Monday, 29 September 2014

Open Thinking :)

You know that "helpful" advice people often give to us when we're in that dark place:

"Just be positive!"
"Just think positive!"

Great, right? No.

People usually mean well when they advise this, but if you're struggling with emotional distress then this can top the chart of Most Irritating Comments. Often people don't understand that a low mood can't just be flicked to a happy one, just because someone demands it. You can't turn off anxiety like a tap.

What I found helpful was embracing open thinking. Going from negative to positive thinking seemed way too daunting, but somewhere inside me I realised I could get on board with open thinking.

Let me explain. 

So I understand you might feel terrible, but try to be open to the idea that it could improve. Be open to a suggestion. Be open to the idea that your future (both near and far) could be a little brighter than this moment. The very fact you're reading this post means you're open to trying a new way of looking at things! You're already practicing open thinking! Being open to someone else's ideas is worth it because something needs to change in order for your situation to change.

For myself, professionals and well meaning family would give me suggestions. And straight away I'd think oh I can't do that, I'm too depressed or I can't do that because I'm such a useless human.


With those cants, you're affirming to yourself that you cannot do something. Of course you can! Everyone can.

So instead I would tell myself OK self, what they're suggesting sounds a bit overwhelming and impossible but I'm open to it. I'm open to trying something new, because goodness knows my way isn't working out. I can't just switch on positive thinking but I choose to be open to new ideas.

Doors began to open. It took the pressure off me. I didn't have to commit to positive thinking, but my brain was at least thinking in a helpful direction. It allowed me a stepping stone to the elusive Land of Positive Thinking. Open thinking is about allowing the words of possibility into your life again.
  • Maybe one day I'll be free.
  • Hopefully today will be better than yesterday. 
  • Perhaps tomorrow will be better. 
  • Possibly that suggestion he/she gave me might be worth a try. 
  • Maybe I could try...
  • If they can do it, maybe I can too.
  • I wonder what could improve this situation.
What could you be open to today?

picture credit:

Monday, 22 September 2014

Human Connection & Hugs

I remember a time when I felt so alone, so foreign, so vacant that a hug felt like the most uncomfortable thing in the world. Someone would lunge at me in what I perceived as feigned politeness and throw a tangle of arms around me. The audacity. The word ridiculous coiled tight in my head. Get off me I'd chant in my head. Don't touch me. It hurts. Hugs hurt so much it felt like a burn. The memory of another soul pressed against my body, it merely amplified my loneliness. No sooner did the relief of a hug start, than it ended. I decided I craved hugs too much. Therefor I would no longer allow myself the luxury.

That was then, and this is now.

Hugs are now very important to me. They always were, but I no longer run from them. I find the self destructive side of me wants to deprive me of this gold. So I don't listen. I hug a lot now. I ask for hugs. I hug hello. I hug goodbye. The self abusive voice that once mocked something so natural has now been switched to mute. Hugs are important for survival. For my survival. I know that now.

"We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth."- Virginia Satir

Some people say you can tell a lot from a hug. It's a form of expression. Long goodbye hugs fill the gap of words left unsaid. Hugs can breathe warmth into someone. I can remember the hug from my Mum when I got home from a Summer in America. I remember the group hug with my sisters the day I got my Leaving Cert results. I remember the tight hug from a group therapy facilitator a few years ago when I felt like I would drown in my own self hatred. Hugs speak. The hug from my Mum felt said relief. The hug from my sisters said jubilation. The hug from the group facilitator told me to hang on, that living would get easier.

I remember hugs now. I value them like I value my life. Human touch feels electric to me. Holding hands. Kisses on foreheads. Sitting close to someone so you feel their chest rise and fall. That is human connection. And it is something I ran from for so long. But now it sparks life in me. It comforts me when nothing else can. In a world of social media and virtual relationships it's important to remember the value of human touch. Babies cry because they want be held. We grow older, but we do not outgrow the need for this human connection.

A lot of research is done on this topic. The University of Miami's Touch Research Institute has revealed many benefits to human touch:

  • Improves immunity 
  • Lessens pain
  • Improves pulmonary function 
  • Increases growth in infants 
  • Alleviates symptoms of depression

Hugging releases the 'happy hormone' called oxytocin. This has benefits including lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress, reducing fatigue and easing depression. Longer hugs can even increase seratonin which helps improve your mood. Hugs relax muscles, ease tension and also strengthen relationships. Hugs are literally the gifts that keep on giving!

Please don't despair if you feel lonely. I once did too. Start to notice the opportunities for human connection. If your granny wants to hug you, let her. Lightly touch a friend's arm while chatting. Stroke your dog or cat. Feel the energy of the person you sit next to. Hold your baby nieces, nephews or cousins. Book yourself in for a massage. Rub cream into your skin and feel the warmth of your touch.

Human touch is vital for survival :)

Credits for photos:

Thursday, 18 September 2014

People Watching

Have you ever felt very bored of life? Nothing to do? You've watched every piece of television created and you need to get out of the house? Well, my friend, we have the perfect hobby for you to try. 

People Watching!

Sometimes fact is far more intriguing than fiction. The whole world is filled with interesting people who are all so individual. People watching allows us to feel the rhythm of life around us. Sometimes we forget that a whole world exists outside our pulled bedroom curtains. You get to pretend to be an amateur anthropologist by observing and even creating stories around the people you see. Use your imagination!

You need to be careful to balance your curiosity, so that you aren't intrusive. Just sit back and observe. The idea is to get curious about the life around you. Look at the body language. Listen to the odd sentence as people amble by. Have a look at what the person is wearing. It's not about judging another human, but more-so about considering a life that is quite different to your own. Who could they be? Do they work? What could they work as? What might their home look like? Do they have hobbies? The aim is to be inconspicuous. If you get caught watching then you've gone from being a silent observer to a suspicious looking interference.

We all naturally people watch while waiting for a bus, or when staring out a window in traffic. But it has many benefits beyond passing time! It allows us a chance to get out of our heads. It helps ground us and thus decreases anxiety. It reminds us of our individuality and can be comforting if we feel alone. Some people even use people watching as a source of material for writing books and painting pictures. 

So maybe buy yourself a coffee, find a perch and have a go at people watching! 

Photo source:

Friday, 12 September 2014

Suicide Prevention : An Evening of Hope

Dare to Live SOS

Suicide Prevention: An Evening of Hope

Wednesday 22nd October 2014

Skylon Hotel
Drumcondra Road Uppr.
Dublin 9

Dare to Live SOS are a group of people who have come together through connecting with each other’s personal experience with Suicide, Self Harm and Eating Disorders. We know what it is like when the option of suicide is staring you in the face, but more importantly, we know how to SURVIVE. Suicide has a cure and that cure is HOPE. We will be providing an evening of HOPE by sharing our personal journeys from every point of view; Sufferers, Carers, Parents, Friends. We will be sharing how we have gotten through our darkest times and found life again. We want to share the HOPE. You too can help yourself or a loved one.

To have HOPE is to have connection. All are welcome to join us in our movement to banish Suicide, Self Harm and Eating Disorders as an option for more of our loved ones.

Together we can all save a Life

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Bring Some Colour to your Life

Sometime when I'm feeling down I like to buy myself a little gift from me, to me.

A bunch of flowers is such a beautiful thing to buy yourself and there's a huge selection to suit any budget. You don't even have to buy some. Maybe your Granny's garden could spare a few roses. Maybe you could pick some wild flowers. 

“The earth laughs in flowers.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The power is in the little gesture. It's a message to your soul telling yourself that someone cares. Flowers can't help but lift a deflated spirit. 

Go on, for the price of a coffee you can have almost a week of colourful joy on your table! There's no commitment because they don't need any watering or attention. They just want to brighten your day!

Flowers have many positives and people say they can do all sorts:

  • Reduce stress
  • Ease depression
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Promote creativity
  • Help you feel happier
  • Remind you that beauty exists
  • Encourage self care
  • Help with motivation
  • Show love and appreciation

So consider buying yourself a little bunch today and let some colour back into your life!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Feeling Different?

Ever thought you don't fit in with society? Ever felt a bit weird or odd? Ever worried you were just plain wrong? Ever felt unhappy with something about yourself that seems different to everyone else? We have! But the great thing about these differences is we can learn to accept them, appreciate them and even LOVE them.

There really is nobody on this planet quite like you, and that is a wonderful thing.

You're unique. Imagine if we all looked the same, thought the same, acted the same and felt the same? It would be pretty boring, right? Don't fear being different to everyone else! Your quirks, your stories, your blemishes and your failings are as valuable as your successes because they make you a unique human being.

Here are some quotes that help me when I'm feeling unhappy with my uniqueness:

"Overcome the notion that you must be regular. It robs you of the chance to be extraordinary." - Uta Hage

“Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.” - Deepak Chopra

"It is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation." - Herman Melville

"If you walk in the foot prints of others, you won't make any of your own." - Unknown

"Today you are you. That's truer than true. There's no one alive who is youer than you." - Dr. Seuss

We are all just muddling along this journey called Life. Cut yourself a break! And remember, in the wise words of Oscar Wilde, "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken".