Protecting your mental health

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the current health crisis is affecting or will impact all our mental health.

I’ve found myself thinking about it more and more and worrying about what I should or shouldn’t do. I’ve also notice I’ve been having dreams that I am a lot more anxious during and after when I wake up.

It is bound to have an impact but we can all do things to help support our mental wellbeing. This article has some useful tips.

Putting some of these into practice will take time and persistence, however, the benefits may be very valuable.

Self care may not always be easy, but I wish you well with it.

How do you know your counsellor is qualified?

The BBC news website published an interesting article about counsellors this week. The titles, counsellor, therapist, psychotherapist are not protected. This means that anyone can advertising themselves as one regardless of their qualifications.

This is why therapists like myself who have studied on courses that meet the requirements of a membership body usually mention this on their website. To give clients more confidence in our experience and professionalism.

I am a member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). If you wanted to check that, you can search for my name on their register.

It is voluntary to be a member of one of these bodies. However, the majority of counsellors choose to join one. The governments Professional Standards Register recommends you choose a counsellor who is a member of one of a number of bodies and the list can be found here.

One in Four

I came across this very interesting article about the frequently used statistic that one on four of us have issues with mental health.

We get so caught up in categorising mental health issues that we sometimes forget that we all have mental health. At times for some of us it it robust and resilient and for others it isn’t and needs support.

We are all impacted by the human condition and events that can cause us distress. There shouldn’t be stigma in needing support at such times.

Men Only Retreats

I found this very interesting article today on the BBC news website and found it very thought provoking. It also brought back memories of my counselling training where similar exercises were undertaken.

They were challenging for all, regardless of gender and its a difficult process looking deep within ourselves.

I work with a lot of male clients from 11 to adult and there is a theme that comes up around what does masculinity look like. In some cases it’s a lack of role models, for some it isn’t fitting the social norms of the society around them.

I have great hope though in the younger generation. Despite the media portrayals of social media obsessed entitle young people, those I meet are not like that. They are far more aware and accepting of difference, in gender and sexuality or race and religion than my own generation ever was at that age and they are using that awareness to challenge the stereotypes imposed on them by their parents and grandparents generations. Many are politically awakened and sadly too many have to be very conscious of the dangers in the societies they are raised in.

Its a long article, but worth reading through to the last paragraph:

“I think that men are going to be called to do this work more and more,” says Rafia. “I think that women have put a lot of issues on the table and a response needs to come from the men. We do need to show up. We do need to heal ourselves. And the world does need authentic men.”

New Years reflections

The New Year always seems to be a time of reflection and hope to me. I reflect on the year past and hope and dream what the future year will bring, sadly it doesn’t always work out the way we want to.

For me on a personal level events in this last couple of years have meant I found myself reflecting a great deal on the past including things I thought I had dealt with and closed the door on.

The lesson for me is that doors don’t always stay closed and sometimes we have to revisit again and again painful memories.

The most profound thing for me though in that is that each time I process stuff anew, it is a very healing experience. By viewing the past from where I am now – with the support networks and self awareness I have allows me to put events into a different context. While my past will always be a part of me it doesn’t define me, but I also won’t deny it and sometimes it needs some attention and work.

That’s one of the side events of opening up yourself to therapy, once you begin processing, you never really stop. It becomes part of your being. I believe that’s a very powerful part to have.

It means that when the unexpected happens, as it surely will it is a resource we can call on to find a way through. To come out the other side with who we are still intact, even if we have been changed by new experiences.

I hope that whatever 2019 brings you, joys and sadness, fun and challenges that you have the resources to cope, inner resources and the support that comes from honest and loving relationships with friends and/or family.

 

Spending Christmas Day alone

Are you finding the thought of Christmas day difficult because you are going to be spending it alone?

If you use Twitter there is a hashtag #joinin which was started by the comedian Sarah Millican a few years ago. Its aimed specifically at people who will be alone to give them people to talk to on Christmas day who are in the same situation.

Social media can be a great way to connect such as the twitter hashtag above, but it can also be something that makes us unhappy. This article has an interesting take on how Facebook lurking just makes us more dissatisfied if we believe everyone else is having a much better time than us. If you can’t use it to connect with people, how about having a break from it on Christmas day so you don’t put pressure on yourself on what it is supposed to be?

Another option you may not know about (I only found out this week) is that some cinemas are opening on Christmas day. This may be something to get you out of the house and do something different. However, as public transport won’t be running this option is going to be limited to people with cars or who live near enough to walk. The odeon have a list of venues opening here.

I wish you all the best over the next few days and hope you find some peace and joy, whatever your current circumstance.

Not such a great time of the year

There is a lot of celebrating going on around us at this time of year, but what if you aren’t part of that?

There are many reasons that you may be finding the festivities hard to cope with. One of those is bereavement, either a recent one or one that happened at this time of year in the past. Cruse have put together the graphic at the bottom of the page which you may find useful.

But there are other reasons; you may be suffering from an illness that makes it hard to feel like celebrating. This could be a mental health illness or one that gives you physical pain.

You might be estranged from family members and all the talk of family gatherings make it hard for you to join in the happiness because of your own emotions.

Your children may not be spending Christmas with you as they are with their other parent or your family is in another country.

You may be lonely and feel you don’t have anyone to spend the holiday with.

There are always organisations open to offer you crisis help if you need it, the most well know is the Samaritans who are there to talk if you need it.

Maybe what you need is to plan to change something longer term and are thinking about therapy. This might be the time to initiate that, please feel free to contact me if that is the case.

To all those people who are finding it tough this year I hope you find some solace and find some peace despite what is going on for you.