Good Mental Health at Christmas

mental-health-and-christmas

The messages we see and hear leading up to Christmas from media and marketing campaigns can feel as if expectations are being imposed on us to enjoy ourselves and be happy in the holiday season.

But…

What if you are just about managing to get through each day at the moment….what if you are facing the Christmas period alone, grieving for someone who has died, or you are in the midst of family or relationship conflict?  Facing Christmas can then feel a very daunting prospect.

Family Difficulties:

Conflicts which exist all year around can often come to the surface at this time of year.  The expectation to gather the whole family together can result in anxiety, stress and pressure.  Accepting this may happen and being able to set grievances aside until a more appropriate time for discussion, may be helpful.

Bereavement:

Christmas can be a time of sadness, whether someone close to you has recently died, or you were bereaved a long time ago.  It is important to acknowledge to yourself that it is normal to feel sadness and grief.  You do not need to force yourself to be happy, just because it is the holiday season. Spending some time thinking in advance about arrangements over Christmas and what would be most helpful for you can be useful.

Loneliness:

There are many people for whom loneliness is a significant issue throughout the year, and particularly in the holiday season.  If you feel lonely or isolated, have a look at any local community or social events which may be taking place.  The organisation Mind has helpful information and practical suggestions to cope with loneliness.  See the link below.

Many elderly people do not look forward to Christmas because they will be on their own. This is the time of year to check on older neighbours, relatives and friends.  Perhaps tell them about ‘The Silver Line’ which is a free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people.  It is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Telephone number 0800 4 70 80 90

Self-Care:

Physical tiredness and disruption of your normal routine can, in itself, be a cause for stress over the Christmas period.  With so many expectations and obligations, it is easy to forget to look after yourself.  Just being able to keep to regular patterns of sleeping and eating can be helpful.

Useful Links:

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/loneliness/

https://www.thesilverline.org.uk/

http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us

Please contact sharonc@pacecounselling.co.uk  if you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this post, and would like an appointment to see a counsellor.

The Metaphorical Path of Life

path-of-life

I  found this little piece of wisdom whilst I was reading articles on line, and wanted to share it with you.  It’s about the metaphorical path of life which we follow, and is taken from a writing by Laura Lee-Smith…

Instead of seeing our lives as an entity we cannot control, ruminate upon this well-known metaphor to the life we live:

Paths are full of twists, turns and thorny unmarked points, but where you go is up to you.  So, perhaps it is not only the feeling of losing control that eats at us, but the fear of setting down a path that we are unsure of.  What we fear is the inertia and momentum of a decision that will take us to a place unknown.  Without a doubt, our lives are made up of difficult decisions, highs and lows, missteps and dark places, but it is the people we choose to be during these moments that define us.

Thorns can get hacked through with the right tools, missteps conquered with the armour of a sound mind and self-confidence, and those dark unknown places can have light shed upon them with the right attitude and a large dash of courage. It is all a matter of using yet another metaphor, and digging deep within ourselves to find the will and the strength to make the difficult choices, to brave the unknown with only yourself as a net.  No matter what metaphor we choose, what path we take, we can always change direction and it is having the choice to do this that we must hold onto.

 

 

 

 

HypnoBlitz: A Unique Approach to Weight Loss and Fitness

hypnoblitz-logoDo you want to lose weight and feel fitter?

Are you fed up with that frustrating cycle of ‘yo-yo’dieting?

Do you battle against your own mental barriers to losing weight and doing exercise?

 HypnoBlitz offers a solution to these challenges with a unique programme combining hypnotherapy and personal fitness training

What will you gain?

  • Positive mental and physical health rewards for the long term
  • Feel better with more energy and improved sleep
  • Understand and Conquer your weight issues
  • Boost your self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Reduce stress, your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels
  • Take control of unhealthy eating patterns and your weight

What is included in the HypnoBlitz Programme?

  • An individually tailored programme for weight loss and fitness
  • 6 sessions of Hypnotherapy for Weight Loss to address negative thoughts and feelings, body confidence and body image.
  • 6 sessions of Personal Fitness Training specifically tailored to achieve weight loss and body toning
  • Important Nutritional Advice throughout the programme
  • Full Initial Consultation Assessment with the HypnoBlitz team to identify your needs and your goals
  • Mid-Way Review to ensure we are all on track to help you achieve your goals

All of this at an Introductory price of £600

Your HypnoBlitz Team

Two experienced professionals with over 30 years experience in the mental health and fitness industries.

Sharon Convisser and Max Cacace

Sharon Convisser is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist and counsellor.  She has extensive experience working within major organisations and in private practice, helping people improve their emotional and physical well-being.

Max Cacace has over 15 years experience within the fitness industry with highly regarded qualifications in fitness industry.  He is passionate about fitness and creates a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere for you to achieve your goals.

BOOK NOW AND MAKE THOSE LIFE CHANGES BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!

To make a booking or for further information contact:
Sharon Convisser: sharonc@pacecounselling.co.uk or call 07936 556314
Max Cacace : maxcacacept@hotmail.com or call 07919 156354

A New School Year

 

Back to School Road Sign

Back to School

It’s the beginning of a new school year and this can bring with it a mixture of anticipation, excitement, anxiety and stress for parents and students alike.  Far away from what might have been a relaxed, unstructured Summer break for the students, the new school year brings new faces, homework, and structured, scheduled activities. 

Some tips for getting back into the school routine, physically and emotionally!

1.       The benefits of a good night’s sleep for all of us can help energise and focus us for the day ahead.  Sleep is also key to ensuring our memory consolidates, by helping different pieces of information we have learned in the day to come together.  Talking with your child about the benefits of sleep and how this can help them physically and emotionally may be useful, as will getting back into meal and bedtime routines at least a week before school starts.

 2.       With every new school year can come a fresh start.  A chance to take on new opportunities and set new goals.  Discussing and setting some goals with your child perhaps about activities they would like to be involved in, or how they would like to develop can be a helpful start to the school year.

 3.       For any anxious child, helping them get to know the setting of the school (if it is a new one) can help.  Even if it is not possible to visit inside the school beforehand, walking around the surrounding area can be reassuring. Visualise with your child the new classroom experience being successful, and encourage them to visualise themselves feeling calm and confident as they meet other students and new teachers.

It is not at all unusual for children to feel worried about the beginning of the new school year, particularly if he or she is also having to make a transition into a different school.  After a few days or weeks, any anxiety should lessen, but if it continues, then speaking to a form teacher can be a good first step to seeing how best to support your child.  Alternatively, seeing a counsellor within the school or externally can provide additional support. 

www.pacecounselling.co.uk

 

 

Managing Anxiety

Anxiety

“Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)

Experiencing stress and anxiety is something that we all have from time to time, but it’s when feelings of anxiety stop you from doing things in your life and begin to feel overwhelming that it’s worth exploring ways of managing the feelings differently.

There are a number of physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms that people can experience when they feel anxious, and Anxiety UK details some of these:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased muscle tension
  • “Jelly legs”
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Hyperventilation (over breathing)
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Wanting to use the toilet more often
  • Feeling sick
  • Tight band across the chest area
  • Tension headaches
  • Hot flushes
  • Increased perspiration
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking
  • Choking sensations
  • Palpitations

Some of the most common thoughts that people can have when they are experiencing anxiety are:

  • Thinking that you may lose control and/or go “mad”
  • Thinking that you might die
  • Thinking that you may have a heart attack/be sick/faint
  • Feeling that people are looking at you and observing your anxiety
  • Feeling as though things are speeding up/slowing down
  • Feeling detached from your environment and the people in it
  • Feeling like wanting to run away/escape from the situation
  • Feeling on edge and alert to everything around you

Sometimes it may be possible to identify a particular event or incident that has caused your anxiety, e.g. relationship problems; bereavement; job interview; moving house. Other times, it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly what may have triggered the anxious or stressful feelings. There might also be a build up over time of different stresses.

Anxiety can put us into “fight or flight” mode, with our brain thinking that it needs to protect us from a threatening situation, even though there may not  be any real current threat. This is often a result of an outdated response linked to an event or experience in the past which may still be having an impact, and getting triggered in the present. E.g. a childhood experience of feeling embarrassed or humiliated at school when speaking out in class being linked to a fear of speaking out in a team meeting at work or delivering a presentation.

Counselling and hypnotherapy can be helpful in dealing with both the underlying causes of anxiety and in developing strategies for managing situations and feelings, so that they do not begin to overwhelm you.

Here are some of my top tips for reducing anxiety at difficult times:

  1. Focus on your breathing; slowly and deeply. Breathe in for the count of 4 and out for the count of 8
  2. Distract and occupy yourself with something else, e.g. make a cup of tea; take a bath;
  3. Take some gentle exercise, e.g. walk, yoga
  4. Talk to someone
  5. Visualise a calm peaceful place, perhaps somewhere you have been or would like to go, e.g. a beach, a lake, and imagine a bridge that you can cross in your mind that takes you there
  6. Use grounding techniques to distract yourself, such as using all your senses, e.g. noticing what is around you and saying to yourself, “The walls are white; there are four grey chairs; there is a wooden bookshelf against the wall…”
  7. Describe objects, sounds, textures, colours, smells, shapes, numbers, and the temperature. This is something you can do anywhere.
  8. Dig your heels into the floor-literally “grounding” them. Notice the tension centred in your heels as you do this. Remind yourself you are connected to the ground.
  9. Remember the words to an inspiring song, quote or poem.
  10. Play a categories game with yourself, e.g. think of types of animals, names of countries that begin with the letter ‘A’ etc. This form of mental grounding can help distract you from any overwhelming feeling.

If the feelings of anxiety or stress continue, or you have been experiencing these feelings for some time and are finding it difficult to manage them, a combination of self-help using the above top tips, and seeing a professional counsellor and/or hypnotherapist can help. By having a space to talk about and explore your feelings, you will be able to gain an understanding for yourself about what the underlying causes and issues may be, and develop lasting strategies for overcoming these.

If you would like further help in resolving and managing anxiety, please contact sharonc@pacecounselling.co.uk for an initial discussion or telephone Sharon on 07936 556314

https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/

(Anxiety Graphic by Adele Palmquist)

 

Depression self-help

Depression – The Prison in Our Minds

“…..in depression we can neither give nor receive comfort, for we are alone in a prison, and that prison is filled with fear, anger, guilt and despair…..” (Dorothy Rowe 1983)

Depression can be the greatest isolation that we can experience, and it can be very difficult to take the steps we need to take to feel better when feelings of hopelessness and lack of energy overwhelm us.  However, although overcoming depression is not easy, it is possible and it is important to recognise that you can have some level of control over your thoughts and your feelings.  The following self-help tips can help, either alongside any professional help you may be receiving or on their own.

  1. One day at a time

Small goals and small steps are the way forward.  Write down a list of 6 things that you can manage to do that can help you move to a different emotional space.  e.g. taking a bath, making yourself a cup of tea, walking outside and looking at the sky, taking a short walk down the road, phoning a friend.  Pick one of these things each day and reward yourself each time you accomplish one.

2.       Reach Out

The heavy fog of depression can be very difficult to lift on your own, and being isolated can make it worse.  Reaching out to others for support is a strength, and this is the time to do it.  Often, it may feel more comfortable to retreat into yourself, but being around other people can help lift your depression and improve your support network.

3.       Challenge your negative thoughts

It can feel a difficult task to “think positive” when you are depressed, but there are things you can do to challenge the negative thoughts you may be having, simply by offering yourself more balanced and realistic thoughts.  E.g. Ask yourself, are you being harsh on yourself with what you are thinking? Would you say what you are thinking about to someone else in the same position?  Is there a less harsh thought that you can offer yourself?

4.       Make a Self-Care Kit

A self-care Kit can support you in different ways when you feel depressed.  Collect together one item for each of the 5 senses that can help bring good feelings to the surface for you.  E.g. smell (coffee, incense, perfume);  taste (chocolate, sweets);  touch (crystal, stone, jewellery, teddy);  sight (photo, poem);  sound (CD, Ipod).  Place these items in a box, and dig into it to help you move to a different emotional space.  By choosing 2 or 3 items from the box, you can make it more portable and carry them around with you.

5.        Exercise and Diet

Although this is the last thing you may feel like doing, exercise can be a powerful tool to helping depression.  A 10 minute burst of exercise each day can be a good start e.g. walking up the stairs, walking down the road, and you can then progress to longer periods of exercise, e.g. swimming, yoga.

Aim for mood boosting foods including low-fat protein, complex carbohydrates and fresh fruit and vegetables.  Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives.

  1. Three things

Each evening, look back over your day and choose 3 things that have happened that may have made you smile or may have just helped you feel a little better, and write them down, however small.  This may seem like a struggle, but it is possible to start tuning in to notice these things, e.g. something nice or amusing somebody said or did, hearing a nice song on the radio; something nice that just caught your eye.

Whilst these tips can all be part of your treatment plan for recovery from depression, there may be other issues such as anxiety, trauma, loss, and anger underneath it all.  If you are finding that you are continuing to struggle, professional counselling can help by working with you to deal with the issues underlying the thoughts and feelings associated with your depression so that you can find a way out of the ‘prison’.

Please contact sharonc@pacecounselling.co.uk for an initial consultation or telephone 07936 556314.

 

emptynest

Empty Nest Syndrome

Empty Nest Syndrome is the name given to the feeling of sadness that can affect parents when their children have left home.  It is certainly natural to feel a bit low when your children first leave home. Often there is a big build up to them leaving with so much to be done. Once they have gone, it can suddenly hit you and the house can feel very empty and quiet. One Mum in her late fifties describes how she felt when her last son left home.

“The thing I found most strange was the tidiness of the house. Nothing moved during the day, and although this was nice it was also quite a lonely feeling. I do remember moving things around just to make the space feel lived in.”

If you are feeling a bit sad when your children have left, it’s really good to talk to other people about how you feel. You will soon come to realise that you are not alone with your feelings and it is reassuring to know that other parents are also feeling a bit miserable and slightly redundant. For women this time can often coincide with the menopause when emotions are already running amok and this combined with other commitments such as work, home and perhaps dealing with elderly parents can leave women feeling very down. It can be a time of conflicting emotions and sometimes a fear that life is never going to be the same.

In this day and age it is easier to keep in touch with children once they have left and phoning, texting and emails can help regular contact which may feel more reassuring. However it is important to allow space between yourself and your child once they have left home, and not be concerned if they don’t reply straight away. Just remember, it’s quite natural to worry about them. You may miss their companionship and being a part of their daily lives but you can allow yourself to feel proud that your children have the confidence to leave home and “are on their way” wherever that may lead to in the future.

When your children have gone it’s important to think positively of this new phase in your life. You can spend more time doing things you enjoy and maybe take up a new interest and catch up with friends who you haven’t seen for a long time. Things won’t be quite the same but just because things are different it doesn’t have to mean not as good.  The Mum quoted earlier in this piece says that once she had adjusted to her children no longer being at home she felt differently.

“There are certainly now upsides and we do now enjoy having the house to ourselves but I definitely need to have plans in the diary to see the boys at regular intervals.”

Everyone will be different in how they cope with or react to their “Empty Nest.” You do need to give yourself time to adapt but if you feel overwhelmed by your emotions and you are feeling down and tearful, then it maybe that you do need a little support to guide you through this transitional time. If this is the case then a visit to your GP may help to talk things through and your GP may suggest some counselling.

 http://www.familylives.org.uk/

 Many thanks to Louise Convisser, freelance writer, for this article.

If you know anyone who is struggling emotionally with issues such as these or with other difficulties, counselling can provide a confidential space to talk things through. Please e-mail sharonc@pacecounselling.co.uk or telephone Sharon Convisser on 07936 556314 for an appointment or initial discussion.

 

Lifespan Integration and Trauma Recovery

LI

I am just back from some excellent training in Lifespan Integration, which is a relatively new therapeutic technique in the UK to help adults overcome the effects of early trauma and neglect. Lifespan Integration was developed in 2002 in the USA by Peggy Pace.  It utilises up to date neuroscience research of how our brain and memory are affected by trauma and attachment issues. 

It is already well known that traumatic experiences can impact children during their early development, and can have lasting effects into their adult lives, affecting how individuals view themselves and others in the world for the rest of their lives.  For example, as adults, we might find ourselves reacting very emotionally to other people or situations in a way that feels disproportionate for what is happening.  This can often be because we are being sub-consciously triggered by a past memory or feeling that has not been resolved for us.  Lifespan Integration works by helping the adult client enter into an internal dialogue with his or her ‘child state’ and using the client’s active imagination to repair early life experiences.  The client is then led through a Time Line of his or her memories which has the powerful effect of proving to his or her mind and body that life is different now and that whatever happened is well and truly in the past.  This brings about the integration of memories in a very gentle, non-traumatising way by joining up neural structures across the individual’s lifespan.  When memories are integrated in this way, we become less ‘triggered’ by past events, and it therefore becomes possible to respond to current situations and other people in more age appropriate ways.  Having participated in the technique myself during the training, both by being on the receiving end and also as a therapist, I experienced and saw that connections made were at a deep level but in a way that was non-traumatising.  Lifespan Integration is an invaluable therapeutic technique which enables us to gain a greater understanding and resolution of early memories. This in turn allows us to respond in more helpful ways to stressful situations in our current lives.

If you feel that past events in your life are continuing to affect how you view yourself and others, and you would like help to make changes, please contact Sharon Convisser at Pace Counselling & Hypnotherapy on 07936 556314 for an initial consultation. 

Useful Links:

http://lifespanintegration.com/

 

Fear of Flying

Plane

Do you have a fear of flying?  Does the thought of flying by plane cause you anxiety to a point where it puts a dark cloud over your holiday plans, affects your relationships, or inhibits your career?  The fear of flying, or aerophobia, can be successfully cured through hypnotherapy.  

When any phobia develops, it is generated by the subconscious part of our minds.  This part of our mind holds all our memories and experiences, and does not function by rational, conscious thinking….it functions on imagination.  As with other phobias, the subconscious mind has experienced an event that has conditioned it to fear.  Although you may be unable to recall any such event in your conscious mind, your subconscious remembers the experience.  Each time a similar event or experience occurs, the behaviour and response gets reinforced (e.g. through fear and anxiety) and this ends up strengthening the phobia.   This response can be changed quickly and effectively.  Through relaxation techniques and being shown how to change the direction of your thoughts, hypnotherapy can help you to achieve a state whereby you can think positively and calmly about flying. 

For those of you who just suffer from mild anxiety about flying, then the following Top Tips may help you manage your flight a little easier:

1.       Stay hydrated whilst on the plane, and stick to drinking water or juices.  Don’t use alcohol to help you cope with a flight.  It doesn’t tackle the problem and can actually intensify some anxiety symptoms.  Remember, alcohol has a different effect at altitude.

 2.        Distract yourself and don’t focus on your fears.  Watch a film, read a book, or have a conversation with someone. 

 3.       Calm your mind through breathing exercises.  Breathe in for the count of 4, hold it for the same amount of time and then breathe out slowly.  Continue to do this several times

4.       Talk to the cabin crew and let them know that you are an anxious flyer.  They are trained to support you.  Let them know how they can help you, e.g. by explaining unfamiliar noises in the plane.

5.       Visualise a positive flight and the positive reasons for taking your flight.  Challenge any negative thoughts e.g. turbulence is nothing to be alarmed about, it happens because of air currents and the plane’s structure is built to deal with this.  It isn’t going to fall apart.

Whilst the above tips may help you if you suffer from mild anxiety about flying, overcoming an actual phobia of flying is likely to need a different approach.  If the anxiety and fear you experience about flying is overwhelming and persistent, and your fear is extreme and irrational, it is likely that you are suffering from a phobia.    This is where hypnotherapy techniques can be helpful. 

If you would like help to overcome any phobia, please contact Sharon Convisser at Pace Counselling & Hypnotherapy on 07936 556314 or e-mail me at sharonc@pacecounselling.co.uk

Managing Emotions

power of the mind 

Managing Emotions using the Power of your Mind

There are times when it can feel as if the thoughts and feelings that we experience are overwhelming in their intensity. In my counselling and hypnotherapy work, I have found that guiding people towards changing the modality of the thought or feeling in conjunction with exploring the underlying issues, can have the effect of helping them lessen the intensity of it.

We all represent our thoughts using different senses or modalities (e.g. visually, auditory, by feeling). By creating a mental image in our mind of the thought or feeling, such as giving it a shape, a colour, a size, we can mentally adjust these modalities and change the effect that the image has, and hence change the strength of the thought or feeling.

Next time you are experiencing anxiety, anger, or any other strong emotion try this technique.  It can also be used to help with pain, such as a headache.

  1. With your eyes closed, allow yourself to become aware of the area of your body where you are experiencing the emotion (e.g. stomach, chest) or pain (e.g. head) and visualise it as an image in your mind.
  2. As you focus on the image, visualise giving it a shape.
  3. As you continue to visualise it, give the shape a colour.
  4. Now visualise the background to the shape, and give that a colour as well.
  5. Then make the shape the same colour as the background and at the same time visualise making the shape smaller and smaller. Make it so small so it’s at the point just before it disappears.
  6. Then continue to make it smaller still….so when you look all over the background and try and find the shape, you see that it’s gone.
  7. Now imagine giving healing a colour. What colour would you give it? Visualise that healing colour flowing into the background….all over….until it flows into everywhere it needs to flow for the emotion or pain to disappear.
  8. You can also visualise changing the dimensional aspect of the shape, making it a still image if it is moving, and even visualise moving it around and out of your body.

Practise this as often as you can, when you are in a relaxed state and it will become easier to do.  Please contact sharonc@pacecounselling.co.uk if you would like an initial consultation at Pace Counselling & Hypnotherapy or call  07936 556314