Sunday, 28 January 2018

Coping: Cats, Chat, Counselling and Creativity

Coping: Cats, Chat, Counselling

and Creativity

Today's guest post is written by Lynne Lawer, founder of Feel Good Art. Lynne suffers from depression and anxiety and she's passing on advice and ideas for helping to deal with both. I love what she's said, and I know that I, personally, should adopt some of her ideas. For example, meeting with friends once a week. I'm a shocker at this, and know I should do it! Affirmations. I never do this, but perhaps I should. Thank you, Lynne, there's some excellent advice here! 

     For me, depression involves feeling so fatigued that I just want to sleep all of the time, feeling anxious about normal things like going shopping, getting mentally "stuck" so that I can't move, as well as feeling like I want to burst into tears. I'm not always successful in managing my depression but these are some things that have helped me and maybe they could help you too:

  1. Medication.      I resisted it for a long time as I thought I should be able to control my depression and being on medication meant I was weak but, actually, the right medication (which for me is Duloxetine and Pregabalin) has helped a lot. It hasn't got rid of the depression and anxiety completely but it has meant I can cope better with it.
  2. Friends.      I try to see my friends at least once a week. It's important to be able to get out and have a chat. We go for lunch, have a wander round the shops then have tea and cake. Not the healthiest thing to do I know but I can't resist coffee and walnut cake. Yummy!
  3. Creativity.      I'm lucky to have a knitting and crocheting group I can go to as well as a pottery group. Unfortunately, they are both on the same day so it can be a little frantic when it should be relaxing. I also do crafts at home every day. My latest passion is 5D diamond pictures which are like painting by numbers but with rhinestones or shiny plastic beads instead of paint. I've found I get very miserable if I don't do something creative, preferably involving sparkly things. ☺ Puzzle books are also good as they keep my mind occupied so I can’t worry about things.
  4. Counselling.      I'm currently having person-centred counselling which means I get to talk about whatever I want, as opposed to the counsellor being the expert and telling me what to do. I have found this style of counselling to be very helpful and relaxing. I am also fortunate in having a good rapport with my counsellor.
  5. Cats.      Pets have a wonderful ability to give us unconditional love. Stroking them helps to relieve stress and anxiety. I adore my two furry children, Bonnie and Clyde. Bonnie follows me around like a little dog. She has a habit of appearing out of nowhere like a Weeping Angel from Doctor Who. Clyde, who loves cuddles, has a special bond with my daughter. He has taken to yowling loudly whenever he comes in from the garden and when Bonnie is blocking his way on the stairs because he is frightened of her even though he is a lot bigger than her. 
  6. Mindfulness.      I find mindfulness helps when I have anxiety. If I concentrate closely on whatever I'm doing - washing up or eating, for example - the anxiety fades away. You can use mindfulness anywhere. You can look for different colours or shapes, listen to hear a noise, notice what is touching your skin or what you can smell - anything that makes you take notice of the moment. Deep breathing is a form of mindfulness. It calms you down and helps you to relax as you concentrate on your breathing.
  7. Moving.      There have been times when I've physically not been able to move to get out of the bath even though mentally I was telling myself to. I solved that problem by having a shower instead but there were still times when I would sit and not be able to move, or not be able to get out of bed. What helped was counting to three and just moving on the number three. It sounds weird, but it works.
  8. Celebrating.       Whenever I manage to achieve something, no matter how small, I congratulate myself and do a celebratory dance (if I'm on my own, otherwise I’d get some funny looks). The sillier the dance, the better, as it makes me laugh. It is important to recognise your successes, even if sometimes that is just getting out of bed. If you feel good when you achieve something small, it will encourage you to attempt something bigger.
  9. Gratitude.      I try to recognise when I am having a good time so that I appreciate it. I make a point of saying to myself "I'm really enjoying this". I give thanks for my food, my warm house, my cosy bed, my family being safe and anything else I can think of. The more things you think of to be grateful for, the more things to be grateful for will show up. You notice more of what you put your attention on.
  10. Sleep.      I feel better when I get a decent night's sleep. Unfortunately, I tend to work best in the early hours of the morning so sometimes I get only four or five hours' sleep. If I do that for two nights running, I feel completely exhausted and have to sleep for about sixteen hours. Also, doing even enjoyable things for two days in a row completely wipes me out. Sometimes, I struggle to be awake at all for up to two days afterwards but I've learned to just go with it, not blame myself and not regret the missing time as I obviously needed the sleep.
  11. Relaxing.       Recently, I've found that I've been doing too much and it has made me very stressed. Starting up a business takes a lot of time and energy. I was doing some things that I quite enjoyed but I didn’t love doing them so I decided I had to cut them out to give myself more free time. Now I'm only doing the things I really enjoy and making sure I have plenty of time to relax. Knowing that I have those two extra days makes a huge difference.
  12. Affirmations.       Whenever I've been in a situation where I'm struggling, I'll say to myself "You can do it" or "You are safe". If you think about what you say to yourself all day, you will realise you are using affirmations but they are probably negative ones such as "It's too difficult" or "I can't afford it". Then, guess what? That is what you get! Be careful what you say to yourself as your mind is listening all of the time. If you use positive affirmations deliberately, you will help to reduce the negative ones. I'm very fortunate in having a business that helps people through affirmations, so I am absorbing them all of the time.

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