All posts by ZoeRoss

[7] The Critical Inner Voice

The-Mental-Wellbeing-Podcast-Critical-Inner-Voice

In this episode, we look at our inner voice, focussing on the critical inner voice that the vast majority of us have to one degree or another. You may already be aware of it – the voice in your head that pops up to tell you that you’re not good enough in some capacity or another.

People with anxiety and depression are more likely to have a highly critical inner voice and this can impact them in many areas of life, so it’s helpful to understand a bit more about it and learn how we can start to tame it.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • What is the critical inner voice?
  • What impact can it have on us?
  • Where does it come from?
  • What can we do about it?

I hope you enjoy the episode!  If you have any questions, do get in touch by emailing me at zoe@zoeross.com or messaging me @psychologyzoe on Twitter.

Resources:

In the episode I discuss a critical inner voice observation sheet which you can download here.

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[6] Understanding Anxiety: The Negativity Bias

The-Mental-Wellbeing-Podcast-Episode-6-Negativity-Bias

In this episode we look at the negativity bias, or our brain’s natural tendency to focus on the negative aspects of life. We look in more detail at what it is, where it has come from and how it can lead to anxiety.

We also look at the ways in which we can counter-balance this natural cognitive bias, firstly by noticing how it looks for you and then by taking time to really notice and take in the positive experiences in our lives. I take you through an exercise developed by Rick Hanson designed to help you ‘take in the good’ which can, over time, help to address the negativity bias in the brain.

I hope you enjoy the episode!  If you have any questions, do get in touch by emailing me at zoe@zoeross.com or messaging me @psychologyzoe on Twitter.

Resources:

In the episode I discuss a thought observation sheet first used in episode 3 which you can download by clicking here.

Rick Hanson’s YouTube Channel 

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[5] World Suicide Prevention Day Special Episode

World-Suicide-Prevention-Day-Podcast-Episode

This is a special podcast episode for World Suicide Prevention Day, which has the theme of taking a minute to save someone’s life. The day hopes to raise awareness of suicide and also, importantly that it can be prevented, especially by connecting with other people. I hope this podcast will help you or someone you know if you have been affected by suicide or, to help you to understand it more. 

In it, I share my own personal experience of losing my lovely friend Chris Allan to suicide and discuss the impact of suicide on those that are left behind. I also discuss the importance of ‘being the person’ who is not afraid to talk about mental health and ask questions around suicide.

I know it is a tricky topic, however it is also an important one. If you have any questions, or would like to talk further, do get in touch by emailing me at zoe@zoeross.com or messaging me @psychologyzoe on Twitter.

Further help

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) support group

Very helpful NHS guide for grief after a suicide

NHS guide to getting help if you are having suicidal thoughts

Samaritans: Call 116 123

Papyrus (prevention of young suicide)

 

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[4] Mindful Breathing Exercise

Understanding-Anxiety-Podcast-Episode-4

This short mindful breathing exercise is designed to help you begin to observe your thoughts and thinking, as discussed in the previous episode about how thoughts and thinking patterns can lead to anxiety.

It is a good introduction to the techniques used in ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), discussed in episode 3.

It is useful for everyone, though particularly helpful if you are dealing with anxiety, or an overly stressed and busy mind. It will also help you to get in touch with your breath and body in the present moment.

It’s a good first step to learning to observe your mind, understanding that you are not your thoughts and gently bring your focus back to where you want it to be.

It can also be very relaxing and only lasts 4 minutes long, so you should easily be able to fit it into your day. Do be gentle with yourself if your mind wanders – it is perfectly normal! And remember, practice makes perfect!

I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful.

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[3] Thoughts and Thinking Patterns

Understanding-Anxiety-Podcast-Episode-3

In this episode, I talk about the types of thoughts and thinking patterns that can lead to, or exacerbate, anxiety. I discuss how you can learn to become an observer of your thoughts to help you identify your thinking patterns, thoughts, feelings and emotions and introduce you to basic techniques from CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and CFT (Compassion Focussed Therapy) to help you start to relate to your thoughts in a different way.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Some of the different types of thinking patterns that commonly cause anxiety (catastrophic thinking, black and white thinking & perfectionism, and negative filtering).
  • How to use thought disputing questioning from CBT to challenge your thoughts.
  • How to observe and notice your thoughts and thought patterns and why this is helpful.
  • How ACT encourages you to accept your thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than try to avoid, suppress or change them.
  • Why being compassionate to yourself is so important as you explore your thoughts and thinking, and what that can look like.

I hope you enjoy the episode!

Resources:

In the episode I discuss a thought observation sheet which you can download by clicking here.

Further resources:

The Little CBT Workbook – easy to access & very helpful CBT book
The Happiness Trap – excellent book on ACT
More about Rick Hanson’s description of the brain’s negative bias
More on self-compassion

Did you like this episode?

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It would also be much appreciated if you could take a minute to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes.

[2] Understanding Anxiety

Understanding-Anxiety-Podcast-Episode-2

 

Anxiety is a very common mental health issue that is on the increase in the UK and is often linked with depression.

In this episode, Zoe helps you to understand anxiety if you want to learn more for yourself, or someone you know.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this episode:

  • what anxiety is
  • the symptoms and common causes of anxiety
  • an overview of treatments for anxiety
  • tips to help manage anxiety

I hope you enjoy the episode and remember, if you are suffering with anxiety, help is available and asking for support is always a sign of strength.

Further anxiety help:

Anxiety UK
Mind
MoodJuice Anxiety Guide

Did you like this episode?

If you did like it, do subscribe to the podcast on iTunes for automatic updates whenever an episode is released.

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It would also be much appreciated if you could take a minute to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes.

[1] Introduction to Mental Wellbeing

Introduction-to-Mental-Wellbeing-Podcast-Episode-1

 

In this introductory episode I introduce myself and the Mental Wellbeing podcast alongside what mental wellbeing means and why it’s important.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this episode:

  • what is mental wellbeing (and the mental wellbeing podcast)
  • why is mental wellbeing important
  • how to measure your own mental wellbeing

I hope you enjoy the episode!

Resources:

In the episode I talk about the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing measurement scale. Click here to view and use.

Further mental health help:

Remember, if you are worried about your own mental health, or someone close to you, there is plenty of help available and asking for support is always a sign of strength.

NHS
Mind
CALM (especially for men)
Young Minds (especially for children & adolescent mental health)

Did you like this episode?

If you did like it, do subscribe to the podcast on iTunes for automatic updates whenever an episode is released.

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Wellbeing Wonder #5: Unplug

wellbeing-wonders-unplug

This is a little bit of a cheat of a wellbeing wonder post, because the subject of it means that it will be short – but sweet, I hope.

Putting your tech away doesn’t need a grand gesture or to be for a long time (but the longer the better probably), but just connecting with the world and the people around us and focussing mindfully on where we are, rather than the information superhighway, does us all good sometimes.

So if you are reading this (and thank you!), put down your device, go and give someone a hug (anyone really but ideally someone you know) and have some tech-free time. It’s very good for your wellbeing.

Happy weekend!

Wellbeing Wonder Number 4: Positive relationships

wellbeing-wonders-healthy-relationships

Today’s wellbeing wonder of people is a very important one, especially given that loneliness is on the increase, particularly amongst older people and can be very detrimental to mental health.

Being around people who love and support you is important for many reasons, including good wellbeing. Positive relationships are one of the cornerstones of the PERMA model from Martin Seligman (the father of positive psychology). His research suggests that pain centres in the brain are activated when we are lonely and, being the strong social creatures that we are, we flourish when we have strong, positive connections with others.

Are all relationships good?

Unfortunately, not all relationships are positive. There are manipulative and unhealthy relationships. There are unfortunately some people in the world who are critical, snarky and judgemental. Being around these types of people and the negative energy that they consistently give off can be very draining and it’s very hard to avoid getting dragged into their negative whirlpool. While it’s not always possible to rid them from your life completely, spending less time with this type of person and setting appropriate, healthy boundaries can be a great first step (though they may well complain about this too!).

The importance of positive relationships

Instead, cultivating healthy relationships with people who are more positive and energising to be with can really make a difference to your levels of happiness on a day to day basis. I’m not talking about people who are without the full range of emotions we all have as humans, and of course we all have our difficult and down days, but those authentic people who are genuinely supportive of you and your goals in life. They may well challenge you (and that’s a good thing), but it’s likely to be in helpful and encouraging ways rather than the negative naysayers, who are of course often hiding behind their own fears and projecting them on to you.

As you spend more time with positive people, of course you become more positive too and that’s when relationships of many types can truly flourish. Whether it’s a friendship, work, family or romantic relationship you can support each other in many different ways, whether it’s simply having a cracking good laugh, helping each other through a tricky time or working out how you will conquer the world.

It’s a very beautiful thing and a real wellbeing wonder.

 

Wellbeing Wonder Number 3: Meditate #mhaw17

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Today’s wellbeing wonder is a big one for me and has definitely changed my life. Every morning the first thing I do is meditate. Just for 10-15 minutes and it’s the best habit I have.

Why mediate?

It’s not woo-woo, it’s science – honest! There is much evidence that meditation can have a significant impact on stress levels and actually changes the brain. The silicon valley set (in my spiritual Californian home) are all over meditation, understanding the many benefits it brings to introvert technology types and driven founders alike. It has certainly helped me to feel calmer and deal with life’s ups and downs and the feelings of anxiety that arise during stressful times.

How to meditate?

Meditation is ridiculously simple and very hard at the same time! It’s like trying to tame a cute little puppy. Sometimes the mind is willing to be still and do as you ask and then just when you think you are making great progress, it refuses to come when its called and is causing mayhem all over the place. But you learn that both are ok. It’s all part of the process, and, as with exercise, consistent persistence is the key. Some days are easier than others, but all days can be meditation days.

How to get started with meditation?

The easiest way is to download an app. I used headspace for a long time and it’s a really great way to learn the basics and beyond. There are 10 free sessions and then £45 (or less if you have a friend who uses it and can give you a code) buys you access to more meditation packs than you can shake a stick at. It’s a beautifully simple app and Andy Puddicombe, the co-founder talks you through it. His ted talk is worth a watch too about the benefits of mindful meditation. Highly recommended and the woo-woo factor of headspace is low 🙂

There is also the Calm app, which again offers some meditation for free and has a variety of music and backgrounds to choose from. Birdsong or a crackling fire anyone? It features a lovely, soft and gentle female voice guiding you through and offers a good variety of meditations to try. Woo-woo factor is low to medium

I’ve recently been using insight timer, which gives lots of flexibility for whether you want to have a guided meditation (and there are lots to choose from) or just meditate by yourself with some timing guidance. I like it, although the quality of the guided meditations does vary a little (and there’s something ironic about getting annoyed because the meditation you’re listening to is a bit rubbish!). Woo-woo factor is medium to high depending on your choice of meditation! 🙂

There are also plenty of free guided meditations on YouTube and podcasts, so there are plenty to try.

You can of course forget about having a guided meditation and just simply meditate. Focussing on your breath is a good place to start or you can try a mindful bodyscan like this one I made for Mind Moose last week. Plenty of folks reporting that they found it relaxing and so have their children, so worth a go if you’re feeling a bit stressed!

I would say that you need to give meditation a try for at least a couple of weeks or ideally a month to see how you feel at the end. In my opinion, it really is worth 10 minutes of your day and a real wellbeing wonder.

 

 

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