BY Dr Amalia Gasson
Amalia has been working in adult mental health in the NHS for eight years, currently working in a community mental health rehabilitation team. She is experienced in working therapeutically with clients with a wide range of difficulties, with a focus on anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties and serious mental health difficulties. She also has an interest in chronic pain and physical health conditions and has completed research into chronic fatigue syndrome.
Life is stressful. Every day there are lots of events that will fill up our “stress buckets” to varying levels…the computer stops working, we drop a cup, there’s a queue in the shop.
With any health condition, there is a significant impact on our energy levels. Generally, we tend to go through life doing the most we can in the shortest time. Then our health can stop us in our tracks.
Learning to manage our energy so it feels less of a rollercoaster and more predictable can be tricky. This site has a whole range of self help resources. This link is specifically to the cycles we get into which can make managing energy difficult, and ways to make changes:
Spoon Theory is another approach to managing energy:
Managing pain levels, like fatigue, links to the ideas of pacing and spoon theory. There are also specific resources about pain such as:
The pain toolkit is created by someone who experiences chronic pain. There are videos on this site and also a pdf download: https://www.paintoolkit.org/tools
The British Pain Society also has helpful information: https://www.britishpainsociety.org/
It feels like you can’t go anywhere nowadays without hearing someone talking about mindfulness. This is an approach developed from eastern Buddhist meditation techniques and applied to pain management. It was found to be so helpful it has spread throughout healthcare as a way of managing stress.
At its core is a very simple idea, which is surprisingly difficult to put into practice: “Be in the present moment.”
Most of the time we are caught up in thoughts or regrets about the past, or worries about the future, and rarely notice the present.
Have you ever driven somewhere, arriving without remembering the journey? Have you ever been reading a book without taking it in? Looking at your watch without actually seeing the time? These are all examples of being “mindless” which is the opposite of being mindful.
There are many mindfulness books available. In my work I tend to use Mindfulness for Dummies, by Shamash Alidina, as it is so practical.
One very simple mindfulness practice is to go through all your senses, focusing on each one in turn. By doing this you are totally absorbing yourself in the present, even if only very briefly.
I’m also a fan of the mindful eating idea, often done with a raisin but this one uses chocolate
A great article from Brain & Life (American academy of neurology) on meditation called Inner peace.
Brain & Life
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How kind are you to yourself?
When you are having a tough day, do you congratulate yourself on what you manage despite that, or do you have a go at yourself for struggling?
As humans we are generally pretty rubbish at being kind to ourselves. An approach called compassion focused therapy is based on how the human brain evolved and explains why we are so tough on ourselves.
Paul Gilbert, who developed this approach, believes in sharing all the resources and information:
A summary of compassion focused therapy ideas can be found at :
There are some nice worksheets on becoming aware of your levels of criticism and compassion practices under therapist resources at: https://www.actwithcompassion.com/therapist_resources
The centre for clinical interventions is an Australian site with excellent self help workbooks for a whole range of issues including building compassion, managing panic, dealing with distress and overcoming perfectionism (a character trait many of us have but which makes pacing energy nigh on impossible so definitely worth a quick look): http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/consumers.cfm
Most have simple questions in the first module to help you assess whether this is a specific area that might be helpful for you to explore further.
Finally, the great thing about the internet is just how many resources there are.
You may have come across many that you could share on a forum like this to help others.
There are also great Apps like Headspace which talk you through mindfulness exercises.
This is a list of Apps recommended by the NHS: https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/links2.htm
Here is a list here of mindfulness apps:
There are many parts of the UK where you can also refer yourself – the NHS website has a service finder:
Mind often offer free courses and support: https://www.mind.org.uk/
The Samaritans have useful information on their site https://www.samaritans.org/, have the phone number 116123 and you can email email@example.com (they aim to respond to email within 24 hours).
If you feel you are in crisis with your mental health and you are
having – suicidal thoughts and feelings; or thoughts about harming yourself or someone else; or you have seriously hurt yourself…
You can go to any hospital A&E department and ask for help (if you need to, call 999 and ask for an ambulance). There are specialist mental health liaison teams in hospitals who will see you quickly and be able to offer the most appropriate support