Welcome to LGBTQ+ week

Daniel Quasar redesigns LGBT Rainbow Flag to be more inclusive

Join the Harmless & The Tomorrow Project team as we discuss this weeks theme focusing the LGBTQ+ community.

June is International Pride Month. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals with their straight allies gather in cities all across the world to celebrate their true selves while recognising the struggles they face.

Let’s let’s talk about the importance and power of pride, recognise the mental health challenges of the LGBTQ+ community, but most of all let’s celebrate diversity!

Food and Mood – by Lisa

If there is one thing that never fails to put me in a positive mood…..it’s cake!

I love cake, I love to eat it and I love making it. Cake has had a place in my life for as long as I can remember. We only ever had cake for very special occasions when I was a child. Now as an adult, there is always an opportunity to have cake and for me, the best way is to share it.

If ever I feel bored, lonely or sad, then I’ll make a cake. I love to experiment and try new flavours and there is nothing more homely for me, than the aroma of a freshly baked cake filling the kitchen. We use cake as a comfort: I’ll bake a cake to cheer people up, and we use cakes to celebrate occasions like birthdays, weddings etc. in fact we don’t really need an excuse to have cake in our house. It is just something we love to share together when we all get a chance to meet up.

When my children were small I made all of their birthday cakes. This was mainly because it was cheaper and I could make it so much bigger to share around the seven of us. Whilst I was no expert, I really enjoyed the challenge of creating my own masterpieces to meet with their requests. Over the years I have made numerous cakes for my friends and family and always feel a sense of pride when I hand the finished result over. For me, baking and decorating a cake for someone gives me a chance to switch off from everything else and put all of my time and love into making something tasty!

Here are a few of my creations:

Ayurveda – Harmonising mind and body

The practice of Ayurveda is, in essence, about harmonizing mind and body. And what you eat affects everything. An Ayurvedic diet is an eating plan that provides guidelines for when you eat, what you eat, and how you eat to boost your health, prevent or manage disease, and maintain wellness.

If you follow an Ayurvedic diet, you’ll eat primarily whole or minimally processed foods and practice mindful eating rituals. “Doshas” in Ayurveda refer to your unique physical and mental constitution, which influence your personal well-being. Each person has their own dominant dosha or combination of two or three and your dosha, or combinations, will determine your diet and routine. Your dosha is determined by things like your complexion, eye colour, how you handle stress, body temperature and many more. There are three types dosha:

Kaphas –  tend to have larger hips and shoulders and are prone to illnesses such as bronchitis and sinus problems when they are out of balance.

Pittas – have high energy levels and good muscle tone but are short tempered when out of balance. They are also prone to ulcers, allergies and skin rashes.

Vatas – tend to be slender and often feel cold. When out of balance, they are inclined to have arthritis and dry skin.

You can take a free test to see which one you are here: https://bit.ly/37jcqLR

You can find out more about what food to try to avoid and what food is best for your dosha type here: https://www.ayurveda.com/pdf/food-guidelines.pdf

Although determining your dosha can be difficult and the diet can be a little restrictive, there are many pros to Ayurveda. Some of the main benefits associated with Ayurvedic diets include:

  • Improved digestive and metabolic processes
  • Improved heath of the gut/microbiome
  • Weight management
  • Enhanced detoxification
  • Less anxiety and more inner calm
  • Improved fertility and sexual/reproductive health
  • Improved efficiency in the excretion process (help passing bowel movements)
  • Improved functionality and range of motion due to decreased inflammation

Aja Ireland,

Trainer

Our Belly and Our Brain

Before lockdown I delivered a training session discussing mental health intervention and a delegate on training working as a nutritionist providing feedback suggesting that we should focus more time in the session on our mental health and how our diet directly impacts it.She told me that our digestive system produces over 90% of all serotonin (the ‘Happy’ hormone) and is often dubbed as the ‘second brain’. With this in mind, I researched the benefits of having a healthy digestive system for our mental health. I learned that out gut can affect immunity and resilience to stress and in general helps us to absorb vitamins, minerals and nutrients which is vital for our brains to thrive.

On reflection, when I have felt stressed or anxious, I often feel it in my gut, this is because when we are anxious our digestive systems speed up or slow down, depending on how we are feeling. To make sure we are keeping our brains and our bellies happy we need to make sure we are eating gut-friendly foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, pulses, and basically plenty of fibre and lots of fluid along with regular exercise.

To learn more about our digestive system and our gut check out this TED talk from nutritionist Ruairi Robertson as he discusses the link between our gut and our brain

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awtmTJW9ic8#action=share

~ Leanne

 

Food and mood – Some thoughts by Helen

Food and mood – This topic is highly emotive because after spending something like 15 years in the health and fitness industry, I have a little understanding of how our relationship with food often corresponds with good or bad phases of mental health or distress. Our eating habits are often indicators of whether all is well with us, and can be a form of subterfuge from distress, low mood, difficulties or anxiety. In our society we accept the notion of “eating for comfort” and equally accept the idea of “diet” without much thought around the impact both of these concepts have on us as individuals.

I am not averse to the idea of “breaking bread” with people we love, I love sharing a meal with friends and family, its more that the idea that food is either associated with over indulgence or deprivation, when in fact the kind of eating that enhances mood and well-being is much more about good nutritious food and relaxed regular eating. Thinking about what your body might need can be the key to the body feeling good.

Helen,

Suicide Bereavement Support Officer

Welcome to Food & Mood Week

One of the most obvious yet under
recognised factors in the development
of mental health is nutrition. Just like the
heart, stomach and liver, the brain is an
organ that requires different amounts of
complex carbohydrates, essential fatty
acids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals
and water to remain physically and emotionally healthy.

Nutrition can play an important
role in the prevention, development
and management of diagnosed mental
health conditions. So this week the Harmless team will be dedicating our blog content to the topic of Food and Mood.

Discrimination has no place at Harmless

Self harm does not discriminate. 

Neither do we.

This has always been our tag line since our service began in 2007.

Now more than ever it is pertinent that we address inequality. 

To echo The Samaritans

 ‘In the midst of a pandemic which is disproportionately impacting the Black community, the recent killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Nina Pop have propelled a collective pain so great that we must initiate change now.

Some of us have been carrying this pain for our whole lives. Others may just now be understanding the extent. Either way, the violence responsible for these tragedies is not new. Systemic racism permeates our society, creating massive institutional barriers and often fatal endings for many Black people in our country.

The field of mental and behavioral healthcare is no exception. Though many work tirelessly to fight inequity and injustice, the racial disparities in our country are real. Although we are listening and learning, we know that is not enough’.

As a suicide prevention service we pay attention to the people who need our help and in working towards enabling the system to better serve justice to our clients. Often, within an inherently prejudicial system. 

This year we have focused upon raising awareness of female suicide, an area in which we feel strongly that there is inequality for women and men alike. 

Given the LGBTQ+ elevation in risk we too stand with our LGBTQ+ friends in a call for justice and fairness at a time where trans equality is being politically undermined.

Let these factors which set us apart, unite us in one voice unified by #BLM and continue to educate ourselves about what we as individuals and as services can do better.

Self harm does not discriminate- neither do we. 

Stand with us as we endeavour to work for a mental health system that has parity of esteem and help us to continue to stand against inequality and continue to save lives.

We will be taking a closer look at inequality and discrimination in a series of articles and discussions bringing issues pertinent to our clients, to the fore.

Dreams are Important

I studied the life and work of Marc Chagall at Art college. One of his paintings is titled ‘Dream’ and most of his work is influenced by his internal experience. Chagall had a difficult early life and it is believed that his paintings represented hope and a means of escape from the harsh realities of our world. Our dreams are important as they represent our emotional and intellectual internal state of being.
Dreams help us to:

  • Make sense our current experience
  • Identify triggers to emotional distress
  • Process the emotion attached to distressing or difficult experiences
  • Reinforce skills learned during the day
  • Allow our minds to access creativity that may not have been accessible during the day.

It is no wonder that many of us have experienced a heightened awareness of our dream life during the Covid 19 Pandemic. Have you noticed that we all feel the need to tell somebody about our dreams? My daughters have been telling me about dreams about interacting with friends who they’re not currently seeing, dreams based on past and future events, dreams that seem purely fantastical and some slightly distressing dreams. Communicating our dream life to someone helps to reflect and make sense of it, and in that moment we re-live the experience of dreaming.

Dreaming is one of the few things that connect us to all other human beings, our ancestors and future humans too! Writers have dreamt of plots and characters, inventors and artists have dreamt about their future creations and philosophers and activists have dreamt about a better future.

Dreaming is our parallel world. If we feel safe enough to, we can make time to explore that world and the ways it can help us to move forwards.

Rani,

Specialist Therapist