Lacking motivation

We all have those days – days when we cannot seem to get going. Perhaps we want to stay under the duvet. Maybe we feel like watching movies all day. It might be a rainy day and we might just want to relax. Take a bath, read a book, watch our favourite program – slow down.

These days are much needed – of course they are. We talk about them all the time in therapy. Self-care is so important. Resting is so important. Listening to your body. Giving it what it needs. Its all so important. It truly is.

But what happens when it keeps happening. When that feeling of wanting to hibernate is there every day? What happens when you feel like you just do not want to get out of bed? When the things that once interested you seem pointless. And the tasks you once sailed through feel so overwhelming. Suddenly you don’t have the urge to get ready, to get outside, your watching tv far more then you used too, you are not communicating as much. You have slowed right down. Your eating and drinking habits have changed. You do not seem to have that spark that once made you ‘you’. Life feels generally mundane.

Some would say that these are the signs of depression. And to be fair they can be.  When those feelings and experiences get more and more intense a person can feel themselves slipping deeper and deeper into a very dark place. Becoming more and more isolated. Struggling to cope.

All of that said – depression is far more then the above.

What we are talking about in this blog is a general lack of motivation. A loss of libido. Libido for life. Sometimes people slow right down – and they find it hard to get back up again. The real challenge is even working out how to get back up again.

The less we do – the less motivated we feel. That is a fact.

This year has been beyond challenging for everyone – living through a pandemic is so difficult. Lockdown has caused such stress for people. But amongst all the fear, all the sadness and all the anxiety, many people have talked about lack of motivation. A general sense of slowing down. Doing less. Feeling less productive. And once this starts for people it becomes very hard to stop it, and very hard to pull themselves back up from it.

As more and more people have worked from home – and many continue to do so. They remain in a position of having to keep themselves motivated. Having to keep themselves going. In a routine, with structure etc. And that is not always easy.

Another major component of this is isolation. The more isolated people feel – the more they shut down. The less they communicate and the less they connect with others. Lock down has really exaggerated this for people. And as a result, the quieter life feels the quieter it then becomes. People reach out less. They connect less. They talk less. They shut down – and the cycle of isolation continues. And general motivation decreases.

Many outlets for people stopped – and while some have started again, there has been a lot of loss this year. And this continues for everyone at different stages and for different reasons.  If you think about gyms for example – they shut down, and people lost their outlet for exercise and stress relief. As well as the social component that comes with that. While they are now reopening, and people are starting to train again socially. It is not always easy or accessible and there is still a lot of fear around for people.

So, when you break it down – isolation, lack of connection, lack of routine, lack of belonging, lack of structure as well as life slowing down so much and changing so much. There are so many reasons why many people feel de motivated right now. There is a lot that has contributed to this and many different factors have played a part. Understanding it is the first step. But changing it is the most important one.

So where do we start?

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do we start to get our ‘mojo’ back?

Firstly – we are kind to ourselves. We accept where we are right now. And we acknowledge and understand where it has come from. We tell ourselves that its ok to be feeling this way and we are gentle with ourselves as we start the journey of climbing back.

In addition to this we do not put any pressure on ourselves. Life is not a race and nor is this challenging time. We do not have to get there quickly. We do not have to get back to how we used to be right now. We do not have to change it all today. We get there when we are ready.

On top of that – maybe we will not go back to being exactly as we were before. Maybe this period of time will actually be quite healing for us. Perhaps we will learn more about life balance. And while we do not want to lack motivation. We also do not want to be running at 110 miles per hour all the time. This could be the chance to find the middle ground. To work towards the place of moderation. To find that balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So from this kind, compassionate and gentle place. We can now start making some small changes. Maybe start with routine and structure. Think about a time of day to start each day – a reasonable one that allows you time to do what you need to do. Set the alarm and get up. It sounds simple, but it makes such a difference and starts the day in a more proactive way. You can always give yourself flexibility at the weekend.

Get outside!! Each and every day. No matter what the weather – a short walk can make such a difference to the way you feel. Exercise is of course so important. But walking is a basic foundation for feeling better. You alone can make that change each day. Even coming away from your desk at lunchtime can make all the difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start to plan your week better. Look at what is ahead for the week and start to make plans. Plans that allow time for your work, friends, family etc. But plans that also factor in you time. It is more important then you realise. While you may have found yourself tuning out of life a bit too much recently it is still important that you do not go the other way and lose any time for you. Make it happen. The more organised you are the better you will feel.

Balance is total key. We need time to exercise, but we also need time to have that food or drink that we would really like. Moderation is key. It does not have to be all or nothing. So many people live like that and swinging from one to the other never truly makes them happy. Work on your sense of balance. You will be surprised at what follows.

Make lists – it sounds so simple. But its so true. Sit down every day and write down the tasks ahead. You will feel calmer for having them all down on paper, and you will feel better as you gradually work through them all bit by bit. Remembering that not everything has to be achieved right now. Not everything needs to be done today.

Connect – make sure you make time to connect. Each and every day. You will notice the moment you do – the minute you reach out and speak to others. You will feel so much better. That sense of being alone, feeling isolated. It leads people to go further and further down – into a darker place but also to a far less motivated place. Where it becomes easier to hide away from the world – then to get out there and start to interact with it.

 

 

 

 

 

Make time in your day, and in your week – to connect with the people that bring out the best in you. Surround yourself with their energy. You will feel so much better. Step back from those that bring out the stress in you – we all have a sense of when that happens. Step back from anything that does not make you feel good. Sounds simple I know, but once you start, you will feel a huge difference.

These are some of the ways to start feeling more like yourself again. They will help you to start to feel re charged and to restore your balance.  Your motivation will begin to come back as you take these steps in the right direction.  Amongst all of this – do not forget time for fun, time for enjoyment, time for laughter. These are the things that many of us have overlooked and found difficult in the last few months. But when you think about it – they are fundamental for our well-being. They provide us all with an outlet. And everyone needs that.

Everyone is so different – we all relax in different ways. We all enjoy life in different ways. So take stock. Reflect. Think about the things that make you feel calm and happy. And add more of them into your week. You will be amazed at the difference it makes.

Who takes care of the therapist?

Therapy – such an important part of peoples lives. A neutral and objective place to explore feelings. To learn about yourself. To change destructive habits. To work through any trauma. To overcome addictions. To break negative patterns. To unpick past experiences and learn from them. To take time for you. To make space for you. To learn how to cope…… the list is endless.

Therapy is life changing. It has such a powerful and positive impact for people. The process is often demanding. It can be so challenging and relentless at times. Healing is tough. Change is tough. It often gets harder before it gets easier. Sometimes people hit rock bottom before they start to climb back up. Sometimes they are angry, they lash out, they get upset, they act out. Sometimes its too much and they stop. In the end change is beautiful. In the end things become easier to manage. But what happens in the meantime?? Who holds all the pain and who sits with clients during their darkest moments?

The therapist.

So who in turn takes care of the therapist ??

Sometimes clients worry about that. They think about it and they are mindful that the person sitting in front of them is in fact a human being. Not just a therapist, but a person with their own life. Their own challenges. Their own struggles. Struggles that can at times also be tough. It is our job as therapists to reassure them that they don’t need to worry about us. That we are ok. We take care of ourselves and we are therefore able to be there for them.

After all… you cant pour from an empty cup.

Self-care is so important for everyone. But as a therapist – in our line of work. It is even more important.  We need to maintain our own physical and mental health. It is after all as important as everyone else’s.

We also need to invest our time wisely and take care of ourselves – not only for our own wellbeing. But to do our job properly.

Practicing good self means that we will be able to connect even more with our clients, avoid clinical burn out and emotional exhaustion, and remain fully attentive and creative in our work.

So fundamentally – a therapist looks after themselves – through their own self- care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some examples of how they do that –

  • They check in with themselves regularly
  • They know when it is important to take a break
  • They take the time to plan their breaks throughout the year
  • They don’t over commit or take on too high a case load
  • They focus on saying no when they need too
  • They put healthy boundaries in place
  • They schedule clinical days and admin days
  • They look at their own life balance and improve it if necessary
  • They surround themselves with positive people – those that bring out the best in them
  • They make space for ‘fun’ – laughter, creativity etc
  • They look after their own well-being – improving things like their sleep patterns, their eating, their exercise etc
  • They make space in their week for the things that make them feel good
  • They make time outside of work for themselves – ‘me time’ becomes the norm in their diary
  • They work on their support networks – both personal and professional. And they improve them
  • They step back into therapy if they need too
  • They make space for regular supervision and use it well

The last two points here are so important. Not only does a therapist have their own personal and professional support network to turn too. They also have their supervisor and a therapist if needed.

Supervision is so important in the work that therapists too. Supervision offers a space to explore client work, to look at any blocks or challenges in the work and to overcome things so that clients can get their needs met.

It also however offers a really important space for a therapist to feel held, contained, supported and encouraged. It is a place where the therapist can feel safe to explore anything that is coming up for them – both personally and professionally.

So, the supervisor also takes care of the therapist – and in turn their supervisor takes care of them. And so, the support network goes on.

Therapists can also turn to their colleagues if they are part of therapeutic team or they can join a therapeutic community. This in turn reduces the level of isolation that can be felt in the work at times.

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to this, therapists also go for therapy. They do not have to be in it as part of the job, but most are – as part of their own self care and as a way of investing in themselves and their wellbeing. Therapy is just as important for the therapist as it is for their clients. And naturally at different times in their life therapists will face their own challenges.

 

 

 

 

 

So, the therapist also takes care of the therapist – and in turn that therapist can go for therapy. And so, the support network goes on.

It is true that being a therapist can be at time very challenging, demanding and isolating. However if the therapist takes good care of themselves, and uses the support around them as much as possible – then it is all manageable an doable.

The vital thing is being aware of when something is not working, and in turn working hard to make the changes to improve things. This could relate to things like clinical case load, timetables and the hours worked, life balance etc It can also relate to a therapist’s support network – colleagues, supervisor, therapist etc. After all the heart of good therapy is the relationship. So, in turn it is the therapist’s responsibility to nurture the relationships in their support network and to get what they need from them. If they aren’t getting their needs met, then they can challenge that. It all begins with the relationship we have with ourselves. That is the most important one – even for the therapist.

I matter….

People often find it hard to prioritise themselves or to get their own needs met. It can become easier to focus on everyone and everything else. Rather then stopping and actually taking care of yourself. Ironic when you think about it. Because after all the most important relationship we have is the one we have with ourselves.

I often say to clients what do you do for you?? And more often then not the answer is nothing – or very little.

Self-care is something I talk about a lot in my work. And one of the goals of therapy is that people will leave equipped with a self-care toolbox.  In the beginning of therapy people often wonder I mean when I say this, because self-care is something they have never really thought about. However, throughout their therapeutic journey people will often start saying no to commitments, making time for themselves, recognising when they need to slow down etc.   It is however something that is very important for people to be aware of.  Counselling itself is often an important part of that self-care – although there are also a lot of other things.

Self-care simply means taking care of oneself.  Or as we often phrase it at your counselling service ‘being kind to yourself’.

Think about your week. How often do you put yourself first?? How often do you speak kindly to yourself? How often do you pencil in you time in your diary? How often do you simply do what is best for you?

You will often see people rushing around due to work or family commitments.  In addition to this people often try and pack too much into their days and weeks, barely stopping to relax or take some time out.  Domestic choses, events that need attending (social and professional), hectic daily schedules and financial pressures can all take over, and as a result people do not have any time in their week for themselves.

This is often a common theme for people that are in therapy.  Numerous reasons can cause the need for counselling, ranging from relationship issues, bereavement / loss to eating disorders and addictions.  However, one thing that the majority of clients have in common is that they feel they never have any time for themselves, and they don’t have the ability to relax and slow down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clients can be encouraged to slow down and take time for themselves, but they will often say that they cannot, they are too busy or have too much to do.  In reality life is like that for a lot of us, and a lot of the time.  But the important part is being able to recognise that not everything can be done in one day, that things can wait, and that making an appointment with yourself is just as important as making one with someone else.

Good self-care can involve a range of things.  Here are some of the most important examples –

  • Taking the time to eat properly (meaning everything in moderation),
  • Don’t indulge in self-destructive behaviours (such as too much alcohol)
  • Make time for enough sleep every night.  (Create a good bedtime routine)
  • Take time for yourself – such as reading, a bath, watching a favourite program etc
  • Get outside each day and go for a walk
  • Take some time throughout your week to exercise (again in moderation)
  • Make some time for your psychological well being too (yoga, Pilates mediation etc)
  • Listen to music that makes you feel good
  • Say no to the things you don’t want to do
  • Be around those that bring out the best in you
  • Avoid toxic people and toxic situations
  • Invest your time wisely
  • Create space in your diary just for you
  • Don’t over commit – either with work or socially
  • Recognise when your tired and need to slow down
  • Talk about your feelings – learn how to share what is going on for you
  • Keep a journal – write down the things that are worrying you or causing you stress
  • Create lists and learn how to prioritise – not everything needs to be done today
  • Make sure you use the support network around you (don’t isolate yourself)
  • Learn how to relax and make it a valuable part of your week
  • Start therapy if you need too – you will be amazed at the difference it makes

It’s important to recognise that self-care is a personal thing and not everyone will enjoy the same things.  They key is finding what works best for you and then ensuring that you make time for that in your week.

Once you start to implement some of the above in your life – you will be amazed at the difference it makes. Looking after yourself is a lifelong commitment and the impact it has is so positive. It is not easy making a change – but if you don’t start then the consequences are pretty severe. When people do not look after themselves, they end up really stressed out, often very low and depressed, their anxiety rises and as a result they start to really struggle with managing life. Sleep will be affected. Relationships will suffer. Happiness will be impacted. And fundamentally health will go downhill. The body and mind is not a machine. There is only so long both can keep going without real care. There will be warning signs along the way – such as burn out, depression, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, illness etc.  These are all signs that you need to slow down. To re charge, take stock and look after yourself.  If these happen – then make sure you listen. Because if you do not – you could be heading for psychological or physical break down. Sometimes both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, start today – make the changes. It all begins with something small. Say no to someone or something. Press pause in your day. Reflect. Rest. Recharge. However It looks – make it happen. There is nothing more important then taking care of yourself. We all lose our way sometimes – and often life can take over. That makes us human. If that happens – do not beat yourself up about it. Reframe it. Step back and make the changes that you need to feel better in yourself.

Remember – the most important relationship you have is the one you have with yourself.

Coping with trauma.

Trauma.

What do you think when you hear that word???

Was it something traumatic??

What does that question mean to you?

I feel traumatised.

What do you understand by that statement??

Trauma is often described as the following –

Disturbing
Shocking
Upsetting
Violating
Frightening
Unsettling
Threatening
Damaging
Horrific
Awful
Alarming
Terrifying
Destructive

There are many more words….the list goes on.

Ultimately trauma is relative. And the experience of it can be different for each one of us. What we as individuals define as traumatic is individual and unique to each of us. We all have different thresholds. We all experience things differently. Some people bounce back from certain events more quickly, while others take a long time to heal. There is no right or wrong. Sometimes people avoid things – while others face them head on. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how you recover or cope. What matters is that you find your own peace in the end.

The list of traumatic events is endless –

• Domestic violence
• Rape
• Physical or sexual abuse
• Natural disaster
• A pandemic
• A serious car accident
• Sudden death of someone close
• Bullying
• Violent attack – mugging, assault etc
• War
• Political violence/unrest
• Divorce
• Relationship break down
• Infidelity
• Redundancy
• Supporting a loved one with a long-term illness

These are some of the many things that people find traumatic – but realistically there are many more. Even change can sometimes be very traumatic for people.

There are key signs when someone is traumatised – they may have upsetting or disturbing memories, they may have frightening dreams.

People may get very upset or distressed when they hear or see certain things. They will naturally also want to stay away from conversation that relates to the trauma and find themselves trying to avoid any feelings associated with it.

Understandably when people are traumatised, they begin to lose interest in the things they once found enjoyable. They isolate themselves more and more. They may show less emotion and not want to be around others. Or at times extreme emotion and go through phases of blaming others or even blaming themselves.

Sleep is one of the first things that can be impacted when someone is traumatised. They may also lose their ability to concentrate and find themselves easily startled, nervous and jumpy at times. Some people often become very reckless and dangerous as they act certain behaviours out and lose a sense of caring about what happens to themselves. Anger can also come out very frequently and often in different directions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children can become more fearful of strangers and seem clingier. They may regress and act younger in their behaviour and often talk about physical complaints such as stomach aches and pains. They may show fear around being separated from a caregiver who they feel safe with. And they may struggle to concentrate and have outbursts regularly. Mood changes will be common – as well changes in appetite.

Once you understand and recognise why a person is acting the way they are – then you can really begin to help them. Once you see past the behaviour and understand how traumatised they are – then you will be able to see their vulnerability.

You will be able to understand the pain they are experiencing and learn about the things they are doing their best to try and block out and at times suppress. Often people need to experience compassion, kindness, care and understanding. Even when it is hard to do so, and you feel tested and pushed to the limit – it is important to try and remember what a person is going through. To try and understand the place they find themselves in. And in turn to be there for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many types of therapy available to help someone that is traumatised. Whether it is cognitive behaviour therapy, play therapy or an analytical approach (to name a few). It can have a positive impact and will help people of all ages.

However, there are also things that can be done at home and around someone who is traumatised in order to help them. You can also apply these to yourself if you are the one who has experienced or is even currently experiencing trauma.

• Offer a calm and structured environment
• Develop some important routines
• Think about expectations and limits – what is reasonable?
• Pay attention and listen to feelings
• Try to remain calm
• For young people plan for any transitions
• Focus on the hear and now
• Look at identity and learning about a sense of self
• Take care of your own needs
• Be aware of reactions – yours and the person dealing with the trauma
• Incorporate regular exercise
• Make time for relaxation
• Focus on a balanced diet
• Make sure sleep is a priority
• Focus on having healthy relationships
• Aim to manage stress
• Make sure you talk about your feelings
• Focus on a good support network
• Get a doctor and medication involved if you think it’s necessary

None of us can undo the trauma that someone has experienced, and we cannot take away the pain they have endured and continue to overcome.

We can however help them to make life more manageable for them and to learn how to live with the things that have happened to them, without them totally taking over.

All of the above can really help people in moving forward and finding a healthy way of manging and coping with things. And in time true healing can take place and a brighter future is possible.

Looking after yourself.

Self-care is something that therapists often talk to clients about.

People often wonder what this actually means. Sometimes they associate it with being selfish, sometimes they have never thought of it as something they need to do. Sometimes it is simply something that is either ignored or put way down the list. Put simply – many people don’t make enough time for themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-care means really looking after yourself. Or as we often phrase it at your counselling service ‘being kind to yourself’. More often than not people are very hard on themselves and extremely self-critical. They can be good at being there for other others, but then struggle to really be there for themselves. We can all get too busy with various commitments at times and often the stresses and strains of life can take over. In turn investing time in ‘yourself’ becomes less and less of a priority.

You will often see people rushing around due to work or family commitments. In addition to this they will be trying to pack too much into their days and weeks, barely stopping to relax or take some time out. Domestic choses, events that need attending (social and professional), hectic daily schedules and financial pressures can all take over, and as a result people do not have any time in their week for themselves.

This is often heightened for people that are in therapy. Often they have come for counselling because they feel so stressed, so overwhelmed and so run down. Numerous reasons can cause the need for counselling, ranging from relationship issues to eating disorders. However one thing that the majority of clients have in common is that they feel they never have any time for themselves, and they don’t have the ability to relax and slow down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avoidance goes hand in hand with this. Clients can be encouraged to slow down and take time for themselves, but they will often say that they can’t – they are too busy or have too much to do. In reality life can feel like that for most of us. But the important part is being able to recognise that not everything can be done in one day, that things can wait, and that making an appointment with yourself is just as important as making one with someone else.

Good self-care can involve a range of things. Of course it means things like taking the time to eat healthy (meaning everything in moderation), to not indulge in self-destructive behaviours (such as too much exercise or too much alcohol), and to make time for enough sleep every night.

But it also means other things, like taking time to read, to have a bath, go for a walk, listen to some music, or watch a favourite film or program. It is important to recognise that relaxation is a personal thing and not everyone will enjoy the same things. Some people like to relax by sitting at home and reading, while others may prefer a walk in the fresh air. The key is finding what works best for you and then ensuring that you make time for that in your week.

Other forms of self-care can involve things like yoga / pilates or mindfulness. If people can find time for these in their week then they are much more likely to feel grounded, calmer and de stressed. In addition to this exercise in general is such an important part of self care. Running, classes, cycling – you name it. It is all about taking time out for yourself – and in turn feeling physically and mentally better in yourself. As long as things aren’t taken to the extreme – they will always positively add to someone’s general wellbeing.

Another key aspect of self-care is not taking on too much and not over committing to too many things. It is often to easy to say yes to everything and then feel very stressed and wound up. If you can find a way to choose the things that you actually want to do then you will feel a lot less overwhelmed.

Communication is also a very important part of self-care. If you ensure that you are talking to friends and family, then you will feel less alone, less isolated and less overwhelmed. In addition to this writing in a diary / journal can be a positive outlet, as can writing lists of things that need doing. This way you can look at what you have to do each day / week and recognise that it doesn’t all need doing right away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to this therapy can also be a really positive part of self care. It can help people to slow down, take stock and to evaluate how they feel. It enables them to understand more about themselves and to change any negative thought patterns or destructive behaviours. Sometimes people need more then their support network is able to give them. Sometimes people are stressed out and upset by the people around them. And sometimes things are just so painful and feel too much to handle. When it comes to things like divorce, bereavement, addiction etc – therapy really has its place.

At your counselling service we have a team of experienced therapists that work with a wide range of issues and we offer counselling on a range of days and times. We really place a lot of importance of self-care and encourage people to really take time for themselves. We are constantly working towards clients showing the kindness to themselves that they show to others. Therapy is an important part of this.

If you or anyone you know would benefit from counselling then please call 07590 663938 or e mail info@yourcounsellingservice.co.uk

Restoring the balance

During lockdown a lot of people have found themselves doing things to the extreme. For some that has meant excessive cleaning and tidying, for others it has meant excessive exercise. For some it has involved increased levels of alcohol and food. While some have found themselves monitoring the amount the eat and drink – everything has become restricted. Some people have thrown themselves into work or new projects – working all day and all night long to achieve the goals and targets they set themselves. While others have gone the other way – feeling demotivated and lost. They have found themselves in bed more then they have ever been. On the sofa more then they would like to be. Or watching TV more then they are actually enjoying.

For everyone it has been so different – but when you look at everything above – its all so extreme.

There are of course some people that have perhaps managed to strike some kind of balance during this uncertain time. But for many – anxiety has been high. A sense of feeling overwhelmed has sunk in. And a huge loss of control has made people look for things to take control of. While some people are able to self-regulate and to process their emotions – many struggle to do this. Especially at such a difficult and challenging time. And while some people may be able to do things and not take them to the extreme – a lot of people do end up becoming obsessional and at times addicted.

This is particularly true for those that have suffered with any mental health issues in the past. Any addictions or addictive relationships – they will now manifest in quite a significant way. People that have recovered from an eating disorder may start to relapse. Those that have given up smoking or daily drinking may find their way back to these self-destructive behaviours. Work addicts, exercise addicts – you name it – now is a very vulnerable time.

 

It is now – more than ever – that everyone could benefit from restoring some kind of balance.

What does a healthy balance look like ??

• Sleeping – getting to bed at a decent and regular time. Getting up at regular time. These times might not be exactly as they were prior to lockdown. But we all need to aim for 8 hours sleep. It isn’t easy when the mind is anxious or full – a journal by the bed can help. A hot bath before bed can help. But definitely aim for some regularity with your sleep routine.

• Routine – it might not be exactly the same in lockdown – but creating one is so important. It restores clarity and calm. Think about your week. How do you want it to be? How do you want it to look ? Design a routine that works for you. And most importantly includes time for you.

• Exercise – yes daily walks/fresh air is so important. But daily extreme works out? That is excessive. 3 or 4 times a week – that is balanced. The key is also variety – not repeating the same thing all the time.

• Food – moderation, moderation, moderation. We can’t only live off apples. But nor can we only live off pizza. Variety and balance is so important. Aim for 3 meals a day. 3 snacks a day. Incorporate all food groups.

• Alcohol – moderation, moderation, moderation. It is not healthy to drink every day – but currently many people are. Perhaps now is the time to limit that amount – 2 or 3 drinks is more then enough. Perhaps for you its about taking a couple or few days off each week. Decide what works best for you – but avoid drinking to excess.

• Socialising – now we are allowed to see people from a distance. The temptation is to get out all week catching up. Be careful not to overload yourself. Think of your energy levels. Make time to see friends and family. But make time to slow down too.

• Down time – often the result of being at home makes people over look the importance of creating space for down time. But its just as important now – as ever. Work out what that means for you – is it a bath? Is it yoga? Is it reading? A film? However it looks? However you do it. Make some valuable time and space for yourself.

• Work – again – its about balance. Working from home can lead people to end up spending a lot more time in front of their screen. The temptation is to work more and more and to lose sight of your own time. Try as much as you can to stick to your usual working hours. Whatever they may look like.

• Family life – again quality family time can slip. Life can become all consuming at times. And the thoughts around what ‘needs to be done’ – can take over. Make time for your loved ones. Invest in the things that you enjoy doing together. Make space for being a family.

Fundamentally the most important thing to remember is that this isn’t about perfection or getting things totally right. Its about taking stock. Stepping back and reflecting. Press pause. What works for you? What doesn’t? What leaves you feeling calm and what leaves you feeling more stressed ? Look at your week. How is your balance ? Maybe its time to restore it?

 

Holding on to hope.

Right now it isn’t always easy to hold on to hope.

Everyone is struggling to cope and manage. The days feel long. They can feel relentless. Sometimes It can seem like groundhog day. People are struggling. Mental health is suffering. Anxiety rising. Perhaps depression is kicking in. For some people it’s the isolation – feeling alone and lost in that. For others its financial pressures and worries. For some it’s the strain and stress on relationships. Some people are hitting a wall with home schooling and managing with children. For many its managing working from home. And that’s just one side. What about all the key workers? Those out on the front line? All the stress pain and heartache that they are coping with. What about the loss that’s real in the world right now? All the pain and grief that so many are trying to cope with? What about the fear? Fear around our own health, fear around the health of others. Worries about normality. Will it return? How will it look? It goes on. And it goes round and round in everyone’s heads. It can get heavy. It can get too much. At times it can feel too much. Sinking. Slowly. Being pulled down into that dark place. Its hard. Its heavy. We all feel it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The struggle is real.

There is no denying that.

The struggle is real.

We though so much positivity at this.

But the struggle is real.

We work hard. We exercise. We distract oursevlves. We achieve. We get busy. We reach out. We practice good self-care. We connect with others.

But the struggle is real.

Hope.

We all need to hold on to hope. Hope that things will get better. That this will pass. That while we don’t know when and we don’t know how – some sense of normality will come back.

We all need to dig deep and find that hope. Hope that we will see the people we love and care about soon. Hope that they will all be ok. Healthy, happy and ok. Hope that things will restore and in time healing will take place.

We all need to take stock when we can. Press pause. Slow down. Reflect and be mindful. It will do us all the world of good to appreciate all that we have and practice being thankful for that. But on a much deeper level we need to go into ourselves to that place – that tiny little bit of light. That place where we can truly breathe. Where we take stock. Slow down – close our eyes and visualize.

Take a moment. See yourself coming through this. What does it look like? How will it be? Use your hope to guide yourself. Use your hope to focus on the life you will be living. Find a way – you can do it. You can manage this. You can believe and you can achieve.

You may feel lost at times – your human. How could you not?? You may feel overwhelmed at times. Again your human. Be kind to yourself. You may have days when everything feels too much. You may have moments when it’s all too difficult and you may have hours when it all feels so dark.

But trust yourself. Guide yourself. Look deep inside. Find your hope – and the rest will follow. When you find it – hold on to it. Hold on to it so tightly. Your ok. You have got this. We have all go this.

 

Leaning on alcohol….

This challenging and anxiety provoking time can lead to a lot of people developing some very self-destructive behaviour. It can become hard to focus on moderation when manging lockdown and all of the struggles that come with it. One of the things that many people are leaning on very heavily right now is alcohol.

But when is it really too much ??

If your reading this then its for a reason – ask yourself the following questions.

Do you find yourself thinking about alcohol a lot?
Do you crave having a drink?
Do you see alcohol as a reward when something has gone well?
Do you turn to alcohol when you are stressed?
Do you use alcohol to suppress feelings?
Do you drink when you are upset?
Do you get very down or angry when you drink alcohol?
Do you find that you black out or cant remember things?
Do you spend a lot of your time hungover?
Do you find that your work is suffering due to your alcohol use?
Do you feel lethargic and tired a lot of the time?
Do you find that your day to day life is suffering?
Do you find that you forget things regularly?
Do you feel like things are slipping out of control?
Do you feel as though alcohol is taking over?
Do you find that you cant sleep?
Do you see alcohol as a way of coping with lockdown?
Do you find yourself withdrawing from friends and family?

If your answer is yes to some or most of these questions, then you currently have a negative relationship with alcohol.

Alcohol can become very addictive – and like any addiction, that cycle is very hard to break. Often when people feel low, stressed, overwhelmed etc – they use alcohol to self-medicate. Perhaps that’s what you are doing right now? Using alcohol to numb your feelings – to even block them out. Maybe you now feel dependent on it to survive. And the thought of a night off – well it becomes unmanageable.

I’m sure there is a lot of denial for you at the moment – no one ever wants to admit that something is becoming a problem for them. It is hard to be honest with yourself – or with anyone else. It is easier to try and pretend you have it all under control.

Perhaps you are having a few glasses alone. Perhaps half a bottle has turned into a bottle every night. And before you know it – your opening a second one. Maybe you are drinking at a much faster pace then you ever did before. And your need to keep going is getting stronger. You may be finding it hard to ever stop.

Sometimes alcohol can lead to black outs and forgetting part of the night. People can try to gloss over this. You become well equipped at laughing at yourself. And at justifying yourself. There are reasons – you haven’t slept well or you didn’t eat enough. The list goes on.

There is such dangerous side to this relationship with alcohol – not only can it lead to emotional outbursts – anger, upset, frustration etc. It can be very destructive for relationships. It can also pull you down into a dark place – depression creeps in. You can’t sleep. Your exhausted all the time and may fall asleep in front of the tv. But when you go to bed – you are awake all night. It’s hard to switch off. The alcohol might knock you out for a bit but before you know it your awake and your feeling horrendous.

On top of that it can have a huge impact on your health – your liver first and foremost. But how about your memory too, your cognition, your skin, your weight, your energy levels. You name it – your physical health suffers as much as your mental wellbeing. And before you know it your looking in a mirror seeing a pale version of yourself. A tired version of yourself. A bloated version of yourself. A depressed version of yourself. You feel low, you feel down and you realise you have been neglecting yourself for quite some time.

I often say to my clients – you have to hit rock bottom before you can climb back up again. And this really is true. One day you make wake up and be so upset and realise what have I been doing to myself? One day you may think what has happened to me? One day you may go so far and then realise how out of control things have got. And on that day you make a decision – you make a decision to sober up.

To take real actual care of yourself and to change things. That’s the hardest decision in the world – putting alcohol down. It means facing up to everything around you – it means dealing with all that stresses you out and addressing it. It means facing up to the things that are hard and it won’t be easy. But once you do it – it will be life changing.

Many people will say they will wait until lockdown is over before they make the changes. They will tell themselves that now is not the time to turn things around. They will convince themselves that isolation is too stressful.

However maybe lockdown is the ideal time to start taking real care of yourself. Perhaps it’s the time to really focus on what you need. Working towards a healthier lifestyle – physically and mentally. Emotionally getting on a better path – that’s not easy. Not easy at all. But remaining the same is destroying you – you become a shadow of who you once were.

Use this time – take the steps….

The following is a useful list of how to try and change things.

• Talk to the people closest to you about your feelings
• Ask them to help you as you work towards changes
• Find some useful and positive distraction techniques
• Make time for exercise – in moderation
• Work on a way of de stressing – breathing techniques, mindfulness practice, yoga etc
• Improve your self-care – make time for a walk, a bath, a book
• Keep a journal
• Get to bed at a decent time each night
• Try to wind down before going to bed
• Start seeing a therapist online
• Write a list of all the positives without overusing alcohol
• Set yourself realistic targets – certain nights off, certain amounts etc
• Put away the money you were spending on alcohol each day – for something positive
• Invest in things for you instead of alcohol
• Find other activities to do that don’t involve alcohol
• Do things with your friends / partner / family that don’t involve alcohol
• Realise you are worth so much more
• Learn to love and respect yourself
• Work on the relationship you have with yourself
• Slow down and focus on what’s in front of you

Life through a childs eyes.

Right now we all face so much uncertainty and we are all living with so much anxiety. This current pandemic leaves us all feeling afraid and stressed in different ways. Lockdown leaves people feeling so isolated, and at times stuck and frustrated. Yet when a five-year-old talks about her days – these are some examples of the kind of things she says.

• We climbed up the mountain today on our walk mummy.
• It’s great that it’s raining – we might see a rainbow.
• My favourite part of today was playing hot potato on the trampoline!
• I love the rain – lets jump in the puddles.
• We walked through the jungle hiding rocks and searching for more rocks today.
• I camped in a tent in our garden – did you know I was really on holiday mummy?
• We made a campfire and sat by it – it was the best.
• My room is full of unciorns now – it is really magical.
• Don’t delete any photos – you always look beautiful mummy.
• It’s really good that we have a dog – we can walk every day
• Let’s collect all the white feathers – they are the people that have died. We should keep them safe.

Before the world teaches us about pain. Before life tells us how to be or how we ‘should’ be. Before we learn about being ‘good enough’. Before perfectionism creeps in. Before insecurities develop. Before embarrassment kicks in. Before self-esteem is damaged. Before confidence is knocked. Before worries develop. Before pressure increases. Before body image becomes so important. Before the number on the scales or clothes size matters. Before we think we don’t look right. Before we are super critical. Before we are hurt. Before we are full of self doubt. Before our hearts are broken. Before we learn that you can’t always trust. Before money and possessions matter. Before…..

Strip it all back. Watch a young child engage with the world. And you will remember – the beauty of life through a child’s eyes.

• A world where daisies are so beautiful they are worth stopping for.
• A world where its great when it rains because you can jump in puddles and look out for a rainbow.
• A world where magic really exists.
• A world where the sun or moon is noticed every day.
• A world where everyone looks beautiful – no matter what.
• A world where everything feels simple.
• A world where you eat what you like and when you feel like it.
• A world where you speak your mind and don’t worry.
• A world where you don’t apologise for who you are.
• A world where it’s ok to focus on the things that make you happy.
• A world where play is the most important thing.
• A world where you express love freely and shout it from the rooftops.
• A world where you embrace fun and laughter.
• A world where you always have time – where this is no rushing.
• A world where you are keen to learn and absorb.
• A world where you simply need love and security.
• A world where you don’t mind what size your home or car is.
• A world where money doesn’t matter.
• A world where you appreciate the small things in life.
• A world where memories are created all the time.
• A world where it’s ok to say if you don’t like something.
• A world where it’s ok to say when you have had enough.
• A world where it’s ok to say no sometimes.
• A world where it’s ok to sleep when your tired.
• A world where being you is simply enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next time you get caught up in all the stress that is currently in your life. Where you start to feel yourself getting run down and exhausted with all the current pressure. Take a moment – read this list and remember how simple life could truly be. If we all saw it through a child’s eyes. If we all took a moment to truly look around and notice some of the beauty in the world that surrounds us. Imagine how different we would all feel.

This all links in to being mindful. Being present in the moment. To actually appreciating and taking things truly in in. It isn’t always possible to do this all day every day – but whenever you can slow down. Make time for the daisies. See the good in the world. Appreciate the positives. It’s so hard at times to do this right now. Everything feels so difficult and overwhelming at times. But if we can all take some time to appreciate all that we have and all that we can see. To learn to value who we really are. And laugh. Yes to make some space and room for laughter. Its ok – it really is. Find that part of you – embrace it and let it breathe. You will feel so much better.

Hitting the wall.

No matter how positive or proactive you are as a person.

No matter how much you focus on the moment and being mindful.

No matter how hard you try to keep in a routine.

No matter how much you reach out and communicate.

No matter how much you keep work going as best you can.

No matter how much you exercise.

No matter how much time you invest in self-care.

No matter how much you keep to a balanced moderate food plan.

No matter how much you focus on all you have to be thankful for.

You are only human.

At some point you will hit the wall.

And when you do – you need to be kinder to yourself then ever.

Lockdown is hard. And that’s an understatement. Lockdown challenges people in a way they have never been challenged before. Power is taken away. Choice is taken away. Fear sets in. Anxiety sets in. Dark thoughts creep in. Sleep suffers. Hopes and dreams are taken away. Loss is very real. People hurt. People suffer. Mental health is challenged in so many ways. And it is hard. It is really hard. Owning that – now that takes courage.

Being able to say – this is tough. This is heavy. This is draining. I am tired. I am worn out. I am afraid. I am scared. I am anxious. I feel low. I feel stressed. I feel overwhelmed. I feel on edge. These are real feelings. These are real emotions. Avoiding them only allows them to grow. Pretending everything is ok only makes things worse. Suppressing things with alcohol, food or drugs only compounds the issue. Owning this stuff – staring it right in the eyes. That takes strength and that is what inevitably makes it more manageable.

We are all human at the end of the day – and at some point lockdown will get to us. At some point we will cry. We will feel broken. At some point we will shout. We will argue with those closest. At some point we will feel lost – maybe insecure. Maybe alone. At some point things will take over and at some point it will all feel too much. Anger is bound to hit all of us at certain points and at some point the magnitude of what’s happening in the world will hit us all.

Don’t be surprised if this happens to you. Don’t think you have to be ok all of the time. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it ‘perfect’ all of the time. There is no such thing.

You haven’t got to be cope all the time in lockdown. You haven’t got to hit all of your exercise targets in lockdown. You haven’t got to achieve your highest academic or work achievements in lock down. You haven’t got to look your best, cook your best, be the most amazing partner, parent or friend. You haven’t got to say yes to every form of online communication. You haven’t got to post happy pictures of you always enjoying the moment.

You just need to be you. And all that makes you ‘you’. On the days you feel like reading or doing yoga. Do it. On the days you feel like a slice of cake or a glass of wine have it. On the days you feel like sleeping longer – sleep. On the days you feel like reaching out – communicate. And so on. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself right now. It will only make things worse. Try to keep the balance. Try to keep moderation in mind. You will be amazed at the difference that makes. But fundamentally – it doesn’t have to be perfect. And nor do you.

Give yourself a break. If you hit the wall. You hit it. You will come back up again. Do what you need to do to get through it. Ride it out in whatever way you need. Things will work out in the end and you will find your own path. It doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s. Just be real. Just be you.

And don’t forget it you need us – we are here.

Info@yourcounsellingservice.co.uk or 07590 663938.