Over the holiday season this year I spent some time with one of my best friends. We've known each other for 25 years, and he is one of the kindest, happiest, most compassionate people I know (I often joke that I would like to be more like him when I grow up!)
Something I didn't know until recently is that he's been trying to do more RAKs - Random Acts of Kindness. Part of the way he does this means he doesn't brag about it, so he wouldn't tell me exactly what he's been doing, but I managed to get some things out of him over coffee. He's done things like donate food to the local food bank, buy items for a children's hospice, and pay for a drink for the person behind him in the coffee shop. It got me thinking about RAKs in general, and how many of them require energy and money that so many people just don't have. This blog post is going to think about kindness in general, and also has some ideas for low-impact activities that make a difference.
As a clinical psychologist, I love working with people with chronic physical health conditions. It's interesting, frustrating, difficult, rewarding work - for both me and my clients! This week, I've been thinking about the things people say to me the most often, and how I usually respond.
We all experience stress from time to time; it’s a normal part of being human. But if you’re struggling to switch off at the end of the day, or anticipate there being a lot of stress in your life moving forwards, this two-part series might help you to cope with it differently. This post is about the differences between acute and chronic stress, and the next post will be about ways to manage stress.
You only have to put the words "opioid crisis" into a search engine these days to find tales of terror, addiction and death. "NHS accused of fuelling rise in opioid addiction," "Can the UK curb the looming crisis," these headlines are frightening and would have you believe that every person who even looks at a fentanyl patch will be addicted to heroin before the week is out. Understandably, this has important implications for people who take opioids to manage chronic pain. There are lots of things we can do about this situation, but here are three of the things that I think are important, based on my work in chronic pain services as a clinical psychologist.
It's the most wonderful time of the year - apparently. But that doesn't seem to fit with the conversations I keep having in therapy. People keep asking me if it's normal to feel overwhelmed by the holiday season, to feel done with it already, to feel wearied by the constant treadmill of give and take. They ask me why, if it's supposed to be so wonderful, do they feel so anxious about it, so broken down by it. Why, when everyone is telling them to be happy, they feel the opposite.
Dr Sarah Blackshaw: Clinical Psychologist, blogger, tea drinker, interested in dinosaurs and shiny objects