Byline: Sophie Goodchild
DR LIZ Miller was just 28 when she became ill with manic depression. At the time, she was a successful neurosurgeon but her career imploded after three stints on a psychiatric ward. Now a specialist in occupational health, Dr Miller, 52, has turned her life around with a drug-free therapy called "mood mapping".
This essential skill can be learned over 14 days with her self-help guide published this month. Many therapies focus on negative thought patterns and how to overcome these. But mood mapping is based instead on plotting how you feel and your energy levels at various points throughout the day. recognising your moods and what triggers them, says Dr Miller, gives you the tools to lift your low feelings and improve your mental health.
"Your mood reflects your energy," says the specialist who runs a practice in Fulham. "It's a meter that reveals whether you are calm and collected, or excitable and anxious.
"In a good mood, you can conquer the world; with a bad one, you just want to crawl under the duvet and hide from the world."
A bit of stress is exciting, but too much is overwhelming. Over time, anxiety and stress affect your work and leave you exhausted. It gets harder to recover and harder to find that bit of peace. In China, people take a two-hour lunch break, compared with the half an hour enjoyed by most Londoners.
"This is barely time to unwrap your sandwiches," says Dr Miller, who is cofounder of a support group for doctors with mental health problems.
Described as a "personal SatNav or navigation system", mood mapping can help you find calm and take the edge off your anxieties. It is not a substitute for medication or counselling, although Dr Miller has been off prescription drugs for six years.
"How much energy you have and how good or bad you feel make up our moods. Our lives are defined as much by our moods as they are by our personalities," says Dr Miller.
Here she gives Standard readers an exclusive preview of six of her techniques for feeling good.
TRACK YOUR MOOD
We have four moods. Action is the most popular and is defined by high energy levels and feeling good. The opposite is Calm, where energy levels are low but you still feel good.
At the negative end of the scale is Anxiety. Your energy levels are high but you feel bad. Depression means low energy and feeling bad.
Tip: record your mood three times a day in an exercise book. Book an 'appointment' with yourself in the morning, at lunchtime and in the evening. This way you can rate how you feel over a period of time. …