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mental health

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Our phones are something we check in with every day. Like it or not, our lives are tied up in these little pieces of technology, so we might as well use that to our advantage, right?

We use our phones for our entertainment needs, so why not use it for your personal improvement, wellness and mental health needs too? You check in with your phone every day, so you should really check in with yourself too. There are loads of apps out there at the moment that claim to do these things, but which ones are really worth trying out?

We’ve detailed our favourite apps for all your sleep, fitness and mental health needs, to get you back on track in an interactive and effective way. Pick which ones work best for you and make room for a little wellness in your life!

Lifesum

Lifesum is one of the world’s most popular health and wellness apps with over 45 million users, and features personalised diet plans, nutrition advice and healthy recipes. Lifesum emphasises the nutritional value of food, and gives users personalised feedback, so they can successfully reach their health goals, whether it is to lose weight, gain weight, or just be healthier. Lifesum shows users how changing small habits and implementing them in everyday life can improve better eating and overall health.

Lifesum’s key features include

Personalised food rating algorithm: Provides users with important feedback based on their eating preferences. Users are able to get insights for each food, meal, and day they track

Wide variety of diets: Ketogenic, Vegan, Paleo, 5:2, 6:1, Mediterranean, Scandinavian, and High Protein, to help you stay on track

7-21-day Meal Plans: For example, Vegan for a week, Keto Burn, 3 Week Weight Loss, that provide users with four tasty, pre-planned recipes a day

Hundreds of easy-to-cook recipes: With detailed nutritional information, based on food preferences, health goals, and allergies

Track your food: Easy tracking with the barcode scanner. Create and save an unlimited number of foods, meals, recipes, and exercises to enjoy one-tap tracking

Detailed food and meal ratings: Ratings, including “Great source of fibre,” “high in sugar,” “low in sodium,” “high in sodium,” so you know how closely different foods align with your specific goals and preferences

Adjustable settings for macronutrients: Giving you customised recommendations to follow based on your unique needs and preferences

Body measurement tracking: Weight, waist, body fat, chest, arm, BMI – excellent tools for highlighting your progression to health

Integration with your favourite health-tracking platforms: Connects with Apple Health, Google Fit, and Samsung Health

Health Test & Life Score: A weekly health score based on 16 nutrition and exercise measurements, so you understand where you are and what’s next for you to build a healthy lifestyle

 

Headspace

Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world. And with millions of users in more than 190 countries, we’re well on our way. Mindfulness is the idea of learning how to be fully present and engaged in the moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment. Learn how to manage feelings and thoughts with the lifelong skill of everyday mindfulness, any time of the day.

With over 40 million users already getting some Headspace, you can join them and map your journey, track your progress, and reap rewards in your overall health and wellbeing. You can even buddy up with friends and motivate each other along the way.

Headspace was officially launched in 2010 as an events company, but attendees wanted to take what they learned home with them. Founders, Andy and Rich, and a small team decided to make Andy’s meditation techniques available online so more people could experience the benefits of meditation anytime, anywhere. And that blossomed into the Headspace you see today: guided meditations, animations, articles and videos, all in the distinct Headspace style.

You can try Headspace for yourself and learn the essentials of meditation and mindfulness with the free Basics course. If you enjoy it, then it’s time to subscribe. Once you do, you’ll have bite-sized minis for when you’re short on time, exercises to add extra mindfulness to your day, and hundreds of meditations on everything from stress to sleep. Their guided meditations truly cover every aspect of life, from work to kids, allowing you to focus, relieve stress and combat anxiety.

 

Sleep Cycle

One for the sleepyheads! Sleep Cycle tracks and analyses your sleep, waking you up at the most perfect time, feeling rested!

Waking up feeling refreshed is all about timing. Sleep Cycle tracks your sleeping patterns and wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase, without a conventional alarm clock. Waking up during light sleep feels like waking up naturally rested.

Your movements vary with each sleep stage. Sleep Cycle uses sound analysis to identify sleep states, tracking your movements in bed, and a wake-up phase that ends at your desired alarm time. During this phase, Sleep Cycle will monitor signals from your body to wake you softly when you are in the lightest possible sleep stage.

 

Streaks

Streaks is the to-do list that helps you form good habits. Every day you complete a task, your streak is extended. Choose or create up to twelve tasks, like walk the dog, floss your teeth, eat healthily, practice Spanish or whatever habit you want to form! This is definitely one that we’re excited about.

Working on something every day helps you form a new habit. Don’t break the chain, or your streak will reset to zero days.

With the iOS Health app, Streaks can automatically track certain goals, like walk 5,000 steps, measure your heart rate, record your blood pressure or run for 5 miles.

Some tasks aren’t for every day, so the app allows you to set the days, so you don’t break your streak! For example;

  • Walk to work (Monday to Friday)
  • Go to the gym (3 days per week)
  • Call your parents (every Wednesday)
  • Avoid junk food (Sunday to Friday)

View your task statistics and track your results easily so you can keep motivated and up to date with your progress!

 

Yoga Studio Mind and Body

This app provides beautiful HD video yoga classes for everyone with easy-to-follow teacher commentary.

They believe yoga should be accessible to all! Which is why they have carefully crafted and curated the prefect mix of technology, teacher experience and overall yoga goodness to make Yoga Studio: Mind & Body the number-one destination for health conscious individuals looking to begin their yoga journey or to take it to an all new level. All the classes come with full HD video and teacher commentary that’s clear and easy to follow

They’ve done all the hard work, so making your own yoga classes is a breeze. Unique features like pose blocks and smart-link make it simple, intuitive and fast. 

Pose blocks are short sequences of poses – like a sun salutation – that can be used like building blocks to make classes. They help speed things up – just add a few blocks, throw in some of your favourite poses and your class will be ready in no time. Simple.

Not sure how to make your class flow? They’ll do it for you with their awesome Smart-link feature. Use it to connect poses that might not naturally lead into each other. This way you see exactly how to smoothly move from one pose to the next. It's like magic yoga glue.

Video stitch is a great way to learn and practice yoga. That's why they created a unique library of over 1,700 yoga video clips. It enables Yoga Studio to stitch together a full, flowing video of almost any class you can think of. So, you make the class, and they’ll make the video.

Freedom to practice wherever, whenever. No connection, no problem. Classes in Yoga Studio live on your phone: just download a class once and have the freedom to practice wherever and whenever you want.

Schedule classes that sync with your calendar, making it easy to stay on track. Don't have time for a class right now? Schedule it for later. They’ll put it straight into your iPhone or iPad calendar, so you don't forget.

Schedule a single class or repeat your favourites every month, fortnight, week or day. Whether you prefer an hour a week or 15 minutes every morning, a regular practice is important, so let them help you fit yoga into your busy life!

 

Sworkit

Sworkit means to simply work it. Your body was built to move daily and this innovative experience that makes it easy, enjoyable, and, yes, simple, to do just that.

This daily workout app is tailored to every goal, whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, improved flexibility, increased endurance, weight maintenance or to simply tone. One of the top fitness apps for iPhone, Android, or web users, Sworkit’s workout plans are designed to help you reach your fitness goals faster and simpler.

Their philosophy involves consistency, meaning believe fitness isn’t just something you do, it should be who you are and part of a lifestyle you enjoy. The workout program is designed to help you make fitness a habit. With Sworkit, the idea is that you can get in shape and stay in shape for life.

No gym? No Equipment? No Time? No problem. They make it simple to workout at home or on the go. You choose the time – from 1 minute to 90 minutes – and they provide the variety, including strength training, stretching, cardio, yoga, and more.

Results: Sworkit has delivered life-changing results for thousands of people. Need personalized help? Get one-on-one guidance from certified fitness trainers with the ‘Ask a Trainer’ program.

With more than 400 unique workouts and over 800 exercise, you choose the time you have to work out, and create and save your own custom workouts. The app recommends workouts plans based on your goals and certified trainers answer all your fitness and nutrition questions.

 

Mood Mission

MoodMission is an evidence-based app designed to empower you to overcome feelings of depression and anxiety by discovering new and better ways of coping

When we feel down or anxious, there are heaps of things we can do to help us feel better again. Doing these things can help prevent everyday mood disturbances from developing into mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety disorders.

When you tell MoodMission how you're feeling, it gives you a tailored list of 5 simple, quick, effective, evidence-based Missions to improve your mood. All Missions are taken from scientific research, made accessible to you through the app, so you can learn exactly how what you're doing is helping.

Completing Missions earns you rewards in the app, motivating you to take steps towards becoming healthier, happier, and more confident.

MoodMission’s personal mission is to empower people to change the way they feel, and it is their vision to be the best provider of easily accessible, evidence-based mental health and well-being support. The app does this by showing people new and better ways of dealing with mood and anxiety problems, educating and enlightening people about their own psychology and the importance of practicing self-care and linking people in with professional or clinical supports

The key components of their mission are that they are;

Ethical

  • Evidence-based: using hard evidence to make decisions and recommendations
  • Give back with research: they engage in the research process and publish findings to help mental health support more broadly
  • Respectful: they respect others and act in a way congruent with this

Effective

  • Do what works for the user
  • In line with users’ long-term goals, as well as their short-term ones
  • Solution-focused – do what works and what empowers the user

Collaborative

  • Transparent
  • Responsive to feedback
  • Validating of users
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The only promise I have made to myself this summer is to take better care of myself, which means this summer is going to be my time for self-care. I am guilty of neglecting myself and end up feeling burnt out and pretty low so I'm focusing on me this time.

People throw the term self-care around a lot and it can lose it meaning when it’s solely associated with buying Lush bath bombs and painting your nails, but self-care isn't just about manicures and face masks.

There are so many things you can do to look after both your mental and physical health so I thought I’d put a list of my top self-care tips together that don’t revolve around you spending half a day's wages in Boots.

1. Book your smear test

2. Cleanse your skin twice

3. Take a multivitamin in the morning

4. Stop drinking caffeinated drinks after 6pm

5. Take your full lunch break

6. Delete take-away apps off your phone

7. Get off the bus a stop early and walk 

8. Listen to podcasts when you feel anxious

9. Use all of your annual leave

10. Don’t drink coffee when you’re due your period

11. Go to therapy

12. Eat some vegetables

13. Eat some chocolate

14. Buy yourself flowers

15. Drink 8 glasses of water a day

16. Stop comparing yourself to people on social media

17. Watch an old movie from your childhood 

18. Go to the dentist

19. Read at least ten pages of a book every day

20. Go to the cinema by yourself

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When you finally get the courage to seek help for mental health issues, one of the first things you will learn is that there is hardly ever a cure for mental. A huge milestone is when you realise that there is no such thing as getting better. Struggling with your mental health is not synonymous with being broken, so it is important to move away from the idea that you can be fixed. Instead, accepting that you will have bad days, weeks or even months throughout your life, is a breakthrough in itself.  

With this in mind, it can be beneficial to plan for these tougher times. To prepare for the difficult days so that you can deal with them as best you can. Here are some things to think about when planning for a tough mental health day:

Write it down

Write your ‘bad day plan’ on a Word Doc on your laptop or in a notepad that you won’t lose. Leave it in a place you will remember that is easily accessible. You don’t want to have to search for this when you are not feeling well.

This could simply be a step by step guide on how to get through the day. Shower, eat (something comforting) and get dressed. It might be helpful to save a draft text or email to send to work etc. Include a list of movies and music you can watch/listen to that might make you feel better. 

Let someone in on the plan

Your partner, your best friend, your sister, or brother. Ask them to be the person you confide in when you are having a bad mental health day/week. There is no shame in this, asking for help is essential. You will need support and it is a comfort to know that there is already someone familiar with your needs who has agreed to help.

Know your limits

Become familiar with how to take days off work, college, school etc. Know what sick days you are entitled to and know the process you need to follow to get a day off. If your mental health is affecting your work, tell your employer and ask them for the company’s policies on sick leave in this case.

Have a backup plan if you have family commitments. When you feel things getting worse, cancel plans. Be honest with friends and family about how you are feeling. Do not push yourself when you are feeling low, anxious or confused. This can make things worse and lead to a spiral.

Go easy on yourself

Allow yourself to take time off. Do not expect to be productive on a bad mental health day. Getting through the day might be all you can do and this is enough. If you have certain basic ways of making yourself feel better, plan these. You could even make up a pack of resources like candles, a hot water bottle, certain foods that comfort you and leave them together with the plan you have written down.

Plan for your physical health, too

Mental and physical health go hand in hand. Try to stay away from alcohol when you begin to feel low or anxious. Make an extra effort to eat well if you can – but don’t deny yourself comfort food when you are having a bad mental health day. Try to stick to your exercise routine as best you can or even make sure to go outside when you feel things begin to get worse.

When a bad mental health day becomes unmanageable or when you feel out of control, call you GP or mental health professional.

source: SpunOut

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Christmas Day is officially underway. December 25 has arrived; a day filled with merriment, family, twinkly lights and turkey.

I’ll be rocking the matching pyjamas, singing along to Last Christmas and toasting to the end of 2023 as my nearest and dearest gather at Nanny’s house.

As excited as I am for the holidays, it is important to remember that this time of the year isn't merry and bright for everyone, especially for people who are struggling with mental health issues.

Mental health disorders aren’t going to take the day off or magically vanish when you sit down to watch Love Actually. I wish they would, but they don't.

There’s a lot of pressure placed on society to act like all is well just because the holidays are here. For those with anxiety, depression, OCD and other mental health disorders, it can feel impossible to simply put on a ‘brave face’ for the sake of the extended family. 

We try our best to keep up appearances but I think it is very important to remember that you shouldn’t feel ashamed or disappointed in yourself if you find the holidays difficult. Having a mental health disorder is a constant battle. You can’t just pop a plaster over it and carry on with your day.

Living with anxiety has taught me that there will be good days and there will be bad days. It is a disorder you manage, not banish, unfortunately. Another thing, and possibly the best thing, this disorder has taught me is that there is help out there. Never ever be afraid to reach out to a friend or relative if you're feeling particularly bad. 

You may feel like you're 'ruining' Christmas, but that couldn't be further from the truth. There is never a bad time to reach out and seek help, Christmas or not. Your best friend will be there to hug you on the bad days. Your sister will help you find a counsellor. Your dad will listen when you're ready to talk about what you're experiencing.

As hard as it can be, you must hold on to every ounce of hope.

Matt Haig sums it up perfectly:

“You will one day experience joy that matches this pain. You will cry euphoric tears at the Beach Boys, you will stare down at a baby’s face as she lies asleep in your lap, you will make great friends, you will eat delicious foods you haven’t tried yet, you will be able to look at a view from a high place and not assess the likelihood of dying from falling. There are books you haven’t read yet that will enrich you, films you will watch while eating extra-large buckets of popcorn, and you will dance and laugh and have sex and go for runs by the river and have late-night conversations and laugh until it hurts. Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Matt Haig (@mattzhaig)

Remind yourself of Matt’s words when you’re struggling over the Christmas break. I understand that it can be unbearably hard time for a heartbreaking amount of people, but don’t lose hope.

As Matt said, life is always worth it.

You can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.

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I love a good cry every now and then. Sometimes all you need to do is sob to your heart's content when life gets a little overwhelming.

We may feel embarrassed or silly when we cry but fear not my friends, a study has found that crying is actually good for you.

Researchers in Japan confirmed that crying can actually make you happier. The team of researchers explained that crying can help reduce stress meaning you live a happier and calmer life.

Basically, crying is an act of self-defence against accumulating stresses.

“The act of crying is more effective than laughing or sleeping in reducing stress. If you cry once a week, you can live a stress-free life," said Hidefumi Yoshida told the Japan Times.

Hidefumi Yoshida believes watching heart wrenching movies, listening to emotional songs or reading harrowing books can help make you feel better, even when you’re a blubbering, snotty nosed wreck.

So, next time you’re having a bad day fetch the tissues, watch The Fault In Our Stars and just let the tears roll.

Having a cry is good for the soul so don’t be afraid to let the tears out after a bad day at work, after arguing with your bestie or when you're watching a tear-jerker at the cinema.

Trust me, holding back the tears is no good for you. I tried to do so in a very quiet cinema whilst watching A Star Is Born and ended up with a headache for the remainder of the day, so when you gotta cry, cry.

Don’t be ashamed about it. If scientists say it’s good for you then let the tears fall.

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It has long been claimed that flowers have a therapeutic effect on those who surround themselves with them, but science had yet to truly back it up.

Research conducted by the American Society For Horticulture Science has revealed that fresh flowers can have the ability to ease feelings of anxiety, and even physical pain. 

The study evaluated whether or not plants have an influence on surgical patients, and we're pretty surprised by these results. 90 participants were split into rooms with plants or without, and those with foliage feelings have different outcomes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by (@more_floral_events) on

According to the research, those who were exposed to flowers had lower heart rates and blood pressure, decreased ratings of fatigue, anxiety and pain, and harboured more positive feelings and higher satisfaction about their rooms.

It's now suggested that flowers should be 'complementary medicine' for recovering patients. It's time to click your fingers and insist that a crowd of men throw a bouquet at you every few minutes…for health reasons.

Flowers are often the go-to gift for celebrating milestones, or for offering messages of hope or condolences. Good old science has just given us the opportunity to buy our own blooms, for self-care.

According to a study published in Complementary Therapies In Medicine, bouquets of flowers can reduce our stress levels.

The researchers gave college-age women a fresh vase of roses for their accommodation, and the subjects felt more relaxed than they did before. Whether it's psycho-somatic, or true therapy, it seems to work.

It seems like an easy breezy way to experience multiple health benefits while keeping your home aesthetically lush. Apparently, indoor plants and gardening come with health advantages similar to gym workouts.

We like this, we like this A LOT.

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Chronic insomnia is a condition that affects millions of people all over the world, where individuals find it difficult or impossible to sleep.

The NHS Inform defines insomnia as a challenge to stay asleep “for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning." While it's treatable and can be targeted in a variety of ways, it can be hugely debilitating for those who suffer with it.

Changing your sleep habits, diagnosing underlying issues like mental or physical health condition or using over-the-counter sleeping medication can combat insomnia, but therapy can also help, according to a recent study.

The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, has found that therapy may actually be the best choice of treatment.

Researchers at Queen's University Ontario, Canada, found that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) helps to fight chronic insomnia successfully, despite the fact that it's often used to combat mental health problems like anxiety and depression.

CBT can apparently be used to change the way your mind thinks about sleep. It's regularly offered through a therapist with "the number of sessions you need depending on the difficulty you need help with.”

The British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies describes CBT as therapy which is “based on the theory that thoughts, feelings, and what we do and how our body feels are all connected.”

The Guardian reports that the study was conducted through “four randomised control trials, with between 66 and 201 participants of mixed ages.”

Researchers from the trials found “that participants fell asleep on average nine to 30 minutes sooner after completing a course of CBT for insomnia and experienced a reduction of between 22 and 36 minutes in the amount of time spent awake after going to sleep.”

In the study, data analysts found that those who received CBT treatment for between four to six sessions found improvement with their insomnia and that these improvements “were generally well maintained for 3-12 months post-treatment.”

This was compared to the results of those who received treatment “in which the format or content veered substantially from conventional CBT which were less conclusive.”

With blue light from laptop and phone screens increasingly causing sleep disruption, and considering how hard it is to switch our brains off from the hectic attention-grabbing modern lifestyle, CBT therapy sounds great to us.

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Christmas is the time for plenty of good grub, spending WAY too much time with the family and just taking it easy.

If fitness is a big part of your life or you're looking to keep off the pounds over the festive period, we've got some tips and tricks for staying in shape.

However, we have to say that you SHOULD indulge over the Crimbo and don't even think about the calories you're consuming.

Walks with the gal

It's a rare occasion that all the gals are off work and are free to meet up.

A walk in the park with your closest friends is a great way to move over Christmas and it's a great excuse to get away from the family for an hour or two.

It is also an activity that you can tailor into your festive schedule, so it could be a quick 20 min chat-up or a two-hour stroll.

Ice Skating

It's the best winter fun around and ice skating can help to digest all the mince pies you've inhaled.

In general, a 45-minute muck-about on the ice will melt away 451 calories.

So get the fluffy socks out and lace up to enjoy some winter fitness.

Hiking

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Stephen James (@coverandcharacter) on

Wrap up warm and get the hiking boots on.

There are plenty of trails and hikes to discover over the festive period.

It will give you an opportunity to reconnect with nature and to slow down after a year of working.

Water

Central heating, consuming large amounts of salt and being inactive can lead to one thing – dehydration.

So make sure that you keep one healthy habit this Crimbo and keep the water on hand.

Your body will thank you for it as it attempts to digest an uncountable number of roses sweets. 

Christmas Day swim 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Happy Pear (@thehappypear) on

Change up the way you start your Christmas day with a dip in the sea.

Make sure you find a safe swimming spot and enjoy the freezing cold, crisp open water.

Cold water boasts many healing properties such as easing depression.

It's a great way to end the year. 

5km Festive run

It's a tradition for a lot of households to do a 5 km run to kick off the festive season.

If you can drag any family member out on Christmas morning, it's a perfect way to start the day.

If your boyfriend's relatives do a 5km run for fun – we are sending you sympathy hugs (and there's still time to break-up with him before Christmas).

But they might be onto something as the run will ignite those endorphins (aka happy hormones) – and it doesn't matter if you run, walk or crawl the 5 km.

Stepping your way into the sales

Get in those steps as you hit the sales this year.

Elbows out as you wade your way through the crowds and snap up some bargains.

All your muscle power will come in handy as you wrestle the last pair of Gucci gloves out of an old lady's hands – they're stronger than they look.

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If you have noticed that your mood- or that of someone you are close to- is exceptionally low this time of year, that could be because you are experiencing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Just as it sounds, SAD is a disorder that is at its most prevalent during the darker days- from September to April. It causes symptoms of depression and anxiety and is more common than you’d think, affecting approximately 1 in 15 people. Like others who live as far from the equator as we do, the decrease in natural sunlight during the winter months has a direct effect on our mental health.

For many, SAD is so disabling that they cannot function normally without treatment. SAD most commonly begins between the ages of 18 and 30-years-old and you are diagnosed after two or more consecutive winters of experiencing symptoms.

So, what are they? Those with seasonal affective disorder may experience the following symptoms:

  • Sleeping problems– It is common to oversleep often and have difficulty staying awake.  Disturbed sleep and waking too early are also symptoms of SAD
  • Feeling lethargic– Those with SAD can lack energy and are sometimes unable to go about their normal day because they feel so tired. Limbs become heaving and weight gain is common due to overeating and craving carbs and sugar.
  • Feeling anxious– Anxiety is a common symptom with increased feelings of dread and stress.
  • Feeling depressed– Low moods, weeping and feeling generally sad are key features of SAD. Hopelessness and feelings of failure are also very common.
  • A weakened immune system– Those who suffer from SAD will be more susceptible to catching winter colds, flu and bugs.
  • Feeling apathetic– SAD causes loss of motivation and difficulty concentrating. It can also leave you feeling less motivated to partake in things you would normally find fun.
  • Feeling like staying in– More than normal, we mean. Those with SAD will withdraw from social situations at this time of year and become uninterested in friends.
  • Disinterest in sex– Loss of libido is a common symptom, meaning a decreased interest in sex and physical contact.
  • Mood swings in the warmer months– Many people experience spurts of energy and hyperactivity (known as hypomania) in spring.

Identifying this very common mental health issue is the first step. There are luckily many ways to treat and look after your mental health if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder:

Spend as much time as you can in the sun

Try to get up early to get the most out of the daylight. Make an effort to allow sunlight into your home. Trim any vegetation that may be blocking the path of sun rays to your windows. Keep blinds open and surround yourself with colour by painting walls and using brightly coloured décor. You could even switch desks at work so that you are sitting close to a window.

Try to stay healthy

This is the hardest one. Any exercise or time spent outdoors will help. A simple walk each day can have an amazing impact on your mental health. Try to limit your sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake (we know). These changes to your routine will be worth it when your mood lifts.

Try to have fun

Instead of taking all your holidays during the summer, takes some time off in winter to do the things you love and surround yourself with people who boost your mood and support you. Do what is fun FOR YOU.

Consult your GP

This one is important: Ask for help even before it seems overwhelming. Take all medication as prescribed by your doctor and keep an eye on any side effects. Your doctor may suggest light therapy. This is the use of artificial light to substitute the sunlight. Ask your doctor about this one- they will know.

The most important thing is to consult your doctor immediately if you notice your symptoms are getting worse or stronger. If you suffer from severe winter depression your doctor will need to determine if your symptoms are SAD related, or if something else is causing them.

Psychotherapy, behavioural therapy, stress management techniques and prescribed medication can all be used to treat SAD. Remember, you are never alone, and your GP will always be there to support your mental health.

Sources: Mental Health Ireland, HSE.ie

 

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For some of us, face-to-face contact while your mental health is at a low point can be incredibly difficult.

According to researchers at Ohio State University, people who describe themselves as lonely and socially anxious are more likely to become addicted to dating apps.

269 college students were surveyed for the study, which found that participants who referred to themselves as anxious and lonely were increasingly addicted to the online platforms.

Addiction can be described as a habit which interferes with your daily life, be it your mental health, physical health, work life, friendships, romantic relationships, family life or school life. 

One of the lead researchers said of the results that socially anxious people must watch their habits more; "Especially if you're lonely, be careful in your choices. Regulate and be selective in your use."

The more mindful practice is called 'slow dating' and it can increase the quality of your dating app matches.

Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and OKCupid have made it possible for people to access a wide dating pool, but the consequences of this could be negative for those who deal with chronic loneliness.

To test this, researchers had students answered online survey questions like "Are you constantly anxious around other people?" to determine their levels of social anxiety and loneliness.

They were also asked whether they agreed with statements like "I am unable to reduce the amount of time I spend on dating apps." A sense of security was found online, rather than in person.

The researchers discovered that people with higher levels of social anxiety claimed they preferred to meet people on dating apps rather than in person, and favoured socialising via messaging.

Many of these people with social anxiety may lack confidence in their own social skills, and can seek protection on these apps form face-to-face rejection or awkwardness.

When those in the survey reported being both socially anxious and lonely, they also used dating apps to the point of addiction.

However, students who said they were anxious but not lonely, or those who said their feelings of loneliness were only low to moderate, didn't display behaviours that suggested addiction.

The small study relied on self-reported data from students, so don't be overly worried about your constant dating app use. Mindfulness is still a priority, for your health and dating prospects.

Creating limits surrounding dating apps could benefit both your mental health and your chances of scoring a decent date.

Bear in mind that your motive should be healthy. It's a dangerous notion to rely on interest from men or women for your own happiness or self-esteem.

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We should feel elated when we receive a promotion. We should grin like the Cheshire Cat when we pass that exam we were crippled with worry over. We should jump for joy when we receive high praise for something we worked so hard for, but alas, that isn’t easy for some people, especially for those with imposter syndrome.

More and more people have stepped forward and shared that they suffer from imposter syndrome, but what exactly is it?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Imposter syndrome makes people believe that their achievements are solely down to luck. They do not believe that they deserve to succeed.

The doubt can spiral into severe feelings of fear and guilt. Many people feel that they are a fraud or a phony.

People with imposter syndrome feel like they’re wearing a mask and live in fear that one day people will soon realise that they are not worthy of praise, success and simply got lucky.

Joe Langford and Pauline Rose Clance originally believed imposter syndrome was particularly pervasive among females, however, they later discovered this not to be true.

It is believed over 70 percent of the world’s population suffer from imposter syndrome at some point in their lives.

People can feel guilty or undeserving of their achievements. Famous author Maya Angelou even suffered from it, despite the fact that she was an award-winning writer.

“I have written 11 books but each time I think 'Uh-oh, they're going to find out now’. I've run a game on everybody, and they're going to find me out,” the Pulitzer Prize winner once said.

Imposter syndrome affects everyone and anyone, from iconic female poets to young students in Dublin.

Luckily, there are ways to manage it. The main thing to remember is not to let it suffocate you.

One thing that can help is to drown out negative thoughts. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but we often underestimate the power of positive thinking.

Another thing that can help soothe your worries is to take a walk down memory lane and look back at how far you’ve come in recent years. Think of the days when you were in secondary school fretting about passing your history test and now look at yourself as a graduate with a full-time job.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Remember you’re not the only one struggling with these feelings of doubt. There are so many people going through the same thing so don’t be afraid to open up about it, whether that’s to a colleague, a friend or even a professional.

Leaning on a loved-one and sharing your struggles can help lift that heavy weight off your chest.

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With the evenings getting darker and the weather getting worse it's only natural that you may notice some change in your mood and general wellbeing. Summer sun automatically makes us feel more cheerful and energetic and as the colder seasons set in our mental health can suffer too.

Here are a few tips to ensure you stay on top of things this winter. Remember that the changing seasons can affect us all differently, and if you feel you're not coping well, don't be afraid to talk to someone or ask for help.

1. Stay fit
Exercising might be the last thing you want to do on a wet and windy day, but it's a great way of clearing your head and relieving stress. If you can fit in a morning workout, you'll feel more focused and fresh throughout the day. Check out our pick of the best winter workout gear here.

2. Get outdoors
Even if the sun isn't shining, your body and mind will still benefit from a Vitamin D boost and some natural light. If you find it's dark as you go to work and dark when you get home, try to get out for a stroll on your lunch break, or sit near a window in your office if possible.

3. Stay warm
Chills and coldness will only worsen your mood, so stay cosy with hot food and warm clothes. At home, try to keep the temperature around 18C – 21C for optimum levels of heat.

4. Light it up
Light therapy is an extremely effective way of helping seasonal mood disorders – experts say it's effective in four out of five cases. If you don't want to splash out on a light box (they start at around €130), opt for "full spectrum" bulbs in your lights at home. These micic natural light even in the evenings. A dawn simulator is another great option for increasing your exposure to light – this connects to your alarm clock and gently brightens bit by bit in the minutes before your alarm goes off.

5. Get social
If you're feeling low, meeting large groups of people can feel overwhelming, but even seeing a friend for a cuppa can make all the difference. Try not to isolate yourself – draw on your support network when you can.

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