Restoring your balance.

When was the last time you took half an hour for yourself? Can you remember what it feels like to sit and be comfortable in silence ? Or does your world constantly feel like a busy noisy whirlwind ?

Life is hectic. There is no doubting that. Juggling things like work, family, friends and fitness. It all takes time and it can often be all consuming. Running a household, keeping on top of a home, finances, running a car and even looking after your health. It all leads to very busy days and very busy weeks. And ultimately to feeling as though there is no head space. Or as though there is no time for you.

The reality is that if we try to make sure we cover all of the above, and we do our best to do them well, then we can feel stretched in too many directions. And sometimes as though we are doing a lot, but achieving very little. It can also feel that while we are spending time with people, we aren’t fully present. Because the heads too full and there is very little to give.

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If you recognise this then your currently struggling to strike the balance. You will know the signs. Perhaps your feeling exhausted, run down, or maybe you keep getting ill. Perhaps you find yourself turning to food or alcohol as a coping mechanism for your stress. Maybe the smallest of things are upsetting you. You might be feeling tense and anxious a lot of the time. If this is the case then you are in the world of burn out. And your balance definitely needs restoring.

Stop. Pause. Think about your life. What does it look like? If I asked you to draw a circle and then split it into the sections of your life. What would that image look like? How large would each section be? What colour would it be shaded? What feeling would come from each section?

For some people too much for the circle might be taken up with work, for others family or children. Some on the other hand might be all consumed with health issues, money worries or addictive behaviours. Everyone is different. What does your life circle look like? And what does it say about you?

Reflect on what you see, and evaluate what you feel. What would you like to be different ? How could you achieve more of a balance? Is there something you could give more time too or something you do less of. It’s important to restore balance and it’s equally important to do what makes you happy and what makes you feel good.

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To live a balanced life we need time for ourselves. Even if it is half an hour a day. We need some time to reflect, to pause and slow down. Some people find me time when they are in the bath, or walking, reading, writing, drawing or perhaps listening to music. There are many distractions to fill time. Such as social media, television, food, company, alcohol etc. But the most valuable time is spent slowing down, and taking care of ourselves. Try and create a window in your day for you. Block it out in your diary if you need too. Make it happen.

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Achieving balance means keeping fit and healthy. But it doesn’t mean taking this to extremes. There is no need to spend your life exercising or worrying about what you eat. Try to head for the place of moderation. It does exist. Aim to exercise a few times a week and to eat balanced diet. This means having things like salad, fruit and vegetables. But it also means having things like pizza, chocolate and wine. There are no rules. There are no good or bad foods. Work towards balance.

The same goes the other way. Try to avoid drinking or eating to excess. It’s good to have a night out and off steam. But if it becomes dependency then there is an issue. And if it’s something your turning to all the time, especially during stressful periods, then it’s not good for you. Think about your relationship with alcohol and food. Or even drugs if that’s an issue for you. Look at the amount you are using things and think about how you might like to do things differently. Work out a balance that suits you.

RBLOG4Maintaining a healthy balance also extends to areas of our life like work, finance, and running our homes. We need and have to devote time to these areas. But none of them should be extreme. Never get too busy making a life that you forget to make a living. Ensure that you don’t spend all your time working. Create some down time, even if it is small windows. Money is an issue for many people, there is no doubting that. Try to organise your finances in a way that they don’t cause you extreme stress or worry. Remember to try and find enjoyment in the small things.

It doesn’t have to be extreme. The same goes for running a home, taking care of a family etc. Yes it’s important to have things clean and tidy, but there is no need to spend all day trying to create perfection. And yes it’s important to spend quality time with loved ones, including children. But it is equally important to spend quality time with you. Never let any one area of your life dictate or take over. Step back. Evaluate and make a plan. A plan the includes you. A plan that makes time for you. And a plan that ensures your head doesn’t feel so over loaded it can’t take any more.

Life is like learning to ride a bike. You need your balance to do it. Without our balance we are wobbly, lost and unfocused. Get back on your bike. Focus and find your way.

Today.

Finding light in darkness

There’s been a demon living in my head, she answers to my name, she tells me I’m not worthy, that life is only pain.

I’m not sure when it started, I’m not sure when it will end,
But I do know life feels easier when I don’t have to pretend.

I cry in dark corners, where nobody ever goes,
I wear my smile so proudly, so no one ever knows.

I feel clouded by the darkness,
I feel scared I will never see light,
Writing used to be my healing, but my pens been out of sight.

Depression is not just sadness, it is a complex state of mind
It takes away all meaning, it can be incredibly unkind.

It tells you life’s not worth living, it tells you life’s black and white,
It creeps up on you whilst your sleeping, in the middle of the night.

But recently something happened, things took a different turn, I was reminded in an instant when my heart began to burn, that it all can change so quickly, you never really understand, the fragility of life until you are dealt a different hand.

I was reminded of the people, who I love so very much, the ones who keep me going, when life just feels too tough.

So, as I sit here writing, tears rolling down my face, I needed you to know that in my heart you have a special place.

Your smile it gives me comfort,
Your eyes tell me it’s ok,
Just your presence and your nature give me the strength to fight another day.

You give me hope when I feel hopeless,
You listen when I feel lost,
You sit with me through darkness, no matter what the cost.

You walk with me through storms,
You help me face my fears,
You show me that there is meaning and words beneath my tears,

There’s been times when I’ve felt broken, failed to see what’s in plain sight,
You’ve helped me to keep going, given me belief that I can fight.

You remind me of a shooting star, your smile so bright and rare, every time I see you, you let me know you care.

I am humbled by your passion, I am humbled by your grace
I am humbled by your soul, you feel like my safe place.

You said, once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up,
It takes courage and commitment but it’s better than staying stuck.

You said, this life is not always easy, there will be ups and there will be downs, but no matter how much you think you want to, please don’t let yourself drown.

So, I will keep on treading water, gaining strength along the way.
I will continue to keep fighting, be thankful for each day.

In this poem lies a meaning, a lesson to be learned,
What if we always wait for tomorrow but tomorrow never comes?

So, stop waiting for the future, stop worrying about the how,
The only way to live our life is to love what we have now.

We’ll never really know how much we need the sun, until it doesn’t rise at all,
Reach out to those you love, a hug, a text, a call.

Don’t wait until the ending until you start to live,
You’re stronger than you realise, you have so much to give.

This is the story of your life, it’s you who holds the pen. I hope you can keep on writing until the very end.

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Finding your voice

Asking for what we need….

Saying how we truly feel…

Expressing our thoughts and emotions…

Sharing vulnerability…

Saying when we are angry or hurt…

Telling someone the impact they have had on us…

Technically these would be the easiest things for any of us to do.  Finding our own voice is something we all need to be able to do. Articulating ourselves is something we all want and crave. After all if we are true to ourselves and express what is going on for us – then we are at peace with who we are and we are honest with those around us.

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So why is it so hard???

Fear often plays a big part – fear of rejection, fear of being let down, hurt or seen in a certain way.  Fear of showing vulnerability or admitting that you need something or someone. Fear of showing emotions – wondering how they may be received. Fear of loss, of confrontation – the list is endless.

Past experiences – we all learn what we live after all. And If you grew up in a world where you weren’t shown how to use your voice or express your needs. Then you learn to suppress, accommodate and to always please. You become a person who puts others needs before their own – and gradually you forget that its even ok to have your own needs.

Addictions and mental health issues can also play a part. Often people struggle with things like depression, anxiety or eating disorders. Or they self-medicate with the use of alcohol, drugs or sex – to name just a few. What once was balanced becomes addictive – exercise, social media – you name it. Escapism – people get lost in a world that isn’t real. They avoid, they detach – and the whole time they are doing that – they aren’t thinking about what they really need. Let alone truly asking for it or expressing it.

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There are many reasons that people do not assert themselves and many things that impact on the way that people find their voice. We live in a world where we are encouraged to not rock the boat. We are taught to fit in to society, to merge and mould and ultimately to conform. But does that make people truly happy??? All the while they spend pleasing others and focusing on other peoples needs – they neglect their own. All the time they do what is expected of them – they don’t do the things that they truly need.

What would your life look like if you stepped back for a moment and thought about what you truly need??? What would it be like if you were to actually say yes to what you want to say yes to and no when you truly meant no? Would it be ok to say you don’t feel like doing something ? Would it be ok to say I need this and Id like this ? Is it ok to express who you truly are?

Imagine a world where we all did that……

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Internally people would feel so much more at peace and so much calmer. Because they would be doing the things they truly want to do and they would be living a life that makes them feel fulfilled. Communication would be improved so much – it would be so much more open. People would be able to express what it is that they feel and need. Relationships would be more fulfilling. They would be more meaningful. And every individual’s day to day life would be calmer and happier.

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The next time someone really hurts you – tell them.

The next time someone lets you down – let them know your hurting.

The next time you disagree with something – say so.

The next time you don’t want to do something – say no.

The next time you prefer something – express your preference.

The next time you want to something – work for it.

The next time you need something – make it happen.

The next time you feel content – hold on to it.

The next time you feel anxious – express it.

The next time your struggling – try to work through it.

The next time you feel insecure – discuss those insecurities.

The next time your scared – express it.

The next time your angry – assert yourself.

None of this is straight forward and it is a constant work in progress. But if you make that your aim – if you try to apply this every day throughout your life. Then you will be on a much more positive path and you will find your voice. Its ok to be you, its more then ok to feel what you feel and its ok to express it.

You’ve got this.

Couples in crisis.

Often relationships can break down for a variety of reasons.  People can find that they stop communicating, that they stop making time for each other and that they begin to take each other for granted.  Sometimes the pressure of work, or of having a family , can place a huge strain on a couple – and people can end of growing apart.

Sometimes one partner may have their own individual issues and this can be impacting a lot on the relationship. This could be something like an addiction – such as alcohol, gambling or drugs.  Or it could be severe lack of self esteem and insecurities which can cause someone to become very low and to get very jealous and at times controlling of their partner.  Perhaps one partner my be suffering from a bereavement, or some form of depression.

Whatever the reason, if one person is struggling, this can have a major impact on a relationship and cause people to get more upset with each other, argue more, or to become more distant.

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Sometimes infidelity can be the cause of problems and issues within a relationship.  One partner may have an affair, or be unfaithful on one occasion.  Either way this can destroy trust and lead to a lot of problems within a relationship.  Infidelity can be physical but it can also be emotional – for example someone may share more of themselves with another person outside of the relationship or talk to someone else about what they are feeling or experiencing.  This can cause intimacy to grow outside of the relationship which can lead a relationship to shut down and cause a  lot of distance / problems within it

Sometimes people decide that the relationship they are in just isn’t working any more. However often people want to try and work on their relationship, and see if they can improve it.  If this is the case then the following can often help –

  • Improving general communication within the relationship
  • Being honest with each other
  • Showing respect for one another
  • Making time for each other
  • Helping and supporting one another
  • Working on intimacy
  • Listening to each other
  • Making one another a priority
  • Talking about where you feel things went wrong

Sometimes people find it really hard to do these things on their own. This is where couples counselling can really help. It is a neutral environment where people can share their feelings and emotions with someone outside of the relationship.  Someone experienced in the area of relationships and someone who will remain unbiased throughout the sessions.

Couples often start counselling when things have got to a really difficult place in their relationship.  Counselling can of course still help at this point.  However it is really useful to start counselling earlier if possible, and to begin the process before things come to a head.  This can really help people.  So if a couple are starting to have problems and their relationship is getting into difficulty, then it is well worth getting in touch and starting some counselling.  It may sound scary but it can really help.

Often people think of couples counselling as the last resort.  But it isn’t like this.  It can be the right place to come and deal with things before their needs to be a last resort.

At your counselling service we work with a lot of couples.  And we offer them flexibility when it comes to appointments – daytime, evenings or weekends.  We recognise that life can be busy and it can be difficult to fit everything in.  So if you or anyone you know would benefit from couples counselling please do get in touch. The testimony below shows how it really helps.

07590 663938 or info@yourcounsellingservice.co.uk

We found Hayley when we were looking for help to deal with some problems that were affecting an otherwise loving relationship. We weren’t sure what to expect from relationship counselling, and our main concern was to find someone who seemed down-to-earth and realistic, and who could connect with us and identify with our problems. This is exactly what we found with Hayley.

She quickly put us at ease, allowing us to talk openly without feeling judged, and as a result we both felt committed to the sessions. At times when things were tense between us, Hayley was great at giving us some perspective and even a bit of humour. She helped us to understand how our up-bringing, previous relationships and day-to-day stresses might be affecting us. One of our big problems was difficulty in communicating when things got stressful; Hayley helped us overcome this and see things from the others perspective. She was also honest with us, so that we didn’t expect things to get better overnight, or everything to always be perfect.

The most valuable things we got from the sessions as a couple were a much better understanding of each other, as well as feeling far more relaxed about talking things through together. Both of these mean that we now feel much better equipped to deal with life’s ups and downs, and much more positive about the future together”. 

Anonymous couple – relationship counselling with hayley.

 

 

Co dependent relationships.

Have you ever found yourself lost in a relationship? Asking yourself who you are? Wondering how you ended up being treated this way?

Have you ever found yourself saying yes all the time? Apologising for everything? And constantly making excuses for someone’s behaviour?

If these questions resonate with you, then we are talking about co-dependency.

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Perhaps you are still in a co-dependent relationship, or maybe you are currently trying to break away from one.  Either way it is an incredibly dark and painful place to be in.  You can end up questioning your own mind and decision making, while feeling that you constantly need approval.  Your identity becomes so wrapped up in making another person happy that you forget that you have needs.

Co dependent relationships are dysfunctional and often one person supports or enables another person’s addiction.  They could also tolerate another person’s poor mental health, immaturity or irresponsibility to a very unhealthy level.

ms2Alcohol and drug addiction are the most common, but addiction can also apply to work, food, exercise or sex for example. When living in a co dependent relationship life can be extremely draining, isolating and soul destroying.

Someone who is codependent will put up with so much more than anyone else. They will allow someone to treat them in a way that they never thought they would, and they can end up feeling totally degraded, dis respected and hurt. It can be a very hard cycle to break, and often people find it so hard to break away from codependent relationships, that they end up staying unhappy for a very long time.

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Being codependent means that you will always put another person’s needs before your own. You won’t know how to ask for what it is that you need – and you will always find yourself apologising for anything and everything. Scared to upset that person or worried about hurting or disappointing them.

It could be something as simple as choosing what you want to eat for dinner one evening, or deciding what film to watch. Or it could be more complex in terms of your career, family, friends or even children.

Living with an addict can be hell.  That person loses and immerses themselves totally in something else.  They don’t see you or hear you, and they don’t know how to relate to you. They prioritise something over you at literally any cost.  As a result you are left feeling not good enough, not attractive enough, not worth being loved etc.  And as a result the codependent cycle gets worse, as you can find yourself desperately trying to make that person happy in any way you can.

The reality is – that will never happen.  Unless a person wants to change, or values themselves enough to make an effort, then they won’t take the time to improve their addiction. And unless they value you and the relationship enough then they won’t take the time or effort to nurture what’s right in front of them.

The sad thing is that person will end up losing everything and will then blame the codependent partner for the relationship break down. It is as this point that being codependent can be even more damaging.  Because everything in you will scream to you about going back, making up for your mistakes, fear of failure, desire to make it better, fear of the unknown, and of what everyone else thinks etc.  It is at this crucial moment that you need to remember the following –

  • You deserve to be loved
  • You deserve to be respected
  • You are worth more than this
  • You have needs and they do deserve to be met
  • True love is about respect and honesty
  • People don’t change unless they truly admit that they have a problem
  • There is another life waiting for you
  • If you work on your own self esteem then you will feel better about who you are
  • Remember to value and respect yourself
  • Remember that you deserve to be happy
  • Remember to never let anyone treat you like this again
  • Believe in yourself and the rest will follow

People become codependent for all kinds of reasons. Often their self-esteem and self-worth is very low.  So they spend their life trying to please others.  That is where therapy can help.  It takes time to learn to truly love you and to allow yourself to be truly loved.  But healing is possible.

Often people that have experienced things like abuse or eating disorders are very codependent.  This is because they have never known how to ask for what it is that they need. So everything comes about external validation and pleasing others.  Again therapy can really help with this.

As can working on yourself.

No matter how hard or painful it is, never give up, and never go back to something that hurt you to the point where you no longer knew who you were.

www.yourcounsellingservice.co.uk

Learning to trust

Trust is such a difficult and complex thing. For many people they wouldn’t question trusting someone and they would be able to take things at face value. But imagine if your trust has been broken. If it has been shattered in a way you never thought possible. Would you then be able to easily take things at face value again???

Relationships are complex and they are fragile. At the heart of any relationship is trust. It is fundamental and it is the primary foundation. Without it people are likely to feel unsafe, insecure, on edge, run down, at times low and even depressed. A lack of trust can leave people feeling anxious, questioning anything and everything. Reading into things that maybe don’t mean what they think they do. It can hugely impact a persons identity and it can leave them feeling very isolated.

Trust applies to all kinds of relationships. To the one we have with our parents, our siblings, our friends, our partners etc. To anyone we allow ourselves to get close to – and to anyone we share who we truly are with.

Trust can be broken in so many ways – for children they depend and rely on their parents – and parental figures. To guide them, to love them, keep them safe and to enable them to feel secure. Children look to the adults in their life to help them to build trust. They are totally dependent on the adults around them for everything. They trust those that look after them and they look to them for security and guidance. Imagine if trust is broken for a child by a parent or parental figure. If this happens then their foundation is completely rocked and they are left feeling unsafe in the world. Wondering who they can turn to and who they can actually trust and rely on. Their are huge implications for this as they grow up and develop future relationships.

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Families are fundamental to our lives and they form a huge part of our foundations. Ironically it is often family members that can let people down. Distance can form between siblings, extended family members can cause divisions in the family, ripples can happen , disputes can occur. And when they do it can shake people to the core. Family is something that people want to be able to rely on. Its something that indiviudals want to have in their life in a positive way. And while it can be for some – this isn’t always the case. And when it isn’t it can leave indivudals feeling insecure, unsafe and mistrusting of others around them.

The same can happen in friendships. The family people choose for themselves. It is often said that there is no greater betrayal then a best friend. Someone who you confide in all the time. Someone you turn to on a regular basis. If that person – that has always been there and shared everything, suddenly lets you down in a huge way or betrays your trust. Then you are left in a position of questioning all friendships, wondering if you can feel safe or get close to anyone. Feeling anxious and insecure, imagining in the end that all friendships will end anyhow. And sometimes pushing people away so much that this is created. Friendship can be so beautiful. It can be the one thing that pulls people through the hardest times in their life. But if its broken in some way it can be so hard to re build or to trust again.

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And then there is trust when it comes to partners. One of the hardest things in the world is fully trusting the person you are in a relationship with. Especially if that trust has been misused or broken in the past. It is not easy at all to give yourself to someone fully. It is hard to open up, to share who you are and to let someone in. And when you did trust really needs to be there. To be able to feel safe in the relationship being able to trust is key. If people have ever let you down – for example been unfaithful, lied , kept secrets, turned out to be someone their not or not been there for you. It then becomes so hard to trust someone else and to not feel anxious or worried that they will do the same thing to you.

These are just a few examples of how fragile trust can be and of how hard it can be to fully trust when life hasn’t shown you how too.

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The really important thing is learning how to trust again. How to let someone else in to your life and begin to feel safe and secure. This is not easy at all. But if you want too and you want to begin to move forward. Then it is possible to heal past wounds. And it is possible to start to have a different way of relating. And to learn that not everyone will treat you the same way. That not everyone will let you down or betray you. And that somewhere along the line other people can show you a different way of relating. One that does have a foundation of trust and one that can enable you to feel safe. Here are some of the ways to try and do this –

  • Openly communicate with those around you
  • Share your feelings with the person you are trying to trust
  • Express when you feel hurt or vulnerable
  • Talk about your insecurities
  • Practice good self care
  • Make some quality time for yourself
  • Think carefully about what you need to feel safe
  • Go for counselling if you find you cant get past things
  • Keep a journal for your thoughts, feelings and insecurities
  • Practice mindfulness when you can
  • Remind yourself that you deserve to be happy
  • Choose some positive mantras for each day
  • Remember that not everyone is the same
  • Remind yourself that when someone broke your trust it wasn’t your fault
  • Work on your own self esteem and self worth
  • Know that real trust takes time – don’t try and rush it
  • Trust yourself – and know that whatever happens in life – you will be ok.

None of the above is easy or said lightly. Putting all of this in to practice takes work and dedication. But once you start making these positive changes – you will see a real difference. Above all – remember how unique and amazing you truly are.

 

The love you deserve.

Relationships are complex. That goes without saying. They all require effort, nurturing and time. Without all of these, they won’t be able to move forward or grow.  Whether it is partners, friends or family members – all relationships need both parties to invest, to care and to give. When its two way, it works really well. But what happens when its one way? And when one person gives so much? What happens when another person withholds or lets someone down? And most importantly – why do people continue to be in a relationship that causes them more pain then joy?

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The main reason people find themselves in a one sided relationship of any kind, is because they don’t truly believe that they deserve more. Perhaps it has never been shown to them. Perhaps the modelling they saw taught them to give and failed to show them how to receive.  Maybe that’s the role they have always taken – to be the one that is there and reliable, the one that it is ok to let down or take for granted. Fundamentally they don’t know that they deserve more.

There are many people who give and give. And there are many who take and take. The combination of these two together can be lethal. The more someone gives to another, the more they will pull away or take that person for granted. And so the cycle will continue. As a result nothing will change. And it will continue – leaving someone feeling that they are worthless, undervalued and not cared about. Constantly seeking validation, affirmation and love – from someone that for whatever reason – is unable to fully give it.

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But what would happen if that person began to realise that they deserved more? That they did deserve to be treated respectfully? That they required thought, care and kindness. That it wasn’t ok to shut them out, to speak to them harshly and that it was never ok to just assume that they would always be there.

Maybe family dynamics would shift? Maybe family members would realise that things can’t be one sided. Perhaps someone would pick up the phone or make an effort that they don’t normally. Friendships could change. Someone could start to see that they can’t just lash out or assume that people will always be there no matter what. Friendships could equally grow and develop – with both parties having full respect for each other. Romantically relationships could evolve and go to a deeper level. Things could feel better, more grounded and calmer. Clarity could be reached and a person’s boundaries would be intact.

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On the other hand things might not change. A shift may not take place – a person who takes could continue to take. Perhaps they won’t recognise the damage that has been caused, or perhaps they are incapable or unwilling to make a change. They may not even fully see the depth of what they have been doing. If this is the case then it is probably time to walk away. Walk away from the friend, family member or partner that is hurting you. Step back. Take some space and time for you. Know that you are worth more and deserve more. Know that you deserve to be loved. Ultimately if you know what you are truly worth then you will attract it.

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It is never ok to be taken for granted. It is never ok to be abused in any way, shape or from. It is never ok to constantly be the one to make contact or effort with someone. It is never ok to keep putting yourself out there just to be hurt again. Know your value. Know your worth. And make a huge effort to never settle for anything less.

The love you deserve.

What does that look like for you?

 

The stressful side of Christmas….

It is the time of year when Christmas is approaching.  Christmas can be a very exciting and happy time for people.  It can be something to look forward to and something that families enjoy and cherish.

However, it can also be an incredibly stressful time for people. The pressure that people often put on themselves can be immense.  This can include things like buying presents, seeing people, hosting or equally isolation and loneliness. Stresses such as money, bringing families together, managing expectations as well as time with loved ones, can all bring about their own difficulties.

As a result people can often feel very run down at this time of year, struggle with sleeping, or perhaps coming down with various illnesses.  It depends how people cope with stress. More extreme versions can even be depression, sadness, anxiety, lack of motivation etc.

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Eating and drinking can also be a very difficult thing for people to manage during this time.  People often find that they can over indulge and this can bring about its own difficulties and emotional ups and downs.  But in addition to this for those in recovery it can be really hard to cope with Christmas.

Imagine if your living with anorexia, and being faced with the prospect of a full Christmas dinner, or if your bulimic and surrounded by loads of food.  Or contemplate what it feels like to be an alcoholic facing so many social functions where alcohol is the focus.  All of this is incredibly challenging.

It can also be a time when people can feel sad, upset  or alone.  If people have lost someone they love, or were close to, then a void is apparent and the pain of the person not being there can be extreme. Sadness can take over the happiness that people feel they ‘should’ be experiencing.

Grief can be really painful during this festive period.  Grief can also apply to relationships that have broken down, or perhaps those that are breaking down.

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It is important to think about how you can support yourself during this period.  Self-care is crucial during this time. Try and put some healthy boundaries in place. This can mean not saying yes to everything, or not putting too much pressure on yourself to keep everyone happy or to be ‘perfect’.

Keep an eye on how much you are doing, and try to slow down when possible. Take some quality time for yourself, when you need to.  Do the things that make you relax.  This is different for everyone. It could include a yoga class, reading a book, going for a walk or taking a hot bath. However you relax, make it happen.

Try to remember the word moderation. Apply this to food, to drink, to sleep, etc.  Aim for a balance in your life.  You don’t want to be exercising every day but then you also don’t want to never exercise.  Work for somewhere in the middle.  It is achievable.

Make sure you don’t bottle everything up.  Speak up and let people know when you are feeling anxious, stressed or when things feel too much.  Other people can help you, and they can support you.  In addition to this, don’t try and do everything by yourself.  You don’t have to do it all, and you certainly don’t have to stress yourself trying to do it all.  Remember how important you are, and value yourself.

Here at your counselling service we recognise the stresses and strains of Christmas time, and so we run our counselling service during this difficult period.  Our counselling doesn’t stop for the holidays.  So if things feel too much and you would like someone to talk to then please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or drop us an e mail. (07590 663938 or info@yourcounsellingservice.co.uk)

December can be a difficult and challenging time, as well as a wonderful and exciting one.  We are hear to help if you need us.

Coping with relapse – Eating disorders

Recovering from an Eating Disorder is all consuming. It is a full time job in itself and takes a lot of commitment and hard work. It can therefore be quite soul destroying when relapse happens.

Relapses are however very common and natural.  The most important thing is being aware of the signs and then being able to deal with what is happening.

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The key signs to look out for are –

  • You have an increased need for control in your life
  • A higher level of perfectionism returns
  • Constant thoughts around food are taking over
  • Higher levels of sadness and hopelessness are happening
  • Avoidance of any get together around food starts to occur
  • Preoccupation with body image and size increases
  • Increased belief that your failing if you are not on a “diet”
  • Weighing yourself becomes more frequent
  • Mood is determined and dictated by weight and food
  • You feel more guilt after eating
  • You feel larger then you actually are
  • Your becoming more dishonest with the closest people in your life
  • You are isolating yourself more
  • Increased time spent looking in the mirror and being critical
  • You start to skip meals, or to purge them
  • You have an increased need to exercise continually

If you or someone close to you starts to display some of the above signs, then relapse is occurring. A relapse in recovery can be very disheartening. Often people can feel that they have failed in some way, and that they have let themselves down.  It can be very disillusioning to feel that you are going backwards in your recovery, or that you are back where you began.

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They key however is to remember that you haven’t gone all the way back. Recovery from an Eating Disorder is not meant to be perfect and having a relapse doesn’t mean failure.  It’s important to remember that all of your recovery is still with you. Be kind to yourself, show yourself some compassion and remember that you still have your therapeutic toolbox. Here are some really useful ways to manage a relapse –

  • Remind yourself that relapse is a natural part of recovery
  • Don’t use your relapse as a way of beating yourself up
  • Try and focus on getting back on track with your recovery
  • Return to therapy if you aren’t currently in it
  • Seek help from your therapist if you are in therapy – be honest about where you are at and what you are doing
  • Start to make some positive changes
  • Begin to keep a journal of your feelings and thoughts
  • Start making a food plan to help your eating to settle down
  • Try and identity what triggered your relapse
  • Look at different ways of handling those triggers next time you are faced with them
  • Start spending time doing the things that you enjoy
  • Make sure you spend time around people that make you feel good
  • Ensure that you are using your support network
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Take time out each day just for you
  • Slow down and stop putting so much pressure on yourself
  • Try your best to talk about what you are feeling
  • Listen to your body and your feelings
  • Try to trust and accept yourself
  • Work towards loving yourself
  • Remember to try and enjoy your life

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When its hard to see in colour.

There are times in life when things feel so dark. When we find ourselves consumed by blackness and not noticing any of the positive things around us. A darkness starts to take over. When it creeps in and begins to eat us up. When we feel so low that the smallest of things become so big. When we feel so confused that the simple things get forgotten, and when we feel so afraid that everything suddenly feels unsafe or scary. Depression sets in. Bleakness takes over. Colour no longer exits.

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Dark thoughts can be scary. They can be overwhelming. Suddenly it becomes hard to sleep, to eat, to focus – people find themselves feeling anxious in places they once found easy to be in. People find themselves feeling overwhelmed with the most basic things. And before you know it energy starts to fade. Moods start to sink. A fragility exists that wasn’t there once before. For other people they find that they cant stop eating, or perhaps they cant stop drinking. Maybe they find themselves wanting to sleep all of the time. All of this behaviour is exiting. Exiting your reality. A reality that feels black and heavy. Avoiding pain and moving more and more in themselves.

The reality is however, that all of this makes everything so much worse. Isolation creeps in. Loneliness takes over. Paranoia starts. Confidence decreases. Suddenly small things feel huge. A person starts to lose their sparkle. And where you once saw an aliveness in someone you now she a deadness. Depression. Its there. And it can take over.

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The key to living with depression is to start by acknowledging that you are going through a very difficult time. Name it. Say it. Own it. Right now. I am really struggling. It doesn’t take the pain away or make everything better. But it can make people feel calmer – and start to allow themselves to feel the way that they feel.

Give yourself permission to be – right here. Right now. However you are feeling. It is ok. And it is natural. Allow your thoughts and feelings to come to the surface. Sit with them. Experience them. Have faith that they will pass. As will this challenging time in your life. But know that it is ok to feel down sometimes. It is ok to feel overwhelmed sometimes. And it’s ok to be who you are. At any given moment.

Fighting depression isn’t easy. Because that darkness is exhausting in itself. You can fight it however. It isn’t easy but its doable. Make sure you start with genuine self care and self love. Be kind to yourself always. Start with the simple things. Make sure you are winding down before bed and getting as much as sleep as you can. Give your body a chance to recover and to deal with things. Eat. Again it sounds simplistic but eat. Try to stick to a basic plan of three meals a day and three snacks in between. Keep in mind moderation – everything is ok when its balanced. You need energy to fight depression off. Not eating makes everything harder.

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Keeping with the theme of moderation. Apply this to other areas of life such as exercise, alcohol , socialising etc. Its easy to turn to extremes when your in a dark place. To find yourself drinking more, or turning to fitness obsessively. Either way both of these things wont help or do you any good. The same goes for going out all of the time and avoiding things or for throwing yourself into work all the time and again avoiding things. The key is creating balance in your life. And ultimately facing up to the things that are pulling you down and challenging you.

That said expressing emotions and dealing with them can really help. Therapy is a great place to do this – counselling has a huge benefit when your feeling low. In addition to this things like yoga can really help the mind to feel calmer too. Talking is a great thing to do. Letting your feelings and emotions out is so therapeutic and positive. So think about your support network. Reach out when you can and talk to people. Never suffer alone or in silence. As hard as it can be. Take that step to ask for help when you need. If people can they will.

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Finally above all say no. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Don’t feel you have to say yes to everything. It is ok to put boundaries in place, and it is ok to say no. If you are exhausted and overwhelmed don’t attend things. Give yourself the time that you need to rest and recover. The people that really love you and care about you will totally understand. Fundamentally it is all about being kind to yourself. So start right now. Do what’s right for you and the rest will follow. You can beat this. Slowly, bit by bit, colour will return.