Category Archives: Good Mental Health

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.

Not alone in our loneliness

Loneliness seems to be a theme for this week; everyone I am meeting from new mums, elderly neighbours, dog walkers to self employed colleagues. Everyone is feeling lonely.

Maybe it’s the time of year? The quietness after Christmas? Trying to get back into a routine? I don’t know, but it seems everywhere.

What I find quite interesting though, is that we all feel it. New mums feel it being stuck at home with a new baby, self employed colleagues working long hours on their own and elderly not having things to do to pass the day.

It’s interesting to me that so many people from different walks of life all feel similar things. I personally think loneliness happens when we don’t connect with others at levels we need. When we don’t feel any resonance in others, when we don’t see anything of us reflected back when we look at others.

And in all these cases, these are new situations where people are trying to find a new set of connections because the others have gone or not the same; maternity leave, leaving work, retiring etc.

It takes time to set up new connections, so please be gentle with yourself but do know, it will happen. Maybe the first step is becoming comfortable being alone and being with the quietness of lack of others? Maybe we need to learn how to be when we are not with others; what would we do? What interests us? Excites us? We are pack animals but I believe we also need breathing space from others otherwise how do we know who we are? Especially when embarking on a new identity; New Mum for example.

I know I have talked about loneliness in super simplistic terms and appreciate there is so much complexity to it along with a host of emotions but hopefully this has brought Loneliness to the surface for you and will help you look at your own situation and reflect on it.

What are your experiences of loneliness? What are your thoughts on it and how to help yourself?

Time to talk

I’m sure many of you  have seen Time to Talk being promoted on social media and hopefully many of you were brave and talked about your experiences with others.

I wonder how it was for you telling others about something so deep and secret, laying yourself vulnerable to others?
Were they surprised?
What did their reaction bring up in you?

But now what?

Starting the conversation is just the first step, in my opinion. There is so much more that needs to happen but the first step is often the biggest and hardest.

What else?
I feel we need to educate those around us on how we live with our illnesses and what it means to us.

I have always tried my best to be as open as possible with my family (hubby and kids) about how I was feeling and what I needed at the time; some days I needed nothing and had the energy of 10 mamas, blasting through chores and being in control. Then there were the other days when getting out of bed was the most difficult task in the world, my head feeling like lead and no strength to lift it.

It is important to know your own highs and lows, good and bad days to be able to ask for help, to delegate, to seek support, to be cared for in the way you need. This might be another tough step because most of the time, we have got so good at hiding how we are and our feelings from ourselves.

If those around you love you, they will step up and support you. If their reactions are less than you’d hoped, it will be hard to digest and deal with but at least you know where you stand and you are being honest. Perhaps you might need to change your relationship dynamics and put some boundaries in place to help you feel safe? Only you know what you need to do and who is in your support network and where they stand.

Mental health is very unique in how you can help heal and feel better because it is these very connections that hold the power, the magic and the healing. It is very important to get your support system right, to keep yourself safe and to only share what you feel comfortable with.

Talking about it is the first step but mind how you go on this journey and keep safe xx

Relationship with food

“I hated my body. I hated me. I used to cry myself to sleep most nights. I fell into the deepest, darkest depression and I was so lost and lonely. I avoided mirrors, hated it whenever we needed to go out because things simply didn’t fit anymore. I didn’t want to see anyone, because all the other mums looked like they had it together, they were coping and looked great. They’d gone back to pre-pregnancy weight and shape. To lose my weight, I started skipping meals and only eating chocolate or puddings. I was horrible though, so grumpy, shouty, snappy. Eventually the weight did come off but looking back I can see what a damaging way I treated my body.” Words from a client

What is your relationship with food and your body? Do you skip meals to lose weight? Or eat for comfort?

Our relationship with food is one that some of us don’t even think about or we obsess about it. Our relationship with food is extremely complex, some of it from our childhood, maybe even from when we were weaned onto solid food. It is sometimes the only thing we feel we can control but it has also been used to control us.

With my busy clients, food seems to be the first thing that goes, simply ‘forgetting to eat’. Or scoffing down comfort, high energy, low value food while feeding others well. Or with those who are feeling low, there is simply not the interest.

Where would you start with trying to sort out your relationship with food though? This is something so ingrained in you and you have your default reactions and actions, habits difficult to break.

I would say self compassion and self love which in itself isn’t an easy step to take. If you do see yourself as someone to take care of and love, the first question would be, “What would you like to eat today?”. Use that gentleness you would use with your best friend, your child and start to look after yourself.

Not eating well contributes largely to our mood, so it is a good place to start. If you’re struggling with this, as many of us do, please seek support. You’re not alone in this xx

 

 

The jungle path

It might be a cliche but I quite like comparing creating a path through the jungle to our mental health.

Actual paths are created in our brains when we do something over and over again so when we try to change something, we are literally creating a new path. Fits in quite well with the jungle path, don’t you think? (Something about neurotransmitters or neurons …need to research this a bit more but I am more about the emotion than the practical side of things!)

If I imagine us standing in the jungle, knowing where we want to get to but there isn’t a path, we need to create one. Where do we start?

We’d need the right gear first – are we suitably dressed? Shorts when we know there are stinging nettles? Maybe not.
Are we setting off on this journey keeping ourselves safe from harm?

Tools; What would we need to clear things away? It might be painful to just use our hands to pull things down. What about cutting stuff away?
Are we using the right tool for the right job? And are we in the right mindset?

Self care; This applies to both the real world and the analogy, are we drinking, eating and resting enough to keep ensure we are able to do this job? Something we all too often over look when embarking on big changes. Actually, maybe the first thing that goes!

Can you think of anything to add? Trying to change things is not easy but it CAN be done. Maybe look at it as you are trying to create a new path in the jungle, maybe that will take the overwhelm away and help you to see things in a new light.

And if you need help, you know where I am <3

Why I don’t ask “How does that make you feel?”

Ok, I do ask it at times, I won’t lie but it is such a stereotype, isn’t it? I have heard a few people laugh saying it must be easy to sit there getting paid to ask, “How does that make you feel?” in response to everything a client says.

For me, this is basic counselling, counselling 101. In training, it’s almost the go to question when you can’t think of anything else to ask. For sure, there is a place for such a question, as with reflecting and all the other things we are taught. I think Samaritans actually gave us a list of was to respond to those calling and it was really helpful at the start, when I felt flustered and worried about saying the wrong thing. In my recent training I challenged myself not to ask that question and I found I worked on a much deeper level.

Now though, it’s just me. And I want to go deeper. I do want to know how it feels and MORE. What are you actually saying without words?
How does it manifest in your body, in your life?
How can you start to cope with what you’re telling me?
How can you face your feelings with the right tools?

This is why I have found the counselling world so limiting; perhaps because when training there is a certain element of being stuck at ‘text book’ stage but then steps have to be taken to own what has been learned and use all the skills to ensure the client benefits the most. Sort of like you have lessons to drive a car but then you learn to Drive.

I do work in a very unique way and first and foremost I make sure my clients have the right tools. I wouldn’t have sent my kids out in the winter without a coat, hat, gloves and the right shoes, so I would not expect my clients to face difficult feelings without tools. (Which we work together to figure out what will work for you)

I’m not going to be a scary counsellor so get rid of that stereotype out of your mind. I put you first, and I care, from deep in my heart. I don’t want you to struggle on your own because I know what it’s like. I also know that each and everyone of us has got the answers within (cliche I know!) but like a jigsaw, you just need a bit of help piecing it together.

This is YOUR journey and I want to be the one who help you, support you by holding a safe space for you, and helping you figure out things YOUR way.

So tell me, How does that make you feel? 😉

 

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.

Radio interview from 4 years ago

Sorting out my folders from way back, I have come across this interview. It is amazing how I am talking about using photography to help others heal. Very much in the first stages of photo therapy!

I talk about how the question of ‘If you had 6 weeks to live, what would you do?’ My motivation to start on this path and actually start living my life.

Talking about body image and how so many women used to ask me to photo shop them to look ‘better’ but in principal, I never did. I talk about how the first steps to body confidence is to learn to like ourselves and turn all the negative talk from others to positive talk within ourselves.

I talk about gratitude practice and how it can change our perception of our lives and help with our mental health. I used to offer listening sessions but now as a qualified counsellor I feel confident in offering these sessions, knowing I have had the proper training to hold a safe space for others.

I had been offering online courses where others were being helped so much with one participant coming off her antidepressant medication from doing the photo exercises and a woman facing a midlife crisis accepting herself.

And I define what success for me is; seeing clients feel happier in themselves and knowing I have done my part and given back to the wider community at large.

This journey is not an easy one, with lots of ups and downs, learning so much about myself, changing, building my self awareness and being the truest self I can be. The first step, stopping myself standing in my own way.

And my one bit of wisdom I would tell my younger self? Trust your instincts, believe in yourself, ask yourself what your needs are and what you need to do to meet them.

Have a listen and let me know what resonates:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepathtofabulouslysuccessful/2013/09/02/jessy-paston

How do you see yourself?

For many of my clients, body image comes up as an issue and it has been an issue with most women I know. When I was doing family portraits as a photographer, this is one thing that came up the most.

We are simply not happy with the way we look!! We are forever comparing ourselves to others and feel ‘not good enough’. We view our bodies with a warped perception of how we look.

I wanted to share this video with you, not because I think you have a disorder but just wanted to highlight the point on how we can distort what we see about ourselves. This video really made me stop and rethink things about me and I wonder if it will help you.  Have a look…

You tube video

Now have a look at yourself in the mirror.
What are you focusing on?
What negatives can you see?
Is it really as bad as you see it?
What positives can you see?

Healing is an on going process

My son’s birthday is coming up soon and he will be 17.
As I reflect on this time, I find myself looking at old photos from when he was born, when he was little and I am taken back to a NOT so good time.
The memories and feelings of the trauma, the struggles, the depression come back and yeah, it’s not fun.

But let me tell you. This is all part of the process. A broken leg aches well after it is mended and I see these moments like an aching. The majority of the healing has been done but they are complex memories, good combined with bad, happy combined with sad.

Each time we revisit a memory, there is more healing, until, hopefully, one day, we can acknowledge the bad and sad but remember the good and happy fondly.

If you imagine a spiral with a line through it – each time you visit a traumatic memory, you are in a better place, you are stronger and better able to cope and you can heal.

And don’t forget, the stronger, caring you can give yourself love and self compassion, telling yourself what you needed to hear at the time, helping with the healing.

If you need help to talk about your birth trauma, postnatal depression and the struggles that comes with, please do get in touch with me for support. You are not alone in this 

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?

Connections

Image result for connections

One question I always ask clients before I start working with them is:

Who is in your support network?

Think about that for a moment and write them down:
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Are these people around you supporting you in the way YOU need? Studies have shown that connecting with loved ones do help you feel happier.

When a new baby comes into the household, everything changes. Even the dynamics between you and your partner will change. It is very important to be aware of these new dynamics and manage the change.

Have a think of your support network and ask yourself these questions:
Am I being listened to?
Do I feel drained or energised after seeing people from my network?
Are they respecting my boundaries?
Do I need to set some emotional boundaries? Maybe even making appointments in my diary if some are taking too much of my time?

There are a lot more questions you can ask yourself but the important thing is that you are concentrating on looking after yourself first. If you are not on top form, you might not be able to give as much as you want to your new baby.
Remember the safety messages when you are on an aeroplane? Put your own oxygen mask on first before anyone else.

You have permission to live your life YOUR way by being lovingly assertive and creating boundaries if needed.

Time for you

Image result for time for you

In recovering from my own depression and seeing clients taking this on, has proven to me this is an essential part of maintaining good mental health. All too often we are so busy doing things for everyone else, we forget to look after ourselves. We all work so very hard all year then maybe, if you’re really lucky, you get 2 weeks a year off.
I’m going to suggest a new way of being if you’re up for it;

How about having a little ‘holiday’ every day?

Can you even imagine that? Resting when you need to, doing something fun every day, creating a life that you actually want and makes you feel amazing in yourself. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

All this can be achieved from simple time management.
Maybe you are already really organised but have you allocated time just for you? As in actually blocked out time, like a doctor’s or midwife’s appointment? An appointment for you?
If you create space to spend time just with yourself, you will be able to stop, breathe and look at the bigger picture of your life.

Are your needs being met? If not, which ones are not and what can you do about it?
Are you getting enough rest? Especially important if baby keeps waking you in the night. Also, don’t forget, we need more rest at a time of change / transition as we are learning new things and our brains are working harder as you think about new things and take them on.
Are you playing enough? Are you doing things that keep you, YOU? What fun things can you do, by yourself and with baby (then maybe with other loved ones)

Use a diary and block time out when you need or want to do things.
If you get overwhelmed at the amount of things you have in one day; spread it out over the week. Still overwhelmed, spread it over the month. Ideally, just have one ‘thing’ to do a day and you can build on it. Remember not to beat yourself up if you achieve nothing. Self compassion, remember!

You will not forget appointments this way, you will take away that feeling of not having enough time, of not having enough hours in the day. Instead, this will help you feel calmer and actually show you how much you are coping with and managing.

By managing your time, YOU can create the life you want. YOU book in what you need, YOU can say no to things that do not serve you.
YOU are in charge of your thoughts and feelings, your actions, your appointments. Your appointments in  your diary will show you what you are giving time to, what you are seeing as a priority and stop the feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and get rid of that ‘I don’t have the time!!’ feeling.

One as part of a greater Whole

I feel exhausted.
You see I’ve just had a session with my counsellor. Yes, even counsellors have counsellors.

You see, we are all human and we all have things happening in our lives. The biggest thing I have learned is that accepting help and support from others is part of self care. Where do we get this idea from that we have to do it all on our own anyway?

It is exhausting talking about your inner most feelings and fears but after the exhaustion comes a sense of relief and a feeling of lightness from sharing the load.

As a counsellor myself, I can hear what I’m saying and I can logically see what I need to do. As a person though, I have accepted there is an emotional side of me that needs to be heard.

And seeing someone who is trained gives me the safety and confidence to know nothing hurtful will be said, especially about my depression like ‘you’re being too sensitive’ or ‘your just wanting attention’. Or my favourite, ‘how can you be a counsellor if you have depression’.

Receiving help and support is a tough step to take but trust me, having the help and support there is helping me be the person I’m meant to be, unapologetically and is giving me the strength and ability to support others.

Quite beautiful when you see it that way, supporting each other to be our true selves. Being human and being part of humanity as we were meant to be <3

Photos never taken

Isn’t it funny how we are always smiling in our photos? When someone brings out a camera and points it at you, the most natural reaction is to Smile!

It is interesting that we have this need to record only happy moments. We want to look back and see our photo albums full of joy, closeness and love.

It’s not always the case though, is it? We have moments when we have huge emotions covered by a smile. Do we even acknowledge half the emotions we have? Or do we brush them under the carpet and sit on them because we are not ready to face them?

There are so many things thrown at us in life and I wonder how many of these things we actually deal with? Our feelings are not just in our minds, they are all of us, physical and mental. Positive emotions have great effects on our bodies just as the negative ones have negative effects.

So how about, as you go through your day observe what emotions you are feeling. Give it a week. Just observe without comment or judgement.

Then as you observe more, move into recording. If you feel sad, take a self portrait. If you feel angry, take a self portrait. If you feel happy, tired, grumpy…you get the picture. (excuse the pun)

You don’t have to look at these straight away but in time, set aside some alone time and put the photos together. You can create a collage, write the emotions you are feeling over the photos, display them as you want.

Have a think as you look at the photos:
What caused you to feel that particular emotion?
Was it because what was happening at the time, or did it remind you of a similar situation it the past?
How does it feel looking at yourself having different emotions?
What do you want to offer the YOU in the image during the emotion? (Words, hugs? etc)

Learning what we are and who we are is an important step to learning how to love ourselves. These photos of learning our emotions can help you learn the triggers and causes of emotions and in turn help you cope through the hard times and enjoy the good times.

Good luck and let me know how you get on x

Highs

largeI watched a movie, “Story of Us” with Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer a while ago. I won’t go into the movie but one thing stuck with me from when I watched it.

Every night, when the family in the movie would get together for dinner, they would talk about “High, Low”.

Such a simple conversation starter that really can help with connections and getting to know each other better. I also feel, this can help change your perception of how well your life is going.

Now I know in the 5 a day I just mention Highs. If you are feeling very low, do you really want to think about the lows in your day?

Just thinking of the Highs can help counter balance the Lows. And this can be a family activity – with everyone talking about their high/low in their day.

Why not give it a try?

 

Going up a rung

The hardest thing about becoming a mother is the realisation that you have gone up a rung.
What do I mean by that?

Well, we are children first with parents and perhaps grandparents. Then grandparents start to die and we start to have children…so we are now the parents and our parents are the grandparents.

For some of us, this new identity can be quite overwhelming, especially if we start to care for our parents. There is such a mix of emotions and we need to process. Suddenly, we can find ourselves in the middle of everything and everyone, supporting those around us whilst also working and keeping the house.

No wonder we disappear and lose our identity!

We are not children anymore and have this huge responsibility looking after another person
We are not parents yet as we are just starting out and learning
We have to learn to cope with seeing our parents getting older and their mortality coming to the foreground
We become parents to our parents which is very strange and takes a while to get used to
We are still children within but we don’t play anymore because we are drowning with all our new obligations
We try and keep everyone happy
We try and do everything, perhaps the job of 3 or more people
We don’t take time out for ourselves
We are exhausted
We are not who we used to be…

That’s a lot for one person. A hell of a lot.

Be kind to yourself and take it a step at a time. Thank you for looking after everyone else, please make time to look after yourself too x