It’s time to talk about mental health

TTC_TTTDay_Hashtag

Today is the first ever Time to Talk Day. Organised by the brilliant Time to Change, the largest programme in England tackling the stigma and discrimination often associated with mental health, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. Time to Talk aims to start conversations around mental health, raise awareness and share the message that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and neither is talking about it.

For inspiration on how you can get involved – have a look at the Time to Talk events page that lists everything going on in your area. There’s loads happening online too, keep up to date via Twitter and #TimetoTalk for all the latest information. If you head over to the Rethink Mental Illness Facebook page at 2.00pm-3.00pm today, you could also have a live web chat with the very inspiring Jonny Benjamin, who recently made the headlines with his #FindMike campaign, where Jonny got to say thanks to the man that saved his life.

Every small conversation helps…

Would you know what to do in an emergency?

unnamed

If someone suddenly became ill and went into cardiac arrest, would you know what to do next? For many of us, the answer is no. Around 60,000 people have a cardiac arrest outside of hospital every year in the UK. The sad reality is, less than 10% go onto survive. Yet, if a bystander is able to start CPR, this can double a person’s chances of survival.

Lifesaver is the fantastic, free resource from The Resuscitation Council that could help to save many, many lives. It acts as a crisis simulator, using live action and real-life scenarios that rely on your interactive moves and quick action to show what to do in an emergency and how to use CPR.

You really do learn as you go. If you do it wrong, you will be shown what you need to do instead. You also use your keypad to start CPR and it tells you if you need to go faster or slower. Do it right and you can make a real difference to your online victim’s life. It’s very clever stuff and is quite a thrilling experience too.

It’s available for computers and as an iPad app, iPhone app, Android tablet app and Android phone app.

Did I mention it’s free? Please download and learn – you never know when you might need this knowledge.

Get heart healthy (and watch the salt)

Salt


As it’s National Heart Month and I seem to be writing an awful lot about salt at the moment, I thought it was high time I whipped up a timely blog post on the topic.

Every day, 26 million of us are eating too much salt and as 75% of the salt we eat is already added to a variety of manufactured foods: we may be eating more than we realise.

The top salty food culprits are: cheese, certain breakfast cereals, processed meat (ham, bacon), stock cubes, sauces, gravy granules, bread, bread products, salted nuts and potato-based snacks.

A diet high in salt can cause high blood pressure (hypertension), which often has no symptoms. Hypertension affects one in three adults in the UK. If you have high blood pressure, this can increase the risk of stroke and heart problems developing.

Making small changes can help to lower blood pressure. Instead of adding salt when preparing meals, add flavour to food using herbs, spices, wine, vinegar, garlic, onion, lemon and lime juice. Reducing the number of processed foods and ready meals you eat will also help.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Brighten up on Blue Monday

Id-100116018


If you want to avoid feeling too down in the dumps on Blue Monday (Monday 21st January), wear bright clothes, Mental Health Research UK advises.

January as a whole can be a month when many of us feel pretty miserable, yet researchers claim that the third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year. This is due to bad weather, reduced daylight, debt, the need for Christmas detox and poor motivation.

MHRUK hopes to brighten up Britain with its campaign, Blooming Monday. The charity aims to raise awareness of depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and hopes to encourage people participating in brightening up their attire for the day to donate £2 to MHRUK to fund research into treatments.

If you’re wearing bright colours on Monday and want to make a voluntary difference, you can donate £2 to MHRUK by texting BLOO22 to 70070.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Ladies: let’s talk common concerns (down there)

Id-10042900


For many women, going to the doctors can be an embarrassing prospect – especially if the problem you have is of a somewhat intimate nature. It’s no surprise then that a recent study found a quarter of British women have turned to the internet for advice on treatments rather than seeking medical opinion.

Whilst the internet is good for most things, when it comes to your health, the web can sometimes be more of a hindrance. By self-medicating you may join the one in ten women who end up with unpleasant side effects as a result of a misdiagnosis. Below are three of the most common concerns women tend to encounter with advice on what to do if they affect you.

Cystitis

Probably one of the most well known women’s health issues, cystitis affects approximately half of all women in the UK. Whilst there are no blanket symptoms, most women will suffer with pain when urinating, a strong smelling and dark coloured urine and an urge to urinate frequently. Cystitis can also lead to vaginal irritation which is where remedies such as Canesten will come in handy. Ensure you drink plenty of water and urinate regularly as this will also help to effectively prevent this issue.

Bladder Weakness

Due to its highly sensitive nature, thousands of women just assume bladder weakness is something that is just part of normal life and something they have to put up with – it isn’t! There are products and remedies that will make suffering with this a breeze such as Tena pads. It is also important to note that reaching for your normal sanitary products just won’t do the trick. This is because urine is thinner and comes out in larger quantities – you need something that will be able to cope with this.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

This is sometimes mistaken for thrush and so many women will simply reach for a thrush treatment though this won’t effectively combat the symptoms of BV. When a woman is suffering from BV, her discharge will be clear and fishy smelling. Though antibiotics are the best remedy for this problem, products such as Balance Activ Vaginal Gel will also help to relieve some of the discomfort and neutralise the odour of discharge.

Don’t suffer in silence, get help today with some of life’s more intimate problems!

Please note: this is a guest blog post from Mistry’s Pharmacy

 

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Talking summer SAD

Blue_skies


While most of us are craving more sunshine and blue skies, summertime can be one of despair for the estimated 600,000 people affected by summer or reverse SAD in the UK.

Seasonal affective disorder is more commonly known as a wintertime condition, where the shortened days and decreased sun exposure cause symptoms of depression. Summer SAD is simply the reverse of this.

Symptoms include: increased sense of heat at night, agitation, restlessness, insomnia, reduced appetite and a general feeling of being miserable, often for no reason. You may also experience a sense of not enjoying what are usually pleasurable activities.

I’ve recently written a piece on summer SAD for the current issue of the Depression Alliance’s membership magazine Single Step. As part of the piece, I spoke to Ricky and Julia, two people who fantastically illustrated just how difficult life in the summer months can be for those affected.

Some tips that can help to minimise the effects of summer SAD include: using black-out curtains, opening windows at night, avoiding bright light, having frequent cooling showers, taking an ice-cold water bottle or cooling blanket to bed and exercising regularly.

For more information on the causes, expert insight, further tips and Ricky and Julia’s stories – take a look at my piece.

If you would like to commission me to write a piece for you, do get in touch

Get ovarian cancer savvy

Walkathong


Ovarian cancer
kills a woman every two hours in the UK. Almost 7,000 women are diagnosed with the disease every year. Most shockingly, UK women are MORE likely than other European women to be diagnosed only when the cancer has spread. The reason? A lack of awareness of the symptoms, which makes the advanced disease harder to treat.

Recognise the symptoms…

* Persistent stomach pain

* Persistent bloating or increased stomach size

* Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly

* Needing to wee more frequently

If you experience any of these symptoms, they may not signal ovarian cancer, but it is vitally important you see your GP at the earliest opportunity to rule it out.

 On Sunday 1st July, Ovarian Cancer Action wants people all over the nation to flash their teal knickers to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for the charity – by taking part in Walkathong. Go for a sponsored Walkathong walk or show your support by making a donation (£10 or more), contacting the charity for a pair of snazzy teal Walkathong knickers and simply slipping them over your clothes. All you need to do is wear your pretty panties for two hours or more and you’ll help to raise awareness and get people talking. Finally, make sure you take a picture and email to the Walkathong team.

Get outdoors, laugh and sing to beat winter blues

Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity, is urging us to get outside to guard against winter blues and to improve mental health.

Blue_skies

Many of us feel a dip in mood as the days get darker and research shows this is largely due to a reduction in sunlight. Our internal patterns of sleep, appetite, sex drive, temperature, mood and activity all rely on natural light cycles. As daylight hours diminish to just eight in December, the winter blues can be something that affects us all. You may feel low, eat and sleep more or feel less inclined to get out and socialise or even go to work.

Getting outdoors, or ecotherapy, increases our exposure to sunlight and can positively impact on our mood. Research shows outdoor exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety.

Exercise, laughter and music all stimulate and boost endorphins, the feelgood chemicals in our bodies that help to lift our mood. Make a point of spending time with those who make you smile. Or pop on a quality tune and sing-along gleefully. It is also important to eat well.

“By simply getting outdoors, we can all help ourselves in strengthening mental resilience,” says Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind. “Whether going for a lengthy bike ride, a quick jog around the local park or just time pottering in the garden, I encourage everyone to step outside and find something they enjoy this winter.”

Mind has developed a super information and ideas site to coax people outdoors this winter. Use the Ecominds activity picker to conjure up some truly inspiring, fun and unusual suggestions…

 

 

 

Eight tips to improve work-related back pain

If, like me, you are becoming increasingly wary of what working long hours each day is doing to the health and wellbeing of your back, these tips from the British Chiropractic Association will help to relieve the aches, pains and potential long-term damage our poor posture and bad habits are causing. 

Long_hours

1. Relax when sitting into your chair, making sure your bum is against the back of the seat with your shoulder blades touching the back rest of your chair.

2. Make sure your feet touch the floor, or use a foot rest.

3. Remove any obstacles from under your desk to ensure you have enough leg room.

4. There should be space between the front of your seat and the back of your calves.

5. Your hips should be higher than your knees. Tilt your seat, if needed.

6. Arms should be flat and your elbows level with the desk or table you are using. The BCA also advises using a chair with arm rests.

7. Take regular breaks. Never sit at the computer for more than 40 minutes, aim for less if possible.

8. When you take a break, walk around and stretch a little, do something completely different.

 

 

Mouth ulcers – what’s causing yours?

My_mouth_is_sore

I knew I had to go ahead with writing about this topic after sourcing the lovely image of this cute teddy bear with a poorly mouth. I expect teddy knows exactly how I felt for five days earlier this week when my mouth ulcer appeared from nowhere. Aside from constant pain when eating, drinking and swallowing, it also hurt whenever I spoke and I felt as if I was talking weirdly too.

My go-to treatment is always Bonjela which I’ve used right from childhood to presenthood when the odd painful ulcer rears its ugly head. Gels and pastels that contain anaesthetic tend to be the most commonly used treatments, as well as gargling and swallowing soluble paracetamol. Natural relief can also be obtained from chamomile tea, by allowing it to cool and swilling it around the mouth before swallowing.

So what causes those painful lumps or craters in your mouth? Well, accidental damage is often the culprit whether you’ve brushed your teeth too hard, had a minor burn from hot food and drink or bitten your mouth accidentally – the latter is often what happens to cause mine.

You can also become more prone to them if you are feeling rundown or ill, they are more likely to appear before menstruation, can often be stress-related, or the result of injuries to the lining of the mouth caused by a roughened tooth, braces or dentures. Recurrent mouth ulcers can be due to anaemia, a deficiency of vitamin B or folic acid. If you keep experiencing recurring ulcers or have ones that are not healing, please see your doctor for professional advice.

Ulcers can also occur as a result of herpes infection, inflammatory bowel disease and immune disorders, though these are also accompanied with other symptoms.

Be very wary of a mouth ulcer that enlarges slowly or does not heal and lasts longer than three weeks as this can be a sign of mouth cancer. See your doctor or dentist immediately with any concerns. Smokers and drinkers are most at risk.

As a proud north easterner, my latest research with the area’s LAHCC (Look A Head Cancer Campaign) for a nursing healthcare feature led to the discovery that mouth, head and neck cancer rates in my local region are much higher than the national average due to increased smoking and binge drinking. Though the cancers are more common in men and women over 40, they can also occur in younger people too.

Please retweet and share this post…