You are my Sunshine

A lovely and beautiful talented writer and gorgeous person has written an incredible and inspiring poem about strength, courage, love and rainbows to bring a smile to your faces and injecting sunshine into your everyday lives during these unprecedented time’s for my Sunshine Through Your letterbox Campaign. #coop #itswhatwedo 🌈 🌈🌈🌈

You are my Sunshine.

When I don’t have a reason to smile, you make me think of happier times,
you are my Sunshine.
When I feel alone, you remind me of all the people that love me,
you are my Sunshine.
When I feel a tear trickle down my cheek, you get me a tissue and gently smooth it away,
you are my Sunshine.
When I’m feeling Ill and drained, you lift me up and make me better again,
you are my Sunshine.
When I feel scared and vulnerable, you give me strength and assurance,
you are my Sunshine.
When I feel lost and without direction, you gently guide me to the right path,
you are my Sunshine.
When I look in the mirror and only see ugly, you remind me of my beauty,
you are my sunshine.
When I make a mistake and feel guilty, you tell me it’s a lesson learned,
you are my Sunshine.
Who is that Sunshine, that Sunshine is me.

Laura Mac

If you enjoyed Laura’s poems, please check out her brilliant blog. Details are below.

Anxiety and Self Isolating

Many of us have lots of coping strategies, such as going to the gym, meeting up with friends or keeping busy with hobbies and work. In such uncertain and worrying times, many of these coping strategies have been taken away and the thought of spending so much time at home can be frightening.

Firstly, remember you are not alone. It’s okay to feel anxious and many others will be feeling the same way too. It’s still important to talk about how you’re feeling and to reach out if you need support.

Practise your usual coping strategies where possible – breathing techniques, grounding, focusing on the present. If you usually go to the gym – go for a walk or run (if you can) or try following a home workout video on you tube.

Limiting your exposure to the news is important too. While it is necessary to be aware of what is happening, there is no need to overexpose. This will only feed your fears. Allocate a set time of day where you will check the news, for example, after breakfast or during the government’s daily update. Then avoid or limit your exposure throughout the rest of the day.

Keep yourself busy and try not to allow your mind time to overthink and catastrophise. Creating a new routine is a great way to look after your mental health. Stay active and eat as well as you can.

Most importantly, be sure to make time for yourself every day. Self-care is crucial, whether that means taking a long bath, getting an early night, reading a book, calling or Face-timing, friends and family, watching a movie or two or baking a cake. Do something for you. Mental downtime is important too. Try practicing mindfulness with apps such as Headspace, this will help you sleep.

Remember that like everything else, this situation is temporary. There is lots of support available if you’re feeling particularly anxious or struggling to cope. Keep in touch with others and try to take one day at a time, focusing on the right now, rather than worrying about the ‘what ifs.’

Steven Connelly

Sending positivity and encouragement during this overwhelming period

As many people in our community’s right now, maybe feeling anxious, isolated, and lonely due to our current circumstances. Wouldn’t it be a great idea to brighten someone’s day with an uplifting message, poem, drawing, song or story which could go a long way.

I am employed by the coop as a community pioneer, i want to make people smile, laugh and spread joy during this difficult period.

I want To show people they have not been forgotten. Lets get creative folks! Whilst the kids are at home let’s get them to work positively and brighten up someone’s day. Send a message of support, draw pictures, write stories, take pictures on your phone and email them to myself.

We will forward them on and maybe be able to display them in coopuk stores sending positivity during this challenging time.

If you are also aware of someone that could benefit from receiving some positivity and sunshine, please email me.

My email address is:

I will look forward to hearing from you, #keepsmiling #ItsWhatWeDo #thecoopway.

Steven Connelly

Directory of supermarkets and shops in Irvine and Dreghorn

Coop – Irvine
46 Caldon Road
01294 278 636

Coop – Dreghorn
96 Townfoot
KA11 4EZ
01294 222 300

Riverview Retail ParkKA12 8AY
East Road IrvineKA12 0AF
Asda Irvine Superstore
5 Fullarton Street Irvine KA12 8EJ
01294 313 036
Thorn-house Stores
37 Thorn – House Avenue
01294 279 908
Anne’s Store
22 Burns Street
KA12 8RP
01294 274 379
80/106 High Street
KA12 0AX
01294 313 938
Ayr Road
KA12 8BH
01294 843 150

The effects of self isolation, loneliness and mental health.

The feeling of loneliness is a subjective one. It can come from the lifestyle and conditions in which someone lives. It can come from a person’s inner landscape and the state of their mental and emotional health. The recent health pandemic we find ourselves in causes extreme loneliness, isolation, panic and anxiety.

In either of these cases, loneliness can be especially distressing and a very slippery slope if a person doesn’t have supportive people in their life who can help them reconnect and find the care they need. Even when someone chooses a life of social isolation and seems to thrive under these conditions, it’s a lifestyle which can alter their mental, emotional, and social functioning over time.

Ultimately, the direct and indirect impacts of isolation pose serious risks to one’s mental health. In a direct sense, the experience of social isolation stimulates negative perspective and behaviors, which can intensify over time. In an indirect sense, a lack of support—whether real or perceived—can prevent or undermine treatment outcomes. The effects of social isolation on severe mental health urge our awareness and responsiveness when we know that people are suffering.

How Do We Experience the Effects of Social Isolation?

When we look closely, isolation isn’t necessarily a measure of how many hours a person spends alone or how many friends and other connections they have. The phenomenon of social isolation just isn’t as simple as being alone. In fact, it’s possible for someone to be and feel isolated even when they are in the presence of other people. Let’s look at some of the ways that isolation can manifest for different people:

  • Physical isolation can happen when someone lives in a remote area or otherwise has limited interactions with other people in their home life and throughout their days.
  • Emotional isolation can but doesn’t necessarily depend on the actual state of being alone. Emotional isolation could be imposed upon someone—as in the case of an emotionally abusive, psychologically abusive, or neglectful relationship. It could also be self-imposed, intentionally or unintentionally, if someone is unwilling or unable to invest energy into emotional connections.
  • Psychological isolation can be a complicated situation if someone is mentally disconnected from their own identity and personality or from their reality and the people around them.
  • Rejection or ostracization are acts that purposely isolate a person. The experience of social isolation imposed by others likely comes with additional feelings of shame, pain, and other emotional trauma.
  • A virtual lifestyle is becoming more and more common as people depend on Internet socialization over in-person relationships. A consistent psychological effect of all-virtual interactions is debatable, but there are certainly important aspects of human communication and relationships that are missing from purely virtual interactions.

How Does Social Isolation Have an Effect on Severe Mental Health?

It’s true that loneliness itself is not considered a clinical mental health disorder. But its close connection with our well-being makes it very worthy of our attention. To put it simply, isolation breeds more isolation. Researchers have observedthat persistent loneliness can inspire:

  • A self-preservation mentality and behaviors
  • Fixation on negative thoughts and outcomes
  • Hyper-vigilance toward social threats whether they are present or not
  • Heightened stress and anxiety responses
  • Poor sleep quality if hypervigilance continues

These effects of social isolation can weigh heavily on one’s mood, their perspective, their ability to cope with stress, and perhaps their very sense of self. In the context of social isolation, it is not always a simple and straightforward path of mental health decline. But it does tend to be progressive, especially as mental health disorders develop.

And the effect of social isolation and severe mental health disorders also significantly impairs treatment access and recovery outcomes. The absence of caring and supportive relationships makes it less likely that someone will connect with treatment options. in the first place or that they will be able to maintain recovery progress following treatment. And those who live in social isolation due to personal withdrawal may be less likely to seek or accept treatment. These limitations, on top of the detrimental negative effects of loneliness, can lead to severe and often unaddressed psychological distress.

What Does This Assessment of Isolation and Mental Health Mean for Treatment Outcomes?

The primary concern surrounding mental health disorders that advance in social isolation is that the individuals will not receive the treatment they urgently need. It is often the case for people in psychological distress that a family member or friend helps them to access the best treatment. If the nature of someone’s isolation prevents this access, they could be in danger of further mental health decline and intense suffering.

Another concern is that people who do enter treatment may not have the social support especially on the other side of a treatment stay. It could be detrimental to leave a treatment program and return to a life of isolation. Hence, treatment is as much about developing a context for recovery as it is about applying therapeutic methods.

Comprehensive treatment centers are often designed around a welcoming and understanding community environment. Clients can work with clinicians at their own pace, developing a trusting relationship over time. Peer groups and activities allow clients space and time to discover ways in which they can relate to each other. Ultimately, these peer relationships become a very powerful part of the recovery journey. People who have been isolated in the past begin to break down walls of loneliness and rigid self-preservation. At the same time, structured programs invite family and friends to get involved in the treatment process. Through education and the development of coping strategies and positive relationship dynamics, a lasting support system is built.

Before progress can be made, people who need mental health treatment must get connected. Each one of us can expand our awareness to have a care for those who suffer in social isolation. The conditions of loneliness and isolation themselves are stigmatizing, but only through a close-minded view. We all share a need for human care and connection, and we can open our minds and hearts to those who need to rediscover that path.

Steven Connelly

Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety is now the number one mental health condition in the UK and with all the new stresses in our daily lives, especially during our current health crisis it has become somewhat of an epidemic. But contrary to what a lot of people think it is a very treatable condition and a lot of people do overcome it with the right help and advice.

When we first seek help in recovering we usually just find ways to manage anxiety and although this was part of my approach, it was more important to me to find the underlying cause of my condition. I wanted to truly understand what was creating it and so as to cut out the root.  I did not want to spend a lifetime treating the symptoms of anxiety, I wanted to be fully free of the condition.

Below are some helpful tips that helped me calm and move on from my anxiety.

Tips to help with anxiety

  • Get plenty of sleep and rest – When our mind and body is overworked it is even more vital to get the rest we need to recuperate.
  • Take up a new hobby – Rather than sit around brooding try and fill your day with something you enjoy. Relaxing or outdoor hobbies serve the most benefit.
  • Get involved in volunteering – Doing something positive can change your mindset and helps you mix with new people.
  • Take up meditation – This can help you let go of that busy mind and mentally switch off. I often meditate to this day and find it hugely beneficial.
  • Stop blaming yourself for how you feel and avoid conflict – When we feel anxious we can sometimes take how we feel on those around us, which only tends to create more drama and toxic feeling in our life. The result of this is just more stress and an increase in our anxiety levels.
  • Talk to others about how you are feeling – Opening up to others can have huge benefits, from being able to drop the act of being O.K to lightening the burden you feel. You will also find that people are far more understanding than you think and in many cases find out that they are going through their private struggle too.
  • Don’t use food or Alcohol to suppress how you are feeling – No one is perfect, and I am not saying don’t have the odd drink or always eat correctly. It is more about not using junk food or alcohol to suppress how you feel. Both will have the opposite effect and will most likely increase your anxiety, make you lethargic and reduce self-esteem.
  • Cut down on the worry. Worry and stress are the most significant contributors to anxiety, indulging in either only hurts you, it doesn’t solve anything. This period of your life is a warning and time to take stock of your life and make some real inner changes.
  • Have some downtime – In this busy day and age of smartphones, computers and 101 channels to chose from, many people now find that their brain is always stimulated. It is so routine now that some even feel uncomfortable if they aren’t watching T.V or staring at a phone, is it any wonder that peoples minds are busier than ever? If you can find half an hour each day to switch everything off and just be with yourself with no distractions, you will see considerable benefits in the long term for doing so.
  • Be loving and patient towards yourself – Don’t have any guilt for the way you feel or fall into any self-pity mode. Also, don’t expect or want to be better yesterday, give the mind and body all the time they need to heal while at the same time being patient and kind to yourself.
  • Don’t fill your day with the subject of anxiety – Filling your day with the subject can end up with the thoughts about anxiety becoming sub-conscious and with this habit, you find you are unable to think of anything else. Firstly there is no reason to go over the subject continuously; it does you no good. You also can’t stop thinking about the subject by trying not to; you do so by adding other things into your day and letting it happen naturally.
  • Don’t avoid life or triggers – Don’t fall into avoidance behaviours because you don’t wish to feel anxiety. This avoidance only creates new problems and ends up giving you a very narrow existence. The truth is recovery lies in these places; it lies in allowing yourself to feel anxious. Regaining your life and former you will never come through avoidance.
  • Do the best you can – Recovery can take time and progress can be slow at first so just do the best you can for now and don’t expect too much too soon. In time you will look back at be amazed at how far you have come.
  • Lose the negative people in your life – If there are people around you who tend to bring you down or pull you into their drama for whatever reason, then it may be time to think of having a spring clean and give yourself some distance for a while.

Steven Connelly

Supporting people with mental health issues.

Encouraging and supporting good mental health and well-being represents a hugely important section of working in the Social Care sector. It is crucial to be able to recognise when there are signs of deteriorating mental health in a client and a great deal of understanding and compassion is necessary if you are considering a role within this sector.

You will need to learn the key signs of when mental health may be deteriorating or there are signs of distress and how to appropriately support and help those suffering. You will also be responsible for promoting dignity and respect, maintain confidentiality and integrity at all times and value the individual’s own knowledge and experience of their issues.

There are many key personal values which are relevant to working in social care. Those needing your care and support have reported that personal values held by social care workers are extremely important factors in how their experiences can differ. It’s important to be aware that personal values are not the same as your principles. It is therefore very important that you can demonstrate a level of personal values which would be rated highly by those needing your care and support and also to understand their role in the way in which you deliver a service. Your personal development would include good training, practice development and peer support. Essential qualities include:

  • Showing empathy
  • Having compassion
  • Display a caring nature
  • Be honest at all times, even if the client doesn’t particularly want to hear it
  • Be consistent
  • Have integrity
  • Be friendly and approachable
  • Be optimistic
  • Ability to motivate others
  • Be non-judgemental
  • Be willing to collaborate with others.

Those with longstanding mental illness or mental health problems needing care and support may experience periods of crisis or distress. Mental illness or mental health problems may develop when clients are receiving social care for other reasons such as other disabilities, conditions or problems they are experiencing in other areas of their lives. Signs of deterioration in mental health to look out for include significant changes in their thoughts, feelings, mood, and behaviour.

It’s important for you to have understanding of these signs so that you could identify when those you’re caring for develop a mental illness or mental health problem and therefore would need adjustments to their ongoing care and support.

You would need an understanding that when people with mental illnesses are in crisis or distress, and behaving in unusual ways this is a result of their illness and not down to something you have said or done. You need to address your own concerns, as well as the person’s and their family and carers concerns and provide timely, appropriate and sensitive responses about the mental health support options available in order to care and support them.

You also need to be sensitive to the idea that those needing care and support may not be able to describe their distress or difficulties and the fact that they may have previously experienced stigma and discrimination in the past and therefore may be reluctant to talk about aspects of their mental health or what has caused their deterioration. You have to be careful not to make assumptions, just respond appropriately, raising concerns if necessary. Be aware that different lifestyles, values and behaviours may be the reasons for these signs, rather than a mental illness or mental health problems. The ability to communicate clearly is important in helping understand their feelings and avoiding any misunderstandings.

You would also be responsible for promoting social inclusion by helping them to maintain positive family and friends relationships, ascertaining if they have peer support and enabling carers to become involved in ongoing support.

Steven Connelly