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Saturday, 12 December 2015

Everything's Going to be Alright... Feel-Good Ideas for Finding Happiness Against the Odds

The funeral I attended yesterday was terribly sad, but also managed to be a wonderful celebration of Lucy's life, which I am lucky to have attended, and so very lucky to have known her.

Aside from the odd set back which I still have to - very actively - work through, I am working hard to take care of my mental health and recover, challenging negative thoughts, mind reading, worrying, ruminating, making assumptions with no evidence, and lots more. I've been recovering for a year and a half now, and taking responsibility for my wellness (while asking for support from others) is really important. Luckily I am a lot better - I am one of the lucky ones - and while I'll still be managing it for a long time, I'm at least having a good patch at the moment with the new medication, the therapy continuing and more...

What was clear yesterday from the discussions at the funeral was how important and enriching the people and activities that we fill our lives with. Even though Lucy is no longer with us, we heard stories of her infinite kindness, zest for singing, language learning, walking and doing it all supporting herself and others while pursuing ambitious academic endeavours.

It started me thinking about the things that help me to feel a bit better - whether I'm well and want to keep my health good, am struggling and need a boost, or am down right ill and need something to make me feel a bit better. Small things can help. Here are mine...

Music really makes me come alive. When I'm sad it can help me sit with my sadness, and uplifting tunes can make me smile when nothing else does. I can't understand a life without music!

The perfect feel good tracks. Not all my desert island discs,
but lovely tunes that uplift me through the dark moments.
Click here for the playlist on YouTube
Feel-Good Songs:
1)      Let the River Run
2)      Firework - Katy Perry
3)      Titanium - David Guetta featuring Sia
4)      Flashlight - Pitch Perfect Various Artists
5)      That Lady - Isley Brothers
6)      Ugly - Sugababes
7)      Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles
8)      Hoppipolla - Sigur Ros
9)      One day like this - Elbow
10)   Starting Today - Natalie Imbruglia
11)   In Demand - Texas
12)   Belfast - Orbital
13)   You Get What You Give - The Free Radicals
14)   Rhythm of the Night - Corona
15)   Shine - Tracy Bonham

(I should also add that a health rendition of Let It Go works WONDERS for my spirits!)

You even get subtitles! WIN!

As I've said before, enjoying good food and drink is both good for my health - the juices I drink to combat my anxiety feelings, the fish I eat a lot of to boost my bone density and eat some good fats, without empty carbs... and then there are the delicious empty cards, the sugar, the deliciously fatty burgers and friends and the warming, aromatic yummy dumplings. And as for Marks and Spencers' 'nom snacks'...bacon and cheese snacks. I salute you.

Feel Good Foods
The foods that are 'good' for me, and the foods that are gooood for me. 
So, I'm well fed. Yep. so I'm a happy camper with a mixture of the delicious and nutritious. There may be slightly more of the goood stuff around Christmas. I can neither confirm nor deny that there are about twenty packets of Marks and Spencers' bacon-wrapped-cheese morsels of delissiousness. That's a fair way to being contended. 

So next up is the clothing that makes me feel warm and fuzzy, which you'll be unsurprised to see from the photo montage contain a fair few warm and fuzzy items of clothing.

Snug, snug, snug, snug, snug.
Here are some of the places where you can get your hands on these snugly items:
From top left:
1. T-Shirt - VioletFlamingo
2. Maroon cords - Gap
3. Ear muffs -
4. Gloves - Dents
5. Penguin jim jams -
6. Christmas onesies -
7. Hats -
8. SNUG socks -
9. Scarf - AndOtherStories
10. Coat -

Imagine wearing all of these, because Mat won't let me have the heating on, and you'll have a pretty accurate picture of what I'm wearing most of the home. I wear some at work, but even I feel that 'bring your whole self to work' might not stretch to a reindeer onesie. But you never know!

Right, I'm dressed in every snug thing, I've got positive tunes on, and I've eaten about 67 bacon and cheese snacks. What's next? 

Beauty. Okay, at this point I realise I may lose a few male readers. But bear with me because a few of these tips are good for everyone I think. The reason I decided to write about this is because my body physically manifests my mental health problems, and I think that's something that not everyone understands.For example, I have a psoriasis flare up on my scalp at the moment. Psoriasis is genetic and only occurs from time to time in my case, but it's not very nice, so I've been trying to treat it with specific medication. In addition to the juicing (which helps) and the medication for it, I then want to try to make the rest of my body feel better and try to keep my skin looking as okay as possible. 

It's not exactly rocket science to understand that when you feel crap on the inside, looking good on the outside can help massively helpful - or on the flipside, not looking great is miserable. 

Beauty products to protect, perfect, comfort, soothe...
Here are my favourite beauty products for feeling good (and preventing minor injuries!)
From top left:
1. Primer (Laura Mercier) - on top of a richer moisturiser for the winter, this helps keep my makeup from escaping in the winter chills.
2. Touche Éclat (Yves Saint Laurent) - to provide for all our highlighting needs in the winter when we've had not enough sleep and too much work. This has made me look a lot more human a fair few times.
3. Facial Fuel (Kiehl's). This one's designed for men, but it's a light, soothing and slightly astringent moisturiser that is great for after a shave, but I love it summer and winter under day makeup. It's great.
4. Vaseline (Vaseline) - good for cracked lips, for dry skin, for dry hands, for moisturising really dry skin (even on my face) I really appreciate this. (Plus, as a runner, vaseline is my saviour when I'm trying to avoid chafing!)
5. Poême (Lancôme) - my favourite perfume. The perfume that, when I wear it, people actually say I smell clearly I'm going to wear it forever. Please don't stop making in Lancôme!
6. Facial Cleanser (Kiehl's) - takes all my makeup off. Is smooth. Is creamy but light. Love this product.
7. Compeed - if you're going to a party or in new shoes, or like me want to do a long distant run, investing in some high quality blister protection helps massively.
8. Party Feet (Dr. Scholl) - not just for Christmas. These inserts for the soles of your shoes and heels protect rubbing, blisters, and enable me to actually wear heels for more than 10 minutes.
9. Nail varnish (Chanel) - I'm a recent Chanel convert but I do believe these colours are beautiful. Obviously you have to stink out the room / train carriage / office when you put it on, but nice nails are a nice touch. (I just need to work on the 'not-needing-the-loo-as-soon-as-I-put-it-on' problem.)
10. Finally...drum roll...Beauty Flash Balm (Clarins) - this is a miracle product. It peps up your skin, keeps your makeup on and even if you wake up with a hangover the next day, your skin will look fresh as a daisy.

So now I'm primped and pampered, warm in my pyjamas, well fed and relaxing because of the music... just a couple of other things that can help.

Uplifting Reads to Relax to and Rest with

Some of the books that I love, that have helped me feel better and that have helped me to 'feel' something when depression numbs my senses.

Feel Good Fiction and Fact
1. The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion
2. Possession - A.S. Byatt
3. Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson
4. Four Letters of Love - Niall Williams
5. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (and others)
6. The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint - David Udall
7. The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga
8. The Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams
9. Stones into Schools - Greg Mortenson
10. Watermelon, The Brightest Star in the Sky, Rachel's Holiday, Sushi for Beginners...basically novels by Marian Keyes
11. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
12. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

And finally here are some things that are important about all else but don't fit into a neat category!

Other Feel Good Factors
1. Holding hands. I want to hold hands with my husband for as long as I can. And I want to hug my friends. I've learned how powerful hugs and hand holding are. They remind me that someone is there, looking out for me, and that I'm looking out for them - that we're in this life together.
2. Love. "Love is the answer." Saying "I love you" to the people I love matters, and hearing it from them matters too. I'm learning about balanced relationships - learning that for every question I'm asked, I get to ask one back, and for every loving gesture I make, I might get one in return, if I'm lucky.
3. Sofa time. Those DFS no interest adverts annoy me intensely, but the importance of comfort at home is key. I can snuggle up on the sofa, in my onesie, with my face moisturised, my woolly socks on, my dumplings and plum sauce, my uplifting music playing and a good book. Ahh
4. Sleep - can't miss this out. See last week's post.
5. ParkRun and running. Keeps my health up. Gets me out. Helps me to eat burgers.
6. Writing. A way I can express how I'm feeling and feel better through being creative with words.
7. Winter walks - hopefully with snow, but cold clear days where the weather is so beautiful is a wonderful way to spend the day.
8. Small animals - back to hugs and fun and life. Jelly cat animals are special friends.

And last but not and commitment to ending the stigma around mental health.

Have a great weekend. Take care. x

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