Posted in Weekly Blog

Musical Healing

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At the group today we revisited a topic which is regularly requested for in the programme, music.  We did the exercise where you ask people what music they were listening to at different stages in their lives. The stages we used were; 10 years of age, teenage years and in your 20’s. Below are the stages and the music listened to by group members;

10 years of age:

  • Theme Tune (The Monkees),
  • Ant Music (Adam and The Ants)
  • Top of The Pops (The Rezillos)
  • Holding Out for a hero (Bonnie Tyler)
  • Aladdin Sane (David Bowie)
  • Running in The Family (Level 42)

Teenage Years:

  • Bye Bye Baby (The Bay City Rollers)
  • Pride, In The Name of Love (U2)
  • This Charming Man (The Smiths)
  • Purple Rain (Prince)
  • Can I Play With Madness (Iron Maiden)
  • Lust for Life (Iggy Pop)

Twenties:

  • Don’t You Want Me? (The Human League)
  • Lip Up Fatty (Bad Manners)
  • Friday I’m In Love (The Cure)
  • Music Sounds Better With You (Stardust)
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)
  • Last Boat To Cairo (Madness)

It was really interesting hearing the stories of what was going on for group members at the different stages and what the music meant to them.  It was fascinating to see the way  people’s musical preferences changed throughout the different stages of their lives.  For some group members it brought up some unhappy memories of childhood, but it made them realise the significance of how much music had been a saviour for them.  It seemed to help make the difficult times much more bearable.

The group looked at an article on the iheart.com website which shows examples of 10 songs that are scientifically proven to make you happy.  Group members agreed with some of the choices but not with others.  I guess musical preferences are subjective, with certain music bringing up all sorts of emotions whether they be good or bad.  Everyone really enjoyed today’s group and had fun hearing some of the funny stories. It seemed that with hindsight people could now view their past with different perspectives and see the lifeline music provided. The group have made their own lists of songs that help raise their moods.  Below are the songs selected:

Posted in Weekly Blog

From Anxiety to Relaxation

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Today we started off the group by looking at the ways in which anxiety can affect us.

*When you are stressed, adrenaline gets released into your body ready to run away or fight what it thinks is dangerous or threatening.  When we were cave people, this was useful, as we were living in the wild and faced many dangers that were threatening to us.  Obviously this does not happen to us in the same way nowadays, but there are times when our body feels we are in danger and that harm might come to us, e.g. if we are nearly knocked down by a car, or if climbing up a high step-ladder or if hearing a loud noise.  These are everyday events which may make anyone release adrenaline into his or her body.  If someone is under stress or tends to worry a lot, adrenaline can be released into the body even though there is nothing really threatening or dangerous to that person.  An everyday event such as going to the shops, travelling by bus or being with a large group of people can feel frightening and the body reacts by releasing adrenaline. When adrenaline is released, the feelings in our body can change and can make us feel horrible*

With this in mind we asked group members to write down on post-it notes the ways in which their bodies responded to anxiety.  The examples given were; sore head, racing heart, dry mouth, sore stomach, weak legs, clenching fists and grinding teeth.

We then looked at ways in which we could learn how to deal with anxiety.  One of the ways we looked at achieving this was through relaxation.  *When we are tense/anxious our body speeds up – relaxation slows us down again.  If we can learn the tools of relaxation we can turn off the symptoms of tension.  You can’t experience relaxation and tension at the same time.*

*Examples of relaxing activities are:  Having a long hot bath, Going for a walk, swim, cycle, listening to some soothing music and lying on your bed and imagining spending £1Million.*

*When you are anxious, adrenaline builds up in your body.  Daily exercise helps to use up some of this adrenaline.  You will feel better as a result.*

The group then did a relaxation exercise as described below:

  • Sit back comfortably in your chair, feel your back against the back of the chair
  • Put both feet flat on the ground and feel how solid it is
  • Close your eyes (optional)
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it and count slowly to 4, then let it go through your mouth, pushing out your abdomen at the same time.
  • Repeat 3 or 4 times to feel calmer and to slow the pace of your breathing.

The exercise can be repeated again after some time has passed.  It is especially helpful in reducing heart-rate at the first times of a panic attack.  Another good thing about this exercise is how you can use it while travelling (counting breaths in your head) on the bus for example or other situations that provoke anxiety.  Group members found this exercise to be very relaxing.  We then went on to do a mindfulness meditation.  What came from our final discussion was the fact that we are all individuals and it’s finding out what works best for you to and going with it.

*Taken from How to Manage Anxiety (p.6) by Nicola Stuckey and Neil Millar 2003*

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Art and Crafts

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In today’s group we used art materials to make some interesting objects.  We had lots of crafts to use including; small canvases, paints, colouring pens, stones, twigs, glitter, sand, candles and buttons.  We enjoyed seeing all the inventive things people had made. What was fascinating about doing the arts and crafts was how relaxed it seemed to make people feel and enabled group members to chat more freely.

Before the art and crafts excercise the group had an interesting discussion on the way society views the differences between men and women who have mental health or addiction issues. Group members felt that society views females who have alcohol problems in a more derogatory way then males with alcohol problems. With men there can be an image of macho bravado while for women it is seen as far more unacceptable in society. When it came to mental health problems members felt that females found it easier to talk about emotional issues than men.  For men there was more of a sense of a shame talking about their mental health problems. What we in the group want and continue to encourage is; for people to be treated equally without sense of shame regardless of the person’s gender and get the help they need to lead a more fulfilling life.