World Mental Health Day 2017: Awakened

World Mental Health Day 2017 missuswolf

Last year’s World Mental Health Day post focused on the importance of mental health while on maternity leave.

This year, I’m taking the angle of work-life balance.

More than ever I need to look after my mind. I’m working full time, attempting to run a house as well as look after an eighteen month old.

I’ve got everything I ever wanted.

Which is why it’s important that I look after myself.

So I don’t loose it.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to read a book called ‘Awakened‘.

Debbie Stokoe, a copywriter and blogger, shares her experience of depression and the importance of a work-life balance.

The book came at a perfect time in my life.

2017 has been one of significant change.

I went back to work after maternity to a new job.

That in itself was hard. Not only did I have to mentally prepare for leaving a little person I’d spent the last ten months caring for full time. I had to prepare for walking into a new job.

Fast forward two months and I’m offered a project role.

In that same month, I also moved house.

The cards had well and truly been thrown in the air.

And over the course of the summer they’ve slowly drifted back down into place.

Their new places.

It’s a wonder I didn’t have some form of break down.

Reading Debbie’s book has helped me put things into perspective.

Too much change at once can be difficult to process.

There’s a paragraph that really struck with me.

It’s about mindfulness.

Being in the moment.

Something a lot of us (including me) are not very good at.

I once thought being busy was good. I thought I was achieving things.

The constant.

Thinking that The Constant was good.

It meant I could race through life and not be alone with my thoughts.

To over think things.

But since embarking on motherhood, I’m more mindful than ever. Babies quickly grow and a triumphant toddler soon takes over.

In that respect I’m now mindful to take each day as it comes.

To enjoy the moment.

To listen to her little chitter chatter.

To take the plastic tea cup when offered. To pretend to sip it. To gasp that it’s the nicest cup of tea I’ve ever had.

And to inhale that freshly bathed smell as I read her a bedtime story.

As it ain’t going to last forever.

So I’m grateful for Debbie’s book to put things in perspective. And to also to introduce me to meditation.

Debbie recommended Jessica Mullen and The Honest Guys. I’ve found them on You Tube and they’ve been really useful to listen to.

I’ve lost touch with reading this year with everything that’s gone on. Awakened has pulled me back into the reading game. I’ve now picked up The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. A book I started before I moved.

So what is Awakened about?

Debbie kindly gives us an insight into her book and her life …

Having read Awakened, you’ve written a compelling journey of self discovery through your working life as well as personal events. What inspired you to write Awakened?

I went through a lot of pain and the main inspiration was to help others to avoid that if possible. I talk about how I was affected by perfectionism and low self-esteem as a child, which affects a lot of young kids today who feel pressure to push themselves too hard, so part of it was to hopefully get a message to them to start being more compassionate towards themselves. In terms of the work-related mental health issues I experiences, I just felt very alone and scared when I was going through severe depression and wanted other people who are experiencing similar things to realise that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I guess I tried to write the book that would have helped me when I was ill. Hopefully it will also help family members and friends of people who are suffering from similar health issues to understand it better.

World Mental Health Day 2017 missuswolf

It was also a healing process for me to write about what happened to me, and cathartic in many ways, even though I had a lot of resistance arise about revisiting these difficult times in my life. It helped me to understand myself better and to work on certain things that still affect me (I’m still too hard on myself about a lot of things).

How would you compare writing Awakened to anything you’ve previously written?

I’ve never written a book before so it was a new experience! I’m a copywriter so I write for businesses for a living, and I’ve been blogging about art and culture for about six years, so I’m using to writing things like websites and blog posts. I decided upon the chapters then dedicated a couple of hours each morning for four months to writing it. I was pretty disciplined about writing every week day. I hadn’t been that vocal about mental health in the past so it was quite daunting being so honest and discussing my deepest, darkest feelings. There have been times when I’ve felt like not putting it out there as I have some fears about what people will think, but the message is more important than my fears.

How do you organise your work and life to ensure you get a healthy balance?

I became self-employed partly to have more control over my life, and to a certain extent it’s worked. It suits me better as I can organise my workload if I’m having a down day (I’m still affected by low mood) and I can work from home which means I don’t have to deal with people that annoy me as much! It has its stressors though, mainly because of the uncertainty and ‘feast or famine’ cycle that can happen when you’re self-employed (either too much work or not enough work) so it can be difficult to feel balanced.

How do I stay in balance? It’s a lifelong work in progress and I’m constantly changing my routine to feel more balanced. I have a morning routine which involves a combination of yoga, meditation, a walk and drawing an oracle card (I talk about my spiritual path in the book). I am still trying to limit my use of technology but I make sure I stay off my phone after 9pm and read before bed. It’s important for me to get out in nature at the weekends and switch off. A weekly yoga class also keeps me in balance, and regular holistic therapies such as massage and reiki. Reading a lot also helps and I go the cinema or theatre once or twice a week which inspires me and gets me away from a screen.

If you had one piece of advice on wellbeing that you’ve learnt, what would it be?

Learn to love yourself. It sounds a bit cliched, but life gets much easier when you’re your own best friend. I’ve always been too hard on myself, which started at school. I was always pushing myself to be an A grade student and if I didn’t achieve that standard I would berate myself. Being a perfectionist does not lead to a happy life. You can never celebrate your achievements and nothing is ever good enough. I think it’s so important for kids to learn to love themselves (not in a narcissistic, selfie-taking way) and not measure their happiness against external factors, which society teaches us to do. When we learn how to do that (and there are many ways to do that, such as learning about self-care, finding your passion and purpose, and learning to appreciate the little things and have more gratitude) life flows better.

World Mental Health Day 2017 missuswolf

And finally, tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know

If you read the book you’ll know, but I have a Facebook spiritual group with over 1,300 members. I realised that I felt ‘different’ and was having interesting spiritual experiences, so I created it to find my tribe and talk about spiritual topics such as angels, past lives and the law of attraction with like-minded people. Now I don’t feel so lonely or out there and have made life-long friends as a result of the group.

You can get a copy of Awakened here.

Where to find Debbie and her support groups:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/DebbieStokoeWriter

Twitter – @DebbieStokoe111

Instagram @socialbflycomms 

Stay Sane At Work website – www.staysaneatwork.co.uk

Facebook group – www.facebook.com/groups/StaySaneAtWork 

You can take part in World Mental Health Day today in the Time To Change #inyourcorner campaign

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from Unsplash and Time To Change website

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Awakened as part of this post 

How To Improve Your Physical and Mental Wellbeing: Love. Yourself. Lean. Journal

Monday 31st October 2016

Missuswolf Typewriter Compliments Disclosure

Improving physical and mental well being is a re-occurring theme on here. I had the opportunity to receive the Love Yourself Lean Journal and I thought it fitted in nicely with my blog.

Missuswolf Love Yourself Lean Box

Everyone loves a delivery right? Especially a super speedy one that arrives beautifully wrapped.

As a child on the cusp of my teen years, I kept a diary. And you could say that this blog is a form of online diary.

But this Journal is a diary

with a difference.

Missuswolf Love Yourself Lean Package

Pretty Packaging!

It focuses on Heartfelt Happiness and Harmonious Health.

I’ve never been so conscious of my physical and mental well-being as I have over the past fourteen months.

Since the moment I found out I was pregnant, I’ve had to mentally adapt.

Mentally adapt to:

  • the fact my body was going to change and I was more aware than ever what I was eating and drinking
  • the fact that there would be the painful labour process at the end of the pregnancy
  • the fact I would actually need to have a section instead as the baby was breach
  • that I would be responsible for this little person in our lives
  • going from a busy high-profile job to a slower pace of life, spending more time at home with a baby
  • my post-baby body
  • the constant of it all while I’m still on maternity leave. No matter how busy I make myself sometimes there feels like there is no break or no way out. And it feels worse the longer I’ve been off

The whole time – from becoming pregnant, to having the baby and then caring for this small human – it’s a lot to mentally process.

I’ve met people while I’ve been on this journey and it’s brought to light mental health awareness – particular Postnatal Depression.

I know some of my readers have experienced it, or are experiencing tough times in their lives right now.

Sometimes we need

to take a step back.

To shift our focus.

Before you can take care of someone else you need to care of yourself first.

Missuswolf Love Yourself Lean Book

When I heard about the Love Yourself Lean Journal, it resonated so well with where I’m at in my life. It’s come along at the right time.

I know I’m fortunate to have this time off with my baby and I should make the most of it (as I don’t intend on doing it again. I’ve made my contribution to the human race). But my god it’s hard! It becomes mundane. Especially when you don’t feel great when you’ve caught the usual Autumn lurgies.

So this Journal is a great way to pull me into focus.

There’s a section on How To Use The Book, which covers areas like breathing, trust, feelings and reflection to name a few.

This is followed by a Getting Started page that prompts you to take pictures every four weeks for a year. This includes a no make-up selfie – to document the effects that drinking water has on your skin and eyes.

It reigns in to focus on and capture the following moments over a year:

Mental Health #Keenbean

Spiritual Health #Serenebean

Physical Health #Leanbean

Emotional Goals #Dreambean

Eureka Moments #Eurekamoment

You can focus on one of these a day and capture what you are grateful for, as well as a Self Love activity. Although it’s encouraged to post through Instagram as well, you can do it on a private or public facing account. It’s however you feel comfortable.

Missuswolf Love Yourself Lean Journal Page of a diary example

In the Journal, there’s space to record how many glasses of water you drink, your food diary and how many hours sleep you have (I know – sore subject among the parent sorority).

It takes five minutes out of your day to fill it in. And it does make you more aware of what you’re eating and drinking.

I used to drink so much water when I was at work and now I find I don’t drink half as much. It’s affected my skin and even my lips. The lethargic feeling I put down to being a parent isn’t helped by the lack of water and the upped caffeine intake.

And sometimes I think it’s my own doing. I’ve got into the caffeine habit since Ella was born. While at first it was very much-needed, as the months have gone on (hate talking about this for fear of jinxing it) it’s an area that’s not too bad. So like I say – it’s just become habit.

Plus the coffee and cake get together’s don’t help. (Well, they do at the time. They save our sanity. But on reflection, doing this and not drinking a lot of water I tend to get headaches.)

As many of you know I’m a bit OCD and I can’t start this diary on a random date. So I’ve been doing practice runs over the weekend and I’ll officially start the Journal on 1st November.

However, I’ve drank my two litres of water a day and, despite being full of cold, my skin actually looks fresher and plumper. I know. Weird! But if this is the benefits that I completely took for granted as part of my lovely old working life then hell yeah bring them back!

I did get into a good exercise routine over the summer which I’m going to bring back. This was just a home workout in my make-shift gym (the living room once all the toy crap is shoved away for the night). Last night I forced myself to do my forty-five minute routine.

Missuswolf Gym ball and weights

My Makeshift Gym

And do you know what? I instantly felt better working out. My nose wasn’t as blocked while I was doing it and my mood lifted with all those lovely happy exercise endorphin’s.

On the spiritual side of things, suggestions are things like going for a walk, meditating or visiting a new destination to name a few. I’ve been using the Headspace App and doing some meditating that I’ve learnt at Postnatal Yoga.

For the emotional goals, simple things like a cup of tea in peace (I should be so lucky ha!) or rushing to help a friend in need.

The Journal also has a four-week review page. It encourages you to look back over the last twenty-eight days and count how many days you focused on each health area. This will show you areas that you need to focus on for the next four weeks. As someone who also loves stats and analysing figures, again – this is right up my street!

Missuswolf Love Yourself Lean Week Four Review

A lot of time, effort and love has gone into making this Journal.

As a super organised person who thrives on routine and structure, I love having this to focus on.

I’m interested to see where this journey will take me. What kind of person I’ll be this time next year and how my mental and physical well-being changes. I’d like to think that I feel a lot more secure and get more satisfaction out of life (by this I mean I have a balance).

So the year is going to be all about getting that balance right. I’ll experience going back to full-time work and juggling this with childcare. It’ll be interesting to see how my mental and emotional goals change.

If you want to improve your overall physical and mental well-being, this Journal is ideal.

Plus a visit off Santa Claus is not too far away so this is a fab pressie.

It could be your resolution – New Year, New You.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

The Importance Of A Healthy Mind On Maternity Leave

Monday 10th October 2016

Today is World Mental Health Day.

 

Missuswolf World Mental Health Day

Mental Health On Maternity Leave

I write this post as I’ve managed to escape for a bit.

I’ve retreated to my office at home. I have my earphones rammed in; partly as I find listening to music stimulates my creative side. Partly to drown out my hubby and daughter from the other room.

I mean this in the nicest possible way.

You see, this is an example of escapism – a bit of head space.

Which we all need. To recharge, rethink and as in my case at this time of my life, keep my sanity before I well and truly go insane.

I find it easier to write what I’m thinking and feeling rather than to say it aloud. This may get misconstrued in social situations in that I’m ignorant or not paying attention. Not true. I listen to everything, absorb it. It may take me longer to formulate a reply or what does come out may not make sense. As much as it does in my head, sometimes the words don’t come out right.

Being on maternity leave has really brought mental health to the forefront of my mind.

I’ve learnt just how important it is to look after your mental health.

I worked in a very demanding job right up to literally the last minute. I had Ella on my last day at work (not in work though!)

So I’ve been thrown in at the deep end, no time to think, worry or panic – just hit the ground running. Like I seem to do with most aspects of my life. Yet I cope better this way. Or so I think.

If I keep my mind occupied I don’t have time to worry about it as I’m too busy doing it. If that makes any sense at all.

I do often wonder how this drastic change in my life could have impacted on my mental health.

I’m logical and practical. People who know me may laugh at this as I often come across as having no common sense.

But I put things in perspective.

It’s not like I didn’t know I was going to have a baby – I had nine months to psych myself up to that.

I knew I was going to have a section (baba was breech and in no way turning) – which took me a couple of weeks to get my head around.

Sure, I had a date planned in for the section – the following Friday a week after I finished work. Obviously babies have minds of their owns and mine started as she meant to go on – headstrong and determined.

She came when she wanted. She wasn’t going to turn for no-one and she wasn’t going to wait for when was ready.

I had what was classed as an emergency section. Although the whole process was quite calm.

Looking back, this actually was the best way for me to have a baby. No time to worry, panic or run (I’m joking. I was too fat to run).

I love my birth story.

But for some people that’s not the case. I was very lucky and I’m extremely grateful for this. I know people who have suffered traumatic births and have suffered with Postnatal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Postpartum Psychosis.

Missuswolf Mental Health Awareness Week poster

And that’s why I want to help raise awareness.

This year’s Mental Health theme is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress.

One of the areas

I want to focus on in particular is

Mental Health First Aid, Trauma and the

Perinatal Period

Sally Hogg is the Strategic Lead of the Mums and Babies in Mind project

There are two aspects to psychological first aid during the perinatal period  (which we define as pregnancy and the year after birth). One element of first aid is to provide a woman who experiences traumatic events with warm help and support to promote and protect her emotional well being. The second is to respond quickly when a woman experiences a mental health crisis to ensure that she gets the care she needs. 

Read more about the awareness and the work ongoing to try to reduce the impact of trauma for new mums on the Mental Health website.

Missuswolf World Mental Health Day poster

Do Something You Love

I went from working full time on a high-profile project to being at home all the time. I could see how easily it would be for me to slip into depression (read more about this in my post on Postnatal Depression Awareness Week).

I finished work in March 2016 and I’ll return properly in January 2017. Nearly ten months off work and ‘out of the game’.

That’s a long time for me.

I’ve worked full time since I was sixteen. I’m not going to lie – I was frightened that I would go insane being at home with a baby all day. And although I’m lucky to be able to have this amount of time off work (I have fellow friends in America who have experienced the shockingly awful mat leave system there) it is still a long time mentally.

So I look after my mental health by writing.

I love writing.

This blog is my form of mental health. It keeps me focused. I work on it daily; writing content, researching, taking photos, editing photos and general housekeeping of web links and old content. I’ve joined supportive networks and I’m learning new things every day.

On maternity leave, I’ve done a diploma in social media and digital marketing. I’m now signed up for one in photography. I take and edit photo’s during the day, jot ideas down for content and do snippets of research. By night I write – I bring that research and those photo’s alive and make them into blog content.

Some people will think I’m mad and that I should be enjoying my time off with my baby.

I am enjoying my time off with my baby.

I take her to playgroups during the day (see Tots and Tums post – funded by Blyth Star Enterprises).

But it’s not a Mon-Fri 9-5 job that I can switch off from. There’s weekends too. And although I’m lucky that I have my OH to do bedtime and help at weekends, it’s still constant.

This way I’m doing something that I love.

And it’s not selfish. It’s important as part of our mental well being. Yeah I’m a mother – but I’m still a person. And I want to go back to work mentally prepared and stronger than ever, not weaker.

But that’s just me as a person.

However, the purpose of this is to motivate people, particularly new mother’s, into being aware and looking after their mental health.

You are still a person.

You are important.

There’s a great app out at the moment and it’s free. It’s called Headspace: Guided Meditation and Mindfulness. You can begin by taking ten minutes out each day. You listen to guided meditation to help improve your mindful awareness and relieve anxiety.

I started it a couple of days ago and it really does work. After taking ten minutes out to listen to the meditation, I instantly feel at ease, calm and motivated. It brings everything into focus and calms my chaotic mind.

Missuswolf World Mental Health Day

So dance around the kitchen like a dick (one of my faves and Ella loves it), listen to Headspace, do yoga, take a walk (or run!), read a book – heck even write one.

And remember; a healthy and happy mama equals a healthy and happy baba.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Text THRIVE to 70030 to give £3

Images from Unsplash and the The Mental Health Foundation website

Research from the The Mental Health Foundation website

I listened to Acoustic Cafe while writing this post – we listened to this in Pregnancy Yoga. It was going to be my music to listen to while in labour. But it didn’t work out that way. Life never does.

Tots & Tums Fitness & Play

Friday 23rd September 2016

Tots & Tums

I feel so lucky that my pregnancy journey has taken me to places where I have met some truly wonderful people.

Tots & Tums Missuswolf

I met Rachael Logue back in January at a Lush Tums Pregnancy Yoga class in Blyth. She was about five weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy, therefore I feel like she’s the ‘mam’ of the yoga mammy tribe.

The first one in our class to disembark the pregnancy ride – and board the mother ship.

I discovered that Rachael ran Tots & Tums classes in Blyth. I remember being excited that there was something I could get involved in when Baba W arrived.

I’d put a plan in place (obvs – I’m such a dork). As soon as the hubster went back to work (and I had established some form of routine) I was forcing myself to get out there.

Out of the house.

Over the threshold of the front door – buggy and entire house in tow.

image

Oh my god how tiny!

Out there into the big wide world. A world on the outside that had carried on as normal – while my whole world on the inside had changed.

I remember that Tuesday morning; a grey one back in April (19th to be precise). Hubby had been back to work a couple of weeks and the visitors had started dying down. After being housebound the majority of the time following my c-section (aside from the odd small walk) I knew I needed to get back out there. For my sanity and for Ella’s.

I power walked (as I was late – which I discovered becomes the norm once you have a small human) down to St Cuthbert’s Hall in Blyth.  I had my headphones rammed in my ears, drowning out baby whinges and basically the rest of the world in general.

I was in a bubble.

On a mission.

To make sure we definitely made it to this group. No matter how unbelievably daunting  the whole experience felt.

Tots n Tums - Blyth Star Enterprises

And do you know what?

It’s the best thing I ever did.

Just sitting chatting to other mammies who had the exact same experience that morning; that they or their partner had told them to do it – to get out of the house and go to a group.

Tots & Tums Missuswolf

It was good to talk to adults; even if it was about who’d had the least sleep, what feeding methods we were using and whose baby weighed what.

It was company – general chit-chat. And I must admit the pre-baby me would’ve hated doing this – going to a group and just talking about baby crap (literally).

 

But it was so good for me. I walked back feeling an utter sense of achievement. I’d managed to get myself and a tiny human out of the house! For a few hours aswell and, more importantly, we’d both survived.

I felt empowered.

I can do this.

I’m a warrior.

Missuswolf Tots & Tums

Over the past few months I’ve seen Tots & Tums grow and flourish into a wonderful support network for parents.

Exciting times ahead! With movement to the Little Stars at the Albion Centre in Blyth as of the 4th October, implementation of a Sensory Chill Room, Tots Playgroup, Mental Health Support Group and a Halloween Baby Rave to name but a few.

Check out Tots ‘n’ Tums Facebook Page aswell as Twitter to see what you can take part in.

Super proud of Rachael and all that she has achieved.

Love Missuswolf xxx