Posted in Weekly Blog

Having fun increases our well-being

dreamstime_m_15187219

While preparing for our group programme in advance we are always mindful of the need to make sure it is finely balanced between light topics and others that are a bit heavier. After having a few deeper sessions it felt nice to mix it up today having a session on fun!  It’s something that is so important for our well-being which sadly at times we can all too readily dismiss as un-important.

We did an exercise using spiritual cards and asked group members to choose a card that meant something to them. People found this useful as it provided an outlet to communicate how they felt. After this we played the card game adaption of the popular game show, ‘Catchphrase’. By the end of the game the scores between the two teams were fairly equal!

We finished with a look at what people’s favourite movies where and why. This evoked a discussion about the emotional attachment certain films held for people. Some of the films chosen were, ‘Cinema Paradiso’, ‘Kung Fu Panda’, ‘Back To The Future’, ‘Riding In Cars With Boys’, E.T., ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’, ‘Mary and Max’ and ‘The Godfather’ It was so nice to feel the passion and energy this brought to the conclusion of todays’ group!

Pop corn with soda and movie shows

Posted in Weekly Blog

Equality in Society

eq

So! We just put it out there today; Equality in society…what does that mean for people?  What were their experiences of being treated equally or unequally?

Interestingly the group went straight to gender inequality, especially sexual assult on women, a topic that is currently headlining most days as society is rocked by the prevalence of this much hidden issue for so many decades which is now surfacing more and more.  It was felt that although policy and awareness had changed, it was attitude that really mattered, and unfortunately there was still a lot of ‘dyed in the wool’ ways of seeing women and men that both genders still subscribed to with many gender stereotypes still being upheld.

In this group we often talk about the language which we use, and that by changing the language we can change the culture.  So as long as men and women, or boys and girls are brought up in opposition to each other this doesn’t help equal relationships.  For example ‘the battle of the sexes’ is language that pitts people against each other.  Phrases like ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘that’s just how men are’ makes acceptable what is unacceptable and what does that mean anyway? Why do we describe men who display sensitivity, nurturing, creativity as being in touch with their feminine side?  Why can that not be seen as being manly.  What is wrong with ‘running like a girl’? Someone suggested that sometimes maybe male violence is not helped by the message that emotions must be supressed because ‘big boys don’t cry’. And as we also often talk about in this group, our culture makes it hard for men to talk about their difficult feelings resulting in suicide in young men under the age of 45 being the biggest cause of death.  Some of our cultural language and attitudes are not helping men to be emotionally healthy and free

We also touched on how having had an episode of being mentally unwell, or having a diagnosis created inequality as people continue to see you as a patient forever after, even in long periods of wellness.  Unfortunately, people have experienced a shame and a silence around being off work with mental illness, it’s just not seen as being the same as being off with a physical illness.

We considered the inequalities of income, particularly in the stigmatisation of people on benefits being seen a scrounging and not contributing to society; which raises the question of whether its only financial contribution which is seen as valid?  If so how do we value the contributions of those who are retired or ill?

If equality is the state of being equal in status and opportunity we considered education and those who do not have equal access to the same learning opportunities, often influenced by income or area or gender.  Malala Yousafzai highlights the importance of education for all:

“I speak not for myself but for those without voice… those who have fought for their rights… their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.”  Malala Yousafzai

People in the group were feeling optimistic about equality increasing in future generations, recognising that younger people are more open and accepting and also the media is more open about some of the above issues.  A good example of this is shown in  the LGBT community where the younger generation have played a big part in helping change negative attitudes and inequality which  have been felt by those in the community.

A different way of understanding it maybe to think about equity; responding equally to need, which is different from giving everyone the same.  Equity gives each according to their need as the picture below demonstrates:

IISC_EqualityEquity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Weekly Blog

Planting for Spring

spring flowers

 

From March back through November landscapes draped in black and white
As knife-like shadows in the forests pierced the dimming light
And even mighty rivers disappeared under the strain
Of crushing flows of ice after a night of freezing rain

For now the only sounds that crackle out through winter’s hush
Are frozen pods of snow which to the ground from treetops rush
Exploding on the forest floor as from a fearsome hoard
Of Norsemen fighting wildly for their own wintry warlord

And so it is that through the coldest season of the year
We sequester deep within the halls that we hold dear
Waiting for the sunrise and the promise it will bring
That the stranglehold of winter will be broken by the spring

Then finally it happens; ice flows melt and streams cascade
Flowers bloom and fruit trees blossom while the pall of winter fades
Black and white are all forgotten as a rainbow now appears
And the cycle reinvigorates the passing of the years

This poem very much reflects what our group is about, planting seeds which we hope will bear fruit.
Posted in Weekly Blog

Not forgetting my achievements

Achievement

At today’s group people discussed achievements they have gained in their lives.  If suffering from low mood you may be prone to seeing things from a negative viewpoint. As a result, you may end up dismissing or playing down your achievements which can then lead to low self-worth.

A list of some of those achievements were:

  • Going on holiday alone
  • Making brave decisions about relationships
  • Gaining qualifications later in life
  • Being able to say yes or no
  • new employment ideas
  • Going to University
  • Using the self-service check-out in a supermarket!
  • Showing resilience in such tough times
  • Taking calculated risks
  • speaking to a big group of people
  • Breaking free from unhealthy situations

Listening to everyone’s achievements seemed to inspire everyone with the immense courage and bravery shown. It very much helped reinforce the fact that members have indeed accomplished many things in life even though they did not initially think so. 

 If you are experiencing challenging times it’s important to remember the things you have achieved and can further achieve. 

Posted in Weekly Blog

Learning To Be Assertive

 

At today’s group we looked at what “being assertive” means for people.  Some said they found it hard to be assertive due to the unknown response they would receive. Low self-esteem and feelings of not feeling worthy enough to be heard can make it seem a scary prospect. If people have grown up to believe that it is safer to not express emotions they could end up feeling irritable with internal anger as it does not have a healthy outlet. As a result of this someone may go on to experience poor mental health and develop an addiction problem.

Confrontation does not necessarily have to be a negative thing it could also create a resolution between  you and another.  Showing assertiveness does not mean being aggressive. Aggression and assertiveness are two totally different things. Being aggressive can come at a cost to you and others and will make it really hard to reconcile things as in the heat of the moment you may say things you did not really mean.  The reality is that being assertive does not guarantee you will receive the response you would like but it does allow you an opportunity to say how you feel in a respectful and healthy way. This is helpful remember while experiencing fears about being assertive.