Author: Dr Julian

Think Before You Speak

Think Before You Speak

Are you anxious or do you have anxiety?

The terms anxious and anxiety are closely connected, yet in the 21stcentury have come to mean different things. While the Oxford Dictionary defines both as “A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.”, if you Google the term anxiety you get a completely different search result compared with searching for the term anxious.

 

What does anxiety mean?

The word origin for both words comes from the Latin, “anxius” meaning to be uneasy. While this is almost identical to the modern English “anxious”, its meaning in every day usage is completely different. Anxious, has remained the same for years, being used as originally intended, to describe a state of unease or worry. Anxiety however, has now been adopted by the medical profession as a diagnostic label for a serious mental health condition.

 

What is anxiety in terms of mental health?

Anxiety, as defined by the NHS, is a feeling of anxiousness over a long period of time. The symptoms associated with this condition are uncontrollable worrying that may cause upset to daily life, inability to let go of worries, difficulty sleeping, tense muscles, irritability, shaking, nausea, just to name a few. It’s fairly easy then to see the vast difference between this condition and the technical definition of “a feeling of unease”.

 

It’s just a word; why does it matter?

There are many words in the English language that mean two things but are spelt the same way, for example lie, to tell an untruth and lie, to recline. So why is it not the case in this situation? Why can’t the term anxiety be one word with two meanings? The problem lies in the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. Currently, many people who face mental health issues feel they are battling against a society that does not understand what they are going through. Too many times are the phrases ‘Just try to be happier” or “Everyone gets a little bit down sometimes” passed around. It’s within these phrases that the problem lies. Indiscriminate use of the term anxiety, for example “(something) gave me anxiety”, when a person is simply feeling uneasy, has the effect of minimising the real symptoms experienced by those suffering from the mental health condition.

 

 

How can word choice help?

The same argument can be used for many other mental health conditions such as depression, OCD and PTSD where these terms have been adopted into common usage with entirely different meanings. By making these small changes in how we speak, we could show greater consideration towards people dealing with mental health issues and make them feel more supported during what is often such an isolated and lonely time. By changing the way we speak, we can also change the way that mental health is perceived. It is in these changes that the future lies. If even one person benefits from your choice to alter your words, then that’s another step in the direction of a more accepting, loving world.

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IKEA LIVE LAGOM PROJECT - Mental Health Care at Home

IKEA LIVE LAGOM PROJECT - Mental Health Care at Home

When you’re feeling down, the world often seems like a formidable place. Low mood can also isolate you from others, making everyday life a very lonely place and as the winter months continue, more of us begin to feel the side effects of the lack of sunlight and ever dropping temperatures. It’s incredibly important, especially during the cold season, to make sure that your physical environment is comfortable and safe in order to protect your mental health.

 

While many recognise the steps you can take to improve your mental health through healthcare systems, far fewer recognise the steps that can be taken at home to assist these interventions and make yourself more comfortable.

 

For the past 3 years, Ikea have run a project to help people achieve their goals while also doing their bit for the community they live in. The Live Lagom project (Lagom meaning “just the right amount” in Swedish), uses their many sustainable products to help participants to make life easier, happier and more sustainable, through free workshops and by kindly gifting all participants with £100 worth of Ikea vouchers. I was lucky enough to be selected to take part in this project and used this opportunity to see for myself how small changes to your living environment can change your mental health status.

 

Some background about me: I’ve struggled with anxiety all my life but was only recently diagnosed with GAD. I’ve also struggled with depression and low mood and have particularly struggled with mental ill health while at university. I found that my university accommodation was not a happy place. It was cold, dark and most of all I experienced some of my darkest times in that house so all in all I hated being in that house.

 

Josh Roughley, our project leader, helped me to come up with some ways to use my vouchers to help improve my house to help ease some of the stress associated with my house. I decided to get some rugs, candles a lighting system and a pressure cooker.

 

I was sceptical at first, of how effective these items would be in improving my mood, however, I could not have been more wrong. One of the main problems with my house is the cold. Heating is expensive and especially in old houses, heating often is very inefficient. The rugs and candles have helped make my bedroom feel cosier, safer and generally more inviting. Waking up in the morning and getting out of bed straight onto a warm, fluffy rug instead of a thin carpet has made it so much easier. The candles also help the room to smell great as well as giving the feeling of warmth.

 

The lighting system has made a huge difference to my productivity and hence has made me feel better in myself. The remote has a feature that allows you to dim your lights and also change the hue of the bulbs. Now I can use a cool toned, bright light when I’m studying and a warmer, dimmer light when I’m relaxing or just before going to sleep. It’s common for people to find it hard to be productive when they’re feeling down, but a little change of lighting can make a huge difference.

 

Finally, the pressure cooker has removed so much stress when it comes to food as well as saving food too. In some of the workshops, Ikea have shown us how to use leftovers in the pressure cooker to make delicious meals. As a student, money is always tight so making the most of the food available is a huge win! Many people find that their diet changes based on their mood. And when we’re feeling down, we’re a lot more prone to over/undereating. This can then lead to a negative cycle as poor eating can also make us feel rubbish. The pressure cooker takes a lot of effort out of cooking and means I get lots of nutrients compared to my cooking before.

 

Starting out on the project, I didn’t have any idea how great an impact it would have on my overall mood. I now want to share what I’ve learnt with others and encourage you to see if your local Ikea is running the Live Lagom project and sign up! And if not, consider making small changes to your home to help your mental health. If like me, you’re on a budget, sites like Gumtree and eBay often have items in great condition but are much cheaper than buying from the shop. Treat yourself this year to a mental health positive environment!

 

Phoebe, Dr Julian Intern

 

 

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Understanding Your Triggers That Are Causing You To Feel Stresed

Understanding Your Triggers That Are Causing You To Feel Stresed

Are you feeling stressed right now? It is a common reaction to a situation or time in your life that many of us can struggle with from time to time. The stressed feeling can lead onto or be in conjunction with anxiousness or depression, or it can cause you to feel unwell physically and mentally. Stress is very common, but the one thing people don’t seem to understand is that there will be triggers in your life that are causing you to feel this way. So here are some of the common causes of stress and options on how you can overcome them.

 

The workplace

One of the most common causes of stress will stem from your workplace and your working environment. It could be added workplace, it might be that you feel upset or worried about a restructure or change within your job, or it may even be conflict with coworkers or line managers. Controlling stress is one of the things you need to do, so identifying the areas in work that are causing you to feel this way is the first thing you should do. That way, you can manage the expectations you have, and also deal with the situation to ensure that you don’t feel stressed moving forward. Work stress can keep you up at night, cause a loss in your appetite and make you worried, so it is important for you to figure out what is causing you to feel this way.

 

Your relationship

You may be struggling with your relationship, and this can be a big cause of stress in your home. We can all have relationships problems, arguments with our spouses and worries that can affect us either as a couple or individually. Your relationship can then cause you stress as you are in that environment with that person more so than it is when you are stressed about work. There can often feel like there is no escape. However, your relationship can be worked on and communication is often the way to relieve the symptoms and signs of stress as you are letting out your thoughts and feelings and letting someone in to help and share the burden.

 

Your finances

The financial situation that you find yourself in can often be the issue that many people face when it comes to stress. There is no hiding from the fact that money doesn’t necessarily make you happy, but it makes things easier. Things cost these days, there is always bills that need paying, and if you have more going out than you do coming in then this can be a huge cause of stress. Addressing the situation instead of burying your head in the sand and sharing the burden with others will help you to feel less stressed and alone about the situation and finally take some action to resolve it.

 

Your friendships

Finally, just as relationships can be a big problem, so can friendships, and again it can often feel like you are confined and struggle to resolve it. Communication can always help you feel less stressed about a situation with friendships. But sometimes you do have the ability to walk away from negative influences and friendships that don’t make you feel good.

 

Let’s hope highlighting some of the common causes of stress will help you deal with them better. Talk to us at Dr Julian for help www.dr-julian.com

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10 Small Ways To Improve Your Health

10 Small Ways To Improve Your Health

When it comes to improving your health, you may think that you will always have to make big changes. After all, changing one little thing isn’t going to help your body and your mind, is it? However, whilst you may need to make a big adjustment sometimes, more often than not, there are some little things that you can do in order to feel happier and healthier in your day-to-day life. We’ve put together 10 small ways that you can improve your health, so that you can avoid that scary (and major) lifestyle change advice that people always talk about. Start small!

 

  1. Cut out processed foods

Sometimes, you don’t feel great in yourself because you’re eating a lot of processed foods, which just isn’t good for your mind or your body. Think of your body as the vessel that carries you through your life, and as something that looks after and protects you every day. Why not nourish it like you should, and eat well? Even making a simple change could help you to do this, and you don’t need to avoid processed foods all of the time if you’re not ready to say goodbye to them just yet. But eating them for every meal isn’t a great idea, so cut this out if you can.

 

  1. Cut out meat

A lot of research has been done on the impacts of meat on your body, and it doesn’t look too good. Meat can increase your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and it can even make you resistant to some antibiotics. Again, if you’re not ready to go cold turkey (see what we did there?) then having a few meat-free days could be really helpful for your health, so look into the vegetarian and vegan meals that you could make on some days of the week. You’ll discover new foods, and you’ll also be doing your body, and the planet, a big favor.

 

  1. Drink more water

Aah, when are we going to stop hearing about this one? People are always acting like water is a miracle for the body, and this is because, well, it is. Not only does it help to flush all of the bad stuff out of your body, but it also keeps your skin clear, and makes you feel healthier and more alert. Upping your intake of this natural wonder can really change how you feel, and you’ll notice the difference pretty much straight away. Instead of going for a few glasses a day, take a water bottle out with you wherever you are, and you’ll feel a whole lot better.

 

  1. Walk more

As a society, we are just getting lazier and lazier, and it’s only a matter of time before we’re all living like they do in WALL-E. OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but we do drive to a lot more places than we need to, and a walk could be just what you need to get your health back in order. Even if you walk to the store instead of getting in the car, you’ll be getting in a lot more exercise, and you’ll feel better because of it. Make little changes to your routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and you’ll be glad that you did when you feel fitter and healthier.

 

  1. Quit smoking

Smoking is one of those things that we know is bad for us, but some of us still do it. Whilst it may be something that you do because you enjoy it, look into the alternatives such as vapes and patches. It can cause symptoms of a heart attack in men and women, and it also has detrimental effects on your lungs, throat, and other parts of your body. We all know what the risks are (and it would be pointless lecturing you on them) but really think about your future, and whether you’re cool with struggling to walk up the stairs at such a young age…

 

  1. Stress less

Oh, stress. For most of us, life is simply full of stress, from the moment that we wake up until we close our eyes at night. In fact, some people are so stressed that they stay awake at night, worrying about what is coming up in the next working day. Whilst stress can be difficult to manage, it’s really important that you get this one covered, as it can cause high blood pressure, headaches, depression and anxiety, and a lot of other bodily symptoms that you may not have thought about. Take some time out, and seek help for your stress if you need to. You’ll be glad that you did.

 

  1. Have a good breakfast

As they always say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this couldn’t be more true. It sets you up for the day ahead, it helps to feed your brain, and it also helps you to keep your weight at a consistent level. Skipping breakfast just isn’t good for you, and you’ll be sitting at work not paying attention in that meeting, because all you’re thinking about is how hungry you are. Don’t make the mistake of missing this one out, as it will really impact your productivity, and your health. Get your day off to the start that you need!

 

  1. Take some time for you

Your health isn’t limited to your physical wellbeing, and your mental health is also very important. To take care of your mind, make sure that you’re not always running around trying to get things done, and you actually take some time for you, so that you can relax and enjoy the things that you love to do. If you put yourself under too much pressure, you’ll end up being burnt out, and it will be difficult to get out of this once you start spiralling. Take the time for yourself, and don’t feel guilty about it. You deserve to have fun!

 

  1. Sleep well

Sleeping well is one of the most important things, no matter what age you are. Not only does it help your brain to function properly during the day, but it gives your body the time to repair itself. If you’re sleep-deprived, you risk facing issues such as disassociation, and you may be more at risk when it comes to getting ill. If you have any problems like insomnia then it’s a good idea to see someone about this, as it could really be affecting your health. Look after yourself, get enough sleep in, and if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone!

 

  1. Drink less alcohol

There’s nothing wrong with having a beer sometimes, right? But if you’re overdoing it in the alcohol department, you may want to look at cutting back on how much you’re consuming. It stops you from having a good night’s sleep (as we’ve established, not great for you) and it can be pretty detrimental to your organs too if you’re drinking to excess. Cut your drinking down – or cut it out completely if you’d prefer – and avoid those nasty hangovers, and the scary health risks that come with them.

 

So, if you want to improve your health but you don’t necessarily want to make loads of big changes, then why not try out these simple tips? You’ll be feeling as right as rain, just from having a few more glasses of water, and cutting out things like stress and smoking. Change up your daily routine, and see whether it could help you to get on the road to good health!

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Mental Health and Mindfulness

Mental Health and Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a lot about being in the moment. Something that people with anxiety or depression might struggle with is those moments of peace and calm that come from being mindful. It is a great practice to get into. But where do you start and what impact can it have on your mental health?

Well, we have all had times in our lives when things just haven’t gone according to plan. From losing people, we care about, to finding ourselves with an addiction we just can’t kick. Before starting out on a journey, you should have a think about what you wish the outcome to be and what type of help is going to be the best option. Sometimes you need talking therapy and medication, other times you might need to seek out a sober living for men establishment. Don’t be worried or feel guilty for needing support – we all need it from time to time.

Meditation

Meditation is a great way to introduce mindfulness into your daily life slowly. You might opt to have guided meditation sessions using youtube, the Calm app or the Headspace app. Or you might even head out and visit a class.

Perhaps all of that sounds a bit too much right now. You can start by picking some relaxing music, sitting in a comfortable position and setting a three-minute timer. When you feel intrusive thoughts begin to float into your mind, gently dismiss them. Focus on your breathing, how the floor feels beneath your feet and the sensation in your fingertips. Anything that you feel will keep you present.

 

Making Notes

When we are in the middle of some situations, it can be very easy to lose track of all of the fantastic things we have, and the beautiful people we have around us. Each day take a few moments to write down 5 positive things. It could be that you had enough butter for your toast, or that you managed to ward off an anxiety attack. Whatever it is, celebrate it in the fullest by keeping a note of it.

 

Green Therapy

Getting outside might seem a little overwhelming, so maybe you can start this one slowly. PLants, trees, grass and rolling hills can do wonders to restore a sense of peace and calm in us. If you have somewhere that you can walk to, and relax in – try and go once a week. If heading outside is not currently an option for you, invest in some pictures of landscapes and a couple of houseplants and place them where you spend the most time.

 

Relax

This is easier said than done. Most of us are walking about with a clenched jaw, stiff shoulders and neck. Take a moment and try to relax your face from the top of your head, down your face, wiggle your jaw, roll your shoulders and breathe it out a bit. Try to do this a few times a day to stop the tension building up and become too much to handle.

 

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How To Support A Friend With An Eating Disorder

How To Support A Friend With An Eating Disorder

It’s heartbreaking seeing a friend in pain, and when you are sure they have an eating disorder, it can become especially difficult. If you know they are starving themselves, or if you see them purge after binge eating, you might feel as if you are on the outside looking in; seeing destructive behaviour, but not sure how to help.

You might be tempted to tell your friend off for harming their body in such a way. Or you might say nothing at all, hoping that the problem they are suffering from will somehow go away. Neither option is useful.

So, what should you do?

First of all, know that the issue isn’t with food. As we suggested in our article here, https://dr-julian.com/blog/how-is-your-mental-state-affecting-your-physical-health/, it is a person’s mental state that can affect their physical wellbeing. In the event of an eating disorder, it is usually brought about by stress-related issues in the person’s life, and/or because of a faulty mindset about their body and weight. When trying to help, therefore, you need to understand that there might be issues around their mental wellbeing that you may not be equipped to deal with.

However, there are three important things you can do.

 

  1.  Talk to them

Express your concerns and let them know that you are there for care and support. Be aware, however, that many people with an eating disorder try to keep this part of their life a secret. They can feel guilty and ashamed about their behaviour, and this can affect their already fragile mental state. They might not open up to you straight away, although you might still be able to get an insight into what led them to their eating disorder. Stay calm and patient, and whether they talk to you straight away or not, affirm your friendship to them. When speaking to them, don’t judge them on their behaviour. They already feel bad enough. And be careful not to make any glib comments, such as ‘you need to eat more,’ as you may cause them to react angrily. Instead, listen, seek to understand, and ask them if there is anything you can do to support them.

 

  1. Educate yourself

There are lots of myths about eating disorders, so you need to differentiate facts between fiction. Go online to do your research, and read articles such as this one, https://www.verywellmind.com/eating-disorder-myths-and-truths. While you can’t force your friend to change and stop what they are doing, you will be able to gain some understanding of the condition they are living with. And if you also have an idea of why they are doing what they are doing, you might be able to offer better care and support, and that will go some way towards their eventual recovery.

 

  1. Encourage them to get help

If your friend is resistant, then you should let them know that you might need to ask for support on their behalf. Tell them it’s because you care and because you love them, and hopefully, they will start to see sense. A doctor is the best person to assess their needs, so when possible, make the appointment with them, and offer to go along with your friend for moral support. The doctor will then point your friend to the right place for treatment, which could include counselling services such as ours, as well as hospitalisation in a specialist medical centre.

For further advice on how best to help your friend pre and post-recovery, there are helplines you can call. Take a look at this site, https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/, and speak to somebody for professional advice. Especially when your friend is resistant to getting help, a qualified professional will guide you on the best steps to take. They are also available to talk to your friend should they be open to the suggestion.

After taking advice, and seeking help, your friend should then get the help they need.

 

Finally

It might be a long road to recovery, but as a friend, be with them every step of the way. They should have received expert advice about the recovery process themselves, so ask your friend what you can do to support the steps they are taking. Educate yourself too, looking for advice online about the recovery process, reading articles such as this one, https://tapestrync.com/crafting-anorexia-recovery-meal-plan/. By doing so, you will be in a better place to offer continued help.

With time and care, your friend will come through. Stick with them, affirm your care, and continue to look for eating disorder signs later on in the event they suffer a relapse. Hopefully, however, they will return to their normal self and way of thinking, and part of this will be because of your invaluable friendship.

 

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Help For Those Who Want To Stop Drinking

Help For Those Who Want To Stop Drinking

Help when you are giving up alcohol is more important than you may first think. Drinking is such an ingrained part of most people’s lives that it can start taking over without you even noticing. The effects are not just physical, but also social and emotional. Alcohol leaves very little of your life unaffected.

There are probably very few people who have woken up after a particularly heavy night and haven’t uttered the magic words ‘never again.’ But several glasses of water, a big breakfast and two paracetamols later, you start to feel human again. The next time you go out, it’s like the words were never spoken. It’s as if your brain has become hardwired into thinking that you cannot have fun without alcohol, and in some ways that is exactly what has happened. It makes the very idea of really giving up alcohol completely unpalatable. One of the reasons you need help with making, and more importantly sticking to, a decision to give up alcohol for your health is because you need to retrain your brain and change its relationship with drink. That’s not easy.

Help with how to stop drinking can take many forms, from others not drinking around you to having people to share your successes and your down times with. There are also organisations that can help, like Silvermist Recovery. It could involve having access to online communities where you can see you are not the only one, or you can pick up hints and tips on distracting yourself if you get hit by cravings The important aspect about whatever help you get is that you are not alone in facing this challenge.

 

Things To Do Instead Of Drinking

Giving up is not about willpower; it’s about creating new habits. So, how about starting some new pastimes and activities to go along with those new habits? When considering how to give up alcohol, it is important to remember that you are making a positive lifestyle change that will improve your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing over the long term. When you feel like a drink, why not take a long relaxing bath instead, or get in the shower and have an extended pamper? It works just as well for men as it does for women. If that’s not for you, then how about catching up with friends or family? Pick up the phone instead of the alcohol, using an online video app, or even writing a letter, which works just as well.

Exercise is also a good way to take your mind off the drink and increasing the health benefits that come with implementing your how to stop drinking regime. You could take the dog for a walk, go swimming or even break out the push bike. If you prefer to be indoors or working out with others, then get to your nearest gym, or join a local five-a-side team. It’s just as important to keep your mind busy, so you could find a course that you are interested in, or take up a new hobby. And the options don’t stop there – there are any number of voluntary organisations and charities crying out for volunteers with time on their hands.

 

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What to Expect in Your First CBT Session.

What to Expect in Your First CBT Session.

 

Realising the need for therapy is an amazing first step towards healing, and we really do believe CBT can be the best answer for some people.

However, we know it can be daunting, especially when it’s your first time.

So, to help calm any worries or clear any uncertainties you may have, we’ve outlined a clear picture of what to expect.

 

Firstly, what is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is an effective combination of talk therapy and behavioural therapy. It is one of the most widely used treatments for a range of different mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. 

During CBT, patients have the opportunity to work with a therapist to find the source of negative thinking or behaviour, and the ultimate goal is to replace them positive and productive actions, helping to over-come any difficult moments. Therefore, unlike other talk therapies, it is more focused on the present and the future, rather than the past.

 

Initial Introductions

At the beginning of your first session, you will be eased in gently. Your therapist will introduce themselves and will give you a chance to do the same; they may just ask some simple and general questions about you – perhaps your profession, and where you are from, etc. Once you’ve had a little easy chat with one another, you’ll likely be feeling much more comfortable and more ready to begin.

 

Mental Health Assessment

The therapist will continue to ask you question about yourself, but will begin to base them more on your mental health. This will be so they can get a more in depth understanding of your personal experiences, as everyone suffers with different mental health problems, in different ways. Being as honest as possible will ensure you’ll get the most out of your therapy, as the therapist can assess exactly what help you need. However, don’t worry too much as your therapist will not pressure you to disclose anything you may not wish to, until you are ready.

 

Coping Strategies

Once your therapist has got to know you and your experiences in depth, they will begin to provide you with tips and methods to help you manage or combat your mental health issues. Coping strategies may include unravelling the cognitive distortions you may have, breathing or muscle relaxation techniques, using a journal to unload your negative thoughts and feelings, or exposure to things that trigger you, helping to come to the realisation that realistically everything will be fine. You’ll have the opportunity to try these techniques in the session with your therapist, but they will also teach you so you can do it alone whenever you feel it may be of help.

 

Homework

After your CBT session, your therapist may give you a worksheet or a list of things to do in your own time, to perpetuate the learning and healing. The practical nature of the therapy means that you can integrate your new strategies into your day-to-day life. Consistently practicing CBT techniques outside of your sessions will help you to make the most of your treatment. 

 

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 Dr Julian

Feeling nervous about your first therapy session is completely normal.

The good news is that at Dr Julian, all our CBT therapists are highly trained and will do all they can to make sure you feel comfortable every step of the way.

 

To make your experience of CBT even more pleasant and less daunting, we offer video therapy in the comfort of your own home. You have instant access to therapists, whenever you want, and wherever you want.

 

Visit our website for more information: 

www.dr-julian.com

 

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