As a counsellor and psychotherapist, I also experience life’s difficulties and troubles. Like my clients, I have times when my emotions take over. I have to stop and stand back and reflect. An effective counsellor understands feeling weak and vulnerable. We know what it means to make changes to our world in order to be able to function in a healthier way. I know what it means to look after my own well-being.
These are uncertain times for us. Anxiety caused by the corona virus is rising daily. The lack of control and power is making some of us feel extremely vulnerable. Emotions are running high. We are worried about ourselves and our loved ones. We all know people who are particularly vulnerable and risk. Our physical health is at risk. But so is our mental health. But we can learn how to minimise the anxiety of the corona virus pandemic.
Are you looking for your place of work to become the environment where you have the most value? Are you attempting to get your emotional needs met at work? Is work taking up so much time and energy that you have no time for a life outside of the office? If this rings true for you, that it might be time to stand back and address your work-life balance. It might be time to explore how to make sure your life away from the office has as much meaning and value as possible.
Do you feel stuck? Are you doubting yourself? Why this is happening? The answer could be really simple: you might be stuck in certain, limiting ways of perceiving yourself and the world around you. Inflexible thinking is exhausting. It causes stress and anxiety. It results in black and white thinking where options are either very limited or simply not available. When we are stuck in in this mode of thinking, we are blocking ourselves from our real potential. Inflexible thinking can lead to anxiety, stress and depression.
A healthy mind goes alongside a healthy body. It may be an age old little saying, but the evidence that exercise can boost our mental health is growing all the time.
There is a brilliant article in The Guardian that explores the link between exercise and mental health problems like anxiety and depression. One of the first questions I ask a client (along with “how is your sleep?) is: “Do you exercise?”
My official title is Psychotherapist. But I also call myself a counsellor and a coach. And a question I hear regularly is: “Do I need a psychotherapist, a counsellor or a coach?” For some the idea of “psychotherapy” is frightening. It suggests mental illness. Or that there are mental health issues that need to be resolved and that it will be a lengthy, emotionally painful process. In my opinion, it does not need to be either. I see many clients who are living with depression or the impact of terrible traumas. But the style of psychotherapy I use aims to resolve these as quickly and as with as little emotional pain as possible.
But there are many others who give me a ring and come along to see me who are living healthy and, mostly, fulfilling lives. Why have they asked to see me?
I was recently asked by Brighter Spaces in Islington to write a blog for them. Having a strong background in education, I decided to follow a regular theme of mine: stress and wellbeing difficulties in teenagers
Something is happening to our teenagers and we, the adults, need to start listening. I have a background in secondary schools as I have only recently left the classroom in order to follow my psychotherapy and counselling career on a full-time basis. Over my teaching career, I have seen a massive shift in what is troubling young people. It is far too easy to lay the blame on social media. Frankly, I am bored of hearing that as THE reason behind the difficulties our young people are having. We need to look beyond that and ask ourselves: what is really going on?
If you are someone who is wondering what “self care” is or what you can do to take better care of yourself, I would suggest giving this book a read. In this book, Karin explains and guides you through what it means to take care of yourself. Our modern world can be tricky and yet she explains simple and practical strategies that you can start your new self care regime immediately.
If you are a loved one is struggling to understand or recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I can highly recommend you read this book.
Rosalind Townsend is a psychotherapist with a wealth of experience in helping those who have had to deal with trauma. We used to think that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was something that only those in the military would have to deal with and it was first called “Shell Shock”. Now, the definition is much more realistic and anyone who has experienced a major traumatic event such as rape, a terrorist attack, being mugged or living in an abusive relationship can fit the criteria
Most children will go through a phase where they might find the world around them and the ensuing emotions a little tough to handle. This can lead to anger or temper tantrums; poor sleep and a raft of other childhood emotional difficulties. For parents these phases can be equally tough. Parent and child often do not have the coping skills to manage these difficult phases. Parents often ask me if there is anything they can give their child to read that might make understanding what they are going through a little easier.
That day that everyone dreads is fast approaching: A level and GSCE results day. Sadly, the anticipation ruins the holiday for many young people and their families. The stress of needing certain grades can play on their minds all summer. Luckily for many, they will open the envelope and wonder why they allowed themselves to get so wound up. They will survive results day with a smile and a celebration.
But there will be those who sadly will not get the grades they were so desperately hoping for.
In Part 2, I looked at factors that can cause stress in the workplace. Now, I am going to focus on some stress busting techniques in the workplace. I have written about stress and work life balance before. But here are some reminders and some new tips that are aimed at keeping the stress levels as low as possible.
In Part 1, I explained our basic emotional needs and our innate resources. I am now going to focus on major causes of workplace stress.
Firstly, it needs to be said that a bit of stress is good for us. Helpful stress is what stretches us; makes us strive and learn new things and feel exhilarated. Stretch normally happens when our needs are being met and our innate resources are being used and developed in a healthy way. It motivates us to perform at our best. But when that stress becomes overwhelming or constant and we never get the time to “rest and digest”, it becomes unhealthy and it can result in exhaustion or burnout. And the result of that is often mental and / or physical ill health.
In this first part of this series on Workplace Stress, I am going to explore the foundations of what we need in order to be emotionally and mentally healthy within the workplace. Over the next few blogs, I am going to show you how to recognise and prevent stress in the workplace.
Shakespeare knew what he was talking about in Henry IV, Part 2! A good night’s sleep is essential to our physical and mental health and general wellbeing.
One of the first questions I always ask a client is: tell me about your sleeping routine. A disrupted sleeping pattern is usually a clear sign that the client is experiencing emotional difficulties. It is not always easy to determine which came first. But the link between poor or disrupted sleep and emotional and physical difficulties is very clear.
Young people like you all over the country are busy revising for their upcoming GCSE and A Level exams. Anxiety and stress levels for you and your parents are rising. In order to make the most of these exams, it is important to keep an eye on your mental health and wellbeing. The next in the exam season series is going to focus on keeping the anxiety and stress levels as low as possible.
Recently, an article appeared in The Daily Mail in which it was claimed that because of the pressure of achieving top grades at GCSE or A Level, there are parents who are cancelling or postponing family holidays in the buildup to exam season.
As a teacher and counsellor, I think this is a really bad idea. What would be much better is to continue with the planned holiday but to help the child use the break in a constructive way as time away from home is good for the entire family. But the basic rule is: Establish a routine.
Social Life: You need one. You cannot spend all day alone. Making time for meaningful face to face interaction (not on a screen) with your close friends will give you much needed down time and a shift in focus. But having chats with your classmates also allows you to gain perspective. You might realise you do actually know that complicated bit of Physics or you don’t know it quite as well as you thought you did and you need to revisit it.
Firstly, it has to be said that there is no substitution for hard work. You cannot go into the exams if you are not prepared academically. But more about that at another time. This guide is aimed at what you can do to prepare yourself emotionally for the exam season by keeping exam stress and anxiety as low as possible.
We are edging closer to the time of year that parents and adolescents dread the most: exam time. For some the important GCSE and A Level exams are now less than two months away. Exam stress and anxiety can set in. As a parent, what can you do to keep this down to a minimum?
Here are my top 5 tips that could help you minimise stress while at work.
1 Start and finish the day well
This could be as simple as ensuring you are not rushing out the door or running for your train. Children are always told: pack your school bag the night before. Well, we as adults should do the same. Preparation for tomorrow starts today. Get to be bed early enough that you get enough sleep. If you have a presentation tomorrow, pack what you need for it before going to bed. Check laptop is charged. Check your presentation is backed up. Pre-empt anything that could go wrong by preventing it before bedtime. And then on the journey, what can you do to relax? Read? Listen to some music?
A lot has been said lately about out work-life balance and its impact on our wellbeing. A recent study in New Zealand found a four day week led to lower stress levels and higher productivity. Let’s be blunt: this option (in the UK it would be called “part-time”) is not an option for most of us.
Here are some ideas if you feel that work is possibly taking over too much:
We have all had times when the world becomes a little much for us. Mine was in my 20s when a severe bout of depression hit me. Back in those days it was called a “nervous breakdown”. Luckily that term is not used as much anymore. A “major depressive episode” would have been for more appropriate. “Episode” suggests it will be fleeting and temporary rather than something that is physically broken. A course of antidepressants and lithium followed and ultimately a 6-month course of psychotherapy. Although painful at the time, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. By that point I was a teacher with a Psychology degree and a postgraduate qualification in Counselling. The irony did not pass me by. But what I learnt from it was invaluable. I was lucky that I ended up with a top quality therapist who helped me find my way through it.
A lot has been said recently about mobile phones and the classroom. Some of it useful. I am a teacher and a Human Givens therapist. I think I have an understanding of both the learning potential that a mobile can offer as well as its potential risks to the mental health and wellbeing of the child or adolescent. Yes, mobiles and everything that goes with them can be damaging to our mental health. Well, pollution is bad for our mental health. Does that mean we all have to escape the city and live in the countryside? The mobile phone is here to stay. Instead of trying to ban them from schools, we would be much wiser to engage with the teenagers’ model of reality and learn with them how we can use the mobile in a way that is productive.
I recently saw a 10-year-old boy who was struggling with his parents’ breakup. He was living with his mother and younger brother and had regular contact with his father over Skype. On the surface he was coping quite well and school mentioned that he was showing signs of acceptance but what they had noticed were moments of anger outbursts and a drop in his academic performance.
Being a Human Givens practitioner means accepting the premise of the approach: we all have emotional needs. Here is my take on applying the relevant ones to the classroom.
Each pupil needs to feel safe in the classroom. As a teacher, I need to create an environment where it is safe to ask and answer a question. Too often pupils are scared to speak up out of the fear of being wrong. It is my responsibility to make it clear that it is safe to make mistakes. Getting things wrong is part of learning. Why is it wrong? How do I get to a more correct answer? Is there even a correct answer? Sometimes this might mean having to explore more of a Growth Mindset by reframing in the following way: You might not know the answer YET.