Friday, 7 April 2017

Depression: Let's Talk!!

Public service announcement; This blog post is that of a serious nature, I want to raise awareness of world health day and also provide as much information and advice as I can, even if it just helps one person or helps/encourages someone get help, then my job here has worked. So here we go!

Today is world mental health day, which is celebrated on the 7th April every year, since it was founded in 1948.

Each year, world health day is given a theme to highlight a different global health concern and this year is depression "let's talk" a campaign which seeks to raise awareness of depression and encourage those who are suffering to seek help!

It is estimated that more than 300 million people are living with depression, and also an important risk factor in substance abuse and suicide, which sadly claims thousands of lives each year.

Suffering with depression?
Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to do what you need to feel better. But while overcoming depression isn’t quick or easy, it’s far from impossible. You can’t just will yourself to “snap out of it,” but you do have more control than you realize—even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself each day.

It’s the Catch-22 of depression: recovering from depression requires action, but taking action when you’re depressed is hard. Draw upon whatever resources you have. You may not have much energy, but you probably have enough to take a short walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one. The tips that follow are based on a comprehensive approach that helps you get support while making lifestyle changes and reversing negative thinking. If you continue to take positive steps day by day, you’ll soon find yourself feeling better.

What's the best way to cope with depression?

Reach out and stay connected: When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate. Even reaching out to close family members and friends can be tough. Compound that with the feelings of shame and the guilt you may feel at neglecting your relationships. But social support is absolutely essential to depression recovery. Staying connected to other people and the outside world will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. And if you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network. This can be so in a variety of ways; talking to someone about your feelings, having lunch or coffee with a friend, calling, emailing, Skype an old friend, schedule a weekly coffee/dinner date, meet new people by joining a class or club

Do things that make you feel good: In order to overcome depression, you have to do things that relax and energize you. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better manage stress, setting limits on what you’re able to do, and scheduling fun activities into your day. While you can’t force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can push yourself to do things, even when you don’t feel like it. You might be surprised at how much better you feel once you’re out in the world. Even if your depression doesn’t lift immediately, you’ll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for fun activities. Take a day trip to a museum or art gallery, go out with friends, pick up a former hobby, express your self through music or art.

Support your health and get moving:  When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone working out! But excessive is a powerful depression fighter - and one of the most important tools in your recovery. Regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms. It also helps prevent relapse once you’re well. To get the most benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. This doesn’t have to be all at once—and it’s okay to start small. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours. Spend time in nature, go for a walk in the county side, listen to the birds sing and smell the fresh spring air.

Get a daily dose of sunlight: Sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood. Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun. Aim for at least 15 minutes of sunlight a day. Remove sunglasses (but never stare directly at the sun) and use sunscreen as needed. Double up on the benefits of sunlight by going for a walk in a local park or nature reserve. Increase the amount of natural day light in your home or workplace by opening blinds or curtains and sitting by a window.

When to get professional help?

If you’ve taken self-help steps and made positive lifestyle changes and still find your depression getting worse, seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression can be treated and you can feel better!

How can you help support someone with depression?

Initiate conversation: Depression can make people want to cancel plans, stop doing things they would normally enjoy, and want to hide away from the world. Ask how they’re feeling and let them know you are there to listen. If they know somebody they trust is there to listen to them, this can be vital for them in managing their condition.

Encourage them to seek help: Your friend or loved one may not think that they are suffering from depression. They may feel they will be able to get over their symptoms without help. But if you think it’s appropriate, encourage them to seek help from their GP or one of the many mental health support groups available. You can even offer to go along to the appointment as support – but remember it’s important not to push them into anything they don’t want to do. It’s also important to ensure them that depression is a common illness, and isn’t a sign of weakness.

Be open: You may find it difficult to persuade them to join you for dinner, a night out or even a quick coffee. Depression can be mentally draining and being out of their comfort zone may trigger panic. Be patient, and let them know the offer stands on a regular basis – they will join you when the time is right for them.

Understand them: Depression can change a person’s behaviour. It can lead to people being irritable, snappy and what appears to be miserable. But this may not be in their control, so do your best to be patient. Let them know that you won’t walk away from them and that you understand.

Learn about depression: Depression can be difficult to understand if it’s not something you have experience with. You may feel more helpful in supporting your friend or loved one if you learn more about the condition yourself. That way you can empathise with them and begin to understand any triggers.

Below I have provided some links to some online resources and services in which maybe if help to you or someone you know who is currently suffering from depression.

Please seek the help and treatment you need, a problem shared is a problem halved!

World Health International:
 Depression alliance:
Mental health foundation:
Rethink mental illness:
Young minds:

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

My First Time: At The Gym

The whole message behind today's blog is " if I can do it, you can too" 
(so inspiring, I know) but seriously hear me out...

In 2016, after turning 25 I decided that it was time to make my health and fitness a priority before it's too late and I hit the dreaded age of 30! (Now, I'm not saying that once you're over 30 your done for and you won't be able to get into shape because it's never too late! But, for me personally, I know that if it's not something I have achieved by the time I'm 30, then it's highly unlikely that I will ever do it!) So I took the bold decision to join a gym... Something which in fact terrified me at even the mear thought of even doing so. However I but the bullet and decided to go for a tour around a new gym that had recently opened nearby. 

I was given a 1 to 1 guided tour of the whole gym and all of its facilities and then I was given some information on memberships and classes to take away with me. As the gym had only been open for a couple of days when I went for my tour it was relatively empty with only a couple off people working out, but I knew like all gyms it would I my be as matter of time until more people started joining and it would be busy, like any other gym. - I said that like I actually knew what a gym would be like,  but back then I really didn't have a clue. In actual fact, my tour was the first time I've ever stepped foot into an actual gym, but realistically I knew the gym would have more than 3 people in on as normal day once the gym had been open a couple of weeks\months. I then went away with all the information in hand to digest my options. 

However my preconceived perceptions, fears and anxiety of what attending the gym would be like delayed my decision to join the gym. As I  was afraid of looking out of place and that people would be judging me by my appearance and my fitness level - or should I say lack of fitness!! 

A few months later I finally plucked up the courage to sign up to the gym for a membership! I'd done it, i'd taken the first step and had a date set for my induction! 

The first time you step foot Into a gym can be very intimidating;
There are muscle men making the odd grunting noise,  dropping weights on the floor and looking very intense with their facial expressions. 
There are women in fantastic shape. Their hair looks great, even if they just threw it up in a ponytail, they're not breaking a sweat and they seem to know what they are doing. It's all very overwelming. 

Now here you are - new to the gym, lost and not quite sure what each machine does. DON'T PANIC! When you join a gym, you will first have to have an induction where a PT (personal Trainer) will ask you what kind things you would like to do at the gym and they will then show you the ropes accordingly as well as filling you in on any health and safety points, before you are left to your own devices reassured that they will be on the gym floor should you need any further assistance or wish to sign up for personal training sessions.

As for my initial trepidation, the truth is: everybody else is also self-conscious of how they look in the gym. You are not alone and honestly,  they’re wayyyy too concerned with how they look in a mirror to even notice you;

That dude who is super jacked? He’s looking in the mirror wondering why he’s not as big as that other guy.
That woman on the treadmill? She wishes she was confident enough to go to the free weights section!
That guy running sprints? He’s praying the girl next to him won’t notice the sweat pool forming in the back of his shirt.
And that woman?  She’s just as self conscious too.

So seriously, if you want to join a gym but you've been putting it off because like me you've been too afraird, please don't! 

I promise you it really isn't that bad! It may feel a little strange for the first couple of weeks whilst you adjust to the routein of actually attending the gym, but I promise you after a few weeks it will feel like you've always done it and you will feel like you belong in a gym! 

As i said at the beginning; if I can do it, you can too!