Turning up the volume on action.

A personal highlight this week was speaking at the “Turning Up the Volume On Action” conference for Alzheimer’s Society Cymru at City Hall in Cardiff.

The week started normally over a coffee with Steve in Prestatyn, then my usual Monday lunch in Rhyl with friends who are going through a few things currently.

Finally closing with a Prestatyn in Bloom meeting in the evening.

Then I developed a very sore ankle, and I feared what was to follow. Emotionally this past week has been amazing for lots of reasons.

What a volume of emotions I have been through!

There are many different types of emotions that have an influence on how we live and interact with others. At times, it may seem like we are ruled by these emotions. The choices we make, the actions we take, and the perceptions we have are all influenced by the emotions we are experiencing at any given moment.

Psychologists have also tried to identify the different types of emotions that people experience. A few different theories have emerged to categorize and explain the emotions that people feel.

During the 1970s, psychologist Paul Eckman identified six basic emotions that he suggested were universally experienced in all human cultures.

The emotions he identified were:

  • Happiness,
  • Sadness,
  • Disgust,
  • Fear,
  • Surprise,
  • Anger.

He later expanded his list of basic emotions to include such things as pride, shame, embarrassment, and excitement. I have also had all of them this week.

So what has all of this got to do with turning up the volume ?

Let’s start with happiness. Naturally I was very happy and honoured to be invited by Alzheimers Society. To speak at their conference in Cardiff on the 7th March 2019.

 up volume
The start of the turn the volume up on action presentation.

I am very happy that we can promote the work going on in Prestatyn to such a wide audience.

While happiness is considered one of the basic human emotions. The things we think will create happiness are heavily influenced by culture.

For example, pop culture influences tend to emphasize that attaining certain things such as buying a home or having a high-paying job will result in happiness.

The realities of what actually contributes to happiness are often much more complex and more highly individualized.

Sadness.

A type of emotion often defined as a transient emotional state. Characterized by feelings of disappointment, grief, hopelessness, disinterest, and dampened mood. 

There are a number of reasons to be sad recently. I take strength that currently I can manage that sadness.

The truth is, we all deserve to be happy, no matter how we see ourselves.

“People don’t die from suicide, they die from sadness.”

-Unknown

When someone chooses to end their life, that choice is not what kills them. It’s the sadness that dwells within that has taken control. Depression, for instance, is an illness which takes away the willpower to live.

So when you get ready to judge someone for suicide or attempted suicide, please reconsider your stance on the topic.

I have and am about to undergo training to help understand more!

Fear.

Fear is the emotional response to an immediate threat. We can also develop a similar reaction to anticipated threats or even our thoughts about potential dangers, and this is what we generally think of as anxiety. Social anxiety, for example, involves an anticipated fear of social situations.

Some people, (could I possibly be one?) on the other hand, actually seek out fear-provoking situations. Extreme sports and other thrills can be fear-inducing, but some people seem to thrive and even enjoy such feelings.

Repeated exposure to a fear object or situation can lead to familiarity and acclimation, which can reduce feelings of fear and anxiety.

This is the idea behind exposure therapy, in which people are gradually exposed to the things that frighten them in a controlled and safe manner. Eventually, feelings of fear begin to decrease.

I was really fearful on Tuesday that I would not be able to attend the conference on Thursday. It was a struggle to get out of bed due to a severe arthritis attack. I was upset to have to miss a social engagement in the evening. Something I had help arrange and was looking forward to.

On Wednesday the pain was still bad but I managed to get medical attention. I had to be up for 4am on Thursday so went to bed at 10pm on Wednesday not knowing what condition I would wake up in on the day of the event.

The fear that I would let somebody down kept me going. It also led to a warm debate between Jayne my wife and myself. More of that later, just consider What distinguishes stubbornness from determination?

Disgust.

This sense of revulsion can originate from a number of things, including an unpleasant taste, sight, or smell. Researchers believe that this emotion evolved as a reaction to foods that might be harmful or fatal. When people smell or taste foods that have gone bad, for example, disgust is a typical reaction.

I felt disgust this week and vented it on social media.

volume disgust

I was not disgusted with the homeless citizens, but disgusted that people are having to live this way for whatever reason.

Anger.

Now then!

Anger can be a particularly powerful emotion characterized by feelings of hostility, agitation, frustration, and antagonism towards others.

Like fear, anger can play a part in your body’s fight or flight response. When a threat generates feelings of anger, you may be inclined to fend off the danger and protect yourself.

While anger is often thought of as a negative emotion, it can sometimes be a good thing. It can be constructive in helping clarify your needs in a relationship, and it can also motivate you to take action and find solutions to things that are bothering you.

turning up the volume anger.
Presenting at the conference moments after finding out we had just suffered a cyber attack on our online accounts.

I am not scared to admit that I have felt angry a few times this week. For what I guess could be considered major reasons. Thankfully with having lots of really positive things to focus on has helped me through that.

Surprise.

The biggest surprise this week was during our “debrief” in Cardiff was that the establishment were meeting in was once a cinema for porn movies.

You can only imagine the fun and laughter we had after that revelation.

turning up volume in Cardiff

Turn the TV volume up.

On Friday 5th March at 6:30pm on BBC Two. Prestatyn will be featured on the Britain in Bloom series.

The Morfa Gateway project is included please turn up the volume!

Prestatyn High School students being filmed by BBC
Filming with the BBC at The Morfa Gateway Project 2018

Stubbornness or Determination?

So back to the discussion taking place at 5am on Thursday as Jayne was driving me to the station.

“You are are One stubborn person” or words to that effect were said as I promised all would be fine, and I will look after myself.

My reply was “I am not stubborn I am determined”

So then with Four hours to fill on the journey, I run through my presentation timings. Next I look up Stubbornness and Determination.

  • Stubbornness is the unwillingness to change despite having good reason to do so.
  • Determination is the unwavering drive to accomplish something. 

Determination is what everyone who competes on the olympics and most sports have. Most people who get far in their field, have determination. You can’t get anywhere without determination.

Trying something over and over again, expecting different results, that is stubbornness.

The line between the two can be very greyish. It is just that determination is a positive attribute of anyone, stubbornness is not, it is very negative attribute.

Friday night arrives and over a couple of ciders I say to Jayne, “WOW what a week!”

“Oh and by the way I looked up Stubbornness and Determination. Her immediate reply was “I know you were determined to go, but were being stubborn towards me. Negotiation was not an option in your mind, that is being stubborn”

Arh OK, I think after a week of speaking alongside the First Minister, CEO’s, TV presenters, academics and good friends. Time to turn the volume back down.

Your loved ones keep you grounded. Maybe mum taught Jayne far too well.

I like to think mum would be proud of the way we are handling things.

Community Engagement.

I feel very privileged to meet so many nice people in my role as a volunteer at Artisans Collective Communities. Especially when talking about community engagement.

What is Community Engagement?

Community organisations bring local people together to shape their own futures. Community engagement is all about involving communities in your work and giving local people a voice.

It’s essential for understanding your community’s needs and harnessing the talents and ambitions of local people.

Community engagement works best where it is an ongoing process of participation to unlock the power in communities. It’s invaluable in helping you design and deliver projects. Also making sure local people are part of the journey.

From Locality the national membership network supporting local community organisations to be strong and successful.

From the junior artisans to senior figures in major organisations. In the course of a week we engage with them all.

Tuned to your community.

On Friday 22nd February 2019 I was privileged to give a Presentation entitled “Working in partnership for the benefit of the town”. At Canolfan Henblas, Bala, Wellbeing event.

Recently I have attended a number of meetings where it has been stated that more needs to be done about health and wellbeing in the rural community.

According to NHS Wales two particular features distinguish the rural from the urban scene in Wales and both have an impact on health conditions.

They are:

  • The problem of access to services for those living in the remoter communities.
  • Difficulties with integrating services provided for the individual when some are NHS based. With others coming from local government and the voluntary sector.

I was inspired by the work of the nursing team from Dolgellau Hospital.

The presentation before our’s was by Staff Nurse Anne Thomas, from Ysbyty Dolgellau entitled Farming Connect Network.

It was fantastic to hear all about their efforts to engage with, in particular the farming community.

One of the ways they do this by attending farmers markets across North Wales including Ruthin. I mention this because it is in Denbighshire. Therefore relevant to a number of the steering and implementation groups that we currently engage with.

I am told the breakfasts at the market are fantastic. Therefore to complete my research I will be visiting soon!

The engagement techniques may be different but the problems and solutions are similar.

As you can imagine Anne and myself had a really interesting discussion, as a lot of what we do is very similar. Interestingly linking in to national campaigns to raise awareness being one of the key points.

community engagement

”The best way to raise awareness is to make information available whenever and wherever it is needed. We work closely with the Orchid Men’s Health charity which provides information on male cancers. Particularly testicular and prostate. Steven Evans-Jones is the Orchid North Wales Ambassador, covering a large area to give presentations.

The charity would like to train more volunteers to reach out to more men and to do that they need to raise funds.

 “The staff also work closely with the Farming Community Network which is an organisation that supports farmer’s mental health. They provide a helpline for farmers who are experiencing distress for whatever reason.

Volunteers are available to provide practical support for as long as it is required and again, more funding will allow them to train more volunteers. “Both organisations would also like to provide more written information in Welsh and the donations can help us do this.” 

You can see more of Anne’s work and awards here and also here.

It was fantastic for me personally to be invited to attend the event. Seeing a wider picture of what is happening in North Wales really helps me understand what is life is like in areas away from Prestatyn and Denbighshire. Therefore helping us in our input into some of the groups we are working with.

It was a great trip over to Bala. A place I have very fond memories of. Also fantastic to meet so many like minded people.

Social Media and Health.

I use social media and the web in general extensively. However just recently, have become concerned with the way it may be affecting citizens behaviour.

Facebook and Twitter in my experience are good ways of spreading the word about our community groups activities with a wide audience.

My personal usage is generally about positive things in my life or stories and experiences to help others.

There are a number of links to mental health help sites at the foot of this post.

The rise of social media has meant that we as a global population are more connected than we have ever been in the history of time.
However, our reliance on social media can have a detrimental effect on our mental health. With the average Brit checking their phone as much 28 times a day.
While social media platforms can have their benefits. Using them too frequently can make you feel increasingly unhappy and isolated in the long run.


Source: Six ways social media negatively affects your mental health | The Independent

Negative effects of social media.

A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found people who spend the night checking social media are more likely to suffer from mood problems such as neuroticism and bipolar disorder. Also rating themselves as less happy and more lonely.

Analysing data from 91,000 middle-aged people, researchers found those with “poor sleep hygiene”. Such as checking Facebook late at night.

Were 6% more likely to suffer from depression. 11% more likely to have bipolar. And scored their own happiness as 9% lower than those who had good sleep hygiene.

To counter this, Professor Daniel Smith, from the University of Glasgow, who led the research. Suggested a 10pm cut-off point for mobile use would give the average adult time to wind down before switching off the lights.

His recommendation echoes advice from England’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, who warned. “There is increasing public and policy concern about the impact of computer/smartphone screen use, and ‘blue light’, upon human health”.

Most studies examining social media and mental health “aren’t able to determine whether spending more time on social media leads to depression or anxiety. Or if depressed or anxious young people spend more time on social media”. They say “The pathways to mental illness are many and varied, and to suggest mental health problems can be attributed to social media alone. Would be an oversimplification.”

It is also important to note that social media does not affect all people equally, the researchers add, as some individuals may be more susceptible to the negative aspects than others.

Positive effects.

A University of Missouri study that found a link between Facebook use and depression also found that people who use the platform primarily to connect with others do not experience the negative effects. “In fact, when not triggering feelings of envy, the study shows, Facebook could be a good resource and have positive effects on well-being,” Psychology Today reports.

There is also compelling evidence that social media can benefit people already dealing with mental health issues. By helping them build online communities that provide a source of emotional support.

The UK Mental Health Foundation says it is “undeniable” that online technologies can be used to reach the most vulnerable in society, as well as helping to reduce the stigma attached to seeking treatment.

Social media is “invaluable for people with health conditions to know that they are not alone, that there are other people who have gone through this and got better”. Says Professor John Powell, a public health researcher at Oxford University. Who has researched how social media can be used to support people with chronic illnesses.

Helpful Sites

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