Trudy Williams, Author at Mental Health & Wellbeing Show

Sleep tight – how to sleep better?

World Sleep Day is celebrated on 18th March to help us advocate and raise awareness for sleep health. Sleep is closely connected to mental and emotional health and has been proven to have links to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions.

Sleep is an essential part of our life – it is important to our bodies as eating, drinking, and breathing, and is vital for maintaining good mental and physical health. Following the mindset ‘happy body, happy mind’ we need to take care of our body to be able to manage our mental health.

Sleep plays a main role in this process – it is the body’s restorative cycle and if you don’t get enough of it, you throw your whole body out of balance. The same goes for your mind – poor sleep can affect your mental health and living with mental health problem can have a negative impact on how well you sleep.

Don’t let yourself get caught in the vicious circle of over-committing and under-sleeping because it’s only going to decrease your efficiency. Look at what can you do to improve your sleep quality and have enough energy for your daily tasks.

5 steps to sleep better:

1.     Be consistent

Go to bed at the same time to create your bedtime routine, and don’t forget to include weekends. Your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset. Studies have shown that irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm and affect levels of melatonin – sleep hormone.

2.     Exercise

Get some exercise! Physical activity during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night. It’s important to keep your body active but make sure you don’t exercise before bed. Due to the stimulatory effect of exercise that increase hormones like adrenaline, exercising right before bed might bring you a completely opposite effect and disrupt your sleep or don’t let you fall asleep at all.

3.     Limit daytime naps

Short power naps may be beneficial – the research noted that 30 minutes or shorter naps can enhance daytime brain function, but longer or irregular napping during the day can harm health and sleep quality.

4.     Reduce screen time

Exposure to blue light during night-time not only tricks your brain into thinking that it’s still daytime but also blocks the production of sleep hormone – melatonin. Research has shown that, as little as 2 hours of exposure to blue light at night slowed or stopped release of melatonin. Power down your digital devices at least 3 hours before bedtime to help restore the healthy hormone production.

5.     Relax and clear your mind

Create a pre-sleep routine that will help you relax. You can try taking a hot bath, meditation, deep breathing, or calm music to put your body in a relaxed state. Research has proven that taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed improved sleep quality and helped people get deeper sleep.

Are you interested in relaxing and calming techniques? Check out the seminars we offer at the show and make sure to secure your tickets!

Click here

Binging into bad health

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses affecting people’s lives. Around 1.25 million people struggle with eating disorders in the UK. These disorders often have complex causes and can last for many years. They affect people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Thus spreading awareness, fighting myths and misunderstandings that surround them are so crucial in today’s society.

National Eating Disorders Week is celebrated in the first week of March. It aims to educate people about the realities of eating disorders, as well as provide support, hope and visibility to individuals affected by those disorders.

When talking about eating disorders, our first thought is usually anorexia or bulimia. Although these two disorders belong to the most common ones, we need to be aware that they are not the only ones.

Binge eating disorder affects 1 in 50 people but only 1 in 4 receive help and support to recover from this illness. This eating disorder is a serious mental health problem where individuals struggling with it eat large quantities of food over a short period of time. They also often experience distressing feelings of being out of control.

Rapid technological changes and adjusting to constantly rushing the outside world affect people’s habits, unfortunately not always in a good way. Besides following new diets, people spend more time in front of screens, where binge-watching became a new trend. In addition to affecting an individual’s sleep patterns, social life and mental health, this can result in mindless binge eating.

One problem with this behaviour is that eating becomes an automatic response to watching a screen instead of eating to satisfy hunger. Snacking on processed foods with high contents of carbohydrates and fats makes it easier to overeat.

How to break this unhealthy pattern?

We suggest introducing a few slight changes in your attitude and daily routine.

1.       Challenge your diet mentality

Instead of following diets that focus on cutting out entire food groups or significantly slashing calorie intake to lose weight quickly, focus on making healthy changes. Eat more whole, unprocessed foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and moderate your intake of treats rather than excluding them completely from your diet. This can reduce binge eating and promote better health.

2.       Avoid skipping meals

Skipping meals can contribute to cravings and increase the risk of overeating. Setting a regular eating schedule and sticking to it is one of the most effective ways to overcome binge eating.

3.       Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is a simple yet effective way to curb cravings and stop overeating. The amount of water each person should drink daily depends on various factors. Thus, it’s best to listen to your body and drink when you feel thirsty to ensure you’re staying well hydrated.

4.       Introduce a healthy habit

Introduce some changes to your daily routine. It could be trying out meditation, yoga classes, hitting the gym or simply sorting out your sleeping habits. Sleep affects your hunger levels and appetite, and sleep deprivation may be linked to binge eating. Exercise, as well as yoga and meditation, can decrease stress levels and enhance relaxation to prevent emotional eating.

5.       Keep a food and mood journal

Such journals can help identify triggers to address potential problems. To get started, simply start recording what you eat and how you feel each day using either a journal or an app.

If you want to know more about EATING DISORDERS check out our online webinar.

Mental Health Importance for LGBT Community

In the UK, the LGBTQ+ History Month is celebrated in February. It is a perfect chance to shed some light on the history of this community and raise awareness about the issues those people face daily.This year’s edition focuses on Pride 50 – the anniversary of the first Pride 50 event in the UK and celebrates it while looking to the future.

LGBTQ+ people often struggle with discrimination, harassment, or even worse societal reactions towards their uniqueness. What follows such negative response is an increased vulnerability and likeness of developing mental illness such as:

·      low self-esteem,

·      depression,

·      anxiety,

·      eating problems,

·      misusing drugs and alcohol,

·      self-harm,

·      suicidal feelings,

·      and other mental health problems.

It is important to remember that we all deserve support and respect regardless of our identity or background. Studies, however, show that rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health illnesses are higher among LGBTQ+ people.

There are three unique risk factors that affect the LGBTQ+ community:

      I.         Hate crime – research found that experiencing hate crime significantly increases the risk of mental health problems. It was noted that 69% of LGBTQ+ people who experienced hate crime suffered from depression and 76% reported episodes of anxiety.

     II.         Bullying – nearly half of the members of LGBTQ+ society were bullied in schools because of their identity. This was shown to have detrimental effects that persist into late adolescence and highly contribute to mental health problems.

   III.         Discrimination in healthcare – according to the research, one in seven LGBTQ+ people avoided seeking healthcare for fear of discrimination from healthcare staff, while one in four had witnessed negative remarks about LGBTQ+ people from healthcare staff while accessing services.

We believe in the future where life is not reduced to black and white, and where love is appreciated in all its states, as much as we appreciate rainbows in the sky after the rain.

To put more colours into life we prepared three pieces of advice for those who struggle with mental health due to their identity:

1.     Talk to someone you trust – although it might be hard to start talking about how you feel, sharing your experiences can make you feel better. If you don’t feel like you can trust and open up to people around you, there are multiple LGBTQ+ helplines you can call.

2.     Take care of yourself – the most important thing you can do is take care of yourself. Healthy body is of a great relief for your mind. Make sure you have enough sleep, that you eat at least three meals a day and drink lots of water. Finally, try to dedicate 10 minutes a day for exercise – it could be as easy as a walk around the neighbourhood. This will help to improve your mood.

3.     Ask your doctor for help – your GP can help you diagnose and offer support and treatments if you struggle with your mental health. You don’t have to tell your doctor that you are LGBTQ+ if you don’t feel comfortable doing that but it might be easier for them to get you the right support once they are aware of that.

As we mentioned above, negative experiences of healthcare staff might be discouraging but no matter your background, sexuality, or identity you deserve support.

Cyber Essentials Certified

We are pleased to announce that Ajuda Training has achieved Cyber Essentials Certification!

Cyber Essentials is a government backed scheme indicating that the organisation takes a proactive stance against a whole range of cyber-attacks.

Cyber-attacks come in various shapes and sizes, but most of them are basic in nature, carried out by relatively unskilled individuals. Cyber Essentials Certification allows us to prevent our company and clients from those attacks.

3 reasons why we have decided to get Cyber Essentials Certificate:

1.     To reassure customers that we are working to secure out IT against cyber-attacks.

2.     To attract new businesses with the promise we have cyber security measures in place.

3.     To have a clear picture of our company’s cyber security level.

If you would like more information about this latest certification, please email admin@ajuda.org.uk

Explaining mental health challenges – how to talk to a child?

Explaining the importance of mental health to children can be difficult, as they don’t understand the concept they have never heard about before. So how to do it?

Many parents decide to avoid the topic because of how broad and challenging this can be, especially for children. However, kids are inquisitive and observant. They notice all the little things adults don’t have time to spot, and they won’t hesitate to ask about them.

We should make sure to support children’s mental wellbeing and help them understand it. Having such a deep and honest conversation needs to be thought out, and you should be patient and prepared for some unconventional questions. These are the things you should do before starting the conversation:

1.       Prepare to talk

It is not an easy conversation. To make sure you can explain mental health importance to your child, develop your understanding of it first. Before starting a conversation, get as much information as possible. Prepare yourself to answer questions your kids may ask.

This will make you more comfortable during the conversation, contributing to what your child is feeling. Children are like sponges when absorbing knowledge, but they can also recognise your feelings.

2.       Step into child’s shoes

Different age of children is responsible for their development stage and understanding. Add considering this issue to your preparation for the conversation. It can be helpful to step into your child’s shoes and try to understand how they might perceive things without overanalysing them. Look for the simple things your kids could notice and consider how they would appreciate it.

3.       Pick a good time

Start mentioning mental health aspects to your children daily. Try to explain a different point of view while approaching day to day activities. Talk about the feelings and emphasise the importance of such conversations while referring to some mental conditions which people might experience and try to show your kids those different perspectives.

There is no easy way to get the conversation going, and you may encounter many obstacles along the way, but this is important. Understanding the world by knowing its flaws can help children recognise their early-stage problems and talk about them. It is time to stop stigmatising this topic and begin to talk about it openly.

Unconditional Love – how dogs can help you harness your mental health

Dogs, among other pets, have therapeutic effects on our life. They fulfil the basic human need for touch and can rapidly calm and
soothe us when stressed or anxious. Their presence eases loneliness and, what is essential – they are an excellent stimulus for a healthy lifestyle by making us exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the house. This can significantly boost our mood and ease depression.

Let’s dive into scientific research for a second.

According to scientific research, interacting with dogs lowers blood pressure, slows the heart rate and positively impacts the body’s levels of stress-modulating hormones – dopamine and cortisol. The first hormone is responsible for pleasure and motivation, whereas cortisol is crucial to regulating blood sugar, controlling metabolism, and reducing inflammation.

The most important benefits of spending time with your dog:

  1. Reduced possibility to suffer from depression.
  2. Lower blood pressure in stressful situations.
  3. Elevated levels of serotonin and dopamine calm
    and relax.
  4. Heart attack patients with pets survive longer
    than those without.
  5. Lower levels of indicators of heart disease
    (triglyceride and cholesterol).

Taking care of another living makes it easier to take care of yourself.

For those who struggle with depression, having a dog can be a complete life-changer. Anxiety and depression make it hard for people to motivate themselves to go out. Having a dog adds this activity to our lives and marks it as a ‘responsibility’. Experiencing physical fatigue is a common symptom for people struggling with those mental issues. For them, it is even
more important to exercise, as physical activity releases endorphins in the brain that energize, reduce stress, boost mood and increase mental energy by creating positive feelings. Therefore, walking the dog as a part of our daily routine becomes a healthy distraction from worries and negative thoughts.

What if you don’t or can’t have a dog?

You shouldn’t be worried about that! If you are not an owner yourself, there are plenty of ways o spend some time with a furry friend. What can you do then?

  • Ask a friend or a family member if you can take their pupil for a walk – oftentimes, such an offer will be a blessing for them!
  • Search for animal shelters in your neighbourhood – they rely on volunteers to walk the dogs in their kennels.
  • Look up the online websites on which people from your neighbourhood advertise the possibility of walking their dogs when they
    can’t do it themselves. It’s a fantastic opportunity to not only take care of a pet and yourself but also to help out someone in need and help you stay socially connected to others!

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than it loves itself. Just think about it.

When was the last time someone was so overjoyed to see you, so brimming with love that they LITERALLY ran to greet you?

New Year’s Resolution – take it easy

Now that 2021 has been and gone, we can enter the New Year with a new mindset and fresh goals. The tradition of New Year’s resolutions might be daunting and, for some, even overwhelming. Did you know that only 1 out of 4 people will actually stick to their resolution on average? We are here to remind you that this should be something you do for yourself. Not for others’ approval.

This year is the time for you to take care of your mental health. So, stop for a minute and take it easy this time. These few steps might help you to focus on your wellbeing:

1. Try a new routine 

Create a list of things you enjoy. Those could be little things like morning coffee or chocolate croissant for lunch as a treat. You could include some fun activities there as well, such as ideas around how you would like to spend your time after work or school. Then make sure you do one of the things from the list a day. You can repeat them and create a routine you enjoy or add some fun activities as a weekly treat. Be creative and start finding time to enjoy the little things.

2. Keep your priorities clear

Similarly to the paper routine, you should make sure that you prioritise the important things in life. Those vary among people, so you should take time to consider what is the most important for you. Don’t worry if last year’s top priority was work and you don’t feel the same way anymore. Those switch over time, and the most important thing is to recognise and accept the change.

3. Stop being so hard on yourself

It is easier said than done to stop being self-critical and hard on ourselves. Even though, it would be best if you tried to focus on a positive thing rather than all the negativity around you. The best way to realise how big of an impact negative self-talk makes on your self-esteem and wellbeing is to imagine speaking like that to your best friend. Would you say to them the same things you say to yourself? If the answer is ‘no’, try to think about what you would say to them instead and say those things to yourself.

4. Practice acceptance

We constantly strive for improvement and being better than we already are. Being motivated to achieve more is great, but the line between motivation and overworking is thin. Overworking harms your performance and might get you into a vicious circle. If you don’t give yourself time to recover and beat yourself up for your mistakes, you won’t move forward. Accept the way you are, your achievements and failures, and move forward.

5. Take time off social media

Social media can be a great way to stay in touch with your friends and bring lots of positivity into your life. But it can bring some negativity, as well. Social media sites can increase stress levels and build up your uncertainties by comparing yourself to others. It would help if you remembered that those pages show only the ups of people’s lives, and those moments people want to share with others. Their lives aren’t as perfect as they may seem in pictures. We all have our struggles. So, take some time off and instead of scrolling down social media pages, take a walk or read a good book and be gentle with yourself.

We understand that life constantly poses challenges, and we are here for you. To help you go into the New Year, we prepared a free online webinar where you can learn more about improving your wellness and wellbeing.

Coping with Grief – Grief Awareness Week

The Grief Awareness Week is celebrated between 2nd and 8th December. This week aims to raise awareness about grief and bereavement. Those issues are addressed specifically during this week, but people are struggling with it on a daily basis.

Getting people to talk about bereavement and death seems like a hard task to accomplish, but this is the first step in the healing process. Although this topic touches all of us, people are still trying to avoid it. The UK doesn’t have a statutory bereavement policy for schools, yet in the current situation there are many children who have lost their loved ones.

Bereavement is not a mental health problem, but it can become one if it is not addressed properly. People dealing with loss are at increased risk of isolation, trauma, loneliness, substances abuse and mental health illnesses. Suicide should also be considered a significant risk factor when someone is bereaved by suicide.

Raising awareness about this issue and providing early support can help most to grieve healthily. We are here to give you a piece of advice on how to manage grief and loss.

  1. Search for support

Support from others is one of the most important steps in the process of healing. A simple conversation with a close friend, family member or an entrusted counsellor can help with identifying the steps on the healing path.

  1. Take care of yourself

It’s important to take care of yourself. Make sure that you stick to the healthy diet. Healthy body breeds a healthy mind and vice versa!

Get enough sleep and exercise regularly to support your organism with the production of happy hormones.

  1. Take time to mourn

Give yourself a scheduled time for mourning. You might be reluctant to planning it in advance but scheduling it can help you feel more in control of your grief and less overwhelmed. Begin by setting aside half an hour every day to give yourself a moment to pause and think about your loved one.

Mourning is recognizing the death of a loved one which helps you to say goodbye. It allows the family members to get an ongoing support and sympathy.

Do not be afraid of showing it because all it stands for is the love for your loved ones.

Finding your strength – tackling loneliness in Christmas time

Loneliness is widely perceived as a weakness and it often brings up other negative feelings such as sadness, fear, or even anger. Once we find ourselves caught up in this vicious circle of blaming ourselves and others for our loneliness, it becomes hard to find a way back to our reasonable side.

Christmas time can be especially tough if we are about to spend it on our own, because all we can see around promotes this time of the year as the time to reconnect with family and friends. This festive season, however, for many people can also be a reminder of loss of loved ones. Those people often choose to be alone as the celebrations might be too overwhelming for them.

Loneliness might or might not be a matter of choice. What is important is that we learn to support ourselves and our loved ones through it.

It does not matter whether you choose to be alone or you unintentionally feel lonely even when surrounded by people. All you need to know is that is your choice to decide what to do with this feeling and how to manage it. It might be harder than you may think but you might also get surprised when you find out that it was not as hard as you thought.

We prepared a piece of advice for all the people struggling with loneliness regardless of whether you are the one struggling with it yourself or you want to help out others. On December 9th, we also have a free webinar focused on how we can support others who are lonely during Christmas time. Please click here to read more and book your space. 

Reach out to an old friend.

Reconnecting with an old friend might seem scary or out of place but there is nothing better than getting in touch with someone who you’ve been friends before. You might get surprised how much in common you still have, even if you have chosen completely different paths and have not talked for years.

2.     Read a good book.

Dedicate a half an hour or an hour daily to get into a different reality. Books can serve as amazing distraction, and once you get lost in a good book you start to live character’s life. Dynamic characters have a great power of making you forget about your own issues.

3.     Sign up for Christmas workshops.

Search for workshops which might be taking place in your community and join the one’s you are interested in or curious about. You can look them up online, as you can participate in many of those from your living room. Whether it is face to face or online, the connection with others is always a good way to take your mind off of the negative thoughts. We also offer a great course focused on tackling loneliness over Christmas. Make sure to check it out and learn new techniques of managing with loneliness.

4.     Volunteer with a local charity.

You might not realize it at first, but you are not the only one struggling. There is a great chance that you will help someone who’s helped you before. Volunteering increases the feeling of belonging and it is a positive way to make you feel good.

5.     Set a goal to talk to at least one person a day.

Start with being aware of your loneliness. Once you realize you feel it, you might as well try to do something about it. Simply asking one person how their day was might start a nice conversation. You never know when you can hear something motivating, and other people are the best source of inspiration.

Remember: loneliness is not lack of company; it is lack of purpose.

If you would like to learn more, our webinar from 10am – 12pm on 9th December will provide handy advice and tips on supporting lonely people. 

Click here to book a free space. 

Keep your guard up – ALCOHOL vs. MENTAL HEALTH

Alcohol Awareness Week is running between 15th and 21st November. We dedicate this week to touch on struggles of alcohol addiction and its effect on our daily life.

Alcohol misuse affects 45% of men and 34% of women in Wales. Not only are they exposed to an increased risk of diseases, but also to falling into vicious circle of using alcohol as a coping mechanism to reduce the symptoms of mental health problems.

 About 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, and many of those people try to mitigate their symptoms with alcohol. However, this has an exact opposite effect and is likely to make stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health problems much worse. The initial feeling of relaxation or euphoria are short-term, and they fade away causing the user to drink more just to hold on to those feelings.

Managing the addiction might seem like a tremendous milestone for both users and their families, but don’t worry, we are here for you.

We have prepared a few steps you can follow to begin your healing journey:

  1. Evaluate the costs and benefits of drinking – is it worth its cost?

Create a pros and cons list to visualise the costs of alcohol consumption. Include the average amount of alcohol you consume per week, price per bottle and multiply it by 4 to get the average monthly cost. Then create a list of benefits of quitting and compare them.

  1. Keep a record of your drinking

Observe your drinking habit for 3 to 4 weeks and keep a journal of how much you drink. Reviewing the results might help you realize the scale of your problem and help you set realistic goals.

  1. Set simple goals

Be realistic and set clear goals. Start with small steps like ‘I will limit my weekend drinking to 2 drinks per day’ or ‘I will not drink on Thursdays because my son has an early Friday sports class’.

  1. Drink slower

When you drink, sip slower and drink juice or water between alcoholic drinks. Make sure you are not drinking on an empty stomach and eat food when you drink.

  1. Search for coping strategies

There are numerous stories that people share with others of how they overcame the addiction. One of those will take place on our Mental Health & Wellbeing Show 2022. Charlotte Hopkins will introduce you to the complexity of needs of people using substances.

Make sure you book your spot for this seminar and check out our offer to find other seminars dedicated to mental health.

Strength doesn’t come from what you can do.

It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.

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