost trendy of late but it’s most definitely not a new concept. It is derived from Buddist practice and has been coined by Psychology in the past number of years. 

As part of my job as a Mental Health Professional, I talk about mindfulness a lot to my service users as one of the many tools for them to use from their toolbox for coping with whatever Mental Illness they are experiencing.

There are numerous different types of ‘Mindfulness’ from meditation to breathing or Yoga.

To define it, Mindfulness is a way of managing your thoughts through different techniques to help you focus on the present moment.

In sure most of you think it is a lot of mumbojumbo, however it has been extensively researched and is a preventative method as well as a coping method for anxiety and depression.

When stress and pressures hang over you like a rain cloud, it is very easy to get caught in that negative thinking patterns, which can be a vicious circle and hard to break. Being mindful is accepting this stress, and catching those negative thoughts and challenging them before they drag you down.

So what do you mean by challenging your thoughts? Basically that little internal voice in your head needs retrained, observe the comments without criticising , learning to be compassionate and kinder to yourself.

Some ways of being in the moment and focusing on the here and now are:

Yoga– I recently took up UndaYoga as I felt I needed that 90mins a week for true me time, focusing on nothing but my practice and breathing.

Walking– get yourself out and about at lunch time. Being cooped up at a desk, taking stressful phone calls…escape from that for 30mins and focus on your steps, the trees, the sky or breathing. You will feel so much better for it and come back refreshed to tackle the rest of the afternoon.

Watching your thoughts– If you are like me, I have a constant stream of thoughts of things I should do, should have done and as I talked about above, getting caught in negative thinking cycles. The trick is noticing when you are doing this. Say STOP to yourself internally and focus on your breathing for a moment (Breathe in for 5 and out for 5 until you are completely refocused). This will refocus your brain on the present moment.

Colouring in- Yes, you heard me right! I recently bought a colouring book off Amazon called ‘The Mindfulness Colouring Book’ it’s a great way to switch off for 10 minutes and focus on the picture and colours. They are quite intriquite drawings so require a lot of concentration!!

  
To finish, let me reiterate, mindfulness is always work in progress. It is also unrealistic to walk around in a bubble all the time and be blasé about life. We have to remember in this mad world, we have to look after ourselves, including our mental health.

If you have any questions or would like to know more, drop me a line.

Much Love,

Judy xo