Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Live a longer and happier life.

"Find something to be happy about every day, and every hour, even if only for a few minutes, and if possible moment-to-moment. This is the easiest and best protection you can have."  Gregg Braden

Research would show that happy and content people live approximately seven years more than people that are not so happy.

So if our lives are the most important things to us - although many forget to look after the one thing that will keep them alive - their bodies, then how can we not only live longer but also happier?

One habit that is always identified is the appreciation exercise.

Before going to sleep each night, have a little booklet by your bed and fill in five things that you have been grateful for that day.

Nothing long or fancy - just  a word or phrase for each and thus ensuring your mind is in a place of appreciation as you fall off to sleep - thus allowing your subconscious to work its merry way to becoming happier.

Once you start doing that - you'll also start to look for things that your are grateful for - thus bringing it into greater 'view' and opening up that all important self-awareness I have mentioned in previous blogs - which is the start of all personal growth.

Right now - write down five things that you are grateful for in your life.

How was that?

How did it feel?

Buy that small booklet; put it by your bedside, start being more grateful for what you have tonight.

The greatest happiness lies under our feet.

Les
A Moodscope User.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Playing the Upset Card.

Here's the sixteenth in the series of excellent blogs by Lex covering the adjectives on the 20 Moodscope cards. Please don't forget we'd love you to add any ideas, tips, insights or advice you may have that you'd like to share with other Moodscope members that might be of help. Many thanks. Caroline.

Today it's the turn of the 'Upset' card.  Moodscope defines this as: 'feeling sad and troubled about things'.

There's deep stuff to be said about being upset. But sometimes I'm just a shallow guy. To me, 'Upset' is an anagram of 'Setup'...and that's what life feels like sometimes – a setup. And that upsets me!

I think this is technically called, 'Paranoia' but everybody I've met is paranoid!

We wouldn't feel 'sad and troubled about things' if they didn't feel personal to us – like something was working against us – like we'd been set up. This, again, is a sign, I believe, of the intelligence and imagination sitting at the core of the depressed person.  We're sad because we care. We care because we intelligently think about what matters. We have emotional intelligence. But sometimes we try too hard to push open a door that opens the other way. Our emotional intelligence needs fresh direction to escape the trap, the setup.

Trouble is, being 'troubled' isn't usually the best state to be in to make any positive difference. Action is required. If the journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step, then the journey out of the valley of sadness – where we were setup and ambushed – begins with a single positive step. This will start the process of righting us – balancing us – returning us to equilibrium.

One step at a time. One day at a time. One thought at a time. You know what? I believe we can change our world (and theirs too – whoever they may be) one thought at a time. Now there's a thought!

So if there was just one thing you could do today to take you higher – out of the valley of sadness where there is so much troubled thinking – what would that one thing be?

Lex
A Moodscope User.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Can we really be comfortable with ourselves?

"One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things."
Henry Miller

How often do we think that we have 'arrived'?

Finally we have 'made it'...

Arrived at an answer, a location, a job, a position or even a relationship?

In the bigger picture of things it may feel that we can relax and settle into a new result, location or partnership...the challenge is - that the only constant in life is change. That 'C' of change...whipped up the ever roiling waves of cultural and societal shifts.

The only comfort, I believe ever to be found, is that which is found 'inside'. That clarity of who we are and what we stand for, regardless of the push and pull of the material word.

Question - Can we really be comfortable with ourselves?

Once we find that elusive Holy Grail, then no matter what happens 'outside' us, we can be sure of being on solid ground, like a lighthouse and far more able to deal with the ever changing world around us.

In this respect we can 'see' that everything will change - that we do not have to force it or even create change - we simply have to join it - to simply show up - and in having identified and clarified our own values (what we stand for) we will not be pushed over or submerged in this 'C of change'.

The way we individually look at our life, will constantly change due to age, or career, beliefs, or family.

For many it will at times 'throw' them and they will attempt to carry on as before.

It may even trigger depression, by attempting to stay the same while all around is altering...you cannot stay the same...unless you not only believe in your God (whichever one it is) but believe you are that God.

We must, I believe, constantly see ourselves on that never ending path, with our direction driven by our compass (our values) then at least we know our direction. What remains then is how we 'see' each situation we arrive at - dare I say each crossroads. And if it is the same crossroads as before...we didn't take the right route last time. (same job issues - same relationship issue - same health issues)

Each decision is a 'door' to a new view, a new panorama...

How grounded and how broad is your vision - can it adapt like your eyes for short and long sight as well as the ability to step back and see the whole picture?

How are you viewing your world today?

Les
A Moodscope User.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Draw something, anything!

One of my favourite books that I return to again and again is Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory. I love his pearls of wisdom on page 16:

"We can't control what life deals us, just how we respond to it. And if we are monomaniacally focused on the bad stuff, we are missing the beauty of a half-eaten apple, the sunshine on the bedspread, the smell of warm cookies. This is an important but slippery lesson and I have had to learn it again and again."

Drawing can help us to untie the ribbons and open the gifts that each day bears. If there is anything that has helped me look, and I mean really look and see, it's been having a few Life Drawing classes over the years.

What's really interesting is that when I've drawn stuff in my journal, as opposed to writing about it, I can return to that moment, sometimes years later, with far greater recall than reading my words. No wonder then that Danny Gregory has also researched the wonders that drawing can do for the memory.

It's difficult to read any of Danny's books or blogs and not be inspired to pick up a pencil or pen and draw something. Anything!

Ah, but right now, many of you are thinking "But I can't draw!", "I don't have the time!" or "How can this help a low mood anyway?"

Well, drawing can take us to the 'flow state' - the perceptual, right hand side of the brain - that blissful garden in the frantic city of the mind where things are calmer, quieter and the outside chatter is stilled. Noticing the way the light casts shadows on a creased and crumpled napkin or your china cup, or listening to the sound of your pencil on quality paper, it's all cathartic.

As for not having the time, don't allow your mind to to trick you into believing that you must set aside a whole afternoon, have the 'proper' equipment or accomplished all "to-dos" first. No! You could draw something right now. Give yourself two minutes of noticing something and sketching it - your cats paw, an electrical plug or your Aunty Nellie snoozing in her chair. We don't have to be Vincent van Gogh to open our eyes and see shade, texture and colour.

And finally, if you are one of the many who say 'I can't draw!' remember Michelangelo's words: "What the eye can see the hand will draw". The trouble is, is that we don't give our eyes the chance to 'see'. We tend to dwell in the left, logistical side of the brain, concentrating on the drawing and on what we think it ought to look like. Look at the object, not your drawing.

The result? "The weight of sadness was in wonder lost."  - William Wordsworth

Suzy
A Moodscope user.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

You have to be comfortable with discomfort.

"The comfort zone is always the most desirable place to be. But in settling for comfort, there is a price to pay and it comes in the death of ambition, of hope, of youth and the death of self." Simon Barnes, The Times.

We all too often seek 'comfort' instead of growth and in doing so choose to attempt to stay 'safe', which means (as in any organism), that we are choosing atrophy and 'death' over life!

If we are feeling down, this seeking of safety becomes even more limiting. In the 22 bouts of depression I have had (where for me chemicals have never worked) each bout has only lifted with me embracing something in the future and thus 'believing' that there actually is a future.

In NLP terms I needed to move 'towards' something and not just attempt to 'move away' from something.

This is to have (or create) some form of meaning in the future, almost for me, committing to believe there is life out there for me yet - and to shift, albeit psychologically painful, from where I may not even be able to move out of a room, never mind the house!

So I LOVE this quote from Simon Barnes and it is true whether for a person, a family, a team, an organisation, a community or the planet.

Great truths work in every situation...because they are just that - great truths. Just think - in a couple of weeks, none of the skin you presently have will be there - and in around nine months few if any of the cells in your body (I believe) will be there either - so who will you be? Only your spirit really remains...

Everything constantly changes and the only constant in life is CHANGE and it is not and never was helpful to attempt to hang on and seek comfort. In doing so you are 'dying' and your spirit with you.

Les
A Moodscope User.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Christmas.

If it's Christmas Day where you are, and you're reading this on the 25th itself, the team at Moodscope would like to you a happy Christmas.

Whether you're going to be with family and friends today, or you're due to be keeping your own company, please remember that Moodscope is thinking of you and wishes you well.

Caroline and Adrian
The Moodscope Team

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas Blues.

I was a bit of a child prodigy when it comes to depression, having my first attack at seven years old. It happened at Christmas and I can still remember being in bed (because it very often takes a form similar to ME), looking at the lovely turkey dinner my mother had brought up, with beautifully crispy potatoes (my favourite) and not wanting even a bite of it. There was the noise of Christmas jollity coming from downstairs; the sounds of my brother and sister playing with whatever they had been given and it had no relevance or significance whatsoever. I just wanted to go to sleep until it was all over.

Forty odd years ago, of course, it wasn't recognised as depression. I think they put it down to end of term exhaustion and nobody seemed much bothered about it.

The depression has occurred at Christmas a couple of times since. Each time it has not been particularly the exhaustion or dark mood that has been most hard to bear, but the sense of isolation. Even in the middle of a family playing a loud and hilariously funny game, I am stuck in what seems like an enormous goldfish bowl; the walls of murky glass meters thick. I can see things going on outside the bowl, but I can't get to or feel any of it.

And I've learned that it's OK to be there. The extended family just think "Oh, Mary's a bit tired: she's been overdoing it". My immediate family know I'm ill and tend to be a bit more protective than usual (bless them). I've learned that if nobody expects Uncle David to give horsy-rides to the children because of his dodgy back, then nobody expects me to be the life and soul if the blues have got me again.

There's never a good time to have depression. Christmas is a particularly grim time to suffer, as is the summer holidays. The important thing to recognise is that there is no contractual obligation to be happy and jolly at Christmas. The phase "Merry Christmas" is a hopeful wish, not a command set in stone.

I wish us all Peace this Yuletide, fortitude of Spirit and Endurance. Regardless of the state of our mental health we will all benefit from these.

Mary
A Moodscope User.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Playing The Proud Card.

Here's the fifteenth in the series of excellent blogs by Lex covering the adjectives on the 20 Moodscope cards. Please don't forget we'd love you to add any ideas, tips, insights or advice you may have that you'd like to share with other Moodscope members that might be of help. Many thanks. Caroline.

In the fifteenth of my series on the twenty Moodscope cards, it's the turn of the "Proud" card – a red card – a positive card. Moodscope defines this as: "feeling sense of achievement".

Well that's just as well that there is a definition because "Proud" is a word that is not OK with me. I'm British and we know that, "Pride comes before a fall." We lost an Empire, arguably through pride and arrogance. The people I dislike most are proud and arrogant. But this is meant to be a good word. "A sense of achievement" – works for me much better.  The Brits have added a few good things to history of which we should be proud!

In the battle of day-to-day management of my fragile mindset, little victories count for much. This mirrors the fact that tiny setbacks can 'destroy' me. This is why I count my victories...and in the spirit of this card, I am proud of them. When the war seems to be being won by the floodtide of darkness, little victories really matter.

What kind of victories are important to me? Well, when I'm low, I'm a potty-mouth! I'm amazed at just how eloquent I can be when fed up. Bang my leg into the door...it's the door's fault! And I give it some 'feedback'. I know it's nonsense. I know it's stupid. I know the door is an inanimate object. And I know that banging into the door was my fault.  But when I'm low, I don't want to know this. I just want to vent my anger on anything that 'makes' the day worse.

Thus, every time I hold my tongue and say to myself, "that's just an inanimate object" – I'm proud of that tiny victory over my own stupidity! What are your small victories that help win the war against depression? Do tell!

Lex
A Moodscope User.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Grow where you're planted.

So reads the ubiquitous fridge magnet I've grown to hate. When I first came across this wee quote I liked it, I was younger and full of high expectations that life would take me in many directions, preferably away from my home town. It was cute and easy to like then.

Now? In all honesty oftentimes, I'd very much like to be re-potted.

Late one evening last year I was about to turn off the TV and wend my way to bed when I heard a narrator say that this week's Secret Millionaire was from my hometown. Needless to say, I stayed up another hour. The opening line of the Channel 4 programme went something like this: "Bootle is one of the most deprived areas in the whole of the UK." Yikes! The conclusion was, as always, very moving. (Although, given that gun and knife crime were mentioned in every other sentence, it did cross my mind if it would be prudent to start wearing a bullet/stab proof vest whenever I leave my home. 'Could I buy a pretty, floral flak jacket?' I wondered.)

Yes, circumstances have meant trying to put into practice those vexing words: Grow where you're planted. But what can help us do so?

I've always loved the advice to see our home town through the eyes of a tourist. Seek out local tours, interesting events and exhibitions. (Your local library or council's website maybe a good starting point.) Find the independent shops and cafes. Get to know the names of your local shop keepers, neighbours, postman or street cleaner. I find my mood soars if on the way to the bus stop I can shout a cheery "Hello" to someone whose name I know.

If you live in a place where languages are manifold, learn basic greetings and watch the eyes of folk light up as you greet them in their mother tongue. (Dzień dobry is "Good day" in Polish and pronounced "Djane DOH-brayh"; "Hello" in Mandarin Chinese is "nǐ hǎo", pronounced roughly as "nee how")

Keeping things as fresh and as new as possible may help us blossom, even if planted in unfavourable conditions.

Suzy
A Moodscope User.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Improving mood.

I can't remember who gave me the idea, but I have a small, special notebook and a special pen by my bed. Every night I write the date followed by three good things that happened that day. They can be big or small things, e.g. doing some art, my son telling me he loves me, completing a chore that I'd been putting off, or just having a nice chat to someone.

I keep it to three things each day, so I have a lovely record of strictly positive thoughts and feelings. Looking back I can see that every day is a good day if you look at it in the right way. Because of this I find myself noticing the good things that happen during the day more and more.

This is a quote someone posted on facebook which helps me: "On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%, and that's pretty good".

Rachel
A Moodscope User.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Money.

Go on – admit it: the very word gets you worried and sends your blood pressure soaring.

And – true confession time – the most recent occasion I became suicidal (hey – 8 years ago and only for half an hour) it was over my overdraft.

Thinking back – it wasn't even a particularly large overdraft – but I had totally lost my sense of proportion and judgement.

We can't run away from responsibility about money. What we can do though is change our judgements about it. There is no shame in poverty. There is no shame in wealth. There are just our opinions about it.

Depression is no respecter of wealth, social position, intelligence or employment status. What it does do, is aim unerringly at vulnerability. It's not a co-incidence that children from the poorest of families in our society suffer the highest rates of depression and mental illness, but the second highest rates are suffered by the children of affluent families where expectations are unrealistically high.

So let's take away our judgements about right and wrong when it comes to money. Let's be responsible, by all means, but whether we own our money or rent it (paying interest), it's still just bits of paper or numbers on a computer screen.

There are things we can afford, and things we can't afford. There are frugalities that are almost pleasures and those that stick like bitter aspirin in the gullet. There are things we choose not to have even though we could afford them if we wanted to.

There are many things I can't afford to give my children, but at the risk of sounding trite, I can give them values even if I can't give them valuables.

Mary
A Moodscope user.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Never be indifferent to indifference.

"The opposite of love is not hate it is indifference."

This quote always has a powerful impact on me.

I am rarely irritated by people who show emotion; even if it is the opposite emotion as I have for something. They are emotionally engaged - 'alive' in my terms. I can have a passionate and at times deeper dialogue with them and even have the opportunity to change my perception or world view - if I am open enough - as only through diversity will we grow and become sustainable - personally and professionally.

I used to think in IQ Newtonian terms, that hate was the opposite of love and then realised that the opposite of love is to be totally indifferent towards something.

To be indifferent means that you have NO emotion, no life, no love, no interest in a subject which the other person may base their life on by 'loving' it.

Where have you encountered indifference and how has it made you feel? Indifference kills any possibility of a win/win - a joy sharing of life, love and hate.

Les
A Moodscope user.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Black dogs, black cats and dirty great Leviathans.

It was Winston Churchill who described his depression as a black dog. He was a man who liked cats.

My brother has a black dog. Her name is Shiraz, and she is a collie/shepherd/greyhound mix of faithfulness, affection and gentle fun. Shiraz is about as far away from depression as you can yet. In fact, she's a great help to my brother when he feels down – because there's nothing like the love of a good dog to make you feel better about yourself.

While that video you watched last week described pictorially how depression feels, many of you animal lovers out there felt it was very unfair to real black dogs. And you may be right. A fellow Moodscope blogger wrote about Oscar, the black therapy cat. There are many animals out there helping people when they suffer from depression. Some of those animals happen to be black.

The fact that the image was a dog was not that important. The message was about giving the depression a shape. The dog is a convenient shape as it is recognisable and familiar. It then makes sense that everyone has one of these shapes with them – just in lots of different breeds and sizes.

So what shape does yours take? Some time ago I wrote about my dirty grey leviathan which periodically swallows me up for days, weeks, months at a time.

Picturing it as a shape or animal in my mind helps me be less scared of it. In fact, because of the power of our minds, I can change its picture so that it becomes almost a cartoon, with rolling eyes and a swishing tail. Like the man in the video I can start to tame it, to reduce it in size. I can take steps to avoid its worst effects.

So picture your "monster" and then start to make it less scary in your mind. The days still come when it gets the better of you, but it's much easier to fight what you can see – even if you see it only in your mind's eye.

Mary
A Moodscope user.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Who helps you get back up each time you fall?

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand.  
Emily Kimbrough.

Who helps you get back up each time you fall?

Who do you run ideas past, before you send or express them?

Who do you call as your 'go to' person when you are unsure of a direction or just need support?

Hopefully you may have them as your Moodscope buddies...and you do not even have to make contact with them - they may already have called you due to your score? FAB!!

I know as an only child, with both parents now dead, and being self employed, that days can go by without me having to make conversation with anyone. Which can deepen the mood of myself and the office.

And if things are going well - that is fine.

If however I have been triggered by something - more likely someone - then I'll need an outlet.

An 'outlet person', that has compassion and whose listening skills make me feel 'listened to', is a rare beast - well worth their weight in gold for sure.

The greatest human need is to help others...and you cannot help another without helping yourself...sounds like a win/win situation to me.

So whose hand can you help up today?

Or

Who helped you up today?

Les
A Moodscope user.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Playing The Attentive Card.

Here's the fourteenth in the series of excellent blogs by Lex covering the adjectives on the 20 Moodscope cards. Please don't forget we'd love you to add any ideas, tips, insights or advice you may have that you'd like to share with other Moodscope members that might be of help. Many thanks. Caroline.

Today it's the turn of the "Attentive" card. Moodscope defines this as: "paying close attention".

If I had a Fairy Godmother (and perhaps I do), her most often said words to me would be, "Dearest, where is your attention?" This is because she knows about the magic of attention. I remember her saying to me over and over again as a child, "Whatever gets your attention, gets you!"

It took me a long time to understand this, but it's true. Wherever my attention would go would consume my thoughts. My thoughts would grow around my attention as if the attention was the seed.

This is most obviously so when suffering a minor cold. I found that if I shifted my attention to a comedy film, I would forget all about the runny nose for 90 minutes. When it was over, my attention would shift back to my symptoms and I would suffer as only a man can suffer!

This is meant to be a positive card for Moodscope. It's about being switched 'in' to the World, not switched 'off' like you can be when depressed. But I think it's a three-way switch: 0 = Attention Off; 1 = Attention on the Positive; 2 = Attention on the Negative.

To switch my attention strongly, I use a click of my fingers. A left click (sounds like a mouse) wakes me up to the fact that I've been drifting into negative attention. I then do a right click to command myself to find something positive to attend to. One of the joys of being human is that you can only 'attend' to one thing at a time. So this works for me.

Now, when my Fairy Godmother asks me where my attention is, I say boldly with a click: "On the positive!"

Lex
A Moodscope User.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

I had a black dog, his name was depression.

A few members have written to us recently recommending a video published by The World Health Organization entitled I had a black dog, his name was depression. It's great.

You can view it by following this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiCrniLQGYc

The video doesn't need any introduction, it speaks for itself.

I hope you find it interesting.

Caroline
The Moodscope team

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Taking control of your care.

A few weeks ago my Care Co-ordinator asked me if I would have a go at doing a WRAP. A Wellness Recovery Action Plan. I was a bit sceptical of yet another set of forms to fill in, but always willing to try anything that may help, I had a go.

I found it quite illuminating, the WRAP is split up into two parts. The first deals mainly with you. The second is a crisis plan to help others deal with you. 

In the first part you are asked to examine yourself. You write about what you are like when you are well, what triggers you, how you can handle the triggers, what you can do when you get worse and how you know things have reached crisis point. 

Thinking in detail about what makes us tick can sometimes be helpful in identifying when things are going wrong. I showed the WRAP to a friend and my daughter who both identified things that I do when things are not going well, things that I had not realised I did. One of these was that my face changed colour, something that I think is useful to share with my other friends and the professional team. 

The second part of the WRAP is used to detail crisis management. Here you identify how others know that you need help and how they can help. For the first time I felt that I might be able to control how I wanted people to react, especially when things had reached a point where I or others may be in danger.
 
I will share my WRAP with my Care coordinator, the Crisis Team, my family and my close friends as I think that the more people know about what I am like when I am ill the more they will be able to help.

If you would like to write a WRAP you can download the form by following this link:

http://tinyurl.com/26p7ns5

Penny
A Moodscope user.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Taking personal responsibility.

"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." Voltaire
  
Malcolm Gladwell writes wonderfully thought provoking books and in his book 'The Tipping Point'. he explores how things change and that they so often, after a length of time moving towards change, suddenly shift in the end what seems very quickly.

This is of course the 'tipping point' where after all the time and effort put in to something, suddenly bears fruit and highlights the need to keep going as our subconscious works on the acceptance of this 'new' way and then just like the flood gates, opens for this 'new world' to flow through. This is the same for a person, family, organisation, community or country.

It is that 'Aha' moment where we finally 'get it' and our world view is changed forever.

When was your last 'Aha' moment? What can you, or how can others, add that one last snowflake that finally reaches your 'tipping point' to help change your life and even overcome the latest bout of darkness.

Which of your friends sticks with you long enough and continually supports you, in the way you need to be supported? To walk beside you, until you breath in that new world view and the world become colourful again?

Whoever they are - cherish those final 'snowflakes'.

Les
A Moodscope user.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Post and purrs.

Somewhere around this time last year I started slipping, headlong, through the cracks and into a black hole. (The cracks were bigger than they ought to have been because I'd neglected the warning signs: "Depression Ahead!" and so failed to make the necessary diversion.) Anxiety gripped one arm, sadness the other and it took many months (further counseling and a rise in the dosage of my medication), to struggle free from their tight grip.

On one particularly bad day I sat in a Hotel near the beach, staring into a cup of earl grey tea and wondering if I'd see colour again. Suddenly, in strolled Oscar. Now I'd met Oscar several times previous but still, I was enchanted and privileged when he launched himself upon my lap, curled up and took a nap. I like to think that Oscar has a Sadness Sensory System.

Oscar, the rotund, affectionate cat lives in a house near the hotel. He has managed to manipulate the workings of electronic doors and slips into the lounge/bar whenever he can - hoping for a scrap of bacon or juicy steak from a lunchtime sandwich. I had nothing to offer him (earl grey with lemon slices was not to his taste) but he stayed with me for over an hour. I stroked his thick black fur and whispered my woes into his ear, his throaty purrs letting me know he was listening to every word.

Oscar wore a regal collar with his address engraved on a silver disc. I made a note of the address and shortly after, posted him a thank you note for condescending to my needs and feelings that day.

A few weeks passed, and the free, local paper plopped through the letter box. 'Paper bin or perusal? Paper bin or perusal?' I opted for perusal. And was I glad I did! There on the second page, sat Oscar, posing proudly with his servant - a lady named Margaret - and the card I'd sent held between his paws.

Margaret (as Oscar's secretary) had written into the local paper expressing joy at receiving the card, with further tales of Oscar's warm personality and how he often provides "therapy sessions" at the hotel. (And there was me thinking I was the special gal in his life!)

Two little lessons:

1) Never forget the impact that a 'snail mail' can have. It's touching to receive a personal card in the post, "just because". It shows someone has thought of us and has taken the time and effort to translate that thought into action. If animals appreciate it I know fellow humans will!

2) The therapeutic effect of animals - as most of us know - is a tremendous gift. There are times when we may feel so misunderstood or sad in life that we feel desperately alone or worse, unlovable. Yet the love of an animal is such that they'll love you whether sad or happy. Never miss an opportunity to give a little affection and respect to an animal.  They will give you oh so much more in return.  

Suzy
A Moodscope User.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A Simple List.

Today's blog follows on from last week's.

A number of you commented on my "Having an Under the Hedge Day" and one of the comments was a request for a simple list of things to do on those bad days.

So here's the list. Adjust it as you please because your best list may be different from mine.

1 The important thing is not to think. Just do the next thing on the list.

2 Sit up in bed. Drink a large glass of water. (Put it ready the night before).

3 Get out of bed. Go to the loo. Shower. If you can't shower at least have an all-over wash. Scrub briskly so your skin tingles. Shave (if appropriate). Moisturise (chaps too, ideally but I won't insist on that one).

4 Get dressed in proper clothes. Even shoes.

5 Put on makeup. If you can't bear that thought – at least a dash of lipstick. (Chaps excused this one).

6 Make a hot drink and drink it.

7 Eat something. Preferably protein, not just carbohydrates. A scrambled egg takes just 40 seconds in the microwave. Sliced cheese and ham is pretty easy.

8 Turn on the PC. Do your Moodscope score. It is what it is: don't judge it or yourself.

9 Unlock the door. Go outside. Take five deep breaths of fresh air. If you have the time, take a brisk 20 minute walk. Ten minutes will do. Don't think – just walk.

10 The rest of the day, just take fifteen minutes at a time. Use a kitchen timer if it helps. Do a task for fifteen, rest for fifteen. Do something else for another fifteen. Try to have tasks where you can see a result. Be easy on yourself. Drink lots of water.

11 If it helps you, play upbeat music. My favourite is Mendelsohn or Carol Emerald. Nothing aggressive, just happy.

If you manage all these it's a major triumph! Fabulously well done! Remember – just because the rest of the world can't see the depths of invisible treacle we walk through, the clouds of darkness that menace and oppress us unceasingly, doesn't mean they're not there. Just surviving another day is an achievement. Let's hope tomorrow is better.

Mary
A Moodscope user.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Essential Information.

We launched Moodscope Essential two weeks ago and despite having teething problems, it is now running smoothly and is proving to be popular with many of our members, so if you're thinking of joining, now would be a great time.

We really appreciate members subscribing as it enables us to keep running, make improvements and provide Moodscope Lite to those who need it but can't afford to pay.

The feedback we've had suggests that the facility to view the graph over a longer period is the most popular feature, being particularly helpful to our members and therapists to see long-term trends. We have been asked if the new graph view is retrospective or if it starts from the day of upgrading and we're pleased to say it is retrospective, so you'll be able to view all your scores, including those you may have entered when you were on Moodscope Lite.

This was swiftly followed by how much more helpful it is to be able to write double the amount of annotations against each score. People are finding it incredibly helpful remembering what happened on a certain day that may have affected their score. Just a reminder - these comments are extremely helpful if you upgrade to Moodscope Plus as the Triggergram feature uses your annotations to produce two word clouds – one for your best days in the past 6 months, the other for your lowest days so you can identify any recurring themes.

So we're pleased we've been able to meet at least one of your requests and we are working on more improvements that will be introduced over the coming months.

We continue to receive some wonderful blog posts that we hope you are all enjoying. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of those that have submitted a post and have shared their experiences with others. We'd also like to thank all of those people who have added comments to the blog - there's a real community atmosphere building up and lots of helpful information for everyone to use and learn from.

Thanks for reading our update, here are two links to a couple of video's that may just lift your spirits:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzjEzohHmaM
www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBaHPND2QJg

Caroline and Adrian
The Moodscope Team

Monday, 9 December 2013

Playing the strong card.

Here's the thirteenth in the series of excellent blogs by Lex covering the adjectives on the 20 Moodscope cards. Please don't forget we'd love you to add any ideas, tips, insights or advice you may have that you'd like to share with other Moodscope members that might be of help. Many thanks. Caroline.

It's the turn of the "Strong" card.  Moodscope defines this as: "Feeling able to cope with difficulties".

OK, I've got to come clean on this one – this is the card I personally find the hardest to give a high rating to. Why? Well even on my best day, it takes very little to reduce me to jelly. I cannot cope with difficulties - period. On reflection I think this comes down to simple accounting.

Basically, I'm bankrupt. I'm devoid of a sufficient "Emergency Fund" to cope with life's constant disappointments. So I'll need to borrow from you.

Would you lend me your strength? Would you lend me the strength of your friendship? The strength of your hand on mine when words cannot find a way? Would you invest your smile in me? I love its radiance, even when it seems I'm not responding. You are a star – a sun warming my heart on a cold day.

Would you give me your time? I cannot repay you for this. A moment of your attention – when you give the greatest gift: listening without criticism...or advice.

If you'll do this for me, I think I can be strong today.

And I'll be strong for you tomorrow.

Lex
A Moodscope User.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Negative thinking.

We often get into patterns of negative thinking without even realising it. It may start off with a minor issue that makes us feel grumpy, then maybe a traffic jam on the way to work and too many demands made of us in a day. We may wake up the next day feeling in a bad mood and thus continues the spiral downwards.

This happened to me recently and before I knew it everything seemed to be a big deal. I found myself snapping at the children, complaining about my partner and constantly criticising myself. My inner dialogue became annoying and I sought relief by taking sleeping pills and going to bed.

At the end of a long week my friend commented that her little boy had said how sad it was that I snapped at my daughter like I did. He is nine! It took a nine year old to tell me what was going on. So here I am, starting my week with camomile tea, a few minutes of quiet and hopefully the will to try and think positive, see the good stuff around me and smile more ...

Jules
A Moodscope User.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Who’s That Guru?

Who’s that Guru
Sitting next to you?
The One you ignore each day?
That One with wisdom
Glistening upon their lips
But you never listen
To what they say...

Today’s the day
To open your heart
To open your soul and mind;
To look far deeper
Than what you see
And be amazed at what you’ll find.

For this “no-one” is your teacher,
The very Oracle of God;
Don’t worry that they
Don’t look cool
Or that they often
Seem quite odd.

Be humble, shut your Ego up,
And respectfully draw near:
For when the student is truly ready
Their Teacher does appear!

Lex
A Moodscope user.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Small things first.

If you've ever suffered from depression, I'd hazard a guess that at some point in your life you've experienced that friend or family member's well intentioned but unhelpful attempts at "cheering you up".

Reflecting on why certain suggestions are misguided recently led me to thinking about what does really work. Why do some classic methods of "cheering you up" not work for depression? And what are the less intuitive, more surprising little things that we can do for ourselves, or ask our friends to do for us, that might actually work?

During a particularly bad bout of depression, a close friend happened to listen to some of my music on a music sharing site. She commented on how most of it was fairly downbeat and pensive and suggested that I'd start feeling happier if I added some more happy songs to my play lists.

A few days later she very sweetly sent me a mix tape of about forty of her best "happy songs". It was a beautiful gesture and made me feel loved, but the songs themselves had the opposite effect. They were all high tempo, extremely upbeat pop or dance tracks and although I love them when I'm happy, listening to them at the time was like the equivalent of standing on a traffic island surrounded by howling emergency vehicles and beeping car horns. It hurt.

We've probably all experienced this kind of sensory overload during low periods. Going to a party, for instance, and having to navigate the fast talking, loud laughing, harsh music chaos when all we want to do is hide under a duvet in the dark. It's like trying to go from first gear straight to fifth gear without first building up the speed. The engine just cant' cope and it can end up doing more damage than good.

Having said all that, I do believe that music, stories, films and even socializing can all play a big part in lifting us out of deep lows if approached in the right way. Going back to the driving analogy, we need to be aware of what gear we're in first, and then work up through the gears slowly. To engage with a new gear, the speed of the gear box needs to be correctly matched to the speed of the engine before changing.

It's that word "engage" that is the key. For me, when I'm low, I find I can engage far more easily with a pensive, sad song at first, and then often those songs contain something moving or balancing that can help lift me ever so slightly out of the depths.

Similarly, if a friend wants to meet up and I'm not so low that I'm incapable of dragging myself out, going for a coffee or a quiet one-to-one dinner would be far more preferable than braving a party.

I see depression as a sliding scale. We rarely wake up one morning at rock bottom, so catching it as early as possible by doing little things is always important. Why not make a list of small things that you know will help you change gear.

I keep list in the back of a small note pad at home. The activities range from going out with a friend, to simply having a shower or a bath. If I haven't managed to catch my slide down in to depression early, sometimes the latter is the only thing I can manage – and it works. Once you've attempted one of the easier things on your list and your mood has been lifted, it may lead to attempting something more challenging that will lift your mood further still. Who knows? Next week you might be dancing on the table at that party.

Anna
A Moodscope user.



Thursday, 5 December 2013

How are the four rooms in your life?

"There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house of four rooms: A physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room everyday, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person."         Rumer Godden

 I work with what I call the four quotients in both my life and work.

PQ - physical - To Live
IQ - mental - To Learn
EQ - emotional - To Love
SQ - spiritual - To Leave a Legacy

In my diary I write an activity for each of these each day to which I commit myself to.

As Stephen Covey often said - "The most important thing, is to decide what is important" and then to put that in FIRST into your daily life.

For example some say that their children are the most important thing in their life and then spend most of their working life and their children's growing up stage, attempting to earn money which they say will make their kids 'safe'. Ask any child what makes them feel most valued...it's called time!

We need to spend time in each 'room' each day to ensure there is a healthy balance that enables continual growth and development.

How many of us are:

Too busy to exercise? (PQ & IQ)
Too busy to 'eat well'? (PQ)
Too busy to 'relax'? (EQ& SQ)
Too busy to spend time with their family? (EQ & SQ)
Too busy to read new material? (IQ)
Too busy to contact friends? (EQ & SQ)
Too busy to meditate (PQ& IQ & EQ & SQ)
Too busy to go on a retreat? (PQ & IQ & EQ & SQ)
Too busy to live? (PQ - IQ - EQ & SQ)

Les
A Moodscope user.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Having an 'under the hedge' day.

In some ways depression is like any other illness. We have bad days, but we also have some days that are, if not good, than at least, not too bad.

It's the bad days I want to talk about here. The days when just getting out of bed seems a feat on the scale of climbing to the moon on a cobweb, when it's utterly impossible to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet (to quote T S Eliot) or even to put a load of washing in the machine.

These are the days my sister calls 'Under the Hedge' days. When her cat is poorly he goes and hides under the hedge just by himself, and I think we can understand how he feels.

What my sister has to do is be cruel to be kind. She has to go scrabble under that hedge, grab him (he does not appreciate this) bring him into the warm and give him his medicine. Then she has to make sure he eats something and stays snug in his basket by the woodstove so he can feel better.

Sometimes we have to be our own responsible owners. It's so, so easy to stay in our "comfort clothes" of sweatpants and fleece (well – those are my comfort clothes anyway) and not bother with any other food but toast and jam. If we cannot drag ourselves out from under the hedge, then we need to have friends to whom we give that permission; friends who can give us that tough love.

Is there anyone with a key to the door who can come in, roust us up and into that shower, make us put on real clothes (and makeup if appropriate) and take us out into the fresh air for a walk?

If there is no one currently, could there be somebody in your life who would be up for that? It's a brave thing to do – to ask someone to be that tough with us. It may not be appropriate for you, but it's all part of building our support network.

After all – it's simple to stay under that hedge, hiding; but it's cold, and the twigs have thorns and the rain gets in our fur. Nobody likes to be grabbed and man-handled and force-fed medicine, but it's much nicer to be warm and cosy by the fire and to know that someone loves us enough to make us do that.

Not perhaps purrfect, but better at least.

Mary
A Moodscope user.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Thank your liver.

In the late 80's, in the Spanish town of El Ferrol, a memorial statue was unveiled in praise of the liver. The then Mayor Ulla, also a doctor, said that the granite sculpture was to give credit to this "unpretentious and unselfish organ."

It's perhaps not until something goes wrong with one of our intricately designed, beautifully made body parts do we truly appreciate our wondrous anatomy. It wasn't until I discovered I was about to lose my thyroid did I start to read about the astonishing role it, and indeed the endocrine system as a whole, plays in the mind-boggling symphony performing within us.

So, have you thanked your liver today? Did you give a wink of acknowledgment to your digestive system for dealing with your breakfast this morning? Do you know what your pancreas does, or even where it is situated? What of our windows on the world; the eyes?  Do we take time to think about the awesome complexity of our brain?

Returning to the liver, I love what one anonymous writer wrote about this organ in an article entitled Your Liver Speaks Up:

'I participate in practically everything that you and the other organs in your body do. I'm vital to the digestion of your food, the sharpness of your brain, the strength of your muscles, the makeup of your blood, the beat of your heart. I'm well acquainted with you. Now, don't you think you should become more familiar with me? Only if you care for me can I do the same for you.'

Yes, taking a little time to learn about the wonders of the human body can inspire us to want to take better care of ourselves and to give our bodies a helping hand wherever we can.

Suzy
A Moodscope user.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Playing the Scared card.

Here's the twelfth in the series of excellent blogs by Lex covering the adjectives on the 20 Moodscope cards. Please don't forget we'd love you to add any ideas, tips, insights or advice you may have that you'd like to share with other Moodscope members that might be of help. Many thanks. Caroline.

Today it's the turn of the 'Scared' card. Moodscope defines this as: "Feeling alarmed about something". Moodscope has a certain amount of doubling up for psychological validity. For this reason, there are overlapping ideas. I don't see much difference between this and the 'Afraid' card. As such, I'd recommend the same strategies we all shared on that card.

So, today, I'm going to go off-piste. I love words. 'Scared' is a simple anagram of 'Sacred'! Tickled by this, I wondered, "Is being scared ever sacred?" This led my thoughts back to the evolutionary value in this state of mind and body. Should we venerate this state of vulnerability?

Being scared is a life-saver. That's its evolutionary purpose – to keep you and me safe.  In the UK we talk about being a 'scaredy-cat' - because cats are really good at being scared. They have good reason to be – the Universe is not always friendly. So what does a scaredy-cat do? The cat uses all its finely-tuned senses to check out the danger. It responds to the 'alarm' that the senses have triggered. If there's something there, the cat will then move away from the danger with feline grace. If there isn't danger, the cat will often shrug off the feeling and settle down to relax.

So, next time I'm feeling scared, I'm going to treat this as sacred – something valuable to venerate – and pretend I'm like a cat. I'm going to use this card as if it was a 'Code Blue' security alarm going off. I'll check out the perceived danger then respond. I'll move away from real danger, or return to my relaxed state. Whatever the result, I'm going to perceive the feeling of being alarmed as initially helpful – a call to pay attention.

Purrfect!

Lex
A Moodscope user.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

What path are you on...or are you lost in 'busyness'.

"A wise man does not use knowledge (IQ) to select his direction, but will on occasions use it to guide him on that path."

This is the wonderful Stephen Covey's phrase 'Compass before Clock'.

This means that the direction you are travelling in, is FAR more important than the time it takes to get there.

And at times we are so driven by thinking about time frames and destination, that all too often we forget that there is a bigger picture.

We need to step out of the frame to see the whole picture.

Life is about how we find a way forward together – re-read the quote - we need to know how to live first, how to get along, how to build on our strengths and then, THEN....work out how to get there.

As Stephen so eloquently put it in his world best selling business book 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People'...Habit 2 - 'Start with the end in mind'.

All too often we go for short term wins and supposed 'success' which takes us totally off track.

Where is your life going? Because if you do not know...other people will CONSTANTLY influence it.

We create the lives that we can see...what do you see?

Les
A Moodscope user.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Mood managing.

Battling, and benefitting, from bipolar all my life (undiagnosed until I was in my 40's, when I finally understood what was 'wrong'), the drugs, without doubt, literally saved my life – but cured the symptoms but not the cause.

Over 10 years or so, the chems saved the day, but I kept having to go back on them from time to time.

My enlightened GP suggested CBT, and I tried to engage with the philosophy. I understood the how, but I had no structure to benefit from the technique.

He became aware of Moodscope, and suggested this as a way forward.

3 years and 1000 scores later, what do I know?

Essential to do it every day.

Quite permissible to slightly change one's interpretation of the cards – not frequently though.

Dwell on each answer and analyse the cause – some easy, immediate, some tricky and convoluted.

Over time, it becomes much easier to take an emotion by the scruff of the neck and challenge yourself to do something about it, or if positive, do more of it.

In my case, through intensive analysis over those 1000 scores, I have identified dominant ladies and a hatred of raised voices and arguments, possibly caused in my formative years, as having a huge, lastingly destructive effect on me.

So, I gradually got braver, started to stand up for myself, and I am now far better able to marshall my thoughts and argue right back when the tirade starts.

Which in turn brings pride.

And practice makes permanent – the more I deal with issues as they arise, the less angst and grief I suffer.

So now I am free – my confidence has enabled me to give up both the 'props' of alcohol and SSRI's.

Thank you to the Moodscope team for enabling me to look forward to the rest of my life in a positive manner, re-enforced every morning.

Charlie
A Moodscope user.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Appreciating my medication.

When I saw that moodscope were looking for contributions, I decided it's my time to speak up. There have been so many days when my daily e mail from moodscope has picked me up and given me the inspiration I needed to muddle through my day.

Now I've finally made it to a brighter place, I want to share and hopefully help others in the same way.

I want to talk about medication.

My problem has been post natal depression, I am very sensitive to hormonal changes and the process of pregnancy and childbirth really emphasised that.

After my daughter was born, it was really tough for me to admit to not coping but I knew it wasn't just about me anymore, so I took the medication, grudgingly. The moment I felt better, I considered myself cured and stopped the pills.

More recently, I had my son. I knew the signs of PND, I was expecting it, but I was still mad about it. I was started back on the same pills, the same dose but this time I was somehow wiser, I was more honest with myself, more honest with the GP, and instead of resenting the medication, this time I appreciated it. Being honest led to the dose being doubled, and wow - I can honestly say I feel like a new person. I'm not talking about someone who walks around on cloud 9 all day, I'm talking about being the old me, the me that can function, the me that doesn't feel completely overwhelmed by the thought of putting a load of washing in the machine.

If I had a physical, visible problem I know that I never would have had a problem taking the required medication. Yet somehow because I felt like a failure needing medication to be 'normal me', I resented it.

It might not seem the perfect solution in the beginning, but to feel happy and balanced is not something I will take for granted again.

Adele
A Moodscope user.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Napping is for life not just for babies!

Living with an inconvenient illness called narcolepsy, I know a thing or two about the art of napping. It's a frustrating necessity that my life revolves around little sleeps so that a) I remain well and b) so that I don't fall asleep at inconvenient times. This is a non-negotiable way of life for me and so I sometimes forget that the rest of the population don't need naps. Still, I believe that in the sleep deprived, don't-stop-until-you-drop-culture in which we live, napping ought to be embraced!

Scientific studies have shown that naps can have a positive impact on our mood and performance. Sadly though, we seem to struggle to overcome the judgment that napping is only for babies or lazy, idle folk.

If Richard Branson or some other entrepreneur out there should ever be in need of a new incongruous brainstorm with bravura, oh please, please, could there be something called "The Somnolent Saloon" in shopping malls or department stores? I would happily, gladly, gleefully pay for this service! (For me, finding a safe napping ground is as important as finding a public convenience when needed.)

It could be something akin to what Selfridges, London, launched earlier this year - The Silence Room. The idea is that there is a room with soft lighting, away from all the hustle and bustle, where one can sit quietly (shoes and technology are put in a locker before entering), relax and if you so wish, nap.

I was excited to check out this new concept during a recent visit to London. Alas, alack, it is no more. How sad and shortsighted.

Harry Gordon Selfridge was the first to initiate a silence room back in 1909. Yes, perhaps it was ostensible - he knew that by providing a resting place to re-coop energy, customers would stay in his store longer - but still, I feel he was on to something. It would surely have enhanced the customer's shopping experience.

If Napping will enhance and sharpen our working performance and daily efficiency, let's not hide our naps or be ashamed of napping. Ask your family, boss or co-workers not to disturb your 40 winks. Assure them you'll be the better, happier worker for it. Embrace the nap!

Suzy
A Moodscope user.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Escape or Escapism.

We all have our addictions. With any luck these are what are known as "soft" addictions: that is – they harm nobody. A friend of mine has a particularly soft addiction – to cashmere. Hey – I can sympathise. But I hope she's exaggerating, because the point of an addiction surely is that you are no longer in control – your addiction is controlling you.
I trust she is in control of her cashmere purchasing.

My addiction was to romantic fiction. A Mills and Boon book was my way of opting out of a life I couldn't cope with. I remember once reading seven in one day. As an addiction it was less harmful to my liver and waistline than alcohol or chocolate, but while subject to it, I was no longer in control. The house remained dirty, the laundry unwashed, and my accountancy studies (oh yes, that was what I was supposed to be doing) totally unstudied.

My point is not actually about addiction but about escapism. Those books provided a place for me to be where I could avoid responsibility for life and the things that needed doing.

Most of the time, thank goodness, things are more under control. I still love a good bodice-ripper, and the bedside table is still piled high with books (and that's before we count the e-reader), but reading time is severely limited; most of the time I'm doing what I need to be doing, not escaping somewhere else.

We all need a place of escape sometimes, but that place only provides succour without danger of entrapment when it's scheduled and limited; when it's half an hour before bed, or forty minutes while tea is cooking. We need to enter that place with a timer because the air in there can be a slow poison.

Mary
A Moodscope user.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Is yours a full and happy life?

We often operate on auto-pilot and then can easily overlook the blindingly obvious. The following  story serves to remind us to check why we do what we do and begs the question 'is yours a full and happy life?'

A businessman on holiday in an African fishing village watched a small fishing boat dock by the quayside. Noting the quality of the fish, he asked the fisherman how long it had taken to catch them. 'Not very long' answered the fisherman. The fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The businessman asked 'But what do you do with the rest of your time?' 'I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, have an afternoon rest under a coconut tree. In the evenings I go into the community hall to see my friends, have a few beers, play the drums and sing a few songs...I have a full and happy life' replied the fisherman.

The businessman ventured 'I have an MBA and can help you. You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring you can buy a second and third boat and so on until you have a large fleet. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to a city here or maybe somewhere further afield, from where you can direct your huge enterprise.'

'How long will that take?' asked the fisherman.

'Oh ten, maybe twenty years' replied the businessman.

'And after that?' asked the fisherman.

'After that? That's when it gets really interesting' answered the holiday maker, laughing. 'When your business gets really big you can start selling shares in your company and make millions!'

'Millions? Really? And after that? pressed the fisherman.

'After that you'll be able to retire, move to a small village by the sea, sleep in late every day, spend time with your family, go fishing, take afternoon naps under a coconut tree and spend relaxing evenings having drinks with friends...'

Now with that story in mind maybe ask yourself a few questions:

Do you live to work or work to live?
Is your life full and happy?
Have you a healthy and fulfilling balance in your life between work, rest and play?
Are you operating on auto-pilot most of the time?

At this time of year, with Christmas approaching and New Year resolutions soon to be considered perhaps, like me, you will be reflecting on your life and what you spend your time doing. I hope this little story will help you make better sense of where more of your time should go and make 2014 a full and happy year.

Steve
A Moodscope User.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Playing the 'Interested' card.

Here's the eleventh in the series of excellent blogs by Lex covering the adjectives on the 20 Moodscope cards. Please don't forget we'd love you to add any ideas, tips, insights or advice you may have that you'd like to share with other Moodscope members that might be of help. Many thanks. Caroline.

'Interested' - defined by Moodscope as: 'wanting to be involved in something'.

This is a lean-forward, edge-of-the-seat, cock-your-head-to-one-side type of mindset.

Notice how many of those phrases are physical. When we want to be involved, we naturally incline our body forward. When we want to listen attentively, we most often move our heads to an angled position – perhaps to get a better 'stereo' sound reference. Why we do it is not as important as the fact that we do it instinctively.

Psychology and Physiology are the best of friends. They 'agree' with one another. Every time you shift your posture – you have to change your mind. Why? Well I'm playing with words but what I mean is that you are triggering a different pathway – a different pattern of neurons. These patterns of 'thoughts' group together in clusters of associations. So, your body knows what position it should take if you feel uninterested just as much as your body knows the position it should take when you're interested.

So what? Well we do the Moodscope cards because often we are not interested in being involved in something. We've lost our Oomph! Our get-up-and-go, got-up-and-went!

My suggestion (and I'm looking forwards to your suggestions) is to run after our get-up-and-go! How? By moving. By moving our posture forward towards something. By breaking any pattern in our body posture that 'says' "I'm not interested."

Practically, if I'm finding it hard to stay engaged in a conversation, I deliberately sit up, move forward on my seat, lean forwards, and put my head to one side as if listening more attentively. I don't know how it works. I don't know why it works. But I do know that it does work.

When you change your (physical) attitude and position you change your (mental) attitude and position.

Assume the position!

Lex
A Moodscope user.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Do or do not.

"Do or do not...there is no try." Yoda - The Empire Strikes Back.

I just love when great films offer real human truths, in a way that is often less threatening than a friend or parent's advice.

There are so many - Good Will Hunting (Emotion over Intelligence)/Dead Poets Society (real education - over schooling)/Patch Adams (an alternative to the US's financially 2 tier driven healthcare system) and yes, I am a Robin Williams fan.

The Star Wars trilogy offered many great human wisdoms - especially through the small diminutive Yoda. A small fragile creature, in amongst all these huge war machines and deathly weapons where he would seem to have no influence at all.

Instead, due to his wisdom, rather than his cleverness he plays a crucial role in enabling Luke Skywalker to 'see' things differently - to become far more 'self- aware' (the start of all personal, family or organisational learning) and that shift of his self- awareness opens new doors and new opportunities to alter the old world view.

There is no truer statement than the above quote.

As soon as you use the word 'try' in any sentence, you have already subconsciously said 'NO'.

Someone asks you to a party and you reply "I'll try and make it". Do you go? My money is 100% on no - and what's worse you know that and just don't want to 'upset' your friend by telling them the truth!

I would respect my friends FAR more if they told me the truth e.g. "Les, I would like to come but I already have another commitment that night." or 'Honestly I'm not up to it at the moment.' My trust in that friend would also increase due to their commitment to follow through on what they promised someone else.

My trust in them will actually be diminished by them saying "I'll try" and then not turning up!

Obliterate the word 'try' from your vocabulary.

If depressed, are you going to 'try' and get better - or are you REALLY aiming to get better?

Ahh - the power of words...  ;-)

Les
A Moodscope user.

Friday, 22 November 2013

A sense of humour.

I was pondering about this expression the other day. Why is humour referred to as a sense?  The word 'sense' is defined as an ability to understand, recognise, value or react to something.

If our sense of humour has suffered a little redundancy recently, how can we sharpen our ability to laugh at (or to recognise) the humourous side in the everyday tedium?

The great thing about humour is that, unlike the five physical senses of sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste, which deteriorate with age, we can sharpen and finely tune our sense of humour with each passing day. We may get older but our humour need not.

If you have ever laughed heartily at a stand up comedian, the chances are, the material that had you laughing out loud is all about the everyday stuff. A comedian often becomes an absolute master at taking a relatively mundane story, subject or quirk of human nature and turning it into something we can chuckle about. Michael McIntyre, for example, has this down to a fine art. He can even find humour in the herb rack. For two minutes of smiles go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az080LXT7FA

Yes, this is undoubtedly a gift and takes great skill but it is something we can all train ourselves to become better at.

According to scientists, a spontaneous burst of laughter is comparable to three minutes of aerobic exercise and ten warm smiles equal ten minutes of intensive rowing. Furthermore, laughing aids digestion, brain function and circulation.

With health benefits like these, we surely need regular belly laughs! So, what circumstance will you 'sense' the humour in today?

Suzy
A Moodscope user.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

We've been listening to you...

Moodscope was created to help people manage their mood better and we are committed to continually improving the Moodscope offer, driven by our members feedback.

Many of you have told us you'd really like the facility to view your graph over a longer time span so that you can learn from your long-term mood trends, but that you don't feel the need to use the Affectogram and Triggergram features offered by Moodscope Plus.

Other's have said they'd really like to subscribe or make a contribution to Moodscope to help others, can't afford to pay for Moodscope Plus, but would subscribe if there was a lower subscription option.

So, to address these needs, on Saturday 23 November, we're introducing Moodscope Essential.

For just £2.99/$4.99/€3.49 Moodscope Essential will help you get a better insight into how your moods fluctuate over time. Flexible graph controls enable you to view your progress over just about any period you choose rather than only ever seeing a month at a time, and with the facility to add twice as many notes to each daily score, you'll have more information at your finger tips. It also includes an unlimited amount of buddies.

At the same time we're redesigning your home page to make it clearer and easier to use.

We are also offering the option to subscribe to Moodscope Plus on an annual basis at a reduced rate and the option to make this as a one-off payment for those of you who don't like ongoing subscriptions.

We continue to work on new features such as a mobile app.

Please remember every Moodscope subscription enables us to continue to provide Moodscope Lite to the many thousands of people who can't afford to subscribe.

We hope you like the changes and hope that Moodscope continues to be of help.

Caroline and Adrian
The Moodscope Team

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

I want to be Alone!

Parties: loathe 'em or hate 'em, you can't enjoy 'em!

Or perhaps I'm alone here. Maybe you would, in the words of the Beastie Boys, "Fight for your right to PAAARTY!" Different strokes for different folks and all that.

It has always confused me that, in every personality analysis I've ever done, I come out as an extrovert; as someone who is the life and soul of a party, when actually, I'd far rather stay at home with a good book.

But staying at home with a good book tends to disappoint the people who've invited you. Presumably they included your name on the invitation list because they actually wanted your company. It's an honour to be asked, and really, you don't want to let them down.

And it's the party season coming up. It's time to get on those glad rags, to pin on your happy face and go to face all those people with similar happy faces.

So how do we get through the party season?

I do have a few tricks to share with you. First of all, I always volunteer to drive. That way I don't lose count of the glasses of wine and end up embarrassing myself and my host (oh, yes, it has happened).

As I find "working the room" an excruciating ordeal, I look around for the shy/older/disabled person sitting in the corner and go to sit with them. It's normally a quieter corner, so one can actually hold a reasonable conversation rather than shouting inanities and often this person is so fascinating the majority of the time can be spent with them until it's an acceptable time to make one's adieux and leave.

Finding the kitchen and doing some washing up for one's host is a good option too – although you may have to do some fast talking to explain that yes, you really do prefer to be out in the kitchen instead of "enjoying yourself" at the party proper.

It is difficult to be with people when you're going through a tough time; you probably want to hole up like an animal in pain until it all goes away. But, hard though it is, it does normally do us good to be with other humans; their energy feeds us.

So I'd say accept all the invitations; go to the parties. Put all the survival techniques into practise, and – you never know – you might even enjoy them; just a little.

Mary
A Moodscope User.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Safety zone.

Throughout evolution, the human brain has developed ways of stopping us doing things that are likely to get us killed. This evolutionary trick served us very nicely throughout history; using intuition and a dose of experience, we build up an idea of what is safe in our world. For most of human history, what is unsafe, often led to death, which is widely agreed to be an unfavorable outcome.

This concept is commonly framed in the ideas of Comfort zone and Safety zone. Your comfort zone is the little zone within which you can go about your daily life without feeling you are going to take on any risk, like going down to your local hairdressers. This is the level to which your prehistoric mind is happy that you're unlikely to take on any real risk, you've got your hair done in the same way for a while and its therefore not something to get worked up about.

Your safety zone on the other hand is that feeling you start to get when you're stepping outside of that comfort zone. For example, visiting a new hairdresser. That voice in your head starts to tell you that perhaps this isn't such a good idea. You can think of many reasons how it might all go wrong and why you should have just stuck with the one you usually go to. What you often find though, is that you walk away from the experience realizing that there was not a real need to be that nervous in the first place, your hair looks nice (might even be nicer than usual) and perhaps unsurprisingly, you did not die. Your comfort zone has now adapted and more opportunities are now available to you because you are not scared of taking them.

There is of course an element of danger in our everyday lives (so don't close your eyes and cross the road) However, the honest truth is that most of the things we are scared of; public speaking, visiting a new hairdressers are unlikely to end in death. That interview you're nervous about might have some consequences if you mess it up, but its unlikely to have all the negative consequences you convince yourself it will.

Perhaps think about some of those things you've been putting off and ask yourself what opportunities might present themselves if you just went ahead and did it.

"Do one thing every day that scares you." – Eleanor Roosevelt

Jake O'Gorman
Personal trainer/lifestyle coach.

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Enthusiastic card.

Here's the tenth in the series of excellent blogs by Lex covering the adjectives on the 20 Moodscope cards. Please don't forget we'd love you to add any ideas, tips, insights or advice you may have that you'd like to share with other Moodscope members that might be of help. Please add them to the comments at the end of this post. Many thanks. Caroline.

Enthusiastic – defined by Moodscope as 'showing eagerness'.

I've saved this one up as it is one of my favourite words... and "Wow!" does it show!!! I can't hide it.

If I'm enthusiastic about something – it 'leaks' from every pore and broadcasts from every muscle. Just look at those exclamation marks!!!

It says, "Let me in there, Coach! Don't leave me on the bench!" And yet "Enthuse" is even more exciting than the feeling of that inner puppy in me that's about to go for a walk.

The roots of the Greek word mean "God within" (en Theos). Whilst the use is not always positive, the intention of the Moodscope card is totally positive. It's about having drive and movement towards something – it's a momentum word.

Herein lies one secret of stirring up enthusiasm if it is lacking today. Get some momentum going – some movement. For example, I really don't have much 'enthusiasm' for vacuuming.  I like the result, but not the process – not when there are so many other exciting things to do. But once I get moving to a rhythm, my enthusiasm comes upon me as if moved by the Divine! My secret? Wagner!!!

Nothing gets me to wield the vacuum cleaner more vigorously and effectively than a good blast of "Ride of the Valkyries" – after all, wasn't that why the Walkman and then the mp3 players were invented! It works for washing up too! In this case "Ride of the Valkyries" is too dangerous – more a case of, "I'll do the washing up, if you'll pick up the pieces..." So for washing up, a good bit of crooning works well (for my tastes) – a bit of Julie London, Bing Crosby, Matt Monroe, and, of course, Nat King Cole.

Lexi
A Moodscope user.

PS. sometimes enthusiasm can come with a still small voice – being a bouncy puppy like me is not a requirement!


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Who are Moodscopers?

I thought you might like a little insight into fellow Moodscopers. Based on a sample of 1500 that responded earlier this year to the question "How would you describe your current state of mental health?":

34% were diagnosed as depressed
12% were diagnosed as bipolar
15% suspected they were depressed
30% felt they had low self confidence
25% felt very stressed
27% did not feel they had any problems with their mental health at that time

Interesting to see a broad mix of people all interested in improving their mood.

Seems we are in good company.

Adrian
The Moodscope Team

NB: Percentages add up to more than 100% because participants could select more than one response.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

...look at it.

So reads the title for chapter 11 in his book The Yellow World by the quirky and quick minded Albert Espinoza.

That title truly resonated with me. In the last couple of weeks I've been perusing hundred's and hundred's of photo's on my computer, going back six or seven years. What really stood out to me, was that despite the fact those years have been glutted with sadness and disappointments, my photograph's did not reflect that.

I'd captured, often on a daily basis, chance, random, sometimes odd but always beautiful, pretty things and moments. My photographic library documents not the quotidian garbage but the beauty.

Due to recent surgery I've been somewhat incapacitated and was initially in much discomfort and pain. During those days, there was little to be done but to 'find what I liked looking at and then, well, to look at it.'

It was then I realised that I'm quite good at (and I don't utter those words often) tuning into and observing pleasant things; The coloured wool piled into pigeon holes in the living room, a lamp with colourful crystals dangling and casting rainbows on the wall, the intricate folds of a rose standing regally in a vase, the flicker of a scented candle, little things can deliver a lot of comfort in our darker moments.

Whilst in hospital, I stumbled on a huge patchwork quilt that depicted some of the famous sights of Liverpool, mounted and framed on a wall. The workmanship was breathtaking such was the intricacy and detail. Alas, I didn't see anyone stop and stare. That made me sad.

So, today, fight the torpor, find something you like looking at, perhaps something no-one else has noticed and photograph it. Stare at it.

Suzy
A Moodscope user.

Friday, 15 November 2013

What ever happened to the mirror that showed me a happy face?

I work in a big company. It is a successful, innovative and profitable company. My co-workers are bright and nice people in their late twenties or early thirties. Some of them have started working here recently, others have been around for three or more years.

My direct managers have worked here for quite a while - at least for four or five years, and obviously they are highly competent in what they do. One would think they should be happy - they have good jobs, they are still young, and they are successful. But when you talk to them, they seem to be tired, almost drained, like they don't have living power. As obvious as it may be, the reason is that they work really hard. But I think it's more than that.

A couple of weeks ago I was browsing through some old corporate pictures, and there were several shots taken four years ago. I recognized familiar faces among happily smiling bunch of people: my now-managers seemed to be very happy, energetic, and looked much younger than they do now. And it struck me: how come that their happy and almost boy-ish faces turned into the tired and always busy ones?

I may be wrong, but I think that four years ago they were happy because they were working on things that excited them. They were working with passion. Now they seem to have lost it. And now they are not ready to switch to something new, whatever it may be: another role in the company, or maybe even something completely different and not-at-all-corporate.

I am definitely not the one to judge. But I believe that each of us should at some point ask oneself: do I actually do the things that excite me? Do I work with passion? Am I being honest with myself? Of course, we all need security, and having a stable and a well-paid job is a blessing. But I believe that somewhere in the corner of our mind there should be a space for those lines from a song:

So if you're careful,
You won't get hurt.
But if you're careful all the time,
Then what's it worth?

Oleg
A Moodscope user.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

5 (Essential) Tips for a Mindful Christmas.

Here's an extremely helpful message that has kindly been written for us by Shamash Alinda, author of Mindfulness for Dummies.

Okay, okay, I know it's only November, but the holiday season is not far away! And although some of you may not be celebrating, almost all of you will be very busy.

The Christmas period can be manic. You could find yourself running around trying to get the shopping done, worrying about all things from money to who you'll be spending the day with. This kind of pressure, on top of an already busy life, can lead to a miserable December full of anxiety and stress. If you're feeling the pressure here are some ways to help you have a mindful Christmas.

1. Try some mini mindfulness meditations. It might be difficult, but find some time to sit still and think about what is good in your life right now. Sit comfortably and focus on your breathing. Try doing this before you go Christmas shopping, as it will help you to stay calm.

Later, when you're queuing to pay for your presents and starting to feel the stress, focus on standing tall, and breathing slowly and deeply. Accept that it's okay to feel frustrated in the queue. Who likes queuing? It's natural to be annoyed. Try to realise you are annoyed, and then look around you to appreciate the present moment aspects of Christmas. Smell the pine trees and cinnamon.

Appreciate the colours – when else do you see so much sparkle and glitter?  Feel your breath filling your lungs, and appreciate how good it fees to correct your posture and stand still for a short while. Resist the temptation to get your Blackberry out and check your messages. Are your feet throbbing? Feel the throbbing, and visualise your blood pumping around your body and breathe deeply to slow it down.

2. Make giving more mindful. When you write your Christmas cards this year, take the time to include a few words that express the reasons why you love or appreciate the recipient. Thank people for what they have done, and show gratitude for any kindness.

Write them for those you have lost, or fallen out with too. This will help you to accept your life as it now is. Also, write a card for yourself, listing all the good things that you are experiencing in your life. You don't need to post this one of course, but keep it somewhere obvious, and read it when you feel anxious, or need a reminder about what is important here and now.

Write your cards slowly, and concentrate on forming each letter. Handwriting is usually rushed these days, if it happens at all, so take time to feel each curve of the pen and each full stop, be mindful of your handwriting.

3. Volunteer. You don't need to be a practising Christian to appreciate what the Christmas spirit is about. Practise mindfulness and help out at your local homeless centre, or offer your services to a charity. My co-author and I have put ourselves down to volunteer in a local soup kitchen for a couple of days after Christmas. There are many worthy causes, and in return, you'll find a sense of wellbeing that outshines any expensive gift you may receive. Keeping up this activity into the New Year will really help you to focus on what you already have, and highlight the good aspects of your own life.

If you don't have time to volunteer, then try little things such as feeding the birds in your garden, or the ducks at a local park because they will certainly appreciate it in the cold weather (unless you're in Thailand!). Which leads us nicely to...

4. Take a walk in the fresh air and live in the moment. Look at the leaves, are there any left at this time of year, what colour are the trees now? What are the clouds doing? When did you last look at the clouds? If it's raining, then wear a waterproof coat and take an umbrella. It may snow – after all it is Christmas! Just try to go out, the rain won't hurt you. Listen to the birds; they still sing in the winter. Breathe in the winter air. It's so clean, it will blow out all those central heating impurities.

If you have a child, take her/him with you. Don't tell them off if they get wet though, just try jumping in puddles or throwing snowballs with them. Chase the leaves and laugh. Appreciate them being this young, They won't be like this again. Create a moment and enjoy it.

5. Yes, you can enjoy Christmas dinner. Christmas dinner is often the climax of the Christmas period, but do you really enjoy it? Even if you had to cook this year, and are so stressed and sweaty that you don't feel like eating, try to sit back and look at each person around the table. Think of the ways in which you have been close to them, and the reasons you choose to spend time with them. Even if you don't get on particularly, there is a reason they are sat at the table with you. Think about them, appreciate their good points and accept their failings. Nobody is perfect.

Christmas is a good time to practice mindfulness. Your family may visit, you are seeking out gifts for your friends and relatives, and using a variety of decorations, fabrics, music and foods. Take notice of each person, material or sensation over Christmas. Each time you do this you will focus fully on the present. Each step you take is a step away from your former anxiety-avoiding self. Use this Christmas period to kick-start yourself into the New Year – a New Year where you practise mindfulness and feel happier and healthier!

How will you ensure your Christmas is a mindful one?

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Emotional Withdrawal.

A couple of days ago, mid-afternoon, I received a call from a friend. She was in tears; tears of anger, frustration and disappointment. She had cooked a beautiful lunch for some people who not only failed to turn up but, when contacted, lied to her about why they couldn't come. Furthermore, this wasn't the first time this had happened with these particular people. And they were family! Nobody can hurt us more than family, can they?

Well, we're never ones to turn down a good meal (regardless of the fact we'd already eaten), so we promptly dropped everything, rushed round to her and we soon sitting down to a delicious lunch, at 3.30pm. Hey – I believe that's a fashionable time to have lunch in some circles.

I'm sure you can imagine how my friend felt. It took several hours of hugs, her eleven year old daughter saying "well, you're now spending time with people who want to be with you, mum", and, yes, a couple of strong G&Ts for her to feel validated and wanted again.

We can often put ourselves out for people and then find our efforts are entirely unappreciated. It's even worse when it's family and close friends where there is so much emotional investment. While we know that true love, in the words of the bible "always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres", there does come a time when we need to take some of the emotion out of that love.

There is a very strong argument for dropping those people in our life who are not positive, who do not contribute to us. It's more difficult if those people are family. We can choose our friends; we can't choose our family. What we can do, for our own protection, is withdraw emotion from that arena. It's their loss, not ours. We'll invest that emotion in reciprocal friendships where it will be returned tenfold.

My friend will not be cooking a lunch for these people again, although she'll meet them in a restaurant.  She can't cut them out of her life: they're family, but she can make sure she's not hurt by them.

Very much their loss, or maybe ours, as she's a very good cook!

Mary
A Moodscope user.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Alive again.


Here's a touching poem from Katherine a Moodscope user.

I used to think I liked a drink
Or did I drink to think?
I think I drank, and drank, and drank
To think about no drink
And then a light bulb flashed
And lit my reddened eyes
It shone a way to seize my life
Awake my feelings dulled by drink
To think in other ways
It was to be life-saving
As I was now to be
Sober and alive again
With glowing pride
To think without a drink
So, if you feel a little low
Or wonder from within your soul
Reach out for friends, for those around
Those who see through clearer eyes
The wonder of this person and what you mean to them
As others now can see the real and living me

Monday, 11 November 2013

Irritable – defined as 'Feeling Easily Annoyed'.

Here's the ninth in the series of excellent blogs by Lex covering the adjectives on the 20 Moodscope cards. Please don't forget we'd love you to add any ideas, tips, insights or advice you may have that you'd like to share with other Moodscope members that might be of help. Please add them to the comments at the end of this post. Many thanks. Caroline.

'Irritable' is a wonderful word – it even has a ratty rhythm to it – a kind of tetchy staccato beat! Irritability is an over-reaction to stimuli. Rat-ta-tat-tat! I'm going to speak auto-biographically here. I've noticed over the years that I tend to be irritable with those people I like most! It's almost as if I give myself permission to be ratty with those close to me, but I extend a greater tolerance to strangers. Does that sound around the wrong way to you?

So, for today, the key for me is focusing on the concept of an 'over-reaction'. Whether we're talking about psychological irritability, or physical irritability like IBS, there is some (over) reaction to a stimulus. Thus I take a two-pronged approach: 1) reduce the stimuli, and 2) challenge the type of reaction.

1. Reduce the stimuli. I am a massive fan of FABs. "FAB" stands for a 'Fluid Adjustment Break'. When I am over-stimulated and in danger of over-reacting, I excuse myself and pop off either to the loo or to make myself a drink. Both Fluid Adjustments seem to give me psychological fluidity too, and I can often recover and calm down. Distance gives perspective.

2. Challenge the type of reaction. 'Irritation is the beginning of a pearl!'  A pearl is the Oyster's response to an irritant in its mantle. By consciously seeking for some value in an experience, I can sometimes turn an irritating situation into a valuable lesson – a pearl of wisdom. It's sort of, 'Always look on the bright side of life!'  This doesn't mean that I am naturally optimistic – far from it. It does mean though that I invest energy into the thinking process used to find something useful in the scenario – and that, in and of itself, is a useful distraction!

Lex
A Moodscope user.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Cupcake land.

I was sitting on a train just this morning and caught myself re-living conversations and experiences from the extremely traumatic recent past. This happens several times daily and I can't seem to stop my over active and analytical mind doing this. But, I knew I had to think of positive and happy situations to stop it in its tracks and was struggling somewhat.

Then I remembered the text conversation in my mobile phone between myself and a very special friend of mine whom I affectionately call Debbie Cupcake. Each week, we exchange at least two very uplifting and encouraging texts with no pressure to respond or reciprocate in any hurry, so I decided to read them back to myself and in less than a minute, I was in 'Cupcake Land', feeling all uplifted, satisfied and smiling.

Mission accomplished!

Dawn
A Moodscope user.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The gift of rain...

This title, from a book I read recently, got me thinking. I have always loved rain from my earliest memories. Something about being warm and secure looking out though the window with raindrops splattering in ever changing patterns. That little reminder seemed to grow again an appreciation of the ordinary aspects of my life that had faded.

I find a similar thing happens when I flip through the Moodscope cards. Cards like 'proud' or 'enthusiastic'. By simply noticing again that I have much to be enthusiastic and proud of seems to grow my appreciation of my mood and increase a sense of balance. Even noticing whether I am jittery or distressed also seems to bring a feeling of the full spectrum of 'the frailty of being human'.

Strangely comforting and enriching. Can even feel like something of a gift.

Adrian
The Moodscope Team

Friday, 8 November 2013

Mindfulness.

I've been hearing a lot about mindfulness recently. To be honest I hadn't known anything about it or even been aware of what it was until a few months ago when a number of friends and acquaintances started telling me (with great enthusiasm) all about the mindfulness courses they were on and the benefits they were getting.

But I still wasn't that much interested until I heard that Mindfulness is being used very successfully to treat depression. Of course, I started listening then.

So apologies if you are all way ahead of me here already and know everything I'm about to say.

Although based in the concept of mindfulness in the Buddhist tradition, it can be practised independently of religion. Mindfulness is defined as the art of 'Paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment without making judgements'. Immediately we can see how anchoring ourselves in the present moment will automatically prevent our minds from sliding down the well-known habits and tracks of thoughts to those dark places (usually focussed on the past or future, very rarely in the now) which bring us right down.

There's a very interesting video by Mark Williams (Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University) on YouTube on the science of mindfulness. Apparently, regular and sustained practice of the discipline really does affect the physical construction of the brain, separating the part of the brain that experiences events with the part that makes up stories about them. I can see how that would be really useful.

With this in mind, I resolved to be more mindful in my daily walk home from the bus stop – and it's extraordinarily difficult! Not the least of my problems was dragging my brain back from this blog I was planning to write on the subject of mindfulness...

But I have to report on the basis of a couple of experiments that, yes, colours seemed brighter, the air fresher, I noticed things I'd never noticed before, and opened the front door feeling really charged up and ready for the day. So I think I'll start to learn more and add another skill to the depression fighting toolbox.

Now I wonder if someone has written a "Mindfulness for Dummies" book...

Mary
A Moodscope user.