anxiety, birth, depression, general, health, lifestyle, mental health, parenting, post natal depression, pregnancy, wellbeing

July and why and what’s next

So, just briefly, around 8 weeks ago I noticed a post on the Facebook page of a free app, Mush, looking to recruit mums around the UK to market the app in their area.

The app works similar to Tinder (I don’t even know if this is the best comparison) but without the creeps, and the sleeze (no offence if you’re loved up through Tinder and views/opinions my own). But it’s similar in how it connects mums with other mums in the area.

mush

The reason I wanted to get involved is I know too well how social isolation feels and it ain’t nice. I saw this as an opportunity to help mums sat at home feeling like I did for so many years, with hope of helping them turn their life around.

Over the last 4 weeks I’ve dropped flyers off at local childrens centres, maternity units, handed them to Teachers, Childminders, Midwives. I’ve felt like a super sleuth quickly dropping them in baby change/feeding areas (do you know how weird that looks without a baby?!), changing rooms and even ladies toilets (yes, I know – living the dream). I’ve stuck stickers on park benches, pic-nic tables, bus stops, attached posters to park railings, school gates. I’ve done interviews over the phone for Smooth Radio, The Chronicle and had an exciting morning at Metro Radio, sharing my experiences of how life changes once you have a baby. I wanted to highlight that as expected, you are filled with love, you do feel complete, you do feel blessed, you do feel joy, but you also lose yourself as you put this new little person first. You completely forget who you are and what you like. It takes forever to get ready to go out anywhere, so often don’t bother. You lose contact with friends, or turn down any invites to nights out, to the point your friends stop asking you. The days are long as they start super early, the nights are late and sleep is broken. These are the negative aspects we don’t seem to hear or read about and the devastating affect they can have upon your emotional wellbeing. So basically I progressed from wanting to promote an app, to highlighting issues in parenthood we tend not to talk about. The more taboo subjects if you like. I don’t do taboo. I’ll talk about anything and everything

Moving forward, I knew as part of this role I’d be expected to plan an event. This event would be an opportunity to bring more mums together and to mark the end of the 5 weeks as part of the Mush team. I knew I could organise a coffee morning at a local soft play, or a picnic in the park. But I decided I wanted to do something different. I wanted this event to be all about the mums. I wanted an event where the babies stay at home with Dad (you don’t see dads giving up their social life once baby arrives, right?) and the mums get some much deserved ‘me’ time. And I thought I’d throw an opportunity for a well deserved cocktail or two

So it’s in a pub. Out of the 50 Mush recruits, pretty sure I’m the only one to be hosting a piss up. But in my defence,  we’re not just meeting up for a Saturday night sesh in town. We’re Clubbercising first for an hour. We’re throwing on our gym gear and trainers, grass skirts (Caribbean theme) and coconut bras (not me, but my friend is) painting and glittering our faces and doing a dance work out, with our glow sticks, whistles and whoops to 90s to current day tracks on the lit up dancefloor of Flares. I can not wait and loving the prep I’ve been doing this week. I’m currently sat on the sofa with a blow up dolphin to the left of me, and giant banana and crocodile to the right. And a pile of lilos and rubber rings on the table.

We did this in May in aid of Radio Lollipop where I volunteer and it was such a good night, I could not miss and opportunity to do it all again.

flares

I want music, I want dancing, I want laughter and I want a night to hopefully remember. But most of all, I want a fun night with my friends. The girls who mean more to me than they probably know. It’s only Wednesday and I’ve already seen three of them this week. How awesome is that. I want other women who feel alone to realise that it’s never to late to rediscover yourself. To remember what you like, what makes you laugh, how it feels to have fun. But most of all, how important it is to have friends, as they could be a lifeline.

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And I was about to share some more exciting info, but I’m keeping that for a future blog. I’m keeping this one all about the Mammys, how awesome they are, how hard it can be and how they don’t ever have to do it alone.

For more info about my event click on this link

https://www.facebook.com/events/102859490355781/

And to download the Mush app

https://mushapp.app.link/zeSiqqr4mE

 

 

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anxiety, asd, autism, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, metnal health, post natal depression, special needs, wellbeing

Who am I and why do I want to volunteer with Tots & Tums?

I,m Louise, I’m 39, and I am a mum of three gorgeous children, and married to Andrew.

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Me and my youngest, Emily

When people ask me ‘what I do’ I’m never quite sure what to say. I mean it’s easy to tell someone you work in retail, or in education, or something along those lines, but I write, and I blog, and I probably use social media way more that society suggests I probably should.

But I do all of those with reason and my intentions are always to spread messages of positivity and hope for those who may need it.

I do this because I have suffered with mental health issues pretty much all my adult life. Once I hit 16, I went off the rails and spiralled into a life which I can see now, is not the kind of life any mother would ideally want their daughter to have.

I had my first child at 21, ended up a single parent at 22, got into relationships with the wrong kind of people, made bad choices, found myself in not exactly ideal situations, but luckily I decided to try and make something of my life by going back into education at 26 once my son started school.

I met my now husband just before I turned 30 and as I was about to graduate from uni, and from then I finally got my life back on track, or more or less. We had our first child together in November 2008, then our second child September 2011.

Our oldest daughter was diagnosed with autism in April 2015, and it was at that point I said I was going to change my life. I had answers now. I’d spent so many years anxious, worrying, stressing. We had answers, a diagnosis and I needed to move forward.

So I set about making changes to my life, little by little and I can say now that I am completely through my depression. I still have moments of anxiety, but I think we all do, and I am now aware of how to control them.

I started by working towards fulfilling my childhood ambition of becoming a journalist and signed up to a distance learning course. From this I pushed myself to travel down to London on my own to do workshops, then smashed another barrier by taking my first exam, and passing. I then made myself completely familiar with my surroundings and what is going on in the area, what’s topical? What do people want to read about?, and started writing feature articles for newspapers and magazines.

I then started blogging and sharing my personal experiences of being an autism mum and living with depression and anxiety. I then took up exercise and it’s through that which I’ve made so many friends. Which brings me where I am today…

Beating depression has made me want to help others beat it too. I want to find people who have lost their way in life, and help them find it again. But I don’t want to do it sat in an office, taking notes, or as an employee who’s able to listen, but not able to give advice.

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I want to do it as me. As the girl who woke up one day and decided to take her life back. I want to find men and women who have lost all belief in themself, lost their identity, lost their path in life. I want these people realise their self-worth, identify their dreams, break their comfort zones and achieve them.

I want to be someone who helps reduce the mental health stats which fill me with tears every single time I read them. I want to be someone who makes a difference to the world, I want to potentially save lives.

And I want to do it all by sharing my experiences of kicking mental health issues and give others the confidence and belief that they can do it too.

depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

10 Sure Fire Steps to Body Confidence

BY LOUISE SHARP | July 10, 2015

Low body confidence is an issue which affects all of us from time to time, irrespective of age and gender. It is recognised as a significant social and public health problem in the UK and throughout much of the rest of the world. Statistics show that 60% of adults say that they feel ashamed of the way they look. This feeling of shame often leads to engaging in less social interaction, leading to isolation, and in turn poor mental health.

Worryingly, evidence gathered by the YMCA shows that low body confidence in young people can lead to unsafe sex, drug and alcohol abuse, and youth unemployment. In addition to this, a report commissioned by the Government Equalities Office found that low body confidence is undermining academic confidence and performance in adolescent girls, with some even missing school due to their body image concerns. Some women are going as far as simply not turning up to work or job interviews, showing that body image concerns are even preventing women from reaching their potential and contributing socially and economically to society.

But we live in a culture where a woman’s thinness and beauty are highly valued, and where wealth and success are often considered to go hand in hand with this image of perfection. We’re fed images via the media of ridiculously thin but extremely glamorous women, and these images are seen by teenagers in a time when they are particularly susceptible to peer pressure.

Low body confidence is not exclusive to women and girls; men and boys suffer negative body image too, but are less likely to admit to being affected, as it is seen as less socially acceptable for men to admit to caring about what they look like enough to experience any hang-ups.

It is the aim of many advocacy groups to change the way the media portrays women, with national and international efforts being made to make marketers take responsibility for displaying unrealistic and unachievable images of both men and women. But we cannot simply reply upon a change in the media to change the way we feel about ourselves, as body confidence is not solely down to what we see. There are a range of social, cultural, psychological and biological factors that influence body image.

We need to act as individuals and change the way we perceive and feel about ourselves. So, what follows is ten tips for achieving body confidence: a mental detox to have you feeling better about yourself in no time.

1)  Surround Yourself With Positive People

Every day we are surrounded by and spend time with a variety of people, but negative people can affect your own outlook, particularly of your body image. Choose to be around people who will make you thrive, even if this does mean some drastic changes to your social life. The transformation should empower you, lift your mood, self-esteem and body confidence.

2) Recognise the Use of Image Manipulation, and That Altered Images Are Altering Our Minds

These ‘perfect’ images we see in media aren’t all they seem. Celebrities have spent hours in make up, photographed under strategically placed lighting and air-brushed to perfection. Blemishes are removed, limbs are lengthened and stomachs are flattened, as demonstrated in the below clip. Learn to recognise that these alterations are unrealistic and recognise the harm that they are doing to your own self-image.

3) Celebrate Your Body and All the Amazing Things It Can Do

Shift your focus away from what you body looks like to what it can do. Our bodies are our means of getting about, seeing, feeling, smelling. It is the means in which we come in contact and get to know the world. We should appreciate and respect it for that.

4) Make a List of Things You Like About Yourself, Read and Add to It Often

These things don’t have to be physical attributes. What you look like is only part of who you are. Think of all the things you do and do well, such as your ability to make others laugh when they most need it, your quirks, or your ability to smile even when things get hard. These are all qualities that need to be celebrated. And when the critical voices start making themselves known, there’s some evidence to the contrary.

5) Overpower Negative Thoughts With Positive Ones

We affirm statements about ourselves and the condition of our life with every thought and word we speak, and we practice this habit subconsciously. As we ponder over specific thoughts again and again, those thoughts become beliefs. Pretty soon these beliefs become our reality, and the condition of our wealth, health and relationships depends upon our habit of perception. Practicing positive affirmations is life changing. Use more positive self-talk. When you find yourself in the midst of a negative thought pattern, stop and replace it with an opposite statement. So stop hating yourself because you ‘look horrible’ and learn tell yourself that you love yourself unconditionally.

6) Exercise

Research indicates that exercise can help to improve body image. People who exercise and workout regularly are more likely to feel self-confident than those who are largely inactive. Body image is a strong component of self-esteem – and taking part in an activity that you enjoy, and that you gain a sense of accomplishment from, will help to build your self-esteem. Other benefits gained from exercise include overall better mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress and depression. Exercise also releases endorphins which create feelings of happiness through euphoria.

7) Practice Self Acceptance

Self-acceptance is embracing yourself as you are right now.

“You really have to look inside yourself and find your own inner strength, and say, ‘I’m proud of what I am and who I am, and I’m just going to be myself.”

– Mariah Carey

To get to a place of self-acceptance you have to be able to know and understand who you are, which is likely to mean making some changes. You may have to face some fears and step outside of your comfort zone. It’s about separating who you are from what you’ve done, and understanding that everyone makes mistakes, and that’s how we learn and grow.

8) Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Everyone has something they wish they could change about their body. Wishing you had someone else’s hair, smile, or teeth takes away from what uniquely is you. Learn to accentuate the qualities you like and minimize the things you don’t. Start to look for beauty everywhere, particularly in places you wouldn’t ordinarily expect to find it, then you will learn to find it in yourself. You might not be able to squeeze into those size 8 jeans, but you still have that killer hair.

9) Focus on What You Have the Power to Change

If you want to change something about yourself, do it. If it’s your hair you don’t like, try a new haircut. If you’re unhappy about your weight, look into changing your diet or maybe joining an exercise class. The sooner you start making the changes, the sooner you will start to feel better about yourself.

10) Invest Your Time and Energy More Wisely

Rather than worrying about food, calories and your weight, use that time and energy to do something to help others, whether it’s an individual, or even getting involved in charity work. Sometimes reaching out to other people can help us feel better about ourselves and make a positive change to our world.

And that’s it! Do you have any tips we haven’t covered here? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.