Taking care of your emotional health is a holistic process, not something that therapy alone can take care of. We are all individual and what works for each person differs. It’s really important to try things out to see what fits best for you.
Here are some suggestions of ways you might help yourself to start feeling calmer, more confident & uplifted.
What you eat & drink greatly affects how you feel. A diet that is high in fat, sugars & artificial chemicals, can leave you feeling low, tired & sluggish. By replacing this kind of food with a more natural & healthy diet, you'll be amazed by the improvement in your energy levels & mood.
Get out into nature
Getting out into nature provides an escape from the hustle & bustle of life. The countryside or coast is a great place to go to clear your mind & release stress. Even stepping away from the computer to take some deep breaths outside & look up at the sky can make an enormous difference. Spend time in a garden or park can be replenishing, just being with the great outdoors.
Raising your heart rate for 30 minutes, by going for a run, bike ride, or a swim etc., has been scientifically proven to boost your happy hormones. It can also give us a physical release for emotional tension, stress & anger. It really does make us feel a whole lot better.
For thousands of years meditation has been a great way to improve emotional health by reducing stress & anxiety levels. Meditation teaches us to notice our minds and bodies, being aware of what attracts our attention without getting caught up in the drama of our thoughts and feelings.
Creating something with your hands can be a meditative experience. Whether you are playing music, cooking a lovely meal, sculpting something out of clay, or just knitting a woolly jumper. These kind of activities serve to both clear your mind & soothe your soul.
Try yoga or T'ai Chi
Yoga is not only a great exercise, but is also a great way to relax, clear your head & centre yourself, through it's focus on the breath. It is suitable for people of all ages & fitness levels & once you’ve got the hang of the postures, you can easily do yoga in your own home. T'ai Chi is a martial art that requires a centredness and grounding, its flowing movements can help you develop your sense of your own body and balance.
Book a treatment
Physical treatments like massage and thai yoga can be great for releasing tension from the body and giving you some downtime. Reiki treatments can also be beneficial in helping you reset your energy. Taking some time out for yourself is probably as important as the specific treatment you choose, so think about what would energise you most.
Singing is a wonderful emotional release, and engages more of your body than you might think. Not only is it good for your breathing, it is a great way of expressing yourself and developing your comfort with speaking out. Go on, put those old tracks on from your teens and give it large!
Dancing can really lift your spirits & is definitely good for the soul. It gives our endorphins a boost & can also be used to express emotion & release tension. It doesn't need to be formal dancing lessons, or clubbing, a good old wiggle at home will do the trick.
Read a good book
Self-help books can be a source of inspiration and motivation in troubling times, they might help you re-shape your thinking. Just as helpful can be dipping into a good book that you enjoy, doing something for you is a good way of signalling to yourself that you matter.
To get you thinking...here are some useful resources
For your phone
Headspace (android, also in iTunes store) is a great app that gives you 10 minute meditatons that you can fit in around the rest of your day. It's free, and I find the meditations refreshing and enjoyable.
The NHS site focusing on mental health, which has a number of top tips, and signposts to services.
This simple well-being questionnaire from the NHS is useful to remind you about what makes up well-being, and to get some simple tips for improving how you feel. It's not revolutionary, but I found it a great stimulus to focus on what's going well.
www.psychotherapy.org.uk - The professional body for psychotherapists in the UK, where you can find local therapists and information about different therapies.
www.bacp.co.uk The professional body for counsellors and psychotherapists in the UK, where you can find counsellors local to you.
The professional body regulating EMDR therapists in the UK and Ireland.
Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world, Mark Williams and Danny Penman - An 8-week guide to being present and experiencing life through your senses, reducing anxiety and depression and increasing well-being. Includes a CD of meditations, a fabulous self-help resource.
The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt - When I picked this up I thought it might be another pop psychology book about what to do to make yourself happy, I was a bit skeptical to be honest. It isn't. What Haidt does is take Ancient Philisophical ideas, and evaluate the evidence for them using modern science. What results is a no-nonsense, balanced view of what affects well-being. The explanations of how the brain works are easy to understand, and the book led me to draw simple conclusions about how to help myself, and clients, with their challenges.
Positive Psychology in a Nutshell, Ilona Boniwell
Packed with information, exercises and explanations of why things work, this book will help you help yourself when you're not feeling at your best.
Crucial Conversations, Kerry Patterson et al
If you find yourself in conflict with other people sometimes, this is the book for you. It helps you work out what's happening, and gives you some ways of thinking about it that will make a real difference to your relationships.
Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman
This is a book about how you think, and how to make sure you take control of your thinking when it isn't serving you. It will guide you though developing more optimistic ways of thinking, and let you know how and why this matters.
Be Your Own Life Coach, Fiona Harrold
A simple and easy read, which takes you through a range of exercises to think about what you want, and how you can go about achieving it.
The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet, Benjamin Hoff
This is a book about how to stay happy and calm in all circumstances. It introduces Taoism using the characters in Winnie the Pooh. If you love Pooh and want some gentle but powerful insights about yourself, this might be the book for you.
To talk about any of the self-help ideas on this page, or to access services, Get in Touch.