Voices

I get asked fairly frequently “is it ok to hear voices in your head?”. I always say it depends on what the voices are saying. You have good voices and bad voices.

We constantly have conversations with ourselves/ conscious whether in our minds or saying things out loud. They appear more when we are stressed, depressed, or anxious. It could be a voice telling you to get out of bed, giving you reminders, telling you to calm down in angry situations. Those thoughts are ok but when people say “I hear voices” it automatically implies they’re seeing ghosts, possessed by demons, about to enter the dark world; but realistically that isn’t the case, and there’s more to it.

Yes, we can look into Schizophrenia and if that is something that concerns you, please see a doctor however, I’d like to keep this post as light as possible. Linked to Psychosis, Schizophrenia is briefly described as seeing things and hearing voices usually due to beliefs and delusions. When I am questioned, people ask if it’s ok for them to talk to themselves. I always say if the voices are harmful to you or others or negative in any way please speak to someone professional and visit the hospital as they will run particular tests and bring in the mental health team, even section you if necessary. However, in a positive way our conscious is considered our personal hype man. We can all Google, speak to someone, research what to do in life but we need that voice as inner motivation. That voice that tells you to go for that promotion, text your crush back, visit your family over the weekend. You need your thoughts to be your cheerleader and these voices can sometimes be comforting especially if you live alone or have been alone in general and can help you understand your emotions and way of thinking.

Importance of sleep

On average we need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for it to be considered as a good night’s sleep. In addition, going to sleep between 8 pm and midnight is seen as the best time to fall asleep. Personally, I NEED 8 hours of sleep and struggle to stay awake past 11 pm, even on a weekend; however, some people work best at night and some genuinely have no choice but to work during the night. I’ve done a few night shifts during the past and can very much confirm it isn’t for me. Regardless of when you go to sleep, do you understand the importance of sleep?

For mental health reasons sleep is a good way to detox/unwind the brain. Your brain goes through so much during the day (remembering, learning, adapting) and still works at night but it’s the sleep that gives your body a break and allows your brain to restore. Sleep is a good stress reliever; with less sleep, your energy levels, mood, sharpness, and movement reduces.

With less sleep, you could wake up and drag yourself out of bed to start the day but with the average amount of sleep you will have more ‘up and go’. Basically, you’ll have more of a productive day.

During lockdown I can say my sleeping pattern slightly shifted; I was still working but working from home so didn’t care so much about staying up late and waking up early however, I struggled to keep my eyes open during the day. It took a few weeks to get my body back into the correct sleeping pattern for me and by the end, I was more alert, able to concentrate, and work to my full ability.

In terms of health, sleep is important to help your immune system and reduce other illnesses (eg. The common coat, flu, etc) but overall I think you have gathered how essential sleep is. If you struggle to sleep or need 7-9 hours work on slowly adapting your routine. Put your phone on silent, put it aside 40 mins before you go to bed, have a bath, do things that help you unwind.

Find your something

I found my something is working out/fitness however, we all have to admit home workouts are not the same as going to the gym or working out outdoors. Being on lockdown has made me realise I need an additional something especially as a backup in case there happens to be another pandemic or lockdown in the future occurs.

Without realising, I found my something else is cooking. With restaurants being closed for most of lockdown and not be able to get what I wanted, I sent a lot of time between work, experimenting with dishes and getting creative during lunchtimes (as seen on my Instagram). Now… I’ve always been able to cook well but I spent this time making things I would never make and not sitting around bored or wasting away. This way my days at home weren’t all about work and I felt myself getting more creative each time. I had/have something that makes me feel self-accomplished and makes self-care more of a priority. I only tend to get creative in the kitchen once a week; having a hobby or trying something new doesn’t essentially have to be every single day.

Find something new and see how it makes you feel. Even if you try and hate it, at least you can say you tried it and can move onto something else.

Just think, if there is another pandemic in our lifetime, do you want to sit at home doing nothing for months on end or do something to keep you physically and mentally occupied?

Black Lives Matter

I am a black woman,

2020 has been emotionally and mentally tiring. During lockdown I have been quiet as I have had a lot going on personally and I have been trying to juggle helping people and work at the same time but yet again we are now dealing with a constant global issue- racism. During this time it’s not in my nature to keep quiet.

The impact of covid-19 and now the protests, news, murders, to say we are in a crisis is an understatement. The current events haven’t just impacted my current opinions and life but they have also brought back memories of racism in the past that I have handled and moved on from. From that I am a stronger person but I can’t help but think about others in the black community suffering with past and current circumstances. Not everyone can take to the streets and protest and not everyone feels comfortable speaking out but there’s also something that could be done.

  • Reach out- ask questions such as: how are you feeling? How’s your mental health? Do you want to talk about it? What state of mind are you in today? What impact does this have on you? Engage in this conversation; it’s important to listen but also acknowledge there is a problem and it’s time for conversations about race to no longer be considered as uncomfortable or awkward or aggression.
  • Petitions- sign petitions but also gain understanding on why petitions are create and why they’re necessary. Understand why donations are necessary and what they’re going towards. This week I have not only seen petitions to get justice for the victims but I have also seen and signed petitions linked to education. From my own experiences I can say the things I learnt about my culture and black history, it didn’t come from school. It came from family, resource, books, documentaries. That’s just me, I don’t know if other children/teens purposely seek out this information and it’s not up to children to make this decision. The education system especially in the UK has failed the black community. We briefly learnt about black history in terms what happened in the US but we don’t talk about the overall history; we don’t even talk about UK black history.
  • Educate- Linked to the point above but education doesn’t just stop when you turn 18. An element of racism stems from ignorance. You are never too old to pick up a book, to seek out resources. You are never too old to genuinely speak to a black person and ask them about their history and ask questions to educate yourself. Don’t be afraid to challenge what you thought you knew or what older generations in your family once told you about black people. I cannot stress education enough.

#blacklivesmatter

Quarantine diaries

My time indoors hasn’t been that bad.

I say it’s not bad because its good being in my own space sometimes, however, I was annoyed during the beginning stages by two things; and I say the beginning because these are things I can’t change and therefore had to get over very quickly.

1) Not knowing how long lockdown would last resulting in not being prepared.
2) Having to work during this pandemic.

By preparing, all I did was tell everyone I’m close to I’d see them soon (assuming we’d only be in 4-6 weeks) and I froze my gym membership a week before lockdown started. During lockdown I think it became apparent to all of us that we weren’t prepared (unless you are one of those people that ran out and purchased trolley loads of toilet paper and pasta). Never in a million years did we think we would spend days on end at home. Having a TV, laptop and yoga mat is ideal but I ended up searching the house for weights (which I don’t have) and ended up ordering needed distractions such as a book, puzzle and clothes (clothes due to celebrating my birthday during lockdown). I’ve been grateful for my health and what I do have. I’ve been doing daily workouts, cooking, binging on Lost but of course, we always desire more.

As for working to home, its no fun being a key worker but luckily I’m able to work from home. With the NHS working night & day, people losing jobs and businesses not knowing what’s happening, I had to get over my feelings quickly because I felt guilty for complaining but, it is hard seeing friends and other people off work and enjoying time off.

A lot of people have also struggled with mental health during lockdown but its the exercise that has kept me going…and also watching Come Dine With Me in the mornings every day. This works as my morning motivation and during this time motivation is the most important thing. Another thing that has been keeping me busy is planning for the future, and looking forward to things to do when everything is over.

How’s your lockdown going?

Stuck at home?

Don’t think of it as being stuck in the house. Like me, you may need to work from home or cancel events. I’ve even had to cancel my birthday! But think of this has an opportunity. We spend our lives busy studying, working, looking after family and friends but now we have time to take care of ourselves. I have seen a lot of people over recent days talk about how being at home has negatively impacted their mental health but there is some good from it. Travelling to and from work, focusing on other people, having distractions, distracts us from our mental health issues but being on lockdown with reduced distractions gives us from to focus on what is important. The lockdown itself doesn’t mean you can’t go on one walk a day or sit in your back garden and reflect. A lot of people are taking it to literally mean stay in your bedroom or living room. Staying in one place and doing nothing different is what will mess with your mental health.
There’s so much that can be done in the house. From cooking, knitting, art, even following makeup tutorials on YouTube. Don’t just think about social distancing but think about distancing yourself from social media. Since being at home I have found myself bored with social media. I usually go on social media when I am bored at work, during lunch breaks, travelling on public transport, but now being at home and having constant access it has become draining.
At a time when there’s ‘not much to do’ there is always something that could be done. Leaving your phone aside for an hour to relax and have peace of mind or to gain a new skill will only better your mental health and your outlook.
Some of you might have children at home but now you can either focus more on family time or set tasks to distract the children while you fit in little daily breaks for yourself.

List of things to try

Meditation
Gardening
Social time with family
Writing
Artwork
Puzzles
An hour of relaxation (peace and quiet)
1 walk a day
Job search
Cleaning
Cooking something new
Reorganising rooms

For anyone that is at home suffering from anxiety due to the lockdown, please make use of my service.

Finding you

It has taken nearly a whole year to find myself and I could honestly say, time well spent. After spending years doubting myself personally and professionally, I decided to give myself a break. In order to live without fear, I had to look fear in the face and say enough is enough. Fear of not being where I wanted to be in life, fear of failing, fear of not having enough time. I had to take a mental break and focus on what was holding me back. Now that 2019 is over, I can look forward and say I know understand what I should be doing with my life and accept what my mind didn’t want to accept before.

This break wasn’t just mentally. If you’ve seen my previous post you will know I left a full-time office environment back in December 2018 and haven’t fully been back since. Now I’m in a flexible working environment and spend a lot of my working days travelling. I needed this. I found the office environment to be somewhat toxic, negative and unproductive. Professionally I needed the break to acknowledge I had to spend 2019 releasing myself from that negativity and finding my happiness; resulting to me realising office work isn’t for me and I want more for myself. In years time or due to circumstances, you never know I may end up going back into office work but for now, being in 20 something I can’t do this to myself.

You might not need a year to find you, you might need two weeks, two, weeks, twelve years but finding your feet and taking a break before you have a breakdown is necessary.

Balanced Diet

It is so hard to live a healthy lifestyle sometimes.

We are surrounded by fast-food restaurants, adverts, people around us with unhealthy lifestyles; making it hard to stay on track.

I’ve tried every diet you can imagine, from fasting to no/low carbs to using supplements for metabolism. With pure determination and a set goal, I have managed pretty well whilst trying these different dieting methods and I’ve lost weight with all but it is hard to keep going and to stay motivated. Temptation is around us constantly. To not come completely off the diet and to not feel as if dieting is a restriction, it is ok to simply have a balanced diet. The no carbs diet was the hardest for me, and I discovered after two weeks it was best to move to low carbs. There were times when I wanted fries with my meal or wanted to add noodles to a stir-fry purely to make a meal more enjoyable. I went from just eating to survive and losing weight to actually, losing weight and enjoying what I was cooking. Because I had added carbs back into my life and went a step further by allowing myself to eat however I wanted whenever I was out for dinner with friends but still remaining healthy during weekdays and at work. That’s my balanced diet and that works for me, my body and my state of mind but I can’t say that will work for everyone. I know I can eat healthy all week long but if I get invited out for cocktails or dinner with friends once or twice a week I don’t want to feel guilty for eating unhealthily, which is why I have given myself wiggle-room.

Keeping active and understanding your lifestyle and what foods work for you is a good start at creating a healthy lifestyle. When I had just started a new job and was going through a busy period I knew my limits and knew activity-wise, I could manage to go to the gym twice a week or on weekends as long as it was morning time. Now that I have settled into my role a few months later, I know can remain going on weekends but once or twice more during the week after work. In addition, due to being used to my work routine I know I can prepare meals for the week on Sunday Afternoons if I am not busy and can afford to wake up slightly earlier to make a cup of tea and have a smoother morning. As I said before all this works for me and I can’t speak for anyone else.

With body image being such a thing in today’s world, a lot of us forget about body positivity. By having a healthy relationship with your lifestyle and finding the balance you should be able to lose weight, gain weight, feel healthier, eat guilt-free, basically do whatever you want!

Happy Place

I got asked a question a month ago and the question is in an abrupt ‘inform me please’ tone which I didn’t appreciate.

Why do you go to the gym?

This person then went on to say (before I could answer) “well look at you. You don’t need it”. Who are you to tell me what I need? This person had never met me before and had a very ‘self-entitled’ vibe. I don’t mind if people are curious or genuine but with her tone taken it was much of a personal dig. I responded by saying “I go for my mental health”. This person continued to say “well…why don’t you walk around the forest or ride a bike”. Again, this person doesn’t know me. If this person knew me, they would know I live in a very busy city. Where is the forest? And I can’t afford a bike on top of all the other expenses in life. Even if I could afford a bike I wouldn’t have much of a good environment to ride it in. But as she was questioning my life, I couldn’t help but think, why do I have to justify my actions to anyone.

Whether you go gym for mental health, Instagram, medical conditions etc that’s your wish and what you do in the gym is completely up to you. Whether you spend an hour only on the treadmill or spend the majority of your time lifting weights, as long as you are happy that is all that matters.

People find what works for their mental health in different places. A lot of people take up hobbies or go travelling, whereas I spend my time in the gym weight training. I like the feeling. I like going on the treadmill to think and clear my head and I like going to a gym where no one knows me and I can zone out. I know many people who go to the gym and tell me how relieved and amazing they feel once they have left. Yes, this has a lot to do with endorphins being released and cheering us up but the gym isn’t always that happy place for everyone. For example, I love shopping online and I love the feeling of something I want being delivered to me, trying it on, seeing how it looks and fits and suddenly I have a new outfit I can’t wait to wear out but that happiness is not the same happiness and me pushing my mind and body in the gym. That is the one place I can go and switch off and I can’t say that about a lot of places.

Moral of the post is, don’t let anyone question your actions. I took that question very personal because I felt the need to defend my mental health and when people ask questions like that, they don’t realise how you might interrupt it. Find your happy place and let it take care of you.

Maintaining friendships while stressing

Keeping it blunt- unfortunately, when stress becomes part of your life, your friends are not a priority. You need to think about your well-belling and focus on what is causing you stress and how to resolve it.

Maintaining friendships while going through stress, purely depends on you. Are you the type of person to take the stress out on others? Do you trust your friends? Once you’ve answered these questions, understand that your friends (if real friends) should either help you through your situation or allow you time to breathe and work it out for yourself. Your friends might have a big impact on how you handle your situation and might help you to understand it more.

Everyone reacts differently and your friends should understand how to approach you. When my friends are going for a tough time, depending on the personality I am dealing with, I could either say ‘let us talk about it’ or just give them space and check on them now and then. Your friends should respect your personality and work out the best way to approach you without coming across nosey or intrusive.

Sometimes it might be best for you to ‘ghost’ and make your friends aware you need time to work on you. If this is the case, your friendship should be strong enough to last. You don’t need to see or speak to your friends everyday/week to be labelled friends. If you need a week to yourself, your friends will be there once you’ve had time to do you.

As I said before, your friends might be able to help you through; whether they help to de-clutter your life or take the stress away from you. I have my go-to people and friends also come to me when they’re stressed or have an issue, and no matter how long it takes we will work it out together. Personally, over the recent weeks, I’ve been stressed over work and if I didn’t run on the treadmill and let my close friends know how I’m feeling I would have probably ended up having a breakdown.

To maintain friendships, think about how much you value each other and what friendship means to you.