Are you looking for a life coach or mentor? Let the Brighton Mental Health and Wellness Centre help.

Have you ever wanted to know what a mentor or life coach is supposed to do? There are many people out there that call themselves life coaches and mentors, but how do you know which one suits you and your personality?  Here at The Brighton Mental Health & Wellness Centre we offer fully trained and qualified therapists who can support you.

I am a Chartered Counselling Psychologist with a background of career counselling, education and teaching, as well as having over 25 years experience having worked in various locations and professions. By applying my educational background, work experience and practical skills I can help support you, coach you and mentor you by coming up with some basic key points that will ensure you that you’re heading on the right path. Often by talking with someone who isn’t involved emotionally or personally with your career or work related issues eases the pressure and often clients automatically come up with their own solutions which is very empowering.

HAVE YOU EVER ASKED YOURSELF WHAT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MENTOR AND LIFE COACH IS?

A mentor has a deep personal interest about you and your long term development and a coach develops specific skills for the task, challenges and performance expectations at work. Mentoring is a power free, two-way mutually beneficial relationship.

Do you feel your life is affected by stress and anxiety, low self esteem and a lack of direction? Do you wish you could move forward and feel positive again? If you feel ready to make some changes in your life and need guidance and support, The Brighton Mental Health & Wellness Centre is here for you.

We provide tailor made coaching and mentoring programmes for both individuals and businesses using Life & Business Coaching techniques, Counselling, and practical support and advice. Our private practice specialises in programmes to help with:

  • stress induced anxiety and depression
  • executive stress
  • career advice
  • lack of confidence
  • low self esteem
  • panic attacks
  • work/life balance issues
  • insomnia
  • relationship problems

But, it doesn’t need to be tailor made if you don’t want it to be. Here at The Brighton Mental Health & Wellness Centre we offer flexibility.

HOW DOES IT WORK? 

Our first session will consist of a 60 minute assessment.  We will initially have a chat and try to uncover what a few of the underlying issues are and what can be done to solve those issues. During that assessment we will also come up with some short term goals and long terms goals that will direct you to a more relaxed, more relieved, more comfortable and happy you.

Please get in contact to book your initial assessment now. Initial assessment fee is £60 and if you book in three sessions/ Premier Package there is a reduced rate.

Contact me now!

 

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THE PURSUIT OF MINDFULNESS: STEPPING OFF THE HEDONIC TREADMILL

“It is not the man who has little, but the man who craves more, that is poor” – Seneca

Integrated into our everyday lives are ideas of how we can 6a00e554eecbdf88330120a7ad5e67970b-500wiachieve happiness – buy the next best car, gain a huge promotion, find your ideal partner… We are rarely made to feel content in our own skin and current state. Sadly, we have become accustomed to this; we see it everywhere and many of us recognise how such messages, particularly those in the media, buy into our feelings of dissatisfaction and insecurity. Living in such an environment, how can we ever believe enough is enough? 

Psychologists Brickman and Campbell first coined the term ‘hedonic adaptation’ in 1971. They suggest each person has a ‘set point’ of happiness18nat_married which remains constant until we experience sudden highs or downfalls. For instance, when receiving an exam grade, one might initially feel intense happiness or disappointment that will eventually return to that set point. The same goes in the context of a romantic relationship: we fall in love ecstatically, and over time reach a state of equilibrium that makes us think, “is this it?” – a thought which characterises many break-ups.

demandeuphoria_6642Positive Psychology research has looked into the idea of a ‘hedonic treadmill’ – a permanent cycle of desire fuelled by dissatisfaction. Particularly in an environment where things like money and success are highly valued, once you’re on that treadmill, you don’t want to simply feel content. You want all your hard work to pay off with feelings of ecstasy and triumph; you sacrifice the present moment in the hope that it will bring you greater satisfaction in the future. In this way, many people obtain motivation as it serves a path for ambitions. However, it can lead to anxious or depressive states in cases where people devote themselves to unattainable goals or feel a lack of appreciation for what is already within their reach.

To help combat this negative cycle, a great body of recent research points to the value of mindfulness – focusing awareness on the present moment and all its encompassing sensations. In doing so, we can free ourselves from our attachment to the past and the future and find satisfaction in the present. Mindfulness has been found to significantly improve symptoms of mental disorders like anxiety, depression and ADHD. There are some excellent blog articles that write more in depth on mindfulness techniques, such as here, here and here.

On the other hand, research has shown that our happiness levels are not always determined by the environment we are in; they are 50% heritable in our genes. In addition to this, it is found that not everyone is hedonically neutral – we all have differing set points meaning we feel pleasure differently. For example, people with depression can experience anhedonia – a total inability to feel pleasure. Some research suggests that hedonic set points can be raised using new antidepressant compounds that are currently being investigated.

Psychological research has thrown light on how our desires can lead to dissatisfaction, and provides interventions that can be used to reframe negative mind-sets. If you have any experience with subjects I have mentioned or have any ideas or questions, please comment or send me a message.

 

Works Cited

Brickman, P., & Campbell, D. T. (1971). Hedonic relativism and planning the good society. Adaptation-level theory, 287-305.

Eysenck, H. J., & Eysenck, M. W. (1994). Happiness: Facts and myths. Psychology Press.

SELF-EFFICACY: TURNING DOUBT INTO DRIVE

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An efficacious attitude works as a driving force – an individual with a strong sense of efficacy is more likely to become self-motivated, committed and assured in the face of a challenge. With high self-efficacy, one can attempt goals and conquer stress more readily, and as a result, experience better wellbeing. On the contrary, those who have doubts about their own abilities ruminate on personal flaws, slacken efforts and lose faith in the face of failure – a mind-set that in the long run can act as a brake on one’s ambitions and increase proneness to mental illness. But how does one develop self-efficacy? Is it ever as simple as telling yourself, “I can do this” when faced with a challenge? Is self-efficacy something that can be moulded and strengthened to the level we want it to be? Is anyone ever totally self-confident, and if so, is that always a good thing?

Efficacy beliefs shape the course of our lives – what goals we choose to pursue, how much we commit to those goals and how much effort we put into given endeavours. Our everyday realities are filled with obstacles, frustrations and limitations. However, it is not the difficulties we face that influence our strength and wellbeing, but the beliefs we hold about them. Our beliefs determine how much stress we experience when confronting challenges, and how long it takes before we give up altogether. We must, therefore, develop a robust sense of self-worth to sustain the enduring effort needed to flourish.

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Psychologist Albert Bandura, known primarily for his research on behavioural modelling, suggests we can improve our self-efficacy, ironically, through failure. After all, if people only experience straightforward successes, it becomes an expectation that makes them far more vulnerable when things don’t go as planned. Therefore, if one comes to realise their self-worth and capability through sustained effort in overcoming adversity, they can emerge with more resilience rather than disheartenment. He discovered this during his research on fear arousal, where he saw the mediating effect that strong self-efficacy had on phobics, war veterans and hurricane survivors in overcoming incapacitating trauma.

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A second way in which Bandura suggests we can shape our efficacy beliefs is through second-hand experiences provided by social role models. When we see people similar to ourselves accomplish goals, we can foster our own beliefs that we too have it in us to master similar challenges. With this in mind, we can see others’ achievements not as unattainable comparisons, but as an inspirational framework to guide our own aspirations and plans of action we set ourselves. So, instead of becoming envious and measuring our success through triumphs over others, we can do so through focusing on our own self-improvement and sharing encouragement.

Finally, because our self-efficacy can vary as a function of our physical and mental state, it can be difficult to approach a task that arouses a sense of debility or anxiety. Some people experience a nervous state as an added driving force to their motivation, whereas others view it as a sign to remove themselves from the situation as quickly as possible. This can be a particularly tough thought pattern to eradicate in the moment, but through a structured process of identifying, eliminating and replacing maladaptive or irrational thoughts and behaviours (such as through cognitive behavioural therapy), we can transform what holds us back into a force that pushes us forward. For example, we can break down large challenges into smaller, more manageable steps.

Demetri-Martin_tumblr_lo9k5j8SE31qhtggqo1_500.jpgBandura offers some extremely useful suggestions for how we can manage our own levels of self-efficacy – a skill that can motivate us to change ineffective attitudes and behaviours that might be holding us back. However, these are not limited to themselves – there are a range of other methods to be explored if these do not fit for you or every aspect of life. If you have any ideas or have had personal experience trying the above strategies or any others, please comment or message me with your thoughts and suggestions.

 

WORKS CITED

Bandura, A. (1994). Self‐efficacy. John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

Bandura, A., & Adams, N. E. (1977). Analysis of self-efficacy theory of behavioral change. Cognitive therapy and research, 1(4), 287-310.

Bandura, A. (2005). The primacy of self‐regulation in health promotion. Applied Psychology, 54(2), 245-254.

Benight, C.C. & Bandura, A. (2004). Social cognitive theory of post-traumatic recovery: The role of perceived self-efficacy. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42 (10), 1129–1148

THEORIES OF SCHIZOPHRENIA: CAN THEY WORK IN HARMONY?

In this article, I use illustrations taken from the website of Bryan Charnley, an artist who suffered with schizophrenia and very tragically took his own life soon after these self-portraits were completed. Each painting was created as an experiment to come “face-to-face” with his illness. I felt it would be appropriate to use them here as they demonstrate, far more poignantly than can be done with words, what schizophrenic symptoms can feel like.

Psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler first coined the term ‘schizophrenia’, originating from the Greek “schizo” meaning to tear or split, and “phren” meaning intellect. This could explain the common contemporary myth about the illness involving a split personality. In reality, schizophrenia comprises a range of distressing symptoms including delusions, hallucinations, incoherent thoughts and speech, catatonic behaviour, affective flattening, alogia and avolition. The varied nature of the illness makes it challenging to diagnose using a single modality. However, it is one of the most debilitating of mental illnesses, with more than 24 million sufferers worldwide, which compels scientists in a variety of fields to continue in their search. Psychological and biological accounts present quite distinct determinist perspectives, unless combined within the ‘diathesis-stress’ model – a more holistic explanation that is now the leading approach in providing aetiology for the illness.

Bryan Charnley: Self-Portrait (1991) “My mind seemed to be thought broadcasting very severely and it was beyond my will to do anything about it. I summed this up by painting my brain as an enormous mouth, acting independently of me… I feel I am always divided against my self by myself… the nail in the mouth expresses my social ineptitude and an inability to socialise which makes me a target…”

A genetic susceptibility for psychotic symptoms is problematic to trace back to a particular genetic locus or even a small amount of genes. Therefore, a range of methods provide evidence for the involvement of numerous specific genes and rare mutations within them. Findings strongly indicate a heritable aspect to the disease, such as the fact that those with a first-degree relative with schizophrenia are ten times more likely to develop symptoms than those without. Moreover, twin studies reveal an overall heritability estimate of 80%. These discoveries highlight schizophrenia to be one of the most heritable of mental disorders. However, it can be difficult for researchers to discriminate between findings that are due to one’s environment as opposed to genetic makeup. To overcome this issue, adoption studies have been conducted using adoptees with and without schizophrenic family members. One early study found that 16.6% of adopted children with schizophrenic mothers developed the illness while none did within the control group. These findings were supported by a more recent study, where adopted children with psychotic symptoms had a 21.4% chance of having biological relatives with schizophrenia, compared to 5.4% in those who did not.

The leading biochemical theory of schizophrenia is the dopamine hypothesis, which maintains that symptoms like hallucinations, thought disorder and behavioural problems are significantly correlated to excess activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Antipsychotic drugs such as phenothiazines act on symptoms of psychosis by blocking the brain’s dopamine receptor sites, lowering dopamine activity. While these drugs attenuate many symptoms of schizophrenia, they have side effects such as tremors similar to those shown in Parkinson’s Disease, which is known to be caused in part by low dopamine levels. This effect is interestingly reversed when Parkinson’s patients are administered L-dopa – a drug that raises dopamine levels – resulting in the display of psychotic symptoms. Post-mortem studies have also revealed increased levels of dopamine and a considerably greater number of dopamine receptors in the brains of deceased schizophrenia patients.

Cognitive theories of schizophrenia centre on attributional and interpretational biases regarding anomalous experiences. For instance, auditory hallucinations are typically experienced by around 10 to 15% of healthy individuals, but may be interpreted in a way that makes them believe they are becoming insane, or that they ought to listen to and adhere to what the voices say in order to avoid negative consequences. Such biases are associated with deficits in cognitive functioning, again linked to excess dopamine activity, resulting in a slow decline in abilities such as early stages of sensory information processing. As a result, some sufferers experience affective flattening – a symptom rendering them socially isolated with a lack of emotions – meaning schizophrenic patients who have developed paranoid beliefs are not in the presence of others who can disconfirm their ideas, leading to a spiralling self-fulfilling prophecy.

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The double-bind hypothesis suggests that schizophrenic symptoms result from a pattern of contradictory, hostile and blameful treatment from family members. For instance, families with high expressed emotion (EE) tend to place blame on the sufferer for their circumstances, and express this through shouting rather than talking through. Prior to these findings, it was advised that schizophrenic patients should go home to their families from their institution, however it has now been established that the median relapse rate in a high-EE environment is 48% compared to 21% in a low-EE environment, and that interventions to control EE in families is a more effective approach to improving symptoms. This assumption is associated with the diathesis-stress hypothesis, which intends to merge biological and psychological approaches. For instance, an individual who is genetically liable to schizophrenia may not develop symptoms of psychosis until they encounter certain life stressors that can transpire during early development, in dysfunctional family relationships or in adolescence.

The above approaches are similar in their use of empirical methods, problems with defining cause and effect and investigation into family influences. They also coincide in their discussion of the influence of dopamine, which in turn affects cognitions and the attribution of symptoms to external factors. However, they differ in that the biological approach looks at inherent traits such as genetics and biochemical composition and uses pharmacological treatments, whereas the psychological approach focuses on upbringing and cognitive processes, and family therapeutic or cognitive behavioural treatments. Overall, they work in harmony within the diathesis-stress approach, which claims a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia will only result in symptoms when activated by life stressors.

If you would like to know more about schizophrenia and learn about treatments available, there are many websites to refer to and helplines and services to contact. I have listed some below:

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/schizophrenia/

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Schizophrenia/Pages/Treatment.aspx

http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you

http://www.healthtalk.org/files/upload/Mental%20Wellbeing%20Resources.pdf

https://www.rethink.org/diagnosis-treatment/conditions/schizophrenia

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/category/blog/schizophrenia

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

REFERENCES




American Psychiatric Association. (2003). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:: DSM-5. ManMag.


Anderson, C. M., Reiss, D. J., & Hogarty, G. E. (1986). Schizophrenia and the family: A practitioner's guide to psychoeducation and management. Guilford Press.



Andreasen, N. C. (1982). Negative symptoms in schizophrenia: definition and reliability. Archives of General Psychiatry39(7), 784-788.




Andreasen, N. C., Flashman, L., Flaum, M., Arndt, S., Swayze, V., O'Leary, D. S., ... & Yuh, W. T. (1994). Regional brain abnormalities in schizophrenia measured with magnetic resonance imaging. Jama272(22), 1763-1769.




Angrist, B., Lee, H.K. & Gershon, S. (1974). Antagonism of amphetamine-induced symptomatology by a neuroleptic. American Journal of Psychiatry, 131(7), 817- 819.




Baker, C. A., & Morrison, A. P. (1998). Cognitive processes in auditory hallucinations: attributional biases and metacognition. Psychological Medicine,28(05), 1199-1208.




Bateson, G. (1978). The double-bind theory – misunderstood? Psychiatric News, April, 40.




Berry, N., Jobanputra, V., & Pal, H. (2003). Molecular genetics of schizophrenia: a critical review. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience28(6), 415–429.




Bleuler, Eugen Dementia praecox or the group of schizophrenias. Oxford, England: International Universities Press Dementia praecox or the group of schizophrenias. (1950). 548 pp.




Cardno, A.G. & Gottesman, I.I. (2000). Twin studies of schizophrenia: From bowand-arrow concordances to star wars Mx and functional genomics. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 97, 12–17.




Davey, Graham C. (2008) Psychopathology: Research, Assessment and Treatment in Clinical Psychology, 235-255 John Wiley & Sons.




Davis, J.O. & Phelps, J.A. (1995). Twins with schizophrenia: Genes or germs. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 21(1), 13–18




Davis, K. L., & Kahn, R. S. (1991). Dopamine in schizophrenia: a review and reconceptualization. The American journal of psychiatry148(11), 1474.




Dickerson, F. B., Tenhula, W. N., & Green-Paden, L. D. (2005). The token economy for schizophrenia: review of the literature and recommendations for future research. Schizophrenia Research75(2), 405-416.




Freeman, D., Garety, P. A., Kuipers, E., Fowler, D., & Bebbington, P. E. (2002). A cognitive model of persecutory delusions. British Journal of Clinical Psychology41(4), 331-347.




Gejman, P.V., Sanders, A.R. & Kendler, K.S. (2011). Genetics of schizophrenia: New findings and challenges. Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, 12, 121–144.




Gottesman, I.I., McGuffin, P. & Farmer, A.E. (1987). Clinical genetics as clues to the real genetics of schizophrenia (a decade of modest gains while playing for time). Schizophrenia, 13(1), 23-47.




Gottesman, I.I. & Bertelsen, A. (1989). Confirming unexpressed genotypes for schizophrenia: Risks in the offspring of Fischer’s Danish identical and fraternal discordant twins. Archives of General Psychiatry, 46(10), 867–872.




Grilly, D.M. (2002). Drugs and human behaviour (4th edn). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.




Harrop, C. & Trower, P. (2001). Why does schizophrenia develop at late adolescence? Clinical Psychology Review, 21, 241–266.




Heston, L.L. (1966). Psychiatric disorders in foster home reared children of schizophrenic mothers. British Journal of Psychiatry, 112(489), 819–825




Jablensky, A., Sartorius, N., Ernberg, G., Anker, M., Korten, A., Cooper, J. E., ... & Bertelsen, A. (1992). Schizophrenia: manifestations, incidence and course in different cultures A World Health Organization Ten-Country Study.Psychological medicine. Monograph supplement20, 1-97.




Kavanagh, D. J. (1992). Recent developments in expressed emotion and schizophrenia. The British Journal of Psychiatry160(5), 601-620.




Kety, S.S. (1988). Schizophrenic illness in the families of schizophrenic adoptees: Findings from the Danish national sample. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 14(2), 217– 222.




Kety, S.S., Wender, P.H., Jacobsen, B., Ingraham, L.J. et al. (1994). Mental illness in the biological and adoptive relatives of schizophrenic adoptees: Replication of the Copenhagen study in the rest of Denmark. Archives of General Psychiatry, 51(6), 442–455.




Lotharius, J., & Brundin, P. (2002). Pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease: dopamine, vesicles and α-synuclein. Nature Reviews Neuroscience3(12), 932-942.




Morrison, A. P. (2001). The interpretation of intrusions in psychosis: an integrative cognitive approach to hallucinations and delusions. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy29(03), 257-276.




Owen, M. J., Williams, N. M., & O'Donovan, M. C. (2004). The molecular genetics of schizophrenia: new findings promise new insights. Molecular psychiatry9(1), 14-27.




Schiffman, J., Abrahamson, A., Cannon, T., LaBrie, et al. (2001). Early rearing factors in schizophrenia. International Journal of Mental Health, 30, 3–16.




Schneider, F. & Deldin, P.J. (2001). Genetics and schizophrenia. In P.B. Sutker & H.E. Adams (Eds.) Comprehensive handbook of psychopathology (3rd edn). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.




Seeman, P. & Kapur, S. (2001). The dopamine receptor basis of psychosis. In A. Brier, P.V. Tran, F. Bymaster & C. Tollerfson (Eds.) Current issues in the psychopharmacology of schizophrenia. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.




Segerbäck, D., Calleman, C. J., Schroeder, J. L., Costa, L. G., & Faustman, E. M. (1995). Formation of N-7-(2-carbamoyl-2-hydroxyethyl) guanine in DNA of the mouse and the rat following intraperitoneal administration of [14C] acrylamide. Carcinogenesis16(5), 1161-1165.




Sommer, I. E., Daalman, K., Rietkerk, T., Diederen, K. M., Bakker, S., Wijkstra, J., & Boks, M. P. (2010). Healthy individuals with auditory verbal hallucinations; who are they? Psychiatric assessments of a selected sample of 103 subjects.Schizophrenia Bulletin36(3), 633-641.




Tam, G. W., Redon, R., Carter, N. P., & Grant, S. G. (2009). The role of DNA copy number variation in schizophrenia. Biological psychiatry66(11), 1005-1012.




Waters, F., Allen, P., Aleman, A., Fernyhough, C., Woodward, T. S., Badcock, J. C., ... & Larøi, F. (2012). Auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia and nonschizophrenia populations: a review and integrated model of cognitive mechanisms. Schizophrenia Bulletin38(4), 683-693.




Walker, E. F., & Diforio, D. (1997). Schizophrenia: a neural diathesis-stress model. Psychological review104(4), 667.




Weakland, J. H. (1960). The 'Double-Bind' Hypothesis of Schizophrenia and Three-Party Interaction.

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Weisman, A. G., Nuechterlein, K. H., Goldstein, M. J., & Snyder, K. S. (2000). Controllability perceptions and reactions to symptoms of schizophrenia: a within-family comparison of relatives with high and low expressed emotion.Journal of abnormal psychology109(1), 167.

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

beatthewinterblues

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.

howtostopprocrastination

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!

 

Clearing out the clutter in your life: Be the change you want to be.

Making changes in one’s life isn’t easy.  It’s not easy to stop habits such as eating too much, smoking, drinking too much, shopping, spending or whatever thing you do 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 will-power 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 throuhelpmechangemylifegh the fear and like Nike’s slogan boasts- just do it!

However, 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?

The question you need to ask yourself is this…do you want change in your life? If you do…then make it!  But how? Be the change you want to be.  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.

Changing things immediately in your life, clearing out the clutter and de-cluttering your life will help you make those life changes you want to make.

You can do anything you set your mind to if you really WANT to make changes in your life- do it!

If these simple tasks don’t seem so 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 crappy childhood?  Do you suffer from anxiety?  Are you stuck in the actual cycle of addiction?  Do you have a rubber arm (my friends say this about me)? Whatever your ‘bag’ is there is a solution.  Every cycle can be broken.  It is up to you though to start the process.

 

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.