Category Archives: Mental Health

Mental Health - Smiley face

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Western society tends to view health in terms of single conditions and symptoms. Traditional Acupuncture considers people not conditions and therefore paints a bigger picture of individual health. Often, our patients are drawn to us because of this integration of physical health and mental health. This is especially so when they are suffering with longstanding conditions like chronic pain.

For new patients, moving to a different view of health can be unusual.  Usually they just want to know if we can help. To help we have written a series of articles that provide information on various health conditions. We hope that this makes it easier to follow.

Family In the park

7 Tips for improving Mental Health

In the last couple of years the world has had a serious mental health wake up call. Barely a day passes now without a news article or social media post drawing attention to a problem that has existed since time began but has gone largely unnoticed.

Let’s make no mistake. Mental Illness has been a big problem for a number of years. What is driving the change in attitudes now is likely a greater awareness brought about because some very high profile individuals have spoken out and a greater understanding of the financial and personal costs of poor mental health. Regardless of the reasons, a greater awareness of our mental wellness and willingness to discuss it more openly can only be a positive thing in terms of wellbeing.

Mental Health or Mental illness?

I do think however that it is very important to make a distinction between mental illness and mental health. We tend not to use the word mental illness because it is surrounded by Stigma, substituting it for “mental health problems”. Unfortunately this muddies the water a little so let me set out how I see the language.

Mental health is something we all have. It is part of our overall health, separated at some point in time in medical terms, and governs how we think and feel about ourselves. The homeostatic place for our mental capacity is that we fluctuate gently between a range of emotions in a socially accepted response to a range of stimulus from the outside world. If for whatever reason the homeostasis is disrupted and a particular emotion starts to predominate we may start to behave in a way that is not considered socially normal or acceptable (I use this definition because, after all, who defines what normal is!). We may become irrational, withdrawn or even psychotic. At this point we are becoming mentally ill.

Mental health and Physical health

Like physical health, there are aspects of your mental health that are utterly beyond your control. Equally there are aspects of mental health that are influenced by lifestyle and adopting a healthier approach can reap benefits.

Of all the pillars of wellbeing, mental health is the one I have spent the most time contemplating, researching and engaging with. My understanding and opinion is ever changing but one of the things I feel most confident in asserting is that time spent figuring out what makes you tick is rarely time wasted.

What follows therefore is not a rule book or magic formula for zen level contentment. It is simply a collection of ideas that may help you to develop positive mental health.

1. Understand your own mental health

cup of coffee and open books

I am a firm believer that self awareness is the most important aspect of changing your mental health.  For many of us, the first time we will become aware of our mental health is when it becomes a problem.  Taking time to think about what makes you tick first however could help you to identify where your possible triggers may lie and help you to avoid them in the first place.  This may seem like quite an overwhelming task but there are plenty of resources out there that can help.  In his book, The Chimp Paradox, professor Steve Peters discusses the relationships between various parts of our brain that govern emotional and rationality thinking and how these develop in response to our experiences.  I found it an extremely useful way to explore and understand my own psychology as the basis of my mental health.  

Without understanding, your efforts at training are potentially shots in the dark.  When we first visit a gym, we may have no idea of where our strengths and weaknesses lie.  Once we’ve pumped a bit of weight or stepped out on the treadmill we will have a clearer idea and this can help to focus our training.  

As a side note, I’m not sponsored to promote anyone’s work or product. I happened to find this book particularly useful but I acknowledge it may not be for everyone and there are a raft of other resources out there that may be equally useful.  

2. Balance activity with rest

Any athlete will tell you that the harder you train, the more rest you require.  Its a simple balance of Yin and Yang.  When it comes to resting mentally I find people are generally less aware of what constitutes rest. TV for example is rarely relaxing.  It is usually emotive or stimulating.  After all, it is designed to entertain.  We could be lulled into thinking we are resting because our bodies aren’t moving however all  the while however our brains are ticking away, processing the information.

In my humble opinion, 21st century human beings are over stimulated. Information is fired at us left right and centre and for many, we have simply lost the art of being still.  Because of this I strongly recommend developing a mindfulness practise.  Mindfulness is a form of meditation that allows us to focus on what is happening right now as oppose to past or future events.  It sounds simple enough but once you engage in a mindful practise you will be astonished at how much time is spent thinking in either past or future terms.  If you need anymore convincing the mainstream media are frequently bestowing its benefits as seen in this well balanced article.

Mindfulness can help us to give the mind a break and in time that will become more than just something we do for ten minutes a day.  It becomes a skill to manage some of the more difficult aspects of life.

3. Don’t expect overnight results

This is another casualty of our modern world where we no longer have to wait for anything.  Our expectations have moved, often unrealistically.  If I want to develop 32” biceps its going to take time.  If I am recovering from a shoulder injury, its going to take even longer.  Patience is the key.  Its harder because we struggle to see the results however in time, if we stick with it we will start to feel the results.

Brain Training

4. Consider how the other pillars of wellbeing influence your mental health

This really harks back to my first post introducing the four pillars of wellbeing.  Ultimately, wellness is not held up by one aspect of health.  If we want to be resilient we will want to stand our wellbeing on four Saturday pillars, each of which is helping the load of the other.  It can help us to consider our health in individual terms but there is plenty of cross over.  For example, how we eat can have an effect on our mental health as seen in this link from MIND.

Mental health can affect sleep and sleep can affect mental health.  The best way to approach your mental health is to sit down with a piece of paper and think about various aspects of lifestyle and how they may be affecting you.  A few key areas to think about could be sleep routine, social media use, alcohol and caffeine consumption.  This is by no means exhaustive but is a nice starting point.

Remember, we are all individuals

This reminds me of my favourite line in life of Brian where the entire crowd repeat this sentence.  There is a tendency to think of our health in a one size fits all model.  My training and career as a holistic therapist has taught me that no two people are truly alike.  We all bring subtle differences so whilst I very much advocate open and honest conversation about mental health with the sharing of ideas, we never the less should be aware that what worked for one may not work for another.  This doesn’t mean it or you have failed, just that you have different needs and should try something else.

Reach out for help if you need it

This is where our old friend stigma comes in again.  I’m afraid it is also an opportunity for me to use another physical health analogy (yes repetitive but unapologetic, it gets the message across). My local green has someone training under the watchful eye of a personal trainer nearly every day at some point in time.  Most of the people in my social circle engage in some type of regular physical activity under the watchful eye of a trainer, coach or professional.  In my family it is Karate.  In others it is Yoga or Pilates or whatever.  For those who run or cycle the help may be less formal, working instead in pairs or small groups.  When we take a bump we will ask someone to put a plaster on or give the area a rub.  If the injury is more serious we usually seek professional help.  What I’m saying is that we all understand that our physical needs are usually better met under guidance or with support.

Consultation

Why then are we so reluctant to seek help for our mental health?  Stigma.  Its a tired line but in my opinion it cant be said enough.  reaching out for help with mental health is not a sign of weakness or failure.  It is a sign of common sense that you have recognised the limit of your own capabilities and need some help to either fix things or take you to the next level.  Mental health support can take many forms.  CBT, Counselling, Complementary therapy, Talking informally in groups like Talking FreEly  What is important is that we feel able to reach out when we need it

Be mindful of the end goal

A few months ago I posted a blog on Happiness.  To say it was highly controversial would be an overstatement but suffice to say it was divisive, some disagreeing with my assertion that we should not be striving for happiness.

I haven’t shifted my thinking here.  If you see the epitome of mental health as perpetual joy you are going to be disappointed.  Life can be hard.  Its a series of obstacles and challenges, some pleasing, others not.  Very few people navigate through life on a steady straight zen line.  We are always moving between highs and lows.  Its a natural process of life to experience a range of emotions according to what life presents us.  Instead the goal should be improving our capacity to cope or recover from the knocks and equally, not to get too carried away with the highs

Contact

Tony is a qualified acupuncturist with clinics across east Anglia. He is also the founder and a director of Talking FreEly, an organisation campaigning to break down the stigma of mental illness through honest and open conversations.

If you are interested in learning more about how Tony could help you or your organisation please get in touch or book an appointment at one of his clinics.

Stress Free Zone - Signpost directing you to a stress free zone

Stress – 5 steps to help you manage

Stress free zone.  A signpost pointing the way

Stress Free zone – Photo by thornypup on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

Stress seems to be a a 21st century epidemic and its not difficult to see why.  Everything in life moves so quickly we barely pause for breath.  Long hours at work, mortgages and bills to stay on top of, roads full of cars, trains crammed with people.  The potential for stress seems to sit round every corner.

Dissecting the finer details and complexities of stress is the basis of a deeper and more detailed story but there are some simple steps you can take to start taking a bit of control.  Becoming aware of stress levels is now part of my commitment to self care and when I feel them rising there are a few key places I look for some quick easy releases.

1. Turn the technology feeds off – Yep I’m talking all of them.  E-Mail, Social Media, News, Twitter.  Did you know that there are now more mobile devices than people in the world ?  There is increasing evidence that we are becoming addicted to technology.  People are absolutely bombarded with information and it sits right there at our fingertips, bonging away every five seconds on a smart phone.  Do you really need to instantaneously know that you mate just checked in at the gym or the Bank of England reduced the base rate by 0.25%?  Will your mates gym session go any better for you “liking” it?  No.  Thats not to say we shouldn’t enjoy our technology.  Just be more disciplined about when you use it.

2. Switch yourself off – When I ask people how they relax the most common response I get is “Watching TV”  Lets explore this.  Is TV designed to help us switch off?  No.  Switching off is the last thing the TV bosses want us to do.  What do you watch? X Factor? The News? Soap Opera’s?  Think about whats happening emotionally when you do this.  Excited? Angry? Jealous? Watching TV may be giving your body a rest but not your mind.  I recommend mindfulness as a way to regenerate the brain as its simple and accessible.  You can find a wealth of resources out there to help develop your technique but if you want to just give it a go why not try practising a breathing technique and focusing on the breath for a few minutes each day.  You will be surprised at just how busy your mind is!

3. Go for a walk – This has 2 benefits.  Firstly, you get some exercise. A lot of my patients don’t register walking as exercise because we seem to only register physical activity with going to the gym. Actually the traditional Chinese view of health would take quite a dim view of all that heaving straining and sweating.  Traditional exercises such as Tai-Chi are far more sedate but get the blood and energy flowing all the same.  The second advantage of walking is you get some natural light.   Studies of seasonal affective disorder suggest a clear link between natural light and mood so getting this into your daily routine is really important, particularly since so few of us now work outside, instead staring at manufactured light on computers all day.  Get outdoors and revel in all that fresh air!  If the suns out even better since sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D!

4.  Sit down and eat properly – This isn’t a diet lecture. There are a whole bundle of resources out there on what you should and shouldn’t eat, some good, some rubbish. I do give dietary advice but one of the most overlooked aspects about  food is how you eat it which is arguably as important as the food itself.  Buying a healthy lunch then shoving it down at your desk between meetings is a waste of good food.  Eat 3 times a day, every day, and take enough time to sit down and eat these meals properly, preferably at a table, but at least without distractions like TV, work and yes those retched smart phones again!  You will digest better and therefore feel better.  Less indigestion, more energy and who knows, you may even lose weight.  Once you’ve nailed that we can start thinking about what type of food we actually put in!

5.  Give yourself a break once in a while – One of things we struggle with in the West is this sense that one shower ruins the summer.  If we have a chocolate bar our whole diet is a failure.  Its a huge barrier to progress because rather than seeing it as a set back or a one off it becomes the end of the line.  Out comes the ice-cream, on goes the Shakira (Bridget Jones for those who missed the reference). What we miss is the massive triumph of the 1, 2, 10 days before. Life is for living and whilst having self discipline is a wonderful thing having fun is an essential part of life too.  If you fall off the wagon, remind yourself you’re human, applaud yourself for everything you’ve achieved AND for recognising your human limitations and start again tomorrow.

So there they are.  5 simple steps on a long journey.  Thank you for reading and good luck.  Do remember to check in again for more health a wellness tips.

Written by Tony Sigrist

Tony is a qualified Acupuncturist with a lot of experience in managing mental health.  He is available for talks and presentations to businesses and groups and also has a private practise in Ely Cambridgeshire where he see’s patients for individual support across a full range of physical and mental health conditions.  Contact him today to discuss your individual needs.

Stepping back from the stress

Today I am travelling into London for a meeting, a journey that I made daily a few years back in a haze of numb misery.

Looking around me. the stress is palpable. Too many people, not enough space. Rubbing salt into the wounds, I look out of the window and the sun is shining, reflecting off rivers winding their way through green fields and trees. The train is full of people travelling to jobs that aren’t fulfilling and away from lives they’d rather be having, enjoying the simple pleasures that life has to offer us.

I only make the journey every few weeks these days and I enjoy the experience, not because I like the heat and bustle of an overcrowded train but because I can reflect on why I removed this from my life and indeed how fortunate I am.

At its most basic level, human existence has very few requirements. Eating, breathing, resting pretty much keeps us going. All of the other rules are created by humans and work on the basis that we consent to follow them. Some of these rules are positive and allow us to exist harmoniously together. In the main these rules are written. Some of the rules however are unwritten, the accepted norm that we follow because its what society expects of us like working 40 hours a week, having a mortgage etc. In fact these are not rules, they are choices and we have far more control of these rules than we think.

I doubt anyone really enjoys commuting to work but for some, the life it affords them outweighs the sacrifice. When this position is reversed and the sacrifice outweighs the benefit its time to step back and question what we could do differently.

The UK is currently in the grip of a mental health epidemic. Medically, the causes of mental illness are poorly understood, hypothesis rich, evidence poor. Genetics, biology and psychology can all be at play but the link with stress, when considered alongside the typical lifestyle in the west, would seem the most likely driver behind the recent surge of common mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Its also the one cause we have the most control over.

I broke the cycle 7 years ago now and whilst my life is not plain sailing I’m way happier than I was sitting on this train everyday. What I sacrificed in money and “stuff” was invested in the one thing that money simply cannot buy. Time.

Mental Health – Adapting to the Environment

Many people who are aware of their Mental Health will notice that certain environmental changes can trigger their symptoms.

I recently attended a fascinating presentation on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a keen interest of mine.  Some of the discussion was interesting because it highlighted how different attitudes towards mental and physical health.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

For those not in the know, SAD is an illness where mental health plummets at a particular point in the year, usually as the days become shorter.  I have written a more detailed piece on the condition which you can read by clicking here.

The event was presented by one of the worlds leading authorities on the subject but became a well managed exchange of experience and views.  One of the attendee’s was interested in the potential of building light therapy into existing light sources.  Light therapy currently requires a sufferer to sit in front of a light for up to 30 minutes.

To be clear, I think this is a great idea.  Anything that can help alleviate suffering without ingesting chemicals can only be a good thing.  What concerned me was some of the rationale that was offered for “needing” this type of product.  “People don’t have 30 minutes to sit in front of a light in the morning”.

Different attitudes

What immediately struck me from this statement is the disparity with which mental health is held next to physical health.  Lets be clear, SAD is not a choice, its a serious debilitating mental illness.  Mental illness is a serious medical complaint.  In certain demographic groups, the mortality from mental illness exceeds that of any other illness.  If we had a physical illness that necessitated 30 minutes of physical therapy a day, we would move heaven and earth to make sure that person received it.  Would we see dialysis or chemotherapy as a choice?  Of course not, nor should we.  So why when the problem is a mental health one do we suddenly feel that we just “don’t have time” for a 30 minute treatment?

This sense that we “don’t have time” is right at the centre of why so many of us struggle with our mental health.  We just don’t take time to care for ourselves.

Sunlight

Adapting to the Environment

I also think we should consider why we flood our world with artificial light as soon as it gets dark.  I believe that in many cases (not all) SAD is not a problem with lack of light but a problem with trying to continue life at the same frantic pace all year round.  Our bodies tell us to slow down but we don’t adapt.

In some species, the behaviours of taking on more fuel (carbohydrate craving is an early symptom of SAD) and resting is part of their seasonal rhythm.  In humans however, our bodies start to change and our instinct is to resist and fight.  We follow the same routines year round to maintain the same levels of productivity.

In an ideal world I would see people following a more seasonal approach to life.  I am however a realist and I know that the western world is going to be a long time bending to this ideal.  If however we continue to invent new ways of ignoring our bodies and circumnavigating basic needs, the mental health crisis thats slowly gripping society can only deepen.

Im glad to say that the majority of attendees at the event agreed. We should be finding ways to secure 30 minutes of our day to attend to our mental health, not more ways of disregarding it.

Where to find help

If you are suffering from mental health problems be assured, you are not alone. There is non judgmental help when you feel able to reach out for it.

To find out more about challenging the stigma of mental illness take a look at Talking FreELY or get in touch with me.

Logo for Talking FreEly, Mental Health Organisation

If you are suffering from mental health problems, be assured, you are not alone. There is non judgmental help when you feel able to reach out for it.

If you are in crisis please consider the following advice from MIND

  • Go to any Accident & Emergency (A&E) department.
  • Call 999 and ask for an ambulance to take you to A&E.
  • Ask someone else to call 999 for you or take you to A&E.

If you need urgent support but don’t want to go to A&E, you could:

  • call Samaritans on freephone 116 123 – they’re always open and are there to listen
  • Call NHS Direct on 111.

Mental Health – Strong for too long?

One of the things I see on social media a lot is this statement

“Depression isn’t a sign you are weak, its a sign you have been strong for too long”

Its a well intentioned way of re-framing how we perceive mental illness but what does it actually mean and is it accurate? For me the language creates some problems!

Firstly, its a bit of a sweeping statement because mental illness is completely arbitrary, affecting people from all walks of life and for any number of different reasons.

What it refers to more specifically is a commonly encountered cause of depression. The curse of modern western society. Stress!

The “strength” to which it refers describes the capacity of a person to cope with stress. In so called “strong” individuals, stress acts as a motivator, an impulse to push harder and harder to overcome the adversity and achieve. When the drive goes beyond the bodies limits there comes a point where it has to break, like any system that is overloaded. At that point depression takes hold.

If you are one of these individuals (its fine by the way, I’m a lot like that myself) you probably feel better knowing that in spite of your mental health, society views you in positive terms as a go-getter. In some cases, it may encourage the perception that mental illness is simply a consequence of normal life if you want to “get on”.

But what if you aren’t “strong”? By implication, if not in actual language, this statement suggests that the opposite, people who fold at the first sign of stress and therefore don’t push their body through the same level of trauma, are unlikely to suffer depression. Apart from this (of course) being absolute rubbish, the implication is that these types of people are “weak” (it is after all the opposite of strong), a term most of us would consider to be an insult. Society after all has little regard for this approach to life.

Am I over analysing? Well certainly if the message that we value strong over weak is not implicitly carried in this statement on mental health, it is one that is heavily implied and indeed replicated across society, particularly in the workplace where I have repeatedly encountered the attitude that “going the extra mile” is pretty much compulsory.

Of course the path you decide to follow in life is an entirely personal choice. Where it becomes problematic is when society guides these choices through negative stereotypes. When people push themselves because they feel that is what is expected, not what they want.

Can a statement intended to make people feel better about themselves really do this? I think it can. I think the stigma of mental illness is driven by thousands of stereotypes, cultural norms and poorly used language. In this example, you could as easily change strong and weak for stupid and wise and tip the entire statement on its head. Language is a powerful tool and tackling what has become accepted norm is a huge challenge. If however we ever hope to have a lasting impact on the merciless onslaught of mental illness its one we have to take on.

It all begins by talking which is why Talking FreELY invest so heavily in facilitating simple and honest conversations about mental health. Because it is these conversations that will drive change.

If you are struggling with mental health there are a number of useful links on the Talking FreELY website. If you want to know how you can help to keep the conversation, check us out on Facebook and Twitter

www.talkingfreely.org

Mental Health – Surviving or Thriving

The theme of 2017 Mental Health Awareness Week is, surviving or thriving.  When I first read this I was immediately drawn to the word thriving, a word that fills me with optimism and excitement about the potential the world has to offer. Immediately I cast aside survival as a negative message that I didn’t want to focus on.

Today I was reflecting as I often do and I realised that this is mental health awareness week, and Talking FreELY, a local mental health organisation I am involved with is about honest non judgemental conversation on metal illness.  I realised my natural instinct to try and fix things had perhaps led to me missing at least 50% of the awareness message.   Awareness is not about solutions, its about giving some insight and however hard those messages are to deliver it is surely my responsibility as a mental health ambassador to try and do so.  So I would like to talk a little about survival and what that means in terms of mental health.

The first time I heard thrive or survive was on Chanel 4’s “The Island” with Bear Grylls.  12 contestants marooned on a desert island with nothing but basic tools and the clothes on their backs.  The challenge, not just to get through, but to actually enjoy it. To eat well, to create a comfortable living environment and a happy community.  I was watching this programme last night when the tail end of a hurricane hit the island dumping inch after inch of miserable battering rain on them.  No proper shelter, no proper clothing, unable to go and hunt for food, barely able to keep a fire going and worst perhaps, inaccessible even by the rescue teams.  It was utterly miserable and in that real life moment, any thought of thriving was lost and it became a single battle to get through that bad time.  It is a great example of how life is, and how mental health can be.

My own mental health is an ever changing landscape.  There are times when I do indeed thrive.  During these times I can really rip into life and live each day to its fullest potential,  laughing, joking, getting things done, the life, soul and energy of the party.  But its not always like that.  Several times a year, every year for as long as I can remember, my mental health will slump and the cloud of depression will loom overhead.  In these times its often all I can do to get out of bed in the morning.  I retreat from the world and everything from washing my face to taking the kids to school becomes a struggle.  As I’ve grown in my awareness I find I have an increasing number of strategies that can help me to predict and manage these bouts.  I lean more heavily on relationships, try where I can to get out more, stay off social media.  These interventions help but they aren’t about thriving or “snapping” myself out of it.  Surviving in these moments isn’t a choice under my conscious control.  I don’t chose to be depressed or anxious any more than those poor people on the island chose to be battered by relentless rain.  Its what life throws at me, and I do what I need to get through until the time passes and the sun comes out again.  Some people may come out of it and never get hit by a hurricane again.  For others, who live in their shadow, its about rebuilding and trying to be better prepared for the next time.

Perhaps I can be forgiven for focusing on thriving.  The reality of survival isn’t that cheerful and who wants to be seen as the harbinger of doom?  We all want to hear the positive messages. But this is mental health AWARENESS, not mental health utopia.  In amongst the positivity we should perhaps, quietly acknowledge that a lot of people are just surviving and in fact may not need a bundle of ideas just now to get them thriving.  Lets celebrate the successes but remember that the bigger task is in supporting the ever increasing number of people who are suffering from a mental health issue.  How you survive is what empowers and enables you to thrive.

If you are suffering from mental health problems and need help, please follow this link for details of support organisations – HELP

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

AutumnTheres a lot to be grateful for at this time of year.  Abundant freshly harvested food, a cacophony of colours as autumn takes its hold, cosy nights in front of a roaring fire as the nights close in.  For some people the joy is overshadowed by low mood that may have no tangible origin, but simply sits there, like a cloud over their head until the seasons start to tip once again and the longer days draw in.  For those who feel like that, they could well be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a form of depression that follows a seasonal pattern with sufferers experiencing a change in mood depending on the time of year.  The usual onset is in Autumn and Winter when the daylight hours are shorter.  Less commonly this is reversed.

The problem is poorly understood but several theories exist.  From the physiological perspective hormonal anomalies in sufferers may provide some explanation.  Melatonin is a hormone that the body secretes to induce sleep.  Scientific studies, though not yet conclusive, have examined levels of melatonin in SAD sufferers and have found it to be higher during winter months.  Likewise Seratonin, the “feel good hormone” is likely to be found in lower levels.
pexels-photo

It is not known why some people are affected in this way but one theory is that the reduction of daylight during winter months is responsible for the altered hormonal levels.  This is supported by data.  If you live nearer the equator, where daylight hours remain more constant through the year, you are far less likely to suffer from SAD.  This theory carries weight.  In our increasingly evolving world, far less of us work outdoors these days, instead sitting in front of computers staring at false light all day before going home in the dark.  But perhaps the bigger problem is not the amount of light we work in, but the fact that we don’t adapt.  Compare us with certain other mammals who would retreat to hibernation during the winter months.  As the colder months draw in, their bodies tell them its time to slow down and recuperate so they do exactly this.  Humans however continue at the same speed and pace making no changes at all.  If anything on the approach to Christmas we speed up, desperately trying to cram everything in before the end of the year.  In this theory, the adjustment in hormones is in fact entirely normal.  The development of symptoms happens because we don’t respond, the emotional equivalent of running on an already sprained ankle.

The solution in this instance is of course simple.  Hibernate.  If only.  Unfortunately, very few of us are in a position to work less hours during the shorter days so practically speaking, SAD becomes a condition to treat rather than a change we must manage.  So what can we do.

handsWell, firstly, I still recommend getting more rest and slowing down where possible.  Holistically, the key is to treat the source of the problem.  Acupuncture is more than an answer to aches and pains and a number of people seek treatment for a range of health issues including emotional support.  It is also worth considering light therapy for which more scientific evidence is emerging.  This is a simple and relatively cost effective therapy you can control yourself and would work well in support of other treatments.  Its worth researching the subject properly however as the science is quite specific.  Medical evidence has suggested that lights need to emit 10000 lux to be effective.  The light units that conform to this are registered correctly as medical devices.

If you would like to talk to me about how acupuncture could help with your health and well being please email me info@sigristacupuncture.co.uk or call 01353 360 633.  I may be in clinic but if you leave a message I’ll get straight back to you.

If you are considering buying a light therapy box please read do your research.  The SAD.org website provides good clear guidance with appropriate links.  Alternatively, get in touch with me.  www.SAD.org.uk

For more information on SAD including a downloadable leaflet, please follow this link to the MIND website.  www.mind.org.uk

Thank you for reading

Burnt out Brits struggle with stress

Burnt out

The nation’s stress levels are on the increase and we are risking our health by turning to sugary food, takeaways and alcohol to help cope with modern life a new survey has revealed.

The brand new study by the British Acupuncture Council to mark ‘Acupuncture Awareness Week’ (2nd-8th March 2015) shows that over half of the UK residents surveyed are more stressed now than ten years ago and turn to junk food and booze in a bid to feel better.  The study of 5,000 adults found that a third of us admit to comfort eating when stressed, a quarter confess to drinking alcohol and as a result 1 in 5 admit they put on weight.

Despite 70% saying they are aware prolonged periods of stress can have a long-term impact on their health, almost half of people admit they just put up with it with two thirds saying stress is totally unavoidable in their life. A lack of time (41%), wanting to have it all (25%) and difficulty switching off from work (24%) were cited as the top reasons for the rise of burnt out Brits.

There are many symptoms associated with stress including anxiety, nausea, insomnia, headaches and stomach pains.  So how can we de-stress our lives, surely depriving ourselves of our junk food and alcoholic cravings just adds more pressure?

According to Tamzin Freeman, a qualified member of the British Acupuncture Council reaching for your favourite foods or treating yourself to that bottle of wine after a hectic day may feel good in the moment but won’t tackle the root cause of the problem. Traditional acupuncture is an effective, evidence based therapy that can be a positive step for anyone wanting to get their stress levels back under control.

Although traditional acupuncture has been an integral part of Chinese medicine for nearly two thousand years, particularly as treatment for stress – just 4% of the UK have tried it.

 

Original article by BAcC http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/public-content/public-pr-press-releases/4344-burnt-out-brits-struggle-with-stress.html