Category Archives: Self Care

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.

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

 

 

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?

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.

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

Permission to say NO

Boundaries are the most difficult thing to put in place with those around you. For so many years, you have been allowing things to go on as they have been, unquestioningly accepting the conditions, obligations and pressures that have been put on you.

But are you happy with this? How do you feel after you have been with someone who drains you? Takes your energy from you? Doesn’t listen to you and expects you to do as they say?

Ok, maybe these questions are a bit extreme but do think about those around you and how you feel after being with them. It doesn’t matter who they are, treating someone well is treating someone well. Only you know who you need to put boundaries up for; your mum? dad? siblings? particular friends?

And you know something huge?

IT’S OK TO SAY NO!!

It really is! The people who expect you to be a certain way will find it difficult to accept at first but if they are deep and unconditional connections, they will learn to accept it and learn to respect those boundaries you are putting in place.

Say NO when you feel pushed into a corner to make a decision
Say NO when you are being asked to do something you are not comfortable with
Say NO when it feels like it is too much emotional, energetic or financially expensive.

You are allowed to have YOUR voice and it is important.
YOU are important and valuable and you have the permission you need to say NO to whatever makes you feel less than you are, makes you feel uncomfortable or obligated.

 

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

How to free your space and free your mind

Have you heard the saying that a tidy space reflects a tidy mind?

Have a look around you and see what is there. Are you deeply happy in the space you are in?

Our environments have a huge impact on our mental well being and for many people, if the space is cluttered and disorganised, it could be reflecting or affecting the mind.

How can we fix this? Declutter of course!! Go through your things and get rid of anything that gives you a bad memory or makes you feel bad about yourself.

Let go of the ‘when I loose weight, I’ll fit into this and that’, let go of the ‘one day I’ll make this or do this’ and the ‘I’ll fix this’.

Don’t get me wrong, if you are going to, then do it, take control and set some time aside to do it but look deep within yourself, if you are not, then let go and give yourself that extra headspace.

If something has got sentimental value but is broken beyond repair, then take a photo of it. If you love a dress because you have great memories of when you wore it but doesn’t fit any more, take a photo of it.

Can you think of examples of things you need to let go of but haven’t because of how it makes you feel? Or the memories you have because of it?

You will also be amazed that through letting go of physical things, you will find your mind will be freer and have more space for new things – physically and mentally. Perhaps new opportunities? New hobbies? New friends? A new look showing the new confident you

Photographing these objects can help you keep those feelings and memories without taking up physical space.

Give yourself a break and free yourself up from unwanted things in your life. Remember, taking photos of things can help you let go

Let me know if this has been helpful; What have you let go of physically but kept a photo for emotional reasons?

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

 

Admitting how you feel

Image result for admitting depression

The first step to any change is awareness. If you don’t know that something is happening in you, then how do you know where to start?

If you are aware that you have postnatal depression, that is the first step. Then comes the most difficult step – admitting it to yourself!

For many of us once we realise we have depression, it can take a while to admit it to ourselves. Admitting it means we are telling the world we are not coping, we have failed, we are not good enough – right?

Not at all! Admitting you have depression is realising that your whole world has changed and that you need support. You haven’t failed and you are good enough.

We get training in everything else we do. What training have you had as a mother? And why is it assumed you will know what to do?

Depression is a signal to yourself that something needs to change somewhere, so by admitting it to yourself, and others, you can then start to receive the correct support you need and hopefully start on the road to recovery.

We don’t hesitate to seek help for cancer or diabetes – depression is no different. You have been through so much with the pregnancy, birth and dealing with a new baby. It is all a lot to take on and process and how are you meant to know how to do it if you’ve never been shown?

 

Change in the Seasons

4-seasons-1-treeBrrr…is it just me or is it getting colder in the UK? I can smell the change in the air, see the colours change in the trees, it’s getting darker earlier and the heating is coming on. All these signs point to us entering Autumn. To be honest, we have been really lucky with some great warm weather and sunshine, very out of season but now, we seem to be back on track.

Funny how we seem so aware of changes in the weather and we adjust accordingly; warmer clothes, lights on, comforting food – take a moment to think about what you do when the seasons change?

We’re very good at being aware of some things but what of the things happening right inside us? How aware are you about your emotions? Feelings? Mental Health?

The first step to becoming happier is AWARENESS.

If you’re not aware of the signs that something is about to happen or that you need to take appropriate action, then how can you prepare or adjust?

So with this in mind, I have ONE question for you:

WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOU NEED MORE AWARENESS ABOUT?

Do you keep finding yourself in situations and think, “How did I get here, again??!!”
Do you find yourself getting low without any actual reasons you can put your finger on?
Do you cry at the drop of a hat and you don’t know where it has come from?

What area do you feel you need more awareness?

Be Selfish

Yes, that right, I said selfish. Now this word has been used in a negative way for such a long time, I want to give it a new identity.

Think of the safety advice you get when you are on an aeroplane if there is an emergency;
“Put on your oxygen mask on first before you help others”.
Why?
Well, you wouldn’t be much use to anyone trying to put a mask on them if you are passed out now, are you?

Same goes for life. If you are running around caring for everyone else and keep putting your needs last, what is going to happen to you? If you are doing so much that you are constantly anxious and exhausted, something has got to give. Do you really want the thing to give out to be you? Then who will care for those around you?

Being selfish means taking time out to recharge, to fill your cup, to breathe in that oxygen and fill your lungs. Being selfish means you are in a much better place to be able to be there for others from a place of love and giving rather than exhaustion and resentment.

So have a think about what recharges you, what do you do that looses time where you are having fun and reconnecting with your inner self?

I’ve had a mix of examples for this;
having a candle lit bubble bath with loud music
going for a walk
playing a game
gardening
sitting doing nothing

What do you want to do that you have been wanting to do for ages but have never allowed yourself to do? I now give you permission if you need it.

You are allowed to put yourself first. Actually, you HAVE to put yourself first if you want to be happy. Oh, and a bonus of doing this exercise? In being happier, you will find others around you will be happier too.