Mental Health and The News Cycle | How To Stop Doomscrolling

Today I want to talk a little bit about the news cycle and the negative effects that obsessive news consumption can have on our mental health. In the current climate, there is a greater sense of fear and panic in the media and public life than usual. Following the news so intently can exacerbate these emotions and lead to thought patterns that are limiting and disempowering.
So – why can the news cycle have such a damaging effect on our mental health?
Our systems responds to the news as if we were experiencing the event as happening to us. It becomes part of our internal representation of the world.
When we experience an event our brain takes what we see, hear and feel and filters the information it receives based on our thoughts, memories, beliefs, decisions and values. It then deletes distorts and generalises the information to create our own internal representation of the world. We then create our behaviours from these representations.
Which leads to the question – what effect does consuming doom and gloom stories have on our mental health?
Well, by consuming doom and gloom stories our brains focus on these as an event that has occurred. We are still living in the height of the Covid 19 pandemic, which is already telling us that the world is a dangerous and unsafe place and then last week with the stories of Sarah Everard, Meghan Markle and the recent Caroline Flack documentary, our brains would have trigger stacked these events reinforcing any beliefs that we hold that mean the world is unsafe. By constantly consuming these news stories only our brains focus on these and delete anything that doesn’t fit the criteria. If we have experienced any distressing past events this new information will act as reinforcement to these old events especially if we have not processed them. This is then distorted and generalised and our internal representation is that ‘the world is unsafe’. If we feel the world is unsafe we then operate utilising our limbic system which is commonly known as ‘fight or flight’ our body releases hormones and we are more likely to experience anxiety, anger, frustration and fatigue. If you think we have been doing this for around a year on and off with the pandemic around us anyway no wonder so many of us are heading towards burnout.
It’s important that, if you’re feeling burnt out from the news cycle, that you alter the way you consume news to make your overall experience a little more positive.
So how can we change this? We can change how we take information in. By focusing on all news stories and not just the emotive ones we are giving ourselves a more rounded representation of the world around us. If you have seen the story once try not to revisit the same story over and over. For example if you watch the news don’t watch every news programme choose 1. If you look at social media make sure you look across different news articles. Remember that social media such as facebook utilise targeted ads to customers so the more you look at specific things, the more you get shown. Break it up and search for different things such as holidays, animals and hobbies you enjoy.
Looking at personal development such as short courses, reading, watching episodes of a good series or listening to a good podcast are great ways of keeping in touch with current affairs without getting ‘sucked in’ to the negative news cycle. There are positive news sources such as the happy newspaper and good news network so consider adding these to your news exposure. This keeps our input more balanced therefore giving a more balanced representation.
If your feeling burnt out from the news cycle definitely consider a digital detox. This can look different for different people and the key is to put some boundaries in. You may find it helpful to unfollow any accounts that don’t feel aligned to you. If you search for things that bring you joy this will naturally balance out your news feed. Consider having targeted times to look at the news rather than reacting to notifications. You may also decide to turn notifications off to all social media platforms for a period of time. Some people even turn phones off altogether. You need to do what works for you and it will probably be a bit of trial and error whilst you learn what works.  The benefits of doing this means that our limbic system comes out of fight/ flight, hormone levels return to normal, and we can feel safe again.
Our worlds have become so immersed in social media and online world it merges with our reality. We are all addicted to our tech and are often ‘reacting to’ online world rather than ‘creating’ our own experiences. In the pandemic with all the working from home, life balance has become very different and the boundaries have merged. It is so important to remove ourselves from the online world to look after our mental health. How often varies from person to person but I would definitely recommend doing this at least once per day. Stepping away from screens, interacting with family and friends, going for a walk, doing a hobby like exercise, cooking, reading anything that ground us in  the present moment. By starting to practice mindfulness activities we can release the stress and strain that we have both experienced in a real and virtual sense.
I hope you found this helpful! Take care everybody
Claire

Day In The Life of An Emotional Well-being Consultant

As it is national careers week this week (March 1-March 6 2021) I thought it would be good to have some behind the scenes insights. Many people ask me what a day looks like as an emotional well-being consultant, so here it is:

My days are often different as I wear many hats. It’s funny – with me finishing in the NHS in April, it had me thinking that I have always had more than one job. Since I was 15 I juggled 2 jobs and school then college and this has carried on on all through my life.

At University I had 2 main jobs as well as university work. Then I was part of an agency and worked at events at Silverstone and all sorts! When I lived in London after Uni, I had my main job at Great Ormond Street and then worked in 2 different pubs and continued to work for agencies babysitting and doing events! Now when I think about it I have no idea how I used to do it as well as have a social life!

Since 2008 I have always had a main employed role as well as my company! It will feel very strange just doing ‘1 job’ and I think what will keep me entertained is that I will continue to offer different things to different people.

My days start like many of you with the crazy mum juggle trying to get children out the house. 2 children 2 different locations….! Some days are perfect and others can feel quite stressful! I know for me, I can be triggered if I have to deal with any drama before I’ve had my morning tea! On the whole they are fine but life pre-children I was always tight on time and I feel I am always rushing around!

I always ensure I have a break to take the dog out often for a run/have a workout. I love doing this straight after I have dropped my children off and before I start work as it almost calibrates me into the day. I tend to start my working day (if I can… between 9:15 and 9:45 often at 9:30) with a client.

I tend to have 2-3 clients in the morning then grab 20-30-minute break for lunch and then another 2-3 clients in the afternoon. 2 evenings a week I offer a slot as well. I try and have no more than 5-6 clients in a day but I can have sometimes 7 as they are not full hours.

At the moment my youngest daughter is only 2 ½ so I have her at home on a Monday and Friday. This means that those days I have time with her and then do a bit of paperwork/discovery calls/1 client during her naps. On Friday afternoons after school we have been doing Friday Films where we watch a film, eat chocolate and snuggle under a blanket waiting for my husband to get home from work. In the summer we often do Friday Fun where we try and get out and have fun somewhere.

As a Play Therapist

Sometimes I see children in settings but since 2012 when I moved to my current property I have been predominantly seeing children in my summer house (originally it was not as nice and very simplistic!) It was rebuilt in 2016 and I love it! I started my training in 2006 and have been qualified since 2008.

Children come to me for a number of reasons. I often see children who are struggling with self-esteem, confidence, friendships, anxiety, anger, parental separation, trauma, nightmares/sleep problems, suffered abuse, bereavement, or bullying.

Often when a parent refers we have a chat and I will sometimes contact other agencies such as schools, GP’s and aligned health professionals. The child and parent will come for an initial session and then I block in weekly sessions with the child with a review between 6-8 weeks.

I collect the child from my side gate and we walk to my playroom. Sometimes they like to see my dog and give him a treat during their stay. We will then go into the room and I have a little check in where we will see how the week has been and they often chose to tell me things that are worrying for them. We do this through either talking, drawing, utilising emotional faces, using symbols such as figures. Whatever works for that child – we often end up in a flow and it becomes a ritual.

Then they will utilise the space to play in predominantly a non-directive manner. This means they chose and control the sessions and work at their own pace. I am fully present and reflect back. I have specific tools I use so if I see them doing something or they tell me something I can suggest whether they would like to undertake a creative visualisation, represent what they are feeling in a certain way or just follow their process and help them work things out for themselves. With children who are coming for a specific reason such as a trauma, a bereavement, maybe being looked after by others or parental separation I may structure the session differently and follow a structured protocol such as EMDR/CBT/Life Story/Bereavement work.

I find during the sessions, children will gravitate towards specific things and create their own routines within the room. They may do something for several weeks and then shift into the next thing as they work through and process what they need to.

These sessions can be incredibly draining but also very magical as a therapist when you can see a child work through an experience and visibly change before and after sessions.

I try not to have more than 4 children in a day in this way as I need to make sure I am fully present to hold them in the space. In current times I only have 1 child per day due to the amount of cleaning in between.

I love being able to see the parents after session and if we have discussed a technique we then feed this back for them to try out in between sessions. Due to confidentiality I often don’t share what happens in a session with the parents but we have discussed this before and they leave.

As a therapist for a teenager:

This involves a similar process to that of a child. However, I adapt my toolkit to suit. Some children prefer to talk and we operate more CBT/Solution Focused in our approaches, helping through talking therapies to create the outcomes desired. I never fully do this with children and we often draw/mind map/use sand and Lego to represent what is being discussed. By utilising the creative elements of the toolkit as well we tap into the other side of the brain and often find different solutions.

I love working with teenagers and have spent a lot of my working career with them. I especially love the outspoken teenage girls, who deep down are vulnerable and need nurturing. I also love working with shy children and have worked with children who are elected mutes (choose not to talk). This can be really powerful to physically see them shift and change. I work a lot with children in the looked after care system who often have complex trauma and attachment within their past. I love building the trusting relationship and being the person, they open up to and release a lot of their issues with.

Working with Families:

Often when I work with children it becomes apparent that the issues are more holistic. Often it is helpful to have sessions with the parents because, for example, some parents might have very different expectations of the children which can cause the child to become confused and act out.

Sometimes parents need help with handling difficult behaviours or they just want to talk through difficulties such as sleep and separation anxiety. I offer a lot of different approaches and can sometimes end up with whole families including siblings and grandparents if the need arises. This can create the consistency needed to allow the child to feel safe to shift their behaviours.

Working with adults:

I am really enjoying pivoting into life coaching. I have been supporting adults for many years around trauma and anxiety support. The life coaching now includes helping people with lifestyle routine and especially at the moment career shift. My work with people operates usually on a therapist’s hour. There is some flexibility within this and I always ensure we are at a safe place to close down the sessions. When working with adults I utilise so many different tools and techniques and love watching people physically get the ah-ha moments and the shifts they need to start to make changes. I am always amazed at how dynamics change when this happens.

Supervision:

As well as holding my own caseload of clients, I also love supporting others with their clients. I try and ensure balance in my day so I love having a bit of supervision within my day. This involves other therapists bringing their clients to talk through and we explore what might be going on for them and can use creative parts of the toolkit such as sand and drawing to represent a client/a session to see if anything else comes out. I love this work as it brings so many ah ha moments. I love supporting others with their personal development and can also recommend strategies/different pathways during sessions and explore what happens next time.

Working with organisations:

So, this is a new area in which I have fallen in love with! I started working with organisations by offering trainings to schools around topics such as life story and Lego therapy and supervising staff 1:1. This has evolved massively and since COVID I have been offering support for schools in terms of wellbeing. I offer 2 hour slots every half term – half of these around staff well-being and half looking at complex and challenging children in the schools.

This has evolved and I am now running regular workshops around stress management, routines, self-care, sleep and thought reframing to name a few. I have something lined up working with a local University, a large company who works with allied professionals in the community and the local NHS trust I currently work in supporting the staff around well-being.

So many people are struggling and organisations are now much more aware of this and trying to implement strategies as part of their business strategy. I am also now signed up to a corporate well-being expo in June virtually and next March in-person at the Excel Centre in London. It all feels very exciting and I can feel myself being drawn into this world!

Courses:

Alongside this I have my app and I am looking at how I can create a full package of support including courses around mindfulness, sleep and thought re-framing. I tested the app a bit last year and am looking at rolling out a sleep programme shortly and a mindfulness one in the summer.

I see this as an exciting extra I am going to be running and will have different levels including a self-help as well as a supported package.

Being Employed: NHS/COUNCIL/PRIVATE SECTOR

What I have always loved about my employed work is the teams I have worked in. Most teams I have worked in have a ‘Team Meeting’ on a Wednesday (predominantly because they have part time workers). We also have space to do reflective practice, supervision and things such as complex case discussions where we can unpick cases with everyone’s input. I love working in multi-disciplinary teams alongside so many different practitioners. It really emphasises to me how everyone has different perspectives and I really value different ideas I can bring into my own work.

On the whole when you work in these roles you are in charge of your own diary. This means you need to be really good at managing time. I learnt this the hard way as I often used to react to things as they happened which meant paperwork and admin would often get left behind! I now time-block my admin to ensure I have time and treat it as protected space much like I would offer that to clients.

Social Worker:

I wanted to spend a bit of time talking about social work as it has a bad rep! I was a social worker in different teams for over a decade. I started as a family support worker and spent years saying I would never become a social worker only to realise I was basically doing the same job without the pay grade! I did used to believe the media and feel that social workers would take children away. It was only when working in the system you realise that is the last thing they want to do. In children’s social care set ups, there is a lot of paperwork especially around court processes.

In every team I was part of, the work was around supporting the families to keep children at home. There were a lot of bits that were judgement calls and that was where people differed. I operate on a risk management front and there were others who were very risk adverse.

The people I met and worked with have taught me so much about myself and about how to support people. It was such a rewarding job. I have helped people work through some incredibly risky situations. I have visited people in prison, I have had some interesting sessions with clients which have kept me on my toes and taught me so much about how to manage conflict.

I know when I came into the work I felt very de-skilled and was tasked with doing some parenting and it felt quite overwhelming. I have worked in London as well as in Sussex and I think I am the sort of person who picks up skills and runs with it quickly and never got phased.

The job is definitely not for everyone and the amount of people I saw come and go as you have to have a certain personality to be able to manage crisis, be empathic and also help people move on. You need to be strong without being authoritarian and someone a child and a parent can relate to – a tough balancing act at times.

Similar to my other work it is a very independent role where you predominantly have your own cases, support duty systems and come together as a team. This is what I really like. Slightly different to my private work though it was dealing with a lot more crisis so I would think I had a certain diary for the day but a crisis would come in which needed prioritising and the whole day would change in an instant. I used to thrive on this. NHS work is very similar but seems more contained in some way.

The work was so rewarding especially working at supporting the parent-child relationship. I have worked with some amazing professionals who have taught me so much but also some very challenging times.

Unfortunately, a re-design did not go quite as hoped and the whole culture became very toxic with a blame mentality. It was across the news a few years ago and I was so glad I left when I did as I had been so close to burnout and was starting to feel like I had to be there and was trapped. I have always loved what I did and I was really glad I made the move when I did.

I wouldn’t change my time doing it but definitely feel that type of work is not for me anymore. It has enabled me to obtain a recognised qualification to be able to expand my emotional well-being and mental health pathway and has given me so many useful skills so it was really invaluable.

I originally wanted to be a Psychologist but just couldn’t get in the front door. Basically, now I am doing the same type of work and I just went in a different direction. It just goes to show, there really isn’t just one way of reaching your goals and there are always options and alternatives!

Inspire You | How To Stop Negative Thoughts

Inspire You | World Thinking Day | How to stop negative thoughts.

The theme this year is Peacebuilding, and I’m putting my own therapeutic spin on it by talking a bit about cognitively re-framing negative thoughts. Think of it like peacebuilding with yourself and your own mind.
Did you know we have about 6000 thoughts a day! So, it is important to consider how powerful our thoughts are. We are all immersed in a complicated cycle whereby our internal and external representations of the world are impacting on us. This explains why everyone has different ‘realities.’ You know, when lots of people see the same thing but all have a different opinion of it!

When we experience an event, our brain filters based on thoughts, beliefs, memories, decisions and values (all personal to us) and deletes, distorts and generalises the information into our internal representation. This in turn creates our feelings and behaviour, such as anxiety, depression and the many symptoms we experience, which impact on our decisions and choices.

If we have a negative thought our brains delete distort and generalises based on what we have previously experienced and then our decisions create our behaviour as outcomes. By reframing our thoughts, we can change our trajectory and change our behaviour. So, what does this mean for us? Well, one of my favourite phrases is ‘where focus goes energy flows’ which means that the more we focus on the negative, the more negative we feel and the more negative things become for us. The good news is, if we reverse what we focus on and focus instead on the positive elements (I know this one is much harder right now!), guess what, positive shifts start to come within our behaviour and our mindset.

Here are some of my top tips when it comes to re-framing negative and limiting thoughts into more positive, productive ones:

* Look at the bigger picture.

Try not to get consumed by a thought and give it too much power – that thought is a drop in the ocean of who you are and the scope of your life.
Magnifying and overgeneralising our thoughts can stop us from realising that we have the power to change things and move on- we fixate on these thoughts and lose sight of the bigger picture.

It is important not to become stuck in this negative thought pattern which produces limiting beliefs.

Everybody makes mistakes, but they don’t define us or our futures.  Change is possible for you so try setting some SMART goals to further your self-development rather than re-affirming fixed self-critical beliefs.

* Ask yourself questions

By asking questions you can engage your critical thinking skills to determine if a thought can or should be re-framed. It can be helpful to ask questions in order to interrogate the thought you are having. Thoughts are just that and are not ‘fact.’ They are only given power when we choose to engage with them. Consider questions such as: ‘is this thought helpful? How will I feel about this in a week? What advice would I give to others? Are there other thoughts that would serve me better?’

Apply critical thinking skills to your own thoughts can be difficult because we often conflate our thoughts with our identities/ selves, but we are much more than just our thoughts!

*Perspectives

By looking at the thought from different perspectives we can obtain different viewpoints and hopefully different thoughts. By raising different thoughts into our awareness, we can develop different options for ourselves. This helps us to ‘problem solve’ and create our own solutions.

* Try assuming positive outcomes

We talk about shifting the negative thought and thinking the opposite. Instead of pre-emptive negative thoughts, try assuming positive outcomes (even if you fake it until you make it) and see how that alters your behaviour and interactions with others.

We often fear the worst or assume and try to predict the future. Our favourite pastime seems to be assuming the worst around what others think based on limited information, generalising and often underneath that there is a negative thought about ourselves. This almost acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy and reinforces that belief in ourselves.

When we think about negative thoughts about ourselves we often think about 4 main themes:

Safety/ Vulnerability ‘I am not safe’ ‘I cannot trust anyone’

Control/ Choice ‘I am weak’ ‘I am not in control’

Responsibility ‘I should have done something’ ‘It’s my fault’

Self-Defectiveness ‘I am not good enough’ ‘I am a bad person’ ‘I am ugly’

By focusing on the opposite thoughts, we can start to repair what is really underneath a lot of our thoughts. Sometimes the opposite thought is too far removed from where we are in the present. When that happens, we like to consider ‘bridging statements’ such as ‘I am becoming’ or ‘I can learn to.’ This helps to start to shift the thoughts.

* Acknowledge the whole spectrum of your emotions

Reframing negative thoughts isn’t about ignoring or suppressing difficult feelings. So many people come to me saying I don’t want to feel anxious/ sad etc. The reality is that we will always have those feelings but in order to really connect with yourself and identify how you can grow and improve your well-being/cognitive coping skills it’s about dealing with them in a more constructive and empowering way.

Therefore, we are not trying to ‘not experience’ difficult emotions again as that is not real, but it is about arming yourself with the tools to manage ALL emotions and training your mind to work with you instead of against you.

Always acknowledge how you really feel and label it as it is the first step to release it and transforming. Remember all emotions are valid and manageable when we have the right tools.

* Be kind to yourself

It is so important for your mental health and emotional wellbeing to show yourself compassion in your thoughts and actions- this is the fundamental basis of self-care.

If you have experienced a lot of trauma and struggle with your self-esteem it can feel very strange and even wrong to treat yourself kindly but it is necessary practice in order to allow changes to take shape. Speak to yourself with care and compassion, you are inherently worthy of love and support including from yourself.

Lonely, Thoughts, Thoughtful, Alone, Thinking, Miss

How I can help you:

I can help you with reframing your thoughts tailoring a specific set of reframes to you. I can help with compassion and self-care and how to help yourself. I can help with specific strategies and tools to help you gain different perspectives and break down the limiting beliefs that might be at the root of some of these thoughts.

Don’t struggle this can be resolved and does not need to define you. Book in a FREE chat and let me help you re-frame these thoughts.

Claire :- )

Inspire You | Fans United Celebrates 24 Years Today: Why I started and will never stop being a Brighton and Hove Albion Fan

Today marks 24 years since Fans United at Brighton and Hove Albion.

For those who know me you might know I’m a bit of a Brighton Football Fan! (….maybe a bit of an understatement!!) Started as a child going to ‘kids for a quid’ games at the Goldstone on 15th March 1995 (love that my dad knows all this stuff!)  As a child, teen and adult I have followed my beloved club across the country. I travelled over 100 miles round trip to watch ‘home’ games at Gillingham (we basically did most games- I was hooked!) Spent most of my 20’s sitting at Withdean Sports Stadium (where I used to have school sports day) in all weathers (often sporting a plastic bin bag and about 10 layers when it was cold and raining!!). I travelled back and forth for every home game when I lived in Northampton (suddenly a lot of away games were ‘local’ too!!). I think in the peak we did all home games plus maybe 14 away games!! I have been to some amazing stadiums and well some that may not be so glamorous (1 didn’t even have a toilet for away fans!)!!

I was a season ticket holder for 19 years at Withdean and The Amex…. I stopped in 2018 because…well I had 1 daughter who was born in 2016 and was fairly easy to get a sitter for… then not only did I have another daughter but my sister also had a child (who was the main sitter!). I felt it wasn’t fair to put 3 young children on her every other week…so we are on a break! At least with COVID and craziness going on I am not missing anything and we can watch most games on the TV!

I wanted to tell you a story about how I came to be such a passionate Brighton fan and the story has relevance to being the lowest of the low, coming back from the brink, with support and community spirit and working each year being the best you can be, to really achieve your dreams! Kind of feels relevant right?!

In July 1995 the club owners, Archer, Stanley & executive Bellotti decided to sell the club’s 95-year-old Goldstone Ground to a property developer with nowhere for them to go. They had bought into the club for just over £50. There was talk of sharing with Portsmouth and eventually ended up at Gillingham travelling 100 miles to “home” games. All this was done without consulting anyone connected with the club.

The team were not playing well. When you think about winning, you have to have the right mindset. Well if you have a lot of negative energy around you that attracts negative energy, which makes it almost impossible to win. They had only won 4 games by Christmas and were rooted bottom of the league. It was looking certain that we would be non-league and homeless. In the 70’s and 80’s they had been right up the top and it was a horrible demise.

This was in the 90’s the internet had only just come along and was pre-social media. The fans have always been the powerhouse of the football clubs and this story goes to show to never underestimate the power of the fans!! The fans started to campaign to save the club. This was when I started to really support the club, as a teenager hooked in with kids for a quid and and the passion and creativeness of the fans with the campaigns was intensely powerful. Writing this still gives me goose bumps when I remember the atmosphere at the games (I don’t think I have ever seen so many grown men cry!). There were pitch invasions, goal posts were broken, points were deducted. It felt like there was no way out. Off the pitch there were marches, protests and the most dedicated and powerful campaign to save a club. The community really were supporting the cause and the ‘football family’ had secured its status in so many fans of the time.

A Plymouth Fan Richard Vaughan had heard about what was going on and wrote a comment on ‘North Stand Chat’ (the old equivalent to social media!) about how fans from everywhere should support our club! This was the start of one of the most emotive days a fan can experience with their club. A game was targeted Hartlepool, which was an international break weekend so no other football on-it was perfect! The crowds had been around 3,500 with everything that had been going on…that game there were over 9000 fans from all over the world. It put the fight on the map and gave the momentum we needed. As well as a nice 5-0 win! The chant was ‘FANS UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED’ and even now brings a massive sense of emotion over most that were around at the time!

 

There was a massive fight back which continued that season and there were quotes from commentators at the time, which are still played at the Amex on the montage! Dick Knight was the saviour and his group gaining a controlling interest in the club. The last few games were incredibly powerful, we queued for hours to get tickets, the tension, well you couldn’t have written it… we won the game and stayed up!!! we went on the pitch after the game. People were digging up the pitch taking chairs, turnstiles all sorts. People were cheering the team, Dick Knight, each other, there were tears, so much emotion. We felt numb and just froze taking it all in. The joy of staying in the football league by the skin of our teeth but the sadness that came with loosing the stadium.

There was a massive battle ahead, which year on year has led to us playing at the Amex and in the premier league (arguably the best football league in the world!). I will never forget my ‘hard hat’ day to choose my seat and so many special memories at the club.

For me, today writing this I almost wonder if it could have possibly shaped my career choices… What a crazy thought!! I get so passionate and thrive from taking people from the lowest point of their lives and supporting them across there lives. It really is amazing watching people shift into different directions and achieving their dreams.

For those interested you should read the book or some articles:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Build-Bonfire-Football-United-Brighton/dp/1840180250

 

https://www.theargus.co.uk/sport/15078062.the-turning-point-twenty-years-on-brighton-and-hove-albion-supporters-remember-fans-united/

 

https://www.theleaguepaper.com/featured/7299/20-years-on-fans-united-when-football-came-together-to-help-save-brighton-hove-albion/

Inspire You | How To Cope With Difficult Feelings During the Pandemic

Lockdown no 3.0 has hit the UK and I am speaking with a lot of people who are really struggling this time around, many having really strong feelings such as anxiety and depression which can feel so overwhelming and relentless. I wanted to discuss how to cope with difficult feelings we experience during this pandemic. We have had terms such as ‘Coronacoaster’ and ‘Groundhog Day’ banded around and I’m sure everyone can relate to the highs and lows of the current situation from having the perfect ‘social media ready’ day, to feeling like you cannot get up and dressed.

Because everyone is going through this experience we don’t take stock of what is actually going on. We have lost our routine, structure, become socially isolated and had to adapt and change to a constantly evolving society, all within the backdrop of this deadly virus. How we even still function day to day is a miracle right?

I have been comparing this current lockdown to ‘burnout’ as many of us have struggled with ‘long term unresolved stress’ of the pandemic for nearly a year now, which is impacting massively on our well-being.

So, I thought it would be helpful to unpick some of the common symptoms of burnout, to bring this into the awareness as many people haven’t made this connection, and then I will share why we start to feel this way in the first place. By understanding where our strong feelings have come from we can then implement some simple strategies at the right time to preserve our well-being and get us back on track.

If I list the many symptoms of burnout how many can you relate to?… These include: fatigue, lack of motivation, escapism, self neglect, anxiety, panic, lack of sleep, feeling out of control, empty, physical symptoms such as headaches, sweaty hands, stomach and bowel problems, heart palpitations the list goes on doesn’t it.

Are we surprised we are all hitting burnout>? Not really…. We as humans are not designed to do what a lot of us do day to day anyway, without adding to the mix home schooling, caring for vulnerable relatives and all the other expectations we put on ourselves, the ‘shoulds.’

To understand where this comes from I need to delve into a little bit of brain science with you. Are you in?… We are all immersed in a complicated cycle whereby our internal and external representations of the world are impacting on us. This explains why everyone has different ‘realities.’ You know, when lots of people see the same thing but all have a different opinion of it!

When we experience an event (such as COVID 19) our brain filters based on thoughts, beliefs, memories, decisions and values (all personal to us) and deletes, distorts and generalises the information into our internal representation. This in turn creates our feelings and behaviour, such as anxiety, depression and the many symptoms we experience, which impact on our decisions and choices.

During the pandemic if we are focusing on a lot of negative aspects of the pandemic such as some negative media, the loss of not seeing family/ friends/ fear of contracting the illness/ loss of a family member, our external world will be focusing on these things, which then become the focus of our thoughts, and beliefs and we then use this to make our decisions about what we choose to do, which create the feelings of anxiety. Are you with me?

This is then also compounded by other factors, such as if we have experienced recent significant life events, like a bereavement or loss, which may be unprocessed in the brain, reinforcing the negative thoughts and creating strong beliefs about the world such as ‘if I contract COVID 19 I will die’ and ‘if I leave the house I will contract COVID 19.’

So, what does this mean for us? Well, one of my favourite phrases is ‘where focus goes energy flows’ which means that the more we focus on these negative elements of the pandemic, the more negative we feel and the more negative things become for us. The good news is, if we reverse what we focus on and focus instead on the positive elements (I know this one is much harder right now!), guess what, positive shifts start to come within our behaviour and our mindset.

I finally wanted to offer some tried and tested techniques to help nurture your mindset and enable you to shift your thoughts, feelings and behaviours to get through the rest of this crazy pandemic.

  1. Focus on what we can control: set realistic goals, expectations and schedules.

Many of us have ridiculously high expectations on ourselves where we try and carry on as if nothing has happened and have a lot of ‘shoulds’ where we try to achieve a ‘school days’ worth of work, a ‘full day of work’ being able to care for a vulnerable relative which is often a full-time job, have a clean tidy house, cook, exercise etc. Well guess what…. We are 1 individual who has 24 hours in a day and we need to look after ourselves as well! Everyone is different with how they set goals I thoroughly recommend using SMART targets (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) and then planning the day/ week in time blocks. Understanding that you may not be able to achieve everything you NEED to allows you to prioritise what you CAN do and allow for some things that may not be urgent to be moved/ simplified. Planning whilst it sounds restrictive often gives you freedom to be able to get more tasks off the ‘to do list.’ So many people are using the ‘Pomodoro’ technique at the moment where you do 25 minutes sustained work then 5 minutes break. I personally prefer to time block in manageable chunks for me 1-2 hours. Everyone is different so do what works for you.

  1. Self-Care

Looking after yourself is so key during this pandemic. Making time to do simple things like skincare routine/ shower/ get dressed. Planning in some healthy snacks/ meals/ exercise/ podcasts/ books whatever you are interested in, into our crazy often screen led weeks will help us to stay on track. Self-care is often the first thing to go when we are doing everything else as it doesn’t feel as important HOWEVER self-care allows you to refuel which allows you to RELEASE the stress of the day AND focus better. One final note on self-care is around media. So many people are watching every news programme, every article, every piece of social media content around the pandemic…STOP! It is filtering into your thoughts and becoming your focus. We CANNOT control the pandemic itself and how it unfolds… WE CAN CONTROL how we respond to it and therefore give attention to the right information.

  1. Getting enough sleep

How many of us are working late at night trying to plough through our to do list? Getting enough sleep helps restore, process information and boosts immune systems, meaning we are keeping ourselves as fit and well as we can.

  1. Mindfulness and Meditation

So many people have become interested in this at the moment it is really picking up momentum and very ‘on trend.’ Being present and mindful in the moment allows us to deal with our emotions much better. Simple breathing and relaxation techniques allow our mind and body to realign. There are loads of apps out there as well as good videos on YouTube I love HEADSPACE and CALM, and apps like DELICIOUSLY ELLA has great recipes AND other wellness practices such as mediation, breathing and podcasts.

  1. Positive affirmations and journaling.

One of the things so many people have really embraced during this pandemic is the art of journaling and creating positive affirmations. There is no right or wrong way to journal there are great apps such as DIVETHRU which take you on a structured process if you need some ideas to basically brain dump everything you are worried/anxious about. The key with this approach is not to sit with the emotion but after getting it all out to then create some positive affirmations for yourself. One of my go to affirmations at the moment is ‘This too shall Pass’ as well as ‘I choose to react positively to all situations’ and ‘You’ve got this.’ I created a FREE Facebook community group in July called keep going you’ve got this where I support people with lots of tips, tricks and techniques. I have a free 4-day goal setting and habit building challenge along with visualisations to help calm and a space to share and feel part of a community. https://www.facebook.com/groups/keepgoingyouvegotthis

I hope this list was useful to you. Stay safe and take care of yourselves!

Claire

 

 

Pinterest pin for staying connected in a virtual world

Inspire You | How To Stay Connected in a Virtual World

In honour of National Hug Day and Brew Monday this coming week, I thought I’d shed a little bit of light on staying connected and communicative during Covid times.

Obviously, self isolation and physical distancing put constraints on our ability to experience things as we normally would. That physical closeness is a visceral absence in many of our daily lives. We’re living life in 2D at the moment. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t connect with people, build new bonds and relationships, and spend quality time with our distanced loved ones.

Feeling so isolated – physically and emotionally – can have a really detrimental effect on our emotional well-being. So giving time and energy to reaching out and connecting – although it might not be easy if you’re already struggling – is a great self-care strategy. Sometimes you might just really need your alone time, and that’s absolutely fine too! Just try and keep in tune with yourself and what it is you really need to nurture yourself.

Hugs and coffee dates are off limits at the moment, but here are a couple of ways we can stay connected during the pandemic and lockdown:

    • Zoom calls2020 was practically sponsored by Zoom! It allowed us to be present with our family and friends despite lockdown and social distancing. Many Zoom quizzes were had in early lockdown. Through the modern magic of video chatting we’re able to play games and have a laugh safely, have virtual dinner parties and coffee dates and generally spend time together and catch up. Why not make a plan to have a brew with your besties over Zoom this week? It is Brew Monday after all!

 

    • Social mediaSocial media can be a tricky one to navigate. If you’re able to curate your feed so that you can only see posts from accounts that comfort, inspire or reassure you, and not ones that prompt you to compare yourself or stress out, social media will be a much more beneficial tool. You don’t need to start your day feeling less than just because you haven’t done an hour of yoga and made a smoothie bowl this morning. Social media can be a great way to share and receive valuable resources and provides a platform to be honest and vulnerable. It certainly has the capacity to help us feel less alone in the current climate. Just be conscious of how you’re using it.
    • Facebook groups – Facebook groups are another valuable means of sharing support and resources and fostering connection, whether they’re related specifically to mental health or another niche that you’re interested in. I run the Inspire You Facebook community group which you can join here to share support and resources for anybody who wants or needs it. Come and get involved!
    • Netflix partiesThis handy little browser extension is a great tool for evoking that sense of connection and the sharing of an experience. Watching a show together can be a great bonding experience, gives you something to chat about, provides a good distraction and can be lots of fun! With Netflix party, you can write in the chat box while you chat and see everybody’s reactions – great energy!
    • Watching YouTube vlogs Watching other people navigate this strange time by documenting their 2020 journey, even if we’re not physically present with them, can help us feel less alone and comforted. Maybe you’ll find someone you relate to a lot, and others you might not – but it still could be interesting to see how different people are managing the situation.
    • Write letters to a friendOkay, this one is a little old school, but it could be fun, provide a good distraction and creative outlet, as well as creating some really interesting mementos from this strange time to look back on a few years down the line. Some say letter writing is a lost art! Maybe now is the time to resurrect it?
    • Journaling and meditation This one is oriented around staying connected with yourself and honouring all of your emotions. In order to have energy to share with other people, we need to make sure we look after our own energy and give ourselves the time and space to care for ourselves and recharge. Journaling and meditation can be good practices for helping us get in touch with our feelings and intuitively feeling out where we’re at.
    • Daily walks – This one might not always be feasible, but if you’re able to take just a quick stroll for some fresh air, just being out in the open and seeing one or two people from afar can bring us a little bit of reassurance and help us feel less cooped up and isolated.

I don’t think “social distancing” is the right term – I think “physical distancing” is more fitting. We don’t have to sacrifice our social lives and connections to stay safe. In fact, we need them now more than ever!

I hope this list was useful to you. Stay safe and take care of yourselves!

Claire

Inspire You | Managing at Christmas

Managing at Christmas

While Christmas can certainly be a wonderful time of year, the festive period and lead up to the New Year also come with a lot of heightened emotions, demands and extra external and internal pressure. The social and cultural pressure to be happy and jolly all the time, to spend time with family when we might have difficult and fraught relationships or be estranged from them, or be struggling with grief and loss that’s fresh or really hits hard around the holidays. The pressure to be warm and fuzzy and connected to people and ourselves while feeling lonelier than ever, financial pressure and struggles heightened around Christmas and buying gifts. These added pressures of the festive period can be draining in themselves as well as having the potential to exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. It is a lot to cope with and sometimes that really outweighs the sentiment of “the most wonderful time of year”.

In addition, the lack of sunlight from longer nights and shorter days can also massively impact our well-being, interfering with our circadian rhythms and the production of serotonin in our brains. Seasonal affective disorder can contribute to feelings of low energy, low mood and depression, adding another layer of difficulty into an already demanding time of year. As we gear up to enter a New Year, there is increased pressure to change ourselves or examine our negative traits and habits more closely, which can feed into detrimental cycles of negative thinking, warping our mindset so that we’re only focused on seeing the bad. New Years resolutions can be totally harmless and a fun way of setting goals, but if you’re already not in a good place then the sentiment of “change!” “be better!” “new year new me!” can feel like an added weight. If this all resonates with you, you’re not alone. How you feel is completely valid and even if you can’t explain it or pinpoint exactly why you feel this way, it is okay and you are deserving of help and support.

 

I wanted to lay out a couple of important things to remember when it comes to looking after ourselves at this time of year, as a little Christmas self-help guide:

 

  • Managing expectations – As I mentioned, we do tend to put extra pressure on ourselves and our loved ones to be the happiest we’ve ever been at Christmas time, maybe uncharacteristically so. It is important to realise that Christmas – while it can be special – is just another day and we are still the same people. Be gentle with yourself; remember that there is no reason to feel any guilt or shame for dealing with difficult thoughts and feelings at this time of year. You deserve support and understanding every day of the year.
  • Take time for yourself – If you find socialising at Christmas stressful and know that it can trigger further thoughts and behaviours, it might be useful to plan some alone time in advance to help yourself relax and have a little bit of peace away from the eyes of others. Setting limits and boundaries and communicating them calmly and effectively to loved ones and family is important and beneficial for managing your well-being. You know the expression “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? Being able to re-charge and have some down time will make spending time with others a little easier and hopefully boost your energy levels a bit so you can have fun with your loved ones when the time comes.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others – you might feel like you should be having the best time in the world on Christmas day, and feel pangs of jealousy or guilt if you see others on social media looking like they’re genuinely enjoying themselves while you’re struggling and can’t seem to make the best of it. Avoid snooping on what other people are doing, how they’re spending the day, how many gifts they got or gave – social media is only a tiny window into other people’s lives and is heavily curated to only show the highlights. Focus solely on you and being present in the moment with the people you’re with. Practice positive mantras or affirmations such as: “today I take a moment to count my blessings” or “today, the sights, sounds and smells fill me with joy”.
  • Home make your gifts – Yes, time is a luxury especially if you are a parent and you work full time, but if you’re struggling financially setting aside some free time to home make your gifts – whipping up some baked goods or making candles – can be a good way of making something sentimental and thoughtful without breaking the bank. It is not simply all about money and putting the time, thought and effort into making something for a loved one to show your appreciation is a wonderful thing to do.
  • Let somebody know you’re struggling – Having somebody that you can confide in and talk to about how you’re feeling is incredibly valuable. It doesn’t have to be somebody in your family, maybe an online group or community with people who you know understand. Letting it out and not bottling it up can be cathartic and help you to navigate the social situations you find yourself in with a little more clarity and peace of mind.

 

I hope you found that helpful! You can always reach out to me on social media or book in a Discovery call with me if there is anything you wish to discuss further in a 121 setting. If you’re struggling right now, I see you. Keep going – you’ve got this!

 

Stay safe everybody

Claire 🙂

Inspire You| Illumination Week

Illumination Week |

 

In honour of Illumination Week, we’re shedding a little light (ha) on the relationship between atmosphere/environment and our mood!

 

It’s fascinating to see the effects that a change in lighting has on our mood. As the seasons change and we roll into the winter months, the days get shorter, the nights get longer and we welcome the darkness by shifting into hibernation mode. We may start to feel a little lower in energy and have more difficulty regulating our mood to due the lack of stimuli – winter can start to feel like one perpetual cold night. However, there are ways to remedy that seasonal struggle and sluggish feeling, cultivating instead a sense of warmth, magic and cosiness!

 

Since natural light is scarce this time of year, we depend on alternatives to the sun to illuminate our homes, creating an atmosphere as well as shaping our mood and well-being. Winter and Christmas time are closely entwined with lighting and illumination – envision the twinkling of fairy lights wrapped around the Christmas tree in the living room of your family home, luminescent decorations lighting up doors, windows and front gardens attracting attention and childlike wonder, the warm glow of festive-scented candles lining your mantle piece, flickering Christmas lights atop lampposts up and down the street in town – doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

 

At a dark and gloomy time in an especially dark and gloomy year, getting creative with lighting could really benefit our tired and weary little minds. Decorating with colourful lights – fairy lights or colour changing lightbulbs – can make a room feel inviting and interesting, really shaping the space and how you interact with it, facilitating feelings of warmth and increased happiness. Standard ceiling lights can sometimes feel harsh and de-energizing, interfering with our natural circadian rhythms and possibly impacting the length and quality of our sleep. It may feel natural to want to sleep more during the darker time of year, but using lighting that causes us to strain our eyes or overstimulates our minds can make sleeping properly more difficult.

 

It’s all about creating a pleasant sensory experience with the lighting in your home – atmospheric lighting, however you choose to incorporate it, can evoke positive emotions or positive memories and nostalgia which creates a positive emotional feedback loop and produces a positive, desirable state of wellbeing! Browse Pinterest or Instagram to search for ways of constructing your own DIY mood lighting – there’s plenty of ways to put your own spin on it and highlight (no pun intended) your taste and personality. Apparently Himalayan salt lamps are meant to be amazing for ambience – they just radiate warm, glowing energy! It might be worth looking into SAD lamps too- they have been designed for people who suffer from Seasonal affect disorder, which means they suffer from depression symptoms such as low mood irritability decrease in energy and sleeping quality in winter. Sad lamps are great for a boost…you can buy small ones that you can take into the office as well as having an alarm clock with a SAD lamp attached. Try it and see if it helps you J

 

Although it’s difficult this time of year, especially in 2020, I would also advise you to get outside and see the sunlight at least once a day of possible – if only for a couple of minutes on your lunch break/ before or after work. Try and absorb as much natural light as possible to give your serotonin levels a little bit of a boost and stave off the seasonal blues.

So I would love to know how are you illuminating your home this festive season? Drop any pictures of your tree, your house, your peaceful vibes or your winter wonderlands in the comments! Spread the joy 🙂

 

I hope everybody is doing well and getting in the festive spirit!

Stay safe and stay tuned,

Claire

Inspire You | Grief awareness

Grief is an incredibly intricate and complex thing to make sense of as something that feels so universal yet so deeply personal and particular. Shock, numbness, anger, sadness and confusion are all emotional elements of grief, but grief can also manifest through feelings and behaviours that can look very different depending on the bereaved person and the nature and scope of their relationship with their lost loved one. We tend to conceptualise grief as something that occurs in stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – meaning that the form in which we experience grief fluctuates with the passing of time.

 

The way we feel about or deal with our grief may be surprising to us, or it may not. There’s no right or wrong way to feel because each case is unique. Inevitably, losing a loved one, whether suddenly and unexpectedly or expectedly after an illness, will have an impact on our emotional well-being. Looking after yourself following a bereavement may feel completely overwhelming or impossible, the world might feel alien and hopeless or even cruel. There is no manual for navigating life following the death of somebody close to you, and figuring it out can be scary and painful, but it’s also possible that finding ways to celebrate and commemorate a lost loved one’s life can bring hope, positivity and comfort in unexpected and welcome ways.

 

In this post, I wanted to outline some important aspects and elements of dealing with grief that are conducive to positive emotional well-being. I know those two things seem very contradictory, but I want to highlight that there is always hope in times of darkness.

(1) Having a support system: This could be family members, friends, neighbours, the people in your community, and professional support such as a therapist or grief counsellor. Having a good support network around while dealing with grief is paramount. The people in your support system might also have been affected by the death and be able to relate to you on an emotional level. It may involve asking a close friend to do a food shop for you, help you to make any funeral arrangements or help you sort through your loved one’s belongings. It’s common for people to rally together and offer any kind of support they can, however this can sometimes be left vague and it is useful to be specific with your requests and the type of support you need, if you’re able to do so. You might hear the phrase “if you need anything, just give me a call” a lot following the death of a loved one, but the likelihood is that as a bereaved person (or anyone in fact) you probably won’t feel like reaching out of your own accord. Similarly, if you are hoping to help somebody experiencing a loss, be specific and direct when offering your support. Try and arrange a firm date to pop over or go out for a coffee or offer to help with a specific task.

 

(2) Talking about how you feel: Although it may seem like the easier option, keeping everything inside will only prolong and intensify pain. Talking to friends, family or a counsellor will allow you to verbalise your emotions, confront and recognise what it is you are feeling and experiencing so that it becomes an external object you can begin to tackle collaboratively, and not an unidentified internal monster eating away at you. You could also try journaling to get your thoughts and feelings out if you don’t feel quite ready to talk face to face with somebody else, for a sense of relief. Allowing yourself to feel and say things is instrumental to begin healing.

 

(3) Routine: Experiencing a loss will no doubt impact our daily routines. Our routines provide us with a sense of structure and normality, and will undergo big changes or disruptions in times of crisis. Our sleeping patterns, eating habits and any other integral parts of our daily functioning might suffer, feeling insignificant in contrast to these huge feelings of loss and grief. In order to keep on looking after our bodies and taking care of our emotional well-being during these times, write down and try and stick to a basic routine including: when you wake up and go to sleep, time spent at work, mealtimes, household chores and activities. Eating and sleeping properly are the basics of self-care, allowing us to function physically and keep our moods stable so working these into a somewhat structured routine after a loss is important.

 

(4) Time: You’ve probably heard the expression that time heals all wounds and you might think it’s a bit of a cliché. With the initial shock and sting of losing a loved one, it can feel in the moments after like you will never recover or heal from this loss and the grief that it brings. As time passes and we begin to adjust, becoming familiar with how life looks and feels, the pain will transform and – although it may never completely disappear – it will take up space in our lives differently. Initially, it will feel raw and foreign but it will ease. There will be good days and bad days and it probably won’t feel like a linear journey, especially at the very beginning, but ultimately it will become more familiar and easier to cope with on a daily basis.

 

If you’re struggling with your emotional well-being and taking care of yourself after experiencing a loss and this is something you would like to chat about further, you can book a discovery call with me here. I offer 121 consultations and would be more than happy to chat with you to help you start taking the steps to heal.

 

Thank you for reading!

Stay safe and stay tuned

Claire

🙂

domestic violence awareness

Domestic Violence Awareness 2022 & Healthy Relationships

This week, in light of 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Violence 2020, we’re thinking about domestic violence awareness and asking the fundamental questions: what does a healthy/unhealthy relationship look like, and what happens when our relationships start to negatively impact our emotional well-being?

 

Within the context of romantic relationships and partnerships, a relationship can perhaps best be conceptualised as falling on a spectrum, ranging from “healthy” on one end of the spectrum to “abusive” on the other end, with “unhealthy” occupying the murky space in the middle. Healthy relationships are mutual ones in which communication is open and welcome, trust is a fundamental pillar, respect is free-flowing, boundaries are respected and both individuals are regarded and treated as equals.

 

Having a healthy relationship does not necessarily mean that everything is “sunshine and rainbows” all of the time, but it means that any difficulties or obstacles impacting the relationship can be dealt with and resolved without any of these fundamental bases being compromised.

 

If you have an argument with your partner or spouse, you should not have to worry or question if they’re going to hurt you in some way – emotionally, verbally, psychologically, or physically. You know that you can talk it out, maybe having a cooling off period, and ultimately, you’ll clear the air and move on (or leave the relationship – if you decide that’s what’s best for you!).

 

A healthy relationship should be a source of joy, comfort, support, companionship and fun in your life. It should ultimately make you feel good! Relationships can be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding!

 

On the other hand, an unhealthy relationship can make you feel drained, unhappy, confused, anxious and like you’re walking on eggshells. You might feel as though you’re not being treated as an equal, that you’re not respected or trusted, or that you’re being pressured or controlled.

 

Behaviour that is a cause for concern and characteristic of an unhealthy relationship includes:

 

  • Calling you names or making you feel bad, when alone and in front of others
  • Controlling behaviour such as telling you who you can and can’t interact with
  • Trying to take control over your finances or make you financially dependent on them
  • Invading your privacy – going through your phone and reading private messages against your knowledge or will
  • Pressuring you to do things that you don’t want to do
  • Becoming easily and unpredictably angered with you and making you feel uneasy or unsafe
  • Ignoring you for prolonged periods of time (the “cold shoulder”)
  • Physical violence or harm of any kind

 

Of course, domestic violence – repeated patterns of abusive and violent behaviour within the home – not only implicates mental and emotional well-being, but physical safety and well-being too.

 

I’m going to link to some vital resources and information on domestic violence for anybody that might require them or find them helpful:

https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help

https://www.womensaid.org.uk/

https://www.mankind.org.uk/

https://www.safeinsussex.co.uk/

 

It is important to identify they key elements of a healthy relationship – standards or criteria that we can measure our own relationships against in order to assess whether they are truly good for us.

 

Additionally, you may well know instinctively and without question whether you are in a healthy relationship or not, but sometimes our circumstances and the specific influences within our relationships make it difficult to discern whether what we’re experiencing is normal or acceptable. You might begin to question your own perception or sanity, which can be the outcome of a particular form of abuse known as gaslighting – in which the perpetrator consciously attempts to manipulate the victim’s perception of reality and claiming that things which are true are false, often placing the victim in the wrong somehow.

 

It may be the case that, you know your relationship is detrimental to your emotional well-being, that it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, and yet somehow it has been made to appear that any unhappiness or discomfort is your own fault – that you need to modify your behaviour in order to be worthy or respected within the relationship. Our identities, self-image and sense of self-worth can become so deeply entangled and entrenched in our relationships when they are shaped under these circumstances, through mechanisms of control and coercion, it becomes seemingly impossible to detach ourselves from them for fear of losing everything.

 

This is why awareness and recognising the signs is so important. The more armed we are with the knowledge and tools to identify unhealthy patterns, the better.

 

That being said, nobody enters into a relationship expecting to be manipulated or controlled – abuse is insidious, can unfold incrementally over time, and is never the fault of the victim. Abusers and perpetrators are often able to fluently influence others’ perceptions of them, and abuse is particular to each relationship’s context and dynamic.

 

So – what does the core of a healthy relationship look like?

 

Let’s explore the pillars of a good, healthy relationship:

 

  • Communication
    • You should be able to openly express your feelings, views, opinions and grievances with your partner without fear, and be heard and respected, and vice versa!
    • You should be able to state when something is wrong, or ask for something in particular with regards to your emotional needs, without judgement or anger

 

  • Honesty
    • Being truthful and up-front with your partner, not lying directly or lying by omission, is the basis of building a trusting relationship
    • As mentioned above, you should be able to be open and honest without fear
    • If you’re feeling pressured to lie about something innocuous such as going to see a friend due to fear of your partner’s response, that could be an early warning sign – on the flip side, if you find you’re lying to protect their feelings because you know that your own behaviour is disingenuous, that’s also a sign it’s not meant to be

 

  • Trust
    • Fundamentally, you and your partner should trust that neither of you will cheat or betray each other’s trust in another way, such as lying or breaking a promise
    • Both partners words and actions should be conducive to a trusting relationship – so not making your partner doubt your relationship by doing or saying inappropriate or disrespectful things

 

  • Respect
    • Partners in a healthy relationship should talk positively to and about each other, treating each other as equals and respecting each other’s boundaries, and respecting individual interests and pursuits – this is important to prevent a relationship from becoming co-dependent or controlling
    • Remember that your individuals first and foremost, you’re not the same person – you’re two people in a working partnership
    • Respect means there is no pressure on either end to rush anything or do anything the other does not want to do

 

  • Support
    • You and your partner should be a source of support each other in terms of emotional wellbeing and life pursuits – encouraging each other’s self-development, consoling and celebrating each other, telling each other how amazing the other is!
    • This doesn’t have to be done exclusively with words if that is not your communication style or “love language” - it can be through physical affection, gift giving, actions and acts of service, or dedicated quality time!

 

Maybe you have experienced an abusive or unhealthy relationship in the past and you’re still healing. Trauma from abusive relationships and partners can run deep and those feelings may stay on the surface for a while, but with time and plenty of emotional and social support, there is hope for a lighter future. If you’re struggling to let go of the past,  whether it is due to relationship trauma or something completely unrelated, you can book in a discovery call with me here and I would be delighted to help you start your transformational journey to a more empowered state of emotional well-being.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I really hope you found it useful!

 

Check out my therapy and coaching services here

 

Take care of yourselves and each other – speak soon!

Claire

🙂