A Solid Investment

I’m pretty sure all of us are very good at investing our hard earned $$ in the latest trends or that new lipstick but how much do we invest in our own wellbeing? Two years ago if you gave me the choice of spending £25 on a top or a personal training session, I’d have went straight to Topshop..every time!

It isn’t until something goes wrong with our health we reflect back and wish we had perhaps invested in ourselves a bit more.  The old saying, prevention is better than the cure is very apt.

I have made a few changes in the past year which have had a really positive effect. I am happier, healthier and have more energy. If you know me personally you will know 2015 was a pretty tough year for me and my health but I’m now on the other side and I want to share with you some super simple things I have done that have improved my quality of life and hopefully will benefit yours too.

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Lean in 15, Bodycoach.

The food we eat is our fuel…you wouldn’t put rubbish fuel in your car so why do it to yourself. If you load up on rubbish, you will in turn feel rubbish. Buying the Lean In 15 book was the first step I made in improving my diet. I have so many recipe books but most of the meals in them are complicated, expensive and take ages to cook. After a hard day at the office the last thing I want to do is start making a big dinner.  The Lean in 15 books are full of super simple, quick and yummy recipes that are easy to put together in the evening. With lots of veg and lean ingredients it’s had a really positive affect on my diet. I haven’t strictly followed the books plan but I do make a majority of my weeknight dinners and lunches from it.

Personal Training

For me this was a bit of a luxury, as I am sure it would be to you as well. Two operations on my abdomen in 2015 left me with pretty poor core strength, zero body confidence and had left me with a feeling that things were pretty much beyond the point of repair.

I was pretty anxious about starting back into exercise again after a year off and so I researched pretty hard about the best way to do so without hurting myself or landing back in hospital. I started off with a Yoga class to break myself in gently.  After attending Yoga regularly for a number of weeks I felt confident enough to up the ante a bit. I started Personal Training at a local gym, going on a Saturday morning and then also attending a class on a Monday evening. My personal trainer was great and tailored workouts specifically for me so that I don’t overdo it or put too much strain on my core. Even with that, initially the whole ‘exercise’ thing was a bit of a shock on my body and I found it reacting in various ways to all of this exercise it wasn’t used to. I listened to it and took a break as and when I needed to but I’ve since built up my stamina again and now attend twice a week without fail and I haven’t looked back.

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Mindfulness

If you have  been following my blogs you have probably heard me banging on about ‘Mindfulness’ a few times. When I was ill, I spent most days in constant discomfort and pain. Medication did it’s part to provide relief but some days it just wasn’t enough and so I started to look for alternative ways that I could manage the daily discomfort and it was through this search that I found ‘mindfulness’.

‘Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique..’

I started with one of those pretty adult colouring books and although it seems silly, it was very effective  at helping me get through those really tough days. I have continued to practice it and having had such positive results I have also started to promote it to my patients in my job as a Psychiatric Nurse. It isn’t just a way of relaxing but can have very real benefits for those suffering from mental health problems as well as physical conditions.

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Massage

This is a recent addition to my portfolio of managing my condition in the long term and one of the most empowering. I have begun attending a specialist Physiotherapist in Belfast who specialises in helping woman manage health conditions including Endometriosis. She  provides therapeutic massage and gives specialist nutrition, exercise and lifestyle advice and I have to say the result has been fantastic. She has has made me feel like I am in  more control as I have a number of things I can do to help manage my symptoms on days when I am in a bit of pain and discomfort.
In addition to the really helpful advice the benefits of the therapeutic massage are amazing. Massage has the obvious of helping managing stress which can bring its own issues and it can have a positive effect on your lymphatic system and it can even boost your immune system.

Whilst I appreciate that everyone is different and our path to a better wellbeing is unique to each individual experiencing it, I feel that these are some tips that mostly everyone can adopt.

My hope is that we all start taking care of our insides as much as we do out outside and we can all have that natural glow that comes from within.

Much Love,

Judy xo

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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

 

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

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