3 Signs That Your Friendship is Over

As we get older, it becomes more and more difficult to have the hundreds of friends we seemingly had through school and university. This has its pros and cons. A smaller group of friends generally means the opportunity to build deeper, more meaningful connections. But in your twenties it can be daunting feeling like you’ve gone from a popular socialite to having only a handful of true friends. One of the most difficult parts of this transition is knowing when it’s time to cut someone loose. With the fast pace of modern life and the stresses that come with it, we can’t afford to spend time and effort on friendships that leave us feeling anxious and drained. But have you taken the time to be really honest with yourself about which relationships fall into that category? Here are 3 signs I’ve noticed that mean it might be time to reconsider how much time you spend with someone.

1. They make you feel like crap. Maybe you’ve been friends for a long time. Maybe you’ve had some great adventures together. But this particular friend makes you feel like crap. It might be that they never take as much of an interest in your life as you do theirs. Or they’re constantly putting you down and passing it off as ‘banter’. Or they somehow always make you feel like you’ve done something to piss them off despite their assurances you haven’t. To steal a phrase from the dating world, maybe they’re just not that into you. Whatever it is, it can be extremely hard to admit to yourself that perhaps this so called friend isn’t worth your time. Our natural reaction is to try harder and harder, especially if it’s someone we’ve had a good relationship with in the past but, ultimately you’ll just wear yourself out…and for what? After all, this kind of social rejection – or social pain – is processed by the brain in the same way as physical pain. It actually hurts us physically to be treated like this by a friend. Why not focus your time on friendships that don’t make you feel like you’re not enough as you are. Continue reading “3 Signs That Your Friendship is Over”

My Journey: Kevin Braddock, creator of Torchlight System

Right in the midst of a successful crowdfunding campaign, I speak to Kevin Braddock about Torchlight System and how it came about.

Give us a brief intro on you and your mission

I’m Kevin Braddock, I’ve been a writer-editor for over 20 years and worked for titles such as The Face, GQ, Esquire and The Guardian, and recently I’ve been developing a project called Torchlight System, which offers new ways to talk about, deal with and recover from issues such as depression and anxiety, which I’ve suffered from. The project includes a magazine/book I made called Torchlight: A Publication About Asking For Help, and set of Practice Cards – a pack of playing cards showing suggestions for daily management of anxiety and depression. Shuffle the pack, pick two cards, try to do one of the suggestions and build positive daily habits every day. This project came out of a major depressive episode I had three years ago while living in Berlin, where I was suffering with intense suicidal ideation. I asked for help, help came, I was taken to hospital, and I’ve been on a recovery journey ever since. I wanted to use the experience I have in media, publishing and narrative to make new and useful tools for anyone who is suffering the same things. Continue reading “My Journey: Kevin Braddock, creator of Torchlight System”

3 Ways to Deal with a Bad Week

When you’re in the process of recovering from or managing a mental illness – or even when you’re not – a bad few days or a bad few weeks can leave you feeling pretty defeated. (A bad month or more means it’s definitely time to ask for help). You start to question whether you’ll ever get back to ‘normal’, and whether you should even bother putting in the effort just to try and fail. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. I recently had a tough few weeks; feeling particularly on edge, barely sleeping, either forgetting to eat or eating way too much, skipping exercise, drinking too much…and so the cycle goes on. It’s so easy to be super hard on yourself for ‘falling off the wagon’ but I recently learned a great way of thinking about these blips – a lapse versus a relapse. In Dr. Christine Carter’s book, The Sweet Spot, she explains the difference:

If you imagine yourself climbing a hill, a lapse is a little trip, or maybe a trip and a fall. It might hurt, and you might want to stop climbing. A lapse becomes a relapse when we actually do stop climbing…It doesn’t matter if you have a lapse, or even a relapse, but how you respond does matter.

Dr. Carter is actually talking about breaking/forming habits, but it 100% applies to what we’re talking about here, and has really helped me change the way I think about my bad days or weeks. As well as this different way of thinking, here are 3 other ways to get back on the right track after a bit of a bad time. Continue reading “3 Ways to Deal with a Bad Week”

Mental Illness is for White People

With World Mental Health Day falling within Black History Month (10th October), I couldn’t ignore the opportunity to start this conversation. In the UK, people from black and minority ethnic groups (BME) are more likely to experience poor mental health and more likely to experience a negative outcome from treatment. In addition to this, black people in particular are more likely to enter mental health services through the courts or police rather than through the healthcare system, and we are almost four times more likely to be detained in a psychiatric care than our white counterparts. Four times!

And no, this isn’t one of those situations where minorities are actually more susceptible to the condition like with diabetes, for example. Rates of mental ill health in African and Caribbean countries are no higher than the general rates in the UK. The conditions aren’t the problem, our attitudes are. Continue reading “Mental Illness is for White People”

Is Stress Giving You Bad Breath?

We all know that too much stress can be bad for us, and we’ve heard most of the physical ailments that can accompany it – insomnia, headaches, muscle pain…but have you ever considered the impact stress can have on your oral health? No, me neither! That’s why I thought I would share these 7 signs that, as well as needing to see your dentist, you may also need to look at how you manage your stress. Thank you to Dr. Richard Marques for putting this list together 👨‍⚕️ Continue reading “Is Stress Giving You Bad Breath?”

My Journey: James, Founder of Sanctus

In this interview James, founder of Sanctus, shares his journey with us, along with honest advice about what we can do to look after our mental health at work – whether we work for ourselves or someone else.

What is Sanctus all about?

We’re on a mission to change the perception of mental health and want to put the world’s first mental health gym on the high street one day.

How did you first become interested in mental health?

Through my own experience of poor mental health I suppose. I had a period in my life where I had pretty bad anxiety and then panic attacks. I didn’t really know what was going on and mainly blamed other things in my life for how I was feeling. I knew nothing about mental health and there wasn’t a space where I felt like I could talk about it.

So your life was on a different path before you discovered this calling?

Absolutely, I was a different person really. I was all about image and material things, very closed off too. Things are really different now.

Continue reading “My Journey: James, Founder of Sanctus”

Self-care for people who don’t ‘do’ self-care

With the wellness industry having basically taken over the world in the last couple of years, self-care is one of those phrases you just can’t get away from. A quick search on the ‘gram brings up gorgeous photos of baths with actual roses in them (do people even do that in real life?), beautiful women peeling off charcoal face masks (I can only assume they’re fighting back the tears like champs) and smoothie bowls that inevitably require about 50 different ingredients (most likely including turmeric). While these are all, no doubt, excellent examples of self-care….they’re just so much effort. If you’re going through a tough time, or struggling with poor mental health, even having a shower can seem like an insurmountable task, smoothie bowl is a definite no. According to the NHS Self Care Forum, self-care is defined as ‘the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness’.

The way I see it – especially from the point of view of someone with a mental illness – self-care is simply anything non-destructive you can do to make yourself feel happier in the short term.

As someone who isn’t massively into things like smoothie bowls and baths (controversial, I know), here are some examples of self-care that might not result in Insta worthy snaps, but will definitely help to improve your mood and, if nothing else, will force you to get out of your own head for a while.
Continue reading “Self-care for people who don’t ‘do’ self-care”

Summer of Change Festival

By this point in the year, New Year’s resolutions are often a distant memory, even for the most strong-willed amongst us. But that doesn’t mean we should save all of our plans for change until 2018. As my new favourite saying goes

if not now…when?

To inspire both personal and social change, The Canvas Cafe is hosting a two week festival next month, exploring 8 areas in which we can all make a positive changes; environment, work and social business, community action, relationships and love, happiness, dance and creativity, health and wellbeing, and a day focused on changemakers. I’m delighted to be part of the Health and Wellbeing day, joining a panel discussion – It Starts With You: Self-care in a busy world. I’ll be talking all things work/life balance, digital detox and mental wellbeing with Lucy Pearson (Unplugged Weekend), Shakira Sturgess (Miss Simple Living) and Dion Terrelonge (Style and Wellbeing). Our panel will be moderated by the amazing Marianne Cantwell, whose book Be a Free Range Human completely changed my views on the ever-elusive ‘dream job’, what it means to be successful, and the pursuit of happiness.

Get tickets here for what promises to be a lively and (hopefully!) informative discussion – your ticket gets you a free lunch too 😋

How Yoga Can Kick Anxiety’s Butt

One of the top pieces of advice for anyone suffering with depression and/or anxiety is to get moving. Exercise can be a powerful antidote to many of the negative thoughts and feelings associated with these conditions, even if providing only temporary relief. That said, while in the throes of a depressive episode or crippling anxiety, even the walk from your bed to the bathroom can seem impossible, so a trip to the gym is often out of the question. In those kinds of states, I can fully convince myself that if I attempted even a light jog, I would have a panic attack and die. Yes, seriously. So best just to stay in bed, right? Thankfully, I got into yoga – specifically Bikram yoga – when I was in a relatively good place. That made it slightly easier to drag myself back to yoga after months of feeling too weak, drained and frankly self-loathing to perform even the simplest of self-care acts. I’m still on my journey back to being a full on yogi (apologies in advance 😂) but yoga is now an important part of my mental health management and I truly feel that it can have the same power for many others struggling with similar challenges, and even those who are not! I especially find that yoga is an incredibly good antidote to anxiety. Of course, when it comes to mental health, our journeys are as personal and individual as the bodies we live in so this is entirely based on my own experience but hopefully sharing this will help someone find solace in yoga, and follow their calling to become one of those super annoying insta yogis #yogaeverydamnday

Continue reading “How Yoga Can Kick Anxiety’s Butt”

B*tches Be Cray – My Mental Health Journey

If popular music and mainstream media are anything to go by, we all know that b*tches be cray. A throwaway phrase used to explain any behaviour displayed by one (usually female) human, that another does not – or does not care to – understand. But if we agree to ignore the distasteful and outdated language, there is an unfortunate truth in the phrase. Some b*tches really do be cray. And get this – some men be cray too! In fact, 1 in 4 of us – regardless of gender – will, at some point in our lives, be ‘cray’. Right now, I am one of the chosen ones.

I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for around 5 years. Or at least, that’s how long it’s been since I had a diagnosis to explain what, to me, was just…well, me. Anyone who has both anxiety and depression will tell you that it’s like a constant tug of war, an evil juxtaposition. But more on that later. If my mental illness were to be shown in a pie chart, most of the time, it would look like this (10% depression, 90% anxiety). Anxiety is the real boss and depression just tries to creep in whenever life – and anxiety – has worn me down. Sneaky bastard. I recently came across this term, and an accompanying video on The Mighty, which really resonated with me, because it perfectly explains how I’ve felt for so long but never really known that other people felt it too. High functioning anxiety.

Continue reading “B*tches Be Cray – My Mental Health Journey”