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Buzzy Bees and Hayfever Sneeze

Hello fellow hay fever sufferers. It's that time of the year again, about a month into the pollen season and misery for many. A difference this year though I am not barricading myself in the house, shutting all windows and refusing invitations to be entertained outside. What relief I am feeling at being able to walk over the fields, go outdoors running and be able to enjoy better weather and all the opportunities that affords almost symptom free. It is like a newfound freedom without allergy symptoms dampening my joy of the sunshine and the big outdoors. The change for me has not come about by new drugs, cold compresses to the eyes, or pots of nasal spray, in fact none of these things have been responsible. My secret these days seems to lie in self-taught hand reflexology. Just wondering why my friends and family, also many sensitive to the influences of pollen, haven’t tried this as they have courageously put up with me moaning about my suffering for years. It seems to provide me with a way of finding relief from the sinusitis the most distressing of symptoms which makes me feel yuk for nigh on 6 weeks of the year. I know I am lucky as many suffer much worse, for longer and with greater severity. Tree pollens, grass pollens and many other allergic reactions can go on for weeks and even be perennial all year round. Well hand reflexology maybe something different to try and nothing lost as doesn’t cost anything. Use the link below to try it out for yourself. Research indicates psychological distress is caused by hay fever and similar allergic reactions. Such reactions are associated with Depression and Anxiety in numerous studies undertaken. Symptoms can be longstanding and enduring, heightening distress. Feeling like this every day just wears you down and makes you feel drained and fed up. Feelings of fatigue, side effects of medications, lack of peaceful nights sleep can all contribute to feelings of intolerance, irritability, frustration, and grumpiness. Having to function as our best self can be tough as typically important exams are scheduled during the spring and summer months when pollen counts are at their highest. Other tips, tricks and hacks recommended include: Medication regimes based on what best helps you manage the symptoms, bit of trial and error really. Diet – avoiding dairy which tends to make nasal secretions gloopier, abstinence from red wine, if a partaker. Carotenoids are thought to enhance the defence and immunity response eating foods, included are brightly coloured fruits, vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale, corn, bell peppers, tomatoes and carrots - the so-called orange foods is said to help. Keeping well hydrated and regular exercise, the latter to keep stress levels low can positively influence our bodies immunity response to allergens. Washing away pollen by washing hair, body and nasal douching before bed. Drying cloths and bedding in the tumble dryer rather than waviing it around in the pollen drenched frresh air. Hope for us sufferers going forward is that Hayfever symptoms will dwindle with age, as they often do. But a warning being banded about is that climate change may increase our allergic responses as we react to many of the environmental changes of the future.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Are you preoccupied with imagined body defects? Do you feel ashamed and focus all your attention on your perceived flaws? Do you keep checking in the mirror feeling dissatisfied with areas of your body, hoping that it will change? Does the defect hold meaning for you - that others may judge you, or not like you because of how you look? Do you avoid social situations and use camouflage to disguise how you look? TWO possible explanations 1) That you are defective and ugly, or more likely 2) that you worry excessively about appearance making it the most important aspect of your appearance. This is explained as self-focused attention. Have you ever considered that when you see yourself in the mirror you may have constructed a skewed image of yourself? This may be based on your attention focus creating a distortion. If your focus is your nose for example, you might see yourself as a nose on legs ignoring every other part of your features. This can be the case with any part of your body. Some behaviours in response to this preoccupation with perceived deficits to the onlooker can seem quite bizarre. Some examples I have come across include: Placing head in the freezer to control face skin blemishes/blushing. Mirror gazing to check for blemish/defect, including reflections in shop and car windows. Camouflage to cover up perceived ugliness can be achieved with baggy clothing, head covers and makeup. Avoidance of social situations feeling embarrassed and conspicuous. History of endless rounds of cosmetic procedures and consultations to try and change but in studies over 80% of patients feel worse after such procedures. Most common areas of focus are • Face area (eyes, nose, mouth, forehead) • Hair • Chest • Genital appearance • Muscle volume and appearance. CBT Therapy focuses on changing the skewed image based on false assumptions, challenging the evidence and reconstructing a more realistic and rational self-image. Behavioural experiments are used to increase exposure without the use of safety behaviours like avoidance and camouflage to lower stress levels and reduce distressing behaviours. Beliefs and assumptions are challenged in therapy. Book recommendation: Veale, D., Wilson, R., & Clarke, A. (2009 ). Overcoming Body Image Problems. Basic Books

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Still Swimming Along in the Tide of Change

Swimming along in the tide of change…. Techniques and effectiveness getting better all the time alongside greater efficiency in working practice. Since the start of the CoVid pandemic the landscape of Therapy has changed forever. Working remotely has become the new norm and is effectively providing therapy for a whole range of mental health issues with vast treatment opportunities, opening the gate for treating clients from diverse backgrounds where location and geographical distant is not an inhibitor to referrals countrywide or even opening worldwide possibilites. Before the pandemic many Therapist’s viewed on line sessions as less effective for losing the personal face to face encounter with these beliefs going unchallenged. The pandemic was the driver for change as sessions couldn’t go ahead for anyone other than in a remote fashion. This provided the driving force and enhanced familiarity with this way of working across the age ranges. Schooling and working practices having to accommadate and develop remote methods, as this was the only option for some time. The results showed equal success in improving distress caused by Depression, Social Phobia, OCD, and Panic Disorder remotely as in person. This has challenged the previous negative views and led to attracting investments in improving the delivery of remote CBT Counselling sessions worldwide. Remote therapy…. Reduces waiting times; the cost of room hire and travel; and reduced time to get to sessions; enjoying a comfortable environment; increasing privacy; reducting stigma attached to mental health buildings. Therapy now can be wide reaching in terms of distance and in facilitating disability. More frequent sessions and choice between video or telephone . Video calls have been popular and preferable to telephone consultations, with people quickly overcoming any camera shyness or reservations. Post pandemic it has been important to reconnect with friends and family and regain purpose and structure to our day. Hybrid working has further developed as employers and employees have seen ongoing advantages of part homeworking combined with some days of office-based activities. Accountability has been stepped up with new technologies to ensure home working is productive, without distractions and cost savings evident for both parties relating to travel and the size and location of office accommodation. Getting the balance right……. planning breaks and holidays with time to relax and enjoy new experiences is key in providing optimism and hope for the future. Something for us to plan and look forward to. The cost-of-living crisis and the negative effects of the pandemic on the travel and leisure industry means we are not quite there yet, but on the way. Remembering Every day to be Grateful and Reflect on what you have and how fortunate you are…… Swimming and surviving it - value your loved ones, be safe at home, be lucky enough to be in employment, stay healthy, have enough money and people who care and show you kindness. The important things in life are important…… ‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind.’' Clare Pooley'' (Therapist experience of remote working during the CoVid -19 pandemic. Morgan, A. 2022)

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Stop Worry by Anchoring Yourself to What is Real

Time spent using your valuable head space for brooding about the past (whying) or worrying (what-iffing) about the future is futile and a waste of time. All you end up with is feeling more stressed and more depressed about the issues you are faced with. It can interfere with you having a peaceful night’s sleep, make you feel restless and irritable and out of control. Essentially worry is about the future which has yet to arrive, and brooding is about the past which is behind you and of limited use revisiting. Even if you could go back in time, you can't change what has happened so what is the point in keep resurrecting it particularly when it makes you feel miserable and focus on negatives in life. Focusing on the present and living life through the senses can be calming, soothing and empowering. We tend to associate the enhancement of our senses with fun and pleasure. Ask yourself the question 'can I do anything about this issue now'? If the answer is ‘YES’ then get on with it and don’t procrastinate, work out the steps needed to resolve the problem and progress it. If the answer is ‘NO’ then let it go. Let it go by leaving the thought alone and disconnect yourself from it. We have approximately 6,500+ thoughts a day and can't possibly engage and overthink them all. Those that cause us trouble, anxiety and change our mood state intentionally just ‘let go’. Focus instead on meaningful and purposeful activity. Staying in the moment of your existence and being present can help ground you and take away the threat associated with negative thought patterns. Distract yourself by refocusing your attention and letting go of bad thoughts (and have some fun, laugh out loud and find enjoyment in your day. (Mindfulness strategies like letting the thought go past on a cloud, a kite, or a balloon can be helpful thought patterns to adopt and help prevent overthinking and spiralling down over matters you can do nothing about). •Carnegie, D. How to stop Worrying and start living. 2011. BN Publishing.

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Fear of Fear

Situations we are exposed to in life can make us fearful, often causing high levels of emotional arousal and panic sensations. These feelings are scary and can frighten us making it difficult to enter similar situations in the future. We may start avoiding doing things or going into situations which we think might trigger the fear/symptoms again and so build up images of monsters lurking in the shadows. We distance ourselves from these feared situations making it worse when we try to go back into these scenarios again in the future. An example might be after a traumatic car accident, returning to driving might be feared in case of it happening again. A fear of driving, being a passenger, returning to the accident site and fear of the unpredictability of other drivers may all contribute to avoidance behaviours. Nightmares and brooding on what happened may contribute to the distress experience. As time goes on and if driving continues to be avoided, difficulties become compounded leading to the doubting of ones driving skills and abilities. A fear of motorway driving and certain vehicles approaching is commonplace often resulting in making negative forecasts about what will happen. These are safety behaviours that we embark upon based on the short-term consequence of keeping us safe from harm by reducing the risk. As you can see though the longer-term consequences of these actions make the problem worse and can result in incapacity and loss of confidence. The experience itself and the biological symptoms associated with the event adding to the fear equation. The loss of control of emotions disabling the individual still further. Although the example given is of fear in relation to a road traffic accident, this style of thinking is common in relation to many other feared events and can be experienced as mild discomfort to full blown panic attacks and the development of a Panic Disorder. Other such fears associated with situations include public speaking, having intrusive thoughts, stressful social situations, trauma and numerous health fears may trigger a fear/panic response of varying degree. ' FEAR OF FEAR' rather than of the specific situation can develop and feeling stuck and locked into the biological symptoms cycle is commonplace, becoming hyper-vigilant and scanning the body for symptoms and reactions by engaging in self-focused attention often resulting. The Cognitive Behaviour Therapy approach includes increasing exposure to the feared situation, sticking with it until the anxiety level naturally subsides, without engaging in safety behaviours like running away, or avoiding, is needed. The aim is to form new habits of ‘keeping calm and carrying on’ riding the storm of fear and waiting for it to pass often requires reinforcement through behavioural experiments. Using self-soothing techniques like relaxation and meditation. Being able to refocus attention to distract oneself and remain present and in the moment of one’s experience provides a method of coping that will help the individual overcome their fear and downgrade their alarm response in a given situation. Anxiety and panic attacks ( Are you having a panic attack? ( How to deal with panic attacks (

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“It’ll never happen again”

“I didn’t mean it, I was just angry”, “You’ll never find someone who loves you like me”, “I’m doing it because I want the best for you”, “You made me do this”, “You are just being paranoid”. These are just some of the comments that I’ve heard some clients relay to me as excuses they’ve been given, to explain away coercive and bad behaviour they’ve experienced. Perhaps these comments seem harmless, remorseful, loving. Actually, these are controlling comments, designed to justify unreasonable behaviour and manipulate the next actions of the person hearing them. On the face of it, a harmful or abusive relationship can seem perfect, flawless and enviable. Behind the scenes, when nobody is watching, quite the opposite. When we think of domestic violence, we picture the broken partner – bullied, black eyes, flinching at the slightest noise, scared of their partner. All too often, these are the tell-tale signs of an abusive relationship but not all abusive relationships are violent. If it is in someone’s nature to abuse, control, degrade and manipulate – physical violence will likely be just one tool in their arsenal. What about the more discreet methods; intimidating stares, degrading smirks, punishing silences, financially cutting off a dependant, deliberate humiliation, threatening gestures from across the room? These are not normal, or obvious behaviours but they are more common than you’d think. Women/wives are most certainly not the only victims of domestic abuse – husbands, sons, daughters, ex-partners, in-laws, sisters, brothers - they can all be on the receiving end of coercive, controlling, abusive, violent behaviour from someone who is meant to love and care about them. Walking away from a long-term relationship or cutting off our sibling, parent or child can seem impossible, but the truth of the matter is that relationships that turn abusive, rarely reverse to go on and realise happy endings. When the spiteful name-calling doesn’t have the desired effect, then the threats start. When the threats don’t make you conform, then a little slap or hair pull might just do it. No? What about strangulation or threatening to harm your loved ones instead... Notice patterns forming? If you recognise any of these behaviours, however minor, it’s vital you get support quickly. Many of us don’t feel ready to involve family, friends or the police and want to manage the issue ourselves, for fear of embarrassment or the consequences of speaking out. As long you suffer alone, in silence, you subject yourself (and potentially others e.g., your children) to ongoing abuse. For confidential guidance, support, and help building the confidence to make a change, get in touch with a therapist, or a domestic violence support agency. Before you forgive yet another episode – remember this, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”.

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"I'm sorry I can't make it something has come up...."

Avoidance – life is just too difficult I can’t face it anymore. Avoidance is a safety behaviour to control anxiety in the short term. Is this normal? What causes me to feel this way? Why can't I turn this feeling off? If you experience anxiety, these are more than likely to be some of the questions that you find yourself dwelling on, struggling to pinpoint answers and effectively manage your reactions to events that crop up in day-to-day life. Anxiety can be hard to define, manage and eliminate. Its symptoms differ from person to person but if you frequently struggle with any of the symptoms below, chances are you might be experiencing anxiety. * A sudden spike in your heart rate * Tension in your muscles/headaches * Getting clammy/sweating/trembling * Feelings of breathlessness/panic Things that make some of us anxious are enjoyable to others - social gatherings, dinner with the in-laws or going to events like weddings and concerts. As a result, those who feel anxious often find themselves reflecting negatively when their symptoms arise - asking why they feel anxious about something that surely should be fun and pleasant and asking why they can't shake off the feeling and just enjoy the moment. This is because anxiety-based reactions are largely due to our perception and interpretation of events. Whilst some people are social butterflies, others would rather stay home and get lost in a book or film rather than feel anxious in social situations. We are all wired differently and get our 'kicks' in our own unique way. If you find your anxiety is increasingly controlling your life and if you can't change the triggers - the school run, social gatherings, work, exam stress, public speaking etc. then what can you do about how all this is making you feel? YOU CAN control YOU. That's right - the way you view it, the time spent thinking/worrying about it, the way you respond to it, the way you react to it. You may feel helpless, nervous and lost now, the victim of your symptoms but it is possible to change what is happening, you just need to learn how and master the techniques when the triggers arise. Like any new skill, it involves a process of learning - understanding, practicing, making mistakes (and learning from them), recognising the successes and maintaining the knowledge and applying it. We invest time in maintaining lots of areas of our lives without hesitation - our appearance, our children's education, the family car, the housework and garden and so why should our mental health and well-being be any different? It takes time, practice and patience. * Understand more about anxiety, it's causes, symptoms, what sustains it and why you are feeling this way. * Challenge your thoughts and perceptions - are they healthy, realistic, rational, can they be changed to better serve you. * Overcome your anxiety - this is why you are considering therapy, after all - right? * Minimalise or eliminate the knock-on effect it's having on your life, your relationships, the missed events, by doing this you will be enriching your life and thereby allowing yourself to be happier. It is your right to enjoy good mental health and a sense of wellbeing. Come home to your body and be kind to yourself, a step at a time. Kennedy, F & Pearson, D 2017 Get Your Life Back, the most effective therapies for a better you. Robinson Publisers.

Taking Control of OCD

Obsessional Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is kept going by the fear of uncertainty. 'If I don’t engage in rituals, then what if …… something bad happens.' A saying said to me many times over. The real problem is excessive worry about actions, or, thoughts being dangerous, rather than in fact them being dangerous. People are more prone to having OCD when they have certain psychological traits. These include: •Perfectionism •Being overly responsible •Intolerance of uncertainty •Over-estimating the importance of thoughts. •Being anxious and a worrier Trying to control the above early on in life may help stop OCD developing . OCD obsessions and rituals are about trying too hard to be safe, or to rid your mind of certain thoughts. Keeping things simpler and not trying too hard may help recovery and make life easier. To make your life fulfilling and satisfying its remembering that overcoming OCD is not the point. The point is to live your life by enjoying it and by aspiring to be the person you want to be. This does not involve spending endless hours engaging in worry, checking, cleaning, avoiding, over analysing and ruminating. In making deliberate attempts to control thoughts you’re sapping away at your mental energy and wasting precious time needed for living. Moving from OCD bondage to freedom can be taught in therapy. The CBT approach is considered to be the most effective evidence based method to treat this complex condition and ‘Exposure Response Prevention’ (ERP) is the protocol that has been shown to have the best outcome for patients and is recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). David Beckham, Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake are all successful celebrities who have learnt how to live with and thrive despite having OCD. Don’t rely on others for reassurance be independent and sign up for a course of CBT (Costly beautiful treats) Your worth it. Veale, D. & Wilson, R. 2011. Taking Control of OCD. Robinsons: the little brown book group. Veale, D. & Wilson, R. 2009. Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A self-help guide using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques. Robinsons.

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The Stress Implosion affecting the Workforce

Employee Support in the Workplace – A Good Idea Stress is a difficult journey to negotiate to find a way through. The craziness of it seems to subsume you at every turn. Where you can turn for help is unclear and equally as muddling is the mixed messages from employers. Employers offer a range of wellness options - like gyms, flexible working from home, a more personalised approach, mental health support, and what is claimed to be a more supportive team ethos. However, how many of the affected employees are unable to find the time to engage in the wellness support schemes being offered. You may ask yourself whether it is any wonder when you consider the intensity and quantity of the work schedule and unrealistic and demanding deadlines/targets that eat in to limited leisure time. Family and parenting demands on top of punishing work schedules can cause high levels of distress to working parents. This can add to the stress levels throughout the day as guilt and competing demands pull at the heart strings. Tensions between the couple affecting the relationship may also result. How can we slow it all down and make time for the notion of wellness to be embraced. Employers are so driven by high demand and immediate response that human beings have become machines. On the one hand you have employers spending millions trying to promote a care culture without taking heed of the upwards of 60% of staff not able to use such facilities due to time pressures and resulting stress. Concluding then that probably those who need it the most cannot access employer support schemes. Considering where to go as an employee for mental health support can be a challenge. Are we really being forced in to just waiting for the stress implosion to hit us and then using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to help mop up the mess? Somehow currently it feels like dealing with it at the wrong end of the spectrum when life gets out of control, particularly when the impact on one's life can be so great effecting all areas of personal functioning. For employers the average length of time spent off work with a stress related illness is five to six months which has a huge resource and cost implication. Food for thought and decisions for the better use of mental health support schemes with more than lip service being paid in the future. Bamber, M.R. Overcoming Your Workplace Stress: A CBT based self-help guide. (2011) Routledge.

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Intrusive thoughts are like Spam

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted and become obsessive. They occupy valuable thought space and begin to define who you are in your head. They can feel contrary to your nature and cause feelings of guilt, shame and self-doubt, heightening stress levels affecting daily functioning. They are often in categories classed as taboo because they can include sexual and violent images. The thought and the action may become fused so that the person believes because they have had the thought it means they have performed the action. An example might be having a thought about being a paedophile would confirm that such behaviour towards children was desired and prompt reassurance seeking to dis-confirm. Life can become very lonely as you restrict what you do, where you go and who you see, often feeling ashamed and guilty about the content of your thoughts and what they mean. What needs to change? The emphasis being placed on YOUR thoughts. Come on they are just thoughts .... transient happenings in our brain, not real and don’t mean anything. Acceptance that out brain 'IS NOT OUR FRIEND' and this shows precisely that. Thoughts can go off in any direction and be triggered by a happening, a person or situation. Construct better, happier thoughts by engaging in meaningful and purposeful activities. 'GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD' by DOING. Your actions can shift the spotlight of your attention, therefore altering your thinking and in the moment experience, (THE NOW). This then also leads to the ‘wise mind’ making better choices leading wise actions. You can take CONTROL of your thoughts back by using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approaches, learning techniques and strategies to re-establish healthy thought patterns. Be determined to harness your thoughts and actions taking them on to a road has meaning and purpose and is heading towards your dreams, not your fear pathway. Blake Stobie. Stopping Spam for Going Bad:,you%20have%20an%20anxiety%20induced. Juby & Holland (Medical Review 2022) Intrusive Thoughts: Why we Have Them and How to Stop Them.

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Darker Nights and Inner Calm

Winter approaching can mean more time at home to relax and take care of yourself. Relaxation, pampering, self-indulgence, entertaining and socialising all feature and replace some of the more frantic, busy activity of the summer. In contrast some people can feel depressed and lonely as the seasons change. Dark nights and the tendency for people to stay indoors can cause more social isolation. The lack of sunshine and warmth can result in changes of mood and a condition caused Seasonal Affective Disorder. Looking for development opportunities and remembering to plan some fun times and social events, can really help maintain health and wellbeing over the autumn and winter months ahead. Try to avoid just becoming planted in front of the television, or transfixed playing computer games. Residing inside your head can limit your experiences, try to externalise more and enjoy what is around you live life through your perceptual senses for a better day to day experience. Your senses seldom pose a threat but can engage you in pleasurable activities. We choose to enhance our senses to have fun and connect to others around us. The five senses – hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling and tasting can all make us feel grounded and in the now of our experience in a meaningful and purpose way. Run a 5-point check on your senses right now – what can you see, hear, feel, taste and smell now, feel the calming effect this has on you right now. Carry out a short mindfulness meditation (by downloading the headspace app. to see how it makes you feel, how tranquil you can become just shifting the spotlight of your attention from inside your head to the outside of your awareness. Alternatively carry out a progressive relaxation exercise. Scan your body for any tension and practice letting go, next relax all the main muscle groups in the body for head to toe. Place yourself in the right frame of mind by listening to some calm and soothing music (download the Calm app. or imagining a calming, relaxing scene that soothes you.

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Fear of Terrorism, OCD Traits, Dependants and Commuting, can they be linked?

Striving for change and success in life can seem quite difficult when low in mood, or suffering stress symptoms. Recent terrorism acts have caused an emotional meltdown for many. Particularly affected are people with young children, commuters and those with OCD personality traits. It is not uncommon to turn to CBT Therapy for help in coping with these fears. Becoming trapped in a spiral of overthinking and negativity with worsening symptoms. Worrying and brooding, scanning the news for further insights is common. How can CBT help? Making a shift and using your logical brain rather than your emotional brain to improve coping. Alternative strategies to control overthinking, worrying and brooding. Creating meaningful, purposeful daytime activity, having fun days and enjoying your life in the moment being present and connected to your life experience in the now. Restructuring unhelpful thoughts including a tendency to making negative predictions about what could happen, catastrophising about worse case scenarios and being consumed by negative thoughts, having a view of life that your glass being half empty, rather than half full. We live in difficult times with sensational bad news stories, stabbings, terrorist acts and environmental disasters but for most we are not directly affected by this and need to live a happy, calm and self fulfilling life.

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Eat healthily and get moving to make you feel good.

The two basics to survival, good food and exercise, that can have such an impact on all areas of our life. Becoming better at choosing healthy options for life. Your body is amazing in its ability to self correct. It is your temple and the only house you have to reside in, so you need to take good care of it. Try to get moving anyhow, that is all that is required and then just improve upon it daily whatever your age. Have goals that fuel direction for life.

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Longing for Relatedness in our Lives

When not in a relationship we spend many an hour wishing we were, experiencing a deep longing for something we believe would make us whole. Once in a relationship many of us spend time wishing it could be better, more satisfying, less fractious, more stable and dependable. When out of a relationship we spend time grieving and pining for what has been lost, remembering only the good and that it is not recoverable. If only .... The reference to finding a 'soul mate' is often referred to as the epitome of life, but is it a myth? Personality differences and clashes can block forward progression and problem solving ability in relationships. Communication can sour as time passes. Beyond species survival, natural instinct and urges to perpetuate the gene pool, childbearing, then childrearing can provide incentives to stay together. Although an extremely good job can be done by single parent families the complementary nature of couples and togetherness can provide a positive foundation. Some tips to keep your relationship in good shape: * Talk by showing interest, caring and empathy. * Truly connect on all levels - common interests, intimacy, sharing moments. * Regulate emotions by being in control and giving as well as receiving. * Stop criticising and become more nurturing. * See the good and build on this as it becomes your source of reference for the future. * Show generosity of spirit in thoughts and actions. * Keep intimacy fresh and alive. * Make memories together by planning an interesting and varied life together.

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Painful Emotions and Quick Fixes

Quick fixes can lead to greater despair. Mind altering drugs just mask the problem making one increasingly more numb to life. A range of substances are used to try and lesson the pain of emotional distress. Seldom do they do any good, often leading the way to addiction and a whole new set of problems. Alcohol, the overuse of prescribed drugs, as well as illicit drugs are temporary fixes to alter the intensity of how we may feel. Quickly spiralling out of control a sequence can be alcohol, cocaine, gambling, what next? Recognising the patterns and the self destructive tendancies can help. Not overthinking can be the key to change. Experiencing life through the senses and in the moment of our experience can be uplifting. Stopping brooding about the past and worrying about the future as this only leads to more negativity. It's okay to be sad when we lose someone, it can alter the fabric of our life and shake our very foundation. To allow time to grieve is important. Show KINDNESS to yourself. So what can be done? Choices.... You can stay the same, or do something that can make a real difference in your life. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy helps address issues head on. It can help change thinking styles and viscious cycles of negativity. It can inspire hope of recovery and limit repetitive destructive patterns. It's tough out there!!!! Our genetic and social engineering can conspire against us, pulling us in the opposite direction to where we want to be. Your mind can be trained and and you can become the person want to be. It's hard but not impossible. Your mind can choose it's pathway to happiness 'LET'S GO' together. Invest in positive life change .

Things Science Says Will Make You Much Happier

There are numerous bad habits that tend to make us unhappy. Eradicating these bad habits can move your happiness set point in short order. Immunity to awe. Amazing things happen around you every day if you only know where to look. Technology has exposed us to so much and made the world so much smaller. Yet, there’s a downside that isn’t spoken of much: exposure raises the bar on what it takes to be awestricken. And that’s a shame, because few things are as uplifting as experiencing true awe. True awe is humbling. It reminds us that we’re not the center of the universe. Awe is also inspiring and full of wonder, underscoring the richness of life and our ability to both contribute to it and be captivated by it. It’s hard to be happy when you just shrug your shoulders every time you see something new. Isolating yourself. Isolating yourself from social contact is a pretty common response to feeling unhappy, but there’s a large body of research that says it’s the worst thing you can do. This is a huge mistake, as socializing, even when you don’t enjoy it, is great for your mood. We all have those days when we just want to pull the covers over our heads and refuse to talk to anybody, but the moment this becomes a tendency, it destroys your mood. Recognize that when unhappiness is making you antisocial, you need to force yourself to get out there and mingle. You’ll notice the difference right away. Blaming. We need to feel in control of our lives in order to be happy, which is why blaming is so incompatible with happiness. When you blame other people or circumstances for the bad things that happen to you, you’ve decided that you have no control over your life, which is terrible for your mood. Controlling. It’s hard to be happy without feeling in control of your life, but you can take this too far in the other direction by making yourself unhappy through trying to control too much. This is especially true with people. The only person you can control in your life is you. When you feel that nagging desire to dictate other people’s behavior, this will inevitably blow up in your face and make you unhappy. Even if you can control someone in the short term, it usually requires pressure in the form of force or fear, and treating people this way won’t leave you feeling good about yourself. Criticizing. Judging other people and speaking poorly of them is a lot like overindulging in a decadent dessert; it feels good while you’re doing it, but afterwards, you feel guilty and sick. Sociopaths find real pleasure in being mean. For the rest of us, criticizing other people (even privately or to ourselves) is just a bad habit that’s intended to make us feel better about ourselves. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. It just creates a spiral of negativity. Complaining. Complaining is troubling, as well as the attitude that precedes it. Complaining is a self-reinforcing behavior. By constantly talking—and therefore thinking—about how bad things are, you reaffirm your negative beliefs. While talking about what bothers you can help you feel better, there’s a fine line between complaining being therapeutic and it fueling unhappiness. Beyond making you unhappy, complaining drives other people away. Impressing. People will like your clothes, your car, and your fancy job, but that doesn’t mean they like you. Trying to impress other people is a source of unhappiness, because it doesn’t get to the source of what makes you happy—finding people who like you and accept you for who you are. All the things you acquire in the quest to impress people won’t make you happy either. There’s an ocean of research that shows that material things don’t make you happy. When you make a habit of chasing things, you are likely to become unhappy because, beyond the disappointment you experience once you get them, you discover that you’ve gained them at the expense of the real things that can make you happy, such as friends, family, and taking good care of yourself. Negativity. Life won’t always go the way you want it to, but when it comes down to it, you have the same 24 hours in the day as everyone else. Happy people make their time count. Instead of complaining about how things could have been or should have been, they reflect on everything they have to be grateful for. Then they find the best solution available to the problem, tackle it, and move on. Nothing fuels unhappiness quite like pessimism. The problem with a pessimistic attitude, apart from the damage it does to your mood, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you expect bad things, you’re more likely to get bad things. Pessimistic thoughts are hard to shake off until you recognize how illogical they are. Force yourself to look at the facts, and you’ll see that things are not nearly as bad as they seem. Hanging around negative people. Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spirals. You can avoid getting drawn in only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with negative people. A great way to set limits is to ask them how they intend to fix their problems. The complainer will then either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction. You should strive to surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who make you want to be better, and you probably do. But what about the people who drag you down? Why do you allow them to be a part of your life? Anyone who makes you feel worthless, anxious, or uninspired is wasting your time and, quite possibly, making you more like them. Life is too short to associate with people like this. Cut them loose. Comparing your own life to the lives people portray on social media. The Happiness Research Institute conducted the Facebook Experiment to find out how our social media habits affect our happiness. Half of the study’s participants kept using Facebook as they normally would, while the other half stayed off Facebook for a week. The results were striking. At the end of the week, the participants who stayed off Facebook reported a significantly higher degree of satisfaction with their lives and lower levels of sadness and loneliness. The researchers also concluded that people on Facebook were 55% more likely to feel stress as a result. The thing to remember about Facebook and social media in general is that they rarely represent reality. Social media provides an airbrushed, color-enhanced look at the lives people want to portray. I’m not suggesting that you give up social media; just take it sparingly and with a grain of salt. Neglecting to set goals. Having goals gives you hope and the ability to look forward to a better future, and working towards those goals makes you feel good about yourself and your abilities. It’s important to set goals that are challenging, specific (and measurable), and driven by your personal values. Without goals, instead of learning and improving yourself, you just plod along wondering why things never change. Giving in to fear. Fear is nothing more than a lingering emotion that’s fueled by your imagination. Danger is real. It’s the uncomfortable rush of adrenaline you get when you almost step in front of a bus. Fear is a choice. Happy people know this better than anyone does, so they flip fear on its head. They are addicted to the euphoric feeling they get from conquering their fears. When all is said and done, you will lament the chances you didn’t take far more than you will your failures. Don’t be afraid to take risks. I often hear people say, “What’s the worst thing that can happen to you? Will it kill you?” Yet, death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. The worst thing that can happen to you is allowing yourself to die inside while you’re still alive. Leaving the present. Like fear, the past and the future are products of your mind. No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future. Happy people know this, so they focus on living in the present moment. It’s impossible to reach your full potential if you’re constantly somewhere else, unable to fully embrace the reality (good or bad) of the very moment. To live in the moment, you must do two things: 1) Accept your past. If you don’t make peace with your past, it will never leave you and it will create your future. Happy people know that the only good reason to look at the past is to see how far you’ve come. 2) Accept the uncertainty of the future, and don’t place unnecessary expectations upon yourself. Worry has no place in the here and now. As Mark Twain once said, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” Bringing It All Together We can’t control our genes, and we can’t control all of our circumstances, but we can rid ourselves of habits that serve no purpose other than to make us miserable. What makes you happy? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me. Credit to original source:

Random acts of kindness can make us feel good about ourselves...

This week I attended a workshop on Compassion Focused Therapy, how uplifting it was to have it reinforced that all the rubbish that we experience in life 'is not our fault'. Paul Gilbert, a renowned therapist and publisher in this field, spoke about our genetic wiring, our social influences and upbringing being the key factors influencing how we function. We decide what version of ourselves we put out there in to the world each day and sometimes the self critic gets the better of us. We are all out there just trying to be the best we can with what we have inherited - both physically and mentally and when it goes wrong it really is 'just not our fault'. So recognising this we just have to let go of the self critic, which makes us feel bad about ourselves and show ourselves and others compassion and kindness in how we conduct our lives would seem the logical way forward. As humans though not too hot on logic so needs commitment and work to establish this way of being, but oh so worth it in the long run. Well how can we do this? It is really not too difficult. Just need to create the right conditions in our lives. Cultivate the compassionate self and reap the benefit, stop being so hard on yourself. Take responsibility for your own happiness and leg go of all the rubbish that is in our lives, it doesn't have to signal who are you, it is just one version of you that your putting out there today. Make it your motto going in to 2016 - It is not my fault but today I take responsibility for my happiness by showing care, compassion and empathy.

Dark nights and chilly air

Dark nights and chilly air is upon us going in to the winter months. Time to add some winter layers of clothing to keep warm and cosy. Delight in sitting around a wood burning stove, getting away for a skiing trip,........ or, just exercising more to lose a few pounds ready for the festive period of overindulgence. Opportunities to have some fun and to catch up with friends and family. In contrast for some the winter months represent further loneliness, isolation and despair. Relationship conflict and tensions causing rifts that seem irreparable with children at times baring the brunt of adult anger and frustration. At a time when the message is to drink and be merry, the willpower to manage addictions can be lost, dominating life and resulting in pain and misery. Debt seeming to be insurmountable. Physical decline downward until it feels equivalent to being in the gutter. The hardest thing can be taking that first step to make some positive changes for a brighter, more optimistic future. Talking about it to a professional can shift mountains and help you to go forward along the happiness trail. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy with an accredited therapist can provide the way. Engage today and make it happen. Enjoy coming along to a calm and tranquil place ......... ... to talk about you and what is happening in your life, deciding what change you want and the way to navigate getting there. Invest in your future in these winter months so that you emerge more resilient and flourishing ready for the spring. Take action today.

Lazy Morning
Dealing with Monday morning dread.

Got the Sunday night blues? The weekend nearing it's end. Starting to get that sick feeling of dread bought on by feeling anxious? That Monday morning feeling that you have learnt to hate, now affecting your Sunday evening relaxation time. Sounding typical of how your feeling? What can be done? Sunday evening prepare:- Do spend some mindful down time Sunday evening. Prepare, cook and eat a nice meal, de-stress by choosing what works for your - pampering, watch a movie, be in the moment and savor what is around you. Use time to reflect and create an inner calm. Get good quality sleep, prepare your bedtime routine. Don't spend time worrying about the past, or the future. Don't look at work emails in preparation to get ahead. Don't overuse stimulants the night before, caffeine/alcohol. Monday morning:- 'Let's go for it' - eat a good breakfast, add some protein. Exercise - go for a 20 minute walk/jog in the fresh air (or similar) - 'just get on and do it' your motto. Don't over think it and make up reasons why not. Get organised and be realistic about the time and energy to allocate to tasks. Set yourself up to succeed at work with smart goals. Stop being self critical, engage in tasks doing your best but don't let it become torturous. Work with intent and purpose but slow down by taking regular breaks (away from the desk). Walk about and engage with others. Call those close to you for a chatter, its good to talk to unwind and just be sociable. Listen to music. Breathe - focus on the inner you and be present in your experience. Work to boundaries by ending working day to time and by leaving it behind you until the following day. Ensure other people respect your space, no late night phone calls and demands on your personal time. Make Monday evenings special in what you do - hobbies, activities, family fun. Something to look forward to... ENJOY IT DON'T WISH YOUR LIFE AWAY, IT IS A VALUABLE DAY AND ALWAYS THE CHANCE FOR A NEW BEGINNING

Violin Player
The Art of not Knowing

Sometimes it is good not to know as it encourages us to explore possibilities and be creative in our thoughts. It helps us explore solutions to problems and be intuitive. It aides reflection and can lead to better decisions being made. It can also result in us joining together with others to link ideas and determine a way forward. Showing yourself kindness and compassion is important to ease the pressures of life being experienced enabling us to function at full potential.

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