There seemed to be a real heaviness at the start of the group today due to issues going on for group members. By being able to talk about these issues it felt like the heaviness in the room lessened and people were able to smile and even laugh. It reinforces how important it is to be able to say how you feel. It was mentioned how important it is to have this “safe space” in the group where it is alright for people to be themselves without fear of judgement. Through doing the “check in” today it really showed how courageous and strong people are in the way they deal with things even though they maybe do not see that themselves.
We looked at how we see ourselves and how to keep safe. We explored how to be assertive and how to exercise self-care. People can often find it hard to say no to people as they feel to do so would be letting others down. As discussed in previous posts we can all be good at helping others but are maybe not as good as caring for ourselves. While in recovery we have to show care for ourselves and to do what is right for our health and well-being even if it means being able to say no to people if that compromises our self-care.
Finally, being aware that this time of year can be very busy and demanding, the stress can feel overwhelming. We looked at the tool below (which a group member had found in a Bridget Jones Diary!) as a way of organising and prioritising, realising that some things can even wait until January! We discussed that when the ‘to do list’ looks too big, to maybe just concentrate on doing one thing a day.
The version below is taken from ‘The seven habits of highly effective people’ by Steven Covey.
The group was very welcoming to a new member who came to the group for the first time today. A lot of the conversations in the group today centered around how people are coping with the change in seasons and dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Members felt that they had less energy and had lower moods. We discussed how lack of sunlight and vitamin D can impact people. While most people affected by SAD, are affected due to the change to Winter, it should not be forgotten that for some, they are affected by other seasonal changes. We also discussed how people crave more carbohydrates but too many can lead to feeling sluggish, so we reminded ourselves of our food and mood session, noting that eating plenty of greens, garlic, olive oil, spices and fresh fruit and veg and oily fish can all help to combat feelings of depression and tiredness.
We previously blogged about SAD and some things which help, and today we considered some new techniques for coping with the long dark nights. Below are some of today’s suggestions:
- Light box
- Attend free events e.g. in Edinburgh concerts at St. Giles Cathedral,
- Listen to music
- Going to see Christmas Lights in town
- Getting out/going for a walk in the daylight
- Meet with friends and staying connected to prevent isolating
- Watch comedy shows
- Talk to someone
- Remember its ok to ask for help
- Put in brighter lighter lightbulbs
- Write things down to express feelings….paper never answers back and never gets fed up with you.
Below is the link to a video the group watched on how to deal with SAD:
As ever, great to see the group together showing their compassion for one other in making suggestions that could help each other while in difficult situations. While each group member may have different life experiences to the others they can all collectively relate to the feelings of despair and loss of hope. Being able to talk about things can help ease the feeling of isolation and thinking you are different to everyone else.
We discussed the need for us to be less self-critical and have more self-compassion. At times we can be so harsh and judgmental of ourselves while dismissing our qualities. Below is a link to an interesting website the group looked at while discussing self-compassion.
Lastly the group watched a video about famous people who have had mental health problems. The video reinforces the fact that we should not label others by illness, it does not define them as a person. I’m sure when people watch this video (below) you will be more aware about the people’s accomplishments than you are of their struggles.
The day before our group met it was #NationalStressAwarenessDay and we thought we would use some of the information posted on Twitter to find helpful ways to manage stress, since feeling stressed is a universal experience. First of all we discussed a blog by Benjamin Bonetti about how the three areas of Nutrition, Fitness and Wellbeing can all be used to target our stress levels, Click here for the full blog: http://huff.to/1ufuWfB .
Secondly we looked at what top tips we might individually take from the Self-Care Wheel (see below) which was posted by @onlinevents_saz on Twitter.