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Articles by Rachel Kelly

Why Self-Compassion is as Important as Self-Esteem

Why Self-Compassion is as Important as Self-Esteem

My eleven-year-old daughter was complaining about her friend Mary. ‘She’s keeps boasting about her new school,’ she confided, looking despondent. ‘It’s got the most amazing netball courts and clubs for everything...and she’s got much nicer clothes than me...' As she began to sob, spouting a familiar litany about how her life was so much worse than Mary’s, I thought of Kristen Neff. She’s an American academic from Houston, who has put numbers to what I’ve long suspected as the mother of two daughters: the competition game starts young, and girls in particular...
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Beating 'Blue Monday'

Beating 'Blue Monday'

Today is allegedly ‘Blue Monday’, the gloomiest day of the year. Workers are being asked to dress in flamboyant colours in their offices to help them overcome the January blues. Mental Health Research UK says we should let loose with bright patterns and fabrics on 'Blue Monday', renamed 'Blooming Monday' by the campaigners - a spot of ‘wearapy’ as some therapists call it. The idea is to lift our collective mood and raise awareness of depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), as well as raise money to combat mental health issues. SAD is a...
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How Words Healed Me

How Words Healed Me

No-one now is a greater believer in therapy than me. But hitherto there’s been one huge problem with talking cures: finding the right therapist. It took me several years, three therapists and hundreds of pounds before I found Sarah who then transformed my life. First I had to believe that I needed to embark on therapy. I was initially resistant. Eventually it was my psychiatrist who persuaded me of how valuable therapy can be. A person, unlike a pill, can listen to your story when you are well enough to tell it, and give you a fresh perspective, he said....
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How CBT Helped Me Change Bad Food Habits

How CBT Helped Me Change Bad Food Habits

In a recent blog, I shared what I have learnt about using food to combat my depression and anxiety. But knowing what you should eat won’t automatically cure you of bad food habits. Our attitude to food is as much about emotion as it is about satisfying hunger. Throughout my battle with the Black Dog I have tried many approaches – one of the more effective for me being Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This involves retraining your brain to avoid patterns of negative thinking, replacing them with new more positive neural pathways. I tried to stop and judge what my...
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How Food Can Affect Depression

How Food Can Affect Depression

There is no one answer to treating depression and anxiety. A recent visit to MQ, a new charity funded by the Wellcome Trust to assess different approaches to treating mental illness such as depression, convinced me that my best bet is to combine multiple approaches: drugs if need be, mindfulness, exercise, therapy, but also to be careful with the food I eat. I have never considered myself a bad eater. It wasn’t as though I ate poorly before I became ill. At the height of my depressive episodes I couldn’t eat at all but as I recovered, instinctively, I felt I could no...
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Why We Shouldn't Try to be Perfect Mothers

Why We Shouldn't Try to be Perfect Mothers

‘Dear Sebastian,’ the letter began in a childish script. ‘Thank you very much for my Birthday Present. I love ‘Angelina Ballerina’ books. Love Yore God Daughter Eleanor’. I laughed. As any mother reading this will know, the likelihood that my husband Sebastian would have a) known it was his god-daughter’s birthday b) sent her a present and c) known that she liked Angelina Ballerina would have been as likely as me going six rounds at the pub. For the truth is, while women have made huge strides in the workplace, many men have not made commensurate progress at...
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Help Beat Depression by Reading Poetry

Help Beat Depression by Reading Poetry

We are sent what we need. So it proved recently when I finished an eight-week mindfulness course with the inspirational Anna Black, teacher and author of Living in the Moment with Mindfulness Meditations. I suspected she believed in the healing power of words as she had introduced several poems on our course. As I was leaving her class one rainy Tuesday evening recently, I told her that I shared her enthusiasm for poetry.  It transpired that she had written a dissertation looking at the therapeutic role of poetry in the teaching of mindfulness as part of her Masters...
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Two Poems To Help With Anxiety

Two Poems To Help With Anxiety

As we approach Christmas, poetry may help you keep body and soul together. For while mid-winter is a season of joy and cheer, is also an anxious time for many. I measure my own sense of overwhelm by how often I lose my keys and whether I resort to keeping them chained round my neck. (They are sitting heavily on my chest as I type.) A couple of poems have helped stem my worries during the mad busyness of the last few weeks, secular prayers which have brought consolation. One is a classic and long-time favourite, the other not yet published. Both in their way have...
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10 Tips to Fight Depression

10 Tips to Fight Depression

When we're feeling low, Rachel Kelly advises us to call upon the power of breathing, of action, and of words to thrust us out of the darkness. Ten ways you can help yourself beat depression: You can’t breathe in the future, or in the past. You can only breathe now. By concentrating on your breath, you will still your panic and the anxiety, which tends to make your breathing shallow and fast. Slow breathing helps you stay in the present, another word for a gift. Place one finger over your nostril: this will half the speed at which you breathe. By forcing...
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