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

Magical brain

Problems cannot be solved with the same mind that created them.
Albert Einstein
Magic happens beyond the logical mind. If you go within and connect to a place deep inside of you, you can create changes and #rewireyourbrain 
With the new field #neuroplasticity science has proven that our brains can change and evolve. With new experiences, real or imaginary, new neural pathways are created in the brain. The more often you walk the path of change the quicker new habits, thoughts and behaviours will be formed and engrained in our magical brain. This means we can teach your brain to react differently, for example to certain triggers. That’s why #hypnotherapy is so effective.

The important thing is to relax on a regular basis. This alone will bring more balance into your life. Stress and busyness put us into fight or flight mode, our survival instinct kicks in and often we can’t think straight or act in a way that is less than optimal. Only when we’re relaxed we can be creative. To create change and use neuroplasticity, we need to be deeply relaxed and visualise or imagine what we want to achieve. It can be anything from being more creative and motivated, feel more confident or stop feeling anxious, fearful or depressed.

Allow yourself to grow and move beyond your limitations. It always seems impossible until it’s done.
Contact me if you need any help or support Sandy@emotionalbalance.co.uk or info@bodymindhealing.co.uk
I offer a free 15min chat.
Have a lovely day and thank you for reading my blog.
Sending you love and light.
Sandy x

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

Understanding and managing chronic pain

According to the NHS and the British Pain Society, almost half (43%) of the population in the UK suffer from chronic pain, that’s about 28 million people! This year (2020) is likely to see a rise in numbers, due to changes in circumstances since Covid, like working from home, self-isolating, lack of exercise and reduction in pain service provision.

Having suffered from chronic pain myself for several years in the past, this topic is important and personal and one of the reasons I changed profession to become a holistic health practitioner after having found alleviation and healing from my condition. In this article, I’d like to help you understand why we may suffer from chronic pain, what factors influences the pain level and explain how to manage and alleviate it.

Let’s start by trying to understand why we experience pain. Pain is a symptom which the body uses to communicate with us, telling us something is not right. Pain is feedback, similar to the engine light in your car signalling something is wrong. Acute pain should never be ignored and if treated appropriately in most cases, long term pain can be avoided. Yet what if you are already suffering from chronic pain and doctors can’t help?

My view is that chronic pain happens for a reason, often subconscious psychological reasons that we are not aware of, yet if we can find them, deal with them and make a conscious shift, we may find that the pain changes too, becomes more bearable, manageable and even starts healing. The body usually has a natural ability to heal itself. If you cut your finger, you heal the wound, put a plaster on and it heals. If you break a bone and stabilize the body part, the bone grows back together. People recover from accidents, surgery, falls, injuries, etc. So, in my view, if you’re suffering from chronic pain it means, there’s something holding the condition in place, either physical or psychological.

One factor is that, the body can change and adapt. While most of our physical bodies naturally strive for health, they can only heal themselves if they’re given the opportunity to do so. Stress puts the body in fight or flight mode, where the main concern is survival. It’s a natural biological response which we’ve inherited from our ancestors. Therefore, constant stress can prevent the body from healing as it only feels ‘safe enough’ to heal and recuperate when we’re calm and relaxed. To allow the body to heal, watch your stress level!

In addition, sometimes one problem can cause another, such as when someone has sprained their ancle or hurt their knee, they put more weight on the healthy one which might then also start hurting if this continues for long enough. The body will change and adapt to any circumstances, doing the best it can to lower pressure and find balance. So be mindful of how you’re using your body.

Pain is subjective, some people can tolerate more than others. Ever wondered why that is? A number of factors influence how we experience pain: our beliefs play a role, past (pain) experiences, our current stress level or even how we see ourselves. Did you know that your current stress level will influence the degree of pain you feel? Stress triggers a number of physical reactions, such as increased blood flow which means more blood also flows through the painful body part, increasing the sensation of pain. Therefore, another effective way to manage your pain level is to learn to relax. There’s a wide variety of relaxation methods available, so why not try to find one that suits you? I’m happy to give you my FREE guided relaxtion visualisation. It’s a 10 minute audio relaxation to help you feel more balanced https://www.emotionalbalance.co.uk/freebies/

Yet another effective way to manage your pain is to befriend your body and listen to the communication it is offering. As mentioned above pain is feedback. Many see their body as their enemy “Why is my body doing this to me?” Try a new approach, take time to listen, go inside and search for reasons and emotions behind the pain. Once you understand the message, your body might not need to “shout so loud” anymore. Send positive thoughts and mental messages to your body. It’s doing the best it can given the position it is in. Give yourself of painful body part a hug, apply an appropriate lotion, heat or cold pack, breath into the pain and practice acceptance rather than resistance. Resistance fuels stress, acceptance allows healing. Create the best conditions to allow your body and mind to heal.

There’s plenty more to be said about this topic. If you’re suffering from chronic pain and would like to learn more about how to manage it, you’re invited to join my next live 2-hour workshop on 17th October in Brighton! Numbers are limited, so make sure you book your place asap! To find out more:

https://www.emotionalbalance.co.uk/event/releasechronicpain/

To book your place, send an email with your name and telephone number to sandy@emotionalbalance.co.uk

I hope you found this article informative and helpful. If you know anyone who suffers from chronic pain, feel free to share it with them. My mission is to help as many people as possible as I know from personal experience how limiting life with chronic pain can be.

Sending love, light and healing.

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