Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Self-facial massage for exam stress, anxiety and overwhelm

Self-facial massage for exam stress, anxiety and overwhelm

Self-facial massage for exam stress, anxiety and overwhelm

An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

We are now really in the thick of the exam season and we need to look after our children’s and young people’s mental health more than ever before.

This year group have had so much learning missed; social and emotional growing missed out on and have had the brunt of the consequences of Covid.

Many are having to sit their exams WITH Covid.

The pressure on them and their teachers is enormous.

Our neurodiverse children do not forget already have much higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their bodies since birth and are already 2-6x more likely to pick up a mental health issue. We need to be proactive rather than reactive in helping them to self-manage and self-regulate during this incredibly stressful time.

This week I have shared a few facial massage tips which can be shared on a friends and family basis, shared by therapists in their sessions or be self-administered.

They are very discreet and can even be used during the exams themselves when you feel they overwhelm building.

All the main four neurotransmitters are stimulated with the strokes, releasing love, nurture, clarity, focus, concentration, attention, feeling able to cope and function, as well as levelling out mood and aggression and helping us to feel calm. It will also promote deeper and more restful sleep – vital before such important exams and all the pressure they carry.

I am honestly thinking of you ALL.

Take care this week and keep that huge, long Summer in your mind as the light at the end of the tunnel.

Lots of love, Giuliana

Self-facial massage for exam stress, anxiety and overwhelm

Self-facial massage for exam stress, anxiety and overwhelm

Easy exam breathing and massage stress busters

Easy exam breathing and massage stress busters

An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

It is that time of year again where GCSE’s and A levels begin.

As if Covid has not been enough to deal with, robbing our children of huge chunks of their education not to mention emotional and social growth, we now have many of our neurodiverse young people going through this sausage meat, one size fits all system without a formal diagnosis or any support whatsoever due to waiting lists of 3-5 years.

We need to stay as strong and positive as we can. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or sick with anxiety, I look at my hand and think to myself “Ok, outside of my hand is what I can’t control or change – but inside my hand is what I can do to handle this.”

By putting the body and brain in a proactive rather than reactive state, this will automatically reduce that chance for fight or flight to kick in.

The very discreet, easy breathing and self-massage techniques I have shared this week all stimulate non adrenaline which is the chief combat to stress.

Serotonin (the neurotransmitter of happiness, confidence, self-esteem) as well as dopamine (the neurotransmitter of concentration, attention, focus, clarity of thought) are both pushed up from the gut and into the brain.

Blood and oxygen are also pushed up into the brain just surging it with focus and concentration.

I so feel for you all. You have all been through so much. Just please remember you can only do your best and that SO SO much learning is done outside of four classroom walls. These exams certainly do not define you.

I am living proof of that. Not only did I invent my own job, but I now give talks and webinars all over the world on neuroscience …. And I barely scraped my science GCSE!

YOU define you and getting exams purely shows you can pass exams and tick boxes. It does not encourage learners or seekers.

Employers now do not just look at exam grades. They look at other skills like hyper focus, team building, passion, emotional and social intelligence.

I am a recent training I did we were told that the statistics are “IQ may get you the job but EQ (emotional intelligence) and SQ (social intelligence) will get you the promotion “.

So, I am thinking of you all over the coming weeks and I believe in you ALL.

Just do your best in an outdated system where no one really thrives and know that not only do you have the best and longest Summer ahead but the rest of your amazing lives too!

Take care, Giuliana xx




Arm stroking - always downwards

Arm stroking – always downwards 

Arm stroking - always downwards

Arm stroking – always downwards 

Arm squeezing – always downwards

Neck massaging or stretching

Neck massaging or stretching 

Hair squeezing

Hair squeezing 

Centre of palm rotations

Centre of palm rotations 

Mental health musings of an autistic mind- article by Tess Eagle Swan

Mental health musings of an autistic mind- article by Tess Eagle Swan

Mental health musings of an autistic mind – an article by Tess Eagle Swan

Mental health

What does it mean to me? Autistic me.

It is a battle ship that sails on often stormy seas. Sometimes the storms are so ferocious the ship is full of water and feels like sinking. Smashed by waves of overwhelming and meltdown, drowning in misunderstandings, crashing into rocks of bad communication, hurled by winds of rejection, unacceptance and judgment.

Click here to read the full article.

Please click here for details of Tess’s book.

Mental health awareness week – Daniel Docherty

Mental health awareness week – Daniel Docherty

Mental health awareness week – an article by Daniel Docherty

Mental health, a term too often dispersed and spread around nonchalantly in 21st century society. A term utilised manipulatively by marketing companies and social media to lure the public into a false sense of sincerity. A term attributed to the functioning of an enigmatic part of human existence that experts still don’t fully understand.

This then begs the question, what is this complex concept known as mental health? Despite its popularity and elevation to the status of a ‘buzzword,’ it does have a practical application and effect in the real world. Mental health is a state of mind. Good mental health is in essence a state of mind in which balance and order are present and disturbances are kept to a minimum. It is the state in which your mind is healthy.

Just like the health of our physical bodies, good mental health and well-being is vitally important to our existence and quality of life as a whole. If this state of psychological homeostasis is not achieved, it can have detrimental effects on one’s life and potentially devastating outcomes. Almost everyone on this planet experiences adversities and disturbances to their mental state to varying degrees and for differing durations, but most overcome these difficult times in their life. For others, the adversities are chronic and can even result in a more egregious fate.

On a macro scale it has reached the level of a pandemic with nearly every country experiencing heightened numbers of suicides and people availing of social and psychological services. The phenomenon also seems to be getting younger as well. This can in part be explained by a society that breeds the notion of acceptance and awareness without substance and sufficient supports in place.

This can also be explained by environmental changes such as the rise of technology and social media, greater disparities in wealth, pollution, the modern diet, and a transition from a collective society unified by common goals and beliefs to one that has become highly globalised and hyper fixated on individualism. While this has never been perfect, societies now more than ever tend to lack a coherent bond, identity, and inherently genuine support system for those who are suffering in silence from an invisible virus.

From a Psychological perspective, this chronic level of adversity and disturbance to an individual’s mental state is pervasive throughout many neurodevelopmental and other cognitive related conditions such as Autism, Anxiety Disorder, Depression, ADHD, OCD etc. Many people like myself who have conditions like these battle on a daily basis to try and achieve some kind of balance or stability in their cognition, despite often giving off the appearance that they are in a state of mental homeostasis.

With all that said the chance of a good quality of life can seem hopeless for some. A seemingly predetermined life of despair and suffering. Contrary to this line of thinking, it does not have be that way as there are positive changes that can be implemented. For those who are fortunate enough to be in a good state of mental health and genuinely care about others well-being, you can help by raising awareness of the issues and pushing for a better healthcare system.

You can also look out for and try to help people who are close to you that may be struggling, whether it be your family, friends, or neighbours. Despite this we do ultimately live in an individualised society and often times it is only you who can truly improve your own mental health by bringing about positive changes in your own life.

While it is easier said than done here are some things you can do in your own life to instigate a positive change going forward. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Try to make small improvements to your diet, whether that is eating more, eating less, or changing the types of foods you eat to be healthier. Try to reduce time spent on social media platforms such as Instagram, where everyone’s lives can seem perfect. Try to exercise as much as possible, whether that is in the form of joining a sport, lifting weights in the gym, or even just going for a short walk every day, as it can improve your physical and mental state. Another key technique is to try and focus on only the things that are in your control.

All too often we get fixated and worried about events that we cannot do anything about which further plays into our negative thinking patterns. It is about breaking these patterns by taking a hold of things that we can control. For instance, we cannot control what others will do or say, but we can control how we choose to react. Another helpful strategy is to plan out your day as best as you can by creating a daily routine and attempting to stick to it as best as possible.

This should reinforce positive change as we are taking back control of our lives. Try also to find something that you excel at and/or are passionate about and try to set small realistic goals that are attainable in order to improve your skills and build confidence in your life.

You can also use rewards for these goals to help incentivise the process. This will help fill your time, keeping your mind occupied and focused on improving yourself going forward. As you progress you should start to gain confidence in yourself and your abilities resulting in increased self-esteem and self-worth.

In conclusion it is not easy to make these changes to improve your mental state and takes a lot of hard work to change your life for the better, but once you achieve these goals you should be well on your way to obtaining a state of good mental health. Although these methods and strategies can be effective, it is still important to talk to someone you trust or a healthcare professional such as a psychologist. And always remember never give up!

Mental health awareness week – Paul Isaacs

Mental health awareness week – Paul Isaacs

Mental health awareness week – an article by Paul Isaacs 

Mechanisms Of Mental Health

Mental health is something that can and does change over time, the world moves on regardless and so do you.

Sometimes this is not the internal feeling however this can be influenced by many different, nuanced, person centred and often inter linking factors.

  • Core beliefs (warped worldviews vs. connected authentic outlooks) 
  • Self-Reflection (the ability to manage your own selfhood) 
  • Information Processing (the way in which the brain filters information)
  • Nervous System Responses (many mental health conditions mean the nervous system is overused) 
  • Emotional Regulation (the ability to recognise, filter and mange yours and others emotional frequencies)
  • Environment (caregiving, educational & community)
  • Attachment, Friendship & Relationship Dynamics (poor boundaries, emotional incest, projection & manipulative behaviours)

Everything Is Linked 

These factors (in various guises, degrees, and presentations) will have an impact on someone’s idea of “self”, personal expectations vs. connected one’s, perception of danger and threat, how one internalises their own emotions and healthy spaces for expressing and objective reasoning, boundaries, and healthy modelling of friendships and relationships.

Paul Isaacs 2022 

Self-facial massage for exam stress, anxiety and overwhelm

The five step self-holding exercise for self-regulation

The five step self-holding exercise for self-regulation of anxiety, PTSD, and mental health 

An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!

It is Mental Health Awareness Week …. But mental health issues can be lifelong. If only they were just for a week!!

And what does the word “awareness” even mean?! It is an empty nod for 1 week to what is now the new pandemic for so many people.

It should be renamed Mental Health Education Week, and this is what I want to share this week.

Here in the UK, we have the hugest suicide rate in the world.

Pre Covid the statistics were that if you are autistic or have another type of neurodivergence, you would be 2-6x as likely to pick up a mental health illness than someone who is neurotypical. I wonder what on Earth the figures are now??

Fifty percent of mental health illness is laid down before the age of fourteen and 75% before the age of twenty-four.

So, let us literally take this in hand.

This week’s video shows a 5-step self-holding exercise that absolutely anyone can do to help self-regulate mental health illnesses such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression.

After just 20 seconds of touch, it is now neuroscientifically proven that the neurotransmitter oxytocin is released. This stimulates that feeling of love and nurture as well as opening up our emotional intelligence so we can think clearly, read and process faces and situations, improve our social cognition, have empathy and compassion.

It is also very empowering to self-regulate, to take charge and have the tools to manage the not-so-good days. For those who are touch averse, by putting them in control of the touch stimulates trust and openness. THEY are in charge of that touch and pressure.

You can also use these simple holding techniques on each other on a friends and family basis or get your classrooms of students to do it for themselves if you are a teacher.

If you are a therapist, please feel free to use these simple holding techniques as part of your sessions.

Take care everyone.

Look after and out for each other.

Look after yourselves too so that you are not pouring from an empty cup.

And most of all Be Kind to everyone you meet because we all carry journeys and stories inside us.

See you next week.

Love, Giuliana xx

The five step self-holding exercise for self-regulation
Mental Health and wellbeing Campaign