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Self Help Blogs

Self Care Reminder

I like to keep the conversation around ‘self care’ alive, not only with my clients but also with my colleagues and supervisees. The counselling and caring professions can suck our energy and if one does not take good care of themselves, this can become depleting overtime – It can really take it’s toll on physical and emotional well-being.

I read a quote which said ‘Self care isn’t selfish or over-indulgent. It’s not a luxury – it is essential’. It’s so true. Self care should not be something we treat ourselves with from time to time, nor should it be something we just squeeze in, it should be a part of our daily lives.

Having talked to a few people about this some feel ‘bad’ about trying to prioritise their own needs, others might feel ‘too busy’ for self care. I think people can struggle to balance work and other commitments which leaves little time and energy to focus on the ‘self’ (even though the desire to do so is there).

Sadly, if self care  is neglected over time, this can lead to a general dissatisfaction of life, and physical and emotional problems. We might begin to feel disconnected from our own very selves.  In more extreme situations this might lead to ‘burn out’.

Stop to reflect, is this happening to you at work or home? Back to back appointments…skipping lunch…deadlines to meet, so you’re working really hard… emergencies to deal with… little rest…?!

Think about how you can take the responsibility of your well-being.

Where can you add in some time for ‘self care’.

A short walk and fresh air

Eating lunch away from your desk

Saying no when you have too much on

Slowing down generally, maybe trying two minutes of mindfulness breathing in-between appointments.

SMALL changed can make a BIG difference

We can’t give anything to others if we have nothing left to give. We must give to ourselves first; where it all begins. When we board a plane, we are advised that we must put our own oxygen mask on before putting on someone else’s. The same applies to self care.

 

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Uncategorized

Gratitude

This concept is so widely used these days. It has become a popular area of research with studies proving a link between gratitude and better emotional well being. It has become a psychological intervention – you may have come across the term in self-help and modern philosophy literature. Interestingly, this makes it all seem really complicated, but really it is so simple and underpins many religious and spiritual teachings.

When did we stop being grateful? Why do we need to be told to practice gratitude?  We can get so consumed with the demands of  society that we become tunnel visioned and perhaps a bit target orientated – looking for more and not actually feeling satisfied with what we already have. This way of thinking can be a hard habit to break, but an important one to break if you really want to appreciate life and feel joy. Practicing a bit of gratitude everyday can be a good way to start ‘training’ yourself to notice the positives and usually these can be the littlest and most simplistic things in life, yet the most life changing.

I explore with clients creative ways to feel and show thankfulness, appreciation and gratitude. One of my favourite suggestions (and one I use myself) is to make or buy yourself a Gratitude ‘Container’ – mine is a jar which I have decorated with gems and beads. You might choose a box or a tin. Make it feel special. Every night write down what you have been grateful for that day and place it in your container. Don’t worry if you don’t remember ‘feeling’ grateful at that time but replay your day in your mind and wonder about where you ‘could’ have felt grateful. Keep adding to your  container regularly and watch it build over time. Initially this might feel like an effort but eventually it will become second nature.

The more situations you recognise a reason to be grateful for, the more genuine gratitude will begin to feel. You will become happier about what you have in your life and less worried about what you don’t. Not only will you accept yourself better you will become more accepting of others and generally more positive about life.

Categories
Spiritual Blogs

A Celebration of Maternal Bonds

Mothers Day

Donald Winnicot, pediatrician and psychoanalyst considered the concept of the ‘Good Enough Mother/Parent’. He believed that if a mother/primary carer provides a ‘holding’ environment for their infant adapting to their needs (Feeding, bathing, comforting, holding…), the infant will develop into an autonomous being.

It’s Mother’s day today in the UK; a celebration of maternal bonds. I’ve been reflecting on the mother and child relationship, drawing up on my counselling work with children, young people and women. In my pre-twenties I was naive enough to assume that all women are naturally ‘maternal’ . During my psychology studies I became interested in psychotherapy from a feminist perspective and began to learn otherwise. For years after I worked in a number of women’s organisations offering therapeutic support and counselling.

Sadly, not all mothers can provide their children with that holding environment  for various reasons; stress, life’s demands, mental health issues, domestic abuse, their own upbringing, their self esteem etc. Not all children grow into autonomous little beings and therefore don’t learn how to cope with life. This can cause anxiety, depression and relationship difficulties as adults.

In the absence of the ‘Good Enough Mother’, some children are fortunate enough to  get their needs met from other adults; relatives, carers, teachers and these relationships can be the difference between make or break.

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Counselling aims to re-create this ‘maternal/paternal’ relationship by providing a ‘holding’ environment that Donald Winnicot  considered as essential to help people develop their autonomy. Counselling gives another opportunity to experience a nurturing relationship that was unavailable or somewhat limited in childhood.

Through counselling people can start to develop trust in themselves that maybe wasn’t learnt as a child from adult carers but can be experienced with a ‘Good Enough Therapist’ later in life. Experiencing this nurturing relationship encourages you to begin nurturing yourself, giving a greater sense of self acceptance. By learning to nurture yourself, you begin to take responsibility over your emotional well being – it’s almost as if the ‘parent’ part of you starts to take care of the ‘child’ part of you. This can help you to feel more confident about facing challenging situations in life once counselling comes to end.

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Counselling & Therapy

Why Talk?

How can ‘talking’ help?

It’s always interesting to hear ‘talking doesn’t change anything’ ‘why drag up the past?’.

These are valid questions that people have and I guess it can help to flip the question around to give a different perspective, ‘what could happen if you didn’t talk or express your feelings?’

My initial responses to this question are:

DepressedEmotions might manifest physically causing headaches, stomach problems, insomnia, rashes & unexplained illnesses.

Feelings may build up and present themselves through agitation, stress and overwhelming emotions.

Day to day tasks and responsibilities might feel like too much.

Imagine if you could alleviate some of these feelings, how would that feel? Wouldn’t it be great if your headaches reduced or even stopped, or if you didn’t get wound up that easily anymore and as a result your relationships were better?

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The idea of ‘free association’ comes from Freud, who believed that if we ‘freely talk’ we can start to become aware of underlying feelings. Even though these may not have been conscious prior to therapy, they most likely have been causing difficulties in your life without you even realising.

You may suddenly become aware of the reasons why you struggle to be assertive in your relationships for example. Maybe in the past your needs weren’t prioritised by others so you’ve learnt to become a ‘people-pleaser’. Counselling can really empower you to break such patterns that have become the norm but aren’t necessarily emotionally healthy for you. You can start to think about your own needs (as well as others!) by coming to counselling.

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You might be reading this and wondering ‘why not just talk to a good friend, why a counsellor?’

It’s absolutely not necessary to talk through feelings with a counsellor, what’s important is to find positive healthy ways to express them. A cuppa and a chat with a friend might really benefit you in some ares of your life, however there might be  particular things you’d rather share with a professional in confidence.

If you are not sure about counselling, then I offer an initial appointment at a reduced cost which gives you the opportunity to find out more about counselling and how it could help with your personal circumstances. You can find out more here FAQ’s