Category Archives: Anxiety

Instructions on how to eat an Elephant

I love this saying on how to tackle a big project! When someone said this to me, I burst out laughing, appreciating how well those simple words captured the feelings and overwhelm but also gave a simple solution.

How do you eat an Elephant? One step at a time.

For you animal lovers out there who might feel this is inappropriate, there is the other one; How do you complete a long journey? One step at a time.

I have a strategy that helps to manage my anxiety and that is planning. I know it might sound boring to many of you but it works for me, so if I can share a few things, hopefully it will help you too 🙂

I am a big fan of lists and writing things down. If you have something to do, write it down. If you  have no time, break it down into smaller chunks and allocate a day and time for it. That way if you only have 10 mins a day, you can do a little and know you are going in the right direction.

Maybe have a plan of the week displayed so everyone knows what is happening when. This was great when the kids were little and we had loads of clubs, activities, work and chores. Delegate and share the load – maybe this plan can have who is doing what on what day?

What is your priority? If you get that clear in your head and know you’re working towards that, everything else can wait or you can let go of.

If you are struggling managing your time, energies and anxiety, give me a shout. I have helped many others figure out ways to get back on top of their lives and I feel confident I can help you too. It’s not difficult, it’s simply a case of spending some time looking at the bigger picture, breaking things down so they’re achievable and remembering what is important.

‘Me’ time isn’t a myth

My clients hate it when I say this to them. When I ask them about ‘Me’ time, they look at me like I’m talking a different language or offering them something alien.

Do you remember a time when you had time for yourself? Maybe not practically but time in your mind to think, to form a sentence (something I struggle with as a mum, for sure!). And when we have some time for a break, a breather, what do we do? Rush around doing all the jobs we have to do to feel a teeny bit of satisfaction and achievement that never comes.

Let me ask you this. When you say you have ‘no time’ to take out for yourself and recharge, what are you actually saying?
There is time for work, the kids, the washing, ironing, cleaning, dusting, reorganising your sock drawer, watering the dead plants, but no time for you.
So you’re saying you come below the dead plants? That is your level of priority?

You, who holds it all together, who is CEO of the house and family. YOU.
Below the dead plants and socks?

There is no judgement here but come on!! You are so worthy and valuable but you can’t see it.  We’re taught as women to be ‘Good’ which seems to encompass looking after everyone – BUT not at the detriment of your mental and physical health. We can of course look after others, but you don’t have to do it 24/7, every second of the day. And you certainly don’t need anyone’s permission to take a break or feel guilty about it.

I’m sure many of you have heard about the plane safety procedure of putting on your own oxygen mask on before anyone else’s in case of an emergency. And how many of us panic when our phone batteries need charging and we can’t find a charger?

How can you make time for yourself though?

  • Set aside 10 minutes a day just for you. Sit and do nothing. If your mind is racing, let is race, don’t judge or react to the thoughts, let them flow past like you would if you were sitting by a river.
  • Be mindful when you do things. Instead of rushing, take your time and use all your senses; what can you hear? see? smell? feel? What are you saying to yourself? Is there anything that is so heartwarming you’d like to save to memory?
  • Set clear boundaries. If you need time, make sure others know not to disturb you. It’s ok to want privacy when you go to the bathroom you know 😉
  • Be your own best friend. You know when you are tired, so why keep pushing? Be kind to yourself and acknowledge all you’ve done, then be gentle with yourself and say what you would to a friend, ‘hey, did you want a cuppa and a five minute breather?’. It’s a start 🙂
    Why bother with all this though? Creating time for yourself will help you be clearer about your life, where you want to be and where you’re going, about YOU. It helps you feel in control, less stressed and more able to cope at what life throws at you.
    Quite a lot of value and reward for a bit of time for yourself, don’t you think?

My Way to help you live life Your Way

I know I have talked about labels before and for those of you who have been with me for a while now have seen the journey I have been on; Family portraits, Healing photography, Counselling and now, a mix of Counselling and Phototherapy and soon, Coaching. This is me trying to figure things out and be more authentic, finding what I am meant to do in this life!

I have worked with the amazing Judith, a loving, no nonsense business coach, and I was so happy to see she had written a book (JudithMorgan.com/book). This book and Judith’s invitation to join her Blogfest ( JudithMorgan.com/blog), has inspired me to write this post.

You see, being in business is not easy, not at all! You have to be the Director to the Cleaner, master marketing and also do the actual work you want to do. Then there are the personal feelings, the massive ups and downs as you try and navigate and learn everything. Really, it isn’t easy, and that is an understatement.

Reading Judith’s book, I was reminded of the core conditions based in person centred counselling; Unconditional Positive Regard, Congruence and No Judgement. These are the simple but powerful 3 things that make a great counsellor, make the relationship with client work and most importantly, help the client to be more themselves.

I feel this from Judith, and she reminded me that I need to apply these conditions to myself. Trust me, from the start of my studying, I have been trying (again, it’s not easy!) but she broke it down into the practicalities, sharing what others have been feeling and saying. In answering those questions, I didn’t feel alone and I felt inspired!

You see, when we start out in life, on a new journey, on a new project or task maybe, we are a clean slate. We start with motivation, enthusiasm and hope. But as we go on, others start judging, we start comparing, we listen to all this and lose who we are and our original mindset.

We respond to the conditions put on us and we try to conform, fitting in so we don’t stand out but the result is we move further away from our True Selves. It is only with Unconditional Positive Regard, or Love as I like to call it we can get back to our True Selves. Love in the bigger and wider sense, pure Love given to another being for simply existing; no judgement, no expectations but full of support and care and compassion.

But being our True Selves with all these conditions isn’t easy – in life or in business, or in any role. It means we have to look at ourselves with the light on, in detail and face what we fear, what we don’t like, what we can’t cope with. Feelings are tough to face, fear of failure, fear of standing out and being visible, not being a ‘Good Girl’ and being judged and criticised for doing it wrong, for not fitting in.

But the only way to move forward is to trust our instincts, we need to create strong boundaries so we can create spaces of quiet. We need to become our own best friends to really hear what we are saying to ourselves through our feelings, especially the negative ones. And worst of it, we need to to this on our own. Sure there are people out there for support – like Judith, my personal counsellor, my supervisor etc are to me, but essentially, this is a journey we do on our own. That is why it’s most important we have Us on our own side, that gentleness, that self compassion and care.

And what can we find in the quietness? Our True Selves, self worth, self belief, confidence and deep knowing of our own truth.

Sounds fab, doesn’t it? I wish it was easy for me, I wish it was easy for my clients but nope, not easy. Then again, life would be boring if it wasn’t easy, right?

The biggest thing I’ve struggled with is finding my voice. I have so many ideas but how to put it across to help others? And I live with depression, so sometimes my voice is like Eeyore, who wants to hear that?

For a while now I have been putting my self care first (especially after some personal traumas) and encompassing all that means; resting, putting my health first and meeting those needs, accepting support from others (why is this so difficult??), letting go of what is not serving me physically and mentally by decluttering and slowly fixing broken things (again, physically (yay, no more leaking shower!) and mentally).

There is a huge element of being still and quiet, finally finding the time and space to actually hear my own voice and learning to trust my own intuition, without guilt or needing permission. I have cut away so much ‘noise’ in my life, expectations, obligations, shoulds and conditions. It feels so nice to create quietness and to simply be, without judgement and with full acceptance.

I’m trying to write something every day, being self compassionate when things don’t work and being brave and putting it out there. I am learning to trust in my intuition and have learned to see that each business I focus on, each area I study in, each thing I do are all stepping stones to where I want and need to be. It will take time but I’ve got to do it my way, at my pace and learn what I need to say. After all my clients need to SEE me to be able to trust me and work with me. This is my motivation, keeping the bigger picture in mind and I keep telling myself, if I only help ONE person feel happier, then I am successful.

I have been a counsellor now in private practice for a couple of years and feel confident as one but I needed more. The counselling world feels limiting and the more I practice, the more I find Me coming through. Introducing phototherapy has been a dream I have had now for 6 years and having seen the simple but powerful results, I am so happy I took that step. I am realising there is time (as Judith says in her book!) and I will be offering coaching packages soon too. I haven’t come across other counsellors offering phototherapy so I feel very much on my own in doing this but the flip side is I can make it truly my own unique way of working, ensuring each client gets bespoke support tailored and developed just for them. Now THAT feels very congruent and energising!

There is still a long way to go, after all (as cliché as it sounds) it is a journey and by no means am I done yet. The only thing I know and have as my strength is that I have to be honest and true to myself in everything I do. It’s the only way I have found to be truly at peace and be content which puts me in the space to be able to lovingly support others.

A lesson really, that when we try to do anything, becoming a Mum, running a business, trying anything new or simply living, it’s got to start from within.

How to get off the hamster wheel

Photo by My Name on Unsplash (unsplash.com/@zimbahcat)

Photo by My Name on Unsplash (unsplash.com/@zimbahcat)

Is it just me or do you sometimes feel like you’re on a hamster wheel? Running so fast, doing so much but it’s never ending, there’s no rest.

We all do it, I’m sure. We’re almost designed to live like this in this modern day society. I guess it’s ok to some extent, you get so much done, right? But are you able to come down from the adrenaline rush? From that panicky feeling of ‘so much to do’?

You see, we do need a bit of adrenaline to wake us up, to be with it, to keep up but are we able to realise when we’ve had enough and need to slow down again?

If we keep going at the fast pace we go at, this high level of adrenaline, of stress, becomes our normal. We we into the habit of fire fighting, of being on high alert, of reacting. We carry on like this until we burn out, after all, we are only human and have our limits.

How do we get off the hamster wheel though?

Priorities; look at what is important. What needs doing NOW, what can wait, what can be delegated. We try to fix it ALL right this moment, do it ALL at once but trust me, we’re not meant to live like this on an organismic, species level.

Time management; ok, that sounds really officy and businessy but it’s true. If we manage our time and tasks, we can manage our stress levels and anxiety. What would help you? Writing out all you have to do in a planner? A diary? Maybe seeing it all in black and white, assigning times to tasks will show you that actually, you do have time, you don’t have to rush.

Signs; I didn’t realise I had anxiety for a long time and it got so bad to the point that I couldn’t eat from feeling nausea from the nervousness. Now, I look out for early warning signs so I can put in my coping strategies. I tell you, it really helps!
Where do you first start to notice the stress in your body? What outside factors cause you stress? How do you react? Do you push through or stop to listen to what you’re trying to tell yourself?
Some say they get headaches, stiff necks, a tightening around the chest, raised heart rate, butterflies in their tummy – so many physical signs. Where do you feel it first and how does it escalate?

Self compassion; I bet you guys are sick of me saying this as I think it must be in almost every post but yes, self compassion.
When you start feeling stressed, what do you say to yourself? Only you can give yourself permission to stop, to get off the hamster wheel and take a breather. Only you know when you need to do this. Are you gentle with yourself or do you beat yourself up, ‘You’ve still got loads to do, don’t sit down, lazy cow’….or worse?
I know it’s not easy if you’ve got little kids or caring for an elderly relative or someone with a long term illness but that’s all the more reason to be extra compassionate and go easy on yourself. Give yourself the permission you need to rest.

Rest and recharge; getting off the hamster wheel means stopping that panicky, rushed feeling inside you but what do you need to do to stop this?
Different things work for different people. Some listen to a song, 3 minutes to lose yourself completely is pretty achievable – and fun! Some have a nap, full on shut down and recharge and some can nap for 5 mins. Power naps, I think they’re called. Some play, losing themselves in pottery, painting, drawing, knitting, sports.
What would work for you? When was the last time you felt rested and recharged and what did you do? It can be a whole range of things with a range of times but do remember, it’s important.

We are trained from a young age to go on our hamster wheels and keep up with society’s pace but I am telling you now, you don’t have to. Neither do you have to beat yourself up if your pace is different. Look at how much you have going on, I bet it’s a lot; be it looking after or supporting others, living with an illness, coping with a trauma, you are doing a lot!

Go easy on yourself though. Some fear they have anxiety disorders or fear having a breakdown. Use this as your motivation to change things.
Cars break down don’t they? But we do our bit to maintain them, keep them clean, put fuel in, service them, replace parts etc. It is the same for you. Learn strategies that will help make things easier for you, to maintain your stress levels.

This is your life and you’re in charge. Doesn’t matter what others around you can cope with or don’t get stressed about. If you’re feeling it, listen to what you’re saying to yourself and please, look after yourself.

A non post about Momma

“Those friends who have had lovely, gracious, supportive mothers – how I envy them. And how odd that they are not bound to their mothers, neither phoning, visiting, dreaming, nor even thinking about them frequently.
Whereas I have to purge my mother from my mind many times a day and even now, ten years after her death, often reflexively reach for a phone to call her.
Oh, I can understand all this intellectually. I have given lectures on the phenomenon. I explain to my patients that abused children often find it hard to disentangle themselves from their dysfunctional families, whereas children grow away from good, living parents with far less conflict.
After all, isn’t that the task of a good parent, to enable the child to leave home?”
 
By Irvin D Yalom, ‘Momma and the meaning of life’
 
Why have I chosen to share this with you today? More and more I am seeing a pattern emerging from my New Mum clients. A pattern I am keen to investigate and explore to understand at a deeper level.
 
When a woman becomes a mother, her own experiences with her own mother seem to come to the foreground and all sorts of emotions and fears come up;
 
“I don’t want my child to feel the way I did”
“I don’t want to pass on these family beliefs”
“I don’t want to be like my mother, I need to be better for my child”
 
So much is thrown under the microscope and there is that panic and anxiety of where to begin, fear of hurting and damaging this new being like you have been.
 
So what jumps out for you from that passage from Yalom’s book?
His difficult relationship with his mother still haunts him, even after her death. Her voice still so powerful in his mind.
He is still seeking her approval, knowing he will never get it.
He is a trained professional and KNOWS intellectually but emotionally, he still has to go through a process of ‘purging’.
Perhaps it isn’t just the mother, he does also talk of dysfunctional families, perhaps is our ability to cope with our experiences from those first relationships?
 
It also makes me question what abuse is. We are gaining more knowledge of emotional abuse but what comes under that label?
 
A mother is the first person we form a relationship with and I hear from my clients that intense pressure to get it right and not harm their new babies. But surely in simply being human we are going to make mistakes? Mistakes that will be internalised and perhaps haunt our children for their life times?
 
Then there is the last sentence ‘task of a good parent is to enable a child to leave home’. Now that resonates not only on a professional but personal level too, as a mother and a daughter.
 
What makes a good parent (that eternal question!) and is it to enable our children to leave home, in all senses?
To teach them all they need to know to be able to stand on their own? Physically, emotionally and mentally?
 
I fear this most is more questions than answers and I haven’t got the answers, which is why I’m putting it out to you, trusting in the process; what did you get from that passage?
 

Celebrating at a one year old’s party

We were invited to a 1 year old’s party the other day and oh my!!! There were so many kids there (duh, it’s a party!)
 
Some where crying, some were crawling, some were toddlering around and some were running around screaming.
 
Oh goodness, the cuteness was lovely to see and certainly filled my heart with so much joy but the noise? the chaos? Wow!
 
You see, my kids are all grown up now so it has been a long while since I was in a situation like that and as much as I loved it (and was photographing it) it was an assault on all the senses.
 
And even though I spend most of my days with you mums feeling anxious, knackered and frazzled, it was so impressive seeing all the mums at this party.
 
They were smiling, struggling to have a full conversation, laughing, not eating a full plate of food in peace, trying to sit or stand with a group of people but having to run off for one thing or another. It was truly a sight. Beautiful, sad, funny, such a mix.
 
In a nutshell, this noisy, wonderful, chaotic, exhausting party summed up motherhood so well.
 
To all you Mums out there, WOW. You’re all doing an awesome job. Keep hanging in there and doing what you are doing because one day you will be where I am, with grown up kids and all this will be a crazy memory, like this crazy party.
And if you’re struggling, you know where I am for support <3

Stop living like a headless chicken

There is SO much to do isn’t here? Goodness, ALL those things to do!!! SO, so, so much to do!!!!!!!!!!
 
Do you catch yourself in this frame of mind? Unable to stop, breathe, rest and relax?
 
I saw this a lot this week and even caught myself feeling this way. You see, this is a sure sign that life is controlling you and you are reacting to all that is around you.
 
This is a place where overwhelm comes from, stress and anxiety live and breed and self worth plummets and those feelings of being a failure are reinforced.
 
You know can stop this though but I wonder what blocks are in the way? Blocks you are allowing to stay there, to keep you here.
 
Breathe. Then breathe again. And once again.
Take a break. Yes, you heard me. A BREAK. You are allowed, you have permission. Hell, you have a NEED!!!!
 
Write it ALL down. Do it in note form, a mind map, whatever. Just get it all out your head because it doesn’t all need to stay in there.
Talk to someone. You don’t have to do it all on your own.
 
This is a marathon, nay, it’s a walk.
NOT a sprint, NOT a race. You’re not a chicken without a head and your gauge isn’t set at 100 miles.
 
Breathe and enjoy life.
Much LOVE <3

Another new year…

12 days into January and I am still struggling to get back to a routine after the holidays.

I am also struggling with the whole, new year, new you theme. I am seeing people going on all sorts of challenges; vegan, gym, diets. And announcing all these wonderful and profound things they will achieve in 2018.

For me? I’m keeping it simple.

No massive challenges, nothing profound.

I am finding myself tired of it all – the what-feels-like-shouting from everywhere to do xyz because it’s abc…I say enough is enough.

For 2018, I think all I want it peace – from within and around me. Peace and quiet to be able to think, to be able to be who I’m meant to be without conditions, judgements or struggles.

Maybe with that peace is to not get back into a routine and enjoy just being. If a routine will come, it will come.
Maybe that peace is not even listening to all the noise from all around but to sit quietly and listen to what is being said from within.

At the moment, all I can hear is LOVE.
Simply love myself and take care of myself.

Now that sounds a bit more manageable than any big resolution or challenge or struggle.

I know there is great power in the simplicity of love and when I am self loving and self compassionate, I know that is where magic happens and that is when I am able to give and support others.

So over to you – what do you REALLY want from 2018?
Challenges? Resolutions? Struggles?

Or Love?

Woes of being New

5155783-3799102610-shutt It is normal to have ‘newbie’ anxieties when ever we start something new that we are not familiar with…like starting a new job or having a new baby.

The only way to get to grips with being new at something is to take it easy. I know it’s easier said than done, trust me, I know but it is the best way, take it easy and take it a step at a time. As you get a feel for the new role, get used to lots of new things, those anxieties will go as your confidence grows.

Remember what it was like learning to drive a car? You had to think of everything, every little thing; having to look at the gear stick to get into the right gear, not being able to multitask (I mean, come on, hill starts?!?), forgetting to look in the mirrors or to indicate. And now? Now you’re able to simply concentrate on the road, aware of others and figure out where you’re going. All those details you used to worry about are now second nature and you don’t even have to think about it, you do it all subconsciously.

The same will happen in your new role; all these things you are learning will become second nature. Be gentle with yourself and take it a moment at a time, day at a time and before you know it, you will not be a newbie 🙂

Antidote to Overwhelm

I often get quite exhausted by life and the pressures society puts on me, and I’m sure you’re the same.

Why do we get so tired? So exhausted?

I have a theory; you see, I think we spend too much time in the detail of life and all the things we have to do. We go from one thing to another, probably without any breaks, running at 100 miles an hour on what feels like a never ending list of to do lists.

We end up overwhelmed, anxious, exhausted, tired, fed up, low, depressed.

What can we do to stop this?

Look at the bigger picture. Imagine you had a photograph in front of you, now imagine going in so close that you can only see one item in the photo. THIS is what we do in life, we concentrate so hard on one area in our life, taking on each little detail and this one area takes over our whole lives.

Now imagine that same photograph and imagine looking at it all, whole, the bigger picture. You can see there are different elements to the photo, light and dark, maybe different colours. There is so much to take in when looking at the whole photo but this is important too.

In our modern lives we spend so much time focusing on the details, we need to regularly take a step back, breathe, see the bigger picture and review things. Then we can dive back into the detail and carry on with our lives.

We need to step back to make sure we are heading in the right direction, we are being who we want to be, need to be, we are raising our families with core values and ethics and deep connections.

We need to step back to make sure we breathe, rest, appreciate how far we have come, what we have achieved and think of the next steps to take.

 

What do I need?

When was the last time you asked yourself, ‘What do I need?’, ‘What do I want?’.

Many of us never ask ourselves that question and we carry on, regardless of what is going on around us and regardless of our needs.

When we’re full of anxiety or so low and depressed, we still carry on like nothing has changed. We are the ones with the problem and we try to ‘fix’ it with coping strategies – some good and some dangerous.

How about trying a different way of doing things? Maybe a better, deeper and more fulfilling way?

When something goes wrong and we end up living with something like anxiety or depression, we are trying to tell ourselves something. We are screaming at ourselves to change things but we don’t hear it because we are not listening.

Take anxiety for example. Why have you got it?

Are you doing too much and not resting, keeping your mind and body fully alert, even when it’s not needed?

Are you putting yourself in situations where you are out of your depth, with little or no support or guidance?

Is there too much going on and you feel like you are spread too thin and being pulled apart trying to keep everything going?

There is a reason you are feeling anxious, maybe many reasons.

A good way to deal with this is to hear what Anxiety is trying tell you. Maybe you need to write a list of all the demands on you and talk to someone in your support network to talk about the pressures you are under.

Write down what is immediate, in a few months and what is long term. Breaking it down like this will help you tackle things at the appropriate times. Anxiety loves to think and stress about everything (even something 20 years in the future!). By breaking it down, you will be able to see, clearly what needs to be actioned or thought about when, releasing some of that tension.

Keep asking yourself, ‘What do I need right now’ and hopefully you will start to listen to the answers and learn to trust your instincts. x

Managing anxiety

Anxiety is a really tough one to get through, especially when it’s a situation out of your control. Here are a few tips I found myself telling one of you lovely ladies when you emailed me; I actually hadn’t realised that I had these coping strategies until I was asked to help!

There are a few things you can do, that I do that you might find useful:

  • Being grateful is a great way of keeping things in perspective – especially when the days seem all bad. Look for the tiny things to be grateful for, the ground to walk on, shoes on my feet, the air to breathe, being healthy etc…it sounds really simple but it really does work.
  • Self care – get in lots of self care and self love, over used words, I know, but that helps too. Imagine your best friend was going through this, what would you do for her? Do it for yourself! You can give yourself hugs and be self compassionate, talk to yourself in a loving way, do fun things to counteract the stress/anxiety.
  • See your worth – easier said than done but I know from first hand experience stress and anxiety can affect your self esteem. So whenever you do something, no matter how small, congratulate yourself, make a list, tell others. Keep remembering that you are good at things, you are worthy and you are loved.
  • Breathe – if you get full on anxiety attacks, try to breathe through them in a meditative mindful way. Ground yourself, concentrate on your breathing and it can help calm you down and get you back to you. One great thing I say to myself is, ‘I am held in place securely by gravity, air and breathing is the one constant in my life, I belong, I am worthy, It’s going to be ok, I am ok’…it really helps!
  • Music helps too, almost ignore everything else happening and just lose yourself in a song – sing along if you want, or use up that extra energy to dance it out. Listen to every single note, it helps
  • Of course I would also take photos because that helps to calm and concentrate the mind but it isn’t always possible. If I haven’t got a camera and I’m feeling anxious, I do look around and pretend like I’m taking photos. So seeing things, framing them with my mind’s eye, seeing it from different angles etc…that helps me focus and be in the moment, really seeing what is around me.

You are not alone in this and I hope that has helped. Let me know how you get on, don’t worry, you’ve got this <3