2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Tag: stress

How to cope with a big family event!

The poll

The December Facebook poll has been and gone. 2 Spuds asked you the following –
How to cope with a big family event
Or
Steps to coping with December and January
The majority went with how to cope with a big family event.

So how do we do it?

I would love to turn round to you and say eat, drink, be merry and speak your mind but we all know that could end you up in more trouble than it is worth. However, you can still have a great Christmas with these simple ways.

Look after yourself

First things first is to look after yourself. Remember that 2 Spuds likes the “me time” approach. This can work in two ways. One way is to read a book, take a bath or go for a walk but the other side to “me time” is to remove yourself from a stressful situation. Take time to breathe, think about what has happened in a stressful situation (or argument) and then be able to move on from it as well. We are aware that it is easier said than done but trust us.

Family events

2 Spuds is fully aware that family events can be a stressful experience. You have your great Aunt Joan asking you when you are settling down to start a family and you have just broken up with your partner. You could have your Uncle Lenny asking you what you are doing with your life now that you seem to be unemployed (again!). Your parents are doing their best to welcome your new fiancée to the family but have gone so far over the top that it is just embarrassing. You could have a child who has decided that now is the best time to come down with a chest infection/chicken pox/the flu and many different people are giving you their top tips to help soothe them. The list is endless of scenarios and that is before we have gotten to the dinner table where the chef has prepared all day and last minute finds out that Tony has become vegan and forgot to mention it. Or Sandra is now allergic to turkey.

NB: All names and scenarios have been changed to protect people in the story.

NB (again): My parents were fantastic with my fiancée and 2 Spuds enjoys a full Christmas meal with all the trimmings and extra chocolate.

The point

The point of the above is that it could be you on Christmas Day. All you want to do is huddle under the duvet cover with Christmassy films, a massive box of chocolates, glass of wine and for someone to wake you up when it is all over. However, you find yourself in your best dress, with a paper hat, pulling a cracker and saying oooo when the turkey arrives on the table.

What do you do?

Well the short answer is to try and get on with it as best you can or alternatively try and see the funny side of it. I personally find that if I am laughing at the situation it can’t be that bad. Be upfront with people and don’t be afraid to say, I’m sorry I don’t want to discuss the inner workings of my relationship over the Christmas Pudding. Remember also to take some time out. Again don’t be afraid to say I am going for a walk, I am stepping outside for a few minutes or I am going to go and read a book for an hour and so on. This is your Christmas as well as everyone else.

Alcohol

Not being much of a drinker these days (I am sure there is a certain ex work manager who will recount a Christmas story of the River Thames and a glass of Whisky back in my youth but I will leave that story for another day!) I can’t say too much here. However, what I am aware of is a lot of alcohol and a stressful environment is not a good combination. You have more confidence when tipsy but that may not be a good thing. You don’t want to be remembered the following Christmas for standing up on the table and ranting about how much you would like to be in sunnier climes or found crying under the Christmas tree.

What happens if we have an argument or someone makes me cry?

Don’t panic is the first step here. The second is to remove yourself from whatever the situation is and breathe. These steps are simple yet effective. Take time to recover, call a friend or speak to a family member as well. Also try and draw a line under the situation and carry on having fun.

Side note into loneliness

I know we are talking about families but there are two more sides to a family event. One may be that you are surrounded by family on a big holiday and you have never felt more alone. It is that weird thing when surrounded by people that sometimes you feel like you are on an island. I would say talk to someone about this. Try and talk to a family member about you feel or in any doubt call the Samaritans helpline.

The other side to loneliness

Some people may be on their own this Christmas. Either through choice or through a situation which is out with their control. Again try and speak to someone. A friend, relative, neighbour, Samaritans or equivalent.

The bottom line with loneliness

There is no need to suffer through loneliness this Christmas. There are many people out there who can help you. You are welcome to drop 2 Spuds an email as well to say hello.

Boxing Day

Try and go for a walk to blow away any dramas from Christmas Day. Go out with your friends or your favourite uncle. Go to the local pub for a pint of orange juice. Watch Christmassy films on TV. The list is endless but the point is Christmas is one day a year, make the most of it and most importantly look after yourselves.

-Helen

PS. If you do need support over the festive period please visit our support page or contact 2 Spuds in a Pod.

That time of year (lists)

It’s getting to “that time of year” again. The time when we need lists. What to buy lists, what to get at the supermarket lists, a general “to do” list to make sure the Christmas decorations go up and I am sure a few more list ideas too.

This blog is to do with just that. Rosie and I are aware we covered this in June but thought as it was a very big topic for this time of year we would re-visit it.

Writing a list

Making a list can be a massive step forward but it can also help you de-stress. Jotting something down means you can remember it better and things tend to happen in the right order. I mean it would be a disaster if you cooked all the vegetables, made the gravy, the Yorkshire puds were baked and then you put the turkey in. As I say, not a good way forward. A list can make sure we get everything done we need to do so we can relax and enjoy.

Being accountable with a list

The other point to make here about lists is that you are then accountable for it. If you stick the list up on the fridge door at home, then other people are there to help you remember it too. It is amazing once you write something down how concrete it can be and therefore you remember it.

Rosie and I are both list people

After a sleepless night due to loads of tasks to complete for our Wedding we took to a list and had a very restful night the next time bedtime rolled around. We had highlighted sections on our list for different elements. We had flowers, cars, who had to be paid, who we had to confirm certain items with (like our photographer), we even had on our list to remember to eat on the night before the Wedding. The final item on our list was to turn up to the Wedding and have loads of fun. Now that was more a of comedy one, but it put a little bit of laughter amongst the tasks.

Try making a list right now and see if it empties your brain so you can then think about the basics of a good night’s sleep and that all important “me time”.

Lists

Just in case you have forgotten what a list may look like I have included a small one below. 

  • Get milk. 
  • Pick up dry cleaning. 
  • Invite Bob and Charlie for dinner. 
  • Call Sandra and check on her Mum’s health. 
  • Buy and wrap Billy’s Christmas present. 
  • Double check holiday insurance for February. 
  • Call GP and renew prescription. 
  • Be kind to myself and take some “me time”.

Let me do the list one more time with ticks, notes and so on.

  • Get milk.
  • Pick up dry cleaning.
  • Invite Bob and Charlie to dinner (called them and left a message, will try again tomorrow).
  • Call Sandra and check on her Mum’s health (texted Sandra as she said she was in the hospital).
  • Buy and wrap Billy’s Christmas present.
  • Double check holiday insurance for February.
  • Call GP and renew medication.
  • Be kind to myself and take some “me time” (booked in for a massage on Sunday morning).

The list looks a look less scary with a few completed tasks on it doesn’t it?

Simple yet effective

As I say a list is simple yet effective. I always start with the easier stuff as it is then ticked off before moving on to the more time consuming and harder items. Setting an hour allows you to complete some of the list but does not then take up your entire evening. I find this works best in my opinion. Try it and see what happens.

Pick the easiest option then build it from there (and don’t beat yourself up over it)

The most important element to remember is to start with a small task and work your up to the bigger ones. There is absolutely no point in beating yourself up over something that in the end is the smallest task of them all. The private counsellor that Rosie was working with said to her to take each task and think about it. She had to think what it would achieve and at the end of day would anyone suffer from her not doing it. I always thought that was a good way to look at a task.

A minor task

I have a mountain of washing up to do from dinner and the clothes from this morning are still in the washing machine which I forgot to take out this morning, I am exhausted and have no idea on where to start to sort all of this out. Now which task do you do first? You could leave the washing up (or stick it in a dishwasher if you have one) and deal with the clothes or you could leave both. The dishes will still need washing up the next morning and the clothes can be washed again. Do you see the difference? If you didn’t do either task not too much is going to change and more importantly no one is going to suffer from you not doing it.

An important task

Take this for example, you have run out of medication for your mental health condition, the new one is sitting at your local pharmacy and you need to go and get it. Now this is a more pressing task to get sorted. You need your medication at the end of the day, and you are going to suffer if you do not get it sorted.

I hope that all makes sense

As I say have a look at the situation you are involved with and the tasks that need to be accomplished. If no one is going to suffer then leave it. If you (or someone else) is going to suffer then do it. This is how we determine what to do and what not to do. You will get around to washing those dishes but not much is going to happen if they are not dealt with immediately.

Stop and think

Stop and think about it next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation and ask yourself these very questions. It is not a selfish act in any way. It is differentiating between right now and a few hours later.

Alternatively

Alternatively, if you have a friend, a partner, a husband, a wife, a mother, a father or anyone else who can help you out then ask them.

-Helen

2 Spuds did a presentation

And we were terrified!

I was at work one Wednesday morning preparing to go and teach the early morning spin class. I had texted a friend of mine about tickets for a fitness event at the weekend. His response was something along the lines of “we have had a speaker drop out and the topic is mental health, would you like to do it?”. I was grateful I had a spin class to take my mind off of responding. My immediate thought was it was would be a fantastic platform for 2 Spuds. My next thought was how to pull it off with 3 days notice.

Preparation

I am really lucky that for 11 years (before turning to personal training) my job was to organise international conferences and events. Thankfully my rusty skills knew how to put a presentation together. Over the Wednesday evening I started to put the mental health content into a presentation. About halfway through the evening I went too quiet. Rosie always worries when this happens. The reality of what was in front of us was getting to me. A quick trip to the supermarket for chocolate made the evening pass better. As 2 Spuds often says you need an outlet. That particular evening for me it was chocolate. I finished around midnight but the content was in.

Over to Rosie

Thankfully with Rosie being at home recovering from surgery she could help with the graphics, slide alignment and slide transitions. Rosie spent most of Thursday doing this. Her university background is in computer graphics and the like. She did a really good job with the presentation.

Notes, notes, notes

Our slides had the important facts and figures on them. It was over to me to put my notes together on what I was going to say. This took up most of the Friday. We had also sent the presentation to the event organiser to make sure we were in line with what they were thinking. We had an anxious wait before the organiser got back to us. Luckily all was good and we carried on with our preparations.

Next we ran through it

The next step was to run through what we had with power-point and notes. The first couple of times we did this it was a bit ropy but with practice it improved (thankfully). This took up the majority of Saturday evening.

The funny thing

Here is the funny thing about this presentation and public speaking. I can stand in front of a class of people and take them through a circuit, a indoor cycling or weights class. When it comes to a different event I was terrified. I had a similar feeling before I did my parents 40th wedding anniversary speech. Why is it I can stand in front of a class but then doing a presentation (which is still standing in front of people) can be a terrifying experience?!

Then it was Sunday

Sunday came around fast and we were suddenly in the car going to the event. The first thing we did when we arrived was check out the stage and see where I would be. I tried to be calm through the morning and waited patiently for my slot in the afternoon. Rosie and I had a look at the event, bought some brownies made with sweet potato, had a go at some glute exercises and tried everything to keep my mind off of the presentation. Then it was my turn.

The presentation

We had a few people turn up for the presentation. Not a whole lot which was a shame but a few. I was very nervous. All the other speakers we had watched during the day had completed their presentations without notes. I wasn’t letting go of mine for love nor money. The problem was I had a hand held mic, a slide clicker, my notes, 2 hands and no lectern to balance on. It was multi-tasking at another level. The presentation lasted for around 45 minutes which was excellent.

I was starving!

I hadn’t been able to eat very much from the Wednesday as I was worried about the preparation and outcome of the day. As soon as I was finished I was starving. We had taken snacks with us which was good news and we went for dinner shortly after that. It’s funny how the body show stress. As my presentation said what I had done over the last few days was a short-term stress.

Afterwards

Rosie and I both thought we had done very well with the time we had, the presentation and the actual public speaking. We now of course have a presentation in the 2 Spud filing cabinet which can be tweaked and ready to go whenever it is needed. We also found out post event that it was not very well publicised which would explain why the numbers were low. It has also spurred us on to set up the 2 Spud wellness days for everyone. So in some ways we had both good and bad points from the day and that is good.

-Helen

A video about breaking down

Please be aware that this blog is covering mental health in its rawest form. There may be some words in the blog that may make you stop and think. They are not there to frighten you but are there to make you aware and ask for help if you need it. How to contact the Samaritans is at the end of the blog if you feel you need to speak to someone straight away.

We wanted to give it a featured slot

2 Spuds was approached recently by the wife (Jenny) of comedian Rory Jones. Jenny was asking if we could put a video up on our website and social media platforms. The video was of her husband, Rory, a few days after he had a breakdown while at work. 2 Spuds decided against “just putting the video up” and instead have created more of a feature of it, we felt this was a better way forward. The video highlights several elements to us. The first being that Rory is obviously male. Men tend to have a harder time coming forward with their mental health and statistically speaking they are the ones who suffer more. 2 Spuds along with Jenny and Rory Jones are trying to break the stigma around this and say to anyone (whether male or female) go to your GP and ask for help. The other element it takes into account is the fact Rory is a comedian.

Being a comedian

As Rory states in the video he is a comedian and his job is to be happy and make people laugh. This is true for a lot of comedians. Their main goal is to make the general public laugh. We just need to look at the late (and brilliant) Robin Williams. That was a man who could make anyone laugh with accents, funny stories and jokes. However, behind the funny exterior was a man who had many mental and physical health issues. He would end up taking his own life in August 2014.  

As we say Rory is there to make us laugh so when he was faced with a day from work that ended up with a break down, the funniness suddenly turned serious.

Comedy videos

The comedy videos are below. Please be aware that some of the subject material Rory uses is of a rude nature and 2 Spuds would give a word of caution. If it helps if the material was a film, it would be rated 15.

The video

2 Spuds has watched the mental health video from Rory, and we have found the account to be very honest and brave. It details his workday which started as normal as it could before turning a very interesting corner. Rory goes into a lot of detail about what happened that day. The video highlights how quickly a break down can come about and to what extremes it may take you to with your thoughts. Rory has done the correct thing by talking to both his wife and his GP. He was given a few weeks off work and is now in contact with a counsellor who will help him navigate these tricky mental health waters. He is hoping to make a fully recovery.

Thank you

2 Spuds would like to thank both Jenny and Rory Jones for coming forwards and giving us an insight into such a delicate time. We would also wish Rory well on his road to recovery.

If you have been affected

If you are affected by this video and are finding yourself in crisis please contact Samaritans, talk to a friend or family member or make an appointment to talk to your GP as soon as possible.

– Helen & Rosie

Traveling with anxiety

London bound!

Had you told me five or ten years ago that I would be anxious about returning to London I would have laughed in your face, wondering what planet you were on. This is London we’re talking about, the amazing city full of culture and history, iconic red buses and black cabs, where you can do and get anything you want. I spent 19 years there, and to start off with it was absolutely brilliant. As time went on and life happened, I slowly got stuck in a downward spiral with depression and anxiety. Only I did not know about it at the time. There were a lot of things that triggered the way I felt, and at this point I do not want to talk about it. Now is a very happy time and I intend to keep it that way, at least with the things I can control, then hope I have enough resilience to deal with the curved balls when they hit.

Passport

I am going to London next week for one day only as I have to renew my passport. Being Swedish in the UK and living in Scotland means I can only do that in London at the Swedish Embassy. Unless I were to do so in Sweden during a visit but I decided long ago against that as…. you guessed it, I worry about it too much! Because that is what I do.

Worrying

I am clearly a worrier, which goes hand in hand with anxiety. I worry about the smallest things, for instance if someone sends me a text message without a happy face then my brain goes mad. What does that mean? Are they not happy? Do I have to find out if they are struggling so I need to help them? Are they not happy with me? What did I do, is this because I did not laugh at their joke? Oh no, I can’t believe I did not do that, why on earth didn’t I? What can I say to them to make up for it? These thoughts go on and on and on. I spend so much time and energy on this and it also stops me from doing all the things I need to do.
I have not been back to London on my own for a long time now. Thinking about getting it all done and being in the right place at the right time gets the brain working overtime.

Triggers

There are a few things that brings this on. Knowing that I will be at a busy airport, having to fight through the crowds to get onto the train and continuing on the tube in late rush hour. I find it really stressful with all the people, the crowds, the stress and rushing around, making sure I’m standing in the right place at the right time. On top of this, what I find the worst by far, is the noise. Last year I was really struggling with loud noises, the background noises in crowds and so on. During a conversation with my counsellor she suggested using good head phones when leaving the house, to keep the noise out. I have since brought a great pair of head phones!

Game changer

Getting the head phones was a game changer. I used them so much, in particular in big crowds such as train stations and shopping centres. It took a little while but I also realised that as long as you turn them on, they don’t need to be connected to a music player and play music as they can still block the noise out. When I put them on I stepped in to my little bubble where I felt safe, and the world was quiet. I found this helped me enormously as it allowed me to go out and do things, as sitting at home doing nothing is never good for anyone.

Check list

I know that the trip will be stressful, but there are a few things I will do to try and keep the anxiety and stress levels down:
– Use the above mentioned head phones
– Have all locations and times added to my Google calendar, to always see where to be and at what time
– Bring an empty water bottle, book and phone charger
– Bring pen and paper to write things down on. When I get too stressed I can’t retain much information and need to write things down.
– Only bring the bare essentials, and certainly no liquids, so I don’t have to worry about going through the security at the airport

We all react differently to things, and there is not one solution to our problems. You have to try different things then stick to what works for you.

I will let you know how it goes.

-Rosita

Spending time in nature reduces stress levels

I came across this article a while ago, Twenty Minutes in Nature is Enough to Cut Stress Hormone Levels. With the weekend ahead of us, hopefully we will all get a chance to take some time out and spend time in nature.

The Great Outdoors

This article make so much sense to me. Having grown up in the countryside in Sweden, I spent time in nature for hours on a daily basis. It is very much the done thing.
I am really fortunate to now be doing a job where I spend a lot of time outdoors. This does not stop me from heading outside to the garden when I get in from work, with my large mug of coffee. It makes me feel so good, spending time outside. For me, this really works. I feel less stressed and able to function again.

Go outside

Take time to go outside, go for a walk, spend time gardening, climb a hill or a mountain, go cycling or simply find a comfortable seat somewhere and enjoy spending time with Mother Nature.

Stay tuned for the weekend’s blog post tomorrow.

-Rosita

Ben A'an
Ben A’an, Trossachs, Scotland

Almost there!

We have been busy getting the final preparations done for our 2 Spuds in a Pod launch.  We have had a major delay with our logo designer who in the end we had to walk away from. However, thanks to a recommendation from a personal training client of mine we sourced another designer.  In the space of a few days our logo has been designed, amended, signed off and put across all our social media and website. A small triumph in the grand scheme of starting a new business and the logo looks a lot better than my little pencil drawing which we had to start with.  Tomorrow afternoon I am planning on spending it on the phone finalising the last few business parts. A mundane but highly important part of proceedings.

Time out

We have also taken some time out this weekend.  As Rosie’s last post mentions it is great to take some time out and concentrate on yourself.  Sometimes you just need to recharge the batteries before you go back to work, school, family or life in general.  We decided we would go up to Edinburgh on Sunday and spent the day going up Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill and around the City.  We ended up doing around 23,000 steps according to our phone step counter, not bad for a day out! If you haven’t already checked out the photos on Instagram then grab a cup of tea and head over there to take a look.  

L2 Award in Mental Health

I am also very excited to have finally started my L2 Award in Mental Health qualification.  It is online reading at the minute and I have to admit that me sitting down to concentrate on something is very tricky.  I have so far managed to read, clean the house, read, make dinner, read, do laundry and so on. In small bite sized chunks I will finish the reading and be ready for assessment over the next few weeks.  I find this works for me so my stress levels don’t reach a high point. You must do what works for you. If that is reading with chores or reading with watching online videos once you get to the end of the chapter or reading while outside in the garden then at the end of the day you are still learning. All you have done is make your reading and revision work for you.  

-Helen

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