People lead stressful lives. We are surrounded by stress inducing factors whether at work, at college, at home or in our relationships. Positive events in our life can also be stressful. Getting married, starting a new job or moving overseas may all be positive events, but they can be associated with intense stress. For a lot of people change of itself can be challenging.
There, sadly, seems to be a taboo around people admitting to feeling stressed. This can result in stress building up and leading to a feeling of low mood and physical issues. It really does not have to be like that - there are ways of looking to deal with these things before a stressful situation becomes a longer-term problem.
It may be that you do not want to admit to friends, colleagues or family that things are difficult for you and that you may not be coping well. You may be the one that feels that you have to keep things together whilst others that depend on you fall apart. At times like that you can turn to a psychotherapist and counsellor to explore things in a completely open and non-judgemental manner.
There may be a perception that people only see psychotherapists and counsellors when they have a mental issue. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dealing with things at an early stage can help to resolve things before they lead to a personal crisis.
Seeing a psychotherapist and counsellor is not an ordeal or anything extraordinary. We are normal professional people available to you to talk things through in a calm, considered and safe environment.
Please open this video link to have an ideal of how a therapy session may be:
Top Ten Tips to Help to Reduce Stress
Stress is one of the most difficult things to deal with as it a real issue for many people in their everyday lives. Some stress can be helpful and necessary as it enables the body to be ready to deal with challenges and tasks, but when it is excessive and or not released it can lead to physical disease as well as low mood and emotional trauma. There are a number of things that we can all do to help to minimise the effect of stress:
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. This may not be what you want to hear when some or most of these substances are used to 'help you deal' with stressful situations, but be aware of the risks and perhaps moderate your intake.
Take exercise. Exercise helps to let the body restore itself from stress induced anxiety – the fight or flight hormones can be utilised and bring the body back to its natural state.
Get enough sleep. The events of the day are processed and stored in the correct memory banks during sleep, and the body undergoes a restorative process during the night.
Relaxation techniques - take time to breathe deeply. There are many relaxation techniques available running from guided visualisation CDs to yoga, and many other things that may resonate with you.
Mindfulness. Be aware of yourself, your body and focus on the now rather than tomorrow. Be present in the current task.
Nutrition and hydration. The body craves good food (not meaning expensive) and water. Attending to this gives the body the building blocks for health, and allows the body to break down and eliminate toxins.
Talk. Sharing problems with family, friends or others can help. Talking to a counsellor / psychotherapist allows you to explore issues with someone who is impartial, non-judgemental and helps to facilitate a healing process.
Write it down. This is a useful technique to both crystallise things that need to be done, and to note down the things that are bothering us. This can be releasing.
Manage time, including ‘me’ time. Doing things in an organised way can help, as can ensuring that we have enough time to do the things that are important to us. Prioritise ‘me’ time by booking that time into your working schedule as if it were a work appointment that cannot be missed.
Say no. Do not be afraid to say that you cannot take on a task at the moment, or that you are not able to do something. Be aware of yourself and your own limits and only take on what you can properly manage.
Psychotherapy only when in Crisis?
There is a common myth or feeling that people need to see counsellors or psychotherapists when they are at a crisis point in their lives, whether this be the result of a relationship breakdown, redundancy, the loss of a loved one or for any other stress caused issue. It may be the case that some people only consider the option when consulting their GP, and when faced with being prescribed anti-depressants. The taboo around mental health is so powerful that many people are afraid to admit to their colleagues or their friends that they are feeling unable to cope for fear of being considered to be mentally unwell.
The resultant effect of this state of affairs is depressing. We are seeing record levels of individuals regularly taking anti-depressants, high levels of alcohol and or drug dependency, in addition to significant numbers of people committing suicide, particularly young men.
Counselling and psychotherapy, far from being a last resort therapy, is there from an early stage and can really help individuals to understand what is going on, and can help them to look at their lives through a new lens. This can help self-empowerment and finding new solutions to what may seem to be persistent and intractable problems. It can also help individuals to find meaning in their lives and a way forward.
I also work with couples who are happy in their relationship but who are striving to find a common language and understand why they may react to particular things in the way that they do.
Something that is often overlooked is that happy events in life can also lead to stress – marriage, looking to move in with a partner, going to university, going abroad to work, competing in sports. Psychotherapy can help individuals to overcome mental blocks and achieve to the best of their ability.
It is never too early to consult with a counsellor and psychotherapist, and may be the one thing that you wished that you had done far earlier.
Health and Wellbeing – A Holistic View
It is becoming more widely accepted that for a person to be able to be at his or her optimum, all parts of the being need to be nurtured. Seeing a doctor to help to alleviate back pain may well bring some pain relief, but if the pain is due to an unresolved emotional issue, the pain will return. If stress is not acknowledged and released, physical disease may result. If a person receives counselling or psychotherapy without embracing physical activity or exercise, the person may feel better but the full benefit may not be embodied.
The medical system can provide first rate care for those in need of treatment, whether for physical or mental issues. What the conventional system does not often do is look at the patient as a whole and see how the different parts of the being – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual – interact to affect the being in particular ways.
For over 28 years, Katrine Cakuls (trained in osteopathic manual practice and physiotherapy) has been helping patients to feel better naturally, through hands-on treatment. She has worked extensively in England, Canada, Australia and America, addressing all levels of fitness and health, from wheelchair-bound patients, to office workers, and Olympic athletes, with ages ranging from newborns to 100 year olds. Her gentle, yet effective, approach, works to decrease pain and tension, as well as improve general health through restoring movement in areas of the body that are blocked by physical and/or emotional trauma.
With her understanding that all parts of the body are interconnected, and having considered all aspects of her patient's life, Katrine is able to assess movement in the body's systems. She can then isolate the strains that are the root cause of the problem, and gently work with the body to bring optimal healing.
Take the opportunity to see Katrines work.
Online Counselling and Psychotherapy
I offer counselling and psychotherapy online through FaceTime or Skype (video link), by appointment, so you are able to work with me wherever you are based and whatever your circumstances. This gives you absolute flexibility to have counselling and psychotherapy in your home, when you are on holiday or away on business. This means no more travelling to appointments and no more having to make arrangements for childcare or other arrangements.
During the online session you should be somewhere where you cannot be overheard (for confidentiality reasons), and where you will not be disturbed or distracted.
Payment for each session can easily be made through by direct bank transfer, and is to be made prior to the relevant session.
Can talking therapy help abuse survivors
Click here to read my published article which discusses Talk Therapy as a healing process in abuse survival.
Welcome to Your Wellbeing Matters - Depression in men - March 2016
Jon (not his real name) followed me into the counselling room, sat on the chair with his arms folded over his chest, looked at me and said ‘what can counselling do for me, it’s only for people who are mentally ill’. He was in his fifties, worked as a lorry driver until recently when he was made redundant, and considered himself a ‘real man’. He didn’t want to be in the room, but had been referred by his GP.
Putting some of this into context, Jon had been born into a family in a rough area and had attended difficult schools. He had been in a bit of trouble with the odd fight and drugs. His GP had diagnosed him as having depression.
We started our work together. His story was harrowing. His father had been abusive (physically and emotionally) to both Jon and his mother leading to Jon being regularly ‘beaten up’.
This was the first time that Jon had ever discussed his past, and how he felt about it. He hadn’t discussed it with his wife or children. He said ‘how could I admit that I felt that I couldn’t cope, I had to be strong for them, I had to be a man. How could I turn up to work and be a wimp’.
As the weeks unfolded, Jon became more and more comfortable about discussing his emotions with me. He began to feel better, and found that he could face life again. He picked up on his music and found that he could have a more open relationship with his wife and children. Jon discovered that it was OK to be a man, and to have emotions and to discuss them.
The statistics tell their own story:
Three out of four deaths by suicide are committed by men.
One in eight men in the UK are diagnosed with a mental health problem.
On average thirteen men end their life by suicide in the UK each day.
Suicide is now the leading cause of death in the UK for people aged between 20 and 34.
So why is depression so prevalent amongst men, and why is the suicide rate so high?
Jon’s story shows how he felt he had to be strong and silent. It seems that many men find it difficult to share their problems. Rather than getting help when needed the emotions are repressed and not dealt with, leading to rather more major issues later, often in depressive episodes.
As a male, I was brought up with the expectation of demonstrating a strong male stereotype. I was expected to do well at sports and academically. I was expected to be a ‘breadwinner’ in a male professional capacity.
Perhaps, the change or dilution of traditional male and female roles also lead to confusion. Are young men supposed to hold doors open for women, are they meant to pay on dates? How does this work alongside feminist views? I am not taking any position here, but wonder how it all impacts on individuals in a fast changing and confusing world.
Early intervention can help to prevent concerns and worries from becoming a crisis. Seeing a counsellor at an early stage can help to head off a spiral into depression. Sometimes all it takes is to be listened to, perhaps for the first time ever. A counselling session is confidential. Nobody needs to know that you are seeing a counsellor.