Upcoming Lifestyle Changes Workshop

Are you interested in learning a bit more about the Lifestyle Changes programme? Well, you are in luck! We will be holding a once off workshop for those who are interested in learning more about the programme or who are unable to commit to a full twelve-week programme.

 

In the workshop, Nicole Paulie will be discussing lifestyle changes that you can make to not only help treat depression, but to prevent it. She will explain what the lifestyle changes are, why they are important and tips for implementing them.

Most of the information in this workshop is based on the Therapeutic Lifestyle Change programme created by Dr. Stephen Ilardi at the University of Kansas in the United States. His research has shown that changing things as simple as sleep hygiene, social support, exercise, light exposure, omega-3 rich diets, and preventing rumination can effectively treat treatment resistance depression in most cases.

This model states, ” While our lifestyles have changed dramatically over the last few centuries, the evolution of our bodies has not kept up. Our bodies were designed to live the lifestyle our ancestors lived, with a balanced diet, as well as plenty of exercise, sunlight, sleep, and social support. Dr. Ilardi developed the TLC approach based on increasing evidence of the mismatch between our modern environment and the environment our bodies were designed to live in. The elements of TLC can serve to combat this mismatch, thus helping to protect against a medley of mental and physical illnesses, including depression. ”

Book now to avail of the early bird rate of only 40 euros!

ATB: Top Eating Disorder Recovery Apps

This blog post was originally published on the website All The Buzz

Today marks the beginning of Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Since the year 2000, the amount of people diagnosed each year with eating disorders has risen by 15%. It is very important that if you think you may have an eating disorder to seek professional help from a therapist and/or your GP.  For now we are going to look at some of the mobile app’s out there that can help support anyone suffering form an eating disorder.  Although these applications are no replacement for therapy, they can help to prevent relapse, and to help supplement your journey to recovery.

Recovery Record  -Free for both android and iPhone. It is designed to help people suffering from anorexia, bulimia, compulsive and binge eating. It can also be used in conjunction with your therapist if they are a registered treatment provider or on your own.

Optimism  - Free for iPhone. It helps you to chart your moods and emotional triggers that lead to destructive behaviours. This app can also be used in conjunction with your therapist if they are a registered treatment provider or on your own.

Positive Thinking  – This free android application helps you to promote positive thinking. It allows you to customise which areas of improvement you are interested in. You can also set inspirational quotes as widgets on your home screen.

Cognitive CBT Diary – This application is free for android. It allows you to use CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy) to challenge negative thought processes that tend to accompany eating disorders. It also allows you to track events and rate your distress.

Recovery Box  - This app is available for iPhones for €1.79 or £1.49. The app uses the 12-step programme to help challenge eating disorder behaviours. It allows you to connect with sponsors and/or therapists as well.

If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, and would like to talk to someone, call theBodywhys LoCall helpline at 1890 200 444 if you are in Ireland. If you are in the UK, call the Anorexia & Bulimia Care  at 03000 11 12 13, and selection option 2 for the sufferer helpline.

Unwind: On-Demand Relaxation

This article was originally published in Complete Wellbeing Magazine.

If you have been looking for a way to relax your body and mind have no time to go for a massage… you are in the right place. Progressive Muscle Relaxation [also called PMR] is a great intervention for bringing peace and relief to your body, any time you want. And the best part is, you can do it all by yourself, by slowly relaxing various parts of your body, until your entire body is relaxed.

While relaxation is a good reason to turn towards PMR, it also has various other health benefits.

  • It lowers the heart rate, blood pressure, and promotes healthy sleep. All of these things together lower momentary stress levels and long-term stress levels when practised regularly.
  • It is often used as a treatment for people who suffer from general and social anxiety, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. People who suffer from anxiety disorders are often unaware of how tense they are during the day because, for them, feeling stressed begins to feel normal. They clench their jaw, tighten their shoulders and back, tense their stomach muscles, and keep a tight fist for most of the day.
  • When someone holds their muscles in tense positions for long periods of times, it results in back pain, headaches and/or migraines, bruxism [grinding of teeth], and stomach aches. This continued tenseness keeps the body’s anxiety levels high and makes it more difficult for the body to return to a state of relaxation. The good news is that you can use relaxation techniques such as PMR to put a stop to this vicious cycle of anxiety.
  • Practising PMR daily helps the muscles to learn to relax, and eventually lowers the body’s baseline stress level.
  • After practising PMR daily for about a month, you should find that your muscles are more likely to turn to relaxation instead of tightness as their neutral position.
  • You should also see a visible difference in your daily stress levels.

How to do PMR

Start by finding a place that is quiet and relaxing – a place where you can sit in silence for at least five minutes. Be sure to sit or lie down in a position that is comfortable. If you are worried about falling asleep, you may want to try this sitting up at first.

Begin by taking deep, long breaths; make it a point to breathe more from your abdomen and not your chest. Notice how your body feels at first as it fills up with air, and then as the air leaves the body. Imagine all of the tension being released from your body as you breathe out, and the relaxation flowing in, as you inhale.

Turn your attention first to your forehead. Tense the muscles in your forehead as hard as you can for five seconds, and as you breathe out let the muscles relax. Continue this with all of the muscles in your face: your eye lids, your jaw, and your ears.

As your head begins feeling relaxed, move your attention downwards, turning next to your neck, shoulders and arms. Shrug your shoulders, and then relax. Squeeze the muscles in your chest, your arms, your hands… and then relax.

Now that your upper body is fully relaxed, take a few moments to breathe deeply, and scan through your upper body. Notice what it feels like when those muscles are relaxed, and what it feels like to be in this moment. Make a note of this so you can remember it later.

Next, allow the relaxation to continue flowing through your body by tensing the muscles in your abdomen. Again, holding tight for five seconds, and then letting go. Follow this by tightening your butt muscles, and then your thighs. Let this relaxation continue to flow down into the feet as you pull your feet backwards tensing your calves, and curl your toes to tighten your feet.

At this point, scan one last time through your body to see if any parts have again become tense, paying special attention to common problem areas such the shoulders, jaw, and stomach. If they have become tense, just tighten and again release the muscles to relax them.

Tips for Practising at Home

Be sure to practise this exercise at least once a day. Remember, it may be difficult to relax at first, but like most things, the more you practise, the easier it gets. Avoid practising it directly before or after a meal. The hunger or feelings of fullness distract you from focusing on your muscles.

If you find that you have a hard time staying focused on PMR on your own, see if someone can read aloud a relaxation script to you, or even record yourself saying one slowly to play back later. Additionally, there are many free smart phone application and and guided PMR audios available online. Simply search, “Progressive Muscle Relaxation audio” or “progressive muscle relaxation script” the next time you’re online.

After you feel you have gained a good grip on the exercise, try using it just before or after situations you normally find stressful. For example, the next time you have a presentation, exam, job interview, or uncomfortable social situation, try using this exercise just beforehand.

It only takes five minutes a day start working towards the level of “zen” you may be looking for.

The Ultimate Holiday Stress Guide

This article originally written for and published for All The Buzz

Family is coming into town.  You have to plan your holiday parties with your friends.  Oh no! You still have to go Christmas shopping in addition to all your current errands and all the holiday parties.  Where did the time go?  The Christmas season can definitely be a stressful time of the year, but don’t fret! We’re here to bring you the ultimate holiday stress guide!

Accept how you’re feeling

If you’re feeling stressed, remember that a certain amount of anxiety is okay to feel. It’s normal to be a little anxious about getting things done. Even though it feels uncomfortable sometimes, it can’t hurt you. Plus, it usually doesn’t last that long. Take a deep breath, and remind yourself its okay to be stressed.

Stay Connected

It’s important to stay connected to friends and loved ones, especially if you’re feeling stressed. Having someone to talk to or vent to can help you to manage anxiety. If you’re feeling left out, try inviting friends to go out and see the Christmas lights, hear the carollers, or even just go see a movie.

Be Realistic

A lot of people worry over buying the right gifts, if they’re spending enough money on each person, and throwing the perfect holiday party. Remember, things WILL go wrong, and you probably won’t get everything you want. It’s okay that things won’t be perfect – not everything is in your control. Try to stay flexible and make the most out of the situation.

Don’t spread yourself too thin

It’s easy to spread ourselves thin, especially during Christmas time. When we spread ourselves too thin, we tend to get tired, overwhelmed, and burnt-out, and this can dampen that holiday spirit. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to certain things or delegate tasks. Ask a family member or friend to help you out where they can.

Create a budget

Most people’s budgets are tight this time of year. Of course we want to get everyone the perfect gift, but that’s not always possible. Take some time to go through your finances and set a limit on how much you can spend on each person. If you don’t have money to spend, try making homemade gifts like cookie making kits or make some scented candles. Remember, it’s about the presence, not the presents!

Plan ahead

Try making a schedule of all the things you need to do before Christmas, and see how you can spread those errands out over the next few weeks. Don’t leave yourself stuck for time doing last minute errands on Christmas Eve. Also, if you’re hosting Christmas, try to create your Christmas menu and grocery shopping list in advance. This way when it comes time to baking, you know you have everything you need!

Set time aside for yourself

At Christmas, we often spend all our time energy towards other people, so be sure to set some time aside for yourself as well. Plus, you’re less able to help others when you do become stressed. Be sure to eat healthy, exercise, get some sleep, and do things that you find enjoyable. You can even buy a Christmas gift or treat for yourself!

We hope these tips help you to make the most of the festive season!  And most of all remember to try and enjoy it all!

New Year – New You! New Course on Tackling Depression and Anxiety the Natural Way comes to Ireland

 

 

 

The following article is a press-release that was released today about the upcoming group Lifestyle Changes for Emotional Well-Being. For more information on the group, check out the website here.

MyMind is delighted to announce a new course starting in January designed to support people to make lifestyle changes aimed at reducing the risk of depression and anxiety. Originally developed in the United States, where it has shown very positive results*, this is the first time the Lifestyle Changes for Emotional Well-Being course will be offered in Ireland, through a partnership between MyMind-Mental Health Matters, a community-based mental health services provider, Counselling Psychologist, Nicole Paulie, and FLYEfit gym.

Delivered weekly in a group format over 12 sessions, the course will include access to a personal fitness trainer to help with setting goals and motivation, while supporting people to make changes in five key areas – diet, sleep, physical activity, light-exposure and social connections – that have been proven to significantly reduce anxiety and depression.

”I am so excited to be bringing this course to Dublin,” says Nicole Paulie, originally from the U.S. and who has been working in Ireland as a Counselling Psychologist for the past two years. ”We all know that making lifestyle changes can really improve our mental health, but we also know how difficult it can be to actually implement those changes in practice, in our daily lives. This course is about helping people to do just that, to learn how make lasting changes, in a supportive environment; so that they can reduce their risk of depression or anxiety and develop the practical skills and resilience to cope with life’s stresses.”

The Lifestyle Changes for Emotional Well-Being course is based on a treatment programme called Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) for Depression from the University of Kansas in the United States. This is an evidence-based treatment for depression that focuses on wellness and lifestyle change, as a complement or alternative to medication. Changes are focused on five main areas: diet, sleep, physical activity, light-exposure and social connections. Research has shown that, when these key elements are changed, it dramatically decreases depressive and anxious symptoms and decreases the likelihood of experiencing a depressive episode in the future.

Ms Paulie emphasises the importance of having alternatives to medication available, ”All of the elements in the treatment programme have been shown to have a strong anti-depressant effect, and I think many people may not be aware that there are viable alternatives to going the medication route that can have a significant positive impact. This new initiative in collaboration with MyMind and FLYEfit is about making alternatives accessible to people, and at less than €36 per week, including a personal trainer, I think it represents excellent value for people looking to take positive action for their mental health at the start of the new year.” Ends

Contact: Delphine O’Keeffe, Communications Officer, Tel: 076 680 1824

Notes for Editors

1. Course details

Date: Course runs from 14 January to 15 April 2014

Time: 7-9pm

Venue: 1 Chelmsford Rd, Ranelagh, Dublin 6

Info & Bookings: mymind.org/workshops/

Course website: tlifestylechanges.com/home/

Fee: €425 (i.e. less than €36 per week, including personal fitness trainer in collaboration with FLYEfit gym). Payable in installments – please contact the office on 076 680 1060

2. Research

  • Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes for Depression website, University of Kansas Department of Psychology:
  • Ilardi, S., et al. “Therapeutic lifestyle change for depression: Results from a randomized con-trolled trial.” annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, Phila-delphia, PA. 2007.
  • Karwoski, L. “Therapeutic lifestyle change: Efficacy of a novel group-based intervention for depression.” Manuscript in preparation (2006). pre-view

3. About MyMind

MyMind is a multi-award winning, non-profit social enterprise which is primarily concerned with providing the best possible mental health service to our clients in an accessible manner. Any profits arising from our fee-paying clients are used to subsidise our clients who cannot afford full fees. Currently we are able to generate 80% of the income required to cover our expenditure, with 20% dependency on external supporters including government and philanthropic grant aid. MyMind’s ambition is to expand nationally so that more people can access the services they need.

MyMind’s Awards and Public Recognition:

  • Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Award 2009
  • David Manley Award – Social Entrepreneur Category 2009
  • Cathal Ryan Scholarship 2010
  • Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Elevator Award 2011
  • Ireland Ashoka Fellow 2011
  • Arthur Guinness Foundation Award 2012
  • Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Impact Award 2013

4. About FLYEfit gym

FLYEfit is a low-cost, high-quality, self-service gym with no contract. The Ranelagh branch features over 100 pieces of high quality, high tech equipment, an indoor blackout cycling studio, fitness studio, free-weights training area, strength training machines and shower and locker room facilities. Address: 28-36 Ranelagh Road, Dublin 6.

For more, visit www.flyefit.ie/

What is it like to be depressed?

Check out this amazingly accurate video made by the World Health Organization about what it’s like to be depressed. It’s more than just feel low or down, and it’s not something people can just “get over.”  It’s like a black dog that doesn’t stop following you around.

If you live in Dublin, Ireland, and are interested in implementing change, such as exercise, to overcome your black dog. Check out my upcoming group Lifestyle Changes for Emotional Well-Being, which starts in January.

Teenage Depression & The ReachOut Charity Lunch

As you may have guessed from reading my blog, I volunteered for nearly two years writing articles for Reach Out, a youth mental health website. They were so kind to invite me as their guest to the Paul Stafford Charity Lunch. The lunch was in honour of both Reach Out and Console.  It was such a great time for a great cause!

Reach Out’s CEO Elaine Geraghty (left) with their Online Communications Officer Naoise Kavanagh (center)

Roisin who works with online communications (left) with Reach Out’s youth ambassadors Carmel Sayers and Susan Whyte

Myself with Reach Out's Research and Evaluation Officer, Fenella Murphy

Myself with Reach Out’s Research and Evaluation Officer, Fenella Murphy

Back in February, the Paul Stafford foundation donated €65,000 to Reach Out (on top of the money they raised for them at the lunch). But - Why is this so important?

According to the Paul Stafford Foundation, more than 400,000 people in Ireland experience depression at any one time. This is 1/10th of the population. 1 in 3 people will be affected by depression at some point in our lives – either directly, or as a family member. Reach Out reported in their last insights report that of the people who visited their website for information, 53% of them were between the ages of twelve and twenty five, and 75% of the people who visited their site reported experiencing moderate to severe levels of psychological distress (Inspire Ireland, 2012). ReachOut.com is a great resource for our youth, to learn about how to deal with tough times, and cope with the stressful time that is growing up .

If you’re worried about your teenager or young-adult, here are some warning signs to keep an eye out for:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from both family and friends
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If you’re unsure if an adolescent in your life is depressed or just “being a teenager,” consider how long the symptoms have been present, how severe they are, and how different the teen is acting from his or her usual self. While some “growing pains” are to be expected as teenagers grapple with the challenges of growing up, dramatic, long-lasting changes in personality, mood, or behavior are red flags of a deeper problem (Smith, Barston & Segal, 2013).

For more tips on teen depression (whether you’re a teen or a parent), check out ReachOut.com and HelpGuide.org.

Resources

Inspire Ireland. (2012). Inspire ireland insights report 2012. Retrieved from Inspire Ireland website: http://www.inspireireland.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Inspire-Insights-Report-2012.pdf

Smith, M., Barston, S., & Segal, J. (2013, Aug). Teen depression: A guide for parents. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_teen.htm

Lifestyle Changes for Emotional Well-Being

Hello everyone! Hope you all are having a good week. As I mentioned previously, I’m starting a new group therapy in January called Lifestyle Changes for Emotional Well-Being. It is based on the idea that there are various changes we can make in our lifestyle to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. I’ve discussed many times on this blog how things like diet and exercise can vastly improve your mood. Feel free to check out some of these previous articles! And, to learn more about the group, click HERE.

The Epidemic of Mental Illness

The Psychological Benefits of Exercise

The Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health

Omgea-3

TLC: Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes of Depression

Mood Food: Eating for your Mental Health

Blurred Lines: Finding that work/life balance

This blog post was originally written as an article for the Irish Sunday Business Post on behalf of ReachOut.com

With emails, text, work mobiles, and the internet, the lines between professional and home life have blurred. More people are working from home or accessible after they leave work. This can make it difficult to disconnect from the stressors of work while at home.

Effects of poor work/life balance

If you work in an office that is currently experiencing lay-offs and pressures to cut back on their budget, you might find yourself feeling pressured to work overtime and show how needed you are in the company. Unfortunately, not being able to disconnect from work and constantly working more and more hours can be detrimental to your relationships and health.

Having a poor work/life balance can lead to higher levels of stress, which impacts sleeping patterns and immune functioning. It can also lead to increased expectations by both yourself and your boss. The more hours you work, the more your employer may start expecting that level of work and give you more work and responsibilities. Additionally, the more time you spend at work, the less time you are spending with friends and family. This can make it difficult to foster relationships and lead to missed milestones and family events.

Getting balance back in place

When work starts to outweigh home, there are a few things you can do to bring work and life back into balance.

Make a schedule

At first keep a list of what you do each day, and how much time you spend doing it. Once you have made a list for a few days, go back through and see what is taking up most of your time. See what can bet cut out, moved around, or delegated to others. Also, see if your day can be structured differently. If you tend to get called into meetings in the afternoon, do tasks that need long attention in the morning. Don’t forget to build downtime into your schedule!

Keep a list

It sounds simple, keep a to-do list of what you need to accomplish; but keeping a to-do list can do wonders. Break down each thing that needs to be done into its smallest possible component. Instead of “prepare for meeting,” write down what needs to be done to prepare for the meeting. Do you need to research a topic? Write out your bullet points? Review a PowerPoint with a work colleague? Breaking each thing down will allow you to pick up where you left off more quickly, and allow you to see just how much progress you have actually made throughout the day.

Use Relaxation

During your newly scheduled down time, take a few minutes to do some deep breathing or stretch your legs. This will allow you to help maintain lower stress levels throughout the day, and to provide a break from working on the same thing for extended periods of time. When working on a presentation or project for a long time, it’s easy to get stuck and not see the forest for the trees. Taking a short break may lead to perspective.

Accept imperfection

No matter how hard we try, nothing will ever be perfect. Sometimes, there are also not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Learning to accept imperfection and incompletion will make it much easier to leave stressors at work instead of bringing them home. Just do what you can with the time you are provided. It will be there for you when you return the next day.

Maintaining Fitness in College

Hello Everyone! Apologies it has been so long since I’ve written. HOWEVER! I have been working on a lot of exciting new things! First of all, as a few of you may know, I have been doing a lot of writing, just in another place! I have been working long and hard over the last few months writing a couple chapters for an upcoming book about looking at a holistic treatment for mental health. The book is still in its editing phase, but should hopefully be coming out at the new year! When I have more information, I will be sharing that with you here.

In addition, as a lot of you know from my writings, I am a huge advocate of using lifestyle changes as a treatment for mental health. In January, I will be starting an intensive 12-week group therapy programme that uses these lifestyle changes as a treatment for depression. The website and details are still a work in progress, but I will share the link here for you when it is ready! Hopefully that will be in the next couple weeks.

But keeping on the topic on lifestyle changes, let’s address a big one – EXERCISE! We all dislike doing exercise, despite its clear importance. Today’s tips on maintaining fitness in college comes from thebestcolleges.org.

Starting out at college is a time of excitement, anticipation, and oftentimes, extreme nervousness. There are a whole host of prospects that can leave any freshman filled with anxiety, from making friends to maintaining good grades to knowing which classes to take. One of the biggest sources of anxiety for students, however, is unrelated to academics: A large percentage of students greatly fear the famous and dreaded freshman 15. The truth is, this isn’t an irrational fear: Most college students will gain between 15 and 25 pounds by the end of their sophomore year. One of the main causes of the freshman 15? Lack of exercise: Not only do the majority of college students not get the recommended amount of exercise, one in three just don’t exercise at all. To be fair, finding time for exercise in the midst of busy college life can be challenging, but there are some great ways that that particular hurdle can be side-stepped. Today’s infographic takes a look at the best ways for college students to stay fit—even in the middle of a dorm room. From cardio to strength training to flexibility, there’s a myriad of ways in which even the biggest of couch potatoes can beat the freshman 15.

For more information on why fitness is important for your mental health, check out the additional articles:

The importance of Regular Exercise

The Psychological Benefits of Exercise

The Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health