Getting Over Your Fears

It has to be said, that fear is one of the strongest and most powerful emotions to have an effect on both your mind and your body. It can force us into strong responses such as fleeing or fighting if we are being attacked.

However, it is not just when facing danger that we’re faced with fear but in situations such as exams, public speaking, a date or for some, the fear of social situations. It is our reaction to what we see as a threat which is either perceived or real.

Some types of fear we refer to as anxiety, which is generally the fear of something coming or occurring in the future rather than something happening in that moment. Fear and anxiety can last for short periods of time and be fleeting but they can also suck you in and keep you in a permanent state of fear and anxiety and in some cases for whole life spans and can affect your ability to do everyday things from eating to sleeping and enjoying life.

Fear isn’t all bad though and in fact can be a healthy and normal part of life as it can be very motivating and keeps us from getting into harmful situations. When we become really fearful of something, it is then that it can be classed as a phobia.

For example, on a scale of 1 – 10. If you were to think about HOW fearful you were of something, generally anything 7 or over is considered a phobia.

So how do you go about getting over your fears?

Face It

If you are constantly avoiding situations where you are fearful, you tend to build the fear up inside of you making it worse. By avoiding the circumstances, you won’t ever be able to test yourself to see if things are really as bad as you think, so never release that fear. Anxiety tends to increase if you get into the habit of always avoiding your fears. Exposing yourself to these situations can be a great way to overcome them.

Knowing Your Fear

It can often be certain things that trigger an anxiety or fear, so you need to get to know yourself and what it is exactly that is causing you problems. Try keeping an anxiety/fear journal so that you can note down everything that happens – what triggers you, when it happens, why you think it has happened. Then try setting yourself small goals for facing your fears.

Distraction

There are also ways of distracting the mind so that it pays less attention to the fear and anxiety you are feeling and more on the task at hand.

Exercise is a great one for concentrating the mind on what you are doing. Employing calming breathing techniques whilst doing exercise will also help you to feel more centred.

You can take these breathing techniques and use them for relaxation which can help with both the mental and physical feelings of fear. Simply drop your shoulders, breathe deeply and try and imagine being in a relaxing place. Things like yoga, meditation, massage or hypnotherapy are all practices that would help.

A healthy, well-balanced diet will also help with feelings of fear and anxiety. How? Well, a dip in sugar levels can actually make you feel anxious and an increase in caffeine levels can also do the same. So, take things like this in moderation and pack your diet full of fruits and vegetables.

If you find yourself suffering badly with fears, phobias or anxiety, then it may be that you need professional help and that is okay. Seek out your doctor, a counsellor or perhaps hypnotherapist and ask for help and guidance. The help you need is there and it is the first step that is the hardest.

Reach out to us if you need help.

It’s OK to Love Again

Sometimes it might be hard to comprehend, but it is OK to love more than one person in your lifetime. We do not have a limit on the amount of love we have to give. When our children are born, we often think about how we never knew that we could love something so much. Then concern grows when you’re expecting another child and you wonder how on earth you have enough love to love the same again?! But it just happens. It’s like your heart just shuffles things around and makes room.

When someone we love dies, and I am primarily talking about a partner or romantic interest, it is understandable at the beginning to think and truly believe that we will never love again. However, sometimes we are unfortunate enough to lose a lover when we have so much more of our life left to live and so much to experience, would we really want to never experience love again?

I’m here to tell you that it is OK to fall in love again.

Losing a partner is one of the most difficult things we could ever experience, whether from a long-term illness or through spontaneous loss. It often feels that the darkness on the road of bereavement will be perpetual, but one day you will open your eyes and perhaps feel ready to dip a toe back in the water of companionship, dating and possibly even love.

Some will actively decide to try dating again after a while, and some may be waiting for a sign to let them know it’s OK to be friends with someone of the opposite gender again. The important thing is to wait and know when you are ready. There is no right or wrong about when you will be ready… for some, it is months, other years and for some it is truly never, and they are content as they are.

The important thing is to have the conversation with yourself and ensure that you are truly ready so that you are being fair on both yourself and prospective new partners. You also need to remember that if you do manage to find love again, that it is OK and does not mean you loved your previous partner any less.

It simply means, your heart grew once again to let someone else in.

“When it’s gone, you’ll know what a gift love was. You’ll suffer like this. So go back and fight to restore it.”
Ian McEwan

How to Cope with The Death of a Pet

When someone you love passes away, it is very natural to feel sad, show grief and expect friends and family to give you the understanding and comfort that you need.

However, when it comes to the death of a pet, we don’t always get that understanding. Some people will simply not be able to comprehend how central a pet can be to someone’s life and may not understand why you are upset over “just a pet.”

Part of the family

What some people have a hard time grasping is that a pet can mean just as much to you and sometimes more than other people. We love our pets and consider them members of the family and often celebrate their birthdays or involve them in other family times like Christmas. So when a beloved pet passes away, it is completely understandable to feel overwhelmed by a sense of loss.

The first step to coping with the loss of a pet is accepting the fact that they can mean the world to you; they provide companionship, emotional support and unconditional love. By acknowledging and accepting the bond between you, you’ve already taken the first step towards coping.

By finding a way to cope with the grief you are feeling you can turn the tears from memories into smiles of remembrance.

Grieving

There is no one way to grieve, it is a very individual process. For some it will last days and for others it will be years. Generally, there is a process which tends to start with denial as this offers a sort of protection from the realisation of the loss.

Some people will feel anger, towards everyone and everything and others perhaps will feel guilt that they couldn’t save their pet. Others may completely shut down, as they feel it is inappropriate to have the feelings they do because it is, after all, “just a pet.”

Once these feelings pass, then an owner will probably experience the true sadness of grief. Some often become withdrawn and even depressed. Unfortunately, until acceptance of the loss is reached, the sadness will continue.

How to cope

As we have said, grief is a personal experience, but you need not deal with it alone. There are many forms of support available including counselling services, hotlines or local groups, books, magazine articles and many more.

Some ways to cope might be;

  • You must acknowledge your grief and allow yourself the opportunity to express it.
  • Don’t feel ashamed to reach out to others so you can share your grief. Look around online and you will find people going through the same thing that you can talk to.
  • Try writing down your feelings in either a journal or short story or whatever works for you.
  • Prepare a memorial for your pet and a place you can go to remember them.

The most important thing of course is to be kind to yourself and accept that it is okay to feel loss, pain and hurt and that at some point in the future, the sadness will turn to fondness for the memories that you had.

If you need to talk, I am here and ready to listen.

What is Bereavement Therapy?

It can take months, sometimes even years, to even begin understanding how you feel when you lose a loved one. Emotions are heightened, some of them are new and they’re often so intense it feels as if we will be overwhelmed!

Sometimes it feels as though we simply cannot cope with everyday life, that we’re going to be consumed by our grief. Or that we simply do not understand the feelings we are experiencing when it comes to grief. It is at this point that something like Bereavement Therapy can really make all the difference.

Grief is painful and exhausting and there is no right way to deal with it. It can sometimes seem easier to hide from these feelings all together rather than confronting them. However, working through the sadness and allowing ourselves to feel and express our feelings can really help the bereavement process to begin.   There are many ways that grief can manifest and it differs for each person, below are just some of the ways in which people can suffer:

Anxiety
Fatigue
Dreams
Crying fits
Anger

Bereavement therapy will do just that. It is there to allow the bereaved person a neutral party to talk with, cry with and express all their feelings to, without feeling like a burden upon those around them.

Bereavement therapy or bereavement counselling involves supporting people through the experience of losing someone close to them. It’s a chance to work through the grief as well as learning some coping mechanisms to help when they’re on their own.

Bereavement counselling is literally for anyone, of any age suffering grief from whatever kind of loss. If your life is being adversely affected by the overwhelming sense of loss, then you need to speak to someone and let those feelings out.

Talking about death is the first step to overcoming it and that is what a Bereavement therapist is for. I am there to listen and help.

“Bereavement is terrible, of course. And when somebody you love dies, it’s a time for reflection, a time for memory, a time for regret.”
R. Dawkins

How to Tell Children About Death

As an adult it can completely overwhelm and consume us. For children, it can sometimes be even harder to move through and past the death of a loved one, primarily because they simply might not have the emotional capability and understanding to deal with such a situation.

Some people believe that they should withhold the information of someone dying from their children and of course it is their decision, but honesty is usually the best way. Sooner or later they will realise something is not right and then you might need to tell them anyway, which may make it more difficult. If they loved and cared for someone, they should know what has happened to them.

We know that death is an inevitable part of life, but talking about death is something most of us, if not all, are not very good at because the subject is too painful or we simply don’t know what to say.

Death happens in so many different ways. It can be sudden, expected, prolonged or even accidental; none of us really knows how we are going to die. Part of the experience of death is finding ways to accept what has happened, express what we are feeling and find ways to move on. We, as adults, need to find ways to help our children to do this too.

So, what advice can we give about telling a child about death?

  • Be truthful – it is better to be honest right from the start and tell them immediately so that they don’t overhear parts of conversations and misunderstand.
  • Be Clear – Don’t try and soften your words by using things like “passed” or “we’ve lost them” because this can be misinterpreted by children. Don’t be afraid to use the words dead and died.
  • Be prepared – Each person reacts differently to death and this is the same with children so be prepared for a variety of different emotional responses. None of them are wrong and you need to allow your child to express how they are feeling whether it comes across as happy, sad, angry or unfeeling.
  • Don’t Overload – Try not to overload them with lots of information at once. Gauge how much information your child can handle and break everything down in to chunks of that size.
  • Cry – One of the best things you can do for your child is to cry. Allow them to see you cry. Crying is simply the opposite of smiling and it’s okay to show them how you are feeling and to let them know that it is okay for them to do it too.

During times of grief, we often forget about taking care of ourselves especially if our children are grieving too. However, children will always learn from what they see, so ensuring you practice a little self-care is important so that they follow suit.

Everyone grieves in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. You will all need to understand that a “new normal” will take the place of the old one – and that time is needed to adjust to it, especially if it is a significant death that will impact upon daily life. If you think you need or your children need additional support, reach out as it is there to be found in places such as your child’s school, your doctor, private counselling or bereavement support charities which exist for both adults and children.

The biggest advice of all is simply to take things one step at a time.

What to Keep When Someone Passes

There is no defining the feeling of loss because it is different for each and every one of us. When someone passes it can affect us in small and what might be perceived as insignificant ways or in huge categoric waves of sorrow. Either way, it is life changing.

Then, as time passes and the months or even years go by, the time comes when you have to decide what to do with the life they have left behind. Most people who leave this earth will leave behind possessions be it a couple of boxes or an entire estate.

The question is; what do you keep? What do you get rid of? Is it okay to get rid of anything? It can be an incredibly daunting situation to be confronted with, especially during such an emotionally raw and difficult time.  Below are some thoughts which may help:


Bring A Little Help

Make sure you reach out and ask for some help from trusted friends or family members. Most people want to help when they know someone who has experienced grief or loss but simply don’t know how. Even if they simply sit next to you and listen or provide emotional support, this is not a task anyone should have to tackle alone.

Choose your time

There is no right or wrong time, it doesn’t have to be done immediately, it doesn’t all have to be done together, for example, you may want to keep some special items of clothing that remind you of happy or special occasions. There is often a lot to be done so take your own time. From my experience most people seem to know when it feels right for them.

Prepare Yourself

Before trying to make any specific decisions about the little things and what to keep and what not to, take a walkthrough of the space you need to organise or have a look through the boxes you’ll need to sort so you can get a sense of the size and scale of what you’ll need to do so it’s not a complete shock. You’ll also be able to think about any supplies you might need like boxes, markers, labels etc.

Make sure to set yourself some kind of time-frame and don’t work for too long. It’s likely that whilst there will be fond memories it will be very exhausting both physically and emotionally and now more than ever is a time for self-care.

Trust Your Instincts

At the end of the day it is as simple as that. There is no right or wrong answer on what you should keep and what you should not. Try and be realistic – do you have the space? Is what you want to keep going to cause you issues or be a hindrance? Would they have wanted you to keep this or would they have liked it to be passed on?

Choosing not to keep something is okay – you have so many options other than keeping it such as;

  • Passing on to another family member or friend
  • Giving to charity
  • Recycling
  • Selling and buying something to remember the departed by or having a party to celebrate their life.

More often than not, when faced with the items before you, you’ll know what you want to keep and what you know in your heart is okay for you to let go of. No one will judge you and no one will think anything of your decision.

Remember to focus on the things that matter and remember there is no obligation. Guilt will not help and at the end of the day it is your decision to make about what is meaningful and has a place with you.

 

Finding hope in difficult times

We live in a time where the current “trend” is positivity. It’s all about self-care, mindfulness and happiness which I completely support as it’s good for the soul. However, when you stop to look at the state of the world and the events that are happening, it’s not hard to understand why so many have a problem embracing positivity.

It seems that each and every day, there are more stories on the news of terrorist attacks, the planet which as a race we are killing more and more by the day and the latest kerfuffle that our governments are facing. What is also alarming, is the number of families falling below the poverty line and the number of homeless people dramatically rising. It’s enough to make anyone forget positivity.

However, these may be difficult times, but it’s important we look for the hope or as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell once said, just one happy thought.

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” “So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!” J.M. Barrie

This may be part of a fairytale but J.M. Barrie had the right concept. So how do we stay positive and find that spark of hope we sometimes need to get us through the day?

  • Gratitude – Start a gratitude journal or jar. Each day, for a year, write down one thing you’re grateful for. It could be the money for a takeaway, it could simply be the hug from your little one. Look for the positive and you’ll find it.
  • Listen – Listen to some upbeat, happy tunes. Music has a great power within it, so use it to help fill your mind and body with happiness and soul. Perhaps you could even have a little dance!
  • Smile – It’s so simple. Just smile. Smiling can be so infectious…smile and the world will smile with you.
  • Passion – None of us know how long we have on this earth, so don’t waste a second. Do something you’re passionate about and live each moment to the fullest. This doesn’t have to be as your work but perhaps a hobby such as walking or painting.

If you look for it there is always hope to be found. If you’re struggling then please do reach out and find someone to talk to be it the Samaritans, your doctor or myself. There will always be someone there to listen and of course try and help you find the positive.

Feeling bad about feeling good

When we experience deep sorrow for whatever reason, one of the hardest things that follows can be feeling good once again.  A moment of happiness can fill us with remorse, guilt and all sorts of other things – isn’t it ironic that a feeling of happiness can make us feel so bad.

It is incredibly hard when you have experienced great sadness or loss to trust that things may finally be looking up. However, when things do start to finally head on the right path, the guilt we experience can often set us back.

Why do we feel this way? Perhaps because a feeling of happiness or even just feeling okay can make us feel like we’re okay with what has happened and that we’re ready to move on, which of course we might not be ready to do. It feels simply wrong.

What you should remember is that this is all perfectly normal and whilst it might feel like you’re the only one experiencing these feelings, you’re really not alone. Mistakenly, people think that their grief needs to end and be complete before they can once again be free to enjoy happiness and good things.

Coping with the feelings that come with grief is a complicated matter.  Someone asking, ‘how are you?’ can be very innocent on their part but open such a complex can of worms for you. You may not want to admit you’re struggling but find it equally difficult to answer that you’re okay, meaning there is no actual answer you can give.

What we need to understand is that we don’t just feel one emotion at any given time. According to Google we can have anywhere between 50,000-80,000 thoughts per day and our emotions, which are very closely tied to our thoughts, also tend to change with them.

The whole “If I am happy then I can’t be sad anymore” logic simply isn’t true. Not all 80,000 thoughts we experience in a day are going to be happy or all sad. There will be a mix of everything depending on where we are, what we are doing and what we are experiencing.

If you have recently experienced a loss, don’t be afraid to smile or even laugh. A moment of happiness should be a welcome moment of respite from the overwhelmingness that can be grief. Equally, if you’re at a good time in your life when everything is going well, don’t feel bad if you feel a little down. We can’t be happy, sunshine people all the time.

We will never eradicate the feeling of guilt for feeling happy when we are in fact sad, but know that it’s okay and you aren’t alone.

How To Cope With Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is physically and psychologically stressful and its constant discomfort can lead to anger and frustration with yourself and your loved ones. Chronic pain is unrelieved pain that lasts for longer than three months. This often occurs when the pain mechanism in the body no longer works correctly or when certain diseases that are associated with pain become chronic for unknown reasons.

Quite often this chronic pain can almost be invisible to those around you and people might say that you ‘don’t look sick’ but usually those with chronic pain become adept at masking their suffering.

Several medical treatments may be used to alleviate chronic pain, including over-the-counter or prescription medication, physical therapy and less utilised treatments, such as surgery. However, these options are only a few of the pieces necessary to solve the puzzle of chronic pain.

Mental and emotional wellness is equally important — psychological techniques and therapy help build resilience and teach the necessary skills for management of chronic pain.

Some suggestions of ways to cope with Chronic Pain could be;

• Deep breathing and Meditation – Deep breathing and meditation are techniques that can help your body relax, which in turn may ease the pain you’re feeling. The muscles receive these messages from the brain to help them relax.

• Understanding your pain – To effectively treat your pain, your doctor needs to know how you’ve been feeling between visits. Keeping a log or journal of your daily “pain score” will help you track your pain. At the end of each day, note your pain level on the 1 to 10 pain scale. Also, note what activities you did that day.

• Massage can help reduce stress and relieve tension — and is being used by people living with all sorts of chronic pain.

• Get active and engaged – Distracting yourself from your pain by engaging in activities you enjoy will help you highlight the positive aspects of your life. Isolating yourself from others can foster a negative attitude and may increase your perception of your pain. Consider finding a hobby or a pastime that makes you feel good and helps you connect with family, friends or other people via your local community groups or the Internet.

• Hypnotherapy – there are many tried and tested methods of reducing the amount of pain that is experienced and these can be particularly beneficial to long term and chronic sufferers.

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”—Buddhist proverb. Don’t sit there and suffer – I am here to help.

Alongside Hypnotherapy sessions, I can teach you simple self-hypnosis techniques so that you can do this for yourself, giving you a degree of control over the pain, which is very empowering and will help to enhance your quality of life, restoring your confidence to do the things that you need to do or had given up on.

Get in touch if you’d like more information:

It’s Good to Talk

“Treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder.” This is the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of what therapy is and yet if you suggest the idea of therapy or counselling to some and there is often an instant rebuttal or refusal to even entertain the idea.

There is a stigma surrounding counselling or therapy which when taken down to its bare bones is “I don’t need a therapist/counsellor because I am not crazy!” This misconception over the years has led to a lot of people trying desperately to deal with something on their own that they simply can’t also an increase in the number of people who think there is no way out other than that one last resort.

It is simply not true. Did you know that the majority of patients that counsellors and therapists see are simply people dealing with difficult life transitions like divorce, health challenges, relocation, death of a loved one, work stress and family or parenting issues. These are normal, everyday problems that some people find it easier to deal with if they talk through with someone and that someone just happens to be called a counsellor, therapist, psychologist or another name along those lines.

Most people who initiate counselling do not have a serious mental illness. They have life challenges or are going through difficult life-cycle transitions that may be taxing their current ability to cope. This, in turn, may be adversely affecting their well-being and ability to function as well as they would like.

Counselling provides confidential support. This means that everything you discuss with the counsellor is private, between you and the counsellor. Counselling is a process of talking about and working through your personal problems with a trained professional. The counsellor helps you to address your problems in a positive way by helping you to clarify the issues, explore options, develop strategies and increase self-awareness. For some people, just the process of telling their story to a counsellor, and being listened to, is helpful.

So, if you are going through one or more of these challenges at the same time, you’re not alone. The effects are often cumulative, which is generally referred to as a ‘pile-up’ of stressors. Counselling during these times can be extremely helpful in providing both the support and skills to better address these life challenges.

Ultimately, it is an invaluable investment in your emotional, physical and mental health, an act of courage, not weakness, and a gift to those whose lives you touch.

I’m more than happy to help if you are going through something or would like to chat about how counselling may be able to support you.  Contact me, John on 01202 303722.