Cat Therapy

darcy-mind1Today 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health issues.  Depression and Anxiety are two of the commonly known conditions.  I’ve spent many months finding out the best way to deal with stress and anxiety as it can cause us to stop living life to the full.  There are commonly agreed ways of dealing with anxiety and depression.  I’ve found that getting out the house helps.

I’ve tried Going to yoga and sports classes with some walking each day.  Practising meditation each day is also a useful method of reducing stress.  The benefits are not instant but over time they start to manifest.

I decided that I wanted to do some voluntary work with my local cat shelter and offered to do some photography, to help their cats find new homes.  I find this work very rewarding and when I see these homeless cats, they make my problems seem totally insignificant in comparison.

As well as photographing the cats I decided that I’d also like to visit them and give them some attention.  I find this incredibly therapeutic – it’s almost magic the effect the cats have on me.  I leave the cat shelter after only an hour feeling much better.  I actually believe they will help improve my wellbeing.  Cats are great teachers, they teach me what life is about and to appreciate being alive – something I often forget.

So if you are someone suffering from anxiety or depression perhaps you might consider helping out at your local cat or dog shelter and see the benefits you’ll experience of getting involved.


path1.jpgMindfulness is the new buzz word on everyone’s lips, but what is it exactly?  Well it’s a series of techniques used to help keep us in the present moment and these practises have been know about for thousands of years by Buddhist monks.

Mindfulness is a great way to de-stress your life, especially if you suffer from anxiety and depression.  ‘Mindfulness on the Go‘ by Padraig O’Morain was recommended to me and I am now working my way through the exercises.  It’s a great book for people who are busy and would like to practise Mindfulness but just don’t have time.

The average human has 70 000 thoughts a day.  I know that most of mine are about the past, fantasies and possible negative future situations.

One exercise involves spending only 20 seconds concentrating on breathing in and out of your nostrils.  The idea is to focus on your breathing rather than the thousands of thoughts being processed by your brain every day.

There are now classes in Mindfulness and you’ll be able to find some tutorials on Youtube too.  So when I’m next photographing or filming, I will be doing it ‘mindfully.’  I have already noticed a huge difference in my own stress levels after trying some mindfulness meditations for a couple of weeks.

I especially like going for walks by Loch Leven and walking ‘Mindfully’ focussing on the present moment, the feeling of the soles of my feet against the ground and trying not to let thoughts wander in.  It’s almost impossible to stop thoughts but the whole point of mindfulness is that it’s a training to allow you to be aware of your thoughts and that they are separate from the real ‘you.’

Mindfulness on the Go will be available from some public libraries.