Music and Song: the magical de-stressors.

 

Music and singing have always been my go-to anti-stress therapy. From an early age I was afraid of the dark and of being alone in my bedroom. So I used to sing myself to sleep every night. My repertoire consisted of songs I learned at school, at Sunday School and from the radio. The Seekers were major stars in my world and A World of Our Own was a frequent choice. The Beatles too, especially She Loves You Yea, Yea, Yea. Honestly, music and singing have never failed to comfort and lift me through many years of both a happy and a challenging life.

It was, then, no surprise to discover the power of music in helping patients feel better in all of the mental health contexts where I have trained, worked and researched. My first placement as a student nurse was in a care of the elderly ward in Purdysburn Hospital, Belfast and a well-known local performer arrived once a week to play the piano and sing. It was joyful to help those old ladies gather around the day room and to hear them sing along to old favourites from their era. Often they would continue singing for the rest of the evening, even after the entertainer had taken her leave.

Scholarly reports also attest to the power of music for mental health, especially in a community setting and a selection of their papers and findings can be discovered in a chapter of my book on Creativity and Social Support in Mental Health: Service Users’ Perspectives [Palgrave 2014]. 

For now, here’s another favourite from the one and only Abba. Thank You for the Music 🙂 

 

Round Ireland with an iPhone: Belfast#2

Hello again from Belfast Botanical Gardens. Several weeks of mid-summer heat, a rare enough treat in these climes, along with intermittent heavy rain, have brought about a magnificent swathe of blooms of all colours and variations. Most striking is the wild flower patch with deep blue cornflowers and lazy daisies. I’m doing the best I can to squeeze in a morning walk around Botanic at least once each week and catching a coffee with Fintan or a daughter into the bargain. While I tend to enjoy each season for it’s unique beauties, for now summer’s where it’s at. Happy Summertime folks!

Round Ireland with an iPhone: Belfast#1.

Today in Belfast seemed like the first day of a real Spring season so I took a walk around Botanic Gardens and Stranmillis. Cherry blossoms are everywhere and the bluebells are in full bloom as well, perhaps a little early but I’m not complaining since they’re my favourite flower. Though sunny, the air was chill and I used that as an excuse to do my usual jaunt into the Ulster Museum (so conveniently situated right in the lovely Botanic Gardens). Took a few snaps along the way, hope you enjoy 😊

Clutterville Central:My Domestic Space Dilemma

image of vintage dresser cluttered with china, odds and ends.

Since starting my new part-time job at IKEA I am enjoying a resurgence of energy and activity. I love the work, the creative atmosphere and our lovely team. I’m also studying Marketing at Belfast Met and setting up a small enterprise to combine life and health coaching with business support for sole traders and SMEs.

So, as you may guess, the home front is suffering. In complete contrast to the beautiful environment I work in and help to maintain, my own domestic daily routines have gone haywire and mindful domesticity has temporarily taken its leave.

The laundry gets done but rarely put away. Food shopping happens and meals are made, even though the fridge and cupboards are now pretty disorganised.

I’m sliding too on all the little extras: DIY and decor projects hang suspended in no-man’s-land; de-cluttering on a routine basis is now a pipe dream; windows need shining and bedrooms need sprucing but I simply cannot find the time to start and finish a project on the same day, week or even month. In short, the house is a mess.

On top of that there’s been a hiatus on the writing, blogging, crafting, walking and regular exercise fronts. They are now haphazard chance happenings. In short,

>> I need help! <<

What to do? Everyone is willing to chip in, in spite of the multiple demands on time and energy they too face daily. The challenge is to create an organising and cleaning system and keep it going – a tall order indeed, since we all work and study.

My current muse is tidying guru Marie Kondo, ‘whose method of lovingly connecting with belongings that spark joy and bidding a fond but firm farewell to the rest, is popular in Japan and is now catching on elsewhere.’ [The Guardian, Life and Style Supplement, 27th Nov. 2014].

I bought the book last year, started the ‘Kon Marie’ system and it was all going well until I got caught up in job applications and lost the tidying plot somewhere along the way.

So do I engage some outside help for a big spring clean (or to be more precise a big ‘pre-Christmas’ clean) and for routine monthly or weekly maintenance? This seems sensible and I believe would be money well spent. We could then all share the basic daily tasks and keep our own stuff regulated while outside help takes care of big cleaning. Big questions, though. Is it affordable? Is it justifiable?

>> What to do? Would it work? <<

Your experiences and suggestions would be most welcome!

Thanks and Toodle-oo

‘til next time.

 

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