Translate

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Little Book Review

I've just discovered a very sweet series of books by author Lucy Lane. Not only are these little guys very cute they are also crammed with tips that can greatly benefit your well being and mental state. There are 7 books in the series (I will be purchasing them all) but so far have 4 to review for you. Each book is a very easy read but not to be underestimated...

The Little Book of Positivity
  • the perfect gift for anyone and written very thoughtfully
  • positive quotes that are great for reflecting on and a little inspiration
  • you can pick and choose what works for you
  • packed with top tips based on fact, science and research
  • everything is 'healthy' meaning there isn't anything you could try that might have a negative effect
  • covers all area's of well being: relationships, emotions, diet, triggers, sleep, home environment, work life, finances, relaxation, self image, confidence, hobbies, exercise, mind, body, spirit and soul
  • my personal favourite of the three

The Little Book of Happiness
  • Focusing on the simpler things in life
  • Mainly quotes but still with some good tips to follow
  • The quotes used are really heartwarming
  • Some things are repeated from the other books but I'd expect this as the book topics are quite interlinked
  • Everything mentioned is something you could try

The Little Book of Relaxation

  • perfect for anyone who appreciates the calmness of life or needs a gentle nudge into a relaxing state of mind
  • an easy read which makes you feel calm and relaxed simply by taking in the words
  • inspirational quotes
  • offers tips that are simple to implement into your daily life, many which have been discussed in this blog and are proven to work
  • would be a great read for someone struggling with anxiety or stress



The Little Book of Friendship

  • how cute is that cover!
  • a sweet idea for a gift to a friend or loved one
  • tips on how to keep your friendship strong
  • seems to have more quotes in this little book
  • I feel this book is more something you would give to someone than buy for yourself but still a good read with good advice
    The Little Book of Inspiration
    • this book was full of 'yes!' moments for me
    • filled with really positive ideas for those of us who are uninspired, bored, stuck in a rut, lacking creativity or imagination
    • just reading this little book gives you a 'can do' attitude
    • I really got stuck into some of the exercises while reading and found them useful
    • this book would be great for anyone from a teen starting out in life to an elderly retiree- the perfect little gift

    The Little Book of Comfort
    • great for anybody needing to destress, unwind, calm anxiety or just make life that little more pleasant
    • full of simple yet effective tips that are easy to fit into your everyday life
    • many of the points have been discussed in this blog and have plenty of research behind them
    • topics focusing on mind, body, soul, relationships, environment and much more
    The Little Book of Resilience

    • a little book with a big 'can do' attitude
    • focusing on inner strength, determination, positive thinking and self belief
    • a great little boost for anyone who tends to be pessimistic or struggles with facing life's challenges
    • even if you're a glass half full person this little book helps you to focus on your strengths and put them into practise when needed



    Find your copies at:

    Hardback: http://summersdale.com/sd-author/lucy-lane/

    Much love,
    Becky xx

    Saturday, April 08, 2017

    Forest Bathing

    The Japanese national health programme of Shinrin-Yoku or 'Forest Bathing' was launched in 1982. It is seen as a form of healing for both body and mind, is free and very simple to do. Don't worry it's not bathing in pine needles or hugging an oak tree but simply spending time around trees. A gentle walk or time sitting in a forest or wooded area where you can take time to quietly contemplate and in turn benefit both your physical health and mental wellbeing. There has been extensive research but the short version is this... 

    Trees emit a natural oil, phytoncides, into the air that have the benefit for humans of helping us maintain a healthy immune system. The physical benefits of Forest Bathing have shown a lower blood pressure, improved sleep and lower heart rate. The mental benefits have been shown to boost energy levels, improved focus (including children with ADHD), reduce stress levels and reduce depression.

    This alone is great for our mental wellbeing and recovery from mental illness but if you want to step it up a level you could meditate, talk through your problems or write them down or even exercise in a woodland area. If you don't have a vast forest nearby try a local park. You could use a forest walk to build relationships with a loved one or spend time with your pet too.

    For me I can feel the benefits immediately of being in a forest. I find it calming, enjoyable and a place that engages my senses.

    Much love,
    Becky xx

    Monday, March 20, 2017

    I Crushed Anxiety- Guest Post

    I Crushed Anxiety: And So Can You!

    I’ve had anxiety for most of my life. Over 20 years to be precise. But I also am fortunate enough to know what it feels like to be on the other side. Totally free from the oppressive weight of mental illness. So I have a perspective that I don’t think is often heard about or discussed. What is it actually like to have escaped the clutches of something so powerful that it attempts to destroy you from the inside every single day? An invisible python which slowly strangles and then suffocates people in their millions, silently and often to their ultimate demise.


    I want to share what that’s like because I’m shocked and saddened by how many people seem to be suffering from anxiety without knowing that it can be completely, totally and utterly eradicated.

    I’m not talking about coping with it or managing it. I’m not talking about using breathing techniques or having to work to keep it under control. I mean GONE. Because I got rid of it, not once but TWICE. I’m not going to write what it’s like to be under the grip of anxiety. It doesn’t matter what label you give it (social, generalised, panic disorder) we all know that it’s hell. My mission is to educate those who HAVE anxiety. Not those who don’t. Because my opinion is that awareness needs to begin with the person WITH anxiety. Awareness is the key to crushing anxiety FOREVER. And isn’t that the ultimate goal?

    Unfortunately, too many people seem to think that goal is unobtainable. Maybe that’s the negativity which anxiety brings in huge, metallic clouds. Maybe it’s what they’ve incorrectly picked up from the media or an authority figure. It might even be what they’ve learned from other anxiety sufferers. Let me put that straight; IT’S BULLSHIT. People need to be aware that anxiety can be beaten, often much quicker than you might think. The first time I had anxiety, I overcame it within ONE HOUR. I kid you not. All I did was make the decision that I wanted to eradicate it, which firstly entailed deciding I needed to get help. Then I looked for ways to get rid of it. Not ways to “cope” or stop it for an hour or two or suppress it. There are methods out there which will do that. Hypnotherapy was the one I used the first time I had anxiety. The second time, I used CBT.

    But it all starts and ends with one person. YOU. Not your best friend, not your partner, not a therapist and certainly not a doctor. Whilst that might sound scary to some of you, please understand that this is actually the most positive and empowering thing you could possibly know. The power is totally within you already to get rid of anxiety. You see, most people don’t realise how strong they truly are. We talk about people who have overcome adversity as being strong, as if they are super-humans; stronger than us normal types. But they are no different to you and I. The only difference is that they found themselves in a situation that was so bad that they had only two choices - sink or swim. They chose to swim. Humans don’t tend to make the drastic shifts and effort required to turn their life around till they hit rock-bottom. I know because I’ve been there. TWICE. I was suicidal the second time. That’s enough to make most people finally decide that they need to take action. But not everyone, unfortunately.

    What I’m saying is, don’t wait till you hit rock-bottom. It’s scary as FUCK. Make the decision to CRUSH anxiety NOW. Today! Don’t procrastinate. I know anxiety sufferers are prone to pontification, to over-thinking every minor excruciating detail, weighing up the pros and mostly cons of every situation but trust me on this; the longer you leave it, the harder it will get.

    You may have to work through a  whole pile of shit. You’ll definitely have to face a few things you will have been suppressing. And you might not get the quick fix that hypnotherapy was for me, as everyone is different. CBT has no end date; it goes on for as long as it needs to. Here’s the good news though; the other side of the tunnel? It’s fucking AMAZING.

    Imagine waking up from a nightmare that you've been having your entire life. A Groundhog Day where the same cycles of worry, fear, panic, avoidance, rumination, anger and tears keep cycling around your brain like  a washing machine on full speed. Imagine the link in that chain of destructive thoughts being broken; smashed to pieces with a battering ram. Imagine the weight of those dark, bulky emotions just melting away like an ice cube in a tall glass of orange juice on a beautiful summer day. It's a feeling of such immense freedom. Confidence seems to fill you up inside, washing away the negativity and repression. And most of the annoying, nit-picky, obsessive, indecisive traits went with it.

    I didn't become a different person. It was as though the true me had been squashed under the weight of anxiety but that suffocating burden had now been lifted, allowing my soul to rise for the first time - the REAL me. And here's the weird thing - the real me wasn't shy and quiet. The real me was outgoing and outspoken. The real me was still an introvert, yes. But not afraid to do what he wanted, when he wanted.  The real me wasn't a beta male or a sheep. The real me was a leader. Dare I say, a maverick! My sense of humour and my values didn’t change but they became more prominent. I didn’t fear letting them out. I was finally able to realise my true potential. Until you eradicate anxiety, if you’ve had it all your life like I did, you won’t even know who you really are.

    You might think right now, that you'll just be content to live a normal life. As long as you don't have anxiety, you'll settle for mediocrity. But I can say with almost 100% certainty that you will want way more than this. You'll want an INCREDIBLE life. Second best won’t be good enough for you. That's because you will have the confidence to go for your dreams and the motivation and drive to make up for lost time and achieve whatever you want.

    That's the stage I'm in now. It's been a year since I can say I'm 100% anxiety free again. During that year, I’ve done a lot of reading, researching ways of creating that dream life and I want to share with everyone what I’ve discovered. I have a long way to go. Anxiety ruined my life, set me back a long way in terms of work and friendships. But mentally, I've never felt stronger. The tools and ideas I’ve gained over the past year have added so much to my life. Come along to my blog timothyphoenix.com/ and find out. Read about my life story in greater detail. If you ever want to chat about anxiety, reach out to me there too or on Twitter. My only aim is to help others and spread awareness that no matter what your situation, you can turn your life around. I’m living proof. And if I can do it, anyone can.

    You can find Timothy Phoenix at...


    Twitter: @TimPhoenixBlog

    https://twitter.com/TimPhoenixBlog
    Blog: http://www.timothyphoenix.com/

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

    Promiscuous Tendencies

    I came across a statement that said "some people use promiscuity to avoid or fight feelings of depression and anxiety." I wanted to see how true that might be...

    Feeling Desired
    Many of us feel insecure, worthless, ugly, unwanted as part of a mental illness. These thoughts can manifest and take over. For many of us we will brush off compliments or disbelieve them, for others we may see them as a most wanted experience. This could be a flirty advance from someone, a declaration of love or someone showing a sexual interest. Something that gives the feeling of being wanted, being desired, being sexy or beautiful. It's a very animal instinct to be desired and to have and want sex. This maybe a much needed boost for some people but this all depends on who the attention is coming from. If it is a partner, a trusted friend that feels more for you or someone you feel that way towards then it can be a pro. If it is someone taking advantage or trying to get what they want out of you then it can backfire greatly and leave you feeling more unwanted and rejected than before. If it is someone that makes you feel uncomfortable remember that you are not there to please people that don't show you respect and love and even if they do you still need to be attracted and consenting.

    Is It Love?
    Sometimes that feeling mentioned above of being desirable and wanted becomes almost addictive which for some people leads to either an obsession or attachment to that feeling. A one night stand or short term sexual relationship can become a crutch and be mistaken for love. A new blossoming relationship moving forward quickly may work out well in the long run or may leave the relationship being very one sided. My advice would be to be up front! For me I'd rather be open and jump in at the deep end. I'd rather say "I love you" and not hear it back than to keep quiet and hope we're on the same page. By understanding where each other stands you can decide whether it is right for you to carry on together.

    Playing Dangerous for Excitement
    We can't deny that sex is both pleasurable and exciting. Whether it's trying something new with your partner of 20 years or the first time with someone. This can also be what some people become addicted to. They will push boundaries as far as they can go to get that thrill. This can be great for a relationship with two people on the same page but can have some setbacks. You may try something you regret such as involving another person in your relationship, appearing with your partner on a website, something more risky and find that either one of you or both of you regret it. It maybe that you find you are quite different and one person is offended by the new ideas making them feel inadequate. It maybe you no longer enjoy sex and nothing feels good enough. The best thing to do is talk. Talk about what you both want, what you hope to get from it and take time to think it through if it is something very different from what you normally do. Or go back to basics and learn to enjoy the simpler things.
    For others they may find excitement from affairs, one night stands, visiting brothels, meeting up with strangers online and this is where it can get very dangerous. Think to yourself if you are putting yourself in an unsafe situation or whether there could be major consequences that could come from what you are doing. Can people get hurt? Is it legal? Is it dangerous? Could you be at risk? Does someone you trust know where you are going?

    Guilt Trip
    Guilt is a terrible feeling of regret and can be consuming. This could be guilt from a meaningless relationship, an affair, an experience you regret. Again ask yourself these questions: is this what I really want? Can someone get hurt from this? Is this safe?

    Escape From Reality
    Sex is one of those moments when you can switch off and be in the here and now. You can feel pleasure, enjoyment, excitement, love and so much more. This is providing that you are with the right person, doing what you both enjoy. If you enjoy a number of relationships and that works for you, if you are in an open relationship, a swinger, a couple that invites others in, a user of escorts/brothels just make sure you are happy, you are safe, you both consent, you feel good afterwards, it is legal, you are having your needs met and feel satisfied in what you gain from your experiences. For me I can say that nothing feels better than being with my husband and that the longer you are with someone the more you just zing! That's the best way to put it.

    Stay safe and stay sexy!

    Much love,
    Becky xx

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    7 Reasons to Dance


    I love to dance and my mental health loves me to dance even more! Here's the reasons why dancing helps me stay in the best frame of mind and lifts my mood when I feel low...

    1) Chemical Hit- any form of exercise helps your body release endorphins. Endorphins reduce our perception of pain as well as releasing a 'feel good' vibe. Dopamine is also released which is our happy chemical, bringing us a sense of pleasure.

    2) Music Fuels My Soul- I love music. I like to sing along while I dance and become a character. When I'm dancing I can be whoever I want to be and step back from reality.

    3) Express Yourself- I choreograph my routines as well as taking inspiration from the pro's. This creativity brings a sense of interest and feels as though you have accomplished something unique.

    4) Me Time- studio time is my time. I don't think of anything else except what I'm doing. I don't look at my phone. I just dance because it's what I want to do! I see it as a treat.

    5) Shoot and Score- I set myself goals, at the moment I'm practising a routine for my next burlesque show as well as exploring new routines for myself. Goals give us something to aim for and a sense of importance. They help us move forward in our own personal journey.

    6) Daydream Diva- I can loose myself in the moment. I can be any character, have any personality, use any movements, choose any style. I coined myself the phrase "dance like they're all watching." I imagine myself on that stage and dance like there's a million eyes watching me. It helps bring back the amazing feeling I get when I perform.

    7) Self Improvement- by improving we give ourselves a sense of achievement and purpose. I can use this time to learn new skills, practise what I already know and build on my ideas. When I see improvement I feel accomplishment and this boosts self-esteem.
    I'd love to hear from the dancers out there, whether you're a performer, dance floor legend or someone who dances around your bedroom, how does dancing make you feel? If you don't dance but have another passion that makes you feel amazing please let me know in the comments below.

    Much love,
    Becky xx

    Tuesday, February 28, 2017

    Mission to Sleep

    I'm on a mission! That mission is to sleep and sleep well! I want to fall asleep more easily, have a good night's sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and rested.

    To give myself the best chance I've got a few natural sleep aids. Today me and my husband went to the garden centre and we bought...

    Peace lilies: these plants are a natural dehumidifier and absorb some impurities in the air making it easier to breathe which in turn aids sleep and helps with relaxation. They look lovely in our bedroom too. We placed the larger plant on our dresser on my husbands side of the bed and the smaller one is on my bedside table. 

    Wild Rose and Gardenia Reed Diffuser by Wax Lyrical: aromatherapy is a natural way to help you relax. Rose essential oil has been linked to helping insomnia, headaches, menstrual cramps, stress and can give a relaxed and calming effect. Gardenia promotes sleep and relieves anxiety. This is on my bedside table and smells amazing. We live in a small house and as soon as you start walking upstairs you can smell it.

    I have also purchased...


    OTeas Wellness Sleepwell Tea: Drinking one cup before bed is supposed to help you drift off more easily. The ingredients are ginger root, orange peel, green rooibos, lemon verbena, chamomile, spearmint leaves, fennel seed, liquorice root, peppermint, orange and lemon essence oils. I'm drinking my first cup as I type this and I'm really enjoying it. It's a very nice scent and flavour and nothing too strong. Each ingredient has benefits for sleep, calming, comfort and relaxation. To reduce my caffeine intake I have also decided to not drink caffeinated tea after 6pm and I don't like coffee.

    My 5 Rules For Better Sleep:
    1. no caffeine after 6pm and one cup of OTeas Wellness Sleepwell tea before bed
    2. no refined sugars after 6pm
    3. no social media or laptop after 10pm (I'll struggle here!)
    4. choose one relaxation technique before bed: meditation, bubble bath, reading, facial
    5. get into my bed before 11pm
    I also have cotton sheets which help control your body temperature and have thrown out any sleepwear that isn't comfortable. I'm hoping I can fall asleep by midnight and get up at 8am which will give me my 8 hours sleep and enough time to get ready for work. Wish me luck!



    What are your top tips for a good night's sleep?

    Much Love,
    Becky xx



    Find your OTeas Wellness Sleepwell tea at: http://www.o-teas.com/wellness/wellness-sleepwell
    Find your Wild Rose and Gardenia reed diffuser at: https://www.ocado.com/webshop/product/Wax-Lyrical-Wild-Rose--Gardenia-Reed-Diffuser-100ml/362573011

    Thursday, February 23, 2017

    Half Empty- Guest Post

    Half Empty- A Letter to my Ex Self



    Dear you,
    I catch sight of you sometimes. Those sunken eyes of yours are suddenly back in my mirror if I get flu. Or, when I’m tired, that weird lisp you had from the blisters and ulcers in your mouth slips back into my voice. In the cold, when my fingernails turn violet and my knuckles redden, I think of you and how your hands looked like this constantly.  
    Of course, some parts of you have never left. These days my blood sugar levels crash about like a remote-controlled car, meaning I can be fine one moment, then drenched in sweat, trembling and dizzy the next. The edges of my teeth are translucent. My stomach is permanently swollen from internal damage caused by years of inducing vomit multiple times a day, thirty laxatives as a standard dose (to think, you told yourself that was the only way you'd ever have a flat stomach) and losing then gaining the same eighteen pounds over and over. My knee-jerk reaction whenever I see or hear anything about weight loss, calories or eating disorders is aggression and distress- the legacy of existing in a mental impound so tiny and dark, I don't know how you didn't break down screaming with claustrophobia. Why did you put yourself through it, day after day, telling yourself you loved it and this was your true self? 
    I know why, really. I know you couldn't stop, even though you were scared. I know you believed completely that being thin would protect you- from cruelty, from expectations, from failure. But sometimes I'm furious with you- sixteen years, wasted. The youth that could have been mine, the things I could have done with that time, and you trashed it.
    I don’t give advice unless I’m specifically asked to, and even if I could somehow communicate with you, you were convinced you knew best. You'd never ask anyone for advice. But, in memory of you, I'll share some things I've learnt that I wish you'd known- or, more accurately, that I wish you’d paid attention to, as they occurred to you throughout the years. 
    August 2010, pacing around your apartment, you pleaded with yourself to wait another hour before you threw up again- another hour makes it three hours, the risk of an esophageal tear or ruptured stomach reduces*, if I give my gag reflex a rest it won’t hurt as much, just another hour, please try. You pace and shake and throw up less ten minutes later, blood spraying the toilet, because you simply can't not do it. In order to resist that need, you'd have to be someone else and for now you are entrenched in your own sick, obsessive self. 
    Transforming yourself isn't an act of pure will or brute force. You smash a glass of water on the floor, it's still water. But actually changing it; boiling it into steam, or freezing it into ice- giving it time to happen is the non-negotiable part. 
    February 2007, jittering with hunger on the third day of your usual raw spinach and cigarettes regime, you find a massive bag of stale rice forgotten in the back of your housemate's cupboard. A humming sensation spreads through your body, wordless instincts in your brain rise up, and, moving like a sleepwalker, you pour about a kilo of rice into a pan, boil it into sludge and ram it into your mouth with your bare hands. But I want to be thin. It's not even been three days. I want to be someone with willpower. I hate rice. None of this matters at this moment- you didn’t decide you were going to 'break your diet' so much as become another being who could hear your thoughts but wasn’t interested in them.    
    What you're doing is against nature. Nature is older than you, cleverer than you and every time you go head-to-head with her, you are fucking with the original queen. Do you really think she's going to stand for your goal-weight, thigh-gap-test bullshit?
    Late December 2013, your house-share empty for the holidays. You're really trying to get better now; tomorrow it will be three weeks since you last purged. Surely you can hang on for that? But you're lonely and have nowhere to go for Christmas and you feel so fat it seems impossible you could ever be peaceful in your skin, so why keep trying? The sound of retching ricochets through the silent house. Then, to punish yourself for being weak, even though it's dark and snowing outside and you, stupid girl, are right at the bottom of your overdraft, you run to the corner shop- blotchy face, puke in your hair- to spunk thirty quid on junk food you throw straight back up.   
    For you, hating yourself was a kind of laziness. It was easy to say; ugh, you're pathetic. You're stuck this way and it's all your own fault, you've got nothing else left now anyway, so you may as well just do it again. Go for it. This is your life now, aren't you proud of yourself?  
    It takes so much more willpower to quieten down and softly say to yourself; hey. You really tried that time. I know you did. Nearly three weeks isn't nothing. You can try again. 
    And this is how you became me. By giving the transformation time to happen, learning respect for nature- both your own nature and the laws of nature- and doing the hard work of, bit by bit, convincing yourself that you could become someone who deserved better. This April 12th, it will be three years.  
    Thank you for getting this far.

    Me 

    *Author's note- this isn't true! It was just something I convinced myself of at the time. There's no way to be really safe when purging.

    Monday, February 20, 2017

    Frazzled Book Review

    Before I Read Frazzled: I attended Ruby's Frazzled Tour which is based around this book. I was already a fan of Ruby Wax and interested in Mindfulness beforehand. I ordered the book that same night and couldn't wait to get started.

    Overview: Ruby uses a light, chatty tone with comedy and wit to deliver something more serious and scientific. The book is not intimidating to read or patronising to the reader. It's very easy going throughout. The book gave me an endless stream of "yes!" moments about my own mental health journey and thoughts in general. The book does not scream "self help here" which makes it enjoyable, whether you want to begin to practise mindfulness or not it helps shed light on the mystery that is our mind.

    My Take: The first chapter looks at how much stress we have created for ourselves in this modern age. We are always busy but with no purpose and always chasing a goal but not sure why. Ruby speaks of how hard we are on ourselves which we base on fiction, presumption, vague facts and unrelated incidents. It appears that not many people are happy being themselves even though they're not sure who they are or you else they'd want to be! We don't know what we want, who we are, where we're going but we keep striving on causing ourselves more stress which our brains are just not designed for.

    Ruby then explains the basic concept of mindfulness. It is learning to observe, focus, slow down and be kinder to yourself. The practise will help you to accept things as they are without sugar coating it, exaggerating or distorting the facts. It's not about having a perfectly calm and uneventful life or wandering around in your own little world oblivious to anything bad around you. Ruby takes away any doubts or fear of starting mindfulness practise with honesty and humour.

    Chapter three shows us the science behind our brains and how mindfulness can help us achieve a healthier mind and body. It's a great insight into how we think and why we think like that. This supporting evidence is easy to take in and comforting as you can see that we are not the awkward loner or unique freak our minds might trick us into thinking we are. We are all very similar but some brains takeover in less helpful ways than others.

    Ruby then opens up to a very honest chapter to talk through a struggle of her own. This sobering chapter makes mindfulness seem more real. It's no longer all sunshine and rainbows or 'the cure' it's real. It shows that it can work but that we need to harness it. It won't make us superhuman or immune to mental illness or stress but it will arm us to take it on. Having said that there is still trademark wit throughout this section.

    The next chapter is Ruby's take on mindfulness with a six week course to work through. I'll leave this for you to discover without my input.

    Now that we know how to keep ourselves mindful the book moves onto mindfulness and others. Firstly looking at relationships and how we react and respond to different social situations. It looks at how we all yearn for that sense of being included and acceptance and how not over analysing and worrying about these things can bring us that better chance of happiness.

    Chapter 7 and 8 for me are brilliant. They focus on mindful parenting from babies up to the teenage years. With my background in Early Education and childcare I would agree that the exercises and tips given are very beneficial. I have used a lot of the techniques and games that Ruby mentions and have seen the effect they can have on calming young children and helping them to focus. I also used to meditate and do something very similar to mindfulness in my karate classes (10 hours a week) as a teen and think without this I would have had a mental breakdown at a lot younger age, or possibly smashed up a classroom! As Ruby reminds us it needs to start with ourselves, so no skipping to this bit mummies and daddies! This part isn't just for parents and would be a great read for childcare providers, teachers, grandparents, older siblings, teenagers or anyone just interested in psychology.

    Frazzled ends with a look at Ruby's own journey of mindfulness during her visit to a Welsh retreat. This chapter makes the whole idea seem a lot more human! Mindfulness can sometimes seem to be one of those zen states of mind that sounds amazing but unattainable for many. Ruby let's us see that it's not an easy ride but it's worth it. Backed up with science we see how much Ruby gained from her experience and understand why mindfulness is now a part of her daily life, as it can be for us too. It's not just for the super laid back, chilled out, happy-go-lucky among us, it's for everyone of all ages.

    My overall view: read this book! If you aren't going to start practising mindfulness you will have a chance to understand your mind and why it does all the stuff you've never quite got your head around. It will bring you an understanding of people around you and if you're not interested in any of those things... it's an easy and enjoyable read full of humour.

    A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled can be found at:
    Amazon: Audio Book
    Hive.co.uk Paperback Copy

    Let me know what you thought of Frazzled in the comments section below.

    Much love,
    Becky xx

    Friday, February 17, 2017

    Escapism

    Escapism: seeking distraction and relief from reality, searching for entertainment, creating or searching for fantasies

    We all use escapism. Whether it's imagining lying on a beach somewhere, envisaging yourself to look differently, pretending your shower is a recording booth for your first studio album, planning where you'd go on your first date with your favourite celeb... It's something we humans do that animals don't. A creative mind, daydreams, thoughts of what might or could be. It sounds amazing right? But when does escapism become a problem?

    Mental Escapism
    To mentally escape we try and block out what is in our minds. This might be that because we are worrying about a job interview we pick up a book, play a game, speak to a friend... whatever it takes to take our mind off the matter. Sometimes it can be good to not think about a situation like when you're having an injection or watching a boring movie but we all need to remember that as much as we daydream that doesn't face a problem or solve anything. Dreaming you're the next top model isn't going to pay your electric bill in time! Try to tackle problems and if it becomes too much take a break and go back to it. Fully absorb what is on your mind and how it is making you feel.

    Physical Escapism
    When we engage our senses our brain concentrates on processing them and puts less effort into thought and the mental noise we have running through our minds. We have positive ways of engaging our senses to relax and escape; having a massage, eating comfort food, lighting a scented candle, visiting a beautiful area, listening to our favourite song. Then there are negative ways; promiscuity, self harm, violent behaviour. When you are doing things that are damaging to your health, mental state or make you feel guilty, upset or confused afterwards then these are not right for you.

    Damaging Escapes
    There are times when we feel the need to escape and will turn to a substance or activity for that release; alcohol, comfort food, drugs, herbal remedies, sex, extreme sports... Now in some instances these things can be beneficial for example hitting the gym after a stressful day at work or having a few drinks with friends to unwind after you've decorated your living room. But they can become a problem when they are used incorrectly. When they become addictions or consuming. When they become a distraction to completely avoid situations that need your attention. We all need to relax, unwind and escape from reality at times but within moderation. We still need to face the here and now and prepare for the future as well as dealing with the past.

    Running Away
    When we feel threatened our Fight, Flight, Freeze mechanism kicks in to help protect us. Sometimes we experience things that causes us to flee/take flight. This may be leaving the room, walking away from an argument, putting down the phone to avoid a conversation but for a minority of people it can be to physically run away. Walk out of their home or job and literally disappear for a period of time. When someone does this with no plan of action, no direction and without letting anyone know it can be extremely dangerous especially when their mental state is already shot.

    Let me know your thoughts on escapism and the positive ways that you escape.

    Much love,
    Becky xx

    Saturday, February 04, 2017

    Complimentary Science

    "You are beautiful." 
    "Your work is amazing." 
    "You've achieved so much." 
    "Good job." 
    "I like your top." 

    Anybody getting uncomfortable yet or are you just enjoying these?! Today I'm setting you a mini challenge: say out loud a compliment to yourself and then compliment someone else.

    Motivate
    People who are motivated will achieve more, complain less, feel a pride in their work and generally feel more able to complete tasks, whether they be at work or school or just generally in daily life. Compliments are what our brains see as social rewards, they are like a payment for your contribution. We all know when we are doing something well and receiving a compliment affirms that and shows appreciation of our efforts.

    Researchers at the University of Tokyo, Nagoya Institute of Technology and the National Institute of Physiological Sciences found that when we receive a personalised and individual compliment whilst performing a task that we will perform better than those that don't. Teachers and tutors know this works well too. Leaving an individual comment on pieces of work or a positive comment can help both children and adults to have a boost in confidence and focus on their work, as well as building relations and giving them a little buzz of happiness.

    So whether it be your staff, children, partner, workforce give them a personalised compliment to show your gratitude and acknowledgement of their good work.

    Boost Mood
    By complimenting others or the things around us we automatically give ourselves a mood boost as we are noticing the good, positive and beauty around us. BUT when our compliments are knocked back e.g. you: "your hair looks great" them: "it's not the colour I wanted, can you see it's all dull" then this takes away any positivity. It leaves us feeling negative and in a way makes us feel as though we are wrong or made a poor judgement. If we still believe we are right it can feel confrontational.

    Giving and receiving compliments is a social skill that can build relationships, so next time someone compliments you smile and say thank you or even better compliment them back. Absorb the compliment. Someone might say something lovely to you and inside you want to respond with "I don't think so" but don't. Leave the negativity silenced, take in the compliments and feel the positivity. 

    Build Relationships
    If you have a friend, partner, child, colleague that's unconfident or can be negative to themselves make a big deal of complimenting them on themselves and the things they do. Small children love positive reinforcement and that doesn't change much as we grow older.

    It's just nice too! When people are sincere and say something nice to us we automatically feel drawn to them and more comfortable. OK so we've all had a creepy compliment or one that's made us uneasy but that's not the majority.

    Be Positive
    Feelings of low self-worth, negativity, low self-esteem, lack of trust and feeling a pressure to live up to others expectations are all reasons why some people can find receiving a compliment so awkward. If they are upset about the appearance of their home and somebody says it looks nice it feels like a lie or sarcasm, they also might of wanted to not have attention drawn to it. So how do we overcome this? 

    Compliment yourself! Each morning when you brush your teeth think of one thing you like about your appearance and one thing you like about your home. When you go to bed think of one thing you did that day that you thought went well. No matter how small these positive comments will build up and give you that little bit more confidence. You can also do things that you know you are good at to give you that little boost. If you are a brilliant singer then sing and focus on how it makes you feel knowing you have done something well. We all have strengths and weaknesses and if you can feel good about your strengths you are more likely to challenge your weaknesses.

    Much love,
    Becky xx

    Monday, January 23, 2017

    Needy Triangle

    There's another side to me that's a little bit geeky! I love to learn. Whilst at university we looked at one particular theory that always fascinated me. It was something that came back into my mind when I started to think about my mental illness recovery and how I could prevent (as far as possible) another breakdown. That theory is by Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) and his Hierarchy of Needs. The theory looks at what a person needs in order to function at their full potential and how when needs are not met a person cannot be the best version of themselves. Imagine you are at the bottom of the triangle and you need to work your way up through each level. You cannot skip levels and will struggle to obtain anything in the higher levels without the lower levels being met. The belief behind the theory is that these needs are what helps people stay motivated and that we naturally strive to meet these levels when deprived; such as feeling thirsty the longer you go without water.

    The level of needs are as follows....


    So how does this relate to mental illness?

    I believe from this theory that mental illnesses chip away at the triangle. Let's say you are at the top level and then suffer with mental illness. You begin to lose sleep and have less appetite, you feel paranoid or uneasy, relationships become affected, you doubt yourself, you don't enjoy the things you used to, you don't feel like taking part. Each level of the triangle becomes affected. So to help conquer your mental illness you need to refuel your triangle!

    You can't fill your triangle and that's job done. You need to do this daily, sometimes several times a day. You might be at your peak working on something creative and begin to struggle with the task. If you were to stop and look internally you may realise you are thinking about an argument you had with a friend or are beginning to feel hungry. This then affects your ability to be at your peak. You may be able to carry on and remember that many people achieve greatness when deprived of some of their basic needs but prolonged deprivation can greatly affect your chances to reach your full potential.

    Now when I feel that I am starting to struggle I think of this Hierarchy of Needs. I look at my very basic needs- concentrating on sleep, eating small meals, keeping hydrated, I have my home and intimacy. I remind myself I am safe and not at risk. I make sure I am showing attention and love to friends and family. I self-praise and reflect on what I have achieved (even the smallest of things.) Then I concentrate on myself and look at what I can improve.

    The example I have used is Maslow's original theory. Later three more levels were added so that after Esteem came Cognitive Needs (knowledge), Aesthetic Needs (balance and search for beauty) and after Self-Actualisation came the highest level of Transcendence (helping others achieve Self-Actualisation). I will look at this improved theory in a later post.

    The main lesson we can learn from this is when you begin to struggle try to concentrate on meeting your basic needs. It gets you started on the triangular path to your highest potential!

    Much love,
    Becky xx