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  • 19 September 2019

    North East Skinny Dip 2019

    Skinny dipping might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about the North Sea (not the warmest place for a swim), but for the past seven years that’s exactly what’s been happening. On the 22nd of September over 600 people will be stripping off and going for a plunge in the early hours of the morning at Druridge Bay in Northumberland – all in the name of charity and self-love.

    The North East Skinny Dip stemmed from the mind of Jax Higginson, an experienced sea swimmer, who delights in completely immersing herself in the water which, she says her body craves. Having taken part in a skinny dip herself, she wanted to share the feelings of pure joy and freedom that she found with others, helping them to embrace themselves in all of their beautiful glory! The skinny dip combines everything Jax loves most; the sea, making a difference, being naked and doing something absolutely crazy and wild.

    While September may not seem like the best month to get naked in the North East, it’s purposely planned around the Autumn Equinox to help aid the transition from summer to winter. It allows us to give thanks for the cleansing warmth of summer and welcome in the refreshing cold of winter, which can often be a difficult time for people; the dark, cold nights and lack of sunshine can take a toll on our mental health.

    Jax hopes that holding this event can help fight the stigma that mental health and body image still unfortunately have and fight against the social norms. She wants it to be a celebration of life, nature and our own fabulous, unique bodies that are all beautiful no matter what flaws we think we have. It’s Jax’s belief that practicing self-love can promote healing and inner peace and is very much connected to mental health. An improvement in mental health and self-love can make us happier, more productive, loving, peaceful and playful human beings.

    Past participants have described the dip as invigorating, fun and helped improve their mental health and confidence in their bodies. Knowing that they’re not the only ones feeling uncomfortable or self-conscious makes them realise that they’re not alone. There are people who feel the same way and also others out there, like Jax, who are there to listen and help. There’s no judgement in the dip, only acceptance, self-expression and freedom!

    Since the first dip back in 2012, the NESD has managed to raise over £40,000 for National Mind which is an incredible amount of money! This year however, all of the proceeds from fundraising and pledges will go to us, Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, meaning that every penny raised will go towards strengthening local mental health services for people like you. We could not be any more grateful for the support from Jax and all of the participants for taking the time and having the courage to bare their bits and be seen. We’ll be right there with them!

    If you’d like to know more about the North East Skinny Dip or would like to make a pledge to the brave dippers, please click the link below.

    http://bit.ly/NorthEastSkinnyDip2019

  • 14 January 2019

    Exercise and Mental Health

    There’s good evidence that being active is associated with improved mental health. People with mental health problems are more likely to experience physical health problems such as being overweight or being more prone to diseases such as heart and respiratory diseases. So, if you have a mental health problem, the health benefits of becoming more physically active are even more important.

    • When you exercise, your brain chemistry changes through the release of endorphins (sometimes called ‘feel good’ hormones), which can calm anxiety and lift your mood.

    • Your body is better able to control cortisol levels so you may feel less stressed

    • Exercise can helps to break up racing thoughts, leaving you calmer and better able to think clearly.

    • Taking time out to exercise can give you space to think things over and help your mind feel calmer.

    • When you start to see your fitness levels increase and your body improve, it can give your self-esteem a big boost.

    And there are also social and emotional benefits for your mental health, which include:

    • Being around other people is good for our mental health and can help you to build social networks which may be just as important to you as the physical benefits.

    • Lots of us enjoy being active because it’s fun. Researchers have shown that there’s a link between the things we enjoy doing and improvements in our wellbeing overall. If you enjoy an activity you’re also more likely to keep doing it.

    If you would like some support to get more active in 2019, why not sign up for RED January? Find out more here.

    We also have a weekly Peer Run Physical Activity group. If you would like to find out more about joining, just give us a call on 0191 477 4545.

  • 18 December 2018

    Coping at Christmas

    What a mixed bag this time of year can be!

    It is all too easy to imagine that everyone apart from us is having a wonderful chocolate box Christmas with cherished friends and family, who all get on and enjoy each other’s company. We see these pictures all over our TV’s and social media.
    The reality is that most people suffer from a level of stress and anxiety over the festive period. In most households across the country people are worrying about how family members will get on, how they will afford the christmas presents on their children’s Christmas list, and how they will pay for all the excess in January. There is so much pressure to have the perfect experience. And the reality is, life is not perfect for any of us. Try to remember that there is often a story behind the façade. And that TV adverts and films are just a made-up fantasy.

    Finding ways to take care of yourself is always important, but particularly so around this time of year. By thinking about coping strategies and planning in advance you are taking a pro-active approach to looking after yourself.

    1: Dealing with loneliness

    Firstly, remember you are not alone in feeling this. It is estimated that there will be over 1 million people in the UK spending Christmas on their own.

    • Work out a plan of people you can spend some time with this Christmas and who you could call or text or contact online over the festive period.
    • Accept invitations without feeling guilty that you are taking up someone else’s family time.
    • Talk to people, it could be a friend, a family member, a person in the supermarket queue. Making connections with people is good for our mental and emotional health.
    • Know what social support there is in your area. Perhaps there is a Day or Community Centre offering Christmas dinners.

    2: Create boundaries

    It maybe that your anxiety about Christmas comes, not from being alone, but from having to spend time with certain people. Think about what you can do to create boundaries to protect yourself.

    • Can you limit the amount of time you spend with them? Could you factor in some ‘Timeout’ time in case you begin to feel overwhelmed?
    • Think about your ‘red flags’, which tell you that you have had enough and need a break.


    3: Stay connected to what matters most to you

    It’s all too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of end-of-year functions, shopping, food and logistics as we prepare for Christmas Day. As you work your way through your to-do-list consider ways that you can stay connected to the bigger picture. Take time to reflect on what really matters to you. Being with people you love and care about? Slowing down and really giving yourself a proper break? Sharing delicious food with your family or friends? Having a laugh and letting go a bit? Easing up on yourself?


    4: Create space and time for yourself

    Try creating a ‘Me Time’ plan. Are you the kind of person who needs to recuperate by having some time on your own, or are you the kind of person who over-commits, putting other people above your own needs. If so, try to create some time and space for yourself. Think about what you enjoy doing and decide to build this into any Christmas plans. Maybe you enjoy getting outside for a healthy dose of fresh air and nature, or perhaps curling up with a novel, listening to your favorite music or having and afternoon nap.

    5: Use your five senses to bring yourself into the present moment

    During hectic periods like Christmas we tend to spend a large portion of our time up in our heads worrying about the future and rehashing the past. When we get swept up by our minds we miss the beauty and simplicity of everyday things like having a good chat or spending time in the sunshine.
    One of the most effective ways to anchor yourself in the here-and-now is to tune into your five senses. So when you notice yourself getting carried off by thoughts, bring yourself back to the present moment by deliberately focusing your attention on what you can see, hear, taste, smell and touch. For example, as you’re eating lunch try to notice all the colours in the room around you, the smell of the food on your plate, the texture and taste of the food as you eat it, the feeling of your body making contact with the chair, the sounds of conversations around you. Soak it all up.
    At first, the idea of tuning into your five sense might seem a little strange. Give it a shot though. It’s surprisingly satisfying. You’ll experience the world around you in a different way. Plus, there’s the added bonus of getting a break from the chatter of your mind - and who doesn’t want that?

    6: Calm your mind by calming your breathing

    If you notice your buttons being pushed by a particular situation or person, or you just need to pause for a moment, one of the most effective ways to put the ‘brakes on’ is to focusing on your breathing.
    When you become overwhelmed by strong thoughts or emotions your breathing changes. Typically, your breathing becomes shallow (you breath from your chest rather than your stomach) and more rapid. Some people even hold their breath slightly. These changes disrupt the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body. This imbalance then fuels the fight-flight response and can leave you feeling dizzy, light-headed, confused, tingly, breathless, tense, flushed and nauseous. It becomes hard to think in a rational way – because the part of your brain responsible for thinking clearly has effectively frozen.

    There are a number of different techniques you can use to calm your breathing. Why not try the simple 7/11 breathing exercise below:

    • Place your hand on your upper abdomen near your waist
    • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Your abdomen should rise rather than your chest.
    • Count to 7 as you breath in
    • Exhale slowly through your mouth, counting to 11 
    • As you are exhaling purse your lips slightly and relax your jaw – you should hear a whooshing noise
    • Repeat as often as you need to

    7: Most of all, be Kind and Compassionate to yourself this Christmas

    • Be kinder to yourself. Try to be your own best friend. 
    • Recognise that everyone feels some stress at this time of year you are not alone
    • Be mindful, enjoy simple pleasures and try not to feel guilty for enjoying Christmas in your own unique way
    • Seek help if you need it. Have some emergency numbers by your phone, these can be support services or trusted friends
  • We’ve partnered with AMV Live Music in a Christmas Social Media Campaign raising awareness for Mental Health, and every day throughout Advent in December we’re publishing a different video featuring a different AMV artist performing their own take on a classic Christmas Song from their Gosforth Studios Live Lounge.

    A selection of talented musicians will be involved in this project, from pianists and strings to vocalists and solo guitarists to an 8 piece band, who’ve all filmed their own unique interpretations of classic Christmas songs to be showcased daily on our and AMV’s Social Media.

    The aim is to raise awareness of the importance of being open and talking about Mental Health; especially at a time of year that can be difficult for many of us.

    In addition, alongside each advent video AMV will be posting links to the JustGiving Campaign that they have set up for us. We hope that those enjoying the daily Christmas videos will donate to the campaign if they are able and help support us to continue providing services in the local area.

    Anxiety, depression and other mental health issues affect millions of people in the UK and around the world every year and there are many close to us all who have and continue to suffer from these illnesses.

    It’s been fantastic to see this community of artists rally around something really special and positive this Christmas time and we really can’t wait to share all the performances with you from December 1st all the way up ’til Christmas Eve.
    Keep an eye on our social media channels from the start of December for your daily dose of Christmas cheer, courtesy of AMV’s fantastic artists.

    If you would like to find out more about AMV, or any of the featured artists, you can visit their website here.

  • Do you want to write creatively but you don't know where to start? Get advice on journal keeping, play with rhymes and build poems with people who appreciate your point of view, or simply find the sparks to light up your life stories.
    Come and try our two-hour sessions hosted by poet and diarist Steve Urwin, a versatile published performer who is passionate about wordplay as a tool for personal wellbeing.

    We’ve successfully delivered our first session on 3rd October.

    “A huge thank you to Steve Urwin http://steveurwintalkingpen.blogspot.com/ for coming along to our Open Door session on 3rd October for our first Ways with Words session. I think I can safely say, not all of us thought we could write, but some real talent was unleashed and we’re really looking forward to the next 5 sessions.”

    We'll deliver 5 other Creative Writing sessions in our Open Door group in Jarrow in October.

    If you’re a South Tyneside resident why not join us on World Mental Health Day on 10th October, or for one of the future sessions to explore your inner talents and have a few laughs in relaxed company. The session takes place at Jarrow Hub at 1.30-3.30pm.

    Just pop in, or contact Lisa Taylor for more information on 0191 4774545, or email lisa.taylor@tynesidemind.org.uk.

    No referral is required, you just need to complete a Registration Form when you attend.

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Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, Wellbeing Centre, Dunsmuir Grove, Bensham, Gateshead NE8 4QL. Telephone: 0191 477 4545  Email: admin@tynesidemind.org.uk 
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Registered office: Tyneside Mind, Wellbeing Centre, Dunsmuir Grove, Bensham, Gatheshead NE8 4QL. Company Number: 7552434. Charity Number: 1140856.