Journey to the centre of me..

Hello all.

Today is another personal post of sorts but am excited to discuss a bit more about it after the last few weeks. One of the things I am quite proud of is my self-awareness and knowing who I am, especially since for many years I have experienced identity crises. However, times are changing and I along with it. In recent weeks, I have been in the process of not only changing my relationship with food, but also my spiritual relationship and studying Buddhism.

Relationship with food

I have not had a healthy relationship with it since I was 11. After my panic attacks started I felt like I needed something to control, however, had I known the long-term impact, I would certainly have found a healthy coping mechanism. These days I often binge eat and have lost control. I have tried diets, HIIT workouts and facing my fear of food by trying different things occasionally. This was thinking my weight was causing my unstable habits and a diet to me was a “healthy” way of recovery. It is not. A person whom I look up to suggested Intuitive Eating a while back and just a few weeks ago I started reading the original works by nutrition therapists and registered dieticians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

I devoured this book within hours, learning of the ten core principles and finding it made so much sense, I was eager to start respecting my body, honouring my hunger and rejecting the diet mentality, along with the other principles. I was quite anxious about how I would cope. I am very much an emotional eater, often eating just because I am bored. But the first few days, I was pleased with being able to truly listen to my body and all of its needs. 

I have not binge eaten in weeks, I think nearly a month. I am slowly learning my hunger and fullness signals too. Understandably, it’s a long process and there’s still more to learn but I am already noticing a change in how I view food, it’s purpose and what I need. 

Buddhism

I understand religion can be a contentious issue, let me start by saying I believe religion and spirituality are a personal choice but thought starting to share my journey may be of interest. Personally, I have always been spiritual, believing in something divine, otherworldly. I have always felt it took a large space in my heart. I have over recent years expanded in to researching and seeking out guidance. Having the country in lockdown gave me time to think and really reflect on my worldview and values.

It sort of hit me that values and actions I have taken in the last few months almost aligned with Buddhism. I have always had a great respect for their teachings, a part of me had long enjoyed Buddhism and in a moment I knew I needed to seek out guidance. I messaged a well-known meditation teacher and Buddhist monk, Gelong Thubten for advice. He directed me to Tergar. 

I am now undertaking the beginning course to deepen my meditation practice which I can already witness is giving me greater clarity of mind and heightened awareness in my day to day life. Those around me have also noticed positive differences. I am also slowly integrating Buddhist teachings and following them as best I can right now. I am so excited for what the future holds in store for me as I learn.

Peace and love to you,

L x

Article inspired: wellness overload

Welcome, welcome all.

I occasionally like to read well-being magazines so today’s post has been inspired by Issue 30 of Breathe magazine. The “wellness overload” article written by Jade Beecroft was rather thought-provoking and I felt it needed speaking about, especially on a mental health and well-being blog.

Beecroft states that wellness has become an industry, that it is no longer about simply being. She states that we find social media full of “influencers” in yogic poses, with juices and meditating at sunrise. She goes on to say that inadequacy will arise when we try to fulfil many goals related to self-care and trying to fulfil so many wellness aspects can actually leave us worse-off. She then interviews some respected people such as holistic coaches to try and give alternatives for well-being for those who may be strapped for time in our current society.

I fully agree with many of Beecroft’s points, they are poignant and powerfully thought-provoking. Wellness has become an ever-expanding industry where things can become dangerous. I am aware of MLM schemes selling over-priced shakes and products under the guise of wellness when in actuality they have been proven to do more harm than good (think Herbalife and Arbonne). Then on social media the “influencers” consistently talk about growth, and new health whilst in a myriad of poses showing what people “should” be doing. Wellness has become a commodity and for the everyday person it can seem overwhelming. When I first got into wellness and different aspects I thought I had to sit for over 30 minutes straight away not letting thoughts into my head as I attempted to meditate. 

I feel that having goals can be useful in life, they can give purpose but only if it is congruent with who you are. Only do activities you feel match who you are. You don’t have to be some guru to be into wellness. Taking five minutes to just breathe and relax with your favourite beverage could be considered wellness. You also don’t have be in constant self-improvement mode, in fact,that also is not healthy. What exactly are we trying to attain again and again as we try new methods?

It all comes back to balance. You know yourself best, do you really want to be doing yoga at 5am for an hour? If not, then don’t do it, that is completely okay. Wellness is a process where you need to find ways of being a nurturer to yourself, having a toolkit of activities and processes you can go to when you need to.

I have spoken about different aspects in the past, like my little routines, I do them because they help me, I meditate a lot now because I have found myself in Buddhism. But I don’t drink celery juices because I don’t like them. There are infinite possibilities about what wellness looks like. At the end of the day, what is right is what works for you.

Please don’t ever feel pressured to do things that don’t feel right.

Much love,

L x

Quitting social media

Hey people, welcome back.

Today I thought it would be good to discuss something a little bit different and something I have done recently. I quit social media.

I have always been on some form of social media since I was a pre-teen (11 or 12 years old) from Piczo, Bebo, MySpace, Facebook to Instagram. In my younger years with Piczo, I just loved redesigning my website again and again, it seemed “harmless”. But by the time I came to having Facebook as a teenager, there was always that pressure to have everyone added and showing off your life. Research has shown that many people end up with an anxiety-related disorder due to social media.

In recent years, I was feeling sick of Facebook, I tried to remedy it by deleting countless “friends”. It wasn’t enough, I had to delete my whole account. I was tired of seeing hate and scandal more than unplifting, insightful, inspirational content. From this I joined Instagram thinking I could find a bit more community, and for a time I did. Though I didn’t post regularly I enjoyed the scrolling, it was addictive. But lately I have found the algorithm bias, I found I compared myself to many people and that is not healthy. I practice what I speak, so to quit this entirely meant putting my mental health first.

The day I did it, I messaged a fair amount of people telling them I haven’t been blocking but deleting my account (I like to avoid conflict at all costs) and the first few hours after deleting my account I was unsure of what to do. I now had all this time to be present and I didn’t know what to do with myself.

I actually missed Instagram for a few days but have found some inner peace not allowing myself to endlessly scroll for hours each day. I take a more Stoic approach to social media in that it’s neither good not bad, it is how it is used by individuals and groups that determines it’s goodness. Personally, social media in general is not for me right now and that’s okay. I have plenty of other ways to stay connected to people, whether by text or good old fashioned letters.

As Cal Newport said in his TEDx Talk on quitting social media I have gone through a detox process, and I am rather glad I have now got more time to myself and placing my habit energy into more positive pursuits.

Check out that video if you’re interested!

Much love,

L x

Ted talks

Happy Sunday my dear readers, I hope you are all having a lovely and relaxing morning.

Lately, I have been feeling like I haven’t been making the most of my time, as you know, I struggle with simply being a lot. I have been wondering how to feel like I have accomplished something whilst still being mindful of the present. And I have found something. TED talks.

TED in a non-profit organisation that was founded in 1984 and covers short powerful talks covering all topics and communities. Their mission is to spread ideas and spark conversations. They do this through conferences, independent talk series or through education series.

Many of you may already watch the content of the speeches, found inspirational stories or new knowledge. I certainly have. There are so many on innumerable topics. Some are more personal than others. 

In my own experience, I have found that they are engaging, intriguing and thought-provoking. Watching a couple every so often has helped me to feel like I have done something to activate my brain and my mind that day whilst being still in myself. The joy of this kind of content is that it is accessible and can be consumed at any time, such as when doing housework, homework or coursework, even when just laying in bed feeling a little low or restless. 

A short one I particularly like is this one. Adam Liepzig was rather light-hearted but quite inspirational at the time and helped me to place my life purpose into perspective.

If you have any TED recommendations, let me know!

Much love,

L x

It’s a WRAP!

Hello all, how are we doing?

This week I thought I would I would talk about a useful tool called a WRAP, this is a wellness recovery action plan. There is plenty of information about WRAPs online but I thought it might be useful to add my experience and my voice about WRAPs.

This tool was developed in 1997 as a way of recovery from mental health issues and maintaining recovery. The main concepts built for a WRAP include having personal responsibility to take action, fuel hope to stay well, educate yourself on what you need to do to stay well, self-advocacy to get what you need and support to and from others for a better quality of life.

They are designed to be inclusive for anyone at any time. The WRAP will list what you are like when you are well. It should include what you need to do every day, every other day, every week and every month to keep well, stressors that can impact your well-being as well as early warning signs that you are becoming unwell and what you need to do to regain balance, a crisis plan is usually incorporated also. 

I made one as part of the therapeutic process last year. As My Psychotherapist said, “if you’re not following and looking at your WRAP, you’re not looking after yourself”, she was right on many occasions. When I started to falter I wouldn’t look at the WRAP until I realised I was suffering and then it acts as a measure to take things back to basics and build on from there.

After my experiences over the winter months I decided to complete an extension the WRAP to prepare for the next winter season. I detailed the triggers that made me low and how to overcome them. I also added what I would need to purchase to create a box of soothing and useful and useful items to help me feel prepared. This includes items such as face masks and hot chocolate sachets to vitamins and tissues should I get a cold.

I hope you found this interesting!

Take care,

L x

Routines: the night

Hello, hello loves!

Many posts ago I talked about morning routines and their benefit (see here). I have altered my routine a few times, as would be expected, to better suit my day and now I feel confident in my routine and like I can start my day right for me. Night routines have similar benefits to morning routines in that you can end your day on a positive, soothing and calming note.

Now, you have complete freedom over how you do a night routine, remember that it must be consistent and maintained in order to have a positive impact. A key message in the purpose of a night routine is to help settle your mind and be ready for a (hopefully) good night’s sleep.

I usually start my routine between 6-7pm. I take my medication, prep fresh food for the guinea pigs and feed them. I then usually complete my skincare routine, settle down and journal as well as plan the next day so that I know what I am doing and have purpose for the day that is coming. I then usually talk to my partner and settle for sleep. I say usually because there are days where I might complete the routine earlier if I am feeling low or drained, or change the activities that I complete. Either way I have had a relaxing end to my day and can end ona more positive note despite what might have happened in that day.

Creating a routine for yourself may be beneficial if you feel like you have no time to yourself, this can be your “me-time”. A chance to do activities you find relaxing such as reading or drawing or knitting, affirmations, having a bath or shower. I feel having a routine is a pillar of self-care. It is your way of telling yourself, your mind, your brain that it is time to reflect, relax and soothe.

Let me know if you have a night-time routine!

Much happiness to you,

L x

Children and well-being

Hello all! Hope you all have had a fantastic week. For this week’s post I decided that we have looked at many things for adults and well-being and my experience of mental illness, but I have yet to speak about children and young people and their well-being. It is just as important, if not more vital, that a child’s well-being is prosperous. Here are some statistics around mental health and well-being:
  • Recent government research indicates that 1 in 8 children and young people will suffer from a mental health problem.
  • According to the Mental Health Foundation, 70% of these young people will not receive successful intervention at the right age.
  • The average age for an anxiety disorder is now 10 years old.
These statistics alone hit me hard, because this is my life being represented. At 7 years old, I suffered with hallucinations and delusions that can still scare me today, it was brushed off by the psychiatrist and I was labelled as a clingy, sensitive child who just needed more attention. At 11 years old, I started having panic attacks. It wasn’t until I was 15 and suffering from major depression and hallucinating that I finally got the help I needed. But that was 10 years ago, times are changing. There is now far more awareness around positive mental well-being. For instance, last year Mental Health UK started their UK-wide programme Bloom, training teachers tools and resources on emotional resilience and mental well-being to be delivered to young people which has seen success. There are also many programmes ongoing teaching children as young as 6 years old Mindfulness as a way to better regulate emotions which has much science behind it. Fantastic progress is being made and it is wonderful to see action as well as awareness. I have spent 4 years talking to students, teachers and health professionals about stigma and discrimination, but actions and tools that can actually be used to help develop resilience and being able to cope with change is just as important as awareness. There are many possible triggers that children and young people can face such as transitioning schools, exams and changing friendships. Having guidance on how to cope is immensely useful. But evidence has shown, the earlier we can help children develop more resilience the less likely they are to face mental health problems in a world where more and more children and young people are developing ill-health. There are many ways we can help our own children at home. There are many self-care and happiness journals available online that explore emotions and resilience. We can ask children what went well in their day, we can help them do short meditations, or practicing gratitude. Even most basic things of a balanced diet, exercise, good sleep and a routine can help a child. For some, having a journal to write their thoughts and feelings in can also help. Most importantly, we must show children and young people that we care about them, support them and want to see them flourish. I hope you found this interesting. Let me know if you have found any strategies interesting or helpful. Much love to you, L x

Reflecting and what is to come

Good morning beautiful human beings.

I hope you all had an excellent start to your week yesterday, I certainly did with many small wins. I decided not to post on Sunday as it just did not feel right given everything that has been going on in the world, and rightly so. I spent last week learning, and reflecting, so much so my mental health was put on the back burner until last night.

So yes, I have consumed a lot of content, books, podcasts, articles and videos and did a deep dive into my “all or nothing” mindset, which can be quite debilitating, EUPD can be sneaky that way, I never see her coming. But the obsessive haze has lifted and I now am able to properly take care of myself and those around me again.

I just thought I’d try something new with the blog and let you all know what’s coming up in the next few weeks in terms of content and my proposed plan is as follows:

Sunday 14th June: Children and well-being

Sunday 21st June: How I deal with intense emotions in the moment

Sunday 28th June: Routines: the night

I hope these are of interest to you. Now, I have also been debating whether or not to create vlogs as well as blogs, if that sounds interesting please comment or contact me to let me know

Much love and happiness to you,

L x

Kindness matters

Good morning my lovelies!

How are we this fine morning?

I’m a bit late to the Mental Health Awareness Week party, which this year, had a theme of kindness. In these times, kindness is vital. I normally do a fair amount of campaigning on these important dates but this year I had to look after my own well-being and mental health. I did complete an interview on TFM, hopefully it helped someone. I have found that this year many prioritised their health first which is incredibly valid.

Kindness to others and especially ourselves is vital right now, in the present and the future for so many reasons.

  1. Kindness helps us to be more empathetic and compassionate.
  2. Kindness allows us to be responsive rather than reactive. This is in the sense that we do not become rash, irrational or increase the likelihood of regrettable actions. But rather we appropriately respond calmer and have a more positive outcome.
  3. We gain a better sense of self through kindness in all its complexity.
  4. Kindness increases our sense of community and reduces isolation by treating yourself and others well.
  5. Kindness can also reduce our stress levels.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, kindness is choosing to do something that helps you or others motivated by genuine feelings. There are so many ways this can be accomplished.

How you can be more kind to you

  1. Fill your days with what gives you pleasure – you deserve it.
  2. Respect yourself to where you have gotten in life. Living is hard but you have done fantastic so far. Remind yourself of that that.
  3. Practice gratitude.
  4. Listen to your body and be intuitive of its needs.
  5. Prioritise “me-time”.
  6. Log off social media for an hour or a day, or longer if needed.

How you can be more kind to others

  1. Check in with those you know, friends, family and colleagues.
  2. If you can, donate your time or money to causes that are important to you.
  3. Send some old fashioned (but classic) snail mail.
  4. If you can, see if anyone (friends, family, neighbours) need a hand with anything.

Keep well,

L x

How my pets help my well-being

Good morning my wonderful beings! I hope you are all taking good care of yourselves. Today I thought I would keep it light and breezy after my last post. So today is more of a ramble (becoming part of my signature on this blog) about my wonderful pets and how they have helped me in recovery! I suppose it is more common knowledge that pets are known to increase oxytocin (the calming hormone) in humans allowing for improved mood, being more relaxed and calm. I have felt these effects personally. In my household there are three dogs, and I love them. My golden Labrador Heidi is just wonderful and all she ever wants is hugs and attention. We rescued her I think around 6 years ago. She took a few days to warm up to everyone but me, that happened within the first few hours and that bond has stuck. I always give her as much love as I can on a daily basis, she is a very calm dog in the home and certainly enjoys sleeping in the bed! Two years ago however, I decided to get two lovely adorable little beings purely for me rather than my family. They were initially therapy pets as I became more unwell, I thought I wanted a guinea pig, but when I saw them for sale I knew I had to get them both.
Blossom and Brenda (L to R)
Mother and daughter, they were perfect! At first they were very shy with me, but after consistent interaction they came into their own and have such personalities! Blossom is a bit more shy than Mama Brenda. But she likes to chirp and pull a ‘puppy-dog’ look for more nuggets. Brenda has her grumbles but loves attention. Getting these two really helped me in recovery, having them allowed me to take care of them which in turn led me to taking care of myself. Having Brenda and Blossom gave me focus and a purpose when I felt so lost. I could spend forever just watching them play and relax. I’ve became so intent on giving them the best life possible as strange as that may seem but no expense is spared to ensure they are happy and healthy. I am so grateful to have them in my life, they are full of happiness and are a gift. Gosh, I’m rather sentimental today I feel. But they have been there for me at my lowest and guinea pigs are beautiful, intelligent and loving creatures to have in your home. Do any of you have any pets? Much love, L x