Why it’s okay to be introverted

Image Credit: Elias Scultori

this post was originally written as a blog post for All The Buzz

Do you prefer hanging out with smaller groups of people, or even just one-to-one conversations? Do you find going to parties, or interacting with large groups of people overwhelming and exhausting? Then chances are you are introverted. Many people think that being introverted means you’re shy, or don’t like to be around people; but this isn’t the case at all! Being introverted versus extroverted is not about how outgoing you are, it’s a personality trait that defines where you get your energy.

People who are extroverted feel energised when they are surrounded by larger groups of people, and find being on their own very tiring. They focus on the outer world of people and activities. However, someone who is introverted would find being on their own or in smaller groups energising, and being in large groups of people exhausting; while focus on the inner world of ideas and impressions.

Today’s world is set up to favour the extroverts. Classrooms are now dominated by group work, and children are set up in little pods of desks instead of sitting in rows. Most offices are now open plan, preventing private working spaces. What’s interesting is that about one third to one half of the population is introverted; which means we are alienating quite a large portion of our own society. This can leave introverts thinking that it’s wrong for them to want to curl up and read a book or watch a movie on a Friday evening instead going to a crowded bar; that there is something wrong with them because they want to sit in a quiet office instead of being surrounded by all their co-workers.

A downside of alienating this population is that people who are introverted tend to make the best leaders, but are, unfortunately, often overlooked. Studies have shown that in the workplace, when introverted leaders manage proactive employees, they are more likely than extroverted leaders to let those employees run with their ideas without micromanaging them. It also found that when extroverted leaders managed these same types of employees, they tended to get so excited that they would start to put their own stamp onto these ideas and projects, reducing the likelihood that the employee would step forward with these ideas in the future.

So remember, it’s okay to be introverted; our society needs you! Want to find out if you’re introverted? Click here!

Recent Book Launch

I just wanted to take a moment to send a huge thank you to those who came out last week to the book launch. It went really well, and we actually had about 100 people show up! I have to admit, it’s quite exciting walking past Hodges & Figgis on Dawson street and seeing your book in the front window!

It was also great that all of the Authors were able to attend.

IMG_1873

Myself speaking about Exercise and Sleep, and its effect on mental health

Myself speaking about Exercise and Sleep, and its effect on mental health

Dr. Edmond O'Flaherty speaking about nutrition and it's impact on mental health

Dr. Edmond O’Flaherty speaking about nutrition and it’s impact on mental health

listening to the speeches

listening to the speeches

Maeve Halpin speaking about the book. She not only complied and edited the book, but also wrote about meditation

Maeve Halpin speaking about the book. She not only complied and edited the book, but also wrote about meditation

Our lovely crowd listening to our speeches

Our lovely crowd listening to our speeches

Professor Ivor Browne officially launching the book

Professor Ivor Browne officially launching the book

IMG_1968

Melanie Billings, who wrote about understanding counselling

Melanie Billings, who wrote about understanding counselling

Dr. Michael DelMonte who also wrote about understanding meditation

Dr. Michael DelMonte who also wrote about understanding meditation

Claire Owens, who spoke about everyday mindfulness

Claire Owens, who spoke about everyday mindfulness

Sandra Higgins who spoke on the importance of Compassion

Sandra Higgins who spoke on the importance of Compassion

For those of you who were unable to attend, but still want to read the book, you can order it most major bookstores in Ireland or online on amazon. You can also download it for your e-reader or tablet using kindle, or the kindle app. To order the e-book version, simply click here if you live in the UK or Ireland, and here if you live in the United States.

Lastly, I want to add a huge thank you to the awesome Brendan O’Rourke from redcubesolutions.com who photographed the event. I highly recommend him to anyone in Ireland looking for a photographer!

New Book! How to be Happy and Healthy – The seven natural elements of Mental Health

 
FrontCover

So, if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been lately, here’s the answer! I have been working on a few chapters which are going to be published in a new book my supervisor has been editing. The book is called “How to be Happy and Healthy – The seven natural elements of mental health.” The book is edited and authored by Maeve Halpin in addition to Dr. Edmond O’Flaherty, Nicole Paulie (myself), Claire Owens, Sandra Higgins, Dr. Michael DelMonte and Melanie Billings as contributing authors. The foreward was even written by the well-known Professor Ivor Browne, who will also be launching the book for us in a few weeks.

Book Synopsis

As the stigma of mental illness begins to recede, there is a vast and growing interest in issues such as anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidality. For the first time, this book clearly explains the essential link between mental and physical health and gives practical, evidenced-based tools for developing a lifestyle that prevents illness and supports mental and physical well-being. Seven professionals from the fields of medicine and psychology have contributed chapters drawn from their clinical experience, to provide accessible, engaging information on the diverse aspects of natural approaches to mental health.

Stable mental functioning is predicated on three fundamental, physical elements: nutritious food, restorative sleep and regular exercise. These three elements work together to ensure that the body’s biochemistry (i.e. the complex combination of chemicals that keep us feeling well) is functioning at optimal levels. Three further elements, daily practices of meditation, mindfulness and compassion, have been shown to have powerful therapeutic effects by calming, nurturing and fortifying the heart and mind. The seventh element, counselling, is a process that can help consolidate this synthesis of healing principles, facilitating and sustaining long-term change. “How to Be Happy and Healthy” comprises seven stand-alone chapters, one devoted to each of these critical elements. This landmark book is essential reading not only for those with mental health problems but also for their families, health professionals of all disciplines, and anyone who wishes to take control of their their mental and emotional well being.

So – are you around Thursday, July 10th?

If you are, feel free to attend our launch for the book at Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street in Dublin at 6:30 pm. To find out more information, or to RSVP for the book launch, check out our Facebook event. We look forward to seeing you there!

10 Easy Steps to Improve your Happiness

This blog post was originally written for, and posted on All The Buzz.

Last month, the charity Action for Happiness released the results of a survey they completed trying to find out what makes us happy. They compiled a list of things science shows tends to improve happiness, and asked people to mark which of the activities they completed, and how happy they were. These habits (with their average score from 0-10) were…

  1. Giving (Doing things for others) – 7.41
  2. Relating (Connecting with people) – 7.36
  3. Exercising (Taking care of your body) – 5.88
  4. Appreciating (noticing the world around you) – 6.57
  5. Trying Out (Keep learning new things) – 6.26
  6. Direction (having goals to look forward to) – 6.08
  7. Resilience (finding ways to bounce back) – 6.33
  8. Emotion (take a positive approach) – 6.74
  9. Acceptance (be comfortable with who you are) – 5.56
  10. Meaning (be a part of something bigger) – 6.38

Are you surprised to find that income, money and position in society didn’t make the list? Often we think that next raise will make us happier, or if we could just get those new shoes we’ve been eyeing. What makes us happy are the small healthy habits we can work on each day. The researchers also found that the habit with the highest association with reported happiness was self-acceptance, yet it was the habit that people were the least likely to perform.

As Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness, said

“Our society puts huge pressure on us to be successful and to constantly compare ourselves with others. This causes a great deal of unhappiness and anxiety. These findings remind us that if we can learn to be more accepting of ourselves as we really are, we’re likely to be much happier. The results also confirm us that our day-to-day habits have a much bigger impact on our happiness than we might imagine”.

So, do you want to improve your happiness? Action for Happiness has provided many great materials to help you start working on each of these ten easy, everyday steps to work towards improving your levels of happiness. You can view their Action Pack HERE for free!

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.