Parkinson’s Awareness Week 2014


I just wanted to do a quick post to let you know that it’s Parkinson’s Awareness Week this week, if you didn’t already know!

I work with patients who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and it is not just motor problems that they have to deal with – a major consequence of the treatments which target the shaking and other motor symptoms is the psychological impact.

The theme of this years Parkinson’s Awareness Week is Giving Back Control. People who have Parkinson’s disease can lose control of their bodies – they may become unable to put one foot in front of the other, they may lose the ability to communicate, and they may not be able to eat or drink very well due to problems with their throat or jaw. Parkinson’s UK wants us to help give sufferers some control back, simply by understanding the disease more. Knowing why someone is struggling to speak to you, or to move through a doorway, can help you to treat them with more compassion.

To find out more about Parkinson’s disease, and how you can give your support, head here. There are details of how you can support the campaign online, as well as event listings for things happening up and down the country this week to raise money for Parkinson’s UK.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, and please share so more people can help us to give back control!


Peer Mentoring

I always liked the peer mentoring aspect of my two months at medical school. Having people in the year above who helped us through freshers week, navigate the university, tell us which books to buy and which just to borrow.. It all helped with what is a really stressful time.

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I am a terrible blogger.

I have not been posting, I’ve not even been thinking about posting. I wanted to document my experience as a masters student, however it’s not worked out that way at all!

However, with classes for this semester over with, I am going to again try my best to blog regularly. Once a week at this point would be a good aim.

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Pay Day Shopping: Therapeutic?

IMAG0844I got paid last week, and two of my closest friends wanted to meet up for dinner in the city centre that same day. Not only was I looking forward to seeing them, but as soon as I knew I was going to be amongst all those shops, I was excited to spend my hard earned cash!

After they both left, I spent a good two hours wandering around Primark and trying things on. I am the kind of shopper who enjoys having more purchases, rather than one or two things that are more expensive. Primark is perfect when I don’t have a particular item in mind, but just want new clothes! When I got home with my large bag of clothes (and a pair of shoes!) I was in a good mood for the rest of the night.

I’d indulged in a bit of what some people call “retail therapy”. But does shopping, as the phrase suggests, act as a therapeutic tool in terms of elevating our mood, or are the effects not as positive as we think?

Atalay & Meloy (2011) suggest that retail therapy does offer long-lasting mood-lifting effects, and that consumers use shopping as a strategic tool to boost their mood. They conducted three separate studies of differing methods (field study, experiement, self-report diary), which showed evidence of consumers purchasing unplanned self-treats, and showing little anxiety or guilt afterwards. Individuals in the self-reported study recognised where their limits were in terms of expenses, and rarely overindulged. Atalay & Meloy suggest that consumers know their minimum level of consumption needed to repair negative emotions.

Yarrow (2013) discusses some therapeutic effects of going on a shopping trip. Shopping can be a way for people to ease themselves into a transition, by visualising and mentally preparing for anything from a new baby to just a new semester. Visualisation can be helpful in reducing anxiety, so even just thinking about where you could wear that new outfit can calm you down. And that’s before you’ve hit the till! Yarrow also describes how window shopping can provide a mental break from whatever you might be doing. Short breaks have been suggested to improve performance, as unconsciously we are still problem-solving whilst focusing on something else.

However, Hutson (2008) suggests that retail therapy will never work, as it doesn’t provide a permanent solution for our problems. He describes research which implies low self-worth upon feeling down leads us to buy ‘stuff’ to increase our worth. When the ‘shine’ wears off our new purchases, we still have the same problems as we did before. But perhaps with debt added on to that!

Personally, I believe in the therapeutic benefits of going shopping. I think that, as suggested by Atalay & Meloy (2011), if you know your limits, you won’t feel guilt afterwards. Yes, shopping may not rid you of your problems, but it’s a good way of forgetting about them for a while!

What do you think? Is shopping an effective way of boosting our mood? Do you enjoy a bit of retail therapy, or are you the type who just shops when they need to? Let me know in the comments below!

Atalay, A., and Meloy, M. (2011). Retail therapy: A strategic effort to improve mood. Psychology and Marketing, 28 (6), 638-659 DOI: 10.1002/mar.20404

Hutson, M. (2008). Retail Therapy Explained. Retrieved from

Yarrow, K. (2013). Why “Retail Therapy” Works. Retrieved from