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4 Ways to Improve Mental Health

As it’s Mental Health Awareness Week you might have anticipated a blog from me on this subject.  Self-acceptance and self-love are two main keys to better mental wellbeing but…

How do you accept yourself if you don’t like who you are?

In my work over the years I’ve learned that people dislike themselves for all kinds of reasons from experiences such as negative programing in early childhood, through to bullying, abuse, unfulfilled dreams and disappointment in relationships. The list is endless.

However one of the main reasons for lack of self-love and acceptance is FAGS. Carrying the emotional burden of Fear, Anger, Guilt and Shame plays a huge part in self-loathing.

Most of these emotions reside in your body rather than your mind. Check it out, the next time you feel a bad feeling, try to locate the place in your body where the feeling appears to live. For example you may notice that fear lives in your stomach, throat or chest.

The fact that these emotions do not grow up, that they remain as raw and intense as when they first occurred, is the reason why so many people appear to get stuck in the past. Triggered by a bad feeling they are catapulted back into an old miserable memory and find themselves thinking, feeling and acting low.

Because all of this appears to happen outside of conscious control, it can cause depression, anxiety and panic attacks. These negative feelings create other negative patterns of behavior people talk about feeling little and disempowered and stuck in states of regression. On the extreme end of the spectrum some withdraw inside whilst others resort to self-harm. As I return to my original question.

How do you accept yourself if you don’t like who you are?

Here are 4 tips for maintain positive mental health

1. Let’s start by establishing one simple fact. You are unique. There is no one else in the world exactly like you. You are special, an extra ordinary one-off! It’s true! As a result you are irreplaceable.

Please read that sentence over and over again, repeat it out loud. Then stick that sentence in that special compartment in your mind that deals with multiplication and wait for it to replay itself right up into the front of your mind.

2. Developing the ability to gently observe oneself is an essential component in the integration of negative memories

  1. Hypnosis with a qualified experienced hypnotherapist (me!) will help. Ask your hypnotherapist to teach you self-hypnosis.
  2. Develop a regular practice. Start with 10 minutes and day and build-up, as you feel more comfortable.
  3. Attend an 8-week course.
  4. A regular yoga practice will enable you to observe yourself from a more peaceful perspective. British Wheel of Yoga for a list of teachers.

3.  When we need to heal the body needs safe touch because it carries deep tension as a result of bound-up emotions. Find a good qualified body worker. There are many different types of massage, from clothed massage in Shiatsu, or gentle aromatherapy, to sports massage or deep Rolfing. Find what suits you.

4. Movement. If you’ve never experienced it try a 5 Rhythms class or workshop and shake off your stuff. Failing that, make sure you’re alone, put on a favorite track that you once enjoyed dancing too, or could imagine dancing to and turn it up. Get up, close your eyes, and begin to move your body. Keep practicing until you feel like you want to move more. When you feel ready open your eyes and dance like crazy.

According to The Mental Health Organisation 78% meet the criteria of the most common mental health issue in the UK of anxiety and depression. If you’re one of those suffering my heart genuinely goes out to you. Just putting one foot in front of the other some days can be the biggest challenge so some of my suggestions such as No 4 may be akin to asking you to fly as well!

Please keep your chin up, look up at the sky and breathe. Wrap your arms around yourself and gently rub your arms and whisper, “It’s going to be alright”. Self-soothe and care for you because you are special. You are unique. You are irreplaceable. I care about how you feel and others do too.

I’ll end with my favorite quote by Oscar Wilde “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

Please share if you think this may help someone.

 

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JUST A MOMENT…

JUST A MOMENT

Isn’t that what life is? Just a moment or should I say a series of moments. It’s true. If you really think about it, five minutes time, tomorrow or next week hasn’t happened yet and two minutes ago, yesterday or ten years ago is the past. So the only bit that’s real is now! Enjoy it!

Looking back and realizing what a great evening that was or anticipating the enjoyment of a forthcoming holiday is something we all do. Whilst it’s pleasant to reflect on the past and future, we may be in danger of actually missing out on the moment, the here and now, the present.

If you’re one of my yoga students you’ll know that I’m always directing your awareness to the presence of the ego mind. This is the part of the mind that is in charge of filtering. It sifts and sorts, categorizes and labels and is an essential part of our thinking. Without it we would all be bonkers!

Although an essential part of the mind, the ego can take over, acting as if it’s the only ‘mind’. It can gather steam with its labeling, comparing, judgments and criticism and before long it’s the only part of our inner dialogue that we hear.

If your ego mind is very busy and loud it will drown out deeper intuitive thoughts from your Self. These thoughts could be considered as natural perceptive ‘gut instincts. They have just as much, if not more value. They wish to serve you in the pursuit of being the ‘best’ you. They may for example alert you to a health issue that you are not paying attention to, this pushes you to take the necessary action that could be preventative.

Think of it like tuning a radio. If you only ever listen to Radio 1, how do you know that radio 4 exists, with all its amazing programs and information?

How do we access this deeper intuition you might ask? By being present is the answer.

Being here now equals less stress. If we want to enjoy life more and feel less pressured we need to make a conscious effort to be in the moment. Being present requires being ‘psychologically awake’ and more conscious.

Here’s How.

Take a moment to notice what you can see right now around you. Now notice every single sound near and far. Next observe what you can feel… hungry, happy, and irritable, the fabric of your clothing, the air in your nostrils, the wind on your face and so on.

Practice this as often as possible so that you become the observer… the watcher… the listener… then you may wonder ‘who am I’?

Enjoy the Easter break I wish you lots of light, love and peaceful presence.

 

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RAPE OF THE HEART

Many years ago, I did some work with the dynamic authors and couple therapists Helena Lovendal and Nick Duffell. This is where I first heard the term ‘rape of the heart’. A phrase afforded to the men who as boys, became the confidante and major source of emotional support to their mothers.

This can happen for a variety of reasons, though fundamentally as a result of the father being absent whether literally as in dead, estranged from the family, unavailable due to work commitments or more often emotionally absent. This coupled with needy or emotionally stunted mothers, sets the scene for a ‘rape of the heart’.

Similarly to girls, boys have a heightened awareness and sensitivity to their mothers needs. By the time a boy is 5 years old, he is said to know all of his mothers unfulfilled dreams and heartaches. This is mentally confusing and emotionally too much for their hearts to bear. In an effort to survive psychically, they detach themselves in favour of climbing trees and kicking footballs.

In this detachment they shut down their hearts for protection, not wanting to continue the painful connection because ultimately they cannot meet the needs of their mother or fix her pain. The fact that it is not their place to do so, is beyond their comprehension. The already emotionally overburdened boy, carries a sense of guilt for not being able to be the ‘man’ his mother needs.

Disappointed and disillusioned with the ‘absent’ husband,  the mother can unconsciously or consciously place both insidious and overt demands on her son to ‘hold the space’ emotionally for her.  This makes contributes hugely to the later failure in his relationships and the subsequent emotional and psychological pain and torment that can plague his life.

Fast forward 30 odd years. The boy, now a man, is in a troubled relationship. Sitting in front of me with his partner, I ask what they want from therapy.  He says with a pained expression “I just want her to be happy” she says with frustration “ He doesn’t get me because he never really listens to me”. Neither of them can understand what went wrong. Both tell me how much in love and happy they were in the beginning. They thought they were a perfect match.

Naturally it will take time for them to explore their dynamic and to understand some of the more subtle issues in their relationship.

If he is able to grasp the concept that the closer he and his partner become and the more intimate their relationship, the more threatening this feels for him at a deeper unconscious level. His visceral memory associates closeness and intimacy with the deep emotional wound of not being ‘enough’ for his mother.

As his partner opens up to him, expecting connection because for her, this is the foreplay, the intimacy.  He instinctively pulls away and shuts down. He is fearful that he wont be able to  ‘fix’ his partner, so it’s easier for him to disconnect.   As this unconscious reflection plays out in their relationship it threatens their connection.

Once he gains understanding and insight of this unconscious programming, he can start to clear the mental fog of confusion and become more congruent. In time he learns to feel more comfortable with the intimacy and improves his communication with his partner.

If you have found this article thought provoking please feel free to pass it on to anyone who you think would be interested too.

 

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What Keeps You Awake?

Do you struggle to get off to sleep? the-art-of-zzzz-epub-cover-size-1-300x300

Is your sleep constantly disturbed?

Do you wake up feeling as if you haven’t slept at all?

If so you’re not alone! Millions of people across the globe struggle with sleep and interestingly it seems that more women than men have problems sleeping properly.   According to a Huffington Post blog written earlier this year a staggering 46% of women compared to 36% of men reported having trouble sleeping.

Why is that? Do women always strive to do more? Are we still really bad at putting ourselves and our basic needs first?

What You Can Do To Help Yourself

There are many factors that contribute to poor sleep patterns. To address your sleep issue you’ll need to look in a number of areas, from what you eat and drink,  your exercise habits, your more general routines, the immediate environment, technology and of course your mindset.

Continue reading What Keeps You Awake?

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5 Quirky Ways To Beat Performance Anxiety

When I decided to pursue a childhood dream of singing and went along to my first performers evening, I was mortified when I got up to sing. As I opened my mouth I heard a weird strangled sound more reminiscent of an injured animal! My diaphragm locked up like a tight fist and my lips wriggled around independently like a pair of worms! The rest of my performance that evening is thankfully a fuzzy haze!
I had the classic Fight, Flight or Freeze symptoms one might experience in the face of eminent disaster such as being attacked or having a near miss in a car.

Performance Anxiety
Performance Anxiety

Singing was something I wanted to do, so I decided I was not going to be beaten by this poor experience. Using my training and experience as psychotherapist and hypnotherapist I applied to myself, all the techniques and practices I might offer a client experiencing performance anxiety.

I liken public performance to standing naked in front of a group of people! You really are exposing your most vulnerable self. This means your self-esteem is very much linked to your performance. Trouble is, if your good sense of self is totally dependent on others having to like you or think well of you, then you’re even more vulnerable because that’s is something you have no control over.

Continue reading 5 Quirky Ways To Beat Performance Anxiety