Are you lonely?

 

Our 21st Century lives mean that more and more of us are struggling with loneliness.   Sometimes this is a transient phase but often it is chronic.   It’s been said that loneliness can lie at the root of most mental illness.

 

There is a difference between loneliness and solitude. The Campaign to end loneliness claims that “Loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience.  Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health: lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.”    It is staggering isn’t it.  Comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

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I once sat in a Mental Health Awareness training session with a  Trainer who was very experienced in community mental health. He said it would be helpful for many people to find a loving and supportive relationship – but we can’t prescribe a boyfriend and just pull one out of the cupboard.

Our humanness is often something we as a society have pushed away – it’s pretty inconvenient in this fast-paced world at times.  But that’s exactly what we are, human.

Hope is a good antidote to loneliness.   Keeping my mind occupied and stimulated can relieve me of the negative effects when I feel lonely and  I know some people that can take great joy from art.  If I am feeling lonely I have to really make an effort to look after myself and,  of course,  to reach out to others.   We can take small steps such as phoning an acquaintance for a coffee or joining some kind of group or social activity.  Sometimes it requires being brave.  I haven’t read Feel the Fear and do it anyway but someone has recently recommended this to me.

Voluntary work is a good idea, even if you are working as there are one-off events too.  I recently volunteered at an 80’s festival and I also built a path.   Do it Org is a great website where you can find voluntary positions all over the country.

The digital world is abound with options and there are online groups such as meetup which offer everything from walking groups to cinema outings.  It’s true ,though,  that we can still feel lonely with people around.   Perhaps that’s because when socialising with people one doesn’t know so well it feels safer to wear a mask at times, at least it does for me.  Perhaps another little step is to lower this mask?

 

If anyone would like to share their thoughts on the topic of loneliness please do so, either in the comments on the blog, Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Can a digital app turn my life around?

Why I’m using a digital Android application called Colornote to help me become more organised, less stressed and have more control.

 

Firstly it’s important to know that I am a huge procrastinator. I avoid and forget things. I often catastrophise when faced with something stressful. I can become absent minded and I wonder if this has become a trait of mine.  I have self-diagnosed myself, especially the younger me,  with Attention Deficit Disorder on numerous occasions.  Or at least when I type the symptoms in Google that’s one of the options!

I do know that leaving things to the last minute or missing opportunities isn’t helpful for me.   In the past I tried to write lists on bits of paper and  I even bought a special to do list pad from Wilko’s.  However it didn’t work for me although I know it works for many.  In my case the Wilko’s pad  gradually became submerged under newspapers, paperwork and unopened mail.  I found it six months later and noticed that I was only half way through a to do list.  I had no chance with a scrap of paper!

My organisation skills are one of the first things to slip if my mood becomes low or if I become overly anxious.  This decline in organisation and my ability to manage time effectively can lead to a negative spiraling of my mood.  

Hello digital !

Moving forward a few years and I’m in a slightly different state of mind and my Smartphone is now attached to me like an umbilical cord.  So hey ho, why not try again with digital?  I am trialing Colornote which is an Android App for note taking, to do lists and general organising.  It is free to use,  at least for the basics.

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The verdict

It feels like it’s working and I feel like I need it.  I’ve had a very productive day and I doubt that I would have written a blog post for a while without it, at least not yet.    I also feel very satisfied after I tick things off as I watch a little line appear through the task relegating it to the bottom of the list.

Managing the overwhelming feeling that comes with some of the tasks

Many of us have to manage our mental or emotional health.  We may be less robust in certain areas.   I have to guard against feeling overwhelmed with stress, at least I do presently.   The words to do list immediately send me into a Flight, Fright and Fight response, so I alternate my tasks and soften my approach.   I complete one stressful task and then move on to a comfortable buffer task, I see this as a recovery phase.   For instance a difficult phone call may be followed by ten minutes of guitar practice and even the washing up can feel therapeutic at times.  The app is aesthetically pleasing and user friendly.

It is early days but I’m really hoping that I stick with this app and that it helps to keep me on my toes.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has any  comments, maybe you feel the same way? Maybe you have some tips or questions?  An app you can recommend?  Maybe you feel the opposite ?

Please either leave a message on the blog, send us a tweet or a comment on Facebook. 

Many thanks XXX

Please Don’t Take Things To Heart

Image for Milan's post Nov 2014

We ‘depressives’ are prone to taking what others say too seriously. And if taking what they say too seriously flips us into depression, then it’s just not worth it.

Those who are prone to despair, for whatever reason, I give the short label ‘depressives’; I am not an advocate of psychiatry. It is just a convenient label.

I could call us ‘despairives’ but it doesn’t feel right, so I am stuck with the term depressive. By this term I mean all those who may be doctor-labelled depressives: acute, chronic, bipolar, those ”with some mood disorder”, as I have been labelled.

But back to the main point: it is simply not worth it to take what people say too seriously, whatever it is, if it triggers a period of gloom.

Why do I say this?

Well because most people who say whatever we don’t like, or can’t cope with or who say something hurtful actually mean the opposite. They want to help. The few that don’t should be ignored, because if we take on board their unhelpful, even cruel intentions, then we are fools who suffer periods of doom and gloom. And how many times have we had those dark periods triggered? Is it really worth it. No!

Having said all that, I do know it is not easy to not take offence sometimes. I also know these things people say that trigger our periods of despair can be skilfully ignored more often in future. They can, in fact be totally ignored at some point, when we have enough of the right insights, for our own character. In other words we do not have to suffer so much, and we can never again, be driven by what others say. Our happiness cannot in the end depend on others.

A part of these two latter healthier responses, not reactions of despair, is to own our part in the matter. It takes two to tango, karmically, and we don’t have to take the bait by swallowing whole, or in part, what others say. If we can own how we take offence, whether it is meant or not, we can do the opposite. We can respond in a way that is healthy, whether people mean offence or not, and most don’t! For instance, doctors: GP or psychiatrists may not have the understandings or sayings that help me, but I take their good intentions, and skilfully sidestep the un-useful content.

I have sidestepped the boulder of such triggers more and more over the years, because otherwise I realise I would have wasted more time in despair-land.

In tandem with this I have focussed more on the friends who can and do help me more, and persisted more in communicating with them, however difficult that enterprise of deep communication may be. I hope you will do this and thus be kinder to yourselves, and have more well-being in your life.

(See also “For Better Mental Health, Cultivate Friendship” on this blog)

Milan Buddha Ghosh

Love Arts – The Big Conversation

Love Arts Conversation

Love Arts Conversation

The Love Arts Festival is nearly upon us again.  The festival launches on 15th October, so be prepared for exhibitions, poetry, plays and more special events, all with a mental health, creativity and arts theme.

There’s something new this year: the Love Arts Conversation is a festival-flavoured conference which will take place on 21st & 22nd October 2014 in Leeds City Centre. Continue reading

Clandestine Cake Club #somewhereovertherainbow: Mental Health and Wellbeing day

#SomewhereOverTheRainbow  is a special cake club event for people who struggle with their Mental Health and Wellbeing every day.

This will be held in the centre of Leeds on Sunday 6 July 2014 from 2-4pm

 We want to share the happiness that we get from attending cake club.

Rainbow small size

(Rainbow photograph by Evan Leeson, Flickr: Creative Commons)

The idea of this event isn’t the same as our usual Clandestine Cake Club events… it’s to try encourage people to come along and see if tea and cake and meeting people with similar problems can help their Mental Health and Wellbeing.

There really is something special about baking… it’s a therapeutic hobby, the weighing of ingredients and then patiently waiting for the cake to bake, I find it a good way to relax and de-stress after a busy day at work.  The good thing about this event is that if you aren’t able to bake then book yourself in with a friend who can do the baking… that way you get to come along to cake club, bring a friend or relative to support you and they’ll bring the cake!

The event has been arranged following twitter conversations about Mental Health and Wellbeing. We have launched this event solely for people with or recovering from Mental Health problems. 

For some people just getting up in the morning is a real challenge mentally. For others life is a real struggle to cope every day. These are the people we are reaching out to. Hopefully we can reach out to people on twitter too so if you talk about the event please use the hashtag #SomewhereOverTheRainbow

This isn’t a charity fundraising event, we’re not linked to a charity, it’s just something special where we hope people will have a few hours of fun over Tea and Cake and generally help with their/your wellbeing by baking a cake and perhaps coming along with a carer/best supportive friend.

I’ll be taking all the bookings and will sent out email confirmations in due course. The event is at a secret location in the centre of Leeds and the venue will be announced to the people attending about a week before the event.

If this is a success and over subscribed, we may look to do this again at a much larger venue, but we wanted to create a more intimate event in a smaller venue to start with.

Places are limited so please don’t miss out, follow the instructions on the link and book in asap.

All the details are here at Clandestine Cake Club – somewhere over the rainbow,  if you would like to come along or know someone who you think would then please either use this link or send it to the person to book a place.  This might be yourself, a friend, relative or even a client you see who you think might enjoy this event.

If we have bright and colourful cakes attending the event we will definitely brighten up the venue and our day!

King regards

Sharon Clarkson
Pudsey & West Leeds Clandestine Cake Club
@PudseyCCC on Twitter