Your Mental Health and Well-being matters

looking after yourself and others during the continued restrictions

It is hard to believe that nearly a year on and we are still in the midst of the pandemic and restrictions.

Our Mental Health and well-being has certainly been under pressure and it does always seem worse during the colder months – however spring is around the corner, as is the hope of getting back to some form of normality.

Children and parents have been finding it particularly hard, as have those people shielding and living alone, when so many of our social face to face interactions are not possible.

The message is –

  • to stay as connected with other people in what ways you can, whether meeting for a socially distanced walk, phone call or video call, and talk about how you feel – or check in on someone else, especially if you know they live alone. If they do not want to talk, just let then know you are there and will check in again with them. Sometimes people do want another person to just listen –
  • There are so many wonderful organisations you can talk to or text – reach out, it is so worth sharing your feelings – you are not alone. SHOUT, MIND & YOUNG MINDS, CALM, ANXIETY UK to name a few.

Age UK has a good video to help older people who are not familiar with video calling.

Nature continues regardless…

If you can, do outside into nature, it does have a calming effect and helps you feel a little more grounded, getting natural light is important.Even 10 minutes a day will help – look out for the signs of spring, like snowdrops and daffodil buds or just pause and listen to the birds. You can put some food and water out for the birds and get nature to come to you.

If you are feeling low or have feelings of anxiety that you find hard to talk about,

then why not look at expressing how you feel by reading or writing poetry, how about a story or blog, if you are musical – you could write a song or rap? There have been some particularly funny Lockdown songs and during these times – humour is a saviour.

If you do feel particularly anxious

try writing down all your thoughts on a piece of paper and then rip it up and throw it away.

Maybe draw or paint your feelings and use the colours as expression – you don’t need to be ‘good’ at art, just use the colours in a way that helps you feel good or release pent up feelings.

Put some music on and really feel the music, express yourself through movement – dance like no-one is watching – or dance together whether in person or over a video call and have fun. Movement, like dancing or other forms of exercise are so good for you, and help you feel energised.

Focus on the positives from each day

take each day one day at a time. Take timeout for self-care, like reading a book, going for a walk or having a bath – this helps you cope with what is going on around you

Remember to Breathe… and let go of those things you cannot control and focus on what you CAN do

Valentines in Lockdown?

‘Lockdown Love’ has certainly been a challenge, especially if you do not live with your partner, or are single and looking for love.

So, what can you do for Valentine’s day?

  • You could have fun making each other a valentine’s card and a poem to go in it! Or send one to cheer up a friend or someone you admire!
  • Write a valentine’s song.
  • Send a valentine’s video – with a lovely message or song!
  • Dress up for a night out & cook a meal together – or if you live apart both cook the same meal over zoom!
  • Maybe support a local restaurant by ordering a valentine’s meal or food hamper.
  • Watch a film together and cosy up – again you can watch the same film together while on a video call – just press play at the same time!
  • Wrap up warm and go for a country or coastal walk
  • Send flowers, an indoor plant or seeds for the garden.

If you are single and looking for love

Are you currently single?

It certainly is a challenge to be able to meet anyone in person, however dating site reports suggest it is a good time to have more meaningful chats with a potential partner, with a little less initial pressure about meeting up.

If you are using dating apps, do take care and make sure you try not to go on them when you feel particularly vulnerable, and do not give out your phone number – use the withhold number option, until you feel safe to.

Only ever arrange to meet someone if you feel safe. That it follows current restriction guidelines, and you tell someone where you are. Do not meet anywhere remote.

For Valentine’s why not buddy up online with another single friend. Watch a romantic film or RomCom – with a warming hot chocolate or a cocktail!

If you can – treat yourself to some lovely food to cook or order in and why not?

  • Loneliness can be hard, so remember to connect with friends, or the wonderful organisations out there. Check up on someone you know is alone.

Valentine’s day is just one day!

Stay connected and stay safe

Andrea

AGE UK https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/work-learning/technology-internet/

MIND https://www.mind.org.uk/

Young Minds https://youngminds.org.uk/

Anxiety UK https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/

CALM https://www.thecalmzone.net/

Be kind and look after yourself – what does that mean?

How often do you put yourself first?

I have had the pleasure of being on BBC Radio Kent, Pat Marsh’s show, over several weeks now. We have been talking about many things to help your Mental Health and Well-Being.

Today we talked about being kind & and looking after yourself.

Putting yourself first at times matters – it is essential for your well-being to top up your own cup, so you have something to give.

It reduces your stress levels and helps you feel happier, which is better for you and the people around you.

Some people find it hard to put themselves first, worrying that it is a selfish thing to do; which can result on taking on too much, feeling overwhelmed, tired and stressed.

So, how can you look after yourself?

There are several things you can do as listed below, to look after your Mind Body and Soul

100%?
  • Start by taking the pressure off yourself to be ‘perfect’ or things to be done ‘perfectly’ and to be 100% all of the time. A great question to ask yourself; “Is it fair to expect 100% – 100% of the time?”
  • A rule I like to live by is 80 / 20. 80% of the time do what you know you should – 20% of the time do what you like doing. This creates a great balance and avoids you trying to cut things out altogether which can be a hard thing to do – just adding to pressure or stress.
The 80 / 20 rule
  • Eat a wide variety of wholesome foods that nourish and sustain your body and mind. Good nutrition helps to keep your body healthy and more able to fight off disease. When you feel healthly you can do more things well, which helps you feel happier.
  • Keep Hydrated Keeping yourself hydrated helps you think more clearly, and your body functions so much better when well hydrated.
  • Exercise is good for your Mind Body and Soul – it keeps you flexible and fit, reduces stress, gives you headspace and much needed ‘time out’ and reduces the risk of disease. When are body and mind are healthy we feel so good from the inside out and life flows better.

Other important things are;

  • Get plenty of sleep. The benefits of a good sleep can not be underestimated – our mind filters and files our day, our body repairs and children grow. I’m an advocate of the power nap – a great way to top up on sleep.
  • Play and have FUN do what you love doing, have fun and laughs – it is so good for your mental well-being. Doing things you enjoy is so important. When was the last time you factored some FUN into your life as a priority?
laughter – Food of the Soul
  • Looking after your spiritual health is an important part of over health and well-being – whether it is meditation, religion and prayer, the outcome can be an inner sense of peace.
Confidence
  • Developing Confidence in yourself learning to say YES to what you want to do, and NO to what you don’t want to do, or maybe don’t have the time to do.
  • Many people find that little word NO a difficult word to say – so, try buying your self some time to decide what you want to do by saying something like, “Let me see if I have the time to do what you ask, to make sure I can do the best job for you”
  • Learn something new learning a new skill not only expands your mind and feeds your interest, giving you a wonderful sense of achievement. As a result of doing something new – it can open up opportunities for new experiences, or friendships.
  • BE YOURSELF – You are the only you there is. Embrace who you are. Get to know yourself and appreciate your achievements and skills. This will help you feel so much happier and confident.
Be yourself

There is so much more I could add!

TAKE CARE OF YOU – YOU MATTER

Andrea

Confidence to be your best You

I am so pleased to announce a three week course to help you to develop your Confidence.
 
Do you wish you had more Confidence talking to others?
Have your Confidence levels dropped due to illness or redundancy, or having children and you seem to have lost who you are?
 
Would you like more confidence in your job or business, within your relationships or to feel confident developing new ones? Would you like to present yourself well and feel happier on the inside, because you are confident being YOU?
 
I create a welcoming, safe environment and with small group numbers – or the option to join via Zoom (video link)
You will gain so much from starting this journey, and will go away with lots that you can put into practice – that works for You.
 
Suitable for teenagers from 14 and up *must be accompanied if under 18.
 
*limited availability*
*please message me or email me for more details and payment confidencecoach@andreabarker.co.uk – or use the Eventbrite link

 

 

Confidence and Well-Being

 

There are many areas of our Health and Well-being that we can focus on; exercising to gain strength; working on a good posture; eating a well balanced diet, for health generally and to maintain a healthy weight.

If we have a physical problem causing pain, or embarrassment, we will seek help. At Holcombe Health Clinic, where I hire a room, there is such a wonderful variety of expertise available.

All of the above also have an affect on your Mental Well-being- we know how amazing exercise is for making you feel better in yourself, or how much better you feel when irradiating physical pain, or seeing and feeling the benefits eating more healthily.

I work on the area of Mental Well-being, your Mental Health, in many different ways, helping you to understand how your mind works, how to manage Stress and Anxiety and develop and grow your Confidence and Self-esteem.

Our Mental Well-being is so important to how we function on a day to day basis, how productive we are, and it affects whether we try new things, reach our potential, go for a new job / promotion, how we perform in exams and it affects our relationships – whether with family, friends, work colleagues, and our personal relationships, and most importantly the relationship we have with ourselves.

 

Stress and Anxiety

Many of us will have had times we have felt stressed, and will understand how it affects our ability to make decisions, increasing the risk of making mistakes, it affects our sleep and causes muscle tension and headaches etc… generally stress is temporary, and when the cause of the stress is resolved- we take a sigh of relief. If stress is prolonged it can cause many other health concerns, so learning to manage stress is important.

Anxiety is something different, but stress can cause anxiety and vice-versa.

Anxiety is generally fear of what may happen in the future – anxiety and fear causes our body to release adrenaline so we are ready to Fight Fright (freeze) Flight (run – or avoid altogether) This is a natural process and is especially useful to us when we are under genuine threat, by keeping us safe or to help us survive. When someone is a ‘sufferer of Anxiety’- then you are in an almost permanent state of Fight Fright Flight to a threat that is mostly not real, our imagination is a powerful thing, however, this usually happens for very good reason. This prolonged state can understandably cause exhaustion and like stress, affect sleep too.

The good news is, that once you understand Stress and Anxiety you can manage it and feel human and normal, for you, again.

Mindfulness is a great way to start- as bringing yourself into the present moment and being present with yourself has a calming effect- just focusing on your breath or taking 3 slow meaningful breaths can help. Just taking time out in nature – even 10 minutes is very beneficial, there are studies around how amazing being outside is for us and our mental well-being, especially being around trees or in lovely open expanses. Another great tool is music, as it has a powerful affect on our mood, and can change our mood in an instant, so having calming or uplifting upbeat music can really help you feel better. Animals also can have a very calming effect, get you out, or make you laugh. Laughter is also incredibly at shifting mood.

Confidence and Self-Esteem

Stress and Anxiety can also have an impact on your Confidence levels. Many things can dent your confidence, and we are all the same in that respect, and may feel more confident in one situation and not another.  Confidence therefore can fluctuate depending on circumstances and experiences. Confidence is an ‘intangible’ thing – a feeling, and different for us all, and is also linked to our skills and knowledge and how confident we feel in our ability to deliver what is needed, or to speak out and / or help ourselves or help others.

Where there are deeper confidence issues and low self-esteem (how you feel about yourself) can greatly impact many life decisions, maybe not going for what you want and ‘putting up’ with situations and people. Essentially, it is about your self-worth and feeling confident enough to stick up for You, or to go to an exercise class, or address weight issues, or to go on a date and crucially to say No to what you don’t want.

I find that for many people I see, it has taken enormous courage to take the first step. Once you do, it is important to go at the pace that suits you. Most people fear change, because it is a ‘threat’ to us, an unknown! So small sustainable steps are best.

One thing that can help- is to write down your achievements – start with little things like when you learnt to read and write, maybe you learnt to ride a bike, swim 100 meters… and then keep going! You’ll be amazed.

Also Gratitude is so powerful and positive, think of all the things you are grateful for, small things and big things; like having running water, a lovely close friend, a park nearby, for pets, or things and people who make you smile – this is a great exercise to do daily – get a note book and write down 3 things that made you smile – and do it at the end of every day, this switches your mind to think of the positives – even if the day wasn’t the best day.

I really hope that this helps

Please do contact me if you would like to know more about what I do.

Andrea