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Football (It’s coming home) to mindfulness

Football (It’s coming home) to mindfulness

  Football (It’s coming home) to mindfulness I was delighted to see pictures of the England football team practising relaxation, mindfulness and yoga techniques as part of their post-match cool-down.   It really has made it to the mainstream! More importantly, it gets the message out…

Music to my ears:  Stress busting tip 3

Music to my ears: Stress busting tip 3

  I’ve been spending this week considering the subject of stress in support of Mental Health Awareness Week 2018.  The central question asked being “Are we coping?” Singing for stress In my profession as a counsellor we are actively encouraged to monitor our stress levels…

All work and no play:  Stress busting tip no 2

All work and no play: Stress busting tip no 2

All work and no play

In support of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I’ve been considering the ways in which we can manage stress, which is this year’s theme.  In the second of my mini-blogs I thought I was raise the concept of PLAY!  Yes you heard me right.

Now I know that as adults we find this a difficult concept.  We are too old, too tired, too busy to be “messing around”.  But might we be missing a trick here?  It’s fair to say that in recent year’s life feels like it’s got a bit serious and pressured.  This doesn’t help our stress levels as we struggle to meet competing demands on our time, take the kids to their after school clubs and Instagram our lunch.  As a counsellor I often use a tool called the “Wheel of Life” with clients.  It’s a Wheel (you guessed that) which splits life into segments which we then score out of 10 in terms of how happy we are we them.  Categories include things like, “work”, “relaxation”, “relationships” but there is also a category called “fun”.    Remember that?  No?  My clients invariably can’t either.  Whenever I say “So what do you do for fun?” it usually draws blank looks.  As adults in an ever increasingly serious world it feels like many of us (not all) have forgotten how to play.  And yet given the opportunity how many of us can resist skimming stones by the river, paddling in the sea or playing with our kid’s games.  Yet we seem to need an excuse to do this.  I have two abiding happy memories which stand out for me in terms of play.  One time I went down a huge mud slide screaming all the way down (then laughed even harder at my husband who being heavier than me travelled faster and almost hit the haystacks at the end) and also the time I went to a kite-flying event on Lytham Beach.  I got so excited I bought my own kite and flew it for ages, watching as it bobbed and weaved in the sky.  And during that time did I once think of work, stresses or things I had to do?  No.  I was totally lost in the experience, having a mindful moment, totally focussing on fun and flying my kite.

So I invite you to consider how you might just incorporate a little fun or play into your life.  It might be something as simple as buying a set of marbles and having a game.  Going roller-skating, climbing or maybe re-reading a favourite childhood book.  Adult colouring books are all the rage and are a great way to bring some mindfulness into your life.  In fact that reminds me, I got a new one for my birthday.  Just off to colour in a cat!

Cat colouring book with pens

Get up and go!  Stress busting tip No. 1

Get up and go! Stress busting tip No. 1

This blog has been produced as part of a mini-series on stress for Mental Health Awareness Week. Get up and Go Hello! Firstly, I may have set myself up for a fall here by deciding to be grander than I am!  Mini-series!  It just sounded…

Finding your tribe!  It’s all about community!

Finding your tribe! It’s all about community!

Taking the plunge I was recently invited to a Small Business meeting in my local community.  I’ve been meaning to try networking on several occasions but it’s always felt a bit scary so I’ve put it off.  I guess a part of me has also…

Walking back to happiness

Walking back to happiness

Walking has very much been a theme of mine all year.  At the back end of 2016 I decided I wanted to broaden my practice in a more creative way and in one of those weird moments of synchronicity, a client sent me an article on “Walking Therapy”.   I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of it, but the concept resonated with me and I felt it was a good fit for me in terms of my next steps (ooh a walking metaphor!!).

What is Walking Therapy?

Walking therapy is essentially taking your therapy or counselling outdoors.  Instead of sitting face to face with your counsellor, you walk side by side, discussing your issues as you walk in nature.  There’s something quite freeing about being outdoors and this often gives clients greater space both mentally and physically to ponder their lives and work things out.   Furthermore, being outdoors is the perfect backdrop for just being “in the moment”.  When I notice a client becoming anxious because their issues and thoughts are spinning out of control, I will ask them to stop and be mindful of the environment around them.  I’ll perhaps get them to focus on a particular view or flower.  This momentary pause allows clients to gather themselves, creating space around their thoughts and calming the mental chatter.  Being outdoors in nature also allows clients to see quite clearly that there is a world outside of their problems and this can give client’s renewed hope and alter their perspective.  We can all feel hemmed in and stuck but walking outdoors opens up our lives and our thoughts facilitating a sense of hope and new possibilities.  Clients can set the pace which can make for a very dynamic session allowing the person to feel energised and motivated.  Alternatively, clients can choose to take things slowly, meandering through nature allowing their thoughts to come and go gently.  This can give time and space to reflect on life and how people want their lives to be.  By doing counselling differently people realise they can live their lives differently too.  They have a choice.

There is much research to show the benefits of walking in nature and taking your counselling outdoors.

Speaking personally

On a personal note, at the start of 2017 I embarked on a challenge to walk 1000 miles during the year.  It’s roughly 3 miles a day or 20 miles a week for the whole year.  It’s been an revelation!!  I’ve really opened my eyes to what’s around me and it’s been fascinating.  I’ve loved watching the landscape change as a new season emerges then fades!  I’ve loved the metaphors attached to nature.  Seeing the new growth in the Spring turn into the full bloom of summer.  I’ve noticed the impact of walking on my mood and my overall sense of well-being and I know that this is something I will continue long after the challenge is over.  To be able to combine such a great activity with a job I love is fantastic!  I feel very lucky.

Next steps

In counselling we often talk about “being on the right path” or “mountains to climb”.  To be able to illustrate that physically really adds to the experience and consolidates the ideas being discussed.  So if you have your own mountain to climb or want to know if you are on the right path consider walking therapy.

It really is a great way of “walking back to happiness” and the views are lovely up here!

Coping with recent traumatic events

Coping with recent traumatic events

  It’s one week on from the Manchester bombing and it feels like the world has shifted on its axis.   Many lives changed in that one moment and, as observers of this tragic event our lives changed too as we try and make sense of…

It only takes a moment.  Being mindful.

It only takes a moment. Being mindful.

There’s been a hoo-hah about “Mindfulness” for some time now.  To some it’s the latest thing, a panacea for all ills.  There’s “mindful parenting”, “mindful birthing”, “mindfulness for depression” to name a few.  To others, it’s still deeply rooted in mystery and weirdness with images…

Daydream believer – How to relax

Daydream believer – How to relax

It’s Sunday and I’m wondering how I’m going to spend the day.  It’s been a busy week with work and family stuff and my head is scattered and unfocussed.  In an effort to help my husband asked “what do you need to do to relax?”.  I’ll be honest, I was a bit flummoxed!  I’m really good at asking this of my clients but realised that I’d forgotten to address this issue myself.

I went through the usual suspects; go for a walk, go for a coffee, head for the gym but none of them hit the mark today.  They just didn’t feel right.  So instead I decided to do things a little differently, I went and sat in a different part of the house with a book and a magazine.

The room faces out onto our garden (eclectic at best but green at least) and I just lay on the sofa for a while listening to the birds and the wind!  Then it launched it down with rain and I just enjoyed being inside watching the weather unfold, ever changing.  Grey and rainy one minute, sunny the next.  We do have interesting weather in this country!   It was great to just pause for a while, watch the clouds gather and disperse and just day-dream.  When did I forget to do that!!  I also realised I hadn’t looked at my phone for hours!!  Perhaps that explained the fact that I felt a little calmer, less busy in my head.

We are constantly bombarded with information saying “Buy this”, “Do this”, “Don’t eat that”, ” you MUST have this”.  I don’t think I’m on my own when I say it gets a little tiring and overwhelming.  So maybe in future what I need to do to relax is let go of the “doing” stuff.  The stimulation and incessant mental chatter created by technology keeps me hooked into “busyness”.  But the thing is …I don’t always want to be busy.  Sometimes I just want to daydream……

Make a start

Make a start

I’ve been meaning to start a counselling/well-being blog for ages but in fairness have just been putting it off! Procrastination you might say! I have found all manner of excuses. “I don’t know what to write about, I’ve nothing interesting to say, I have a…