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

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

Failure and rejection doesn’t have to mean that you have failed as a person

Failure doesn’t have to mean failure by Sarah Keeping- guest blogger.

Ever failed a driving test? Yep, I have. Twice. But I’m not talking about things you can easily re-take. I’m talking about things you invest a lot of time and effort in for it to come to nothing.

I started at university the first year tuition loans came in – so for anyone who went to university before this, my degree cost a lot of money. For any current students, my degree cost peanuts. But I was told in my second year that now ‘everyone’ has a degree, you should do a Masters to make sure you get a job over other candidates. I believed this to be the case and so in my final year I applied to do a Masters course and was accepted. I remember someone on my course saying how they were done with studying and couldn’t believe that I wanted to do more. But I did. I didn’t know what else to do so studying more would surely be the best thing?

I really enjoyed my Masters year, but when it came to doing my dissertation, I had lost all motivation for it. Maybe it was the topic, maybe it was because I still didn’t know what I was going to do after graduating.

One October morning, I was just about to leave for work (a retail job near my home) and my friend text me to say our grades had been released and were on the university system. I had a few minutes before I really had to leave so I thought I’d quickly check. Under the ‘dissertation’ column it said ‘F’. I thought, what does ‘F’ mean? It meant FAIL. I walked to work in a daze.

I’d never failed a subject in my life. I was so disappointed. I had the option to re-submit but I couldn’t face the prospect of re-doing a dissertation and not graduating with my friends. I decided to take the lower grade award and reassess.

For three years, I stayed in my retail job just wondering what I should do. At 18, I had naively thought that Psychology was all about the brain and therefore very science focused (I hated science at school) so I didn’t choose to study that at university. I got to 25 and thought, what have I got to lose? I applied to do a Psychology conversion course and was accepted. Two years later I was receiving my certificate at my graduation. Brilliant. What’s next? A Masters?

I applied to do a Masters course again and was accepted. For one year, if I wasn’t working I was reading for or writing an assignment. Then came the dissertation. I chose a subject that I was passionate about and really cared about. That was the difference. I was also extremely focused on history not repeating itself. In many ways, this course was also a righting a wrong. I don’t give up, I never fail (in the long run, anyway).

It’s easy to say this now, but I do think that it’s good to experience failure. Whatever you fail at, it spurs you on to try and never go through that feeling again. It definitely helped me – I was very happy walking across the stage as my name was read out at my graduation, having passed my Masters. With Distinction.

*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

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

Learn to Meditate easily with this YouTube video

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

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.

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, 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 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.

 

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

How do you start a meditation habit? — BayArt

The habit of meditation is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever learned. Amazingly, it’s also one of the most simple habits to do — you can do it anywhere, any time, and it will always have immediate benefits. How many habits can you say that about? While many people think of meditation as…

via How do you start a meditation habit? — BayArt

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

The Pursuit of Mindfulness

“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 can6a00e554eecbdf88330120a7ad5e67970b-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.