How an act of kindness can help beat depression

Did you know that several studies have found that a random act of kindness can help you feel better and less depressed? According to healthday.com “A growing body of research has found that ‘positive activity intervention’ can serve as effective low cost treatment for depression”. It’s the little things that count, like being friendly to a stranger, walking a neighbour’s dog, giving praise or a compliment, helping someone with their shopping or writing a thank you note to people who have helped you in the past. When we help someone else we shift our internal focus outwards which is beneficial. Being of service can give us a sense of meaning or achievement on a small scale, something that people with depression are often lacking.

We all have certain emotional needs and if these aren’t met, we start feeling out of balance which can eventually lead to mental health problems. So if you’re not happy or perhaps even suffering from depression, ask yourself what’s missing from your life? Are you part of a community? Do you feel in control of your life? Do you feel safe and secure in all areas of your life? Do you feel loved and appreciated the way you are by a person or pet? What do you do to have fun? Do you feel you give and receive enough attention?

Sometimes depression can lead us to only focus on ourselves, hiding or shutting out other people as we don’t think they can help us. But what if helping them can make us feel better too? By giving them our attention and doing something nice, we lift our own spirit.
Awareness is the first step towards change, so take a moment to think about what’s missing from your life. Also consider random acts of kindness and watch how your feelings change when you do something nice for someone else. If everyone commited to a small favour to one other person every day, we’d all help create a happier community for us to live in. What goes around comes around.

Personally I like to do charity work. I regularly donate money and items to charities, I have volunteered at animal shelters and now I’m organising a sponsored walk to raise money for rescue dogs. In fact, if you live in East Sussex, why not come along for a lovely walk in nature on Sunday 22nd May. Bring your dog or a friend and if you have a few spare pounds to donate, that’d be absolutely awesome and it’s a win-win as you’ll feel better by doing something for someone else, like helping dogs in need, not to mention enjoying a lovely nature walk and meeting some lovely people and dogs.

Going back to my original point, doing something nice and heart-felt is profoundly beneficial for our own emotional balance and if done on a regular basis can help reduce depression. How about making a small list of genuine things you would be able and prepared to do, such as paying someone a compliment, smile at a stranger, help an elderly person lift something heavy, pray for someone, volunteer or donate something, bake a cake for someone, help a neighbour with their garden work, pick up litter in a nearby park, show gratitude and appreciation, etc.

“Slow steady progress is better than daily excuses” (Robin Sharma). So think of something you can do today. Perhaps you’d like to help me spread the word about my upcoming charity walk? The more people we reach, the better and if you’re not in the area but still would like to make a small donation, get in touch and I’ll tell you how.

Thanks for reading. Have a lovely day.

Love, Sandy x

Mental health and diet

Did you know that what you eat can influence how you feel, not just physically but also mentally?

I’m sure you’ve heard the common phrase ‘you are what you eat’ but have you ever really thought about it? If what we ingest becomes part of our physical body then perhaps it’s a good idea to pay more attention. You wouldn’t put the wrong or a very bad fuel into your car, would you? Well, our brain is part of the body and needs a certain amount of nutrients to function properly and produce neurotransmitters to make us feel balanced, such as dopamine and serotonin. If there’s too many toxins in our system (e.g. from bad food, stimulants or the environment, such as pollution), the body will need a lot of energy to deal with them and withdraws it from other non-life threatening areas. As a result we might feel tired, lethargic, anxious, depressed or are unable focus and concentrate and are not sleeping well.

For years I’ve been talking about a balanced diet with my clients, how to avoid the ‘blood sugar rollercoaster’ and how to feed your body and brain. Now, I’ve recently read a lot of studies and saw documentaries that claim a vegan diet can promote a better mental health. So, I thought I’d try this myself and experiment with this. For the last three weeks, I’ve been on a healthy vegan diet, have avoided all stimulants (sugar, coffee, alcohol), no processed food, I just made everything from scratch with whole foods. Apart from really enjoying the lovely smoothies, soups and vegan dishes I made, I’ve started noticing some interesting changes. I normally eat well anyway and feel relatively balanced, so I’ve not really been suffering from any particular issue, yet I’ve still noticed that I feel a lot more balanced, am able to cope much better with stress, I have loads of extra energy, more mental clarity and I sleep like a baby. It’s remarkable! I can’t remember the last time I had slept through the night without waking up at least 3-5 times. Now I sleep through most nights and feel refreshed and energised in the morning. I know not everybody is up for it and some people just can’t imagine a life without meat, fish, cheese or dairy, but I would certainly recommend trying something similar, even just for a couple of weeks as an experiment, and watch what happens. If you’ve got sleep problems, struggle with being tired or can’t concentrate at work, this might be the easiest way to get back into balance. Of course, if you are taking any medication, check with your doctor and see if they need to be adjusted.

Right, so I just wanted to share this little experiment of mine. I hope at the very least I’ve given you a bit of ‘food for thought’ (excuse the pun) and perhaps you can become a bit more aware of what you eat and how it makes you feel. If you suffer from cravings or emotional eating, get in touch. I’ve got some great techniques to overcome these.

Have a lovely day. Thanks for reading.

Lots of love,

Sandy x

Seize the moment

Life is made up of lots of moments, if you miss the moments, you miss life! Sometimes we just have to take a break, step back and breathe. Give yourself permission to relax! You’ll get much more done after you’ve relaxed a bit.

Whatever situation you’re in, in five years time all those little daily worries won’t matter, so why not let them go? We may have the tendency to get caught up in the nitty gritty but is it really worth all that stress? Every now and then step back and focus on the bigger picture. Look back at the last five years, have you had more joyful or more stressful moments? Tip your balance in favour of joy.

Make a decision to enjoy the little things, smile more, go to the beach or nearby park, play with your kids or pets. Seize the moment! You only have one life and you’re meant to enjoy it. Let go of fears and judgements, accept who you are and enjoy yourself. The rest will fall into place. If you need help or support on your journey to balance and happiness, I’m here for you.

Take care, Sandy

An alternative to New Year’s resolutions

How about a new approach to New Year’s resolutions? Let’s be honest, most of us don’t follow through anyway, right? After a few weeks the discipline wavers and we’re back to where we started. If you’re an exception, great! Congrats then keep going and see this suggestion as an add-on. If you’re not good at sticking to your NY’s resolutions, then let’s just not do them this year.

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

So here’s a different idea (which I started a few years ago):
Why not start with an empty jar and collect happy moment memories, success stories or pictures of events and positive changes happening in 2021?

Recipe:
Take one empty bottle or jar, have a few pieces of paper or post-it notes and a pen ready. Set an reminder on your phone or in your calendar to record at least two or three things every week or reflect each Sunday on what to record. No worries if it’s less than that, the idea is to keep counting and recording your blessings.

We could even record things like the end of lockdown, the joy of being allowed to see friends again, the pleasures of shopping or keep a record of how you’ve improved your home, your skills or hobbies, write down your favourite jokes or heart-warming moments when you felt moved or perhaps record an pleasant walk in nature with a picture, a beautiful sunset, a home-cooked meal that you enjoyed, a time when you laughed until your tummy hurt, a special gift you received, a zoom-party or joyful phone call with a friend. The list is endless.

Then at New Year’s Eve 2021, take out the bottle or jar and read all the notes on the happy moments of the year. If you do this with your family, have everyone pick their top three! Feel free to amend this recipe to suit your needs.

The point is to recognise and record happy moments throughout the year and then reflect on them at the end of the year. Do this and watch how your life will change over time. We all got so much more to be grateful for than we perhaps realise. Accept the challenge!

Photo by Oleg Zaicev from Pexels

Autumn wisdom and special offers

The lovely autumn season has arrived, and we can witness how wonderful change can be and how easy it is to let go. I love going for walks in autumn, reflect on things, ponder on what changes to embrace in my own life and if there’s anything I need to let go.

The change of seasons is a great time to make changes, it almost feels natural, like working hand in hand with nature. Getting ready to put old unhelpful thought patterns and habits to sleep. I guess this is also what this month’s Stoptober is about, don’t you think?

Well, if you’re ready to make a change or let go of something, here’s a very special one-time only offer for you. Get a whopping £20 discount on your next 1-2-1 session and only pay £50 instead of £70. Valid for any 1-2-1 session with me booked before 31st October. Book now as I have limited availability. I do sessions online (Skype or Zoom) as well as face-to-face in Brighton and Eastbourne.

Finally a word on fear. These are difficult times for a lot of people. Feeling afraid and restricted almost seems to have become the new normal of 2020. Yet know that we can’t be afraid and happy at the same time. If you’re afraid you’re making yourself more vulnerable as fear has a detrimental effect on our immune system. So please take regular breaks from the news and negativity around and make it your mission to do something nice instead, either for yourself or somebody else. Look after your emotional needs, watch something funny, talk to a beloved friend or family member, do a breathing or tapping exercise and count your blessings. There’s always something to be grateful for. Being relaxed and grateful is much better for your health as being afraid. So be cautious, of course, but take time to laugh and play. You have choice! Give every day the chance to be the best of your life!

Happy Halloween, if you celebrate it. Take care. Love, light and angel blessings.
Sandy

How to embrace your emotions

Feelings, especially on the negative spectrum, can be overwhelming, distracting, even numbing. Often, we just don’t have time to deal with them, so we turn to food, drinks, TV, work, etc. Moreover, society has taught us to swallow and smile and pretend everything is ok, but repressing our emotions can lead to further problems. Emotions have energy behind them and they can build up and cause problems later.

For example, we might get to the point when we just can’t take it anymore and explode, which affects the people around us and often leads to tensions and regret. Sometimes even physical problems can manifest as a result of unexpressed emotions. Repressing anything (or anyone) does never work in the long run as it builds up pressure and tension. What would happen to a pressure cooker without a valve to release the steam?

Now, so how can I become more aware of my emotions and learn to release them in a safe way? Well, the first step is to connect to our body, notice how it feels and acknowledge those feelings. Some people like writing down what bothers them, work off anger in the gym or tell a friend about it. Personally, I’m a big fan of breathing techniques, which help to let go of the energy behind the emotion. For instance, focus on a particular feeling (or a person that triggers a negative feeling) and breathe it out (long and slowly), then imagine breathing in (long and slowly) something positive, such as the energy of peace, forgiveness, calmness, etc. Then with the outbreath, let go of the old negative emotion, followed by breathing in the positive. Visualise it, connect to it and focus on it for several minutes. Notice how much better you feel after 5 minutes, not to mention that the additional oxygen helps you think more clearly.

A second very effective technique for deep emotional healing is EFT tapping. EFT is a nice blend of ancient wisdom like traditional Chinese medicine and modern psychology. We tap on certain meridian points which are part of our energy system while focusing on the particular distress and verbalising it, this helps shifting and releasing the energy of it. If you’re new to EFT, perhaps work with a practitioner or join a group.

If you’re out or at work and unable to “escape” to try out these techniques or you’re not ready to face it just yet, then perhaps try a different approach. Find something funny on the internet and laugh it off. Laughter releases tensions and endorphins and is a great quick fix if needed.

Or be mindful and shift your focus to the little things in life that bring us joy and pleasure, such as sunshine, a cup of coffee, a smile, green traffic lights, having friends, a hug, cuddle a pillow, person or pet. Well you get the idea. This is however, just a temporary fix. Sooner or later you might have to face your feelings and let off steam in a safe way. After all, we are all human beings and feelings are part of our deepest humanity.

Have a great day. Love, light and angel blessings.
Sandy

How to turn challenges into blessings

Is it really June 2017 already? Wow, how did that happen? When you look back at this year so far, can you see how much has changed? Or is it just me 😉 Change is the only thing that never changes. Change is natural, change is beautiful, some resist it, some embrace, some fear it, some call it challenges but it’s actually just change. And, we influence it: we can choose our reaction to it, we can welcome it rather than cursing it. We can believe that things will all work themselves out eventually. Most challenges turn into blessings. We see them as challenges because we haven’t found the lesson in them yet. Everything in life has two sides, look out for the positive in any change that happens. Start by being grateful. Affirm that everything happens for a reason.

the power of gratitude

You and your life will continue to change. If you start counting your blessings, you can direct that change, influence it and become it. A grateful person is a happy person. You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. Look for something positive in every day, even if some days you have to look a little harder.

look for something positive

Set yourself reminders to do this, perhaps on your phone or have visual reminders around your workplace or home. Stop every couple of hours, take a few deep breaths and find something to appreciate about yourself, your day, the people around you or whatever comes to mind. This not only helps to reduce stress but also provides you with energy. Positive people are generally happier, healthier and more vibrant. Look for the blessing in every so-called challenge and turn it into an opportunity. By focusing on positive things, your mood will be much better and you might just stumble over a solution, yet you have to be calm and solution-focused for this to happen.

Finally, if you want to consciously change your life for the better, forget about your to-do list every now and then, leave the cleaning, tidying and many other chores for another day and do more of what makes you happy. Your children, friends and family would surely prefer a happier you over a clean house. Be happy, spread hope, enjoy the moment, that’s what people will remember about you. To turn a challenge into a blessing, start by seeing it as one and if you can’t, just let it go for a moment and find your inner strength and happiness by doing more of what makes you happy.

what makes you happy

Happy summer time.

Love and light,

Sandy