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All About Grounding: 5 Grounding Techniques For Anxiety

 

On Mondays we write about health and wellbeing here at ULU. So, this Monday, ULU SEO content manager, Vicky is taking the reins again to talk about grounding techniques for anxiety. If you suffer from any kind of anxiety, or just want some advice on how to be more connected and present during times of stress, then this blog is for you! Read on to learn 5 grounding techniques for anxiety.

 

Grounding Techniques

Hi, I’m Vicky, SEO content manager at ULU and long-term sufferer of a few different anxiety and panic disorders. As a perpetually anxious person, I’ve tried everything under the sun to help with stress, overwhelm and panic. (I even recently wrote a blog for ULU about my anxiety journey.) In addition to anxiety, I also have episodes of dissociation where my brain disconnects from reality and everything feels a bit ‘spacey’ – kind of like feeling drunk but without any alcohol! As a result, I use grounding to help my brain stay focused, connected and to feel more present. So, I’d love to share with you some of the grounding exercises and techniques that I find most useful!

 

What is grounding?

I first learnt about grounding during counselling. Grounding is sometimes also called ‘centring.’ It’s a mental activity or exercise that helps your brain to, quite literally, stay grounded and present. It’s used by people with anxiety or panic disorders, PTSD, sufferers of depression and it’s about staying connected to yourself, your surroundings and the present moment.

There are a variety of different grounding exercises, and the most important thing is to find something that works for you. There’s no right or wrong way to do grounding! It’s a very personal experience.

So, here are some of the most common grounding techniques for anxiety, panic and overall mental health improvement!

 

1. Check in with yourself

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from therapy is the importance of checking in with yourself. If you’re feeling stressed, or anxious, it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint a reason for this. If you’re particularly busy, it can also sometimes be difficult to detect those little ‘warning signs’ that mean you’re becoming overloaded.

So, if you start to feel like something is a little bit ‘off’ or you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, check in with yourself and ask yourself ‘How am I feeling?’ ‘Is there any particular reason I’m feeling like this?’ ‘What was happening just before I started to feel anxious or stressed?’ ‘Do I need anything right now?’

Checking in with yourself is almost having a little conversation with your brain to make sure it doesn’t have any unmet needs. Just make sure to be honest with yourself – if you need a little break, a glass of water or even just a breath of fresh air, make sure to notice and prioritise that!

 

woman-outside-with-flowers-deep-in-thought

 

2. Reconnect your brain with your body

Your brain is essentially a supercomputer that sits in a little dark box inside your head. It relies on context cues and signals from your body to do its job. However, when we get stressed or anxious there’s often a disconnect that occurs between the brain and the body. As a result, it’s easy for your brain to spiral into a panic episode and it can be difficult to calm yourself down.

So, there are a variety of grounding techniques to reconnect your brain with your body. If you’re sitting down, wiggle your toes and really try to feel every moment. Are you wearing socks or shoes? If so, how does this feel against your feet. Take your shoes off and feel your feet against the floor. How does the soft carpet or the cold hardwood feel against your toes? Feel the chair against your body. Notice how you’re sitting and whether your arms are in contact with the chair or table.

Helping your brain to reconnect with reality and also your body can help to centre an unfocused brain.

 

3. The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 grounding exercise

The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 grounding exercise is another way to connect your brain to your surroundings and help you to say present. It involves taking the time to notice details about your surroundings, and the way your body experiences them.

Follow the diagram below – and make sure to save somewhere you’ll remember where to find it the next time you’re feeling anxious!

5,4,3,2,1 Grounding Exercise diagram

 

 

 

4. The 4, 4, 4, 4, breathing technique

Breathing exercises are particularly useful grounding techniques for anxiety and panic. Not only do they help to stop your anxious thoughts from spiralling, they also deliver calming oxygen to your brain whilst also preventing hyperventilation.

This grounding exercise is simple: Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, breathe out for four counts, and then hold for another four counts. Then, carry on breathing in this way for as long as it takes to feel less overwhelmed. It can also be helpful to visualise a square whilst you do this like in the diagram shown below:

 

4444 breathing grounding techniques diagram

 

5. Allow yourself to truly feel – then let it go

When you’re feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed it can be natural to just want to push these feelings away and to simply distract yourself. However, whilst this may feel better in the short-term, it often means that negative feelings go unaddressed – which makes them more likely to resurface at another time.

So, another piece of great advice given to me by a therapist is to sit and accept the negative feelings for what they are. Allow yourself to truly feel everything that’s happening to you. Experience the negative feelings and negative thoughts as they are, without giving into the urge to push them away.

Then, when you feel like you’ve acknowledged the worry, stress or anxiety, you can let it go. Imagine yourself standing in a pool full of water. The negative thoughts and feelings are sort of like a beach ball, floating on the water. If you try to push them away forcefully, this will disturb all the water around you and cause a splash. So, accept that this negativity and worry may bump in to you from time to time, but that they will also gradually float away from you.

 

Try grounding techniques for yourself

So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious, now you have 5 grounding techniques to try out!

  1. Check in with yourself and ask yourself how you’re doing, if you need anything, or if you need to step away
  2. Reconnect your brain to your body by noticing bodily sensations and actions
  3. Try the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 grounding exercise to reconnect to your surroundings and stay present
  4. Carry out the 4, 4, 4, 4, grounding technique for anxiety to regulate your breathing
  5. Visualise yourself standing in water, with negative feelings as a beach ball floating in the surface – allow them to bump into you, experience them for what they are, and then visualise them floating away

Anxiety and overwhelm can sometimes come on very quickly. So, make sure to bookmark this page somewhere you’ll be able to easily locate it the next time you need to stay grounded. – And remember to share with anyone else who might find this useful!

Because here at ULU, we love u – and we want to help U love U too!

 

To read more of Vicky’s content about all things mental health, why not check out her recent article: ‘Stop and Savour the Coffee – Britain and the Glorification of ‘Busy’

 

Stop and Savour the Coffee – Britain and the Glorification of ‘Busy’

 

Those of you who follow our ULU blogs will know that Mondays are usually reserved for our PR writer, Anthony Peacock. But this week ULU content manager, Vicky is taking the reins. This week, Vicky writes about how us Brits seem to glorify being busy and how if we just slow down and cut through the distractions we might find a much more appealing way of life.

 

Stop and savour the coffee

A few months back before lockdown I met up with a close friend of mine, Will. He’s been away doing church charity work with a children’s centre in Albania for a few years now, providing a safe space, food and clothing for street kids – but he was back for a fleeting visit. So, we both agreed to meet in our favourite coffee shop in Cheltenham for a desperately needed catch-up.

I arrived late after rushing over from a client meeting – as per usual – blustering in the door and hurling out an apology. I gave him a quick hug, blurted out how happy I was to see him again after so long and then turned my attention to the coffee I felt was desperately needed after such a hectic morning.

Of course, I wanted to know all about Will’s time in Albania. So, after ordering my coffee, he told me all about his work which he described as ‘the most rewarding and challenging time in his entire life.’

Yet as he talked, he seemed different to the last time I saw him. There was a calmness to the way he spoke. I also noticed that whilst telling me about the stresses of daily life living away from home away from his friends and family and taking on a role of complete self-sacrifice in an unfamiliar country, he seemed almost serene.

 

friends-holding-coffee-mugs

 

So, of course I wanted to know his secret! As a highly-strung person who deals with stress and anxiety on a daily basis, I wanted to know how I could perhaps get a little bit of this serenity for myself. ‘What have you been taking and where can I get some?’ I think was the exact question I asked.

And what he told me was really fascinating.

Will told me that a week after arriving in Albania, himself and a few of the other church charity workers went to a local café for a cup of coffee. They all ordered their drinks and took their seats. After ten minutes or so when Will had finished his coffee, he asked if anyone was ordering another one – only to be met with some playful jokes at his expense.

‘You finished your coffee already?’

‘What’s the hurry? Have you got somewhere else to be?’

‘You drank that coffee like a true Brit! You need to learn to drink like an Albanian.’

Will was understandably quite confused. ‘What do you mean I’m drinking like a Brit?’ he laughed.

Then, Will’s Albanian friends gave him what I believe to be a very insightful and accurate summary of British life and mentality.

They said that us Brits approach everything like we’re in a rush. We order our coffee and throw it down as soon as it arrives. Then, before we’ve even had time to work out whether we enjoyed it or not, we’ve ordered another with a piece of cake. So, as a result, we never truly enjoy anything we’re doing – because we’re constantly rushing through everything as quickly as possible, always thinking about what comes next.

 

metro-train-full-of-people-during-busy-day

 

‘Us Albanians will sit for an hour with one coffee, drinking slowly and savouring every sip, taking in our surroundings, enjoying the company of our loved ones’ Will’s friend replied. ‘Us Albanians know how to just be.’  

And I noticed they were right – I had chugged my entire americano barely 5 minutes after it had arrived, yet Will was still enjoying his espresso half an hour later.

It’s true. As a society, we’re constantly in a hurry – constantly distracting ourselves with something to keep busy. We walk briskly, throwing annoyed glances at the slower walkers that block our path. We’re checking our phones mid-conversation, fiddling with the tablecloth while we wait for our food to arrive, and checking our watch every 5 minutes when timings don’t quite go to plan.

When people ask us what we’ve been up to, it’s a cultural norm to reply ‘Oh, I’ve just been so busy!’ Or, if we’ve taken a rare bit of time for ourselves, we have to almost prequalify it or justify it with ‘I was so busy last week, I just needed some time off.’

William said that spending time in Albania had taught him the value of just ‘being’ rather than ‘doing.’ Due in part to the stifling Albanian heat which makes it physically impossible to move quickly, he’s started to stop, take a break and take in his surroundings. Furthermore, in a society that doesn’t spend as much time thinking about timetables, diaries and schedules, there’s no need to strive to fill his day with plans, to make every second of his day ‘count.’ He can simply enjoy each moment as it comes.

 

man-and-woman-walking-on-the-street

 

When I think about my own life, this is something I really struggle with. I’m always busy, always running late, always thinking about what’s next on my to-do list. Then when I do take some down time to watch a movie, read a book or catch up with friends, I’m plagued with feelings of guilt. Guilt that I should be doing more, guilt that I should be productive in some way.

I know during lockdown this is particularly relevant – especially as I’ve heard a lot of people (myself included) lament over having ‘nothing to do’ or not making their time count. But during such an unprecedented and difficult period, should productivity really be our main focus? Would it be such a tragedy if we just took some time for ourselves, to switch off our phones and laptops and just be?

So, perhaps we need to be distinctly un-British for a change. Perhaps we need to take the time to notice the beauty in life, to enjoy each moment for what it is, instead of struggling to fill each moment with an activity or a purpose.

And really, isn’t this all just as simple as savouring that sip of coffee?

 

 

If you’ve enjoyed this blog and would like to read more of Vicky’s content, here’s some further reading:

Vicky Smith – Laughing My Way Through Anxiety

I Tried CBD Oil For Dry Skin: My 4 Week Skincare Report

Or, if you’d like to read more from our ULU community, ULU Nation, here are some more recent articles:

Coronavirus and Travel – Business But Not As Usual

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

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!

 

For more information and support regarding mental health during lockdown, check out this handy blog: Coronavirus: Guidance for Better Mental Health

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

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

 

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?

Reframing Lockdown: Time To Make a Change?

This week’s community post comes from Anthony Peacock, who takes care of all things PR here at ULU. Anthony has written an insightful piece about his thoughts on the current lockdown situation we all find ourselves in. If you’re in desperate need of a perception shift right now, look no further than Anthony’s thought-provoking article, Time to Make a Change?

 

Time to make a change?

What have you been up to during ‘lockdown’? People I know have reacted to it in very different ways. Some have been pacing their flats and houses like caged tigers. Others are being driven mad by the prospect of becoming part-time teachers on top of their normal jobs. And yet more are simply worried and sleepless, concerned at how long their jobs and businesses will go on for. And there are a few for whom it’s largely business as usual, going about their busy everyday lives as if not much had happened.

All of these reactions are understandable. There’s no template for how you should behave in these unprecedented circumstances. But it’s fair to say that there are more negative thoughts than positive ones, and under a regime that has been often compared to wartime, you can see why people think that way.

But more than ever, it’s important to try and see the plus side too. For all the Churchillian talk, this isn’t actually war. Nobody has to go and fight, and while the fatalities associated with Covid-19 are frightening, the numbers can’t be compared to the casualties of war.

Instead, people are only being asked to stay at home. One of the biggest regrets I often hear from people with hectic lives is that they don’t have enough time to spend with their families. These are perhaps not the ideal circumstances you’d want to be presented with that time under, but nonetheless that time is now. Furthermore, we’re all freer from distractions than usual, with the possibilities for going out being limited.

In many ways, the ‘wartime’ talk is only there because it’s a return to 1930s lifestyles for a few months. Families have to stick together and spend time in each other’s company that they wouldn’t normally. In years to come, you might just look back at this time as having been precious. Because perception of reality counts as much as the reality itself.

The chance to do stuff you wouldn’t normally do doesn’t only apply to families. Personally, I’ve spent a lot of time reading, as well as catching up on all the little tasks I’ve been meaning to do. It’s curiously liberating. Several other self-employed people say that their accounts and archives have never been more up to date and in order. And DIY supplies have also had a spike in sales, as people get round to doing jobs that have been hanging around their necks for ages.

There are films I’ve finally been able to watch as well, not to mention programmes that have been clogging up my iPlayer. And yes, it’s been great to get a bit more sleep than normal – and not feel guilty about it.

But most of all, there’s been a palpable reset to everyday working life. It gives you the time and mental space to question everything you’ve been doing up to now, to really think about whether or not you want to keep on doing things in exactly the same way in future. To make proper strategic plans, in detail, which you never had the mental bandwidth to do before. It’s so easy to get stuck into a rut and keep doing things in the same way, simply because you’ve never seen an alternative.

Coronavirus has shown everyone that they can have a different life from what they’ve been used to. Overall, it’s not a better life – but probably everyone can agree that there are certain aspects to it that are potentially better.

Most people now have a bit more time on their hands, and space to discover what it is that they really enjoy doing. Many years ago, I started writing short stories, some of which were published. I loved it but ran out of time to finish many others. Now I’ve started writing again for pleasure, having actually forgotten how much I liked it.

There’s also a greater awareness generally than before of people more vulnerable than us; a more globally social outlook now that so many people have been socially distanced. And through that, perhaps a greater realisation of what’s really important to us in life.

Most of us have dreamed at some point of a ‘career break’ but have never been able to justify it before. Now it’s happened, like it or not. And that might just lead to a new chapter, which would never otherwise have been opened.

Of course, that’s a forcibly optimistic view. But the greatest weapon we have in this common crisis is positivity, so let’s not apologise for that. It’s important to look beyond the worry of the next few months and see the opportunities out there afterwards.

Because there will be an afterwards, and chances are that the world won’t quite be the same place at the other end of this. People will of course be more aware of all the forces beyond our control, but just as aware that there are other things you can definitely influence – such as the way you work and what you do.

One final thing to think about. Moments like this occur only once in a lifetime (thankfully). When you look back at it in years to come, will you regret not making some lasting changes while you had the chance?

 

 

For more content by Anthony Peacock, read his recent musings from an airport, or his thought-provoking piece, Back to School.

Pablo’s Monday Blog – Anxious Times

 

 

We start the decade and already we hear and read about troubling times across all regions of the world. With the speed of communication today, and the integrated networks, it does make life seem that there are only negative happenings and events in continuation. Maybe the old adage that ignorance is bliss rings true. Because today we are not protected from any event in any far reached corner of the world, we are told about them in real time. Indeed, I rather find the news shows a negative place to start or finish a day. In isolation, we are helpless to effect or impact these events and that can lead to a feeling of helplessness and anxious times.

 

Left Behind: Illegal, Medicinal Cannabis Use

Which made the publication of the excellent report by Dr. Daniel Couch for the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis  “Left Behind: The Scale of Illegal Cannabis Use for Medicinal Intent in the UK” most relevant and intriguing to read (you can find the link HERE). The report is based on a YouGov survey of 10,000 users and highlights that 3% of the UK population uses cannabis to treat a medical condition, with usage across all genres, social classes and age groups. Hence whilst cannabis use is illegal unless prescribed, nearly 1.4 Million users take risks to treat their medical conditions. 

To sum up the YouGov results the following reasons and numbers are given for the use of medical cannabis: 653,456 people are estimated to use cannabis to deal with depression. A further 586,188 for anxiety, 326,728 for chronic pain, and nearly quarter of a million people treat their arthritis. Overall that is a lot of people dealing with a multitude of health issues. 

Obviously this got me thinking, whilst ULU does not sell medicinal cannabis, we do know that a number of our customers and team do find benefits from using CBD to treat some of those conditions, particularly anxiety. On a personal level, it helps me control the arthritis I have in my right knee created from too many rugby injuries suffered in my youth. 

Of course our CBD does not contain THC (the compound that gives you the high) and is therefore legal. Click on the link to buy ULU Full Spectrum 10% CBD Oil 1000mg/10ml

 

Try some Bob Proctor

Which brings me back to the overly negative media we now live with. I suggest keeping to a minimum your exposure to the latest news. And also focus the start and end of your day to the positive aspects that exist in your life. To help you achieve this, I am a big fan of Bob Proctor, and this video LINK is worth 10 minutes of your time. It will help put into perspective the negativity that can create these high levels of depression and anxiety.

Have a great week!

Pablo 

ULU 

U LOVE U 

The Power of Thought – Serenity by James Allen

Here at ULU, we’re passionate about all things mental wellbeing and wellness. That’s why we’re creating a ‘Wellness’ blog section to share anything that we’ve found helpful or meaningful. In this week’s wellness blog, we want to share with you a powerful section on ‘The Power of Thought’ from Serenity by James Allen.

James Allen

As A Man Thinketh by James Allen  (Born Leicester England 1864) was first published in 1902. The work recognises that a person’s visions can become reality, simply through the power of thought.

As A Man Thinketh has influenced many contemporary writers including Norman Vincent Peale, Earl Nightingale, Denis Waitley, Tony Robbins, and Bob Proctor.

One specific chapter and example we want to share with you here is Serenity. We suggest you to read and digest the words regularly. After all, don’t we all seek to find Serenity and The Power of Thought in our complex lives? 

Serenity

Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.

A man becomes calm in the measure that he understands himself as a thought-evolved being.  Because such knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as the result of thought. And as he develops a right understanding, and sees more and more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect, he ceases to fuss and fume and worry and grieve. So he remains poised, steadfast, serene.

The calm man, having learned how to govern himself, knows how to adapt himself to others. And then they, in turn, reverence his spiritual strength, and feel that they can learn from him and rely upon him. The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Even the ordinary trader will find his business prosperity increase as he develops a greater self-control and equanimity. So people will always prefer to deal with a man whose demeanor is equable.

People love and revere a strong and calm man. He is like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm. “Who does not love a tranquil heart, a sweet-tempered, balanced life? It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or what changes come to those possessing these blessings, for they are always sweet, serene, and calm. That exquisite poise of character which we call serenity is the last lesson of culture; it is the flowering of life, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, more to be desired than gold—yea, than even fine gold. How insignificant mere money-seeking looks in comparison with a serene life — a life that dwells in the ocean of Truth, beneath the waves, beyond the reach of the tempests, in the Eternal Calm!”

“How many people we know who sour their lives, who ruin all that is sweet and beautiful by explosive tempers, who destroy their poise of character, and make bad blood! It is a question whether the great majority of people do not ruin their lives by lack of self-control. How few people we meet in life who are well balanced, who have that exquisite poise which is characteristic of the finished character!”

Yes, humanity surges with uncontrolled passion, is tumultuous with ungoverned grief, is blown about by anxiety and doubt. But only the wise man, only he whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and the storms of the soul obey him.

Tempest-tossed souls, wherever you may be, under whatsoever conditions you may live, know this—in the ocean of life the isles of Blessedness are smiling, and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hands firmly upon the helm of thought. In the barque of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep; wake Him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, “Peace be still!”

The Power of Thought – Serenity by James Allen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Allen_(author)

https://www.proctorgallagher.institute

 

3 Surprising Ways CBD Can Benefit Your Wellbeing

 

The CBD industry is one of the fastest growing industries within the health and wellness sector. CBD consumers have claimed a number of benefits including positive impacts on both physical and mental health. So, to help you learn more about the benefits of CBD, here are 3 surprising ways CBD can benefit your wellbeing.

 

1. Anxiety and depression

Many CBD consumers report using CBD products to help with symptoms of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Both have pharmaceutical treatment options that, while often effective, also come with several common side effects. A study by the University of Auckland, New Zealand, showed that withdrawal symptoms, sexual dysfunction, weight gain and emotional numbness were all reported by more than 50% of participants taking prescribed medication. Addiction was also somewhat common, present in 43% of cases.

But CBD is now showing promise in clinical trials as a natural alternative to synthetically manufactured drugs.

A study by the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão Preto Medical School in Brazil tested four type of CBD dosage in treating anxiety: 600mg, 300mg, 150mg and a placebo. It observed that animals had shown anxiety reduction matching a bell curve relative to dosage. And the 300mg dosage proved to “significantly reduce anxiety”.

There was similar positive news for CBD’s antidepressant properties, with trials showing it had a similar effect to imipramine, an anti-depressant drug, in animal testing.

If you’re looking for more information about CBD and anxiety, check out our recent article, ‘CBD For Anxiety: Does It Really Help?

 

2 Acne

The second reported way that CBD can benefit your wellbeing relates to skincare.

Acne is every young adult’s worst nightmare: a skin condition that even modern medicine can’t quite get on top of. And despite being a physical skin condition, suffering from acne can take its toll on wellbeing and mental health, especially when treatment options are limited.

Two of the long-standing treatment options for acne that come in gel or cream form, benzoyl peroxide and topical retinoids, can take around two months to work. Two months! And this can be made worse for summer acne, as both options cause skin sensitivity to sunlight and UV rays.

So, how can CBD help with acne? Well, one of the main causes of acne is sebum overproduction. A recent Hungarian study showed that CBD was able to reduce sebum production, whilst also acting as an anti-inflammatory agent – Thus helping to keep acne under control. Plus there’s no need to worry about sunshine-related side effects, putting a trip to the beach back on the agenda. And a relaxing sunbathing session is definitely good for well-being!

 

3 High blood pressure

High blood pressure is a common physical symptom of high stress. As our lives get busier and faster-paced, our risk of developing life-threatening conditions triggered by high blood pressure grows. It is becoming vital to keep our blood pressure in check.

However, initial research has shown that CBD has a positive effect when it comes to reducing both resting and stress-induced blood pressure levels.

One of the secondary factors that help CBD’s acne-tackling properties is also a key factor in its ability to tackle cardiovascular issues. As mentioned above, CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. And research has shown that this makes CBD an excellent tool for combating cardiovascular disorders, especially those associated with diabetes.

 

Learn more about how CBD can benefit your wellbeing

Of course, the world is still learning about the benefits of CBD. CBD’s emerging status means that new trials assessing its properties as a health and wellbeing tool are still on-going. However, there has been clear scientific evidence that CBD can benefit your wellbeing in a number of ways.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of CBD, make sure to read more of our blog content! Here’s an article to learn more about how CBD can help with anxiety, and another about the types, uses and benefits CBD.