Category Archives: Mental Health

Men’s Issues: Stereotype #1 – Men Don’t Cry

I am going to write a few posts highlighting issues I often see in the counselling room that are common, but not exclusive, to men. In no way does this mean that men have it worse. I think it is important to raise awareness of these issues, especially if we consider the wider impact of such behaviour and beliefs on families.

I want to address the stereotype that men should not cry. Similar stereotypes are that men need to be tough and it is a sign of weakness to show emotions or to seek help. All of which interfere with men’s willingness to enter into the counselling room.

Even once they are in the room, certain stereotypes remain and it can sometimes take a while for the man to get in touch with his emotions. He is able to see the impact that his emotions are having on his life but might not feel comfortable sharing them with me.

Of those that do feel able to share, it can still be a difficult task – if men have learned to hide their emotions, they certainly do not learn the skill of understanding their emotions nor how to share their emotions with others. A number of tasks remain, then, in the counselling room.

First is to identify those unhelpful beliefs linked to ‘being male’ or to sharing emotions. It requires challenging those beliefs, which could also mean exploring past experiences – where did the belief start? Who/what added to or maintained that belief? And asking questions such as “is this helping me?” or “how is this impacting my life?”. Often, this sort of belief permeates into other areas, and could affect relationships, work, performance, satisfaction, health. We also have a duty to help young men to get rid of such stereotypes so they grow into men who feel comfortable to share their emotions.

Second, it is important to help men to develop their emotional vocabulary. This can be daunting and too abstract for some men; however, it is doable with persistence and self-compassion. I suggest glancing over an Emotions Wheel (search this online) become familiar with the range of emotions one could feel. Then, it is worth checking in throughout the day. Ask questions such as, “How am I feeling?” or “What emotion is most present right now?”. There are other tasks, such as linking thoughts and physical sensations to emotions; however, it becomes a bit trickier and often is more effective with some guidance.

With a new set of beliefs and an ability to recognise and express feelings (or even cry) the person in the counselling room moves into a position where they are able to process and explore other areas of their life. My hope is that relieving an obstacle in one sense, creates a positive shift in lots of ways.

I fully understand the reluctance to engage in therapy, and how difficult it is to challenge deep rooted beliefs. I was reminded recently that we create our own obstacles – this also means that we can remove them, too. I believe in the power of counselling, persistence and one-to-one guidance, and urge all men to talk. To a friend, family member or a professional – whatever feels easiest and most useful. And for all of us to challenge the stereotype that men don’t cry – the outcome is a better life for everyone.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

“But I have already talked about it. What good will it do to talk about it again?”

It is a common belief that once someone has talked about a traumatic event, they should not need to talk about it again. And I can completely see why it feels that way especially if they felt better or gained some relief from doing so. It feels as if the first time should have been enough, and in some ways it does feel like it is enough. And yet there are always instances in which those traumatic events, large and small, still follow the person into the present day.

I urge anyone who has had any sort of trauma in their life to challenge the belief that once is enough. It is important to give yourself the space to process any lingering emotion as many times as is needed. There is simply no ‘expiry date’ for such things. We need to be more compassionate to our trauma and how we are feeling.

In some ways, children show us how it could be done. They are prone to repeating stories endlessly – and it is so important that they do so. It is their way of processing what happened, and a way of organising their thoughts. Without the repetition and attentive audience, they are unable to properly remember what happened or to move past it.

To assume that because adults are older and wiser they do not need the same experience of repetition is detrimental to our emotional health. We owe it to ourselves to share the trauma and experiences as many times as we need.

As with children, it allows us a chance to organise things properly and to make sense of things. There is also the potential that something new is discovered along the way, with a slightly different perspective offered as a result of sharing again. With the right listener, whether that is a counsellor, friend or family member, the right questions will be asked that allows the person to reflect on their experiences. To make it even more meaningful, there might even be meaningful reflections that allow the person to feel safer in the present and looking towards the future. It might allow the person to feel more secure in themselves if they know how to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

Exploring past events more than once allows a space to empower ourselves so that we feel more in control of things, rather than feeling like our memories and feelings control us.

Give yourself whatever is needed so that you can move into the next chapter.

Photo by John T on Unsplash

Difficulty sleeping?

It is important to state that this is not a replacement for an appropriate consultation with a medical professional who is experienced in managing sleep difficulties. What follows is what has helped me in my personal life and some of the clients that I have seen. After discussing what seems to be the most common issue and most helpful strategy, I will outline other things that have helped.

The most common obstacle to falling asleep seems to be the inability to ‘switch off’ – people talk about lying away in bed, feeling physically tired, but their brain is still racing. Of course, there will be other reasons that some people cannot fall asleep but this seems to be the most common. And what has helped them seems to be a variation of getting out of bed and addressing reasons that their brain is still racing.

A lot of people talk about the seemingly endless list of things they need to do the following day, and there is a part of them that is worried that they will forget one of the things on the list; they may be anxious that they will wake up late and miss the appointment or deadline; they might be anxious that they should be doing work instead of sleeping. Anxiety can be overwhelming in moments like this – especially when we need to sleep.

Counselling can help manage the anxiety and feelings of not being good enough. It helps to address core beliefs of not being smart enough, or never working hard enough, and helps people to see that, in fact, they are doing enough. Working on the root cause of the anxiety helps them to realise how much they are achieving, and helps them to feel more secure and safe in what they are doing.

Counselling can also be about outlining simple strategies to manage the anxious thoughts in the moment. Sometimes it helps to get out of bed and write down the list of things that need doing so that we don’t worry we will forget anything. It sometimes helps to plan the following day with what needs completing and by when. Spending a little bit of time with a visual representation of the tasks that are keeping you awake, brings a sense of calm and order into things. Anxiety can often feel chaotic, and if we gently introduce some order and boundaries, things can start to feel less overwhelming.

As always – get in touch if you want to discuss anything that has been mentioned. Counselling is a great space to work on those areas that directly and indirectly affect sleep. Sometimes it’s something simple, and other times it’s something deeper. With a little practice and support, it’s not an impossible goal to sleep and feel better.

And for other things that have helped me:

Physical

  • Physical movement – any exercise that gets my heart rate up, and pushes me a bit each time, in the first half of the day, seems to help. There’s also research that links increased physical activity with improved mood!
  • Magnesium – I take this daily for a number of reasons but there’s a lot of talk that it helps promote restful sleep. A lot of us are supposedly deficient in this, so worth looking into it!
  • Starting again – I find that if I haven’t fallen asleep within a certain (short) period, it’s worth getting out of bed and trying again a bit later. Spending that time doing something to relax my body and brain is important – deep breathing, light stretches – rather than forcing myself to fall asleep and then becoming frustrated when I don’t. Someone described it to me as not sitting at the dinner table and forcing yourself to eat when you are not hungry. Pay attention to the signals of being tired!
  • Consistency – Even on weekends, I find it helps to wake up at the same time every day (or as close as possible..). This apparently helps with sleep cycle and our internal body clock.
  • Avoid caffeine – not entirely, of course, but I avoid having caffeine later than around lunch time. The half-life of caffeine – the time required for the body to eliminate one-half of a dose – varies between individuals but can be between 3 and 7 hours.

Environment

  • Blue light – apparently the blue light from our screens (TV, laptop, smartphones) disrupts the release of melatonin (the hormone that regulates sleep). I have a pair of the glasses that seem to help, and I have a blue light filter on my phone.
  • Low light – not only does this make the rooms more relaxing and appealing (personal preference) having low light in all the rooms apparently prepares the brain for sleep. If I surround myself with bright white light, I find it harder to fall asleep.
  • Bedroom – make this a quiet, calming and peaceful space. Avoid having clutter in the room; avoid TV screens if possible; avoid bright colours.

Reading also helps me to drift off to sleep. And be selective with what you read because reading non-fiction supposedly activates a part of the brain that needs to switch off for us to fall asleep!

Take care.

How meditation reminded me to release the tension

As in my previous post – getting back into meditation has reminded me of two things. The first was addressing and working with the judgement of starting again. One of the types of meditation I do (and generally quite a common meditation) is simply focusing on my breath. And that’s never straightforward – I find that it takes me a while (weeks, if not months) to really get into the habit of it. And even then, it isn’t for a long period at all. But each time I refocus on my breath and start again; however, there has been something else that I noticed.

Even when I try and focus on my breathing, I might still feel tension in my shoulder or back or jaw. I’ve noticed that I actually have to focus, first, on consciously and purposely relaxing my muscles, starting with the main ones. And once I am physically relaxed (and I could always keep going with it) I then bring my attention to my breath. If I am able to do that, I find that the whole experience is more satisfying.

It reminds me that we carry a lot of tension in our body without even realising it. I could talk about the need to spend more time focusing on physical health and body posture, but for now it’s a simple reminder that tension needs to be actively addressed. We become so familiar with the tension that we don’t even recognise it until it grows into a headache or we become unwell.

Our emotional and physical states are so intimately connected. If we want to stand the best possible chance of feeling better emotionally, we need to remember to get ourselves into a physically calmer state. And if we can get into a habit of remembering to relax our shoulders, un-clench our jaw, un-furrow our eyebrows… we might notice that the emotions, too, become more relaxed. It is then that we can set our intentions – this could be focusing on the breath during a meditation, or it could be about addressing those other issues.

Don’t let the unconscious tension in your shoulders be a barrier to you meeting your needs and feeling better. When we are more aware of how we feel (physically and emotionally) we are more able to change our behaviour and bring attention to something more useful and more helpful.

Photo by Kelvin Valerio from Pexels

Reparenting – What We Missed As Children

It is important to stress that this is in no way a criticism of anyone’s parenting – this is about acknowledging what we missed when we were young and finding a way to give it to ourselves. It might even be about giving ourselves permission.

It is also important to stress that parenting is difficult at the best of times – the simple act of managing the logistics and practical side of things, let alone making sure that we are addressing the emotional development of someone who is fragile, who depends on us for everything… is not a straightforward task. And that is why it is very likely that our parents (and we will) get things wrong.

In doing the best we can, and in putting our energy into a select number of things (we only have limited time, attention, energy), we are inevitably going to forget to do something else. Sometimes that means we forget to reassure our children; sometimes it means we forget to give them unconditional love; sometimes it means we scold them more than we would like. The list will grow the older they get. Similarly, our parents would have done the same.

Unfortunately, in doing what they thought best – in trying as hard as they could – they neglected a few things. And those things stick with us over time, and become our beliefs about ourselves (e.g. we need to be a certain way to receive praise) or others (e.g. people are unreliable). Until it becomes an issue, we don’t always have the space to question those beliefs, let alone choose new ones. And so we go through life compromising our values, giving in to those insecurities and needing approval of others; or we never allow ourselves to accept or receive love; or we pretend to be something that we are not.

Once we acknowledge what we didn’t have as children – which is a difficult task in itself – we can see patterns in our current behaviour. And from here we can start to make real changes. It is then about finding a way to give ourselves the very things we didn’t get as children – emotional warmth, praise, reassurance, acceptance, comfort, safety, love.

Counselling is the space to explore what we experienced as children from a compassionate point of view – it is never about blame. It is important to process the feelings that come up and then move towards giving ourselves that very thing we missed. What can sometimes manifest as unhealthy or unhelpful ways of coping, is simply our younger selves doing whatever it takes to get our needs met. With a new awareness, we can work through healthy and helpful ways to give ourselves those things we crave. There is often apprehension or resistance, but with practice it becomes a new belief and way of being.

It is vital that we pay attention to those feelings, those needs, and find ways to give ourselves permission to heal and feel satisfied and happy with who we are.

The Allure of the Easy Option

We are presented with options throughout our daily life – whether to hit the snooze button (again) or to tell the truth; whether to have another piece of chocolate or to ask that friend for that money that they borrowed. These may be small decisions or we could perceive them as significant. We could perceive them as non-threatening to our wellbeing, or we might fear that they are going to have an impact on us that we would rather avoid. Without thinking about it, we weigh up the option of doing or not doing something; of doing it one way or another. And it is a skill, to critically look at something and think – really think – about what the options mean for us, and why are those options made available and nothing else? We have a very subjective and narrow perspective on things, which means we interpret things in a very specific way, based on our own experiences and beliefs – and the truth is we are very prone to getting things wrong.

We do not always think or behave in our best interest. And this is one trick to making better decisions – we need to ask a better question.

We tend to ask questions like, “What do I want right now?” and often the answer is The Easy Option.

What we often want, in the moment, could be more food; to sleep in longer; to avoid that awkward conversation; to stay up later and play games; to check the lights are off one more time; to just watch one more video; to leave revision to the last minute; to not get ready until the last minute; to avoid going to that party.

Giving in to these primal needs often confirms the anxiety that we are trying to battle (avoiding something because it feels awkward or makes us feel anxious), or it allows us to give in to instant gratification and immediate needs (I’ll have one more piece).

It is often easier to have ‘one more’ than it is to refrain entirely or to eat in moderation. It is often easier to leave revision to the last minute than starting a few months before an exam. It is often easier to just avoid meeting new people than to put ourselves through the stress and anxiety of introducing ourselves and risk getting it wrong or being laughed at.

“What do I want?” often allows us to take the easy option, and avoid pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone; it does not give us the chance to flex our social skills or to develop our abilities along the way (resisting more biscuits, tolerating the discomfort of NOT checking the lights again, sitting with those awkward feelings). Because the truth is that we can sit with those feelings. Choosing the easy option fools us into thinking we are weaker than we actually are. Each time we avoid something, we trick ourselves that it really is that scary; each time we reach for that extra biscuit we confirm that we could not have resisted it. And the cycle continues.

So what can we ask ourselves if not “What do I want?”. I think healthier and better questions to ask ourselves are, “Is this helpful?” or “What do I need right now?”. Immediately, it bypasses the instant want for more sugar, less work, more social isolation.

What I want

VS

What I need / what is helpful

To stay in bed until the last minute

VS

To get ready with plenty of time so that I am not stressed

To have more biscuits and chocolate

VS

To moderate what I eat; to actively choose what I eat tonight

To avoid socialising or meeting new people

VS

To remind myself that meeting new people is good for me, and not that bad

To stay quiet and not ask for help because that would be embarrassing

VS

To reach out to that friend; to call someone; to ask for help.

To tell a lie, to tell a half truth, to avoid confrontation

VS

To be honest; to be assertive; to be true to myself

So is it as simple as changing the questions we ask ourselves and things will magically change? No. But it is a simple trick that will refocus our attention on something that is more useful. It allows us to focus on what is important rather than giving in to the anxiety or the instant ‘need’ for something that is not necessarily going to help us.

Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with another biscuit or having a lie in (I’m prone to both), but if we can be more reflective, it will allow us to consciously choose behaviour that is in our best interest. We need to find moderation, develop compassion, and be our own cheerleader and coach. Especially when times are hard.

It’s about finding a balance between forgiving ourselves and about challenging ourselves. So next time, just pause and ask yourself if what you are about to do is in your best interest, if it is helpful and what you need in that moment. As always, small steps.

Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash

On Being Fragile Together

I stumbled upon this poem the other day and it’s made me think a lot about our individual and collective situations – especially at the moment with social distancing and some lock-down measures still in place.

Fragile – Nic Askew

Not only am I fond of the aesthetics of the poem, but the message resonates deeply with me, and I see it all the time in the counselling room. We are prone to feel that we are suffering alone or, more often, we think others are happier and more successful. This is not a new idea, but the words of the poem put it so succinctly and beautifully. I wanted to look at a couple lines in particular:

“Though we act strong” — this speaks to the part of us that is drawn to putting on a front, a face, that says that we are doing just fine. We do not feel ready or vulnerable enough to share our innermost struggles and feelings. We fear that, if shared, we would be telling everyone that we are not not good enough, that we are failing. But the truth is quite different – if we were to share with others how we are feeling, we would normalise it so that others can share; we would be creating a space to receive guidance and help; we would be creating a more honest and useful dynamic between us and others. It is being vulnerable that people struggle with, and there is an art in learning how to do just that so that it does not feel too damaging, too scary. Bit by bit, we can learn to not act at all, but to bring our authentic self to the conversation. In being authentic, we also feel more at ease with ourselves and others; others, too, can begin to share their authentic selves, rather than trying to reach a certain ideal.

“If we were to turn to each other” — although this speaks more of turning our attention to others and seeing their fragility, too, I like to think of it in the sense of connection with others. If we can learn to reach out to others, learn to be vulnerable and share how we are feeling then we can also experience a deeper connection with others. Often, people speak in the counselling room about a superficial connection with others that they are desperate to change; or they share experiences of relationships that don’t satisfy them, that don’t give them that satisfaction. One of the reasons for this is that we sometimes learn to relate to others in a way that keeps our authentic self hidden, and we do not risk connecting to others in meaningful ways. It is too risky, and requires us to be vulnerable. But the truth is that, once learned, it is a powerful way of being – to connect to others in authentic and meaningful ways allows for our needs to be met because we are able to communicate with others. We can recognise how we are feeling and we can tell others. In doing so, we enrich our relationships and the lives of others.

Counselling is a place to do both of these things. It is a place to recognise how we are feeling and find the courage to express those thoughts and feelings to others, so that we are living in alignment.

When our inner thoughts match our external voice, we tend to find less conflict and more harmony. It feels terrifying but it can be learned bit by bit. In being more authentic we also allow others to be more authentic.

We are social beings, and it is important that we recognise the importance of connection with others. We need to cultivate meaningful connections through authenticity and being vulnerable in those moments that don’t feel too overwhelming.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Equipping ourselves to deal with the pain of others.

There is a seemingly endless list of commentary on current events and I cannot claim to be clued up on the nuances of what is happening. I cannot claim to relate to the experiences that are being broadcast across our screens either. I do, however, want to comment on something with which I am familiar. It is something that is becoming quite obvious to me and not yet talked about enough. It is the experience of being traumatised or triggered on a daily basis.

I want to make it clear that I am only commenting on the psychological and emotional effect as a result of what we are witnessing regardless of background or race. I am concerned that a vast majority of people do not have the resources to deal with it. What is worse is that because of lock-down measures we are not equipped socially to deal with it. We are not allowed to reach out to family or friends for comfort and support, to get that much needed hug or physical contact. We are being triggered, traumatised, and being refused that vital care and comfort from those most important to us.

Of course, this does not compare with the trauma that has been experienced by the black community for generations – and it will be them who experience the worse second-hand trauma. What makes it worse is the sense of helplessness and uncertainty, of not knowing if it will end. And it is that combination of things that concerns me – the trauma, a sense of powerlessness, the lack of support, an unending sense of uncertainty.

The question that I am concerning myself with is how do we arm ourselves with the right skills and self-care so that we can witness what is happening without burning out or, perhaps worse, becoming desensitised to violence and death?

I am not commenting on the event itself, nor the wider experiences of racism and violence. There is a lot to be said about those topics already and I am far from an expert. I am not commenting on the media nor the political handling of the situations – I am no expert. I am focusing on the emotional responses we are all having to the very real, very distressing experiences happening to other human beings. I am worried that we are not equipped to deal with it.

We need each other now more than ever yet we have – until recently – been unable to seek comfort in the most primal way. How, then, do we ensure we can keep going? We need to ensure that we remain engaged in the conversations and the experiences of others without burning out. We need to remain grounded whilst actively seeking out others to support and challenge. We need to keep calm whilst allowing the passion and motivation to remain. We need to witness the pain of others – and have empathy for others – and ensure we care for ourselves. This is a phenomenal shift in the collective consciousness and the importance of engaging in conversations and changes in behaviour cannot be overstated.

Of course I am advocating for counselling being that space. I am equipping myself to have an increasingly wider range of skills to deal with topics that I have previously been unfamiliar with. I am learning, and I am determined to support those that are burning out, fearful or unsure how to deal with things. We are at risk of becoming overwhelmed with information.

I cannot relate to any abuses or violations as a direct or indirect result of race or skin colour, but I am learning how to help others through those exact experiences. I am equipping myself to help those who are witnessing trauma on the news, on social media, or in conversations with friends and family. I am determined to equip myself so that I can help others to equip themselves to deal with first-hand and second-hand trauma. Whatever your experience, it is necessary to seek care and comfort if you – if we all – are to keep going. As I have heard many times already – this is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to ensure we have the resources to hold onto that passion, to keep engaging in conversations, and to witness the suffering in others without burning out, becoming uninterested, or feeling numb.

Photo by Irina Anastasiu from Pexels

Big Anxiety, Little You

Anxiety can affect people in different ways, and this analogy might not work for you but I believe it will work for a lot of people. I’ve always been fond of understanding anxiety as a sort of miscalculation of two things – the perceived or potential threat; and of yourself. It seems to be a fairly consistent narrative, that whatever it is that is causing the person distress (or anxiety) is presently understood as a BIG threat, and that the image of the person is that they are small and incapable, especially in dealing with the threat. I am not trying to over-simplify the matter (as anxiety can often be crippling and all-consuming) but if we can work out how to adjust the perception of both those things then I believe we can reintroduce a bit more control and stability into your life.

One of the things that we can explore is your self-image. How you see yourself can play a big role in your level of anxiety. If you believe yourself to be untrustworthy, unreliable, incapable, ‘not good enough’ then you are quite likely to feel anxious at the idea of tackling a problem. These messages might not be something you actively choose unfortunately, but nonetheless are messages you carry. They may have been given to you, or forced upon you, by others – this may be intentional or not. The messages may have been given to you by the media or the culture you grew up in. Regardless, it’s important to address the beliefs you have about yourself. It is important to develop a more realistic and positive sense of self. You might not be aware of those thoughts, in which case we can look at your inner, deeper beliefs about yourself of which you may not be consciously aware. These deeper beliefs affect all of us in endless ways, and it is important to be aware of our own beliefs if we are to ever live more honestly and in the present.

A lot of counselling can be about self-image and how you see yourself, and challenging those statements in a non-judgemental way. And that’s important – it’s done so in a supportive and encouraging way so that you don’t feel attacked. It’s about bringing awareness to the unhelpful, unhealthy ways in which you may see yourself. The deeper work, if that’s necessary, can be about exploring where the beliefs came from and introducing other beliefs – that you are capable and have managed things this far.

Another part of counselling is exploring the perceived threat – what about that thing is so scary or overwhelming? What makes that thing so intimidating? Where did that idea come from? Is there another way to look at the thing, the object, the event? Or, is it simply a matter of problem solving, and working out a way to tackle the problem head on. Through counselling, it is possible to develop your confidence, your problem solving skills and, with a little practice, your resiliency. The latter refers to moments when it might go wrong but you acknowledge it and try again – there is often a fear around those things that cause anxiety, a fear that says that it’s not worth trying. And when we don’t try something, we reaffirm that belief that we are incapable, that the threat – the thing that causes us anxiety – is, in fact, threatening and impossible to overcome. It is a slow and steady exposure to the thing that causes anxiety, to failure, that reminds us that we are alright, despite what the anxiety is trying to tell us. That if we fail, it’s ok and we are safe and things are going to be alright.

Counselling for some forms of anxiety, can be about

  • Exploring and addressing how you see yourself
  • Developing your self-esteem and confidence
  • Challenging beliefs that you have of yourself, and introducing healthier ones
  • Exploring and dissecting the event or thing that causes anxiety
  • Identifying strategies to manage the anxiety or navigate the event/threat
  • Gentle and appropriate exposure to the event or thing to demonstrate your abilities

There will be other ways to develop the way you manage anxiety, including mindfulness and being more present, rather than getting stuck in a future of potential ‘worst case scenarios’. Once the anxiety is talked about, it slowly becomes less present, less significant and you can realise your potential to manage things without an overwhelming sense of not being good enough.

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Mental Health Awareness Week

I’ve been procrastinating for a while now about writing a blog and this week has motivated me to get started. Mainly because it is Mental Health Awareness Week, and sometimes procrastination can actually be part of a broader issue with mental and emotional health. One way of improving our collective mental health is through removing the stigma and mystery around it.

It seems that the stigma is being challenged with a week such as this. There are also TV shows like After Life and My Mad Fat Diary. What remains, however, is the mystery behind mental health. I think most people know on some level that ‘good mental health’ is what we all would like to be aiming for, but I think it is less clear what that actually means.

‘To be happy’ is too vague; dependant on each person; and often sets our expectations too high. We have to find something more honest, more achievable if we are to feel better.

What is it, then, that defines ‘good mental health’? There’s a lyric from Asher Roth that says, “Happiness isn’t about getting what you want all the time; it’s, it’s about loving what you have”. This may seem impossible for some and difficult for others but the basic premise of it is something that is worked through in counselling – that we all have the power to shift our focus, to change our perception slightly so that we can look at the same thing but experience a different response. Or put another way – we can empower ourselves by changing where our attention is and this can have a powerful, positive impact on our mental health. If we are conditioned to look at what we don’t have, we are inevitably going to feel that we are failing or that other people have it better. We need to be kinder to ourselves and notice what we have achieved – in doing so we can mitigate the impact of depression, isolation, anger, stress or fear.

We forget that we are in control of things, and in losing sight of this fact we also give rise to other issues like anxiety, phobias or obsessions. Counselling can be a way of reminding ourselves that we are more in control than we think. And counselling can then be a place to work out how to regain that control. Shifting our focus is one way but there are many ways to do so. Feeling more in control of things brings a sense of calm, contentment and satisfaction. It is then, hopefully, that our mental health is more in line with where it needs to be.

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