There is no right way.

Right now, all of our normality has been thrown up in the air. There is no set routine, no structure, no regular work patterns, no specific educational systems. Everything is so different, and consequently many people are feeling unsure, at times anxious and experiencing a loss of control.

We have been given many sets of rules and different sets of guidelines, and we have been asked to adhere to them. And so we are all doing our best to keep safe and healthy, but also to keep others safe and healthy. Stay at home, work from home, learn from home, social distancing, masks, no social life – and so it goes on. The list is endless – and we are all doing our best to keep to it every single day.

Right now, is not the time for any kind of judgement. Everyone we meet or know is facing a battle. Everyone is more stressed then usual and coping with many different factors. There are challenges everywhere. It is not easy for anyone. And as everyone finds their own way through this all – it is important that we remember that there is no right way of doing things.

 

By this I do not mean the rules or following the guidelines. I mean with the way that people cope. While some will exercise more, others will exercise less. While some will walk every day, others will remain indoors. Some will drink more alcohol, and some will detox. Some will start cooking more and some will develop unhealthy eating patterns. Some people will use it as a time to academically develop or learn. Some will take up new hobbies or interests. While others will watch box sets and films. Many will paint and decorate while others will follow social media more. There is not a right or wrong way of doing this. Lockdown does not have to be all about achievement and it also does not have to be all about not achieving. There is a balance. There is somewhere in the middle. It is important that we appreciate that – but it’s also important that we understand what that really means.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many people swing from posting photos about the blissful walks and quality time with their family – to then feeling so low and emotional that they haven’t see friends and extended family for so long. Many go from being super proactive and communicating online with others – to then feeling very reclusive and not reaching out. Lots of people range from being super healthy to drinking and eating then they usually would. And this range can happen all within the space of a week.

If you think about it – this is like a roller coaster for all of us. There are ups, there are downs, there are highs and there are lows. And in all honesty the roller coaster keeps going around and around. We are unsure right now about when this will stop or when this will end. We are waiting, we are uneasy, and we are all being very patient in the process. These are difficult times. The challenges are real, and they are tough. During the process all we can do is be kind to ourselves and look after ourselves as best we can.

There is a whole box of self-care that we can throw at ourselves right now – something I often write about in my blogs. Think about what that means to you and start applying it. Give yourself the time and space that you need right now to be ok. Look after yourself. Focus on what it is that you need to do.

 

Just remember in the process that what works for you –doesn’t always work for other people. What you apply to yourself is not necessarily the best thing for anyone else. And while what you do to cope is right for you – for someone else it might be something totally different.

So slow down sometimes, press pause sometimes, take the pressure off at times, and remember above all – there is no right way to cope. There are things that help us all – but each one of us has very different needs. Remember to always show compassion – and to always suspend any judgement.

In a world where you can be anything – be kind.

Survival

Right now we are surrounded by so much fear and uncertainty. Life doesn’t offer anything predictable at the moment. Despite our best efforts to carve out some kind of structure and routine, curve balls can hit as at any given moment. To be fair – they already are.

Everywhere you look people are adjusting. Working from home. Exercising from home. Teaching from home. Socialising from home. Shopping from home. Self-care from home. Life is being lived via a screen. Our only outlets are daily walks or runs.

So much change. So much adjustment. And every week it changes. We are continually told new information. We are constantly waiting for the next set of instructions. We all know why we are doing it, and we are all committed to keeping ourselves and others safe.  Yet that doesn’t take away the challenges we face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right now, there is so much isolation. There is such an impact on psychological wellbeing. There is so much fear and uncertainty around us. People have lost their outlets. There sense of human connection. The ability to touch, to hug, and to be close to loved ones. That sense of belonging. The essence of community. Its all changed. Its all been taken. There is so much overwhelming loss.

 

So what if right now all we need to do is survive??

Therapeutically we often talk about keeping it in the day. We focus particularly in recovery on taking things one day at a time. This is so important – now more then ever.

Right now we cant plan too far ahead. We can’t make decisions about social events, holidays etc. We can’t plan when we will see our friends or family. There is so much distance and so much sadness. We do not know when we will be able to do these things. And as Christmas showed us all. It is too painful to plan and then have those plans taken away from you.

 

Even day-to-day things can change. While we may try to put routine and structure in place the rules and guidelines are constantly changing. As are the lives of those around us. Nothing is certain, nothing is set in stone and that is leaving people with an overwhelming sense of vulnerability.

  • Maybe now is not the time to set yourself new goals.
  • Maybe now is not the time to put immense pressure on yourself around things like food, drink or exercise.
  • Maybe now is not the time to plan too far ahead.
  • Maybe now is not the time to stress about the things you cannot control.
  • Maybe now is not the time to set new targets.
  • Maybe now is not the time to say yes to everything.
  • Maybe now is not the time to work to excess
  • Maybe now is not the time to worry about not getting it right

Maybe now IS the time to focus on your survival.

Take it day by day. Slow it right down. Focus just on today. Think about what it is that you need today. What would help you right now? What would make things more challenging right now. Remove as much stress as you can. Strip it back the basics.

  • Make sure you eat regularly.
  • Listen to your body and give it what it needs – everything in moderation.
  • Take time for yourself – even half an hour can make such a difference.
  • Slow down where possible.
  • Switch off from social media when you can.
  • Switch off from the news when you can.
  • Communicate when you want too – but be quiet when you want too.
  • Be still when you can.
  • Get outside and take in nature.
  • Remember to breathe. Even If your sick of hearing that. Its so important to focus on it.
  • It isn’t always that easy to sleep. But try to create a routine that enables you to rest and re charge as much as possible.
  • Focus on the things you are grateful for.
  • Reach out when you need support.
  • Do something that makes you smile every day.
  • Re charge those batteries as much as you can.
  • Above all – be kind to yourself.

And remember – right now, life is about survival. It isn’t about excelling. It isn’t about perfection or achievement. It is simply about surviving.

We can’t calm the storm. But we can calm the way we respond to it.

The stressful side of Christmas….

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

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

On top of this there is even more stress to contend with this year – as we negotiate our way through social bubbles, which households to see, the tiers we are in and the anxiety of the pandemic that we are all trying to currently cope with.

As a result many people are feeling very run down.  It has been a very long and draining year.  As Christmas approaches many people are faced with insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns. Others are coming down with various illnesses and some with Covid19 itself. Many are facing isolation as a result of positive tests. Others are isolating to protect others. We are surrounded by uncertainty and worry.  This comes out differently depending on how people cope with stress. For many this can include things like depression, sadness, anxiety, lack of motivation etc.

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Generally eating and drinking can also be a very difficult thing for people to manage at this time of year. And it is also something that people have struggled with throughout this year. Lockdown for example left many people eating and drinking in a different way to usual.  Many struggled to regulate and moderate, and extremes often lead to low mood, low self worth and at times depression and anxiety.

At Christmas time people often find that they can over indulge and this can bring about its own difficulties and emotional ups and downs.  But in addition to this for those in recovery it can be really hard to cope with Christmas.  Imagine if your living with anorexia, and being faced with the prospect of a full Christmas dinner, or if your bulimic and surrounded by loads of food.  Or contemplate what it feels like to be an alcoholic facing so many social functions where alcohol is the focus.  All of this is incredibly challenging.

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

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

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Throughout this year many relationships have undergone extreme strain. Many families have struggled emotionally and financially. The pressure has been huge. And now as we enter Christmas time there are even more challenges around us.

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

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

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

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

Here at your counselling service we recognise the stresses and strains of this year, as well as those at Christmas time. Our service doesn’t stop for the holidays.  So if things feel too much and you would like someone to talk to then please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or drop us an e mail.

(07590 663938 or info@yourcounsellingservice.co.uk)

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

I am good enough.

Knowing you are good enough.

Sounds relatively simple doesn’t it??

Being able to believe in yourself.

Goes without saying doesn’t it??

Seeing your own value.

That comes easily doesn’t it?

If only…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

For many individuals, the ability to see themselves positively doesn’t come easily. The viewpoint that they matter is not one that comes naturally. The image of themselves as good enough – well that is not an image that they frequently have of themselves.

It could be. But knowing you are good enough is a skill. And like anything we have to learn it.

When we are born into the world, we have no idea of what to expect. We do not know what the path ahead has to offer. We do not know what opportunities and challenges are coming our way. We have not formed our sense of self or identity yet – all of that grows and develops over time. And it does not happen quickly or easily.

As we grow and develop, we rely on those around us to help us. We look to our parents, extended families and friends for guidance. We don’t know as young infants or even as young people the art of liking or loving ourselves. In fact the world feels pretty confusing and at times quite scary. So how can we even begin to know these things. We have to learn. We need to be taught. Guided and shown. As we grow up it isn’t just about learning academically or developing a skillset. It isn’t just about passing tests or excelling at different subjects. We also need to develop emotionally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We need to learn about our own emotional needs and how to take care of them. We also need to learn how to respond to them. We need to know that it is ok to be ourselves and to have all the different feelings that we have. Fundamentally we also need to learn that we are ok – just the way we are. And consequently we need to learn that – we ‘are good enough’.

This is of course something that some of us do learn from a young age and are able to take forward with us throughout our life. However for a lot of people this is something that they never really learnt. This is something they never really developed. And this is something that they weren’t always shown. Consequently this leaves what we call in therapy the ‘not good enough’ button. Something that can easily be pressed.

Whether that be through issues with friends, challenges at work, dynamics in relationships, conflict within the family etc. It doesn’t specifically apply to one area of life. It can come up at different times and in different places and points throughout someone’s life. They may find themselves feeling less then, as they have failed in some way, as though they aren’t good enough in comparison to others. The list is endless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course human beings don’t mean to have this impact or effect on any one else. Most of the time they don’t set out to cause any upset.  It can however happen. And when it does people can be left with that really vulnerable uncertain feeling – where they just don’t feel good enough.

The key here is that it is never too late to work on this. It is never too late to try and chance our inner monologue. We have the ability and the power to turn things around. We have the capability to improve the way we feel about ourselves. It may feel like climbing a mountain at first. It may seem overwhelming at first. But change is always possible. Taking that leap of faith isn’t easy at all. But once we start -it gets a lot easier.

It starts with self care – the way we nurture and take care of ourselves. It begins with the time and investment that we put into ourselves and into our own life. The ‘you’ time. Learning to value who you are and the time you give yourself is so important. Slowing down and making the relationship that you have with yourself the most important one. That’s where real change can take place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It moves on to doing the things that make you happy in your life. Striking the balance. The balance between work, friends, family, partners, exercise, down time etc. Finding that happy medium – so that you are doing the things in life that you want to do. And none of them are to excess or not done enough.

It moves on to learning to know who you truly are. Taking the time to understand yourself more. And investing the time in working out how you came to feel the way you do about yourself. Therapy can really help with that. It unpicks unhelpful and destructive patterns. It helps makes sense of why you feel the way that you do and why certain things have then gone on to happen. It’s a great opportunity to learn about yourself. But also to change the parts of yourself that are damaging. The parts that aren’t working for you and the parts that aren’t serving you well. Understanding behavior and changing patterns. They go hand in hand to make things easier to manage in life.

Finally you reach a place where you can start to like yourself. And maybe even one day love yourself. Your automatic response is not beat yourself up instantly. You don’t spend your time putting yourself down in some way or immediately blaming yourself for the things that have gone wrong. Instead you start to talk to yourself in a kinder and more compassionate way. You are able to show love and care towards yourself. You are able to listen to what it is that your body and mind needs. Instead of that ‘not good enough’ button being pressed so easily – you are able see where other peoples stuff comes from and in turn to understand that not everything can be your fault.

You reach a place where you can say I am ok. I have got this. You may not feel it every single day. But your there most of the time. And that is what really matters.

 

 

 

Clarity.

It is amazing what a bit of clarity does for us.

Sometimes we get so caught up in everything we ‘need’ to do, that we lose our sense of perspective.

Sometimes we are so busy achieving or doing that we do not make the time to stop and evaluate.

Sometimes life happens on auto pilot. And consequently, things never change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When was the last time you stopped and truly looked around you? When did you last make the time to think about the way you are living? To ask yourself if you are truly happy and to ask yourself if you are ok with the way that things are going? For many people it becomes more common to not stop. It becomes more common to keep going and never question. It becomes the norm to go round and round in circles.

As a result, stress builds. As a result, anxiety starts to rise. As a result, low mood and even depression can creep in. If as individual’s we are not fulfilled, then everything will start to build up and get on top of us. If as individual’s we do not make time for ourselves or for the things that we need – then we will never truly be content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clarity. That moment of clarity. Is so important and so significant. Slow down. Make some space. Pause. Reflect. And in doing so you will be able to think about what it is that you truly need.

Are you a person that loves to read? If so when did you last read a book?

Are you a person that loves to study? If so when did you last learn something new?

Are you a person that loves to be outdoors? If so, are you making time for walks?

Are you a person that thrives on keeping fit? If so, are you making time to exercise?

Are you a person that enjoys socialising? If so. are you making the time to connect?

The list goes on….

Currently there are many restrictions for all of us. But there are still ways of getting these needs met. For example, we can still walk outside with a friend or family member. We can still exercise with another outside or by ourselves at home. We can still study, we can still make phone calls, video calls etc to connect. We can still read etc.

Lockdown can feel like a barrier in so many ways. It can create this mental block – or lead to the phrase ‘we can’t do that’. But how about thinking about what you can do?? How about thinking of positive ways to use this current lockdown. How about trying to reframe things? To use your time differently. To make some space for you and the things that you need?

How is your self-care for example? Are you making time to run that bath? Watch that program? Get that sleep? Are you eating moderately and keeping alcohol to a moderate amount? These things all have a massive impact on us. And when they start to slip that is when we begin to truly suffer.

 

Many people have struggled with sleep during lockdown. Or with the amount they are drinking or eating. Perhaps this lockdown is an opportunity to change that. Perhaps it is a chance to do things differently. Do not look back at what has been. No good can come from beating yourself up about the way things were before. At that moment you were surviving. You were doing the best you could in the given moment. But maybe now its time to learn from that. To take away the things you do not want to do again and to look at the things that you would like to do differently.

Clarity – once you find it. You will feel calmer and clearer all around.

Press pause today. Think about your life balance. What is working for you? What is not? What would you like to do differently? How would you like to move forward?

If I asked you to draw a circle that represented your life – how much of it would be taken up with work? With you time? With family time? With exercise? Self-care? Socialising? How is that balance looking?? Do you need to change something?? Its worth reflecting on. Its worth finding a better balance for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we need that moment of clarity. Maybe we need to slow right down to find it. To be less busy with work. Or to have fewer social commitments. Maybe we need to drink less alcohol or moderate our eating to have a clearer head space. Maybe we need to make more time to be outdoors to clear our thoughts. However, you find it, however you reach it, however you create it – finding clarity it so important. Once you have it – hold on to it tightly. Start to make the changes you need to live a more fulfilled and happy life. Once you do – you will be amazed at how differently you feel in yourself.

Facing another lockdown.

Lockdown….

Not a word we all wanted to hear again. Inevitable many say. Bound to happen others comment. Much needed some say. While some people accept it. Some people rebel against it. There are people that doubt it. And there are others that do not question it all.  Bigger picture – we all know why this is happening. We all know the awful reality of the virus we are living with. We have all been trying to manage our lives the best we can. In the meantime – all around us – people are discussing lockdown. And the impact of it.

Ask yourself the following questions….

How do you feel about lockdown happening again?

What emotions does it bring up for you?

How does it impact on your day to day life?

What are you worried about?

Think about these questions. What the answers bring up for you and reflect on the key things that matter the most to you. How your feeling right now is important. It cannot be ignored. It matters. It cannot be avoided. Its there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now ask yourself these questions…

What did I learn from the last lockdown?

What worked well for me?

What raised my anxiety levels?

What causes me worry or stress?

When you evaluate what did not work last time and think about what didn’t go well for you. You can then start to think about the things that you want to do differently this time. You can start to plan how you are going to manage this lockdown. You can start to put things in place to make it easier for yourself. You can start to work on what it is that you need this time. You can put in place a plan that works for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, it is not possible to control this situation – but it is possible to control the way that you respond to it.

Think about the last time we were locked down. And focus on the parts that did go well for you and did work. Think about the things that made you feel better and the things that made you feel calmer. Identify those things and make space for them going forward over the next month.

Here are some examples to consider –

If a lot of time spent online talking to friends/family didn’t work for you last time. Perhaps this time you need to make sure you arrange walks in your week with a friend or family member. Get outside and catch up face to face – rather than online.

If you found that you did not exercise last time and it pulled you down. Then put a plan in place to do some work outs this time. Plan a run, a bike ride, or meet up with another friend outside and do something together. It will make you feel better.  Likewise if you went the other way and exercised excessively last time – then make a plan to limit the amount you do this time round.

If you found that you drank too much alcohol last time then make a positive commitment this time round – to not get drawn into that again. Focus on the difference between the weekend and the week. Plan days off alcohol. Work out a plan that suits you.

If last time around your eating was affected – in either direction. Then this time focus on keeping to a routine. Plan your shopping, plan your meals – eat regularly and take care of yourself. Make it fun if you can – cooking different things. Approach it differently and as calmly as you can. Of course if you are struggling with an eating disorder then make sure you continue with your therapy and your commitment to recovery during this time.

Fundamentally if you didn’t take care of yourself properly last time – then focus on self-care. Know when you need to rest – to stop and slow down. Take that bath if you need too. Watch that program. Read that book. Invest some time in you. You matter – and you will feel so much better if you take care of yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think about your routine last time – whether that was in relation to childcare, education, work, loved ones etc. Recognise the parts that you need to work on and do differently this time.  Sit down calmly and think about your approach to this next lockdown. What is it that you need to do?? Do you need to create an office space? Do you need to think of a project to focus on? Do you need to think of some activities to do? Focus on what it is that you need right now. As soon as you identify what it is that you need. You will feel so much better.

Remember – you have got this.

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.