Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

The ‘Human Givens’ Approach

Nov 28 2012

The Human Givens approach provides a mental framework to help us begin to view our emotional life positively rather than negatively: rather than seeing our personal ‘intray’ always as a pile of problems and change as frightening, there is the possibility of seeing it all as a series of opportunities. Click here to find out more.

Below is an extended piece of text from one of their website pages:

Every single one of us is born with essential physical and emotional needs and, if we are born healthy, the innate resources to help us fulfill them. These innate needs have evolved over millions of years and are our common biological inheritance, whatever our cultural background. It is because these needs and resources are incorporated into our very biology that they have become known as the human ‘givens’. Our innate needs seek their fulfillment through the way we interact with the environment using the resources nature ‘gave’ us. But when our emotional needs are not being met, or we are using our resources incorrectly, we suffer considerable distress. And so can those around us. In everyday terms, it is by meeting our physical and emotional needs that we survive and develop as individuals and a species. As animals we are born into a material world where we need air to breathe, water, nutritious food and sleep. These are the paramount physical needs. Without them, we quickly die. We also need the freedom to stimulate our senses and exercise our muscles. In addition, we instinctively seek sufficient and secure shelter where we can grow and reproduce ourselves and bring up our young. These physical needs are intimately bound up with our emotional needs — the main focus of human givens psychology“.

There is widespread agreement as to the nature of our emotional needs. The main ones are listed below. Our fundamental emotional needs are:

• Security — safe territory and an environment which allows us to develop fully
• Attention (to give and receive it) — a form of nutrition
• Sense of autonomy and control — having volition to make responsible choices
• Feeling part of a wider community
• Emotional intimacy — to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, “warts ‘n’ all”
• Privacy — opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience
• Sense of status within social groupings
• Sense of competence and achievement
• Meaning and purpose — which come from being stretched in what we do and think.

Along with physical and emotional needs nature gave us guidance systems to help us meet them. We call these ‘resources’. The resources nature gave us to help us meet our needs include:

• The ability to develop complex long term memory, which enables us to add to our innate knowledge and learn
• The ability to build rapport, empathise and connect with others
• Imagination, which enables us to focus our attention away from our emotions, use language and problem solve more creatively and objectively
• Emotions and instincts
• A conscious, rational mind that can check out emotions, question, analyse and plan
• The ability to ‘know’ — that is, understand the world unconsciously through metaphorical pattern matching
• An observing self — that part of us that can step back, be more objective and be aware of itself as a unique centre of awareness, apart from intellect, emotion and conditioning
• A dreaming brain that preserves the integrity of our genetic inheritance every night by metaphorically defusing expectations held in the autonomic arousal system because they were not acted out the previous day.

As we mentioned above, it is such needs and tools that, together, make up the human givens: nature’s genetic endowment to humanity. Over enormous stretches of time, they underwent continuous refinement as they drove our evolution on. They are best thought of as inbuilt patterns — biological templates — that continually interact with one another and (in undamaged people) seek their natural fulfillment in the world in ways that allow us to survive, live together as many-faceted individuals in a great variety of different social groupings, and flourish.

It is the way those needs are met, and the way we use the resources that nature has given us, that determine the physical, mental and moral health of an individual. As such, the human givens are the benchmark position to which we must all refer — in education, mental and physical health and the way we organise and run our lives. When we feel emotionally fulfilled and are operating effectively within society, we are more likely to be mentally healthy and stable. But when too many innate physical and emotional needs are not being met in the environment, or when our resources are used incorrectly, unwittingly or otherwise, we suffer considerable distress. And so do those around us.”

Depression: Where to get the best information and how to find Help

Nov 28 2012

This is a UK charity with a huge amount of open access information and free resources. It offers a large range of publications, many of them free downloads. It is good platform to help you to understand about depression, treatment options and assist you making a choice.  They also offer various types of support, such as self-help groups, an online support forum, and volunteer helpers.

For a good general briefing, download the depression facts sheet on.  This has a helpful list of symptoms, explains various forms of depression, and lists a range of typical treatments.  They also offer an advice and information service by phone or email.

Books that can Help:

Taken from Alan Heek’s  book

‘5 A DAY’ Healthy Eating

Nov 27 2012

The following advice is based on the UK Government Department of Health and NHS Guidelines and Recommendations.

The following count towards your ‘5 A DAY’:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Frozen fruit and vegetables.
  • Tinned or canned fruit and vegetables. Buy the ones tinned in natural juice or water, with no added sugar or salt.
  • Dried fruit, such as currants, dates, sultanas and figs.
  • Fruit and vegetables cooked in dishes such as soups, stews or pasta dishes.
  • A glass (150ml) of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice. Note that juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day, however much you drink. This is mainly because juice contains less fibre than whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Smoothies. A smoothie containing all of the edible pulped fruit and/or vegetable may count as more than one portion but this depends on how it’s made. Smoothies count as up to a maximum of two portions per day.
  • Beans and pulses. These only count as one portion a day, no matter how many you eat. That’s because they contain fewer nutrients than other fruits and vegetables.
  • Fruit and veg in convenience foods, such as ready meals and shop-bought pasta sauces, soups and puddings. However, some ready-made foods are high in salt, sugar and fat, so only have them occasionally or in small amounts. When you are shopping, it is a good idea to check the salt, sugar and fat content of ready-made foods on the printed food label.

‘5 A DAY’ from the above list might seem possible, but you may still be feeling short of ideas. Here is a helpful way of expanding your thinking about where to find different fruit and vegetable serving:

  • Open one: Canned fruit and veg count too. Choose canned fruit in unsweetened natural juice and vegetables in water.
  • Defrost one: Frozen fruit and veg count, it only takes a couple of minutes to microwave some frozen peas for your omelette.
  • Drink one: One 150ml glass of 100% unsweetened fruit or vegetable juice can count as a portion (but remember only 1 glass counts).
  • Sprinkle one: Try sprinkling pepper, onion, mushroom, sweetcorn or pineapple chunks on top of a thin-based pizza.
  • Breakfast one : Add fruit to cereal, porridge or lower fat yoghurt – a handful of berries or a chopped banana is lovely.
  • Lunch one: Add some crunch to your sandwiches with cucumber, grated carrot or tomato, and have a piece of fruit..
  • Pulse one: Add beans, lentils and pulses to stews, bakes and salads, but remember, only 1 of your ‘5 A DAY’ can come from pulses.
  • Side-dish one: Have a salad or veg with your main meal. If you are having a roast dinner make sure you have also got some carrots or broccoli on your plate.
  • Add one: Add canned, frozen or fresh veg to your meals to make them even tastier: For example, add chopped carrots to spag bol , or add red peppers to a pasta sauce, or mix peas into your mashed potato.
  • Dip one: Dunk veg in lower fat dip, lower fat cheese spread or salsa – sticks of cucumber, peppers, carrots or even cauliflower are delicious.

Websites for Healthy Eating

If you find yourselves short of ideas for ‘5 A  DAY’ healthy eating, try the following online:

  • Google “5 a day recipes for the best way to find inspiration!
  • Go to BBC Good Food – the BBC online food web pages have an enormous number of easy to follow recipes. Put “5 a day” into the search to get specific ideas about cooking with more vegetables.
  • Go to All Recipes for another very good site with a large number of “5 a day” recipes.
  • You can also find more information and recipes at the NHS Livewell online site


Exercise: Bicycling in the UK

Nov 27 2012

The UK registered charity, Sustrans, has created the brilliant National Cycle Network for the whole British Isles. As well as being a great way to travel and good for your health, the growing Network makes an important contribution to improving the environment, and also helps you have more possibilities to reduce your carbon footprint. Cycling on the Network is on a mix of on-road and traffic routes.

Go to the Sustrans website : all the information you need is here! The website also has a huge Resources section, which includes links to all the main bicycling organizations in the UK, and also similar cycling and environmental projects to be found in Europe and beyond.


Exercise: Green Gyms

Nov 27 2012

The first UK “Green Gym” project was pioneered at Sonning Common to the west of London in 1999 (/).

Since then several more Green Gym projects have got going in the UK under the BTCV volunteering umbrella. Sometimes in cities as well as the countryside, they are always well supervised, work is graded for its intensity and suitable for all ages and levels of fitness.

One of the aims of The Conservation Volunteers scheme is to encourage and train volunteers to take over managing the Green Gym groups themselves with our support. With The Conservation Volunteers support, Haringey Green Gym recently got funding through ITV’s People Millions.