Bullying in the British Culture: Learn to stand up for yourself and your friends

I believe there is an underlying manner of bullying within the United Kingdom.  Through my experience, many Brits do not express themselves- they can either be quite passive-aggressive or just repress many emotions. I think many of them especially within the school systems are too scared to stand up and teach that bullying is not acceptable. In America, even though bullying does happen everywhere around the world we have a zero tolerance to bullying and ill-behavior.  Let’s see what Georgia Farrugia The Brighton Mental Health and Wellness Centre’s April’s Guest Blogger has to say about bulling. It’s always great to get new perspectives on things. After all, we only know what we experience in our lives.
LIKEABILITY
So here is the thing, we all want to be liked right. We compare ourselves to our neighbour in class, our friend or colleague – and most of all, the person we wish we could be like. See God made us unique. Every single one of us has a purpose, and every single one of us has a passion. I will start this with, it is OK TO BE YOU – You are perfect as you are. 
BULLYING
I know what this is like, to be left out, to not fit in. I went through it, with a total of five school moves and hating who I was and questioning why I was going through it.
However, look back at what I just said– that every single one of us has a purpose, and every single one of us has a passion. Even when I was going through some of my HARDEST times imaginable, I knew there must have been a reason. To help people possibly? And the passion – it is the very reason I have written this blog for you. To tell you that with your own inner strength you WILL get through the tournament. And so it is ok to not fit in the box of those who are doing the bullying – because you were put on this earth to create your own box. 
 
School bullying (or can be applied to any one aspect of life): SCHOOL IS NOT YOUR LIFE. The same way that your gender, religion, hair style or family background does not entirely define you, school is not your life (or your job/bullying in work). It may be what you know up to now or take up the majority of your time, but the same as when you were 7 you didn’t know what you’d achieve or how great you’d be at 17, great times will come and there will be triumphs that you just don’t know yet. 
 
You are going to reach milestones and your experience of life is going to evolve and once this period in your life has passed, you will have memories, but school itself, or the adversity you are facing, will not define you and eventually those memories will become the distant past. You are free to choose how to live your life and WHO YOU WANT TO BE. Make that decision count, not what the tormentors say. 
 
One day, life will revolve around new relationships and jobs, college or university, there may be friends, holidays or religion or a faith that may come into your life – what I am showing you is that your life will have other meaning and the nugget in this is, do not let your current or past experiences define who you are, how you believe in yourself or who you will become. 
 

It is that the hardest times in our lives that will make us the strongest people and enable us to achieve our best. I wish you the best. 

Would you like to get in touch with Georgia? Tweet her here: @mcrgeorgia https://twitter.com/mcrgeorgia

Have you ever been bullied? Do you need help establishing stronger boundaries within your own relationships? Please get in touch with the centre today! www.brightonwellnesscentre.co.uk.

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Does achieving life milestones make you happier?

‘Life milestones make happiness’
Written by Sarah Keeping

At my 18th birthday party, someone asked me what I wanted from my life and I remember saying, with a big smile on my face that I wanted to be happy. But apparently, this answer was too general. I remember thinking, why? Isn’t this what everyone wants? Should I have said that I wanted to own a Ferrari?

When I was 19, I wrote down on a piece of paper everything I wanted to achieve in my life. For a person who prides herself for being an optimist, owning a house by the time I was 25 was probably a bit too hopeful! The list contained things like, visiting Paris, getting married and being happy. But now I look back and ask myself what actually is happiness? I would say that only you know what happiness is because it’s unique to you; what makes one person happy doesn’t necessary do the same for another person. Back then I think I thought that happiness just happens, just like life. Unfortunately, you have to make things happen in your life, opportunities don’t usually come to you.

In my experience, society has an expectation about what you do in life; you get your qualifications, you get a career, you fall in love, you get married, you have children. But what if that doesn’t happen? And what if you don’t want all of those things to happen? Or in that order? Are you then a failure? Of course not.

I watched an episode of Will and Grace the other day, and Grace (who is a single woman in her late 40s and has no children) was worried about going to a Baby Shower because of how people would perceive her. What was really interesting about this though was when the other women eventually found out about how she felt, they too expressed how they were worried about how she would perceive them as being mothers and nothing else. Even though this was fiction, it reinforced to me that the way we look at ourselves is not necessarily how others see us. As long as we are happy with our lives, that is all that ever matters.

HOW WILL PEOPLE PERCEIVE US IF WE DON’T HAVE CHILDREN AND ARE IN OUR 40’S? 

What we have (or don’t have) in our lives is not put on a scale that shows how well we are doing at life. And if some people think there is such a scale, maybe it says more about them than us.

I would love to know your thoughts on this topic. Do you feel that by accomplishing life milestones you are a happier person?

*Sarah Keeping is currently undertaking a Counselling Skills course in London and is looking to change her professional subject area to Counselling Psychology. Previous qualifications are in Investigative Psychology, Psychology, and Criminology and Sociology.

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Online psychotherapy, Why yes and why not?

Some years ago, I stared working as a psychotherapist. The first time I got into this wonderful world was trough online psychotherapy, I had not my own space to work and I had listened people were more interested in this kind of process, which is why I tried to work with the help of technology. Since I moved, I am still working with my patients back home and I can see the utility of technology in psychotherapy.

It is true that not all kind of psychotherapies are for everyone, maybe there are some people who feel more comfortable working with one way than another and at the same time there are others who prefer to move to the practice and to have the whole experience of it: take a seat, recognise the smell, the light and all the sensations that can appear in front of the therapist. On the other side, there are those who enjoy more having their therapy in their own home or by phone call.

Based in my experience, I had identified some advantages and disadvantages to give online psychotherapy. Today, I want to share these so that you can have a better and clearer idea of what it means to have therapy online, since people have asked me if it works at all. I will leave it to your own opinion, hoping to read some comments on the subject.

Why yes?

Online psychotherapy is easy to access, it needs only internet and a computer, a phone or a tablet.

It is possible to take it in almost any place, from the comfort of your own home, or at some free hour during the day. Many people feel more comfortable talking about themselves in a familiar place; also in big and populated cities, it can be easier to go online than taking the time to commute to where the therapy takes place.

People who live away from their country and live where their own language is not spoken find it convenient to have online therapy with someone from their own nationality, since they can express better and easier their emotions and experiences in their mother tongue.

People who have already a therapeutic process but they or their psychotherapist move to another place, they use online psychotherapy to continue working with their psychotherapist. Generally, this happens when they have been working together for some time or the relationship between them is very strong and changing could potentially influence the therapeutic process.

Finally, those with a physical limitation that complicates them from commuting to the practice can also have online therapy, with easy access and in a more comfortable way.

Accompaniment and closeness are two important aspects to think about when considering the advantages of having online psychotherapy. Even when there are kilometres between them, the patient can always feel close to the psychotherapist, thanks to technology.

Why not?

The main disadvantage that I have identified is concerning technical problems such as internet or computer failure, low battery, updates, loss of signal or sound interferences, all of which can twist or distort the message and make it not understandable.

The place where the session happens is very important, sometimes it is small or open to other people, and when it is the case, the patient cannot express himself freely, since sometimes he could pay more attention to people around him and not being overheard. For this reason, it is very important that the patience knows the basic conditions of having online psychotherapy, which include the certainty of having a proper space for the sessions.

Closely related to the previous point, while being accessible and easy to be in a familiar space, this can also compromise the patient’s commitment, because he can get distracted by an external factor such as a noise in the house or a phone call, as well as delay for the sessions, just to mention a few examples. To avoid misunderstandings, it is very important that before starting the session, the rules of commitment are well defined from both parts: the therapist and the patient. In this way, they will both know their responsibility during the therapeutic process.

In general, online therapy is a very useful tool to people that are comfortable using technology and that because of their own particular situations, it is easier to have it. Even though online therapy does no substitute presence therapy, because the latter has a certain richness while working with it, it can definitely be a great alternative to work with emotions in an easy an accessible manner. Whether online or in presence, psychotherapy will depend on the commitment and disposition of both the patient and the therapist, because psychotherapy is more than nothing a team effort.

After reading this article, what do you think of online therapy? Here at the Brighton Wellness Centre we have online and presence therapy options. If you are interested, you can send us a message to receive more information.

See you next week!

Citlalli Degollado is Gestalt Psychotherapist. She works with adults and couples. Currently she lives in Brighton, and she is a psychotherapist to Spanish people.

Citlalli Degollado es Psicoterapeuta Gestalt. Trabaja con adultos y parejas. Actualmente vive en Brighton y brinda terapia a hispanohablantes.

Terapia en línea ¿Por qué sí y por qué no?

Hace unos años que me dedico a la psicoterapia, la primera vez que me lancé a este maravilloso mundo fue a través de la terapia en línea. No tenía un consultorio y había escuchado que la gente estaba cada vez más interesada en este tipo de terapia, así que decidí empezar por este medio. Desde que me mudé he continuado trabajando en línea con mis pacientes de mi país y me he dado cuenta del beneficio que nos da el uso de la tecnología.

Es cierto que no todas las terapias son para toda la gente, habrá personas que se sientan más cómodas trabajando con un enfoque que con otro y de igual manera, habrá quienes prefieran trasladarse al consultorio y tener la experiencia de ir a terapia presencial: tomar su asiento, reconocer los olores, la luz y todo el cúmulo de sensaciones que pueden aparecer al tener al terapeuta de frente. Por el contrario, habrá otros que disfruten más tomar su terapia desde la comodidad de su casa o con la practicidad de una llamada telefónica.

Con base en mi experiencia, he identificado algunas ventajas y desventajas de tomar terapia en línea. Hoy se las comparto para que puedan tener una idea más clara de lo que implica, pues mucha gente me ha preguntado si en realidad funciona. Se los dejo a su criterio, esperando que me compartan sus opiniones.

¿Por qué si?

La terapia en línea es de fácil acceso, para llevarla a cabo se necesita estar conectado a internet, tener una computadora o algún otro medio electrónico como un celular o una Tablet.

Se puede tomar en cualquier lugar, desde la comodidad de la casa o en una hora libre que se tenga en el trabajo. Muchas personas se sienten más seguras al hablar de sí mismas en un lugar conocido para ellas, además en ciudades muy grandes, es más fácil porque se evita el traslado al lugar de la terapia.

Las personas que viven lejos de su país y se encuentren en uno donde no hablan su mismo idioma encuentran más atractivo tomar terapia en línea con una persona de su país, pues expresar las emociones y experiencias les resulta más sencillo en su lengua madre. Esto sirve mucho porque en la opinión de las personas, consideran que aunque hablen muy bien el idioma, no se transmiten de la misma manera las emociones, por esta razón buscan terapia con alguien de su país.

Las personas que ya llevan un proceso terapéutico pero ellas o su terapeuta cambian de residencia, también hacen uso de la terapia en línea para continuar con su proceso. Generalmente esto pasa cuando ya llevan algún tiempo trabajando juntos y la relación con el terapeuta es muy sólida, pues si cambia puede influir en su trabajo terapéutico.

Personas con alguna limitación física que no pueda trasladarse fácilmente al consultorio pueden tomar terapia en línea, de esta manera podrá tener acceso a su tratamiento de una manera más cómoda.

Acompañamiento y cercanía son dos aspectos importantes para tomar en cuenta en las ventajas de tomar terapia en línea, a pesar de que los puedan separar varios kilómetros de distancia, el paciente a través de los diferentes medios electrónicos, como videollamada o llamada de voz, podrá sentirse cercano al terapeuta.

 ¿Por qué no?

La principal desventaja que he identificado es cuando hay fallas en el Internet o en el medio electrónico que se usa para dar la terapia, por ejemplo actualizaciones en el dispositivo, falta de batería, pérdida de señal o interferencias, esto puede ocasionar que el mensaje se distorsione y no pueda comprenderse claramente.

El espacio con el que cuenta el paciente para llevar a cabo la terapia es importante, algunas veces se encuentra en un lugar reducido o no cerrado, esto dificulta que el paciente pueda expresarse libremente ya que puede preocuparse más por que las personas a su alrededor no lo escuchen. Por esta razón, parte del encuadre que se da al paciente al iniciar una terapia en línea, es lo fundamental de contar con un espacio apropiado para las sesiones.

Relacionado con lo anterior, al ser de fácil acceso y tener la oportunidad de estar en un lugar conocido, esto puede dificultar el compromiso del paciente, es decir, puede distraerse con algún factor externo, como un ruido en su casa o una llamada telefónica, o bien, impuntualidad en la hora de terapia, por dar algunos ejemplos. Para evitar malentendidos en este sentido, es muy importante que antes de iniciar la terapia, se tenga un encuadre claro en el que se establezcan los compromisos de ambas partes de la relación: terapeuta y paciente; de esta manera ambos estarán informados sobre su responsabilidad en el proceso terapéutico.

En general, la terapia en línea es una herramienta muy útil para personas que se sientan cómodas usando la tecnología y por sus situaciones contextuales sea mejor para ellas. La terapia en línea no suple a la terapia presencial, pues esta última tiene una riqueza en la forma de trabajar, sin embargo, es una alternativa para trabajar las emociones, de una manera sencilla y accesible. Ya sea en línea o de manera presencial, la terapia psicológica depende en gran medida del compromiso y la disposición tanto del paciente como del terapeuta, ya que es un trabajo en equipo.

Después de leer lo anterior, ¿qué opinas sobre la terapia en línea? Si estás interesado, puedes ponerte en contacto para mayor información.

¡Hasta la próxima semana!

 

Citlalli Degollado is Gestalt Psychotherapist. She works with adults and couples. Currently she lives in Brighton, and she is a psychotherapist to Spanish people.

Citlalli Degollado es Psicoterapeuta Gestalt. Trabaja con adultos y parejas. Actualmente vive en Brighton y brinda terapia a hispanohablantes.

Emociones positivas y negativas.

Antes de empezar a leer, te invito a reflexionar sobre las siguientes preguntas: para ti, ¿qué es una emoción positiva? ¿cómo se siente? ¿es agradable? Ahora, trae a tu mente una emoción negativa, ¿Qué es lo que aparece? ¿Cómo se siente una emoción mala? Después de hacer este breve ejercicio, probablemente te des cuenta que algunas emociones fueron muy fáciles de identificar. Algunas personas creen que hay emociones positivas y negativas, por ejemplo, la felicidad y la tristeza, el negro y el blanco. La mejor y más buscada emoción es la felicidad, todos la queremos, y del otro lado, está la mala y cruel tristeza, ¡claro! Nadie quiere estar triste, esta es una muy, muy mala emoción. Esto es lo que aprendimos, y así es la manera en que movemos nuestras piezas en la vida, tratando en todo momento de ser felices y huyendo de la tristeza. La realidad es que las emociones no son buenas ni malas, sólo son emociones. La principal diferencia entre ellas es la manera en que las sentimos y en que las vivimos.

Las emociones nos ayudan a percibir el mundo y a relacionarnos con otras personas; nos  recuerdan que estamos vivos y somos capaces de sentir cualquier cosa. Hay algunas emociones que no conocemos y como toda experiencia desconocida, nos pueden asustar, sin embargo, eso no significa que sean negativas.

Cambiar la manera en que vemos las emociones, puede servirnos para afrontarlas, y aprender de ellas al mismo tiempo. ¿Cómo podemos hacer esto? En el ejemplo que presenté líneas arriba, la felicidad es vista como una emoción positiva y la tristeza como una negativa, pero eso es lo que creemos sobre ellas, es una creencia. Cuando nos damos el tiempo para cuestionarnos por qué una emoción es buena o mala, puede que encontremos nuevas respuestas. “Aprendí que llorar no es bueno, te hace débil”, “Cuando era niño, mis papás me dijeron que no puedo expresar mi enojo”, “La gente dice que sonreír todo el tiempo es bueno para la salud”, estas son algunas frases que muestran que la manera en como percibimos una emoción tiene que ver con lo que aprendimos sobre ella.

¿Por qué una emoción es positiva y negativa? Primero, decir que algo es bueno o malo es hablar de una creencia, es subjetivo, por lo tanto puede ser diferente a lo que piensan otras personas; en segundo lugar, las creencias vienen de lo que aprendemos: el niño que escuchó que llorar es igual a ser débil, cuando sea adulto va a creer que para ser un hombre fuerte no tiene que llorar, y probablemente, para él la tristeza o vulnerabilidad serán emociones negativas; tratará todo el tiempo de esquivarlas. Y en tercer lugar, la manera en que vivimos las emociones también depende de las herramientas que tengamos, pero como mencioné antes, si no conozco algo, tal vez me dé miedo y no lo viva, pero si no lo vivo, ¿cómo tendré las herramientas y el aprendizaje para poder afrontarlo en un futuro?

Aquellas emociones que la gente llama negativas nos ayudan a conocernos y a crecer. Si un día estamos felices, nos sentimos orgullosos de nosotros mismos y estamos muy motivados, ¡Qué bueno! Si otro día nos sentimos tristes, decepcionados o enojados, ¡Qué bueno también! Somos humanos, estamos vivos y estamos aprendiendo cómo vivir una vida llena de emociones, sólo emociones.

Citlalli Degollado is Gestalt Psychotherapist. She works with adults and couples. Currently she lives in Brighton, and she is a psychotherapist to Spanish people.

Citlalli Degollado es Psicoterapeuta Gestalt. Trabaja con adultos y parejas. Actualmente vive en Brighton y brinda terapia a hispanohablantes.

Positive and negative emotions.

Before starting this article, I would like to invite you to think about this: for you, what is a positive emotion? How does it feel? Do you enjoy it? Now, bring to your mind a negative emotion, what do you see? How do you feel a bad emotion? After doing this exercise, maybe some emotions were very easy to identify. Some people believe that there are positive and negative emotions, for example, happiness and sadness, the black and white. The best and most wanted emotion is happiness, everyone wants it, and on the other side, the bad and cruel sadness of course! Nobody wants to be sad, this is a very, very negative emotion. That is what we learned, and this is how we move all our pieces in life, trying everytime to be happy and running away from sadness. The reality is that emotions are not good or bad, they are just emotions. The main difference is the way we feel and live them.

Emotions help us to perceive the world we live in, and through them we can connect with other people; emotions remind us that we are alive and we are able to feel anything. There are some emotions that we do not know, and as any unknown experience, they scare us, but it does not mean that they are negative.

To change the way we look at emotions, it can be very useful to face them, and to learn from them as well. How can we do this? In the example I gave before, happiness is seen as a positive emotion and sadness as a negative one, but that is what we believe about these emotions, it is a belief. When we take the time to question why an emotion is good or bad, we can find some new answers. “I learned that crying is not good, it makes me weak”, “When I was child, my parents told me that I couldn’t express my anger”, “People say smiling all the time is good for the health”,  these are some phrases that show that the way we perceive an emotion depends on what we learned about it.

Why an emotion is positive or negative? First, saying something is good or bad is a belief, and it is subjective, so it is different to other people; second, believes come up from our learning: the child that heard that crying is similar to weakness, as an adult will believe that to be a strong man he should not cry, and probably, for him, sadness or vulnerability are negative emotions; he will try every time to dodge them. And third, the way we take an emotion depends on the tools we have to experience them. But as I said before, if I do not know something, maybe it scares me and I won’t live it, but if I do not live it, how can I have the tools and the knowledge for the next time?  

Those emotions that some people call negative help us know ourselves and grow. If one day we are happy, we feel proud of ourselves and very motivated, great! If another day we feel sad, disappointed or angry, it is great! We are humans! We are alive! And we are learning everytime how to live this life full of emotions, just emotions.

Citlalli Degollado is Gestalt Psychotherapist. She works with adults and couples. Currently she lives in Brighton, and she is a psychotherapist to Spanish people.

Citlalli Degollado es Psicoterapeuta Gestalt. Trabaja con adultos y parejas. Actualmente vive en Brighton y brinda terapia a hispanohablantes.

Mental Illness Stigma: Living with Others’ Judgements

whydopeoplejudgementalhealthissues

At Brighton Wellness Centre, we are well aware of the mental health stigma that pervades our society. Even today, with the many pioneering organisations and charities helping those with mental illnesses, the rise of medications 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‘, ‘People with depression 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. It may 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 and eating disorders 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 of recovery is also 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 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. 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.

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Changing Habitual Behaviours for a Happier Life – Anxiety Disorders.

stopmybadhabits

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 processes hormones such as adrenaline and the memory of previous behavioural patterns.

So, how can we change negative or destructive behaviour patterns that can perpetuate illnesses such as anxiety disorders? (Please note this is similar in other disorders e.g. addictions but this article will focus on anxiety disorders).

The most important thing if you have an anxiety disorder (e.g. generalised anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD, social anxiety) 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 at 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 (CBT) to unpack my negative thoughts and limiting beliefs on paper.

However, what really helped me to change my habits surrounding 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 myself to new surroundings. I then found that 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.

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Mental Health: New Years’ Resolutions

doyouhavetheholidayblues
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 and nativity plays. 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, due to isolation and loneliness or the overtly social time frame.

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. These include 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 2018, I thought I would share some new years resolutions for positive mental health that you can implement in your life.

1) I will 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 them with positive ones, colouring for relaxation or just getting some much needed down time in front of the TV in my PJs. I will make sure I invest every day 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 the 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 not beat myself up.

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

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

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.  Phone sessions, online (Skype) sessions and face-to-face sessions are available.

Looking forward to a happier, healthier 2018 and wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah!

 

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Clearing Out the Clutter in your Life: Be the Change you Want to be.

Making changes is not easy.  It’s not easy to stop habits such as eating or drinking too much, smoking or doing anything in utter excess.  But, how can we stop the ups and downs of the addiction see-saw?

When I was younger and at university, our professors taught us that the only way to kick a bad habit was to quit it ‘cold turkey.’  This method works, but you need to have willpower and discipline.  I have this…if I set my mind to do something- I will do it! (That’s self-affirmation by the way!) You need to be willing to work through the fear and like Nike’s slogan boasts – just do it!

helpmechangemylifeHowever, I am sitting here drinking my second cup of coffee wondering if I poured myself a third cup would I be classified in the DSM-V as having ‘three out of five symptoms’ of having a coffee addiction.  I think that sometimes quitting cold turkey isn’t always easy as it sounds.

If cutting an excessive habit ‘cold turkey’ were easy, everyone would do it.  And, if obtaining balance of eating and drinking were easy there would be no diets, no Facebook quotes on how to obtain a balanced diet, and I wouldn’t be sitting here reflecting on how to obtain balance in the crazy world of eating, drinking and partying.

But how do we obtain balance in our life?  How do we kick the bad habits, move forward, and become healthier, stronger, and happier?

Start by de-cluttering your life. De-clutter your mind, your room, your house, your friends, and/or whatever it is you think you need to de-clutter in order to take the next step of moving forward with your life.

You’ve read about toxic people – get rid of them.  You are a hoarder and you have too much dusty ornaments- clear it out – take that bric-a-brac to your local charity.  Just do it! You want to quit smoking – clear out everything in the house that reminds you of smoking.  You think you drink too much – don’t have booze in the house.  Crisps are your Achilles tendon – don’t buy them.

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7975tw0EJA]

You will be amazed at how de-cluttering will help you make those life changes you want to make.

If these tasks seem too simple, then you need to take it to the next level…finding out what makes you have these addictions.  Are you filling a void in your life?  Are you depressed?  Are you lonely?  Did you have a difficult childhood?  Do you suffer from anxiety?  Are you stuck in the cycle of addiction?  Do you have a rubber arm (my friends say this about me)? Whatever your ‘baggage’ is, there is a solution.  Every cycle can be broken.  It is up to you to start the process.

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton