Wellbeing
Stress
stress
Relaxing Reiki
Workplace stress
Cope with stress
Colour Therapy
Ear Candling for sinus problems and headaches

Managing Stress

This is the 9th in a series of blogs, using answers to pass Mental Health qualifications.

Now, Managing Stress could be a very long post. I’m sure there are whole books written on the subject.  There most certainly is not a one-size-fits-all approach to managing stress.  This is more a of a round-up of certain strategies, which can all be expanded upon further, in the future, and to finish off the series of blogs about stress.

Healthy strategies that could be used to reduce or manage stress in life.

There are many healthy strategies to help with stress, and it can be quite stressful to find ones that suit a person, however, the most accessible ones will be:
– Learning to take ‘time out’ and recharge, whether that’s making sure you take short breaks in your working day, a day off in a completely different environment or more than a day away. Breaks give us the change to refresh and recharge.
– Eating well and staying well hydrated – by filling our bodies with good, nutritious food and keeping the body, and brain, hydrated we are less likely to become ill, fatigued, have more energy and increase our focus and concentration, all positive attributes to reducing stress.
– Learning relaxation techniques such as gentle exercise, especially in nature, perhaps yoga and Pilates, learning meditation and mindfulness to calm the mind and body.
– Finding someone trustworthy to talk to, either a healthcare professional or a charity organisation or self-help group.
– Seek help for overwhelming chores and tasks at home and at work. Again, this is about being able to admit to the stressful concerns and having the confidence to ask for help.
– Look at whether anxiety issues are really worth it. This could be another issue where someone else can help question why someone is worried, fearful, anxious etc. It could be about accepting that it’s not worth getting stressed over things you cannot control.

Keeping a stress diary and how you would use it.

The main reason for keeping a stress diary is to be able to identify the symptoms, feelings and causes of stress. A pattern could be emerging enabling focus on finding ways to cope more effectively, with one thing at a time,

Local support available to individuals experiencing stress.

There are a variety of ways to find support within a local community, which could include:
Talking to a GP, asking for help with specific symptoms and advice about anything available to help.
Local support groups could be available for both physical and mental wellbeing, for instance alcoholic support groups, drug rehabilitation, stoke support groups, cancer etc. The list is endless. Many of these could be run by local charity and voluntary organisations.
National organisations such as the Samaritans can be available to offer support, help and guidance.
Local housing associations as well as national organisations such as Shelter could help with housing concerns causing stress.
Citizens Advice Bureaus are available in some areas, who have a whole team of people who can help with specifics relating to legal matters and financial matters for instance.
There will also be private healthcare practitioners and therapists available for a wide range of physical and mental conditions.
All of the above could help in one way, or work together, for the benefit of the person suffering the stress.

Tracey of PlumEssence Therapies and Training is a qualified stress management consultant, mental health first aider, hypnotherapist and body work therapist focusing on helping reduce and alleviate concerns connected to both physical and emotional pain.  Tracey is also a teacher and trainer, delivering workshops related to stress and stress-related subjects and delivers accredited mental health courses.

Tracey is available for a no-obligation chat to see how we could work together on 01889 808388 or [email protected]

How Stress can affect People

This is the 8th in a series of blogs, using answers to pass Mental Health qualifications.

Stress can be useful and harmful

Useful

Eustress is stress that is good for you. Having some of pressure, good stress, can be a motivator, to help you achieve and succeed and bring you joy.

Harmful

When stress starts to affect you emotionally and/or physically, in a negative way, usually due to a build-up of pressures and stresses over a period of time, and the ability to cope well, reduces.

Examples of the symptoms of stress

Some symptoms of stress can include:
Crying,
Quick mood changes and variations,
Low mood
Headaches and migraines, and other unexplained aches and pains.
Loss of, or gain, in appetite, usually not eating the correct foods.
Reliance on self-medication or alcohol,
Increase in heart rate and blood pressure,
Digestive concerns and problems,
Inability to sleep well resulting in fatigue and irritability,

Although many people can described themselves as stressed with one thing going on, it is often more than one cause and symptom of stress that starts to become a concern to an individual.  Briefly describing a personal situation when I felt under stress and how I felt as a result of this situation.

Just over 10 years ago was probably the 2nd most stressful time of my life.
I was completing my Accounting post-grad qualifications, I was being harassed at work, I was suffering debilitating migraines and I was constantly unwell (which I know now were probably stress-related).
My dad was terminally ill and I lived 4 hours’ drive away making it difficult to see him. My marriage was in trouble and then, 2 weeks before my accounting exams, my dad died. I now realise I went into some fort of ‘zombie mode’. I was getting through each day feeling ‘dead’. I couldn’t experience joy or grief, which naturally other people didn’t understand, causing me more grief. To this day, I wonder how I got through it. It’s fair to say, I could have coped quite well with all of these things, one at a time, but with them all together it all became too much. I became very unwell myself, very unwell, resulting in my complete marriage breakdown and me walking out on my incredibly stressful job (although that is something I do not regret).

Feelings that people commonly experience when subjected to stress.

Comparing some of my own feelings above, I felt helpless over many of the situations.
I felt positive about my exams because I knew I had studied hard and knew I felt the pressure as a motivator.
However, some of the other situations I felt inadequate, I felt ugly and useless, and I felt weak and incompetent in my role and fearful of what I could do without my job.
I definitely felt I had nothing to look forward too and I know I sank lower into depression with no interest in life. But, at the same time, I felt angry and irritable, which caused further conflict and further problems, which made everything worse still.

How stress can affect an individual.

Short-term stress can cause short-term anxiety and physical symptoms like ‘butterflies in the stomach’, feeling sweaty and clammy, digestive problems and increased heart rate. All these can be positive signs but when these symptoms continue over a period of time, they can cause more problems.
Constant digestive problems can cause long-term damage.
Short term heart rate increased could exaggerate into palpitations and irregular heart problems and blood pressure problems.
Headaches and migraines can become daily, as with other aches and pains, leading to taking regular painkillers, of which the side effects can cause more physical problems, and so the cycle continues.

What internal and external demands in life may result in stress?

Internal

Internal factors could include how we choose to live and think, as whole.
Having a negative mind-set will result in stress, especially with constant worrying or having anxiety about things of which someone has no control.
Not eating and drinking well, and ‘choosing’ to eat a poor diet, taking drugs or drinking alcohol could all be considered to be internal stressors as they are generally something someone can control if they choose.
Having an illness or disability could be considered an internal stressor, especially if it is one which is impeding on quality of life in some way.
Not actively seeking help and respite from the internal stressors could be considered a choice and something over which someone has control.

External

External demands could be to do with the environment in which someone lives. Stressful living conditions could mean someone cannot relax and calm down, whether that’s the person’s own household, poor living conditions for instance.
Other environmental external factors could even be to do with living in a polluted atmosphere, or suffering regular outside noise such as living near busy motorways or flight paths.
The demands of a job could be considered to be an external factor, but so could not having the ability to work, or be able to find work.
Having poor access to adequate healthcare could be considered to be an external factor.

Tracey of PlumEssence Therapies and Training is a qualified stress management consultant, mental health first aider, hypnotherapist and body work therapist focusing on helping reduce and alleviate concerns connected to both physical and emotional pain.  Tracey is also a teacher and trainer, delivering workshops related to stress and stress-related subjects and delivers accredited mental health courses.

Tracey is available for a no-obligation chat to see how we could work together on 01889 808388 or [email protected]

Causes of Stress

This is the 7th in a series of blogs, using answers to pass Mental Health qualifications.

Defining Stress

Stress is considered to be the emotional and/or physical response of a person, when faced with a challenging situation.

Many would say the emotional and physical reactions are adverse, causing more stress in a person.

Stress is the build-up of pressures and demands put on a person, and everyone has varying levels of tolerance of those pressures and demands.  Pressures and demands come from many different sources in life and work.

Causes of Stress

Causes of stress differ with every individual.  Causes include, but not restricted to:

Financial problems.

Ultimately, all of these, and others, are events that cause some sort of challenge or change.  People generally fear these, being uncertain of the outcomes and not feeling in control.  These, themselves, are also considered to be stressors.

People tend to put themselves under pressure too, with the desire to please, with things like how they should be coping under stressful situations and with pressures, how they should look and behave, and it is these added pressures that can also cause stress.

Possible causes of stress in the workplace

There are many, many studies and research about stress in the workplace and how absenteeism and presentism can cause more undue pressures and so, stress, to the individuals and those they work with.
The HSE states there are 6 main causes of stress in the workplace, being
– The demands of the job
– The degree of control people have over their working conditions and how to do their work
– The level of support people receive from managers, supervisors and work colleagues,
– Working relationships, whether inter-departmental or within the same team,
– Improper or incorrect communication of an individual’s roles and responsibilities,
– Inadequate communication of workplace changes.


Breaking down into more succinct causes, in my experience the main causes of workplace stress are:
Bullying in the workplace by managers and colleagues
Sexism and inequality of pay and conditions
Poor appraisal systems with people only being spoken to when it’s ‘a telling off’ rather constant feedback and criticism, both positive and negative.
Changes being made without proper consultation or communication, leaving people frustrated, fearful and not involved.
High expectations of others of the work that can be completed in the time allowed, with unrealistic deadlines, goals and targets.
Other colleagues high levels of absence causing someone else to have an increased workload, when they may already have more than enough.
Redundancies causing uncertainty, and perhaps increased workloads, usually without adequate training.
Poor training of being able to complete the work, causing feelings of inadequacy and dreading criticism and meetings.

The next blog will focus on how stress can affect people.

Tracey of PlumEssence Therapies and Training is a Mental Health First Aider and teacher / trainer for a range of Mental Health Awareness qualifications and accredited First Aid for Mental Health courses. 
If you are interested in any therapies that help with physical and emotional concerns, treatments or courses, please make contact on 01889 808388 or 07803 399594 or email [email protected]

HEALTH, WELLNESS AND LOOKING AFTER YOU!

In October 2020, I had a chat with Stuart James of Emotive-Eye for his ‘The Personal Connection’ podcast series about the importance of health, wellness and looking after you.

We discuss a range of subjects including stress, burnout, knowing your own mind and body, listening to yourself and others, and boundaries.

Why not make yourself a cuppa, decide to chill for a bit and listen it to see if there are any hints and tips that could suit you, to help you look after your physical and mental health.

The impact that social and cultural attitudes to mental illness can have on individuals and their care.

This is the 6th in a series of blogs, using answers to pass Mental Health qualifications.

Negative attitudes can cause situations to worsen as people having mental ill health may find it harder to seek help and support, which can cause further isolation and decreasing health.

Difficulties that people already have may worsen.  Whilst there remains a stigma towards mental ill health, people struggling will continue to do so, to talk and still feel further stigmatised, excluded and discriminated against.  This can cause further isolation and individuals will not share their problems and concerns.  Naturally, this can stop someone seeking the correct help and support, potentially making problems worse, especially if they take on self-medication and self-care techniques of substance abuse to help, which of course, it does not.

Obviously, the exact opposite can happen.  If people opened up and felt able to be open and sought the correct help and support, education and realisation would increase and improve, reducing stigma and individual isolation.

Better healthcare techniques could be advocated and be more widely recognised.

The economy could improve as people with mental ill health may find it easier to be accepted into the workplace, causing less strain on the benefits systems and the healthcare system.

The next blog will focus on the legal context of mental illness.

Tracey of PlumEssence Therapies and Training is a Mental Health First Aider and teacher / trainer for a range of Mental Health Awareness qualifications and accredited First Aid for Mental Health courses. 
If you are interested in any therapies, treatments or courses, please make contact on 01889 808388 or 07803 399594 or email [email protected]

How I see how Mental Illness is portrayed by the Media

How I see how Mental Illness is portrayed by the Media

This is the 5th blog in a series about Awareness of Mental Health Problems.

These blogs are written based on work I completed for my mental health studies, of which the majority is written from the heart and based on my own personal experiences of poor mental health.

This part is based on how I feel mental illness is portrayed by the media in films and newspapers and how that coverage can influence attitudes in the general public.

How do I think mental illness has been portrayed by the media in films and newspapers?

Films:

Usually in a dramatic, negative way.  Some of the films portray people as ‘mad’, being out of control, causing both emotional and physical damage to people and physical damage to other people’s items.  On the whole, it makes those watching the films, fear mental illness as the people are portrayed as dangerous.

Newspapers:

Again, usually in a dramatic, negative way, causing destruction and damage in their path, especially the sensationalised stories of celebrities ‘going off the rails’.

I feel there is some changes but positive reports are small and inconsistent, and easily forgotten with some sensational, poorly, worded headline along the lines of ‘Bonkers Boris causes Bedlam’ or ‘Made Justin hits fans!’

There appears to be no portrayal that these people are suffering in some way and need help, and so the people reading (and believing) the paper will not see this.

How does media coverage influence the attitudes of the general public?

If media coverage can affect people’s attitudes and beliefs in a negative way, it can do the same in a positive way.

Media coverage could do this by high-lighting positive success stories of people over-coming mental ill health to achieve something and so be a positive role model for others.

The stories could also be about how a mental health condition could be used to be an advantage of success, for instance, someone with OCD tendencies using that to be a success because an actor wants the lines to be absolutely correct, or the goal-scorer always scoring the goals.

If more ‘celebrities’ spoke out like those of Stephen Fry just recently, then people would follow and share their stories.

If you want to talk about your own mental ill health, learn about some natural therapies to help cope with mental ill health, or learn about mental health awareness and first aid, then please get in touch.

PlumEssence is based in ST18 near Stafford, and easily accessible for Rugeley, Cannock, Hednesford, Hixon, Uttoxetor, Trentam and surrounding areas.

The social context of mental illness

This blog is the 4th in a series, based on work completed for my mental health studies.  This describes some of the social and cultural attitudes to mental illness, including referencing to discrimination and stereotyping.

Although there has been positive moves to highlight mental health, including mental ill health, there is still a lot of social stigma, leading to stereotyping and discrimination.

The inclusion of care in the community and Government policies, as well as charity awareness, is helping the population to understand there are mental health concerns.  There is still a lot of mis-information and poor education about even the basics of stress, depression, and anxiety.  These conditions are not being taught in schools let alone other community groups.

Poor education means there is still stigma and fear about mental ill health, resulting in social stigma, stereotyping and discrimination.  Whilst there remains to be these stigmas attached to mental ill health, people with poor mental health will continue to struggle to talk about their feelings and their health, continuing to isolate themselves.

Poor education about mental ill health tends to result in negative behaviour towards the sufferer, often in the form of physical and emotional bullying.  Negative behaviours have an impact on other poorly educated people when they generalise about mental health, usually in a negative and incorrect ways (ie, all those with mental health concerns are mad, unpredictable, violent, drunk/drugged etc). Naturally, this can further isolate the person suffering.

Whilst many people still remain uneducated about mental health, stigmas will still be attached to employers and employees. Employers are still being reluctant to employ people diagnosed with mental ill health, and/or may not have policies in place for other workers to help understand and include the person.  This is a form of discrimination and further isolation can still result. 

On the whole, all the above can lead to discrimination and people are driven to further isolation, reducing still their self-esteem and confidence.   There is still a lot of work to do to be able to see positive change and a positive future.

Tracey at PlumEssence has been teaching about mental health in workshops, since 2016.  Tracey is a Mental Health First Aider and therapist and teaches Mental Health Awareness and First Aid for Mental Health accredited courses.  The courses are available for the general public, to community groups and in the workplace.  Details about the courses and workshops can be found https://plumessencetherapies.co.uk/services/mental-health-training/

The difficulties that individuals with mental health problems may face in day to day living

The 3rd in a serious of blogs about mental health and awareness of mental ill health, based on my own experiences and assignments I have completed for my mental health studies.

Social stigma about mental illness, can reduce people’s ability to live in the community and face every day life.

Mental health problems can also have an impact on:

Every day tasks such as personal hygiene and physical health,

Not being able to have restful, healthy sleep resulting in the person feeling fatigued, listless and tired.

Relationships with those close to them, or those in the work or social community.  This can be due to the irritability of being tired, the exhaustion of fighting low mood or frustration as people do not understand how they feel nor know what to do.

The ability to remain focused and be able to concentrate, which can also affect work or completing tasks in the home.

Eating well, at all times.  This can be due to the low moods and tiredness helping the person to believe they need the quick fixes and highs of nutrient-poor food (such as sugar) or the mental and physical exhaustion of having to prepare food, so again the nutrient-poor food becomes the food of choice.

The lack of self-worth, self-esteem and confidence may further drive someone into their shell, to the point where they avoid social interaction to the point of isolation.

All of the above, and many others, can have a knock-on effect on each other.

I hope this has helped you recognise how someone with poor mental health can cope with every day life and the awareness helps you to reduce some of the stigma of poor mental health, which we are going to expand upon in the next blog.

If you would like to discuss any mental health concerns, or book on the one of the first aid for mental health and mental health awareness accredited courses, please just call on 01889 808388 or email [email protected] for a no obligation chat.

It’s ok to have a wobble

This is a compilation of some of things I have been saying to clients and friends just recently after they have been telling me they are feeling like they are on a rollercoaster of emotions, having wobbles, feeling unwell and feeling selfish at being angry at the situations they find themselves in.  Yesterday, I admit, I had a tough day and I shed a lot of tears. I have also had those wobbles and rollercoasters of emotions, feeling scared about the future one moment and then full of ideas for that same future, then losing motivation, and perking up again, and so it goes.

We are experiencing emotions we may never have encountered before, and many at the same time. We all have to be kind to ourselves. 

I honestly think that if we don’t stop and nurture ourselves, our bodies force ourselves too.  Wobbles at this time are perfectly fine.  I know I have had some wobbly moments and I have to think about why.  Thinking these things and thinking of yourself and how you feel is not selfish. 

We are all going through a grief and loss process.  People think this process is all about death, but it’s about anything that we are used to being taken away from us, and we have no control over it.  We are losing our incomes, through no fault of our own, losing our sense of focus, losing our motivation, losing our ability to hug who we want when we want, and now, losing the ability to be free – and that is hard to cope with. 

It all overload and overwhelm, and it’s allowed that it can tire us, exhaust us and give us wobbles!  This is also a universal grief which we are all feeling and cannot avoid.  We are having to be strong for ourselves as well as for those we love and care about, and none of us know how to do that.

It’s amazing how we all feel like this roller coaster at the moment.  I think we have to be kind to ourselves on the days we have no motivation and don’t feel productive.  No, this situation wont be forever.  Like the stages of the grief process, they are not forever but still hard to manage at the time, and that’s ok.

We will all get through this and needing some form of support right now is perfectly acceptable.

Much love.

Tracey x

Examples of Mental Health Problems

This is the second in a series of blogs and videos to help give you an initial awareness of mental health problems. The first blog is here: https://plumessencetherapies.co.uk/the-meaning-of-mental-health/

The videos and blogs will cover an awareness of:

Mental Health in general, stress, anxiety, phobias, depression, post-natal depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, eating disorders, ADHD, OCD and PTSD.  All of these subjects will be based on my personal thoughts, my personal experience, and research used to pass my Mental Health Problems qualification.  I have also been asked to talk about the difference between bullying and banter, and alcohol and drug dependency.

I hope you will find the information interesting and informative and it helps break the stigma of mental health and encourages people to talk about it.

Examples of Mental Health Problems are:

Anxiety and panic attacks.  Anxiety is a normal emotion.  It can be described as dread and inner turmoil.  The person can be nervous, fearful and worry and these feelings are exaggerated, taking over and begin to interfere with every day life.

Depression.  Depression can affect someone’s ability to think straight and effects how we feel about ourselves and the world around us.  It can result in a person feeling worthless.  Depression takes many forms, including:

Bipolar Disorder, also referred to as Manic Depression – episodes of feeling very high and then very low.  It’s like very extreme mood swings.  High episodes of bipolar disorder can make someone feel overly confident and can result in reckless behaviour which is usually quite risky to their own physical and mental health.  Periods of being very low can result in suicidal thoughts and extreme worthlessness.

Postnatal depression or Postpartum depression affects people, usually recognised in women, after childbirth.  It usually manifests itself within 6 weeks and can be slow progress or come on suddenly.  People with postnatal depression tend to feel really low, irritable, lack self-worth and self-esteem and feel unable to cope sometimes, becoming quite hostile to friends, family and even children.

Rage and anger can be a mental health problem when they become regular occurrence and affecting the relationships with people they care about, work with or life in general.  Rage and anger can manifest itself physically, towards others or resulting in self-harm, sometimes with poor coping strategies of drugs and alcohol to try and remain calm, which in themselves can cause further mental health problems.

Abuse of substances such as drugs (prescribed or un-prescribed) and alcohol, for instance.  Reliance on drugs and alcohol can cause a spiral of physical and mental health problems which can be harder to recognise, cope with and manage.

That’s all for now.  Just some examples of mental health problems. These will be expanded upon throughout the series.  

In the next video and blog, I will look at how mental health care has changed over time and an indication of the problems people with mental health problems, may face day to day.

If you have any subjects you would like to cover, please let me know.  If there is anything on here you would like to talk about, or find out about therapies and training offered by PlumEssence to help and educate about mental health, then look at www.plumessencetherapies.co.uk or call Tracey on 01889 808388 or 07803399594

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