Blogmas Day 15: How to stay mentally healthy during the holidays!

Christmas is fun but it can also be really stressful! At Christmas time we want to go, go, go. We feel we need to go shopping for gifts, see friends and family, go to events, look our best and prepare for the big day.  In short, it can be a lot of pressure on anyone, so when you have a mental illness can be very overwhelming and it’s so easy to struggle during the holidays, here are my tips to stay healthy.

Take time for yourself

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the festivities and everything that ‘needs’ to be done that we often forget to take some time to ourselves! It’s important to be able to wind down and switch off no matter what time of year it is.

Get enough rest

It can be absolutely exhausting to live with a mental illness on a day to day basis, add to that seeing friends and family, going out to join in with events, trying to match the excitement of others. It’s important that no matter what you still get enough rest. It’s so important to prioritise you rest and sleeping habits.

Decide what is a priority for you 

Expectations can be really high at Christmas and if,  like me, you’re a bit of a people pleaser it can be hard to say no. I’ve needed to tell myself, firmly, that I can say no and I need to look at my priorities. My priority is seeing my family, close friends and making sure I use the time I have to recharge my batteries. That’s the priority.

Take the pressure off! 

Banish the ‘should’, you do you over the holidays. I’m not going out on New Years Eve to any pubs or parties. I’m going to spend the night in my own home and go and see my family are a good sleep. I’m going to not have something on every single day and try to go with the flow.

See the day how you need to

For some people they want Christmas to be a day filled with family and that’s what’s important. For others, it’s just another day. Do what’s right for you.

Feeling S.A.D

It’s dark, it’s raining and let’s be honest, pretty miserable outside. Since the clocks went back a few weeks ago I’ll be honest, it’s been a little bit more of a struggle. For many of us, it’s normal to feel a little bit blue in these months, but there are times when this goes deeper. During the winter months, there are many people who have to deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD.  But what is the difference between feeling down and having SAD.

 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.

SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe during the winter.

The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start getting shorter. They’re typically most severe during December, January and February.

SAD often improves and disappears in the spring and summer, although it may return each autumn and winter in a repetitive pattern. (NHS Website)

In my personal experience of living with depression since I was a teenager, the winter months can make depression worse in itself, particularly after the excitement of Christmas is over.

While some will just call it the ‘winter blues’ regardless of whether your depression is seasonal or throughout the year it is still depression and something that people need help with. I don’t agree that having SAD is any lesser a pain or struggle than other types of depression, hence why I wanted to start the conversation and talk more about this.

Mental health issues impact so many lives and it’s important to talk about different types and their causes to get help and beat stigma at the same time. If you feel like you are struggling, maybe it is sadness or perhaps you just don’t feel like yourself talk to someone.

If you see a doctor and feel like they aren’t listening go back and see another, write down how you are feeling and why you think that is. Our minds are both brilliant and confusing things but together we can make the world a little brighter and a little easier.

What are your experiences of SAD? Let me know in the comments below.

 

7 ways to Help Your Mental Health Day to Day

As the days have gotten shorter and it’s a lot darker, anyone’s mental health can take a hit. Recently, while having a medication review, I spoke to a doctor about medication and dosages. He told me that he does not unless he has to for the patient, lower or bring anyone off of antidepressants in the winter months.

I completely understand why he does this. A lot of people feel good at the end of the summer, it’s been warm, there might have been holidays or romance and a lot of time outside the house. In the Autumn & Winter, however, it can get harder.

So, how can we help ourselves, well…

Recognise when you’re not feeling great

Remember that it’s ok not to be ok, it’s like a giant light has gone off for the world, it’s going to knock you! That and it’s cold, not exactly the best conditions to be happy. Know that it’s ok to feel that way and you’re certainly not the only one.

Try and leave the house 

Despite the temperature drop try and go outside. Throw on a big jumper and a coat and go somewhere. It can be as simple as popping to the shop or going for a 10 minute walk.

Practice self-care 

Self-care is really important in whichever way you chose to do it. I’m trying to be healthier and not rely on food  so, recently, I’ve found a nice bath and some poetry makes me feel a lot better.

Make a list of things to look forward to 

I used to really struggle with my day to day because I wasn’t happy with my personal situation. I needed a reason to look forward so I started making notes and writing on calendars at least one thing I was looking forward to. I didn’t need to be anything big but I had a focus point.

Take your time

Take your time with building yourself up. There’s no rush to be the happiest person or to shake off feelings. We’re all different and we all have our own challenges.

Get enough sleep! 

I cannot stress this enough. Sleep is so important to our lives, make sure you get the amount of sleep you need. I know that I can deal with 6 hours a night but to be fully functioning I need 8 hours.

Make sure you eat 

I’m awful at this, I’ll admit that I’m awful at this. When I’m absorbed in something, or when I’m sad food is something I forget about. Don’t be me! Make sure you’re eating and fuelling your body.

My Health Mission

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Hello, hello, hello!

It feels like ages since I’ve written a post about health and how I’ve been getting on. Now I’ll be honest, my whole gym fitness has been awful for the past few months, truly, truly awful. I’ve neglected it and just didn’t have the energy, which I now know had a reason and after some medication, I have a lot more energy and can actually focus on getting back into it.

What’s spurred this on? I hear you ask well I had a checkup and wanted to know what I should be aiming for in terms of weight loss. I’ve known that my weight has gone up and down a lot since I broke my spine, but didn’t know what I should be aiming for. She confirmed what I knew, I was overweight.

My doctor was lovely, she knows that I struggle with exercise because of my spine and told me that under no circumstances I was to stress and beat myself up. That is was going to take me a little longer and I had to take it easy with my exercise, but that I would get there.

So I’m on a mission, not to punish my body but to try to help it and lose the weight in a way that doesn’t make me feel rubbish. I know I can do it, it just might take a little more time and a little bit of restraint.

 

When Your Confidence Takes a Hit

Hello, hello, hello!

It’s been a little while since I’ve spoken about how I’ve been feeling lately, which was how this blog started in the first place. I mean it’s, possible, that I’ve been doing this on purpose, maybe.

Almost 3 weeks ago I was let go from a job I quite enjoyed. It was something that happened out of the blue and I went into shock and immediately doubted myself and what I was good for. Which seems like quite a natural response, I think. Either way, I didn’t expect that I’d be looking for a job again, going to interviews again and trying to rebuild myself again.

My relationship with confidence has been a long and interesting one. To a lot of people, I outwardly seem a very confident and savvy person. In fact, in interviews, I’ve been told I’m a very confident person. Yes, I can be. In situations where I pull out my confidence cape and I’m Super Chloe, I can do anything. Then I go home.

I go home and then the cape comes off and I struggle. I wonder what the hell I’m doing, if I’m going to be able to make all of this work. If, in the next 5 years, I will have to go through it again.

We all know that, in life, we’re going to have highs and lows. There’s going to be times when it completely floors you and your confidence. I’ve been dealing with that a lot in the past few years and trying to piece myself back together and carry on.

I’m taking steps to be more confident and to embrace whatever happens in my life. It’s hard but sometimes you need to be your own cheerleader, know your strengths and ignore those who want to put you down. It’s such a tough internal struggle for all of us but, to me, carrying on is the only option.

 

 

You Can Do It! – World Mental Health Day 2017

Hello there,

I don’t know what lead you here, maybe you’re feeling a little lost, maybe you saw this on social media and thought I’d see what she has to say. I’m here to tell you, you can do it.

For many, when you have a mental health condition, it can seem as a huge barrier. It can seem like it’s going to stop you achieving your dreams and what you want to achieve in life. There’s a lot of negative portrayals in the media and literature of someone’s life ending. That may have been the old way but with the right help, support and treatment (in many forms) you can achieve what you want to achieve!

Don’t let anyone tell you that what you want to get out of life isn’t possible because of some brain chemistry. What a load of rubbish! Some of the greatest thinkers, performers and artists to have ever lived have had to deal with mental health conditions. It’s a well known fact that in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Dementors were created out from J.K Rowling’s experiences with depression.

Sometimes, the biggest and only barrier is yourself and the voice in your head. It can be completely exhausting to fight your own mind on the simplest thing. I remember years ago when I started university, the thought of getting a bus gave me an anxiety attack. Yep, getting a bus. Then I moved to London and didn’t have a choice, the first few times I was petrified, I was so anxious and panicked. Now, getting a bus in London doesn’t phase me at all, I used to do it all the time. BUT my brain would come up with all these scenarios, it took time but I tamed my brain in that situation and many others.

It can feel like you’re up against the world but I promise you slowly, you can do this. You can do anything. Talk to others, keep going back to your GP until they listen, do what you feel you need to do.

Lots of love,

Chloe

World Suicide Prevention Day 2017 – Tips for Tough Days

It’s World Suicide Prevention Day 2017, each year it’s something that I dedicate a post to because it’s important. The fact that we need a day for suicide prevention shows something. We live incredibly busy lives, we’re constantly going, going, going, looking at the world around us and having 24-hour news and updates on the good, and bad in the world. It can all get a little too much. When you’re at your lowest ebb, and suicide seems like an option, it’s hard to know what to do to help, if there is any help at all when you’re slowed down struggling to cope while the world seems so fast. So, for this year I wanted to share some tips, for the days when everything seems too much.

Know that it’s ok to unplug

I love social media and growing my following BUT, sometimes it’s too much. To see other people seemingly having a great time when you’re not feeling great it’s ok to switch off for a while and turn off your internet and just be.

Speak to, or be around, people that love you 

This is so important. It doesn’t matter who these people are, but it can help to be cared for in the smallest of ways.

Get some natural light 

Hear me out. I’ve been in those times where my mind tells me to just lie in the darkness and just sleep, mainly when I was living alone at uni. When you get up, open the curtains or try to go outside for 10-15 minutes. Natural light can really do you good. If not you can get a lamp to replicate light, which also helps with SAD (Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder).

Try and do something you enjoy 

I know it can be really hard when you’re in the darkest parts of depression but even a little something can make you feel a little better. Maybe listen to an album you like, do something creative, cook? Whatever you feel up to doing. I, personally, try to listen to some music or write.

Allow yourself to cry 

My boyfriend is on tour right now, it’s tough. For the past week I’ve been trying to keep myself busy all the time, every evening pushing my mind and my body to distract myself. Yesterday I finally let myself acknowledge that I was missing him and had a good old ‘ugly cry’, didn’t set my alarm and just slept for as long as my body needed.

Know it’s ok not to be ok 

I wrote a whole post on this a while back, it’s ok not to feel ok. It’s part of life and if you have a mental illness it’s a part of life you know all too well. We have down days, sometimes we relapse, it’s all part of recovery.

Know that someone loves you

It can be so hard to remember this. Someone in the world loves you, so much. You’re worth this life. I promise.

If you need any help or are feeling suicidal please, please talk to someone. In the UK you can contact the Samaritans, they can talk things over with you on 116 123. If you feel like you’re in immediate danger of harming yourself please call an ambulance.