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How mindfulness in nature can help with mental health

 

One of the key things I have learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lock downs and restrictions is how much enjoying nature has been a huge part of helping my own mental health.

Enjoying nature for me comes in many different ways including dog walking, horse riding and running and can often be a very welcome distraction when day to day life gets difficult or overwhelming.

One of the things I love about where I live at the moment is that I am very close to different types of nature and can enjoy lakes, woods, plains and farmlands.

 

Nature and mental health

Studies have shown that exposure to nature can reduce negative emotions, stress, anxiety and depression (see link at the end for research paper). Studies have also found that whilst being in nature is great, paying attention to the nature around you is even better for mental health.

 

So why is mindfulness helpful?

Mindfulness was incorporated into psychological interventions by Kabat-Zinn in 1990 and can be...

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How anxiety affects sleep and insomnia

Uncategorized Oct 16, 2020
 

How does anxiety affect sleep?

It is really common for me in clinic to work with people who are really struggling with sleep. There are a huge number of things that can affect sleep so in this blog I am going to talk about how anxiety affects sleep and then give you some suggestions as to how you can help yourself if sleep is an issue for you.

This is quite a personal blog for me because I have struggled with sleep throughout most of my life, especially when I have been experiencing mental health problems. Many of the suggestions that I am going to talk about here are things that I still use or have found to be really helpful.

Anxiety

Anxiety is frequently connected to sleeping problems. Excess worry and fear make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Sleep deprivation can then make anxiety worse resulting in a negative cycle involving insomnia and anxiety disorders.

Anxiety is a feeling of worry and unease. It’s normal to experience anxiety occasionally...

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What is optimism and how can you learn to be more optimistic?

Uncategorized Oct 09, 2020
 

Optimism:

noun: optimism

hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.

 

One of the key things about optimism is how we explain something that has happened to us, this is called an explanatory style.

For someone who is low in optimism will have many negative thoughts about the situation and themselves. A person who is high in optimism will look for positives or positive solutions that they can implement in the situation.

As an example, say you had lost your job recently due to layoffs. An optimistic person would consider the opportunity to find a new job even if they were sad to have lost their old job. Whereas a pessimistic person would dwell on fact such as not everyone was let go so there must be something wrong with them and these negative thoughts will most likely affect them getting future jobs.

Your explanatory style is how you explain your problems and setbacks to yourself and whether you choose a positive or negative way of solving the issue....

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How to mentally prepare for a big event

 

For a lot of my clients there is often a big event coming up that is causing them anxiety. In some cases it's doing a public talk, in others it might be getting on a plane.

Big events come in all shapes and sizes and are unique to the person who will be experiencing it.

This blog is a great one for me to do today as I am preparing to take part in the Virtual London Marathon on the 4th October 2020, at time of writing that is just a couple of days away...

When I work with a client with a big event coming up or even work on myself in the run up to something big, we work on a wide range of anxiety issues and confidence building techniques.

Some of these take a little time to master but I thought it was worth sharing some of the best tips so that you can have a go yourself.

Don't leave prep until the last possible minute

I see this a lot and it can be very frustrating, clients have to give a talk next week and they want to know if I can help.

The simple answer is yes, but not nearly as...

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What is “mind over matter” and is it a good idea?

 

I was inspired to write this blog because of a really interesting conversation I had with another healthcare professional in relation to my marathon training at the moment.

During the conversation I said quite flippantly that the training was just mind over matter and as I have learnt many ways of controlling my mind over the years, I’m pretty sure I would be fine.

Later during a half marathon, I had quite a lot of time (I’m not a very fast runner) to think about this statement and consider what does it really mean and Is it in fact a good idea?

 

What do we mean by “mind over matter”?

Whenever I have heard this phrase used, it seems to mean using mental fortitude to overcome some physical pain or barrier and therefore succeed at something that maybe seemed impossible or unlikely to achieve.

I figured I would check online and see if this was correct, this was the Oxford dictionary definition:

“The use of willpower to overcome physical...

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Typical behaviours of people with low self confidence

 

This blog is based on examples that I have come across both in the therapy room and generally in conversation.

These things are incredibly common in people who have low self-confidence and I always find it such a shame.

With a little work, even the people who do the following can learn to be confident.

Overly critical of themselves...

We all know these people, even if you think something they have done is great, they will find negatives or criticisms of their performance.

This can often be accompanied by what we call maximising and minimising where a person will minimise their own positives or skills and maximise others. This gives them a very skewed view of the world where everyone around them becomes much better by comparison.

Self-destructive behaviours

There are a number of reasons why someone with low confidence will engage in behaviours such as excessive eating or drinking, drug taking or excessive risk taking. Lacking in self-confidence is a big reason why people do this.

...

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6 tips for managing anxiety as we get back to “normal”

anxiety managing anxiety Aug 28, 2020
 

I have had a lot of clients and friends talk to me recently about feeling even more anxious as we go back to normal than they did at the start of lockdown.

As I write this in the UK, we are coming out of a nationwide lockdown in a series of steps. This means that the government rules and guidelines are changing regularly and as science is reviewed and tested, scientific recommendations are changing also.

It seems to me that in the run up to lockdown there was anxiety around jobs, paying the bills and the changes that we all had to make. At the time however the rules were simple, don’t go out unless you really have to.

What we are seeing now is that the rules are much more complex and nuanced and, in some cases, they depend upon where you live and what the case numbers are like in that area.

So, I have some tips to help you navigate this new and complicated return to normal:

  1. Accept that a certain amount of stress and anxiety is normal

The world is going through a pretty...

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What causes Anxiety?

When we experience the symptoms of anxiety such as the heart racing or feeling sweaty and shaky we are actually experiencing our bodily response to fear.

Our fear response comes about because our brains have evolved to keep us alive for as long as possible, his means that it is hard wired to fear things that threaten our lives.

What can happen in people with anxiety is that the fear response doesn’t only react to life threatening situations, it starts to respond to situations where death is very unlikely.

An example of this is fear of flying, statistically the risk of death is low but people with a fear of flying experience sometimes very extreme symptoms when faced with even the thought of flying.

Anxiety can also come about because of a fear of looking stupid, this might seem less important than life threatening situations but actually we evolved to be social creatures and our survival depends on that. Being laughed at, pushed away or ignored could have had a very dangerous...

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How anxiety affects procrastination and motivation.

I have decided to lump procrastination and motivation together in this blog as I find that they often work in tandem with each other.

Often when we procrastinate we lack in motivation and I wanted to write a blog that would cover both aspects and give a good idea of how you can start to notice that your anxiety is playing a part and then do something about it.

 

What is anxiety

For my full blog on this head here, but the short form is that anxiety is a fear of the future. This can be a specific event or just a general unsettling fear of something going wrong.

Anxiety is a very normal process of protecting you from harm but when we talk about people who struggle with anxiety as a mental health issue, this natural process has gone a bit wrong and is becoming overprotective to the point that it negatively affects your life.

Anxiety is linked to the fight or flight response in our bodies that help us prepare for life threatening situations and so comes with a range of physical...

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How you can use self-hypnosis and visualisation to improve performance

Uncategorized Jun 05, 2020
 

Visualisation is a well documented and utilised technique. It is often used by sports people to improve performance and mindset.

How do you do it?

Put simply, you imagine what you want to visualise! Build a picture of the situation in your mind making sure that the details are clear in your mind.

Start small

Imagine a lemon in your mind.

Imagine what it looks like, what you can see and how detailed you can make it. You might be able to imagine the small pits in the skin and the dried stalk remnant at the end.

Then go further, can you imagine how it would smell? How would it feel in your hand?

Imagine cutting it and smelling the juice even more strongly. Imagine even, what it might taste like!

Is your mouth watering yet????

That's how strong it can be.

Find out how you can learn self-hypnosis and visualisation from the comfort of your own home HERE.

Make it bigger

Take that same process and apply it to the thing you want to improve. Build it up in the same way, what you can see and...

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Discover which common negative thinking patterns you have.

The way we think has a huge impact on our mental health. If you are looking to overcome your anxiety or just improve your mental health then first you need to know what thoughts are making things worse.

This download gives you a list of the most common ways we think negatively. All you need to do is see which ones you do most.

Also, keep an eye on your emails! I will be sending you a really useful video that goes with this exercise.