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Back to Work: 19 Practical Tips For Post-Lockdown Mental Health

 

This Monday we have another blog from Anthony Peacock. Those of you who have been following along with blogs from our ULU community: ULU Nation will know that Mondays are dedicated to Anthony. And that Anthony has been writing regularly about life during lockdown. Today, Anthony will address the fears surrounding an inevitable return to work. He’s also compiled 19 tips from eminent psychiatrists on how to look after your mental health during the transition to a ‘new normal.’

 

Back to work

This week, a lot of Britain is heading back to work, although under circumstances that are distinctly odd. The message is still to stay at home if you can. But people are feeling under inevitable pressure to return to work. Some have even been told explicitly to return to work, as shops have to re-open soon in order to survive.

And although any signs of normality are welcome, not everyone is happy to be getting back to business. One reason of course is public transport, which many people will have to resort to in order to reach their places of work. Public transport has been well-known as hotbed of infection in the past. A fact that’s been tacitly acknowledged by the latest regulations that require everyone to wear masks and keep a distance. Because of this, there are queues, delays and tension – adding to the unreal atmosphere that’s on the streets at the moment.

Far from being a return to normality, many people are having to face up to the worst of both worlds: an end to the relative safety of refuge at home, but no end to the uncertainty and doubt that so many people feel about greater exposure to danger.

 

face-mask-on-blue-background

 

It only takes a short walk outside to discover that life is far from normal, and that people still feel uneasy about interacting with others. And that’s not exactly going to help people’s anxiety levels, faced with growing unemployment and the possibility of a second wave of Covid-19, widely speculated on by the newspapers.

Financial worries are at the forefront too, with many companies making no secret of their plans to shed staff once the furloughing scheme is over.

As a result, psychiatrists have sounded the alarm bells about mental health, especially if the crisis continues to drag on with no end in sight. Dealing with prolonged traumatic stress paired with growing uncertainty about illness, jobs, schools, and what the “new normal” might look like – as well as buying into the worst-case scenarios widely depicted by the media, politicians, and “experts” – is likely to cause issues a long way into the future.

 

19 tips for looking after mental health after lockdown

With this being a simple fact, it’s how we deal with it that makes the difference. As wartime has shown, trauma is a communal affair, and it’s only by admitting problems and looking for help that people will cope: leaning on one another for support rather than judgment or fear.

So, here are 19 tips from one eminent psychiatrist about how to get through the challenging times ahead caused by Covid-19. It’s a quick guide to building the sort of practical and mental strength that will be an invaluable defence to the pressures and dangers that we all occasionally feel.

  1. Take the necessary precautions and adhering to official safety protocols
  2. Reconnect to ourselves and our own version of a spirituality – whether this involves a high power or religion or not
  3. Reconnect with family and loved ones, especially those we haven’t seen for a while
  4. Check up on neighbours who may be vulnerable
  5. Look after those who have been otherwise forgotten, and especially think about those worse off than ourselves
  6. Seek and spread clear communication about how to improve the situation, through educational campaigns and leading by example
  7. Support people on the frontline, such as NHS workers and supermarket staff
  8. Brainstorm short and long-term practical solutions, especially for basic needs in the here and now: working the problem

 

stressed-man-in-gray-sweater-covering-his-face-with-face-mask

 

  1. Pay special attention to mental health and honestly assess your state of being – if you’re becoming overloaded, make sure to take time to rest and focus on yourself
  2. Advocate for calmness and spreading the message of hope among all you meet
  3. Focus on unity and community service, rather than division and selfishness – it can be all too easy to be judgemental and finger-point, especially on social media. But try to look for the good in every person and situation.
  4. Find opportunities during this challenging period to enjoy your family time
  5. Become part of the solution, not the problem – and have the humility to admit that the problem sometimes lies within ourselves
  6. Focus on emotional and spiritual needs that are often set aside in times of crisis
  7. Encourage sharing, rather than hoarding resources and essential items
  8. Collaborate rather than competing with your colleagues and acquaintances
  9. Use all available resources for healing, including products such as CBD
  10. Focus on children by creating healthy and attractive ways for them to unwind
  11. Pay extra attention to self-care and the luxuries that make you feel good

Maybe these tips are obvious, but taken together, they will empower people during a pivotal moment in history. We’re all going to need reserves of mental strength that we didn’t use before as we head back to work – even if we’re not actually aware of the stress that we’re subconsciously under. Hidden stress is often the most dangerous type.

And remember above all else, the ULU motto: U love U!

Inspired By a Legend, Alex Zanardi: Racecar Driver, Paralympian, Hero

 

Those of you who follow our ULU blogs know that Mondays are reserved for PR and content extraordinaire, Anthony Peacock. And those of you who are familiar with our ULU team will also know that both Anthony and Paul (ULU founder) are big names in the Motorsport world. So, in addition to research around CBD you’ll always see plenty of racing content here at ULU. This week, Anthony writes about his interview with Alex Zanardi, professional racing driver, Paralympian paracyclist and all-round inspiration.

 

Inspired by a legend, Alex Zanardi

Have you heard of Alex Zanardi? He’s a charismatic Italian racing driver whose life was torn apart on a race track in Germany in 2001, when he was involved in a terrifying accident that ripped his legs off. He faced a long and hard rehabilitation, but came back not only to race again, but to claim a gold medal at the London Paralympics in hand cycling.

What’s remarkable about Zanardi is that he looks back at his ordeal without any bitterness. In fact, he says that in many ways it was one of the best things that ever happened to him, as it taught him how to appreciate what was really important in life. And his humour was one thing that emerged firmly intact from the whole episode. I interviewed him a while ago and it was one of those embarrassing situations where there was only one chair. Of course, I insisted that he had it. “But I don’t need it,” said Zanardi. “I’ve not got any legs…”

With sport – including motorsport – now returning to our screens, Alex Zanardi is perfectly placed to deliver a unique perspective about what makes a champion. To share some wisdom on the mindset of success.

 

“Ambition and talent alone aren’t enough to make a champion”

“The one single most important thing you need to win is a real passion for what you do,” said Zanardi. “I remember listening to interviews with Ayrton Senna, and he spoke a lot about the commitment and training that you need to succeed. But that made me laugh a bit because I knew that deep down, he absolutely loved what he was doing and that he considered himself extremely lucky to be doing it, as I did myself. Ambition and talent alone aren’t enough to make a champion, in my view. What you need most to succeed is to first of all really enjoy what you are doing.”

There’s a lesson in there for all of us, and it doesn’t only apply to cars. It applies to bikes, other sports, every task that we apply ourselves to. Even our everyday jobs. It’s hard to be successful at something that you don’t enjoy doing.

 

“The pleasure of doing the job”

“Crossing the finish line at Brands Hatch to claim my Olympic gold medal in paracycling was a special moment, but if I hadn’t as felt as much joy in every kilometre of training as I had in that single moment, then I don’t think I would have achieved anything,” added Zanardi. “It was important for me to know that I had chosen something where I would look forward to doing my job every day, rather than just seeing the results at the end of it. That’s really what I mean by ambition alone not being enough. I’m proud of my gold medal, but it’s already just a picture to hang on the wall. The actual pleasure of doing the job rather than the souvenir of having done it well is what counts.”

All too often, we concentrate on the destination rather than the journey. The rewards gained from having arrived, rather than the hard work to get there. And what Zanardi teaches you is not exactly how to overcome adversity – he doesn’t really think about that, he says – but how to enjoy the process of doing so.

 

“pressure and the weight of expectation”

This year, the favourite to win the Formula 1 championship (for the seventh time) is Lewis Hamilton: another inspirational figure for so many people, who is often considered to be the greatest driver of all time. Not just that, but he is also a personality beyond motorsport who takes a strong stand on social issues, such as the unrest in the United States and the rest of the world following the death of George Floyd.

Zanardi remembers speaking to Hamilton many years ago and asking him if he’d rather be at the start of a race, having qualified in, say, fifth position with it all to do but the means to do it, or crossing the finish line with the slowing-down lap and the podium to look forward to.

“Are you kidding me?” answered Hamilton. “The first one, obviously.” And that’s exactly how Zanardi has always felt too. We all feel pressure and the weight of expectation on our shoulders, especially if we’ve been accustomed to success. Work is often one of the areas where we see this most often, especially in today’s ultra-competitive corporate environment. But look at it this way, thanks to some insight from Alex Zanardi. Imagine what it feels to be him, or Lewis Hamilton.

 

“You know you’re good enough”

“When you line up on the grid for the first race at the start of the season with the number one on your car and everyone calling you the favourite, there’s a certain degree of pressure for sure,” Zanardi concluded. “I remember the feeling well and here’s what you need to remember. You’re in that situation for a reason: it’s a brand new beginning and you’re ready to play. You know you’re good enough. How could you not feel happy? That’s what I think makes a champion.”

The sportsmen and women returning to action now after many months off would do well to bear these words of wisdom in mind. But not only them. As we come back to work, we can all learn something from Alex Zanardi. If you feel pressure to deliver, it’s just because people believe you can do it – and not only do it; but do it well. To accomplish your goal successfully, the only thing that you really need is to enjoy the process of getting there.

 

For more of Anthony’s content, why not check out some of his recent articles below?

Roll Over Beethoven: Classical Music and Mental Health According to Stephen Fry

Anthony Peacock: Back to School

Roll over Beethoven: Classical Music and Mental Health According to Stephen Fry

 

This week’s community blog comes from Anthony Peacock, expert in all things PR and content. This week, Anthony writes about mental health and depression. He’ll be exploring what mental health advocate and general knowledge virtuoso Stephen Fry has to say about living with the depression and finding solace in the extraordinary works of Beethoven.

 

Roll Over Beethoven

When it comes to mental health generally and depression specifically, there’s no universal cure or answer. It’s more a question of finding what works best for you – and that could literally be anything.

Actor and comedian Stephen Fry has said, for example, that he listens to music by Beethoven as a means of coping with depression and that it has helped him when he was feeling at his lowest.

Appearing on the Art of Change podcast, the 62-year-old, who has often been open about his struggles with mental health, recently spoke about how the German composer – perhaps best known for the Ode to Joy – has helped him through troubled moments.

“There’s a healing quality to listening to it that helps,” he said. “Especially when combined with not drinking too much and walking and eating properly and all the other things that supposedly help one’s mental health. One of the ways I cope with it is to bathe myself in music like Beethoven’s and to think of people who have gone before me who have been lit by the flame of mania and doused by the icy water of depression and lived those lives of flaring up and going down and being close to the edge and how they have managed to do things and to achieve things and to retain their love and hope, and one clings to that.”

Great words from Mr Fry. And he’s not the only one. If I’m particularly stressed I’ll often reach for Italian opera or for Mozart: whose exquisitely structured and beautiful music often forms the perfect counterpoint to the chaos, turmoil and negativity that can so easily invade your mind in situations of stress. Before you even know it, these feelings can spiral out of hand towards a very dark place.

 

beethoven-with-book-of-sheet-music

 

Fry – a man renowned for his easy humour and lightness of touch – has made no secret of the fact that he has sometimes found himself feeling suicidal. In 1995 he disappeared for a few days after starting a run of a West End play, Cell Mates – because he just couldn’t take it anymore. His disappearance sparked nationwide panic, but he later explained that he probably would have killed himself had he not just walked away at that moment.

Then in 2012, he attempted suicide while filming abroad using pills and vodka, before being rescued by his producer. Significantly, he had been filming a documentary about anti-gay protesters at the time: a harrowing topic that may just have been enough to tip him over the edge on that particular day.

“Inside you just don’t see the point of anything,” he added, speaking of those moments. “Nothing has flavour or savour. Nothing has any meaning. Everything is just hopeless. There’s no future. There’s no sense of anything ahead of you. You have to hope something will stop you. In my case it was just failed attempts and waking up in a hospital.”

Adding to his depression, Fry said that he struggled with “guilt” and “shame” as he recovered from the attempt: two emotions that are common among suicide survivors. But crucially, Fry added that being able to see “colour again’ was a crucial first step in his recovery. And that’s where Beethoven came in.

“Beethoven is a perfect example of someone who brings that colour back to you quicker than almost anything else and that’s a sign you’re back,” he said.

Fry, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, is now president of the mental health charity MIND, which has done excellent work in raising awareness of this crucial issue.

“The whole point in my role, as I see it, is not to be shy and forthcoming about the morbidity and genuine nature of the likelihood of death amongst people with certain mood disorders,” he said, adding that there’s never one specific reason that people try to take their own lives.

“There is no ‘why’ – it’s not the right question,” he pointed out. “There’s no reason. If there were a reason for it, you could reason someone out of it, and you could tell them why they shouldn’t take their own life.”

But in Stephen Fry’s view, what’s perhaps even more damaging than a mental health issue is the stigma that surrounds it in the outlook of so many other people. He reckons that one in four people suffer from mental health issues – so why is it still not widely understood?

 

 

For more of Anthony’s work, why not check out some of the articles below:

Freedom of Choice? In Favour of a Simpler Life

Anthony Peacock – Necessity: the mother of invention

Or, why not meet some other members of our ULU community: the ULU Nation

Bob McCaffrey: Photography and Finding Inspiration

Vicky Smith – Laughing My Way Through Anxiety

Bob McCaffrey: Photography and Finding Inspiration

 

Here at ULU, we want to become a hub of health, wellness and inspiration. So, we’ve been asking for members of our ULU community, ULU Nation, to write about something that inspires them. And this week’s blog is from Bob McCaffrey, professional Motorsport photographer. (Those of you who have been following us will know that the director ULU, Paul Hembery, is an ex-motorsport director. So, in addition to informative CBD articles, you’ll also see lots of Motorsport content here on our blog!)

So, read on for some insight into the world of Motorsport photography, creative visualisation, and finding inspiration in the mundanity of lockdown.

 

Bob McCaffrey’s Blog

Hi, my name is Bob McCaffrey and I’m a professional photographer and creative director. I first met ‘Pablo’ (Paul Hembery) through motorsport, when I was working as a photographer in various forms of racing.

My interest in photography started a very long time ago when I was about eight years old. That moment was probably when I received my first camera – a Polaroid Zip instant – as a gift from my Auntie and Uncle.

 

Polaroid Zip Instant white background
Polaroid Zip Instant

 

That first camera started me on my creative path. A few years later, I was very lucky to be given a Zenit E 35mm camera and 50mm lens by my parents, as well as a Zenit UPA5M enlarger and darkroom equipment. This enabled me to process and print my own black and white images in a tiny darkroom that I had set up under the stairs!

 

Zenit E-35mm camera and 50mm lens
Zenit E 35mm camera

 

This was actually still during the dark days of the Cold War, and the mystique of having camera equipment from the USSR gave me a real buzz, as Zenith was a Soviet brand – which is something that many people didn’t know. The Russian equipment had an air of the KGB about it; as if you had a bit of Soviet espionage equipment in your hands. Camera kits like the Zenit ‘photosniper’ resembled something you’d see in a James Bond film, and could perhaps even double as a weapon in the right hands (as the name suggests).

 

Zenit-photosniper-white-background
Zenit Photosniper

 

My Zenit enlarger – which looked like part of an early Sputnik – packed down into a generic grey briefcase that formed the base for the negatives being enlarged to be projected on. From there, they were printed onto photographic paper. It was easy to set up, and incredibly exciting to see all these things happening before your very eyes.

 

Zenit Enlarger white background
Zenit Enlarger

 

Photography still inspires me every day with positive energy, and lately I’ve been visualising the images I would like to capture in the outside world once the lockdown is over.

The world is looking even more beautiful in so many places, with nature having had a respite from humankind to refresh and recover. There have been so many incredible examples already of the haze from constant pollution finally lifting – and stunning vistas not seen for many years becoming visible again. These will create exciting future new photo opportunities.

However, until the time when we are free to wander the amazing world in which we live once more, there are many visual opportunities right here under our noses. And we can set ourselves some amazing creative missions by going on a photo safari around our homes and gardens.

Using just a mobile phone, it’s possible to take amazing close-up macro shots of everyday items, to turn them from the mundane that we take for granted into exotic and enchanting new worlds. The addition of an app such as Camera 2+ (for Mac) or Google Camera (for Android) can help take your photography to an even closer and more stunning level.

You can also add a clip-on macro lens. A wide variety of these are available online, depending on which model of phone you have. It’s even possible to try the same technique using a pair of glasses, which you can shoot through to give a macro lens magnifying effect.

Here are some images that I took in my garden of Red Frangipani plant leaves over the last couple of days, using only my mobile with a clip-on macro lens.

 

close-up-red-frangipani-plant-leaves-by-bob-mccaffrey

close-up-photography-red-frangipani-leaves

 

So while the world sleeps, the wheels of creativity roll on 24/7, but that’s not always a good thing. ULU CBD helps to counter the speed of those constantly-spinning internal wheels, which is a problem that so many of us with restless minds share, especially when working in creative professions that feel like so much more than just a job.

Happy snapping! I’ll be back soon with more tips – as well as a video – to help you to capture better images using just your mobile phone.

Bob McCaffrey.

 

If you enjoyed this blog from Bob McCaffrey, why not check out some of the other blogs written by our ULU community; ULU Nation?

Anthony Peacock: Sleepless in Seattle. Or Was it Toronto? 

Vicky Smith – Laughing My Way Through Anxiety

Coronavirus Week 7: “The New Normal?”

 

As we settle into week 7 of coronavirus lockdown, Anthony Peacock has written us a blog about what “the new normal” might look be. Read on to find out about how cost, value and good service might look in a post-coronavirus world, and to find out about the ‘death of premium.’

 

“The New Normal..?”

Things are definitely waking up around here. Time to adjust to the ‘new normal’. But for those of us who have ordinary working lives, out of the direct line of fire from coronavirus, what exactly does that mean? What will we notice most when we’re eased back into our everyday professional activities?

Less money, certainly, but – staying positive – this sometimes brings out the best in people. There was a remarkable story from Germany recently about how Lufthansa pilots had accepted a pay cut of up to 45% until June 2022, in return for no redundancies.

This was definitely not the sort of compromising attitude you expect to find from a pilots’ union: organisations that are normally every bit as litigious as American divorce lawyers.

But the first thing you learn in any business is to spot the difference between cost and value. So what will your less money buy you? How will the world have changed, economically?

There will be more working from home and less travel. Sticking with the aviation topic, some airlines might even decommission business class, just to get more seats on the plane (as social distancing guidelines will restrict the number of people in each row). Fares will almost certainly go up and there will now be almost no difference between a so-called ‘premium’ airline and a budget one.

This redefinition of ‘premium’ is something we’re likely to see in every area of work and life.

Here’s an example: there’s a very well-established supermarket not far from me, which due to social distancing guidelines has restricted its opening hours and laid out a series of time-consuming rules, complete with a fluorescent-jacketed bouncer on the door, giving the place the atmosphere of a nasty nightclub. These rules are here to stay for quite some time: maybe as long as a year.

Alternatively, there’s a scruffy corner shop run by some friendly people with an eclectic array of produce that ranges from counterfeit biscuits (which, surprisingly, taste better than the brand they are trying to copy) to crisps in flavours you never realised existed. They are open until nearly midnight every day, couldn’t be more helpful – even dishing out free chocolate on one occasion – and you are in and out as quickly as you want to be. No queues, no hassle, no lecturing. It’s not hard to judge what feels to be the more premium service.

The old adage goes that if you want something done properly, the best way is to do it yourself (obviously the person who coined that phrase never watched me hang a painting on a wall).

But the whole notion of ‘good service’ previously prided itself on removing that burden by attentively doing things for you. Now, coronavirus means that people will be expected to do far more things for themselves, on top of their day jobs. That’s going to be a big change.

 

shop-closed-due-to-coronavirus-lockdown

 

In many cases, it’s now impossible to get something done for you by someone else:

restaurants will no longer be able to provide the service they would like to and it’s still going to be hard to get things fixed or delivered, even once lockdown is lifted.

This means that the touch points of how to provide a premium service have definitely changed: something for any who works in a service industry to consider. And with people also less willing and able to pay for the classic definition of ‘premium’, everyone is going to have to quite radically re-think the way that they and their companies work. That’s a source of anxiety, but also opportunity.

In all likelihood, the short-term business culture will focus on providing services that make it easier for people to do things by themselves, rather than attempting to do it for them.

As people adapt themselves to the current situation, their expectations are also different, so we all have to shift to meet these new priorities.

A couple of people I know, who were previously capable of burning water, have now not only been forced to cook but actually enjoy the whole process. I suspect they will be seeing the inside of restaurants a lot less frequently than before, as their eyes have been opened to a different way of enjoying themselves. Like many people, they are likely to be less demanding of the physical infrastructure around them in future, instead prioritising value and convenience.

So, no more premium brands? Is the possible death of business class on planes a symptom of a wider societal shift? If we’re going to be travelling less, walking more, and being more ‘mindful’ of our lifestyles – a sentiment that many different people have expressed – what’s the point in having a premium German car when you could get something much smaller, cheaper and environmentally-friendly from Japan?

It’s not exactly a rejection of consumerism, but instead the adoption of a different type of consumerism. So it’s likely that we will see a big explosion of self-help in all its forms over the coming weeks: whether psychological, physical, or digital.

One thing everyone agrees on is that there will be change, and that change is one of the biggest causes of stress. While adaptable, humans are fundamentally creatures of habit.

Recognising that these important changes are coming – in both our personal and professional lives – and analysing what they mean is key to getting the very most out of them. The opportunities are there because the things we fundamentally like and dislike haven’t changed at all: only our way of doing them.

 

For more of Anthony Peacock’s coronavirus content, check out some of his recent articles:

Post-Coronavirus: Be Careful What You Wish For…

Lockdown Life: Musings From the One-Month Mark

 

CBD and Addiction: Can CBD Aid Addiction Recovery?

 

CBD and addiction is a topic that research is only just beginning to shed light on. Many people are beginning to investigate whether CBD could help with addiction recovery. And in fact, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that this is the case! In this article, we’ve explored how CBD could support addiction recovery from opioids, alcohol, marijuana and nicotine. We’ve also included some further scientific reading so that you can stay informed!

Trigger warning: This article contains images of addictive substances.

 

CBD reduces withdrawal side-effects

The first way that CBD could help those suffering from addiction is by reducing the nasty side-effects that come with withdrawal.

A recent study investigated the potential benefits of CBD for those suffering from opioid addiction And it concluded that CBD was able to significantly reduce the effects of opioid withdrawal.

The study concluded:

“Patients with substance use disorders often present with various psychiatric and medical symptoms that are reduced by CBD—symptoms such as anxiety, mood symptoms, insomnia, and pain”

And these symptoms are not unique to opioid withdrawal. In fact, they’re common to many types of addiction, including cannabis, alcohol and nicotine addiction. And if you’d like to read some more studies on how CBD can help each withdrawal symptom, we’ve collected some further reading for you!

 

white-oval-medication-tablets-and-white-medication

 

CBD can reduce cravings

One of the most difficult aspects of any addiction can be the intense cravings. However, CBD has been shown to help manage and reduce these feelings in addicts.

One recent study investigated the effect of CBD on regular smokers, and it found that CBD reduced the number of cigarettes consumed by the participants. And another study noted that after receiving 800mg of CBD, patients perceived cigarettes to be less rewarding, and found images of cigarettes more unappealing. In fact, the same conclusion was reached in a similar study around CBD and cannabis addiction. In this study, CBD reduced “wanting” and “liking” of cannabis-related materials.

And more anecdotally, you don’t have to look far to find accounts from recovering addicts about how CBD helped them to beat their addiction! Many people have reported that vaping or ingesting CBD has helped them to significantly reduce their alcohol and marijuana cravings. And as craving is directly associated with drug and alcohol relapse, targeting this symptom is crucial to overcoming addiction.

 

CBD can reduce physical damage

The toll that addiction takes on the human body can be staggering. We’ve already mentioned the unwanted mental side-effects that come with addiction recovery, such as anxiety, depression, and irritability.  However, the body can also suffer from a wide variety of sometimes lethal physical damage following substance misuse.

However, there is significant evidence to suggest that CBD can also help to repair the body and aid physical recovery following addiction. And whilst more research and human trials are needed to confirm this, results so far are promising!

A recent study in rodents found that CBD was able to:

  • Reduce cocaine-induced liver damage
  • Mitigate the negative cardiac effects of THC
  • Reduce neurotoxicity caused by alcohol binge-drinking

So, essentially, what this means for CBD and addiction is that CBD could help undo the damage caused by substance abuse. In addition to mental recovery, researchers are optimistic that CBD can help your body to heal physically.

 

selective-focus-photography-of-man-lighting-cigarette

CBD is non-addictive

Another reason why CBD is considered helpful to recovering addicts is that, unlike many pharmaceutical options, CBD is non-addictive.

Unfortunately, many recovering addicts often replace one addictive substance with another. For example, many recovering drug addicts will use alcohol or cigarettes to fill the void left by an addictive substance. However, further addiction can also occur due to prescribed medications. Many anti-addiction medications trick the brain into thinking that it is still getting the substance it is addicted to. However, this can cause a further cycle of addiction which can be difficult to break!

CBD, however, is non-psychoactive. It does not cause a euphoria or any kind of ‘high’ feeling. In fact, it is classed a ‘non-rewarding’ substance – meaning that it does not cause drug-seeking behaviour of chasing a high.

For CBD and addiction, this is a positive step. Because it means that addicts are able to benefit from the effects of CBD without becoming addicted. Therefore, CBD could help to break the cycle of addiction!

 

CBD could help prevent relapses

The last important factor relating to CBD and addiction: CBD has a significant and long-term impact on preventing relapses.

In a previous paragraph, we talked about how CBD can reduce cravings, effectively making an addictive substance seem less appealing. Well, it’s also important to note that this positive effect lasted two or more weeks after administration. Also, CBD was shown to be effective when taken both during active heroin use, or during a period of abstinence.

The study concluded:

“Moreover, even when administered during active heroin intake, the ability of CBD to inhibit relapse behavior was still apparent weeks after the last exposure. This suggests that CBD could impact the course of heroin dependence even following a potential lapse condition after a period of abstinence.”

This is so interesting because this benefit isn’t currently offered by any medications currently used for the treatment of heroin abuse.

 

CBD and addiction

In conclusion, CBD can help to aid addiction recovery in a number of ways including:

  • Reducing withdrawal side effects such as irritability, mood swings and insomnia
  • Helping to reduce cravings and making an addictive substance seem less appealing or rewarding
  • Reducing physical damage to the body
  • Not contributing to further addiction
  • Helping to prevent relapses in the long-term

Of course, much more research is needed to make a concrete case for CBD and addiction. However, so far researchers are optimistic about the positive benefits of CBD for addiction recovery!

 

For more related content, read some of our recent articles:

‘Is CBD Addictive?’ And Other CBD Questions Answered

Are CBD Vapes Addictive? Your CBD Vaping Questions Answered

Post-Coronavirus: Be Careful What You Wish For…

 

This week we have another blog from content and PR extraordinaire, Anthony Peacock. In light of some of our pre-coronavirus freedoms gradually returning, Anthony writes about what life may look like in the coming weeks. He also gives an interesting counter-perspective to those who believe that everything will return to ‘normal.’ So, what will the new normal look like?

 

Be careful what you wish for…

There are signs in the capital that the UK is waking up from its economic slumber caused by the coronavirus outbreak. In the news, it’s been widely reported that more “non-essential” shops and businesses are opening: despite the government still saying that nobody should undertake “non-essential” journeys – so how does that work, exactly?

It’s also obvious that there are many more people out in parks and on the streets now than there were just a week ago. The other day I even sat in a traffic jam, which for the first time in living memory actually felt like a cause for celebration.

Or was it? Because many people equate the concept of getting back to normal life with merely swapping one set of deep anxieties for another. With more free movement there’s the risk of infection rates increasing of course. But surprisingly that’s not what a lot of people are worried about. (Although it does certainly play a part: only 37 per cent of people surveyed recently by YouGov said that they would be just as happy as before to return to a pub or bar once the lockdown is lifted).

What we’re seeing instead is a dramatically increased level of social anxiety, although not everyone will admit it. Not only have many people become unaccustomed to human contact, they’ve also become actively distrustful of it. In other words, people have in many cases forgotten how to relate to other people, especially if their only medium of contact has been via a computer screen thanks to Zoom and other teleconferencing apps.

One friend of mine, who owns a small marketing company, told me how difficult it has been in the last few days to maintain effective relationships among his employees. Without daily face-to-face interaction, a couple of them had resorted to vicious bickering via e-mail. And we all know how people say things to each other online that they would never dream about saying in real life.

At the heart of this though – as I told him – is anxiety. And it’s self-perpetuating, because of the chain of tensions that it causes throughout an organisation (or family). Even my friend, the business owner, is “dreading going back now”. As well as being a mediator, he’s going to have to take some tough decisions to get his team working effectively again.

For other people, the concerns are more prosaic: how will they cope with getting up, travelling to work, scheduling meetings, dealing with people, coming home, and carrying out their domestic tasks as well? In short, everything that they used to do before without thinking about it. It may have been just two months ago, but it feels like a lifetime.

 

woman-video-chatting-in-coronavirus-isolation-by-window

 

Through lack of familiarity, even that everyday routine seems daunting. Many people are even questioning if they have the physical energy, courage, and time to cope with it. “It’s going to be really hard for us to find the confidence to peek out at the world,” as one lady interviewed by Channel 4 put it.

She’s speaking for many. Because the world we go back to might look alien and dystopian, with far fewer of the freedoms we took for granted and an underlying climate of fear.

There will be people wearing masks and uniforms, telling the public what they can do, where, and when. Life is going to feel uncertain, authoritarian and perhaps scary. So, for many people, it would be much easier just to take refuge in the now-familiar surroundings of their own four walls – an environment they can at least control – until it’s all over. Whenever that is.

For all the people you hear about who have cabin fever and say they are raring to go out, there is an equal number – perhaps even a bigger one – of people who instead want to hide and stay in.

The workplace atmosphere has also changed. Even without meaning to, the number of people losing their jobs (British Airways alone is to shed 12,000 people) means that the message companies are sending their employees is that they should feel grateful still to have a job at all: and work harder accordingly.

Further job losses in future can’t be ruled out: even when restaurants (for example) re-open, they’re almost certainly going to be operating at 30 to 40 per cent capacity, due to social distancing regulations. Some companies are even creating plexiglass ‘walls’ that could fit around each restaurant table. Is that really going to be an enjoyable experience? No wonder people are frightened or reluctant to go out.

In the latest YouGov survey this week, 29% of people described themselves as ‘stressed’ while 17% said they were definitely ‘scared’. That even includes a number of premiership football players, who are reluctant to return to action despite a plan to re-start the Premier League in early June.

An end to lockdown won’t mean an end to anxiety. But just as the government narrative is that we might have to live with this virus for a while, it’s just as important to learn to understand and manage the social anxiety that inevitably comes with it.

Anthony Peacock.

 

To read more of Anthony’s thoughts on the modern landscape of coronavirus, here are some of his recent blog posts:

Lockdown Life: Musings From the One-Month Mark

Anthony Peacock – Necessity: the mother of invention

Reframing Lockdown: Time To Make a Change?

Lockdown Life: Musings From the One-Month Mark

It’s Monday! And that means another blog from PR and content expert, Anthony Peacock. This week Anthony writes about linguistic development, workplace shifts, ‘forced team spirit’ and our newfound dependancy in the face of the one-month anniversary of the coronavirus lockdown.

 

Lockdown Life

People all across the country are having to learn an entirely new language right now: and that’s nothing to do with lockdown resolutions to become fluent in Russian within two months.

No, the vocabulary that people are having to learn consists of words such as ‘Zoom’, ‘Microsoft Teams’, and ‘House Party’, together with useful phrases such as ‘your call is being held in a queue’ and ‘how do I unmute myself?’

There’s also scientific terminology such as R value, morbidity and – this for the advanced class – zoonotic. Not to mention everyday conundrums such as the difference between isolation, self-isolation, and social distancing.

The way that many of us work has been radically changed, and it’s actually quite hard to gauge how people feel about it. The corporate message people are expected to send to their colleagues – especially at a time when many are losing their jobs – is that they can’t wait to get back to the office, and time spent working from home is a period of immense professional and personal frustration.

Privately, many of my friends – or those whose income is secure, at least – tell me that they’re absolutely loving it. They love not having to commute, travel to meetings, see their colleagues, or get up as early as usual. As one person I know well put it recently: “what’s there not to like?”

And yet the whole process is still challenging – but in ways you might not have imagined. Take the video meeting, which so many people have been subjected to on a daily basis since last month. There’s so much time lost establishing connections, then ensuring everyone can hear each other and then circling back to things already discussed as and when people drop off. It’s also hard to know when to speak and when to remain silent, leading to loads of ‘no, sorry, after you’.

Even worse is the impromptu game of ‘through the keyhole’. There are plenty of comments on the background décor, tidiness of your room, and sometimes peoples’ clothing choices. Not everyone would choose to invite their colleagues into their homes for several hours each day, but that’s what many people are effectively forced into doing.

One friend works for a company, which to foster ‘team spirit’ has enforced a compulsory half-hour ‘drinks at home’ session for all employees on a Friday afternoon: where work talk isn’t allowed and you have to socialise online. Everyone is encouraged to bring a different drink and explain why they have chosen it.

On the face of it, this sounds fun and well-intentioned (as it probably actually is) but just think about it for a second: enforced jollity, in the sanctuary of your very own home? Even if you’re busy or just not up for it? It’s a degree of workplace control into your private life that’s never been seen before.

Coronavirus has additionally meant that shops are enforcing social distancing measures and closing early. So if you’re working, getting out to do some shopping has become practically impossible – every trip can mean a lengthy excursion – while it’s easier to find a winning lottery ticket than a home delivery slot.

The sharing economy has also collapsed: there’s effectively no AirBnB anymore and to get around you need to have your own car – nobody wants to share theirs with you.

So you make do with what you can, or find a volunteer to shop for you, or settle for a tin of spam and a few old tomatoes from your local shop (just be careful they’re not trying to fleece you: one friend is still complaining now about how he paid £2 for two tomatoes…)

The odd thing about this current way of living is that it’s making us strangely more dependent, at a time when everyone is being encouraged to fend for themselves. There have been lots of examples of enterprise and entrepreneurship but at the same time, more people than ever before are dependent on government handouts – just for business survival. We’re also completely reliant on the state for information about when it’s safe to go out, and when we can resume everyday life.

There’s no suggestion of any conspiracy theory here – although the irrepressible David Icke has been putting out loads of them – but it’s the closest thing to absolute rule that most of us have ever seen, hence the current debate about police powers and the much more serious controversy about what has happened in Hungary, with the prime minister essentially declaring a dictatorship.

Questions have also been asked about what’s being done to ease this country out of lockdown, with the central one being: does the government have a plan and is just not sharing it – or is there no plan at all? As usual, you’ll hear different experts saying different things, but relatively few experts are genuinely independent: most are in the pay or debt of an interested party, so there’s an agenda. Who do you trust? Opinions differ widely: from life getting back to normal relatively soon, to life never being normal (as we knew it) again.

No wonder a lot of people are feeling anxious right now – and that’s before you even start worrying about your likelihood of catching the actual disease…

 

 

For more reading about the lockdown, here’s more of Anthony’s coronavirus content:

Three Days in March: Formula One and Coronavirus
Anthony Peacock – Necessity: The Mother of Invention
Reframing Lockdown: Time to Make a Change?

Anthony Peacock – Necessity: the mother of invention

 

This week’s blog comes from one of our regular writers here at ULU: Anthony Peacock. If you’ve been reading Anthony’s blogs over the past few weeks, you’ll know that he’s got a knack for taking our current fears regarding the pandemic and prompting us all to reframe them: to uncover some desperately needed positivity that might be buried just below the surface. So, read on for a hopeful spin on the current coronavirus situation in the UK.

 

Necessity: The Mother of Invention

Back when the Second World War dropped its bombs on London, Elizabeth the Queen Mother, declared that she was glad Buckingham Palace had taken a hit. Not because she didn’t like the curtains: instead so that she could now “look the East End in the face.”

A full 70 years later, her daughter – also called Elizabeth – addressed the nation in the face of another onslaught, this time the coronavirus.

Her message? That this difficult time, like the last one her mother spoke about, will pass and that modern Britons should be able to say that they faced up to their ordeal with the same degree of fortitude as their ancestors in wartime.

But how much will coronavirus actually change life in the long-term? There’s been lots of advice recently posted online from business people who recall going through the tumultuous 2008 financial crash, not to mention 9/11, and feeling at the time that the world had immutably changed and would never be the same again.

Yet just a few years later things were back to normal, the angst a distant memory, business processes stronger than before. What these people are saying is exactly the same thing as the Queen, albeit less elegantly: you might think that this is the big one, but it really isn’t it.

For the moment, however, things certainly look very different: especially in the streets of London that are normally thronged with tourists. The streets have fallen post-apocalyptically silent apart from a few zombies queuing for shops, studiously keeping their distance. Many people, including several I know, have admitted to feelings of helplessness: like being a passenger stuck on a life raft mid-ocean with no horizon in sight.

Yet look at it the other way and it’s actually possible to feel empowered by this experience. People are having to rely on their own ingenuity and selves like never before; learning to improvise and be practical in ways that they never thought they were capable of. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that.

There are clever solutions to everyday problems wherever you look. One man in urgent need of a desk, for example, simply tipped a child’s cot upside down and made a perfectly serviceable desk. Another person in Italy has invented a way to turn an ordinary scuba diving mask into an oxygen mask. There’s a start-up company that’s developed a wrist band that will alert you when you’re about to touch your face, and yet another that’s come up with a portable door handle – so you don’t have to touch the one that’s there already.

empty-street-with-city-skyline

Radar, computers, rockets, even superglue: all these things were invented at breakneck speed because of the urgency of war. The enforced solitude is also hustling the pace of digital innovation, with home working software and telecommunications taking massive steps forward.

People and businesses have been enterprising enough to rapidly diversify in all sorts of ways, with restaurants turning into shops, a British Airways 747 pilot now flying a Tesco van, and a local wine merchant introducing guided tastings over the internet (via Zoom) – he’ll send you six half-bottles and you taste them together online.

Even Formula 1 teams, best-known for protecting their own self-interests, have come together in a consortium to manufacture vital medical equipment.

More subversively, a friend of mine is also working on a computer programme aimed at home workers who are now meant to be in front of their screens all day. It will simulate online activity, making the boss happy while allowing the home worker to sunbathe in the garden, watch TV, or whatever.

With shopping being tricky, I found myself the other day wondering how best to repurpose a packet of very old brussels sprouts whose sell by date was a distant memory. Normally I would have thrown them away, but they’ll be fine if chopped and fried with fresh chilli (Nigella says you should never be without anchovies, I reckon the same applies to chilli). The point being that I had never really tested my vegetable resurrection skills before.

So it’s been a remarkable display of invention and resolve all over the country, on a macro and (very) micro scale.

But how much of it will actually last? Will we able to take some of these innovations and apply them to our lives post-corona? Will there be an explosion in home working (I guess not, if Dan gets his programme successfully up and running…)?

It’s just about possible that life might look a bit different afterwards. One American politician recently suggested that handshakes should be permanently consigned to history now. He has a point as they’re a symbol of distrust anyway: originally, shaking someone’s hand was just a test to see if they had any hidden weapons up their sleeves..

But the strong likelihood is that we’ll simply slide into our comfortable old ways once this is over: the reassuring routine of familiar everyday activity.

It’s just human nature, even if you can’t quite imagine it now. Like the Queen (and Vera Lynn before her) said: “we will meet again.” Guaranteed.

 

 

For more of Anthony’s musings on coronavirus, read his recent blog: “Reframing Lockdown: Time to Make a Change?” or “Three Days In March: Formula One and Coronavirus”

And for more pandemic-related content, check out We’re Living in a Pandemic – But It’s Not What You Think!”

How CBD Can Help to Boost Your Immune System

 

With all of the recent health fears in the UK and further afield, it’s more important than ever to build a strong immune system. But Can CBD help you to do this? Let’s take a look at what science says about CBD and the immune system, as well as finding out about how taking CBD can boost your overall health!

 

The Endocannabinoid System

To understand the connection between CBD and the immune system, it’s first important to understand the Endocannabinoid System (ECS.)

The (ECS) is a complex cell-signalling system present within our bodies. It plays a crucial part in homeostasis – maintaining the fine balance that allows our bodies to function optimally. This means that the ECS regulates a number of aspects of our health, such as sleep, memory, appetite, and yes, even our immune systems.

In fact, the ECS and the immune system are so closely related, that many scientists refer to the existence of an “immuno-cannabinoid system” within their research. One study from the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of South Florida writes:

“It appears the immuno-cannabinoid system is involved in regulating the brain-immune axis and might be exploited in future therapies for chronic diseases and immune deficiency.”

But what does this have to do with CBD?

 

Where does CBD come in?

To explain where CBD comes in, we’ll need to get a little science-y – but stick with us!

The Endocannabinoid System works through 2 main receptors – CB1 receptors in the brain and CB2 receptors in the central nervous system. And these receptors act kind of like a lock – waiting to be opened… But where’s the key?

The key comes in the form of substances called cannabinoids – of which there are hundreds and hundreds of different types. And when the cannabinoid “key” attaches to the receptor “lock” the receptors become activated, allowing the Endocannabinoid System to function properly and provide all the benefits we discussed above.

Where do cannabinoids come from? Well, our bodies naturally produce many types of cannabinoids. And yep, you guessed it – cannabidiol, (CBD) is also a type of cannabinoid!

So, taking CBD regularly acts as a boost to your ECS – effectively supercharging it and helping it to functional well. But let’s take a deeper look at CBD and the immune system. And let’s look at what this actually means for your immune system and your overall health.

 

 

Fighting Disease

The immune system fights disease via cell-mediated immunity and humoral immunity. This may sound a bit complicated. But essentially, our immune systems need to maintain the right balance between the two in order to function optimally. And recent research is showing that the Endocannabinoid system plays a part in regulating the balance between these two immune responses.

So, there is evidence to show that taking CBD helps to keep your immune system acting responsively and functioning properly.

 

Anti-Inflammatory Response

Chronic inflammation can have a knock-on effect on your whole body. It’s also  a leading cause of illnesses such as autoimmune conditions, arthritis, asthma and even heart disease or stroke.

However, recent scientific studies have shown that CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory properties due to its suppression of cytokines in the body, which regulates inflammatory response. This can make CBD an excellent choice for boosting the immune systems of those who suffer from inflammatory or autoimmune conditions.  

 

Reducing Stress

Our bodies don’t function well when we’re stressed. Stress has been directly linked to the four most common causes of death – heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. And in fact, stress stops our immune systems from working properly. When we’re stressed, our immune systems are less able to fight off antigens – leaving us more susceptible to infections.

But don’t fear! Scientists have found that CBD can significantly help with anxiety and stress. And it does this by changing the way the brain reacts to stressful stimuli.  In another study, brain scans showed changes in blood flow patterns in regions of the brain associated with stress and anxiety. Allowing an overall boost to the immune system by helping us to stay on top form.

 

Neuromodulation

Lastly, studies have shown that CBD plays a role within neuromodulation. This is another complex term, but essentially ‘neuromodulation’ refers to the regulation of the nerves and nervous system. And in recent years, much has been discovered about the link between the nervous system and the immune system (the neural-immune system.)

A study from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Würzburg showed that CBD could benefit the neural-immune system through supporting the body’s production of serotonin. In addition to being the body’s natural ‘happy’ chemical, serotonin also  helps to reduce oxidative stress on the body and the nervous system – helping the neural-immune system and its interactions to function properly.

 

Stay healthy, stay happy

So, now you understand a bit more about how CBD and the immune system can work together to:

  • Naturally fight disease and boost overall health
  • Support inflammatory and auto-immune conditions
  • Reduce physical and mental stress
  • Help the neural-immune system to function properly

And right now more than ever, it’s important to look after your immune system. So, whatever you’re doing to look after yourself, make sure to stay healthy and stay happy.