So many people are unable for a variety of reasons to seek the support of a counselor or psychotherapist. I have therefore devised, a practical list
of interventions that each person can put in place to help them get through some difficult emotional times.
- Sleep: is a vital component of psychological wellbeing and as our lives become more flooded with digital demands and a 24/7 culture, time to sleep and rest is being eroded. This is becoming quite an issue for young people, whose lives are dominated by social media, and its demands for immediate responses – day or night! Find out more about how to develop a healthier sleep routine at www.teensleep.org.uk
- Lack of sleep impacts upon many hormones and can be a contributory factor in weight gain, metabolic changes and nutrition. The interruption of the body’s natural Circadian rhythm alters the production of hormones related to hunger and satiation.
- Irritability and impulsivity are also related to reduced sleep.
- Nutrition: always ensure that you eat a nutritious breakfast, such as porridge, wholemeal bread and eggs, fruits with oats. Be careful of eating too much refined and sugar based foods, your body needs ‘fuel’ to function in a balanced way. Be careful how much caffeine you drink and try to take more herbal teas and plain water to keep you hydrated. Try to have some nuts, seeds, apples, or homemade soups for snacks. High quality chocolate 70% cocoa can be eaten a couple of squares – not the whole bar! Nutrition is something we tend to think is about restricting food, but it is about ensuring the food that fuels our body and minds, comes from the earth, not from a factory. We need to avoid foods that cause our blood sugars to spike and then drop, which then affects our moods and starts the process of cravings to happen. Try to cook food from scratch, it can change your relationship with food as being something that gives pleasure as well as fuel. Fast foods are just that – fast and forgotten!
- Alcohol: consumption needs to be monitored. Try to be more mindful of how much and how often you are drinking, as alcohol interrupts our sleep patterns, and depletes our energy levels, lowers our levels of concentration for work, as well as being a depressant beyond a certain level.
- Smoking: tobacco impacts on our health in many different ways, but in particular on our ability to breathe and levels of fitness.
- Non -prescribed medications: need to be avoided, as many recreational drugs can have long lasting impact on mood stability and appears to increase levels of anxiety in the longer term.
- There is also a danger in self medicating with over the counter pain killers, particularly codeine based medicines as they can become addictive.
- Activity: go for a brisk daily walk for at least 20 minutes. It is free, and exposure to sunlight on our skin (Vitamin D) has a positive impact on the absorption of calcium.
- Play and Sport: isolation and a sense of not belonging to any group, whether that is our family, friends or community, is not beneficial to emotional wellbeing. Cycling, swimming, running, football, playing chess, skateboarding, joining a theatre group, a book club, a knitting group, a drawing class, are all simple ways of helping your body stay fit and interacting with others.
- Stillness: try to find a quiet time to stop and sit quietly and be still. This can be just 10 minutes, no TV /Radio/Mobile. We are losing the ability to be still and silent. Notice how you are breathing, and start to take long slow deep breaths, imagining the breaths travelling through your entire body and spreading a calmness with each inhalation.
- Meditation, Yoga & Martial Arts: these pastimes involve an attention to the present moment and also require a degree of self -discipline, which may support a deeper sense of calmness and feeling more grounded.
- The longest journey starts with the first step’: if you are lonely the world will not come knocking on your door, you will have to make an effort to become involved in learning a new skill, helping other people or volunteering for something.
The YES / NO Exercise: Try to take small steps each day, do something that may feel like a challenge, or something that usually is fearful – say Yes to things you normally say No to, and vice versa (as long as they are not detrimental to your safety and health!)
Notice: what happens when you become more curious about what has motivated your actions or reactions in the past? Ask yourself : Do I need to keep repeating something just because it is familiar?
- Energy Follows Attention: When we give our attention to something it takes energy and that energy needs to be used wisely to develop your sense of self, and not to undermine it.
- Take Responsibility for the choices you make! Try not to blame others for what is happening to you, take responsibility for the choices you make, even though you may feel that at times, they aren’t your choices – the choice is how you respond to what happens in your life. We cannot stop what Life puts our way but, we can shift how we view what happens to us.
- Our thoughts and feelings pass: just notice them but don’t grasp onto them as being who you are, they are merely thoughts, feelings and memories which all pass away.
- Compassion: finally, learn to have compassion and kindness towards yourself, then you may have some space to show that to others also.
- DOES IT REALLY MATTER? Is a question we may all need to ask ourselves on a regular basis.
- Love matters.