Monday, January 23, 2017

Needy Triangle

There's another side to me that's a little bit geeky! I love to learn. Whilst at university we looked at one particular theory that always fascinated me. It was something that came back into my mind when I started to think about my mental illness recovery and how I could prevent (as far as possible) another breakdown. That theory is by Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) and his Hierarchy of Needs. The theory looks at what a person needs in order to function at their full potential and how when needs are not met a person cannot be the best version of themselves. Imagine you are at the bottom of the triangle and you need to work your way up through each level. You cannot skip levels and will struggle to obtain anything in the higher levels without the lower levels being met. The belief behind the theory is that these needs are what helps people stay motivated and that we naturally strive to meet these levels when deprived; such as feeling thirsty the longer you go without water.

The level of needs are as follows....

So how does this relate to mental illness?

I believe from this theory that mental illnesses chip away at the triangle. Let's say you are at the top level and then suffer with mental illness. You begin to lose sleep and have less appetite, you feel paranoid or uneasy, relationships become affected, you doubt yourself, you don't enjoy the things you used to, you don't feel like taking part. Each level of the triangle becomes affected. So to help conquer your mental illness you need to refuel your triangle!

You can't fill your triangle and that's job done. You need to do this daily, sometimes several times a day. You might be at your peak working on something creative and begin to struggle with the task. If you were to stop and look internally you may realise you are thinking about an argument you had with a friend or are beginning to feel hungry. This then affects your ability to be at your peak. You may be able to carry on and remember that many people achieve greatness when deprived of some of their basic needs but prolonged deprivation can greatly affect your chances to reach your full potential.

Now when I feel that I am starting to struggle I think of this Hierarchy of Needs. I look at my very basic needs- concentrating on sleep, eating small meals, keeping hydrated, I have my home and intimacy. I remind myself I am safe and not at risk. I make sure I am showing attention and love to friends and family. I self-praise and reflect on what I have achieved (even the smallest of things.) Then I concentrate on myself and look at what I can improve.

The example I have used is Maslow's original theory. Later three more levels were added so that after Esteem came Cognitive Needs (knowledge), Aesthetic Needs (balance and search for beauty) and after Self-Actualisation came the highest level of Transcendence (helping others achieve Self-Actualisation). I will look at this improved theory in a later post.

The main lesson we can learn from this is when you begin to struggle try to concentrate on meeting your basic needs. It gets you started on the triangular path to your highest potential!

Much love,
Becky xx

Thursday, January 12, 2017

30 Day Challenge- Declutter Your Life

I wanted to share with you something I'm taking part in at the moment that I think will be beneficial to my mental health. I'm currently on Day 5 of the Thirty Days To Simplify Your Life Challenge that has been set by Youtuber and blogger MuchelleB.

The aim is to spend the first day setting your goals for what you would like to achieve from the challenge. My personal goal is: 

"To simplify my life and possessions to make everyday easier. I like to feel organised and in control of my space. It will mean that my home is filled with only the things that I either need or love and bring me joy."
You then spend the next 14 days decluttering your possessions by category. You are set one challenge per day but can self pace if you need to. MuchelleB guides you through simple ways of deciding what you should and shouldn't keep. If you find some of the categories aren't suited to yourself you can either miss them out or choose another area that you need to declutter such as your D.I.Y/craft supplies, DVDs/CDs, your car, anything that you want to downsize or that you know needs a good sort through.

The next stage includes 14 days of decluttering your mental space and the last day is for you to reflect on your decluttering journey. To me this challenge helps in a few ways to benefit your mental health...

  1. a home that contains the things you love will bring back happy memories, bring you joy or make you feel at home
  2. everything else left will be practical things that you need, stored in easily accessible places, making your home function well and your days run more smoothly
  3. the mental challenges allow you to reflect and identify aspects of yourself and your life- it's always good to self-study and find who you are and what makes you tick
  4. this way of thinking will hopefully stay with you after the challenge and help you to keep your space clutter free and save money by not purchasing things you don't love or need- money worries can cause a lot of stress and upset
  5. celebrating your achievements and feeling proud of what you have done are a great mood booster
I know you're thinking that you've already missed the start of the challenge but don't worry you can start whenever you like. All the links you need are down below and whether you decide to take part in the challenge or use the MuchelleB blog to pick and choose a few tasks that you think would be the most beneficial it's a great way to start the year.

Good luck!

Much Love,
Becky xx

Links for MuchelleB...
Youtube Channel:
Hashtag: #thirtydaystosimplify

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lifelong Illnesses

In June 2016 my husband was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes after a few months of worrying side effects; he was bad tempered, losing weight quickly and looked sallow. There was no family history, as you know he's a boxer mad about his fitness, he doesn't smoke and only drinks occasionally and he eats clean. We we're told his diabetes had just happened. The function of his pancreas was not doing it's job of producing insulin to break down the sugars in his blood. He was told for the rest of his life he will test his sugar by pricking his finger, count carbs in his food to work out his insulin dosage, inject into his stomach or leg everytime he eats carbs and after all this could still risk having a sugar low (which can be extremely dangerous). This is life changing news. Also for me as I need to recognise when his sugars are low and act quickly, especially during the night which relies on him being able to wake me up while he is low as well as waking himself up.

The first thing that set in for my husband is why is this happening to him when he doesn't abuse his body and can he still box. He asked how he could beat it but was told it is not curable. For me it was can it be life threatening as I knew little about diabetes and wanted to know how can I help. It's a steep learning curve to get the insulin intake right, especially so that he can still box and not have constant lows at his work.

It's tough and for many people with a lifelong illness depression or anxiety can be common as well as the stresses and worries to face. Many people struggle with their medication, symptoms, treatment, pains and the changes to their life. But I want to tell you something that may be on your mind if you have a lifelong illness...

  • it's not your fault
  • make changes- if you do anything in your life that can worsen side effects or worsen your condition try your best to cut it out and ask your doctors for advice on a safe way to do this
  • there is nothing to be ashamed of
  • try not to compare- there are always people worse off than you and better off than you, everyone is individual and it's about looking after yourself not meeting other people's goals
  • know your stuff- find out as much as you can and work with your doctors- it can be hard to trust in something you don't yet understand
  • use the resources around you to their fullest- you are entitled to them
  • know your rights- can you claim a benefit that would help you? what does your workplace need to do? can you claim specialist equipment or a grant to modify your home? are you entitled to a carer or home help? you can speak to Citizens Advice and your medical team who will help you
  • update people- if someone is helping you they need to be as clued up as you do and your work colleagues, friends and people you live with need to know what to do in an emergency and how to help
  • don't give up on your dreams and hobbies- you might have to go about them a different way but if you can keep going then do, they'll keep you motivated
  • build a support network- whether it's friends, a charity, a helpline, a group you can attend gather a set of people who can help and advice
  • talk- tell someone how you feel if it gets hard
  • celebrate- when you get things right or start to manage, even the smallest thing, celebrate it
  • count your blessings- a silver lining with illnesses really Becky!? I say this because I filled with pride and admiration when my husband said to me "in a way my diabetes has helped me to learn more about food and my body" and he now wants to help others and possibly retrain to do this, if you can focus on something like this it makes things seem a little easier
  • believe- trust in your medical team, focus on your own goals, know you are loved
  • you are not a burden- the people who love you will still love you and want to help, let them in and let them know you appreciate what they do

My husband's message: "Don't let people tell you that you can't do things you love. When I was first diagnosed I wanted to beat it because I've never known how to quit anything. Just remember has Rocky said 'it's not how hard you can hit, it's how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward" :)

Much love,
Becky xx

If you need more information about Type 1 Diabetes please visit: NHS UK

Thursday, January 05, 2017

8 Top Tips to Avoid Negativity

We all need that bit of positivity in our lives and when negativity sneaks in it can throw us completely off our path to happiness. There will always be negative situations that crop up and we will need to face them. But if we can avoid negativity we minimise the stress it can induce. Here's my 8 Top Tips to Avoid Negativity...

  1. Unfollow- this could be people on your social media, groups online, newsletters, emails, something you have subscribed to. If you are seeing negative images or words that bring down your mood think whether you need to be seeing them
  2. Read Reviews- when booking an event, buying a product or visiting a place check it out first for the reviews and decide whether it is for you
  3. Selective Television- a film or TV series described as "chilling and a real tear jerker" or full of people shouting and arguing may not be the best thing to brighten your mood. Use your TV guide to decide whether you should watch programmes you know will be upsetting or focus on negative situations/events
  4. A Good Book- pick your choice of book carefully. Just like television you can choose to steer away from books based on a negative event or that speak about subjects you may find unsettling
  5. Avoid Conflict- sometimes conflict is necessary but if it is turning into a heated argument or a battle of the keyboard warriors then it's not healthy for anyone involved
  6. Nip It In The Bud- if someone starts to gossip or tell you something negative it's ok to say you'd rather not speak about it or excuse yourself from the group. If you feel yourself thinking negative thoughts redirect your focus where possible- keep busy, doodle, play a game, anything that distracts you
  7. Be Kind- be kind to yourself and speak of yourself in a positive manner. Compliment yourself and do the things that you know make you happy. Be kind to others too and avoid being negative yourself
  8. Focus- if you focus on the negatives they become greater. Focus on the positives in your life and on things that make you feel happy. Count your blessings and look for the silver lining- this really is the art of the positive thinker!
I hope these tips help you get rid of some of the negativities in your life and lead to a calmer and happier day.

Much love,
Becky xx