On Self Confidence: Being your true, authentic self.

What is self confidence? Confidence is something that can only be developed over time and often comes about after one has either taken a hard knock or experienced something wonderful, such as a success. Both wonderful and negative experiences can break us apart so that we are left with our true selves. And from finding our true identity, we can then grow and grow in confidence. Often the difficulties in our lives can cause much pain and a lack of self confidence. We cling to the vestiges of our lives, unsure of who we are, where we are going and what will happen to us.

I very much believe in the idea of creating the life you love, the life you want and to be the person you want to be. Often limiting beliefs can hold us back  such as ‘I am not good enough’  , ‘I can’t do this’ , ‘This is going to go wrong’ . These beliefs, if we let them, can take over our entire lives. They can often be formed by traumatic events, other people in our lives or even a negative comment from someone you love or someone you barely know. It is important to unpack and question these limiting beliefs because it is only when we learn and grow and move forward, that we will find self confidence.

I know that for me, self confidence has been a battle. However, I am learning how to develop positive thinking and positive affirmations. Affirmations are statements eg ‘ All is well’ or ‘I can conquer the world’ , which set out our positive intentions to the world. Experts recommend we write and read these affirmations daily so that they become part of our subconscious mind. This is something I am aiming to do.

It is incredibly important to be true to who you are, your real authentic self. It is only by showing up and showing our light to the world, who we are, that everything can flow. We feel better when we create and write from a place of who we really are.  Whatever you love, pursue it. Follow your passions. Whatever that passion is. Don’t be afraid to be the person you are and the person you want to be. Act ‘as if’ and it can happen, but make sure too that you look after yourself.

I recommend the following books that have helped me on my self development journey:

Light is the New Black’- Rebecca Campbell

”You are a Badass: How to stop doubting your greatness and live your most authentic life’– Jen Sincero

 ‘The Universe has your back’- Gabrielle Bernstein

These books all talk about shining your light and being the wonderful, bright, creative individual you are.  If you are struggling with a crisis in confidence, it can help sometimes to speak to a therapist or supportive family member, who can guide you on your journey to your true self.

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Beating seasonal effective disorder: setting small goals to relieve January winter blues

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It’s January, you may be feeling bloated or sluggish after the Christmas holiday period, the days are still getting dark early, it’s cold and frosty and so you feel completely demotivated. The glow of the holidays has gone leaving us still with several months until Spring. It is natural to feel low, unmotivated and a bit flat at this time of year.

So what can you do?

It’s always good at this time of year- a new year, a new start to put those Resolutions into action, in a small way. It is best to break down the goals into small pieces especially if you are feeling depressed or low.

At the start of each new week, it is good to think about what you would like to achieve, however insignificant it seems to you. This could range from a small goal such as ‘Get out of bed an hour earlier each day’, ‘Do my laundry instead of letting it build up’ to wider health, career and relationship goals. Instead of making a goal vague such as ‘Exercise more’- it is best to set specific, achievable goals such as ‘Exercise for 1 hour this morning’. Specific goals tend to get more results because vague goals will end up being just that.

I find that it is best to write down my goals in a notebook and to make them achievable for me. Tick lists can be useful too but the aim is not to overload yourself with how much you want to do, but to take each goal carefully and in its own time. Give yourself a day or time scale to do it in and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t achieve it, just make the goal more realistic and achievable next time.

Procrastination  is my particular nemesis, as I know it is for so many people. However, if it becomes a problem you must ask yourself what is it about that particular goal that I don’t want to do? For example, if you fear something or struggle with motivation try to reflect on its benefits and why you set that goal in the first place or what you can do so you can reach your goal.

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As always, the goal must be achievable- achieving our goals gives a great sense of satisfaction and boosts self esteem. You can either make the goals on  your own or with a therapist, life coach or family member.

It is very important if you are suffering from depression to not beat yourself up if you aren’t doing as much as you would normally. Depression brings a whole host of symptoms including demotivation and despondency- however there are many things that can help you feel better. If you are really struggling please see your Doctor (GP) therapist or psychiatrist if you are under one.

At Brighton Wellness Centre, Jessica Valentine helps people struggling with many health issues to feel better. Jessica runs therapy sessions to boost wellness, recovery and self esteem. For more see the main website. http://www.brightonwellnesscentre.co.uk.

Lastly, remember to always be thinking about what positive goals you can achieve. Goal setting really will change your life for the better!

Mental Health New Years Resolutions

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It’s that time of year again, tinsel and fairy lights adorn houses and trees, Christmas songs blare from the radio, mulled wine is served and not to mention advent calendars, nativity plays and more. This time of year is a time to be with family and friends, whatever faith you are.  This can mean that the Christmas period can be a challenging time for those suffering from mental ill health- either due to isolation and loneliness or because of the overtly social time frame.

So, if you are feeling like this the best thing to do is to either talk to someone you trust, phone a helpline or charity if you need , speak to a psychotherapist or use other coping mechanisms, eg.  journalling, mindfulness, deep breathing or relaxation CD’s.  Whichever works for you make sure you don’t bottle things up.

Being that it is coming to the end of the year and looking ahead to 2017, I thought I would share some new years resolutions for positive mental health that you can implement in your life.

1) I will make sure to invest in self-care this year.

Self-care means I will actually take time out of my day to check in with myself and decide what I need. This isn’t selfish, it is vital to survival of the bleak winter period in particular.  Each day  I will invest in self care, whether its running a warm bubble bath and soaking for half an hour, journaling out my negative feelings and replacing it with positive ones, colouring for relaxation or just getting some much needed down time in front of the TV in my PJs- make sure I invest every day and you do too, in self-care activities.

2) I will make sure I go outside more.

In the winter, I am definitely more prone to curling up like a doormouse and hibernating inside- in the comfort of my warm home, chatting to friends on my smart phone and computer.  I am also a sucker for my blanket and a warm mug of hot chocolate. While this is good some of the time, I know that I need to push myself out more into the cold and bright mornings.  So, my resolution is to make sure I go out and get enough light and Vitamin D to boost my mood and health and enough exercise to keep my mind and heart healthy.

3) I will make sure to be present.

A friend of mine gave me this tip when she said –‘Stay in the Now and Enjoy the Moment’ .  I definitely need to do this more and not worry myself too much.  Staying present means that the only moment is now- try and focus on something positive in the present and not worry too far ahead.

4) I will try not to worry what others think and don’t beat myself up.

Easier said than done, this resolution had come about due to having people pleasing tendencies.  I hate upsetting anyone.  This means that I will often overthink or worry about others and what they think.  This year I resolve to spend less time fretting and not to beat myself up over small things that turn from a mountain into a molehill!

5) I will have a more positive mind-set.

This means I will not be ashamed of how I am feeling and feel bad because of it.  I will be more accepting of my feelings and needs.  I will know that even if I am at rock bottom, ‘This too shall pass’ and I will find a way to get through adversity and be positive.  I will actively think positive thoughts and push myself to achieve my goals.

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or any other mental illness please reach out for help.  Contact The Brighton Wellness Centre at http://www.brightonwellnesscentre.co.uk or 07810 744 821.  Phone sessions, online sessions and face-to-face sessions are available.

Looking forward to a happier, healthier 2017 and wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah!

 

Changing habitual behaviour for a happier life – anxiety disorders.

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Do you have behavioural habits that you know you are repeating over and over- and want to learn how to stop them continuing?

Our behaviour is such a challenging thing to change because the mind and our thought patterns and chemistry are so complex- and so individually unique. Once we begin certain behaviours and repeat them over and over, they become automatic and our brain continues to act in the same way, unless we take control and change it. This is to do with the way the brain and an organ called the amygdala processes hormones such as adrenaline and the memory of previous behaviour patterns.

So, how can we change negative or destructive behaviour patterns which perpetuate illnesses such as anxiety disorders? (Please note this is similar in other disorders eg addictions but this article will focus on anxiety disorders, however it can apply to you too.).

The most important thing if you have an anxiety disorder- this can be generalised anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD, social anxiety and more… is that you can change your habits but it will take work, perseverance and support.

I have suffered from social anxiety in the past, coupled with depression. This made it extremely difficult for me to go out to occasions where there were lots of people, for fear of negative judgement, such as weddings and on public transport. The psychotherapists I worked with taught me that these thoughts were ‘irrational’ and I had various courses of Cognitive Behavioural therapy  to unpack my negative thoughts and limiting beliefs on paper .

However, what really helped me to change my habits around going out and socialising was something I call- exposure therapy. By going out with a few friends and then on the tube, around more people I slowly desensitised my brain to my new surroundings. I then found I actually wanted to go out more and it didn’t feel quite as frightening as when I stayed indoors and cancelled my plans. I didn’t want to hide away.

For those of us with anxiety disorders, we can be triggered by anything in the subconscious and our body chemicals (cortisol and adrenaline). I still have bad days and I know you will too. Yet, you can get better and feel stronger, if you take charge.

If exposure therapy sounds too big an idea- break it down. As mentioned, I had CBT and psychotherapy but there are so many therapies out there that can help too and everyone will have unique symptoms and triggers. Talk with a qualified therapist or your GP to see what therapy plan is best for you.

You may find that Mindfulness CDs work for you to help you stay present and do deep breathing or meditation, art therapy, hypnotherapy or in depth talking therapies. CBT can also be beneficial in changing behaviour patterns but this will depend on the individual.

If you need help changing your negative behavioural patterns, get in touch with Jessica Valentine, therapist at Brighton Wellness Centre.

Reactions to illness stigma: living with others judgement

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At Brighton Wellness Centre, we are well aware of the mental health stigma that pervades our society. Even in 2016, with the many pioneering organisations and charities helping those with mental illness, with the rise of good medications that work (such as anti depressants and mood stabilisers) and an awareness of psychotherapy, there is still stigma. People can react negatively, be harsh or not understanding because they do not understand the complexity that is mental ill health and the effects it has on the brain and behaviour.

Common stigmatised reactions may include language such as ‘You aren’t crazy, why do you need to take those pills?’, ‘You should be locked up’,’You are behaving so bipolar‘, ‘Depression means you are weak’ and so on. Mental illness is still sadly associated by some (who have no experience of it) with Doctors white coats, straight jackets, life long hospital stays and never making a full, complete recovery. This is completely ridiculous, however it will take generations to change these attitudes, although we are beginning to turn the tide!

While these perceptions of mental illness may have been the case 60 or more years ago, today the mental health world in the UK and other Western countries has moved on. Since the 1950s, the rise of medications that worked to help illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis, depressive/anxiety disorders, eating disorders etc have improved drastically. With the rise of SSRI medications- that work on the brain as anti depressants as well as newly developed anti psychotic medications, mental illness sufferers are able, in most cases, to return to their normal lives. This coupled with psychotherapy can truly change lives. The policy also of recovery is a great shift from the past. Psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists don’t just aim to manage symptoms – they aim to set you on the path to recovery.

The feeling of judgement and of someone thinking you are ‘crazy’ is awful, sad and terrifying. For every person that understands and supports, you may get those who can’t and won’t understand you. You can lose friends or loved ones due to this- which is appalling. Support networks are badly needed for those with an illness in particular. So, don’t be stigmatised to those with an illness. Help and love your friend and loved one, give to them, provide a listening ear and a hug.

As someone with experience of mental health, I would say there is still a long way to go in terms of stigma. I talk about and blog about my experiences, raise money for mental health charities and have just started reaching a wider audience. However, I still feel I cannot fully disclose my illness under my real name. This is due to the fact that it is still not hugely understood in society, so to be associated with it could be upsetting. Yet, I hope that within a decade or two, this will change. I blog to change attitudes and highlight awareness which is badly needed.

This is why I support Jessica Valentine at Brighton Wellness Centre. She focuses particularly on womens wellness and provides a therapeutic setting and a listening ear to all her clients. Psychotherapy of any kind is truly beneficial in helping you manage symptoms and difficult emotions. By taking the step to going to psychotherapy, you are battling stigma as well as helping yourself move forward.  Remember, there is nothing wrong or weak in talking to a therapist (whatever you may have been told)- in fact you are being incredibly strong for seeking help and reaching out. Hopefully, any therapy you undergo will also help you to change your life for the better.  Reach out today.

The Importance of talking through therapy or support networks.

When dealing with mental health issues of any kind, it is so important to talk it through with a recognised professional and/or your support network. Talking through difficult and painful emotions (of depression, anxiety for example), with someone you trust is vital for mental wellbeing and balance.

If you are lucky to have a good, stable support network- utilise it. Your friends and/or family are so important at promoting happiness and keeping you well, if they in turn are a calming, stable influence on you. Positive support promotes wellness in all of us.

Whether its one friend, a family member or an extended support network on or offline, talking to those you love and who care for you is vital. If you need further support there are health charities like the Samaritans– who are always on hand to listen on their helpline. Mind charity are also a brilliant support and resource and check out Rethink Mental Illness. All promote a non stigmatised view of mental illness and a listening ear.

Don’t suffer in silence- Tell someone you trust how bad you are feeling. Share your thoughts with a professional who can help you unpack the difficult emotions you are feeling.This is so important too if you are considering psychotherapy. There are various therapies that we offer at the Brighton Wellness Centre that can really help. Whether its one to one talking therapy, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy to help change behaviour patterns) or in depth psychoanalysis there is something to help you and everyone struggling with mental health issues.

It doesn’t matter what issue, disorder or behaviour pattern you need help with, there will be a therapy to help you back to wellness!  We particularly specialise in womens wellbeing and are here to assist you with any concerns you have.

To contact us further, email Jessica or call her via this website.