My life has changed quite dramatically over the past 18 months as I have made a concerted effort to focus on improving my mental and physical health. I won’t lie, there have been a few dead ends that I’ve travelled along, a few toe-curling moments, but equally some flashes of inspiration and resources that have made a real impact. I’m not a fan of taking tablets. Husband and I have discussed this at great length. Whilst taking antidepressants would manage the episodes of depression, they also lessen the enjoyment of happy times. So whilst life may be a roller coaster, I’d rather be experiencing the full spectrum of ups and downs rather than floundering in the middle somewhere. This approach does require effort, and some sacrifices, some of which people don’t understand, but for me life is for living and I have to give it my best shot.
Whilst I am in the fortunate position that I don’t have to go to work and so have the time to spend researching different areas that interest me, I don’t have a bottomless pot of money to spend. So I am careful to find things that are free, or cheap, or at the very list provide me with what I consider to be value for money.
I love seeking out a bargain, especially when it comes to books. More often than not, you can find a used version of a book, for pennies. Equally, I am a great fan of the library; I regularly borrow a specific book and then decide whether or not it is worth spending my husband’s hard earned pounds on it!
I thought I’d share some of my favourite finds with you, things that I do use over and over again.
This is my favourite go to website, youtube combination. I first came across Dr Bri when I was travelling in Barcelona and my pelvic floor was particularly flimsy! I came across her Lift Series which I could start there and then and start to regain some control over the functioning of my body. Dr Bri advocates a holistic approach to living. In order for one part of your body to work effectively, all of the other pieces need to be functioning correctly as one cohesive whole. Too frequently (and I have been at the wrong end of this) medical practitioners put right the problem that you have presented with and send you on your way, without considering what else might be going on in the vicinity that could be contributing to the situation. Dr Bri looks at it all and provides some really simple and attainable life style changes that you can make to begin to get yourself on the right track, and because of her I have discovered essential oils and more recently Ayurveda. What I particularly love about her is that she is a qualified women’s health physical therapist, but equally goes to great pains to point out that she isn’t your local practitioner and that in an ideal world, you would use her programmes alongside treatment from your local practitioner. I found this really refreshing in a world where everyone is an Instagram expert.
I’ve become a great fan of podcasts. I’m not the greatest flyer, but a good podcast helps the time go by and also frees me up to do some sock knitting at the same time. The main problem with podcasts, for me, is just finding the time to fit them all in!
Fearne Cotton: Happy Place
I love Fearne Cotton. I’ve also got her books ‘Happy’ and ‘Calm’. On her podcast she interviews a range of people including sportsmen and actors and discusses their mental health journeys. It’s a bit more light hearted than some, and she has such a beautiful interviewing technique that she is able to drawer the best out of her interviewees. I’ve found that my enjoyment varies depending on who she’s interviewing, but that’s the same with all chat shows. Obviously my favourite was her interview with Ruby Wax.
Dr Rangan Chattergee: Feel Better, Live More
I love this podcast! I love that he is a GP who is trying to advocate alternative methods to support patients in the UK and hasn’t just gone down the route of chucking a drug at everything. I’ve learned so much from this podcast. I’ve found out about Cal Newport and his Digital Detox which has changed the way I use my phone. I’m not perfect, but I’m much better. On my last flight I listened to episode #84 ‘Why Walking is the Superpower…’, with Professor Shane O’Mara which was just an eye opener and helped me understand why moving is so important. It was episode #85 with Andy Ramage that planted the seed of my giving up alcohol for a while, just to see if it would make a difference to my health and well-being. He discusses such a wide range of topics and each one leaves you eager to learn more, find out more and in some cases just to google whether or not that can even be true!
Russell Brand: Under the Skin
I have to confess that this is the podcast that I least expected to take to, but it is just fascinating. The level of knowledge that Russell Brand has on such a wide range of topic areas is just insane, and I have to confess that on a number of occasions I have been totally lost! I listened to this in the first instance because I really loved the person he was interviewing, to the extent I thought that putting up with Russell Brand for a bit was more than worth the effort. I was blown away. Again, the range of topics that he discusses and the variety of guests that he has on his programme is extraordinary and every episode leaves you wanting more. There are several that I’ve listened to more than once, just to fully understand everything that was discussed. The slight downside with this is that Russell Brand has recently moved to Luminary, a paid for podcast platform, but he does still have a great you tube channel and occasionally shares an episode to free to listen platforms.
Sometimes, there is just no substitute for a book. I’m having to get used to using the Kindle more, as it is a far easy way of transporting books.
I’ve read all of her books. She’s fantastic, going from comedienne to Neuroscientist, as you do. I remember showing a clip of her on YouTube when I was teaching, chortling away throughout, thinking it was the best thing ever, only to realise that not one of the students in my class had a clue who she was and didn’t find her the least bit funny! Her books are really accessible and humorous and help you make sense of a serious situation. She removes the fear and gives you hope that there is a way to get to a better place. There are number of stories she tells which make you feel ‘well, at least I was never that bad’, primarily because so much of what she did was in the public eye and at the very least I could fall apart in private.
Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth
I first came across Eckhart Tolle via another book that I read, Dan Harris ’10% happier’ (also worth a read). I admit that at that time, I did order ‘The Power of Now’ and decided it was not for me. I came across ‘A New Earth’ via Oprah Winfrey’s Soul Sessions podcast. I am a big Oprah fan. Anyway, she has a chapter by chapter review of the book, where she interviews Eckhart Tolle and discusses what each of the chapters mean and as with many things, she was able to put it into normal everyday language, so that you understand more clearly what the book is getting at! Technically, this book is about spirituality, but I found it more useful for my mental health. It helped me understand why I needed to be more present and offers suggestions on how you might be more present. It provides and understanding of why your thoughts might be the way they are, where they may come from, but equally important for me, where the thoughts of others might originate from. I’ve always been a nightmare for creating negative interpretations of the way other people might view me. This book helped me to stop, consider and even watch how other people are behaving and to understand they have their own chatter in their own minds, which determines how they behave towards me – it’s actually got nothing to do with me at all. This has been a revelation to me, and incredibly freeing. This is a book that I go back to time and time again, to refresh my mind and remind me to stay as present as I can.
This is my favourite app. I’ve dabbled with various meditation apps, but this one has won me over, primarily because of Matthew McConahys sleep story. Sadly, given the purpose of the sleep stories is to send you to sleep I don’t actually know how the story ends!
This is a paid for app and one of few things that I have paid full price for, but I love it. I’m not the best at meditation, but it has guided meditations, daily meditation practices, music to relax to and help you sleep. It has a brilliant 7 day introduction to meditation which isn’t the least bit scary. It’s definitely worth the free trial if nothing else.
I am learning and reading all the time. I am currently reading ‘The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda’ by Sahara Rose, who also has a podcast. And so I am off at another tangent, investigating other ways to support my health and well-being. If nothing else, it keeps me amused!