Category: News

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.

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.

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.

How To Help Those That Are Grieving


One of the worst experiences we are faced with in life is loss and bereavement. Some people will be fortunate to have never experienced any kind of grief and unfortunately others are all too familiar with the feelings of loss and bereavement.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines grief as “intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.” This is as good a description as any, though I’m unsure any words can truly describe the feelings of grief.

We all deal with it in our own ways whether it be to talk about it or to hide away from the world until we’re forced back into society. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief though there are perhaps methods that are better in some respects. The trouble comes when you are not the person experiencing the grief but the one trying to support the bereaved through their loss.

What should you say? What should you do? Will anything you say or do actually be what they need? All one can do is try.

Here are a few ideas on how to help:

  • Never avoid someone who has been bereaved. It’s confusing and hurtful. Texts, emails and letters are all acceptable – it’s the contact that matters. Grief can make you feel scared and alone. Saying “I’m sorry” is enough if you can’t think of anything else.
  • Never tell someone how they’re feeling, because grief is incredibly individual. Just be there to support them.
  • Don’t stop someone crying. Even saying “don’t cry”, meant helpfully, can seem as if you are shutting them down. It’s OK to be silent while someone sobs, just give them a reassuring, gentle touch to let them know you are there.
  • Save the flowers for three months after the bereavement, when everyone else has fallen away and it seems everyone has forgotten. The bereaved person will still be grieving. It’s getting back to ordinary life that can hurt the most.
  • Don’t be afraid to mention the person who has died. Often people will avoid mentioning them or their name because they don’t know what to say or feel awkward, however this can often be more painful than a stroll down memory lane to remember the good and happy times.

Let the grieving person guide you. If you are there to be a support, allow their grief to guide you along the correct path of comfort.

If you need any help or advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

What Is Palliative Care And Why Is It Needed?


No-one wants to think about becoming ill or being faced with the harsh reality of mortality. However, if you have been told that you may not get better then you might hear the term Palliative Care mentioned. But what is it?

Palliative care is generally for people living with a terminal illness where a cure is no longer possible. It is also for people with a complex illness who need their symptoms carefully controlled – these people often have an advanced progressive condition, but this isn’t always the case. In a way, Palliative care is also for the family members of the person who is suffering with the illness, and it can be a much-needed support.

Palliative care aims to treat/manage pain as well as other symptoms but will also help incredibly with any psychological, social and of course spiritual needs. Treatment can involve many different things from medicines to therapies depending what the specialists believe will help their patients. This can also include caring for someone near the end of their life – this is called end of life care.

The main purpose of Palliative care is to help the patient and everyone effected by their diagnosis to achieve the best possible quality of life and might be received alongside other therapies or treatments such as chemotherapy.

Palliative Care can;

Improve a person’s quality of life during complex or terminal illness
Provide relief from pain and other symptoms that cause distress or upset
Support life and aid in keeping people as healthy as possible
Regard dying as a normal part of life and help people to prepare
Does neither quicken or postpone death
Provide spiritual aspects of care
Offer a support system to help people live as happily as possible until death
Offer support to loved ones and help them to cope during treatment and potential bereavement.
Palliative Care doesn’t need to start towards the end of someone’s illness or treatment but can in fact begin in the earlier stages of illness, alongside other therapies that are aimed at prolonging life.

It can take place in hospitals, hospices or in people’s own homes and can be given via General care from people such as your GP and community nurses etc as well as via Specialist Care from experts in Palliative Care and it’s likely that both types will be needed as a person’s needs change.

If you think that you or someone you care about may need Palliative Care, please do get in touch and I’d be happy to talk to you about yours or their needs.

Grief and its Power


There’s no escaping it. When grief arrives in our lives in its various forms there is no hiding from it, though some may try. At its worst it can be all consuming and feel as if we will never escape from it and for others, it can make them feel empty and a shell of their former selves.

There are many definitions of grief as the word can encompass so many things. Whatever the situation, grief is a normal emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind. It can also be the conflicting feelings caused by the end or change of something familiar.

Obviously, the most common cause of grief is the loss of a loved one. The primary emotion caused during this time is tremendous sadness as well as sometimes relief that perhaps a long-suffering family member is no longer in pain or perhaps anger that someone was taken too soon.

Everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace. Some will welcome help and comfort and some will shy away from it. But, how do you begin to even cope with grief?

Acceptance

One of the first and most difficult things that must happen is the acknowledgement and acceptance of the feelings that you have. Many people will try and avoid them because they don’t feel comfortable with them, but this can lead to further psychological problems later on. You need to find a safe place be that alone or with someone, find what works for you, sit down and acknowledge how you are feeling.

Talking

It may sound like a cliché but talking does help. It will either provide an outlet for the feelings that you have or remind you that just because someone has passed it doesn’t mean they cannot live on through their memories. Find someone you trust or perhaps an outsider you feel comfortable with like a counsellor or support group and push yourself to go. Struggling to cope alone is never the best option but find what works for you, the best tools to help you deal with the emotions that come hand in hand with grief. Don’t push people away – take some space for yourself but don’t sit alone forever.

Time

Give yourself time. There is no set time for grieving. It is different for each person. You will perhaps try and fill the space or void that you are feeling but unless you have accepted the feelings of grief, it will be impossible to fill as it once was. Techniques such as practising mindfulness may help as they teach you how to focus on the positive thoughts you have and pop the negative ones like bubbles floating on a breeze. The most important thing to do is move forward but at a pace you’re happy with and before too long, you’ll start to feel the sunshine on your face once more.

If you’re suffering through grief and loss and would like someone to talk to, please do get in touch and I’d be happy to talk and help you through the difficult time you are having.