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Category Archives: wellbeing

Black Friday and the Psychology of What We Buy

Shopping spree in brown bags with new clothing and electrical items bought in the shops

Do you need these new purchases, or were you lured by marketing campaigns like Black Friday, and clever displays?

24th November has long been called ‘Black Friday’ in the USA as a day for panic-buying Christmas shoppers but, for the last few years, it’s also been embraced by the UK.

You might remember seeing pictures in the papers of people fighting over wide-screen TV sets in British supermarkets, or queuing outside stores in the early hours to ensure they will be first in line for those Black Friday deals. We even have ‘Cyber Monday’, held the following Monday as an internet-only day of shopping deals, to add to the frenzy.

In the run-up to Black Friday, it’s important to look at the psychological drivers behind the things we buy. What makes us pick up that product that we didn’t know we needed until we walked into the shop, or until we clicked on a certain link online? And how can we be sure we truly want to buy it, whether as a Christmas present or at any other time of the year?

Black Friday: The Ultimate Special Offer, or a FOMO Trigger?

We live in a materialistic society: it’s a fact. Every day, we are bombarded with the new face cream that will change our lives, or the upgraded gadget that’s better than the one we currently own. The one-day deals of Black Friday, in particular, trigger FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) for consumers.

If we feel we’re missing out by not buying, especially if we could theoretically save money with a time-limited special offer, we are putting immense pressure on ourselves to get out our wallets at a certain time, whether or not we can truly afford to spend money.

There’s a lot of social pressure surrounding this: the one-upmanship and the desire to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ (or, indeed the Kardashians, who will happily buy a new car or house at the drop of a hat).

Children are also susceptible to the lure of new and trendy products, as they try to fit in with their peers, and become champions of ‘pester power’ when you take them shopping. A US-based study by brand building expert Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandchild, found that parents spent 29% more when they shopped with their children – food for thought if you’re on a tight budget, or your house is already full of must-have items.

Shop open sign on retail outlet with goods in background to illustrate sales tactics by retailers including on Black Friday

Sounds, lighting and smells – not to mention the Black Friday discount deals they’re advertising – can all be used by retailers to attract customers.

Psychological Tricks Retailers Use

When you walk into a shop, retailers know how to get your interest. They invest in technology like eye scanners to test where shoppers look. Goods placed just by the entrance, or next to the tills, encourage spontaneous ‘add to basket’ moments.

Music and shopping have been interlinked by psychologists and marketers since the 1970s. More recent studies have shown that low music is better for shoppers, whilst Christmas music in shops can, unsurprisingly, invoke nostalgia. Add some spectacular window displays, in-store experiences and even scents pumped through the space, and you’ve got yourself a captive audience.

But who is the most susceptible to retailers’ tactics? The BBC’s Big Money Test from 2011-2013 found that certain types of emotional behaviour leave you more likely to impulse buy. Mark Fenton-O’Creevy, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the Open University, worked on the survey, and wrote that ‘people who were high on impulsive buying behaviour tended to be people who had poor strategies for managing their emotions and were more sensitive to the highs and lows of positive and negative emotion. In other words, it seems likely that, for many people, impulsive shopping acts as a substitute for more effective ways of managing their emotions.’

The ‘Social Proof’ Concept

‘Social proof’ is big business for retailers: the idea that your friends, family or your fellow shoppers have already bought and loved a particular product, therefore it must be good. What’s more, you don’t have to know the people who have bought a product already. A car salesman might casually mention his sister has the same car you’re considering, and she loves it. An idea has been planted: this car must be a sound investment.

Online retailers are very savvy with social proof, too; think of the alerts on a travel website telling you ten people are looking at the same hotel right now, and that five people have booked it in the last hour. Meanwhile, all kinds of products and services, from books and clothes to plumbing work, carry online consumer reviews. If all those reviews are graded as four or five stars, it’s unsurprising you’ll feel more reassured in choosing a particular option.

When you’re faced with glowing reviews, it’s important to remember we all have individual tastes. What works for one person may not work for you. Your gut instinct is still important, so don’t ignore it.

Sale sign in big red letters with lighting, surrounded by red shoes in a range of styles

That one word to get your attention as you walk past the shop… dare you go in?

How to Think Clearly When Shopping

When you’re being pushed towards a product, stop and think:

  • Do you actually need it – will it make a difference to your life?
  • If you’re buying clothing, how many items in your wardrobe can you wear it with?
  • When the next version of the product is launched, will you still use this one?
  • Is there a cheaper or more sensible alternative – for example, if you’re buying a DVD, could you borrow it from your local library, borrow from a friend, or stream it online instead?
  • If the item is reduced, would you have paid full price for it in theory?
  • Would you have bought it without the brand name attached?
  • Are you buying it to cheer yourself up, as a distraction, or to mask other emotions? If so, is there another way to deal with your feelings, such as reading a book, having a bath, or arranging a therapy session?

Armed with these questions, you should feel better equipped to navigate the shops and make informed decisions, whether on Black Friday or during the rest of the year.

Written by a guest contributor for Dr Chrissie Tizzard, Chartered Consultant Psychologist, PsychD, BSc, MSc, C.Psychol, C.Sci, AFBPS. Dr Tizzard is the Clinical Director of Christine Tizzard Psychology (ctpsy.co.uk).

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Easy Back to School Tips

Back to school scene with desk, apple, blackboard and books. Typical school picture.

Back to school, with a new term ahead.

The back to school routine can be a little stressful for some children. Change is often positive, but it is a journey into the unknown. Anxiety reduces in all of us when new things or places become familiar, so the feeling of butterflies in the tummy at the beginning of term is a good example of being confronted with change.

Children are starting new classes with a little-known teacher, new desks, different lockers, etc. The map they had in their head no longer works. They need a little bit of time to create a new mental map of how things work.

It’s trickier when it’s a new school and it is all a little different, but the basics of reducing the anxiety remain the same. These easy tips for ‘back to school’ time will help kick-start a great new term.

Eight Back to School Tips for Parents

  1. Talk to your children about the new term. What are their hopes? How do they see the term ahead? Their concerns will also pop out at this time. Talk about the funny things you remember about first days at school and how you coped. Be positive – Being positive is contagious.
  2. If it is a new school – do a few practice runs so that the journey and lay out of the building is familiar. This might be on foot, on the bus or the train.
  3. Have a few earlier nights during the run up to the new term. It won’t be quite so hard to get them up this way.
  4. Make sure the uniform and all kit is ready, involve the children in the school preparation so they feel in control.
  5. On the afternoon of the first day of term do something they enjoy however simple. This will continue the feeling of summer fun for a while and ease in the transition back to school.
  6. Ask them about their day – what went well and perhaps in cases when it didn’t go so well, what could your child do to make it feel better tomorrow?
  7. Be prepared that your child may be a little grumpier or quieter than normal. This is expected as she or he comes to adjusts to the new routine.
  8. On the first day back, don’t forget a special breakfast and take some photos (younger children love this yearly ritual.)

Going back to school produces very mild anxiety for most children. However, new term anxiety will reduce by talking things through and getting things ready in good time before school starts.

More information about managing the return to school when your child has special needs or autism is available on this site.

Written by Dr Chrissie Tizzard, Chartered Consultant Psychologist, PsychD, BSc, MSc, C.Psychol, C.Sci, AFBPS. Dr Tizzard is the Clinical Director of Christine Tizzard Psychology (ctpsy.co.uk). 

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Rare Disease and Not Being Heard by Your GP

Facing ignorant GP described using Ignorance sign on white wall

Are you struggling to explain your illness to your GP?

Living with a rare illness is a struggle, but dealing with an ignorant GP increases that struggle.

Those feelings of not being listened to increase the isolation, ramp up the stress and contribute to disease progression.

I do not use the term ‘ignorant’ as an insult, rather I chose it to reflect the true meaning of the word. Ignorant means ‘destitute of knowledge’: in this case, a GP who doesn’t know what it means to live with your rare illness day in, day out, and doesn’t know how debilitating its symptoms can be.

Rare Diseases and GP Treatment

A GP’s case load normally consists of the everyday ailments of living, plus a few rarer ones.  GPs are not trained to know about the rare diseases that patients present with, and this is where the problems can start.

Trying to inform your GP about your rare disease and the tests you currently need is often akin to tip-toeing through a volcanic minefield. Why is this? It’s rather simple. The majority of GPs have been conditioned to believe they know most things about our health. Repeated consultations with grateful patients reinforce this belief.

GP’s can occasionally become omnipotent. Faced with a patient who knows more than them about a certain condition (as we rarities must do in order to survive) can be threatening to their self-perception. They do not like to feel small, and may immediately and unconsciously deflect or project on to us.

When this happens, the patient comes away feeling a hypochondriac, or a time-waster. The patient shuffles away feeling awful and the normal power inequality is restored. What has just happened is rarely questioned, except perhaps in a therapist’s room.

How to Assert Yourself With Your GP

It can be very helpful to take a second when you feel talked down to and patronised. This is your moment to regroup and have another go. Remember these three simple steps – you could even write them down and read them before your consultation.

1. Hold your ground.

2. Repeat your requests slowly and clearly, in a non-defensive tone.

3. Remain measured and stay in adult mode.

Your GP will feel less threatened and reduce the superior tone. He or she will have no choice but to operate in ‘adult mode’ as well. This normally produces a win-win situation. You, I and our families lose when we walk away feeling stupid.

It is also critically important to research as much as you are able to, and make sure your information is correct, to help yourself. Fortunately, there are many great blogs available online, where people with a rare illness have described the same symptoms and GP frustrations as you. Try typing the name of your illness, plus the word ‘blog’, into a search engine: for example, ‘chronic fatigue syndrome + blog’.

Lastly, I recommend getting a book on assertion if it is hard for you to stay in control in difficult situations; alternatively, you can find some great internet resources on how to be more assertive in general.

Written by a guest blogger for Christine Tizzard Psychology (ctpsy.co.uk).

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Walking Towards a Better Mood – New Research

Walking in front of a brick wall that says 'good' in a mural - suggesting walking is good for you

Walking towards a better mood.

It’s official: walking off a negative mood, and seeing quick results no matter what your speed, is possible.

A team of researchers at Iowa State University have confirmed that walking can blast away a negative mood. Better still, it does not need to be a fast aerobic stroll. Astonishingly, a 12-minute walk at speeds of just 3mph will raise a bad mood.

A study involving 400 undergraduates at Iowa State University and published in the Journal Of New Emotion has confirmed this amazing fact.

Surprisingly, the researchers also found that the walk location was unimportant. Forget the thought of the beautiful Sussex downs in autumn hues.  Participants who merely walked around an urban, drab and featureless university concourse (not to shame those at Iowa – many campuses aren’t easy on the eye) were just as likely to report an improvement in mood as those who had walked in beautiful surroundings.

Even students who walked on a treadmill for 12 minutes reported an increased mood. In contrast, those who sat at the end of the treadmill waiting for their friends felt worse than when they entered the gym.

Walking Off a Bad Mood: Why You Should Try It

Jeffrey Miller, study author and assistant professor at Saint Xavier University, said: “There seems to be something about that brisk, purposeful walk that is really good for you.”

The study increases the previously held view that even a short walk can be a valuable counter-measure in a difficult situation. So, what are you waiting for? You could take some of the heat out of that imminent meeting with the boss. It is certainly worth a try.

These findings also add weight to the already well-known physical benefits of walking.  Previous research has concluded that regular walking can slow dementia progression, prevent osteoarthritis, lower overall cancer risk and help in weight and blood pressure maintenance.

Try walking the next time you feel stress or worry clouding your thoughts: no matter the location, the walk itself could make a tangible difference to your mood.

Written by Dr Chrissie Tizzard, Chartered Consultant Psychologist, PsychD, BSc, MSc, C.Psychol, C.Sci, AFBPS. Dr Tizzard is the Clinical Director of Christine Tizzard Psychology (ctpsy.co.uk). 

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Chronic illness has secrets

Chronic illness has secrets

Chronic illness has secrets

Chronic illness has secrets

Chronic illness has secrets.  These secrets often don’t get aired by the daylight. Most people with a chronic illness or rare disease struggle with daily life. Those struggles are usually hidden from the world.  Popular psychology says that a positive attitude helps matters. It is true, being optimistic does help many things.  Let us be honest though. The British bull dog spirit often falls way short of helping those with chronic illness cope their new imposed reality.  At times the maxim can be simply patronising.

The secrets of chronic or rare disease

1. People with chronic illness are always trying to adjust to uncertainty about or change in their physical state. The sword of Damocles that hangs with an unknown prognosis causes anxiety. Individuals are often unable to talk about these fears. They are scared of being labelled moaners or  hypochondriacs.

2. Sufferers of chronic illness feel very alone.  This is also true in rare disease. The medical profession frequently does not understand their condition because it is so rare. The lack of knowledge by professionals about a rare disease usually results in the person researching all they can about their illness.  This is not a fixation but an attempt to maintain some control, a control that may even save their life. An awareness that there is a likelihood that you will have to advocate for yourself when vulnerable during a crisis in order to get correct treatment is scary.

3. People with chronic illness often try to micro manage life.  These real fears about a health emergency can make the person stop doing normal things.  This attempt to reduce the possibility of crisis can lead to further shrinking of life and a growing feeling of personal isolation.

4. Sufferers know that there is absolutely no certainty that the task or activity they did easily today will be able to be repeated tomorrow. The body is in charge and it can be mean abuser of the spirit.

5. People with chronic illness often feel angry, guilty or sad. This is because their hopeful plans made weeks in advance may need to be cancelled at the last moment because of a surge in symptoms. This weakens the individual’s support network further as ‘friends’ often don’t get it. Unwell people begin to be seen as unreliable rather than ill.

6. They may not get the support they need because they look  good on the outside when there is an invisible but major inferno going on inside.

If you are battling a chronic illness or rare disease.  It’s a pretty smart idea to give yourself a gentle pat on the back. Remember you are not alone, that you are a fighter.  Lastly, know that there are many others there in solidarity with you.

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Terror Attacks – Helping Kids Cope

Worried about terror attacks and the effects on children's mental health - upset child in profile

Is your child worried and upset by the recent terror attacks?

It is every parent’s nightmare: despite your best attempts, somehow your 6-year-old daughter has learnt of recent terror attacks.

She is scared and tearful. She asks you if she or you are going to be hurt by bad people. She tells you there are some ‘mean’ people who want to hurt others.

You don’t want her  innocence to be lost so soon; at the same time, you do want to be truthful. This is a scenario that every parent fears. It is also, sadly, one we are having to deal with more frequently. What is the best way of handling it? How does a parent explain terror attacks?

The most important thing, which most adults forget, is: a child who has a secure relationship with their parents already has a fortress of containment. This is the best possible starting point for tackling the unpalatable. You can reduce the fear of terror attacks through everyday parenting.

Parents view terror and trauma from an adult perspective, through adult eyes. We recognise the ugliness of horror and atrocity. Small children have not yet developed this depth of understanding, thank goodness. Their innocence is also a protection. Unless Children are directly affected by trauma, they don’t recognise it in quite the same way as adults, unless we teach them through our own fear. It’s really important that your children do not see your fear, your rage or your feelings of powerlessness in response to a terror attack. If a child knows their parents are scared, they will be too.

Explaining terror attacks to your children: Eight things to consider

  1. For children, a secure and containing relationship with a parent, or another attachment figure, is the most important safety feature that protects them from acute fear.
  2.  Explain that there are a few bad people in the world who want to cause harm but that there are many more good people. Fictional characters can often be used as good examples for younger children.  They are often powerful archetypes of strength and character that children can easily relate to.
  3. Tell them the good people in the world outnumber the bad. Point out all the people who your child knows who help others in different ways. These people could be friends, family members, teachers, doctors etc.…
  4. Tell them that they have no need to worry, as Mum, Dad, Nanny, or another attachment figure, will always keep them safe. Explain to them that it is the parents’ job to protect them from the few bad people in the world.
  5. Never provide more information than needed about a horrific situation. Use factual language, but avoid the over use of descriptive phrases and pronouns.  It’s correct to say ‘Some people were hurt’, rather than ‘Some people had their arms and legs smashed or crushed’.
  6. Always answer their questions truthfully, in a basic age-appropriate manner.
  7. Try to find a positive balancing thought to your child’s concern. In the case of the events in Nice, a balancing thought would be: a) The good and brave people who stepped in to help, or b) The doctors who are working round the clock to make the injured better.
  8. The focus here is to help the child balance their nebulous fear of bad people posing a threat in the world, with concrete evidence of the certainty of many better people in the world. This will help a child to form a mental representation of safely, particularly a young child, where the ability to engage in abstract thinking is not yet developed.

If your child does want to engage with the news, they may find it useful to look at the BBC’s Newsround, aimed at children aged 6-13; find an interview with Newsround’s deputy editor, Kirsti Adair, here.

Written by Dr Chrissie Tizzard Chartered Consultant Psychologist. 

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Is it Child Abuse to Let Your Child Become Obese?

A news article in Isle of Man Today newspaper dated 20th August bore this stop-you-in-your-tracks headline on childhood obesity:

 ‘Allowing your child to become obese is a form of child abuse’.

The article proceeded to quote the Chief Minister of the Isle of Man, Alan Bell as stating: ‘We need to wake up to the fact that this (obesity in children) is a very serious problem. Individuals must accept responsibility for safeguarding their own well-being’.

The article continued: ‘In the case of families it is the parents who should be held responsible for ensuring that their children eat properly and take enough exercise. Failure to do so could be described as a form of child neglect.

When you think that a parent caught slapping their child could be in court for child abuse. I don’t see why this should not equally be considered abusing their child’.

Strong words, but is the rhetoric correct?

shutterstock_21440572Clearly, if your child is overweight there are considerable risks to his or her health.  Existing research evidence concludes that there is no escaping this depressing fact. The truth is that eating the wrong food over time has a negative effect on health.

These risks to health are relevant during childhood and continue to be pertinent as the child develops into adulthood.  Physical illness, and indeed psychological dysfunction, are more likely to affect your child if they are obese.

That said, the majority of parents, from Dundee to Dungeness, would be absolutely horrified to learn that their children’s food may signal an earlier demise. They would also be shocked to learn that they may also be guilty of abuse.

Simplistic statements linking ‘obesity with abuse’ do not improve children’s diets; in fact, they continue to increase the schism within an already divided society.

In reality, the problem is far more deep-rooted and is entrenched with socio-economic and cultural influences.

Understanding Childhood Obesity

Children become obese for a variety of reasons.  In truth, deliberate and therefore abusive force-feeding of the wrong food is very rare (it is infrequently seen in Munchausen Syndrome).

Accessible public education is the key to improving the diets of our children, combined with affordable healthy food.

It isn’t surprising that the poorest in our community have the most nutrient-dilute diet: junk food is relatively cheap, is usually available as pound-stretching BOGOF deals, and ultimately fills a hole in even the hungriest child’s ever-rumbling stomach. Aside from basic fruit and vegetables, many trendy and mainstream health foods are expensive. Furthermore, cooking from scratch can be time-consuming and a source of anxiety for many parents.

Of course, parents who have limited resources will choose quantity over quality unless they are really clued up regarding the potential long-term damage to their children that is caused by a poor diet.

Just yesterday in a Twitter post, a well-known supermarket chain launched a survey for Tweeters to take part in: ‘Tell us your favourite product’, it said, with options including pancakes and several other forms of nutritionally dilute food. A better, but equally fun option, might have been ‘Tell us your favourite fruit and how you eat it’: fresh strawberries in a summer picnic, blackberries in autumn, frozen fruit as ice lollies, and so on.

In these times of austerity, where many parents are genuinely challenged to make ends meet, there needs to be more visible, yet simultaneously low-key promotion of healthier food – informing, but not lecturing. These health-promoting basics need to be available at a cheaper price.

An Obese Child is not an Abused Child

Linking obesity with the words ‘child abuse’ is extremely short-sighted and damaging. It insults the average parent and conversely dilutes the phrase ‘child abuse’ from its true meaning, i.e., the horrendous cruelty that child protection professionals work with on a daily basis. It also ignores the role that genetics can play in obesity (as discussed in this UCL study from March 2013).

The ‘child abuse’ label doesn’t reflect the complex interplay between food, culture, education and finance. It also has the potential to stigmatise low income families, who are often stereotyped as being more likely to face obesity. These stereotypes persist, despite some studies suggesting otherwise: a study in the International Journal of Obesity, found that middle-class children are more likely to be obese than children in other class brackets.

Of course, parents do have to take responsibility to provide healthy food for children, but they must be helped to do this, not demonised.

Unless sustained and engaging public education is possible, delivered via slick advertising and access to cheaper healthy food, the policy makers may have to reconsider where accountability for obesity truly resides.

Written by Dr Chrissie Tizzard, Chartered Consultant Psychologist, PsychD, BSc, MSc, C.Psychol, C.Sci, AFBPS. Dr Tizzard is the Clinical Director of Christine Tizzard Psychology (ctpsy.co.uk). She works with children and adults, offering treatment such as psychotherapy, CBT and family therapy. 

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Five Easy Tips to Help Relieve Depression

 

Dark purple and blue grey clouds with light filtering through to symbolise how to relieve depression

Start to relieve the dark cloud of depression.

When depression strikes, everything feels overwhelming, whether you experience symptoms for the first time or as part of a larger pattern. How can you start to relieve mild to moderate depression? Put these five tips into action.

1) Get Active

Even if it is just a 10-minute walk around the block, build it up to 20 minutes over the next few days. As NHS Choices says, exercise can be beneficial for those with mild to moderate depression.

Exercise shouldn’t replace talking therapy or medication, but can be used alongside those strategies to nurture your mind and body and possibly relieve depression symptoms. Gentle exercise could include walking the dog, doing a Pilates or yoga session, or (in the case of bad weather) trying an exercise DVD at home with a friend.

2) Connect with Nature in Your Own Way

This might mean stroking an animal, which can trigger the brain chemical oxytocin (lowering stress) and dopamine, or spending time by the sea, where the sea air helps produce endorphins, the feel-good hormones. Fortunately, nowhere in the UK is more than 70 miles from the sea.

Being outside in the fresh air and an open space can make a world of difference to your stress levels, as National Geographic proves. In the UK, we’re lucky to have brilliant landscapes right on our doorstep – yes, even those of us living in towns and cities; 47% of London is green space.

Furthermore, according to a government report in 2016, half of the people in England live no more than 300 metres from a green space. Let’s not take it for granted. If you choose to explore this green space with your own pet, or you join a pets-as-therapy scheme, a dog sitting or dog walking initiative, you could reap the benefits of animal therapy as well as being in nature.

3) Eat a Bright Salad or Soup for Lunch

Pack it full of tomatoes, red peppers, sweetcorn, and so on. These foods are visually stimulating and good for you, too. Unsaturated fat and foods rich in Omega 3 oils can also support your mood, as Blurt explains.

Keep an eye on your sugar intake, as high quantities can exacerbate depression, especially when post-eating sugar crashes hit. You may want to seek out foods with a low GI (Glycaemic Index), which can reduce slumps caused by sugary or refined carb foods: low GI choices include sweet potato, nuts, eggs, cheese, kidney beans, oatmeal, yoghurt, and most fruits.

4) Spend Just 10 Minutes on an Absorbing Low-Cost Hobby

Your hobby might be maintaining your garden, doing Sudoku puzzles, or sketching. A 2011 study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that gardening can improve your mood and lower your stress levels more effectively than reading. However, if reading is more your thing, by all means crack open a book to try and relieve depression: for less of a challenge, pick a shorter read, like a novella, or revisit an old favourite. Do remember that depression can affect your concentration and ability to process information: if you’re a puzzle fan, you might need to move to the ‘easy’ or ‘moderate’ Sudoku puzzles, instead of the ‘hard’ option.

Be aware that your usual hobbies might fall by the wayside when depression hits, and you feel unfulfilled or lose interest in them altogether. This is a symptom of depression, called anhedonia. If you’re affected by anhedonia, try a new or less challenging hobby, and don’t put any pressure on yourself to enjoy or maintain it. So, don’t sign up for a year’s worth of French lessons in one go – instead, opt for a taster course or download a free app.

5) Say “Hi” to a Neighbour or Colleague and Add a Smile

It will probably be reciprocated and could help to lift your low mood. Perhaps you could try smiling at a stranger on the commute to work; what’s the worst that could happen?

Low-level contact and interaction doesn’t have to involve excruciating small talk or a long lunch together. Science has found that the act of smiling at others makes us feel more positive, too; it releases neuropeptides, plus serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. This powerful combination feels calming and relaxing.

Putting Tips to Help Relieve Depression into Practice

Remember these are very small but powerful techniques to help relieve depression, and each tip will make a difference.

When we are depressed, even small things can feel like climbing Mount Everest. If you set your goals too high, it is easy to fail and harder to start again. Make goals small and achievable and you can build on these as you feel better.  The most important thing is that you make your goal small enough to achieve.

These techniques can easily be combined with your current depression treatment, such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

Important: If you experience suicidal thoughts or an urge to harm yourself, it is important that you speak to your doctor or mental health provider quickly. Contact your GP or community mental health team during working hours and ask for an emergency appointment. Outside of working hours, call 111, contact the Samaritans on 116 123, or call 999.

Written by Dr Chrissie Tizzard, Chartered Consultant Psychologist, PsychD, BSc, MSc, C.Psychol, C.Sci, AFBPS. Dr Tizzard is the Clinical Director of Christine Tizzard Psychology (ctpsy.co.uk).

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