10 Top Tips for Good Mental Health

So now that my therapy is over I’m keen to do what I can to keep my mental health as well as it can be.  So I was intrigued as to what exactly is good for my mental health, there are some pretty obvious, but maybe there are some not so…

Searching online, these 10 Top Tips keep cropping up, so here we go:

SLEEP

Sleep is really important for your physical and mental health. If you don’t get enough sleep, you can start to feel depressed or anxious.  The Sleep Foundation provides tips on how to sleep well, and to overcome problems with sleeping.

EAT WELL

Eating well isn’t just important for your body, but it’s also important for your mind. Mineral deficiencies, such as iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies, can give you a low mood.

AVOID ALCOHOL, SMOKING AND DRUGS

When you’ve had a few drinks you can feel more depressed and anxious the next day, and it can be harder to concentrate. If you smoke, between cigarettes your body and brain go into withdrawal which makes you irritable and anxious. Other drugs can often cause very low moods and anxiety.

SUNLIGHT

Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a really important vitamin for our bodies and our brains. It helps your brain to release chemicals which improves your mood, like endorphins.

LIMIT STRESS

Stress is often unavoidable, but knowing what triggers your stress and knowing how to cope is key in maintaining good mental health.

EXERCISE

Exercising can help eliminate low mood, anxiety, stress and feeling tired and lazy.

DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

Try to make time for doing things you enjoy. If you don’t spend any time doing things you enjoy, you will very quickly become irritable and unhappy.

BE SOCIAL

Make an effort to maintain good relationships and talk to people whenever you get the chance.

DO THINGS FOR OTHERS

Helping others isn’t just good for the people you’re helping; it’s good for you too. Feeling as though you’re part of a community is a really important part of your mental health.

ASK FOR HELP

One of the most important ways to keep yourself mentally healthy is to recognise when you’re not feeling good, and to know when to ask for help. There’s no shame in asking someone for support if you’re feeling low or stressed.

What’s my plan…

I only have a few more days at work till I break up for the Easter holidays, so I intend to use the holidays wisely and work on a couple of the above points.  Sleeping and eating I tend to be okay with.  I don’t smoke or do drugs (Licking the spoon of Calpol doesn’t count right?), although my downfall is cava.  I have cut down massively since Christmas, but need to cut down some more if I can.

Sunlight is something I can’t really do much about right now, we do live in Britain after all! I can’t even begin to limit stress at the moment LOL, but I do need to start running again now the lighter nights are coming back.

Something that makes me very happy is decorating my boys rooms.  Some of you will remember that I decorated Samuel’s and Henry’s previously (just realised I never shared the after of Hen’s – another post to be done!), but Fred’s was still to do, well Easter time is perfect so watch this space…

Combining being social and doing things for others, then I’m looking to take Henry and Freddie volunteering with me during the holidays at Hoping Street Kitchen 

So what do you guys do to help with good mental health?  I’d love to hear how you look after yourself and what works for you!

Fay x


Communication

Okay so I’ve been trying to write this blog since Friday and actually i’d been trying to write a previous attempt since the week before.

Honestly it’s been a mare of a week and i’m so glad last week is over, but interestingly the weekend brought to a head something that has been bugging me for quite some time…

Communication!

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

Now when I talk about communication I am talking specifically between partners, like seriously how do adults with kids communicate nowadays so that all their busy schedules work seemlessly?! Surely it is not just my partner and I that seem to fail miserably?!

I have many friends where both partners work shift work, or travel for work regularly and it all just seems to work, is that because they have to communicate because they work shifts/travel?! Or is it because they communicate better?

We both work 9-5, Mon-Fri.  Okay we have 3 boys, who are all very different and do different things, but surely it shouldn’t be that difficult?

To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.

Tony Robbins

So tell me how do you and your partner communicate, how do you organise your diaries between work, social and kids?  Do you sync your calendars on your iPhones? Or maybe you go back to basics and simply write on a calendar that hangs in the kitchen?!

Ever the creative I quite liked the idea of a full blackboard wall in the hall that we could update easily; but unless vast then I guess it would be limited to how many months you could show in advance.  Maybe there is something i haven’t thought of?

So go on hit me, how do you guys communicate?

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What is PTSD

Battling, hard, fighting, struggling, alone… just some of the words that I’ve heard over the last week since my last post.  The reaction has been quite overwhelming to be fair.  Not only with the support from you all about my battle with depression and PTSD, but also with how many of you have reached out to talk to me about your battle with mental health issues.  It’s so good to talk!

One recurring question from you all was about PTSD and how it affects you.  I have to be honest and say that before I was diagnosed I would not have thought that PTSD was something I would suffer from.  Now that may sound quite judgmental, but actually what I mean by that statement is that for me PTSD is something that people who have gone through severe trauma would suffer from.  I guess I never allowed myself to see what I went through as severe enough.

However going to therapy has made me allow myself to admit that what I have been through is traumatic.  Some of those trauma’s are easier to talk about than others.  There are things I’ve been through that I didn’t truly comprehend how much they had affected my life.  But also some events which weren’t as traumatic as i’d built them up to be over the years, having been so young when I experienced them.  Therapy has allowed me to view each event, process it individually and deal with it accordingly.  Half way through therapy and I can’t tell you the difference it’s made.

Symptoms

So what are the symptoms of PTSD:

  • Re-experiencing
  • Avoidance and emotional numbing
  • Hyperarousal (feeling ‘on edge’ / fight or flight)
  • Depression, anxiety, phobias
  • Self harm, drug misuse, alcohol misuse
  • Headaches, stomach pains, dizziness, chest pains

When I read these symptoms for the first time it just made sense.

Treatment

About 1 in 3 people who have experienced severe trauma will develop PTSD.

It isn’t fully understood why some people develop the condition while others don’t.

Treatment will firstly be focused around physiological therapies (CBT, EMDR, Group therapy), with medication usually only introduced with severe or persistent PTSD.  Children and young people will usually be advised to have trauma focused CBT, medication is not usually recommended.

How you can help

Try not to judge

If you’ve not experienced PTSD yourself, it can be hard to understand why your friend or family member can’t seem to ‘move on’.

Learn their triggers

Each person will have a different experience of PTSD, so it might help to talk about what sorts of situations or conversations might trigger flashbacks or difficult feelings.

Respect their personal space

People who experience PTSD may often feel jumpy or on edge. It can help if you:

  • avoid crowding the person
  • don’t touch or hug them without permission
  • try not to startle or surprise them.

Look out for warning signs

You might see a change in the behaviour of the person you want to support.

Help them to find support

If they want you to, you could help your friend or family member to find further support.

Mind.org explains this perfectly and with more detail, along with personal accounts from survivors and their families.

Fay x


It's good to talk

So it’s been a while since I last posted, six months to be exact.  A lot has happened in those six months with regards to my well-being, including finally being diagnosed with PTSD, and now undergoing EMDR therapy.

Well-being

As you know I care passionately about mental health awareness. Furthermore I love the fact that more and more of us are now starting to talk openly about our struggles. So I wanted to share a little more of my story.

I was bullied all through Junior School from years 3-6.  I moved from a small village to a new town when I was 7, changing schools.  Being the new girl, I was quiet, I was an easy target.  I can’t actually tell you a lot about those 4 years of school as I have unconsciously blocked it all out.  It’s part of the reason I still can’t spell very well, I struggle with nouns and verbs (don’t even mention a subordinate clause I have no idea what that is) and I have no idea when to properly use a colon or a semi colon.  I’ve very, very few memories of those years.  But what I do know is it has affected my whole life and changed me as a person. 

Therapy anyone?

My depression wasn’t diagnosed till I was in my late teens and found myself in an abusive marriage, since then I have suffered from 3 major episodes.  Similar to a lot of sufferers I didn’t realise how ill I was a lot of the time, I ‘self-medicated’.   

I used:

Alcohol, it didn’t help! 

Drugs, they didn’t help! 

Self-harm, it didn’t help! 

Anti-depressants, they did help! Kinda… 

However the one thing that did and does help is talking, therapy in my opinion is the one thing that can really help.  Understanding yourself and why you feel how you do and how you can change that, is one of the greatest tools you can have.  And just knowing that you are not alone, that someone cares can make a huge difference. 

Now there are lots of therapies out there. But ‘therapy’ doesn’t have to be seeing a ‘therapist’, just speaking to someone you trust can be therapy enough, seeking help from a counsellor can be just what you need. What I’m trying to say is the sooner you can talk to someone, whoever that is, the better.

“A problem shared, is a problem halved.”

  • 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year.
  • 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
  • 10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-children-and-young-people

Time to get real!

We need to be open and honest, we need to be there for ourselves and each other.

I don’t want anyone to ever get to the stage I did 10 years ago. I don’t want anyone to feel their friends, their family, their kids are better off without them.  To write that note that says goodbye.  To swallow as many tablets as they can and lie down in bed, close their eyes and wish to never wake up.

So, let’s be open.  Let’s admit when we aren’t okay, let’s admit we sometimes need help. 

‘It’s okay to not be okay’ 

It’s good to talk, in fact you need to talk!  Therefore the sooner we talk, the sooner we realise we are not alone, the sooner we can start on the road to recovery.  Talk to a friend, talk to a family member, talk to a teacher, talk to the Samaritans, just talk to someone! And if you hear ‘snap out of it’, ‘you’ll be fine, don’t worry’, ‘stop being silly’ then walk away and find someone else to talk to.  Because there is always someone out there willing to listen, willing to care and willing to take that journey with you, by your side. 

It’s okay to talk! 

The strongest people were once the broken ones, they learned how to fix themselves with or without help from anyone.

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Easy No Bake Recipes

5 Easy No Bake Recipes

The weather has become so changeable this weekend.  And the boys, so used to being able to go outside and play have become quite irritable shall we say (okay okay I mean down right argumentative and annoying LOL).  So what to do on a rainy day…  What better than baking (it’s messy, it’s fun and the kids have something to eat at the end of it!), so here are 5 easy no bake recipes to try out over the holidays.

Chocolate Fridge Cake

This is a firm favourite in our household and quite a regular no-bake for us.  We take it in turns to suggest and change up the fillings.

  • 8oz digestive biscuits
  • 5oz milk chocolate
  • 5oz dark chocolate
  • 3½oz unsalted butter
  • 5oz golden syrup
  • 3½oz dried apricots, chopped
  • 2½oz raisins
  • 2oz pecans, chopped (optional)

Instructions
No bake cookies and cream bars

Cookies & Cream Bars

Who doesn’t love Cookies & Cream?  It’s a firm favourite in this household and these went down an absolute treat.  They look great at parties!

  • ¼ cup salted butter, melted
  • 2½ cups finely crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 25 cookies)
  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 7 oz marshmallow creme (such as Fluff or Jet-Puffed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 7 cookies), plus more for garnish

Instructions

White Chocolate & Raspberry Cookies

These healthy no bake white chocolate and raspberry cookies refined sugar free, gluten free, vegan (optional) and high in protein! The perfect snack between meals and only requires one bowl and five minutes!

  • 3 1/2 cups gluten free flour
  • 2 tblsp granulated sweetener of choice (Optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tblsp nut butter of choice
  • 3/4 cup brown rice syrup (can sub for honey if not strict vegan)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • White chocolate chunks (vegan recipe available, click below)
  • Dried raspberries and cranberries

Instructions
Easy No Bake Recipes

Classic No Bake Cookies

These Classic No-Bake Cookies only require a few simple ingredients and are incredibly easy to make. Loaded with peanut butter, oats, and cocoa powder, these cookies are perfect for an easy dessert!

  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats

Instructions

Gooey Chewies

Originally a Northern Irish speciality called fifteens, but Blue Peter aptly name them Gooey Chewies! They’re delicious, they’re easy to make, and the best part is there’s no baking required.

  • 30 Digestive Biscuits
  • 15 Glace Cherries
  • Large handful of mini marshmallows
  • Handful of desiccated coconut
  • 2 tins condensed milk

Instructions

So there we go, 5 easy no bake recipes for you to try with the kids this summer, can’t wait to see your bakes (or should I say ‘no-bakes’) remember to tag #howfelicityfinds when you share.

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Kids Mental Health

The truth about kids' mental health

According to the Mental Health Foundation, nearly one in 10 children and young people aged five to 16 are affected by a kids mental health problem.

I think we all agree that the emotional well-being of kids is just as important as their physical health.  However, despite the knowledge and awareness of mental health being on the rise, 70% of young people who experience a mental health problem do not receive the appropriate support.   

And did you know that half of all adult mental health problems start by the age of 14, and 75% by the age of 18.

Some of the most common mental health problems affecting children and young people include:

  • depression
  • self-harm
  • generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • eating disorders

As a parent who is open and very vocal about my own struggles with mental health, I am acutely aware that my children are more likely to be affected with their own issues, for to that very reason.  And with all the pressures that comes with being a kid in this digital age, then how do we ensure that we are there for our kids and help them get the help they need as soon as possible…

How can we help?

  1. Talk about it – Research has shown that talking openly and honestly about mental health ensures that issues can be identified earlier on.  If we ensure that our kids realise it is not something to be embarrassed or ashamed about then hopefully they will seek help when (and if) they need it.  Unsure what to say, we use the Mind Tools For Kids Coaching Cards which give us some great starting points.
  2. Create a safe place – Kids do better when they feel safe.  So try where possible to ensure they feel listened to and heard when at home.  It’s not always easy and especially when you have more than one, kids can end up feeling left out.  Try as much as possible to take the time to talk to them individually each day, even if it is just for 5 mins at bedtime each night.
  3. Encourage social activities – this has been shown to help have a positive impact on kids, by providing a space for them to work on their emotions and develop ways of coping with the challenges they face.  But do keep a check on this and play it by ear, as sometimes these kind of situations can have the opposite effect on a child.  You know your child best…
  4. Ensure they get enough sleep – If you are anything like me then I get really irritable with only a few hours’ sleep!  Well it’s just the same for kids.  A lack of sleep can cause us to experience higher levels of stress, so making sure they get to bed on time will pay off and help reduce stress.
  5. Teach them to relax – It’s all about balance, so as much as social/physical activities help, so does the ability for them to be able to switch off, especially in such a digital age.  Encourage them to have some quiet time each day; reading a book, listening to (appropriate) music or drawing for example.  A great way to wind down at the end of day, or on an afternoon.

Create strength!

We need to break down the stigma, ensure our kids don’t have to deal with that as well as their own mental health.  We need to help them become strong enough in themselves that not only will they be able to open up about their own mental health, and seek the support they require; but be able to support their peers with any challenges they may face also.

 

In a world where you can be anything, be kind – Unknown

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Teacher Gift Ideas

Top Teacher Gift Ideas

It’s that time of year again, as the end of term draws near and the summer holidays are fast approaching, the question of ‘what do we buy your teacher this year?’ arises.  It’s an age old question and one that I think gets harder and harder every year.  Gone are the days when an apple would suffice LOL.  So if you are struggling and want to buy them something that little bit different, then here are a few teacher gift ideas…

Teacher Gift Ideas

pastel monogram mug

Time for Tea?

A perfect idea for your teacher, making sure no-one ever steals their mug again at break time! Just pick one of the six colour choices available (5 x pastel tones and 1 x grey monochrome) and choose the first name initial.

Monogram Mug

 

£9.95

BUY NOW

Because Teachers are Superheroes!

For all those lessons plans, what better for a teacher to write their notes in than these awesome notebooks!  Available in monochrome or bright pastels and in A5 or A6, these will always be popular.

Notebooks

 

from £4.95

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pocket notebook
Superhero Canvas Bag

'Totes' brilliant!

Make sure they have the perfect bag to carry all your homework to and from school.  These tote bags are super cool and eco friendly, available in monochrome and bright pastels.

Cotton Tote Bag

 

£19.95

BUY NOW

Hope that gives you a few ideas, happy end of term folks!

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Superhero crafts for kids

5 Awesome Superhero Crafts for Kids

I think it’s pretty safe to say that I love Superheroes, in fact as a family we all do.  I’m also pretty crafty, and my youngest Samuel loves making anything, so check out these 5 Superhero crafts for kids.

DC Superhero Craft Peg Dolls

Based on the hit DC Entertainment programme DC Super Hero Girls, these peg dolls are super easy and fun to make.  Of course you could make them any superheroes you wanted.  Perfect for some action packed role play!

Superhero Mason Jar Banks

Mason Jar Superhero Bank

If your kids have a Superhero bedroom, then these mason jar banks are the perfect accessory!  Not only do they look fab, but they can learn about saving money at the same time.

Comic Book Superhero Magnets

Comic Book Magnets

I love Mod Podge, so when I discovered the Mod Podge Acrylic shapes in this project I knew I wanted to try it out.  These magnets are super cute and a great craft project for older kids to try.

Superhero Wine Cork Characters

Superhero crafts for kids

The wine cork superhero characters are so simple and fun.  Another craft that is perfect for older children, and if you are anything like me then there are always some used wine corks ready to be painted… #ilikecava #pleasedontjudge #LOL

Superhero Word Bubbles

LEGO-Super-Heroes

Another brilliant Superhero crafts for kids with big imaginations, and would also make perfect decor in a Superhero room.  Perfectly sized, these speech bubbles bring to life their superhero characters for hours of imaginary play!

So there we have it I Hope you like and have fun making, I’d love to see your makes…

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