Tag Archives: anxiety

Symptoms and Causes

I’ve been in the mental health field for a number of years now and although the majority of my work is working with people to cope with their symptoms, I am realising more and more we need to deal with the causes.

What do I mean by this?
Depression, anxiety, stress and much more are symptoms of how we live our lives. These are the result of what pace we go, how we process and react to things, where we are and who we are connected to.
Thankfully in most cases everything is good and any symptoms can be dealt with, perhaps not even noticed.

But it’s when the symptoms stop us from living, stop us from being our True Selves, we need to get support. Much of the time, this is where I come in.
And I love my job, don’t get me wrong but I have to be honest with you – I am seeing an increase in anxiety and depression and this is NOT ok.

I get frustrated at society and what we seem to focus on as a collective species, far removed from how we are meant to function and life, might I add.

I have worked with many people not wanting to go on medication for their symptoms eg depression and anxiety, so I know first hand people can get better by changing their thinking, changing things in life such as pace, connections, and focus on their needs and their very existence.

I know it can be done and I for one am campaigning that we need to start from scratch but build our lives in a way that suits us better. Let’s look at the causes and work on this rather than just the symptoms.

Maybe then we can start making some serious changes in our lives and in our greater society.


The greatest teacher you’ll ever know

Maybe it’s just me but I find a lot of my answers to the big questions of life from nature. In this Western world it is the norm to rush, to do Everything and do it quick, do it to keep up, to not fail. We end up anxiety driven exhausted shells of who we are meant to be and I’m not sure we are designed as a species to live this way.

Nature does things in it’s own time. In it’s own season. With Spring around the corner, my mind is starting to think of the garden, to think of blooms. Starting to feel hints of fresh air, starting to see the first signs; snowdrops, buds, new growth.

This has all been my inspiration to put together the 6 month program Head Garden. I could have done a quick 6 week package but NO, I want to take time, I want to go at a slower pace, to go at nature’s pace.

You can’t force seedlings to grow quicker than they will, You can’t force things to fruit quicker than it’s meant to (OK, I know, you can technically with green houses etc ;)) When not interfering, nature does things when they are meant to happen.

We have lost the art of Patience. We have forgotten how to wait, to nurture, to work slowly and deeply.

There is such a need for quick fixes; I’m depressed, Here are some pills and you’ll feel better in 2 weeks. I’m anxious, Here is something to numb you instantly (take your pick from scrolling on social media, sugar, food, alcohol, drugs, gambling and do add your own)

For me gardening has forced me to slow down and remember how we are meant to live as a species, how we are truly meant to be. It calms my anxiety, lifts my depression all in the quiet and peace of my own back yard.

If you would like to join me on my 6 month program, starting 1st March, join me in gardening and looking at what else we can learn from nature, please have a look at the following link (click on the photo). I’d love to have you 🙂

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.

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 🙂

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