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.

Coping with relapse….

This period of isolation is very challenging for most people. It is even more difficult for those who were already trying to recover from any kind of addiction. It is also a really vulnerable time for people that have previously recovered. It is hard to keep on a positive path right now and for many people relapse might be around the corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relapses are very common and natural. Especially when people are under increased levels of stress. However, the most important thing is being able to identify the signs of a relapse and then being able to deal with what is happening.

The key signs to look out for are –

• You have an increased need for control in your life
• Your stress levels are rising
• You find yourself feeling more anxious
• Your sleep is disrupted
• Constant thoughts are taking over
• Higher levels of sadness and hopelessness are happening
• Preoccupation increases
• You have an Increased belief that your failing
• Obsessional behaviours start happening
• Your mood is fluctuating
• You feel distant and disconnected from those closest to you
• Your becoming more dishonest with the closest people in your life
• You are communicating less with people
• You are being even more critical of yourself
• Your forgetting things
• Your motivation is going
• Your libido has slowed down
• You have started using your substance of choice
• You are in denial about your use (Alcohol/drugs/food/nicotine etc)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you or someone close to you starts to display some of the above signs, then relapse is happening. A relapse 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.

They key however is to remember that you haven’t gone all the way back to where you began. Recovery 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 or start it 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
• Make a structured plan for your week to help things 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 (within the home)
• Make sure you are connecting with 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

Stop self destructing.

Right now are all facing the ongoing challenge of isolation. It is a difficult and intense time all round. Feeling isolated can trigger all sorts of negative thoughts and emotions.

Some people currently feel that they lack purpose and are struggling to adapt to the changes in their life. Others are facing challenges when it comes to their identity. For some people fear about the current situation is taking over. For others anxiety is the overriding emotion at the moment. A lot of people feel very unsettled and unsafe in the world and worry about what’s ahead. For some this time of isolation can lead to depression and for others it can lead to ongoing difficulties with mental health.

 

 

In addition to this relationships are under strain. Families are under pressure and there are also financial concerns for a lot of people. As well as the ongoing concerns, fears and worries about health. Individual’s own health as well as the health and well being of those around them,

All of this could send people into a spiral of negativity. It is at times like this that self-destructive behaviours can start to creep in. And it is these behaviours that are actually a way of people harming themselves.

Many people think of things like cutting when they hear the words self-harm. However people hurt themselves in a variety of ways. Here are just some of the destructive ways that people hurt themselves –

• Physical harm – hitting, scratching, pinching etc
• Alcohol and/or drugs/nicotine
• Exercising to excess
• Eating disorders
• Destructive relationships
• Acting out sexually
• Working to excess
• Pushing themselves to the point of burn out

Do you recognise any of these behaviours in yourself? Perhaps you drink to numb your pain? Maybe you have started smoking again ? Or you can’t stop exercising because if you do, you will have to face up to your feelings. If any of the above applies then you are hurting yourself in an extreme way. Of course you deserve far more than that. But right now you just can’t see it. And because there is so much pressure currently – it almost becomes easier to turn to something destructive. To look for a little bit of a release. The problem is that release is only temporary.

To the rest of the world it doesn’t make logical sense. Why would a person hurt themselves? Why would they push their body to the limit? Why would people harm their body in such a destructive way? Behaviour like this isn’t logical. It isn’t straight forward. And the person doing it to themselves doesn’t want to live in this hell. That’s for sure. Deep down they know they are making a challenging situation far worse.

Self-harm is a release. It’s a way of suppressing and numbing feelings, and at the same it gives temporary relief. Often emotions such as anger or despair are so powerful and so over whelming, that an individual cannot deal with them. Sometimes the pain a person is living with hurts so deeply, that they don’t know what to do, or where to turn. So they end up taking things out on themselves. Temporarily it can feel better. But the after effect is even worse than the pain you started with.

At the moment people are having to stay in their homes – their usual routines have been taken away from them. But in addition to this – distractions are removed. For people that haven’t dealt with some things or faced up to their feelings about certain areas of their life – they will now be face with a lot of things to deal with. And it can feel magnified – arriving all at once.

It soon becomes habitual for people soothe themselves with drink, or numb yourself by not eating. Before people realise it they are in a cycle of destruction. The big question is how to get out of it.

Here are some suggestions as to how you can help yourself –

• Slow down. As difficult as it is, take some time out.
• Make sure you get out for a walk every day and get some fresh air
• Take time in your week to exercise
• Write your feelings down in a journal.
• Practice good self-care – eating, drinking, sleeping etc
• With food and drink work towards the goal of moderation
• Try to ensure that you are aiming for balance in your life
• Talk to your friends and family – try not to totally isolate
• Remember you are not alone
• Seek counselling if you can – therapy can make a massive difference. This is all available on line now.
• Speak to your doctor if you feel you need medication
• Try and find different coping strategies
• Introduce some calmer behaviours in – such as yoga, reading, meditation etc
• Make yourself a priority
• Treat yourself as you would your best friend
• Be kind to yourself
• Remember what you are worth
• Try to keep it in the day
• Take things one step at a time
• Focus on your breathing
• Remember this will eventually pass
• Look for different activities to invest your time in
• Think about positive goals for the future

The strain on relationships.

Relationships are complicated and often people don’t actually acknowledge and realise the amount of effort and nurturing that needs to go into them.

This is even more magnified now that we are all in isolation. It is only natural that all relationships will be put under pressure. This doesn’t just mean the intensity of the relationships within the home you are isolating in. It also means the strain on your other relationships and the impact this can have.

The majority of people that come into the counselling room are struggling with the relationships in their lives. Currently this is coming up more and more in the therapy room.

It doesn’t just relate to couples. It can mean siblings, parents, friends, work colleagues. The list goes on and on.

We are all currently under a lot of pressure – stress levels are high. Patience is short. People are very tired and a lot of people are very anxious. Isolation can lead to frustration. It can put a lot of pressure on people financially for example. It can also put a large strain on families trying to home school and work at the same time. Finally if someone has gone through any kind of recent break up or bereavement then they are likely to feel even more alone right now. Depression can start to sink in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People often take relationships for granted. They can make assumptions about other people, or presume that they know what they are thinking. This results in relationships being taken for granted. It is when this happens that they can break down.

Another big issue in relationships is expectations. People can often expect those around them to know what they want and need. But if this isn’t effectively communicated, then the people around them won’t know how to help.

If you want to hear from people more at the moment – then let them know. They may be struggling just as much as you are with the isolation. Or they may be getting through the days they best they can. With their own struggles and ideas about how to manage it.

As hard as it can be at times push yourself to send a message, to make a call, to communicate online. The more you connect – the better you will feel. Ask your friends and family to talk each week. Make the time to call them. Or arrange a time to speak online. Maybe plan a program to watch at the same time and message while your doing it. Or arrange a time to do a workout in your living rooms and both be online. We all need to think outside the box at the moment. And it is through doing that that you will find more time in your week to connect to other people.

Right now it is so important that people don’t take each other for granted. We all need to put time and effort into our relationships and we need to make sure that they are still a priority – despite the isolation that we currently face.

 

 

When people take each other for granted, or they don’t talk about what they need, then relationships can break down. Siblings can end up falling out or feeling hurt in some way. Work colleagues can get frustrated and annoyed with one another, leaving them feeling resentful and upset. All of this can raise stress levels. In romantic relationships people can often feel betrayed, and let down so deeply that they may turn to another person for comfort. This is how affairs begin – physical or emotional ones. In addition to this friendships can waver, and people can fall out with one another.

Relationships are hard to maintain and effective relationships require effort. Open communication is key. People need to talk to one another. It sounds relatively simple, but talking is one of the biggest things that people often struggle with. As well as talking people need to make the quality time for one another. Right now are methods of communication are different and the time we can give to one another is also different. But both should still be respected.

Respect is a vital part of a relationship. So if your on a call. Sit down and take that call. Make the time to truly listen to someone and give them your full focus. If your online talking – sit down and give the person / people your talking with your full time. Just as you would if you were out in a restaurant etc. It is tempting right now to carry on doing jobs at the same time as we speak. It is tempting right now to be distracted because its easier to be when your on the phone / online. A lot of that also stems from anxiety and stress. Because the more anxious and stressed people are the more agitated they feel.

But try to make a point of being respectful to those you communicate it with. Give them your time. You will be amazed at the difference it makes – to them and to you.

In addition to this – think about other people at the moment. Be mindful of those who may feel more alone and isolated. Reach out to them. You never know the battles people are facing. And you never know the difference contact can make. Its easy for all of us right now to get into our own routines / schedules. As we try to manage this difficult time. But it is so important to take the time to reach out – and to all get through this together.

In addition to this take the time to nurture and value the relationships in your own home. Once again anxiety, stress and pressure. It can all take away from the people that are most important to us. Slow down – take the time to hug and hold the ones you love. Make sure you really listen to them. Give them your full time and attention. Turn your phone off. Switch off from social media. Have a cut off point during the day where you are truly connecting to those closest to you. It is so tempting to get caught up in everything else right now. But don’t over look the importance of those closest to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sit down – eat meals together, play games, watch films, laugh, create photo collages, exercise together, paint, draw, colour, do quizzes, dance, play music, make a jar of happy memories, make a jar of things you want to do when this is all over. Invest some time with those you truly love. Its been given to us now – and while it is not easy. While it comes with its challenges. It can also be beautiful if we channel it in the right way.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with any issues in relationships then please get in touch with us 07590 663938 or info@yourcounsellingservice.co.uk

We are currently offering online and telephone counselling and we are also offering reduced rates where needed.