Guest Blog- Reading is good for the soul…

Mental Well Being Blog, Reading

Meet your guest blogger: 

Hazel

Your guest blogger this week is Hazel. Hazel is an inspirational woman and therefore has been asked to write a blog about reading and how this impacts positively on mental health. She is a teacher in an EBD school, last year she did missionary work in Zambia and also manages to juggle a family of five and two dogs! She loves photography and uses her personal instagram to express this, see link below: 

https://www.instagram.com/cumbrianpurplehaze/

Reading Is Good For The Soul

When I was asked to write a blog with regards to my favourite pastime ‘reading’ I was instantly thrilled, this was very soon followed by that fearsome fiend ‘anxiety’. Questions began circulating my mind: ‘what will I say’, ‘will anyone really want to read it’, ‘am I too old for all this blogging shiz’ and ‘what if someone leaves a negative comment’ and so on and so forth. However, I managed to quell these unwanted thoughts and instead replaced them with images of my amazing daughter, who despite having had (purposely written in the past tense) huge obstacles to overcome is absolutely bossing it, it being life. So instead of shrinking away from this, I will now share with you some of my favourite books and how they have impacted on my personal growth.

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body”- Richard Steele 

I love this quote, I’m not one for exercising but can often be found with my head buried deep in a book. Being able to shut out the world and delve into a wonderfully written piece of fiction has got me through some dark days.

~ Broadening my thinking with fiction

My favourite author is an American fiction write called Jodi Picoult. She writes about different societal issues, usually result in a moral versus legal dilemma. Some of the issues she has tacked are teenage suicide, racism, rape, childhood cancer, school shootings and murder. Prior to reading her work these situations seemed very black and white. But after reading her books, often told from numerous characters points of view I am left understanding that there truly is a whole load of murky grey and that the distinction between right and wrong is incredibly difficult to define.

Her work makes me think and question the status quo, she has made me realise that the world and all its inhabitants are gloriously crazy and complex.

jodiiii (2).jpg

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Fave Quote: “that’s the paradox of loss. How can something that’s gone weigh us down so much”- The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult. 

Fave Book: Small, great things. 

~ Channeling my inner child 

My inner child (because we all need to channel that little beauty occasionally) simply adores all things Harry Potter.
As a child I loved Enid Blyton’s work, imagining myself at Malory Towers or on an adventure with the Famous Five.

For me the concept of Harry Potter is that of a modern day Enid Blyton story.
Within those pages you will be taken on a magical, mysterious adventure, you will grow to love the characters, you will join in the fight of good over evil, you will cry and laugh, your imagination will get a fab run out and you will wanted to be one of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s friends. An excellent form of total escapism for me, just what the doctor ordered!

Fave Quote: “You’re a wizard Harry”

Fave Book: The Philosophers Stone

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~ Self help and religion 

There are thousands of books out there that claim to be able to ‘change your life’. At the tender age of 41 I’m yet to find this one special book. This is not to say that this particular genre does not have anything to offer, but for me it is more about broadening my reading and gaining lots of different perspectives.

Whilst I am not a practicing Christian it is hard to not recognise that the ten commandments offer some pretty good rules and morals to live by. Nor I am a Buddhist but their Five Moral Precepts offer a kind and compassionate ideology. Read them all, devour them and take what resonates with you and hold it in your heart.

I do enjoy a good ‘self-help’ book and usually sit with a pen and notepad whilst reading them so that I can sort out the total twaddle from the powerful words. This way I can come back to these words when I need them the most.

Fave quote: “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with” Wayne Dyer

Fave book: You can heal your life, Louise Hay 

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Perhaps my book blog was not what you were expecting- I didn’t waffle on about the great classics (which I do also enjoy- my faves are To Kill a Mocking Bird and 1984) but instead I chose to be completely honest with you. I’m no book snob- I like what I like. In fact my favourite book of all time is Marley and Me.

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Love Hazel xx

Oh yeah this amazing lady is also my mum…

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Helping yourself when you feel sad, depressed or anxious

Mental Well Being Blog

My self help guide

sad to happyIf I find myself falling into any sort of sadness, depression or prolonged period of anxiety I have a set plan in place for what I do, I don’t always do all of the stages as some work on their own. This is dependent upon my mood. I hope that my plan can be of some help to you.

~ Create goals

Step 1)

Draw yourself a table and insert two columns (I’ll insert some templates underneath). The first of which should be titled ‘past goals’ Now goals that you have already achieved can be absolutely anything, as long as they made you or others around you feel like you achieved something. When my mental health was at it’s worst my achievements could have simply been getting up and making food. So please don’t feel like any achievement is too small.

Step 2)

In the second column include your future goals. Think about where you want to be in a days time, weeks time, months time and a years time and so on and so forth.  Please try and make your goals as specific as possible, and always use positive connotations, positivity is key in this method.

Step 3)

Now explain to yourself why you want what you have wrote. So if you said that you wanted to pass your driving test, figure out why? How is it going to improve your life, perhaps it will give you more freedom?

Side note: After making this once it tends to be something you can just come back to or even add to as you go along. 


“You deserve to heal”


Step 4)

This step is all about channeling your energy (and you might be thinking when your feeling anxious, depressed or sad that you don’t have any energy- I get that). But if you have any sort of energy do something that you can start and complete that you take joy out of. Whether that is crafts, drawing, taking a walk, baking or reading a book.

Here’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe that I make when I’m feeling down:

choc cake

https://www.errenskitchen.com/devils-food-cake/

Why does setting goals help with my low mood? Well for me it was the realisation that what you need to do is entirely dependent upon where you want to get (step 2). So if I wanted to get petrol, driving to the pet shop would be pretty pointless for that goal right? But before I could believe that I could achieve a goal when I’m feeling low I needed to prove to myself that I have achieved goals in the past (step 1).  This is because when I am in this mood I have very negative thoughts and I tend to catastrophize situations. By setting goals I’m attempting to look beyond the feelings and very real emotions that I’m experiencing, I’m envisioning the future without these feelings. Explaining why I want to do something (step 3) tends to make me want to do it more. Completing something like a cake (step 4) gives me a finished product that I can look at and think even when I’m feeling this low I am capable of creating and achieving something (and I get a slice of cake also).

~ Meditate

meditate

Step 1) Find a quiet space, inside or out and get comfortable, whether that is sitting, standing or lying down.

Step 2) Breathe in, breathe out then pause.

Step 3) Breathe in and breathe out.

Step 4) You just completed your first meditation.

Okay so yes that was a very short and sweet meditation but it is exactly where I started. My mother loves to meditate, she finds it like her own little sanctuary but I never could concentrate enough. But I saw the benefits it had on my mum. So I broke it down and I started with a 10 second meditation whenever I felt I needed it. Then 1 minute, 10, 20, 30 until I just meditated for however long my body wanted.

~ Tasks that tackle your negative thoughts

glass.jpg

Do you believe in superstition? 

  1. If I break a mirror do I receive 7 years bad luck? 
  2. If I were to put a pair of new shoes on a table will I have bad luck?
  3. If I pull a funny face when the wind changes will my face really stay like that?

Stay with me with this I know it seems very unrelated. 

So if your thinking no way does your face change because of the wind and anyone who believes that is absolutely crazy. When I feel low in mood my thoughts always seem absolute. So if my head is telling me that I am never going to get better or that I am not worthy of love or friends or my anxiety comes out whilst I’m in a restaurant and I feel like everyone is watching me. When these thoughts occur I believe that they are truthful, rational and valid. What I’m trying to explain is that it never occurs to our thoughts that perhaps thinking that every person in a restaurant is looking at you is irrational and unhelpful?

Next time your experiencing a negative thought, try and stop and think does this help me, is it rational?

sheep

  1. Think about a white sheep
  2. Now stop thinking about a white sheep
  3. Think of anything but a white sheep

Difficult?

This theory highlights how difficult it is for our brains to stop a thought! If you can’t stop something negative surely the only thing is to try and change it? If I’m thinking about how my anxiety is never going to improve, I don’t try to stop this thought. I try to apply the previous theory and think is this rational, and does it help me? It doesn’t help me and it definitely isn’t rational so I change it. Instead of I’m always going to have anxiety I state that I’m currently experiencing anxiety but my future goal is that I won’t. I’ve achieved goals in the past why can’t I achieve this goal? The answer is I can and I will.

I know that this task seems hard work and like it takes a lot of energy that you might not be feeling pretty full of. But just try one step at a time, see if it helps? This won’t be the way for everybody but it helps me and I wanted to share that with others. 

~ Take care of yourself

I cannot express enough how important it is for me to look after my body. When I feel good on the outside it has a large impact upon my mental well-being. Now I’m not saying that in order to be happy you must look beautiful all the time. However, when your feeling low doing things that actively make you feel better on the outside reflect on the inside.

Have a bubbly bath, or a hot sit down shower, paint your nails, or plait your hair, put a face mask on, do your make-up. Any one of these help me, so I hope they help you to.

bubbly bath.jpg

~ Talk

The most important way of dealing with how you may feel when you are low, anxious or depressed is talking. Please find someone to talk to! It is the main reason I feel on the road to recovery because I was finally ready to talk it all out. Emotion is okay, feeling sad is okay, you’re not broken and no-one is going to judge you and if they do send them to me (haha). Whether it is your mum or dad, a teacher, colleague, friend, family member just talk.

You can contact me through this page and I promise to try get back to you as soon as physically possible.

If your not comfortable talking to anyone you know I have attached the NHS website that has numerous helplines. Here you can talk to someone you don’t know and get further help if you need it.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

 

The best book I ever found that helped me and that contributed to a lot of my self help plan was ‘The CBT Good Habit Journal’ by Christine Wilding and Gill Hasson. It is definitely worth a buy. Below is a link to the book.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/147365789X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=147365789X&linkCode=as2&tag=elle1133-21&linkId=85b95bb6f147264f013f8b7fc170f98f


This is just my self help guide it is in no way going to be perfect for you, anxiety and depression requires help from professionals so please seek that. This is just to hopefully give you some ideas and coping methods.


Past Goals

Future Goals

~ Completed GCSE’S & ALevels

~ Learnt to drive

~ Bought my own car

~ Tidied my room

~ Raised money for charity

~ Travel

~ Complete Degree

~ Buy my first house

~ Get a Blue Staffy

~ Go for a walk

~ Eat healthily