Take a compliment


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I work with people daily who have extreme work stress and almost across the board they have the same complaint. They never get recognised for the good that they are doing but if they do something wrong, then they get a lot of attention.
It really upsets me that this happens. Why don’t people get credit and recognition that they deserve?
One of the reasons is that it is expected that you will always perform brilliantly- you should never make mistakes, you shouldn’t put a foot out of line and you certainly shouldn’t challenge management.
The problem is that when you work harder you are expected to keep up that standard. So you push yourself harder and work more and become more stressed and burn out and make a mistake. And then you are punished – for being stressed. For being human!

So how do we change this? Well the difficult part is that we are not going to change other people’s perceptions but you can change your own:
1. Accept that you can’t always work at 100% and be gentle on yourself
2. Don’t expect compliments (sad, I know) – work hard because you enjoy doing it not because it is expected of you
3. Compliment yourself when you know that you’ve done well (and that might even include a little gift for yourself)
4. Take the fact that people notice everything that you do (good or bad) as a compliment
5. Insist on occasionally taking a ‘mental health’ day – time out for doing something that nourishes your mind, body and soul


Advice for Monday morning


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How to do Monday:

1. Get out of bed!
2. Eat something nourishing for breakfast
3. If you can, wear something that makes you feel wonderful (if you have to wear a uniform, wear your best undies)
4. Wear red lipstick (guys.. maybe not but I’m not here to judge you)
5. Pack a treat for lunch
6. Don’t overdo the coffee – you may be feeling tired but it makes anxiety feel worse
7. Put a smile on your face and a spring in your step even if you don’t feel like it
8. Remember that Monday is one step in the count down to next weekend
9. Compliment someone
10. Think of how blessed you are today

Use Kintsugi in your life


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In the 15th Century in Japan, a technique of repairing broken pottery was invented which came to be known as Kintsugi.
If a bowl was broken, instead of throwing it away or trying to repair it to its original state, pure gold was used to repair the broken pieces.  The bowl became a more beautiful, and highly sought after, piece of pottery.

When I learned about this exquisite technique, it made me think about how often we are broken into pieces through tragedy, trauma and loss.
Our instinct when we go through something really difficult is to try to repair ourselves so that we eventually go back to being the same person that we were before it happened.
We know well enough that this rarely happens because we are scarred.  But what if instead of trying to repair ourselves to our original state we create a new self?  We repair ourselves with gold.
Breaking down gives us the most incredible gift in allowing us to redesign our lives and ourselves.
Every time you long to go back to ‘the good old days’ remember kintsugi.

Tell yourself “I am not going back, I am creating a new me and I am going to be more beautiful, more brave and more interesting than I ever was before”

Rise up through music


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I know that life is sometimes so difficult and so overwhelming but let me tell you this:
You have got this! You can do this!
You may not be able to imagine overcoming these problems, you may not see the light at the end of the tunnel yet but you have got this!
This will pass and you will look back on this time eventually and be amazed that you survived this.
Just start with getting up and taking one step.  Then take another.
There are some days that I find it difficult to get going and I want to hide away and avoid everyone and everything. When that happens, there is consistently one song that plays in my head that inspires me to keep going and to rise up – Rise Up by Andra Day.

It is my anthem that keeps me motivated that I can do this.  Listen to it and use it as your anthem too if you would like to.
Or find a song or music that speaks to you.
Musicians have the ability to really touch our lives, music has the ability to heal and to help.
If you can’t play an instrument, you can play music on your phone, or drum a beat out on your lounge table.  Sing out loud in the shower, share your song with your friends or family, use music to help you to meditate into a space of calm.
Whatever you do, find a way that music can help you to break through the first barrier in order to take the steps that you need to for a happier, calmer and more fulfilled life.
“My promise to myself:  to be so busy improving my own life that I have no time to be angry, frustrated, worried, anxious and stressed”

Undoing of stress


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For months I’ve been battling an ongoing stressful situation. I’ve been shouting and complaining, emailing and phoning and still the problem wasn’t resolved.
Everyone said that it would be fixed and things would get better.
But I just couldn’t imagine the light at the end of the tunnel.
And every time some somebody told me that it would be okay I would get angry and frustrated at them because it’s easy for someone who is not going through the the same thing to tell you something like it’s going to be okay without actually having a clue about what they are talking about.
And then yesterday, just like that, the problem was solved.
It was solved despite my stress and despite my complaining and even without me being arrested (kidding)!

It has been a huge lesson in the concept that I am always preaching: being graceful in dealing with life’s ups and downs.
Sometimes you need to be graceful in accepting things for what they are, for knowing that some things are going to be out of your control and for letting time take care of things.
We don’t know why things happen but we can deal with them in a way that is as stress free as possible.

Stress is horrible, unsettling and pushes you way out of your comfort zone but in the end you are going to deal with this and things will change (for better or worse).
I know that you can deal with this!

Be here for me on my cloudy days


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A lot of people are fascinated by the job that I do – for many people it makes for great dinner conversations: “tell us about your crazy patients!” or “tell us about how you got threatened your bipolar patient…”
It is like I have some kind of brilliant and exciting job like a performer who gets shot out of a cannon every night at a circus (now that is a job that I wouldn’t mind having).
It just shows how so many people are ignorant about what mental illness really is.
What makes it worse is that most of you are constantly dealing with family, friends and colleagues who think that you are:
– crazy
– difficult
– attention seeking
– overly dramatic
(pick one or all)

I swing between the idea of standing up for yourself and educating others or just being quiet and ignoring their ignorance.  You need to be honest with the people that you trust though and make it clear that you need their support more than you need their advice, their criticism or their need to be able to “fix” you.
I found this beautiful piece by one of my favourite poets, Tyler Knott Gregson:

I cannot promise
I will never become restless,
that I won’t ache
in ways you don’t know
how to help.
There are clouds in me
and they roll in
from time to time,
I hope you learn to love
the dark mornings,
instead of always
fumbling around
for your umbrella.

In an ideal world, you would be surrounded by people who will love or respect you even on your cloudy days.  Unfortunately it will not always be that way but if you can find one or two people who really respect you for being you, who will see beyond the depression and the stress, then those are the people who you should be with.
It may even be worth sharing this poem with the people in your life.

Be proudly you!  Demand respect by starting with being respectful to yourself.
You know that you are worth it!

Coping with feeling overwhelmed


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Stress can make you feel so overwhelmed that you feel like you are going to blow up or that you want to hibernate or run away forever.
There isn’t an easy answer to dealing with such huge problems but there are some manageable steps that you can take:

1. Remove yourself from the situation.  If you can get away from the room or the building that you are sitting in or stay away from your computer or phone for a few minutes then do it.  Take a short walk (slam the door on the way out if you really have to), regroup, breathe deeply and return.

2.  Stay away from social media for a while.  It really doesn’t help for you to see people whose lives seem to be awesome when yours feels like it is falling apart.  You also don’t need to be part of anyone else’s drama.

3.  Declutter! Clear your desk, delete emails and messages (not the important ones), get rid of the things around you that are unnecessary.  When your mind feels cluttered with your problems, you don’t need physical objects cluttering your space too.

4. Talk to somebody.  It doesn’t mean that you have to offload all of your problems on them but just tell someone that you are not coping and that you are stressed. They might be feeling the same way too. If there is absolutely nobody to talk to then write it down or illustrate it so that you can still express yourself.

5.  Make time (no matter what) just to do something for yourself.  It might just be a few minutes but it is essential that you do something nice for yourself (I’m not talking about buying another pair of shoes! Though who am I to judge you?)

6.  Find a project that will keep you motivated.  Do you have a room that needs painting?  Sort out your photos.  Create something quirky.  Learn a new skill.  Play a game.  Take up a new sport…

I know that you feel so tired and stressed and overwhelmed right now but it will pass.  Just do the best that you can to cope in this moment.
I know that you can do it!

Is it your disaster?


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It’s easy to get caught up in all of the drama of the disasters and bad news in the world.  And the media delight in sharing the worst of the news with us.  Social media also drives us into a mass hysteria or mass sympathy.
So this week was again filled with bad news and disasters, one after the other, and it is really easy to get depressed by it all.
If it did not affect you directly, it is not your story.
You have your own story.
Do what you can to avoid getting pulled down by what you hear about or read about.  You have no power over those things.

If those incidences like the fires and the floods and the deaths that happened this week have affected you directly, I am really sorry that you have had to go through that.

If it didn’t affect you directly then what can you do?
Firstly – count your blessings.  Take a moment to give thanks for being safe, for having your family with you.  Be grateful for the roof over your head, a home to go to (no matter how small or inadequate it may be), a warm cup of tea and a cosy blanket.
Secondly – if you feel that you need to help those affected by disasters, don’t spend time on social media using hash tags.  Rather find out where help is needed and what you can do for them.  Donate a blanket or some food, volunteer at an organisation that is giving support.
Thirdly – celebrate life.  Celebrate the times when you are healthy.  Celebrate the little things – things as small as sleeping through the night, eating an enjoyable meal, doing something that gives you pleasure.  If there is one thing that we can learn from all of this bad news, it is that life is short.  Don’t wait for one day.  Don’t wait for the big events to celebrate.
Take pleasure in what you have.
What you have is wonderful.

Finding the beauty in tragedy


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This week started horribly with the death of my granny.  Although she was 100 years old, it is still sad to lose a loved one.
Something so beautiful came out of her death though.
Distant cousins who I had lost touch with years ago reached out to me in our shared grief.  People had such nice things to say and I realised who actually really cares about me.  I spent some quality time making an art work memorial for her and found some peace in doing so.

Then later in the week the world was once again thrown into a state of tragedy when we woke up to the horrible news about the bomb in Manchester.
And once again, there was beauty to be seen everywhere.  One awful person causes devastation, thousands of people retaliate with only goodness and kindness.  From the taxi drivers who offered free rides to people who opened their homes to strangers.

It’s easy to forget how amazing the world and people around us can be when we face loss, stress and trauma.  The kindness of people doesn’t really lessen the devastation and pain but it does give a level of hope.  It is a hope that things are not actually all terrible.  That there is more good than bad in the world.  That we can survive tough times.
Open yourself up to the potential of beauty in every moment.  It will make things just a little bit better.

Chocolate cake cure


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My 13 year old son has an autoimmune illness and he deals with frequent anxiety.
It is a constant battle for him to deal with his issues and he swears that chocolate cupcakes still warm out of the oven are a cure-all for a bad day.

This is what he writes:
How chocolate cake makes everything better

When you are feeling down or depressed and you need something to make you feel better – eat chocolate cake.  Cold, warm, hot, all of them are delicious.  Every bit of soft, spongy, rich chocolatey taste gives you the sensation where the taste is so good that you enter your own space.  It is like the world of stress doesn’t exist and all of your problems and worries are gone.  Afterwards you can focus on your work, your mission, your goal.
Life lesson: Eat Chocolate Cake!

I can’t argue with him even if I am not the world’s greatest chocolate cake lover.  But just spending a few minutes calmly enjoying something that you love is going to make a big difference.  Particularly if you are becoming overwhelmed by stress and anxiety.  You are seriously not going to get anything done while you are panicking.
Rather watch your manager’s expression while you sip your tea and eat your snack as they stare you down expecting your deadline to be met yesterday (don’t tell them I said this…)

So here is my son’s favourite chocolate cake recipe.  It sounds crazy but that is because it is called a crazy cake but trust me on this.  It is a fast and easy way to make cake.  You can make it into one large cake (enough to share with everyone in the office) or make 24 cupcakes – freeze them all and take one out each day to pop into your lunch box….

3 cups flour
2 cups white sugar (stop right here if you are diabetic or a health food fanatic)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½  cup cocoa powder

Mix all of these ingredients into a large bowl and then make three wells and add:
¾ cup sunflower oil
2 tablespoons vinegar (really!)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence or extract (or be daring and use a different flavouring – I’m quite partial to caramel)
Put each one into a well (don’t worry if they overflow or the wells collapse.  It works anyway)
Top the whole mix with 2 cups of water and mix well until there are no lumps (I do this in a mixer but you can do it by hand)
Pour into a prepared cake tin (or in a foil roasting tin that you can just throw away when the cake has been eaten) or into 24 cupcake cases (put them in muffin tins because the mixture is really runny)

Bake at 180 C for about 40 minutes for a cake and 25 minutes for cupcakes