Jealousy: Can it be a good thing?

When people think about jealousy, it’s natural to assume that it’s only ever a bad thing. After all, we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others and should instead be happy with ourselves. If only this could happen so easily.

Thanks to social media, it has become increasingly difficult not to compare ourselves to others. But it’s easy to forget that people only put on social media what they choose to. It’s therefore not a realistic representation of their lives.

I have been thinking recently about how jealousy has the potential to be used as a positive; as a way of highlighting what you really want in life and in turn enabling someone to make the changes in their life in order to achieve it.

It can be so easy to just carry on with the way life is because it’s easier than trying something different and possibly failing. But what if you see someone else achieve their goals? Can it not make you feel as though you can also achieve yours?

Not all type of jealousy is so easily rectified though. If you’re jealous of the way someone looks or how much money they earn in comparison to you, this can’t always be changed. Therefore the way of combatting this jealousy is learning how to be happy with what you have in life, and unfortunately that’s not always as easy.

But turning jealousy into a positive can help create life goals and positive ways of changing. Jealously can perhaps be the mirror you hold up to your own life and realise what you want to change in order to be truly happy.

*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, Applied Criminology, and Criminology and Sociology. Follow Sarah on twitter at @SKeeping_Psych

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.

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.

Mental Illness Stigma: Living with Others’ Judgements

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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.

Changing Habitual Behaviours 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 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.

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 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!

 

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.

A Royal Story: The Importance of Mental Health #HeadsTogether

Often we ignore the importance of mental health without realizing how it can be the sole cause of our lack of motivation towards daily life interests.  Mental health governs your entire state of wellness.  It also enhances physical health, increases productivity and leads us towards healthy living.  A significant rise in depression in men has been seen lately, which is mainly attributed to prolonged state of stress. These psychological problems can actually lead to physical issues like heart disease, hypertension, compromise on the immune system and ulcers.

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The need of the hour is to generate awareness about the importance of mental health. Fortunately, projects like Heads Together are working tirelessly to help us comfortably engage with one another. This facilitates us to reach a mutual understanding of problems we face, and how we can handle them together.  The Kensington Royal Family is playing a significant role in promoting the cause of such projects.  There are seven charity partners that the Royal Family works with and Young Minds is notable in this regard.

The eradication of depression and psychological stress can change the entire perspective of how we look at things in life.  This can lead to improved mental wellbeing and make us more highly productive.  It is to be noted that it is not only young generations suffering from psychological issues, but adults too.  Once we put an end to the stigma around mental health, we can put an end to the exponentially rising anxiety states once and for all and thus transform our society into a much better place.

Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder: Setting Small Goals to Relieve 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 goals into smaller ones, especially if you are feeling low.

At the start of each new week, it is good to think about what you would like to achieve, however insignificant it may seem 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 better results.

I find that it is best to write down my goals in a notebook and to make them achievable for myself. 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 you 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 to reach your goal.

howtostopprocrastination

As always, the goal must be achievable. Achieving goals brings 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 important if you are suffering from depression not to 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.

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. Contact Jessica here

Learn mindfulness in 5 easy steps through using your senses: the five senses exercise

This exercise is called “five senses”, and provides guidelines on practising mindfulness quickly in nearly any situation.  All that is needed is to notice something you are experiencing with each of the five senses.

Follow this order to practice the five senses exercise:

  • Notice five things that you can see.

Look around you and bring your attention to five things that you can see. Pick something that you don’t normally notice, like a shadow or a small crack in the concrete.

  • Notice four things that you can feel.

Bring awareness to four things that you are currently feeling, like the texture of your pants, the feeling of the breeze on your skin, or the smooth surface of a table you are resting your hands on.

  • Notice three things you can hear.

Take a moment to listen, and note three things that you hear in the background. This can be the chirp of a bird, the hum of the refrigerator, or the faint sounds of traffic from a nearby road.

  • Notice two things you can smell.

Bring your awareness to smells that you usually filter out, whether they’re pleasant or unpleasant. Perhaps the breeze is carrying a whiff of pine trees if you’re outside, or the smell of a fast food restaurant across the street.

  • Notice one thing you can taste.

Focus on one thing that you can taste right now, in this moment. You can take a sip of a drink, chew a piece of gum, eat something, or just notice the current taste in your mouth or open your mouth to search the air for a taste.

This is a quick and relatively easy exercise to bring you to a mindful state quickly.

 

If you would like to learn more about managing your anxiety get in touch with The Brighton Mental Health and Wellness Centre.