4 reasons why you should take a summer holiday

Posted August 8th, 2017

 

Why you should take a summer holiday

Holiday season is here and we really hope that you’re in the middle of packing your suitcase ready to take a well earned break. But perhaps you’re not going away this summer? Too busy at work? Worried about what you’ll miss while you’re gone? Don’t really see the need for a break?

If you’re not booked to go on holiday, here’s some really good advice. Just go! We’ve got 5 important reasons why you should take that break.

1 – Destress and unwind

If you live a busy and stressful life, it’s essential to schedule in some time to rebalance your life. Stress has a habit of creeping up on you and you may not even realise how it’s affecting your mental health.

Stop thinking about work for a week and just relax. Whether this means sun, sea and sand, mountain walking or dancing the night away, it’s important to leave your worries at home and do something you totally different.

Relaxing on a beach

2 – Spend quality time with your loved ones

Holidays are the perfect time to reconnect with your partner, kids or friends. If possible, leave the laptop and smartphone at home (or go somewhere without WiFi or mobile signal!) and have fun together the old fashioned way.

Away from busy daily lives, you’ll be free of distractions. It’s an opportunity to talk to each other, to share experiences together and make memories. In years to come, you’ll be reminiscing over the adventure you had, with holiday pictures to remind you of some good times.

Family in the pool

3 – Good for the body

Research has shown that people are more physically active on holiday than they are during a normal working week. From long promenade walks to daily swimming, practising watersports or just exploring the local area, plus the abundance of vitamin D obtained from the holiday sun – it’s a healthier lifestyle than back home.

On your return, you’ll feel physically refreshed, with a few good nights’ sleep under your belt and healthy tan to show off, ready to take on the world.

Couple racing on bikes

4 – Good for the mind

Travelling broadens the mind. Seeing new places, doing new things, experiencing different cultures or sampling exotic cuisines are learning experiences that shape who you are.

What’s more, you will feel inspired by your holiday experiences, Having had the time and head space to think about how and where your life is going, you’ll come back mentally clearer and ready for the challenges ahead. It’s amazing what some fresh air, laughter and relaxation can do for your wellbeing.

Enjoying the countryside

Filled Under: Happiness

Wheel of Life – a tool to assess your personal happiness

Posted July 20th, 2017

The Wheel of Life, aka the Wellness Wheel, is a great exercise that can be used to help create more balance and success in all aspects of your life. It’s a tool routinely used by counsellors and life coaches, gently encouraging you to take a close look at each key area of happiness:

Health

Take an honest look at your physical health and ask yourself how fit and healthy you really feel. What about your energy levels, stress levels, sleep patterns? Are you physically active and do you eat healthily? Are there any medical issues that need addressing? Feeling good physically is a key indicator of your overall happiness.

Career

While we can’t all be brain surgeons or rocket scientists, we can all aim to be fulfilled in our chosen career paths. Are you good at what you do and do you feel a sense of job satisfaction? Do you feel valued by your employer for the contribution that you make in the workplace?

Friends and Family

Take a look at your family relationships and wider social network. Do you spend quality time with your loved ones? Do you feel accepted just as you are as part of the wider family or are there any issues? Are you close to those around you and feel connected to your community? We all need positive friendships and a sense of belonging.

Home Environment

Take a look at your immediate surroundings – is there clutter at home, mess on your desk or chaos in your car? It may be a reflection of what goes on inside of you. Make sure there is space in your life for new thoughts and things that serve you and get rid of old (mental and actual) junk.

Finances

We don’t all have the resources of the young Duke of Westminster’s £9.5 billion fortune, but we can all ensure that we live within our means. Are you in control of your finances, including making provisions for the future and for those closest to you?

Fun & Recreation

Joy and happiness go together like strawberries and cream, but as we grow older and life takes over, it’s easy to forget how to have fun. How often do you connect with your inner child? Do you laugh and play, dream and dare just because it makes you feel alive?

Personal Growth

Life is more than a series of chores, so think about the activities that feed your soul. Whether you love creative pursuits such as singing or painting, you like the intellectual stimulation of learning a new language or playing chess, or you take an active interest in current affairs, it’s important to be true to yourself. Do you feel connected to a higher power or an inner optimism to keep you grounded? Your mental wellbeing will increase if you can stay curious and engaged with the world around you.

Significant Other

How happy are you with your current relationship status? Are you quite happy being single, looking for your soulmate or feeling secure as part of a loving and supportive couple with shared values?

Mark each of the 8 segment of your overall happiness ‘pie’ on a scale of 1 to 10 to create an individual map that is a visual representation of your current state of personal contentment. Now take a long look at the shape of the results.

Are you happy with the overall amount of happiness in your life? Which segments are strongest and do you appreciate what you’ve got in these areas? What about areas for improvement? Armed with a clear picture, you’re now in a really good place to devise a positive plan of action.

Filled Under: Happiness

Procrastination and 7 top tips to get over it

Posted July 7th, 2017

‘Tomorrow is a mystical land where 99% of all human productivity, motivation and achievement is stored’, it says on the internet. Put another way, if your mother ever told you to never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, she was right.

Many of us suffer from procrastination – a myriad of avoidance techniques we have mastered to not do what we know in our hearts of hearts should be done. If you’re feeling frustrated with yourself about the lack of progress that comes from dithering over a work assignment to forever postponing DIY jobs at home, or you’re stressing about continually dodging the bigger decisions that you know full well need to be taken – you might need help.

We’ve come up with 7 life coaching tips to help you get over your procrastination habit, take charge of the tasks in hand and get on with your life. Not only will you find yourself becoming more productive, you will love the new found focus and energy that propels you towards your goals.

1 – Overthinking creates problems that were never there.

There is a fine line between good planning and overthinking every aspect. Planning is a necessity, of course, but you can never plan for every eventuality or avoid every mistake. Spending too long on creating the perfect plan is counterproductive. It’s time to stop thinking and start doing.

2 – Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

The longer you dwell on a particular thing, the bigger it becomes in your head. If the issue in question is a difficult one, the problem will grow and grow until it becomes a monster so large you’re even more afraid to tackle it. No matter how you feel, tell your negative inner voices to be quiet and force yourself to just make a start.

3 – You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

The distance between where you are now and where you want to be (the top of the stairs!) may look overwhelming – but only if that’s where you look. Rather than focusing on the end result, break it down into smaller chunks and take it one day at a time. Taking the first step will make you feel good and lead to you wanting to take the next step and the one after that. Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time.

4 – Swallow the frog first.

The ‘frog’ is your biggest and most important task of the day, the one that you want to put off the most. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your day. Whether you’re dreading making an important phone call or doing your tax return, do this first. You will feel a great sense of relief once you’ve accomplished the task, and the rest of your to-do list will seem a doddle in comparison.

5 – Nothing happens until you decide.

Procrastination is the feeling of wanting to do something but not taking the action that aligns with that thought, which leads to inner conflict. Don’t get lost in limbo land. Instead, boost your confidence and self esteem by taking action – any action – and teach yourself that you can be a decisive person. By repeating this pattern time and again, your prophesy will be self-fulfilling.

6 – Face your fears and do it anyway.

Of course, it’s always hard to make mistakes, to get hurt, to take responsibility for your actions and to risk looking like a fool. But if that is what’s stopping you from putting yourself out there you’ll never know whether you could have succeeded. In order to live fully and without regret, you may need to push yourself outside your comfort zone and just go for it. Failure is the mother of success, according to an old Chinese proverb.

7 – Finish what you started.

Taking the first step of a task may be difficult but getting to the end of the task may also be a problem. If the energy has gone and you never finish what you started, you can experience feelings of self-doubt, fatigue and stress. Review the job in hand and decide whether it really needs finishing – there’s no law that says everything must be completed. If it doesn’t require finishing, then terminate the project. If, however, it does need finishing, give yourself one last push and feel a whole lot better having achieved your goal.

Filled Under: Anxiety

4 tips to help you choose the best therapist or counsellor

Posted June 19th, 2017

Deciding to work with a qualified counsellor or therapist is a big decision to take. Whatever your issues or concerns are, it will take time to work through them in order to make progress. At KlearMinds, our professional team is committed to helping you achieve lasting change in the fastest way possible, but do be aware that counselling can never be a quick fix.

While there are many different approaches to counselling and therapy, the most important aspect is the rapport you have with your therapist. Especially if you are feeling anxious and vulnerable, finding someone you can trust and that you would feel comfortable talking to about very personal thoughts and feelings is key.

So, how do you go about choosing the right therapist? Here are 4 tips to help you make the right decision.

1 – Do your research

From word of mouth to local sources and online directories such as the Counselling Directory, there are many ways to find therapists in your locality. You can filter your search by area, type of therapy or the type of issue you wish to address.

The KlearMinds therapy team comprises a number of experienced counsellors, psychotherapists and life coaches that can help with a wide range of mental health concerns.

If you are looking at online profiles or professional websites, be mindful of your thoughts and feelings as you look through them. Does the person whose profile you’re reading give the right impression? Are they approachable? Professional? The sort of person you could talk to?

2 – Trust your gut feeling

When it comes down to it, there’s no scientifically proven way to choose a therapist; you’re going to have to go with your gut. If you’re drawn to a particular person, there may well be a reason that you don’t understand rationally. Don’t ignore your intuition.

Do you have a preference of male or female therapist? Is your issue particularly related to one or the other gender? It’s a very individual thing and there are no right or wrong answers – you need to choose what feels right for you.

3 – Speak to more than one therapist

There’s no need to make a decision based on having spoken to, or seen, only one therapist, unless you’re comfortable to do so. It is perfectly OK to make a shortlist and speak to several therapists, perhaps taking advantage of any free phone consultations that may be on offer.

At KlearMinds, we view the initial meeting as a mutual opportunity to see whether working together could produce the results you wish to achieve. It is a time for you to ask about how we work and the types of therapy that might be most appropriate for you. At the end of the meeting, you may wish to go ahead with counselling or go away and think it over – no pressure.

4 – Make your decision

When you think you’ve found a counsellor that you are happy with, book a first set of sessions to get your therapy started. At this point it is important to make a firm commitment, even if it’s only for a few sessions, to give you both a chance to get to know each other. Sometimes, difficult feelings can come up at the beginning of your journey together and it’s wise not to throw in the towel.

At the end of the first set of sessions, you will be given the opportunity to review your progress and either continue or terminate your therapy.

If you wish to make contact with the KlearMinds team to discuss the possibility of therapy, you can reach us by email or phone 0333 772 0256.

Filled Under: Counselling

Looking after Number One: 9 ways to practise self-love

Posted June 5th, 2017

Many of us have grown up to believe that if you’re not constantly working hard, or looking after those around you, you’re being selfish. The problem is that this kind of ingrained thinking puts your needs last, not first.

Think about it. If you don’t take care of yourself, making time for rest and relaxation to replenish your reserves, how can you be of any use to anyone else? How can you do your best in a high pressure job? Look after your family with love and patience? Conduct healthy relationships? You can’t give from an empty cup.

Taken to extremes, it’s no wonder that our mental and physical health takes the hit. From stress related illnesses to anxiety and panic attacks, low self-esteem, anger management issues, depression and many many other issues, the fact of the matter is that we’re not coping.

Time to say goodbye to self-hate and self-destruction, and go back to basics.

Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself – it is a set of thoughts and actions that, over time, develops healthy physical, psychological and spiritual growth. When you act in a way that supports your own needs, you will learn to acknowledge your strengths as well as accept your weaknesses, without the need to explain your shortcomings. Compassion and balanced will guide your values as you move through life with much greater fulfilment.

As a concept, self-love teaches you to release negative thoughts and self-criticism and to embrace more loving thoughts instead. It is these thoughts that will form the basis of your actions which, in turn, define your life.

That’s all very well, you may say, but how does it work in practice?

Self-love should be a very concrete, realistic thing that you practise every day. Here are our top 9 suggestions on how to look after Number One.

1 – You are what you eat

Fill your body with nourishing food and drink and take the time to appreciate mealtimes. Eating mindfully – not while multitasking, or in a hurry – means that you treat your body with the respect it deserves.

2 – Praise yourself

Rather than compiling a never ending To Do list, recognise your achievements at the end of each day. Did you finish a work assignment? Do the laundry? Make that important phone call? Play with the kids? Give yourself a well earned pat on the back.

3 – Practise gratitude

Find something to be grateful for every day, even on down days. Write it down – perhaps in a diary by the bedside – and you will find that by focusing on one positive thing per day, no matter how trivial, your mind set will shift away from the negative.

4 – Create a bedroom sanctuary

Does your bedroom need some TLC? Build a space that feels cosy and inviting by adding scented candles, a fluffy bedspread, fresh flowers or anything else that makes you feel good. Now you have a safe haven to retreat to when the going gets tough.

5 – Rediscover your inner child

Cast your mind back to the innocence of childhood and think about some of your favourite things back then. It could be picking wildflowers, making up silly rhymes, or having a hot chocolate with marshmallows on top. Now go and treat yourself and feel the warm feeling wash all over you.

6 – Get active

No doubt you’ve heard about endorphins – feelgood hormones that are released through exercise. Find a form of physical activity that you really love – gardening, cycling, gym, dancing, walking, etc – and enjoy it on a regular basis. You will feel happier.

7 – Lose yourself in a book

There’s nothing quite like losing yourself in a great book for an hour or two. The act of reading encourages a sense of peace and tranquillity that is perfect for balancing a hectic lifestyle. It’s something you can look forward to every day.

8 – Take a break from digital

If you have a smartphone, an email account or a Twitter handle, you will know how easy it is to give hours of your daily life over to online activities. But it’s important to take time out from the internet to reconnect with actual life. Switch it off for an hour a day and notice the difference.

9 – Channel your inner creativity

Being creative is a need that we all have inside. Getting artistic will allow you to fell both mindful and productive, so find something you really want to do and go ahead. From cooking a meal to painting a picture, designing a garden or writing a poem, there’s bound to be something that makes your heart sing.

Filled Under: Happiness

Breathe yourself calm

Posted May 15th, 2017

What could be easier than breathing? We do it all the time, and yet not all breaths are created equal.

Deep breathing can be a great tool to use when you’re in a state of anxiety, high stress or are dealing with a panic attack. The simple action of taking deep breaths is soothing and calming on body and mind.

If you want to use your breath to calm yourself, all you need to do is to stimulate the right part of the body’s nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system controls our rest, relax and digest response. When it is activated, the body is in a state of calm, with dilated blood vessels and lower blood pressure, a slow heart rate and calm breathing.

How to get there? Your outbreath needs to be slightly longer than your inbreath. This stimulates the vagus nerve, which runs from the diaphragm all the way to the brain.

There are many different breathing exercises you can try to put your body into a parasympathetic state, but the simplest is this one:

  1. Find a comfortable place where you can sit quietly in a relaxed pose but with your spine upright. Close your eyes and begin breathing normally through your nose.
  2. Next, take a deep, slow breath in through your nose counting to two, hold for one count, and exhale counting to four, then hold again for one count. Make sure you breathe smoothly and evenly.
  3. If this feels too easy, you could try inhaling for 4 counts and exhaling for 6, or even 6 inhales and 8 exhales, just so long as it still feels comfortable.
  4. On the outbreath, try experimenting with breathing our through your nose, through pursed lips or through your mouth to see what feels best for you.
  5. Do this breathing exercise for a minimum of 5 minutes and notice a real difference in your state of mind.

If you find breathing exercises helpful to combat stress and anxiety in your life, you may wish to try these 3 video guided exercises:

Filled Under: Anxiety, Happiness

Are you getting a good night’s sleep?

Posted May 3rd, 2017

A good night’s sleep is something many people take for granted. But when it’s not happening, and you’re routinely suffering from lack of sleep or interrupted nights, this can take its toll on your physical health and emotional wellbeing.

According to the Royal Society for Public Health, adults need 7-9 hours’ sleep per night. However, the average time recorded in a recent sleep survey was 6.8 hours, and many people are suffering from restless nights or periods spent lying awake too.

Lack of sleep is related to increased stress and irritability, while poor sleep is known to increase the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Clearly, the benefits of getting sufficient good quality sleep are not to be underestimated.

  • Stress reduction – Just as lack of sleep can raise the level of stress hormones in the body, deep and regular sleep can lower them.
  • Lower blood pressure – Sufficient restful sleep keeps the body relaxed and has a beneficial effect on your blood pressure, lowering the chances of heart disease and stroke.
  • Better immunity – Lack of sleep makes your body less able to fight infections, while plenty of good quality sleep improves your immunity.
  • Brain boosting – While your body is resting, your brain is busy processing memories. With plenty of sleep, your cognitive function improves and you feel more attentive and focused.
  • Mood lifting – Getting a good night’s sleep will help keep you in a calm and balanced frame of mind, while lack of sleep will lead to irritability and may exacerbate depression, anxiety or anger management issues.
  • Weight control – Plenty of good sleep will help regulate the hormones that affect our appetite, while reducing cravings for the wrong foods.

To help improve your personal sleep patterns, it is recommended that you establish a regular bedtime routine to prepare your brain and body for sleep. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day to keep your body clock regular. Wind down before bedtime so you are relaxed and ready for sleep

DO          have a relaxing bath or listen to soft music

DO          practise breathing exercises to help you calm down

DO          practise visualisation, perhaps a scene or landscape that holds fond memories for you

DO          give your body and mind time to switch of from gadgets, smartphones, computers and TV

DO          avoid coffee, tea, chocolate, alcohol, spicy foods and other stimulants before bedtime

DO          learn meditation or mindfulness techniques or progressive muscle relaxation for sleep

Filled Under: Happiness

7 ways to make space for downtime every day

Posted April 18th, 2017

Are you busy today, and every day? Too busy to ‘stop and stare’? Our world continues to whizz around at ever increasing speeds, thanks to mobile communications technology and the 24/7 availability of information. The result is that our brains are expected to process information at an unprecedented rate, with the expectation that we’re constantly ‘on call’.

Where’s the downtime?

Research has shown that downtime is hugely important to our wellbeing. It helps to alleviate anxiety and depression and is a valuable tool for stress management. ‘Switching off’ for just a short time is important for recharging and replenishing our depleted mental resources, providing our minds with the necessary rest and space to increase our attention span, improve memory function, process information and learning, inspire creativity and make better decisions.

The trick is to take time out to intentionally and mindfully slow down, creating a bit of extra space every day. Just 10-15 minutes a day can be a sufficient window for our minds to experience downtime.

Here are 7 easy strategies you could try:

1 – Get up 15 minutes earlier. Find a bit of peace and quiet before the madness of the day consumes you. Whether you try a short morning meditation, take a longer shower or simply have a cup of tea in bed, it helps to set you up for the day.

2 – Reassess your commute. If you must commute to work, make the time as stress free and relaxing as you can. Try sitting in silence, creating space for the mind, rather than cluttering it up with news and information before you even get to the office.

3 – Take a ‘power nap’. A 10-minute nap in the middle of the day, sitting in a chair, is all it takes to recharge and enhance your performance straight away.

4 – Take a short walk every day. The fresh air and the change in environment are enough to switch off from ‘work mode’ for a few minutes, leaving you refreshed and in a better mood.

5 – Turn off the TV. Did you know that we watch on average 34 hours of TV a week? Rather than taking in more information (ostensibly as entertainment), why not value our downtime by switching off artificial stimulants?

6 – Limit distracting internet activities. Rather than spending hours idly surfing the web, use the time to engage with the real world – you will feel better for it.

7 – Turn off notifications. Did you know that we now check our phones an average of 150 times a day? Don’t be a slave to your smartphone. Incoming emails, messages and notifications – nothing is so important that it can’t wait a while.

Filled Under: Counselling

What are you afraid of?

Posted April 4th, 2017

Everyone is afraid of something, but when your fear is so specific that it triggers excessive levels of anxiety or panic, you could be suffering from a phobia. Phobias are distressing emotions that are initiated by fears, both real and imagined, that are simply out of proportion. Irrational fears about a place or situation, an object or an animal can make it difficult to live a normal life.

Around 10 million people in the UK suffer from some type of phobia. But what exactly are people so afraid of? The 5 most common phobias in the world are:

1 – Arachnophobia – fear of spiders

An excessive fear of spiders and other arachnids such as scorpions is the most common animal phobia in the world. Often, the cause is the perception that some species of spider are deadly dangerous and the human survival instinct kicks in. Arachnophobes often go to extreme lengths to make sure their surroundings are spider free.

2 – Ophidiophobia – fear of snakes

Affecting nearly a third of the adult human population, a fear of snakes also has evolutionary roots, since venomous snakes can kill. In extreme cases, ophidiophobia can stop a person from going camping or hiking, or take part in any activity where snakes or other reptiles have a chance of appearing.

3 – Acrophobia – fear of heights

An irrational fear of heights or falling from height is a phobia whereby the sufferer gets highly agitated or panics – which could affect their ability to climb down to safety. Extreme acrophobics can’t even tolerate stepping on or off a chair without suffering symptoms.

4 – Agoraphobia – fear of open or crowded spaces

A fear of open spaces, or of crowded spaces, can be a debilitating condition that prevents the sufferer from going out in public – from shopping centres to concerts or theatres and many other social situations. There’s intense panic even at the thought or sight of such a space, and the feeling that it will be impossible to escape from. Agoraphobics often display avoidance behaviour and limit their range of activities, suffering from depression.

5 – Cynophobia – fear of dogs

Another common animal phobia, the fear of dogs (and often also of cats) can lead to even more limiting social behaviour since domestic animals are a common sight in residential areas. The condition typically develops in childhood and, interestingly, nearly ¾ of cynophobics are women.

Other types of phobia can involve the fear of flying (pteromerhanophobia), fear of germs (mysophobia), fear of injections (trypanophobia), fear of failure (atychiphobia), fear of abandonment (autophobia), fear of social situations and many others.

If you suffer from any type of phobia, you don’t have to live the rest of your life in fear. There are many therapy options available to effectively deal with a phobia, allowing you to face and overcome your fears once and for all. They include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy and an approach based in Integrative Psychotherapy.

The first step to a lasting change is to make contact with an experienced and sympathetic therapist. Why not call the friendly team at KlearMinds today on 0333 7720256 to book an appointment?

Filled Under: Phobias

10 reasons why getting outside more is good for your health!

Posted March 16th, 2017

Did you know that spending time outdoors can benefit your physical and mental health? You don’t even have to be exercising energetically to reap the benefits. Simple everyday activities such walking to work, taking the dog out or having an after dinner stroll can really improve the way you feel.

We all know that a good walk in the fresh air can help you collect your thoughts, let off steam or simply relax, particularly when you’re experiencing high levels of stress. But it’s more than that. Walking can positively affect your overall wellbeing, and even help fight depression.

Here are just a few good reasons why it pays huge dividends to get outside more.

  1. Walking, just like any other physical activity, releases endorphins. These are the ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain that are responsible for improving your mood and reducing anxiety and stress.
  2. Regular walking can help improve your sleep patterns, leading to better quality and more refreshing sleep.
  3. It is a well known scientific fact that people with active lifestyles have a lower risk of suffering from clinical depression.
  4. It is a recognised benefit that spending time in contact with the natural environment – perhaps by walking in local parks, green spaces or woodland – can boost your mental health.
  5. Regular physical exercise has been shown to be at least as effective a treatment for mild to moderate depression compared to taking antidepressant medication. What’s more, all the side effects of exercise are positive!
  6. According to a recent clinical study, being surrounded by nature gives your brain a break from overstimulation, which can have a restorative effect – increasing your vitality, boosting energy levels and heightening your concentration.
  7. Discovering your local area on foot is a great way to make you feel more at home. It gives you a greater sense of belonging, and makes you more likely to make contact and establish friendships with people who live close by.
  8. A welcome by-product of regular walking is that you will feel fitter and may lose some weight. This can enhance your body image and improve confidence.
  9. Group walking is a sociable activity that can make you feel more connected and overcome social isolation – all helpful in boosting your mental health.
  10. Even if you don’t go for a walk but simply spend time outdoors, this will still improve your wellbeing. Why not take your lunch break on a park bench, or watch the children play in the playground on a sunny day?

Filled Under: Happiness

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