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Random acts of kindness, giving and mental health

kindness mental health Dec 25, 2020

I am writing this blog just a couple of days before Christmas and goodness me, what a year 2020 has been!

Christmas is generally a time of giving gifts and many people this year will be unable to spend time with loved ones and give their presents to them in person. This is really sad as for many people, the joy of giving gifts is in people’s reactions to their surprises.

It is for me anyway.

So, I thought I would spend some time looking into giving and random acts of kindness and consider how they can help our mental health. I also wanted to give you some suggestions so that if you fancied having a go, you can get some ideas.

 

Giving without expecting anything in return

Where a random act of kindness differs from normal present giving, is that you do it without expecting anything in return. So whereas at Christmas you all give each other gifts, the key aspect of a random act of kindness is that you just do it to be kind! You can even do it anonymously just to make...

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Why is self-compassion so hard?

Uncategorized Dec 18, 2020
 

I came across some of the research around self-compassion as part of my masters in psychology studies. On an academic level, the concept of self-compassion interested me and was relevant to the case study I was working with however there was also a personal interest.

The more I read about self-compassion the more I realised something a little difficult to stomach, I was actually pretty poor at practicing it myself….

One of the amazing things about furthering my studies and working as a hypnotherapist is that I get to experience a wide range of different ways that people learn to manage their anxiety and often have to take a bit of a look at myself and consider how I deal with issues that come up for me.

So, realising that I am not great at self-compassion is a little tricky for a therapist but also a great opportunity to learn.

In order to get better at something, I personally like to understand it so this blog is going to consider what self-compassion is, why someone might...

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Building a connection with nature for better mental health

mental health nature Dec 11, 2020
 

There is more and more evidence coming out that nature has a really positive impact on people's wellbeing and their mental health. For many people though, nature is not an important part of their lives.

In a study done by the National Trust and Derby University they found that only 19% of children regularly notice wildlife, 57% of adults rarely or never watched the sunrise in the last year and only 27% of people regularly watched the clouds.

All of these activities are completely free and have been shown to make us feel good so the question is, how can we improve our relationship and connectedness to nature?

Noticing nature

There are a few simple ways that you can simply notice nature more often in your everyday life. This simple awareness can be built into whatever time suits your lifestyle from noticing nature before you get into your car in the morning to organising family walks.

  • Watching the wildlife, the easiest is often noticing the birds
  • Listening to bird song
  • Smelling...
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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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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.