Category Archives: Mental health

Midweek mindfulness (on a friday)

This weeks mindfulness activity focuses on smell. I find it is one of my weaker senses, so I like to practice this one. Take a deep breath in and take some time to notice the smells around you. What can you smell? Is there cooking smells, bread baking  or dinner cooking. Can you smell the scent of flowers in the garden, the smell of the earth, or someone mowing the lawn. I like to crush some lavender between my fingers and take a breath in, concentrating on the scent.

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Miss Lucy x

 

 

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Midweek mindfulness

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This week mindfulness activity is one of my favourites, I find it so relaxing. When you practice mindfulness you are connecting to the world through your senses. I have a preference for mindful activities that are related to sound or that are visual, and I really love this mindfulness of sound meditation from the Mindful self compassion website:

http://www.mindfulselfcompassion.org/audio/MindfulnessofSound.mp3

I have practised this one quiet a lot, and nowdays I find if I need some time out, or if i’m feeling stressed,  I just stop for a few moments and just listen and It just gives me some to connect to what’s going on around me and take a break from my thoughts. This is a really short meditation, only 5 minutes, and if you do happen to try to let me know what you think!

Miss Lucy x

Being busy and how I learnt to relax

My life before I became unwell was busy. I couldn’t relax. If I had a moment of free time I would fill it. I had my children, who were 6 and 3 at the time, in every possible activity, drama classes, swimming, athletics, music, you name it we did it. Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we over-schedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us? For an hour prior to taking my daughter to school, she would be beside herself, just totally stressed out that we would be late, and I was teaching my children to live like this! I would be the person up at 630 in the morning so I could go grocery shopping, and every weekend would be brimming with social activities.  My husband described me as having “ants” as in “ants in my pants” meaning I never sat still.  I never relaxed and I never ever asked for help either, I had to do it  all by myself, I  felt it was my role as a mum to do everything, to be responsible for everything. I wasn’t eating well, I would binge on chocolate in the afternoon because I was so tired and I was drinking copious cups of tea and coffee. I didn’t exercise, basically I wasn’t looking after myself at all. And then I came a cropper. My body had basically had enough, it floored me with a panic attack in the middle of the night, I ended up in hospital, I had anxiety off the richter scale and I ended up with a major depressive episode. I was forced to stop.

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Then I had to learn to live again, but this time I had to reinvent myself and learn to relax and nurture myself.

One of the first things we did when I became unwell was cancel all of the extra activities the kids did. We stopped being busy. It was amazing to see how relaxed and happy the kids were. It really made me question the need for all of those extra activities, the kids just enjoyed playing, we went to the park, we climbed trees, we enjoyed spending time together.

I had to learn to relax! It seems such a strange thing to have to learn, but relaxing was such a foreign concept to me and I associated relaxing with being lazy! So I started off by allocating myself time to exercise, I really enjoy walking and running, I find them relaxing, mindful activities, so I decided to prioritise exercise in my life. With the assistance of my therapist, I was able to identify other activities I do for pleasure, things that I find relaxing such as baking, reading and spending time with friends. The added bonus is that these things make me feel good, so if I feel a bit down I go for a run, or I bake some cookies and that really helps improve my mood.

It’s not been all sunshine and roses, I spent a lot of years practising the mantra “I must keep busy”,  so sometimes I find myself falling back into the old pattern of cramming my days full of actives, but I’ve learnt to listen to my body, and it sure pulls me up when I become too busy. I’ve been learning to be mindful, which I will write about in a later blog, it takes practice,  and I’m only a beginner, but It helps me to take a break from my busy mind, from my busy life. I’ve learnt that I don’t have to be a super- mum to show the world I’m coping and that I have happy, loved children. They are content just playing in the garden, jumping on the trampoline, spending time with us, reading stories in bed or  having a family movie night. It may sound like a cliche, but it does really seem like the simple things in life are often the best.

Take care,

Miss Lucy x

 

 

Exercise and Depression: Staying well

 

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I’ve already talked about Gratitude and Self compassion in relation to how I stay well, so today I thought I’d talk about Exercise. I have to admit I enjoy exercise and it’s always been a part of my life, either running, walking or swimming, but before I became unwell last year I wasn’t really looking after myself, and I was finding very little time to exercise.  During my major depressive episode it was very hard to exercise. A walk around the block would take me half and hour, everything felt so slow and hard, but I kept at it. Some days it was so hard to get out that door, but I would walk the kids to school and preschool, and that felt like an achievement. Each day I built on my walks, going a little further each time. Once I emerged from the depression I started running, and I love to run! I love the sense of freedom, that my body is strong and fit.

I decided as part of my recovery I wanted to improve on my running time, improve my strength and tone up. I started working with a wonderful trainer, Pers from Yummy mummy fitness. I have to admit when I first started I wasn’t very fit! But I really enjoyed the sessions, particularly the boxing. There is nothing like boxing to vent your frustrations for the week and make you feel fabulous! Yummy Mummy fitness also hold boot camp classes, and they are wonderful too! On the holidays I was able to take my kids along with me to the park, and they could play while I exercised, it’s a great option for mums!  Yesterday I did a fitness test with my trainer, and I was so excited to run an extra 200m in my running time trial than when I started out, that’s a huge achievement for me!

I have gained weight while taking anti-depressants, not much, just a few kilos, but I have to be really careful with what I eat, which is so hard some days! I also exercise every single day, I either walk for an hour, or run or do boot camp or work with my trainer. I exercise so much because I enjoy it, and I’m not suggesting at all that anyone else should do so much exercise.  Exercise need not be intensive or exhausting. A recent study by Dr. Andrea Dunn found that patients who did the equivalent of 35 minutes’ walking, six days per week, experienced a reduction in their level of depression by 47 percent.  This study, conducted at the Cooper Research Institute in Dallas, Texas, shows that as little as three hours of regular exercise a week reduces the symptoms of mild to moderate depression as effectively as Prozac and other antidepressants.

Thanks for letting me share my journey with you

Miss Lucy x

For more details regarding Yummy mummy fitness see: http://yummymummyfitness.co.nz/

 

Sunday feature: Being grateful

 

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At the start of this year i began a gratitude journal. Research indicates that grateful people are more likely to:

  • take better care of themselves physically and mentally
  • engage in more protective health behaviours and maintenance
  • get more regular exercise
  • eat a healthier diet
  • have improved mental alertness
  • schedule regular physical examinations with their doctor
  • cope better with stress and daily challenges
  • feel happier and more optimistic
  • avoid problematic physical symptoms
  • have stronger immune systems
  • maintain a brighter view of the future

Last year I had a major depressive episode. I’ve never had depression before, so it was quiet a challenging experience. One of the first things I was asked to do by the mental health team was write down everything I was grateful for, I managed to fill in a whole page (something I was grateful for!)! I’m finding it’s all different types of things I am grateful for, not just major life events, I find myself writing about being grateful for sunflowers in my garden, for cuddles with my children in the morning, for good coffee and beautiful dresses. It’s given me a new appreciation for my life, and I am finding that helps me to stay well.

We’ve also started discussing gratitude with our children at dinner. Each night at the dinner table we all take turns talking about our highlights from the day and something we are grateful for. Research indicates that gratitude is one of the biggest predictors of life satisfaction regardless of the demographic, but gratitude does not come naturally to children it is taught. We are finding that the kids are enjoying talking about their day and what they are grateful for, and even when they’ve had a bad day, we find we can always help them to identify something good from that day.

For me it’s a year since I was unwell, and I’m think I’m doing really well. Some days things can be challenging, but I’m finding it gets easier, and being grateful helps me to realise their are so many good things in my life.

Have a lovely day

Miss Lucy x

 

Self compassion

 

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Over the past year i have been learning the skill of self compassion. It’s been out of necessity really, i used to put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own and i ended up becoming unwell. Initially i worked through the book “Self compassion by Kristin Neff”. It was really an eye opening experience, and it helped me learn new skills to care for myself, to be kind to myself and treat myself well. One of the first activities i did from the book was to speak to myself the way i would speak to a good friend who is going through a hard time, and that was really nuturing, it was so nice to encourage and support myself. There is also a Self compassion website with guided meditations, and just about every day I do the Self-compassion/loving kindness meditation. It just allows me to take some time out from my busy life, nurture myself and it helps me to stay well. I’ve struggled in the past as a busy mum, trying to do everything for my family, rushing round like a mad woman on my days off trying to fit in a million things. Now i just take things at my own pace, if the house isn’t tidy, or if i don’t make it to the post office today, i can always go tomorrow, and this slower pace is so much nicer!

If you want to explore self compassion check out: http://www.self-compassion.org/

Have a lovely day

Miss Lucy x

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