Season’s Greetings from KlearMinds

Posted December 6th, 2017

Merry Christmas

The Christmas season is upon us and the team at KlearMinds would like to extend their very best wishes to all our clients past and present.

We all need a little help sometimes. With the right approach, positive change can happen fast. Our experienced therapists can help you understand the challenges you are facing and show you the steps you can take to make things better.

Our therapists have qualified from some of the UK’s foremost training institutions, with many years’ experience in working in the NHS, private practices and charity organisations. They are registered with recognised government bodies in the field: CPC, UKCP, BACP and BPS.

By choosing KlearMinds, you don’t just benefit from our team’s award winning leadership. Each of our therapists is trained in a range of counselling, life coaching and psychotherapy approaches. That way, we can tailor our approach to suit your learning style and give you the best opportunity for positive results.

But there’s no need to take our word for it.

We’re delighted to have received many positive reviews from past clients including these comments:

“I had tried counselling before and thought it wasn’t for me. I now realise that finding the right counsellor makes all the difference. As a result I feel in control, grounded and confident in all parts of my life and most importantly, I feel capable of moving forward.”

“Outstanding at providing me with what I needed, not as a “quick fix” but by giving me the tools to use whenever I may need them in the future.”

“Straight away Maggie was warm, kind and understanding… I didn’t want to be in therapy for a long time, I just wanted to get better, get on with my life… I cannot recommend Maggie highly enough to you. Whilst life still presents me with challenges I can cope with them as I feel so much stronger now – I owe her much.”

“My relationship with my partner is now fantastic, as are my relationships with my family… I am so much happier now than I have been in many, many, years.”

How to have a meaningful Christmas

Posted December 1st, 2017

Christmas Candles

What does Christmas mean to you? A huge Turkey Dinner followed by the Queen’s Speech? Lots of presents and an empty wallet? Partying through the season? While Christmas is a wonderful time of year, sometimes the real meaning can get lost in the frenzy of it all.

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate Christmas. Whether or not you celebrate Advent or go to Midnight Mass, it’s good for mind and soul to remind ourselves of the non-commercial aspects of the season and use the Christmas holiday as an annual break to recharge the batteries.

Practise kindness and generosity, charity and compassion and learn that giving from the heart can be the ultimate Christmas present to both the giver and receiver. Here are 7 ways to have a more meaningful Christmas.

1 – Give homemade gifts

Rather than spending big on presents just because it’s Christmas, why not get creative instead? Bake Christmas cookies, make your own Yule Log or cranberry sauce. How about a home made calendar with photos taken through the year? If you’re into needlework, handicrafts, creative writing, painting or music, use your talents to create personal gifts that have real meaning.

Homemade shortbread cookies

2 – Make time for the family

Christmas is a time for family, so make it a real priority to spend time together. Rather than putting the kids in front of the computer and the grandparents in front of the TV, go unplugged and do stuff together. Whether you play charades or board games, go for country walks or read stories to each other, the important thing is to appreciate everyone’s company and share the love.

3 – Talk about the meaning of Christmas

Why not have an open conversation with your family about what Christmas means to them? This will give every family member the opportunity to shape the festivities and create traditions that everyone will love. It might be going to Midnight Mass as a family, a favourite film you always watch together, the ritual of wrapping presents or making home made mince pies, the annual Pantomime outing – whatever makes you gel as a family.

4 – Have a ‘no presents’ policy

If your family is in agreement, why not use the money you would have spent on presents and make a donation to a good cause instead? You could go shopping for a local foodbank, give the money to a children’s charity or a homeless shelter to help those less fortunate than you. How about asking the children to choose one toy each that they would like to donate to a child who wouldn’t otherwise get any presents?

5 – Get out into the community

Christmas is a time for sharing, so why not share your time with friends and neighbours? Make your community a priority this Christmas and help out where you can. From going carol singing to inviting everyone back for Christmas drinks, from delivering home made cookies to your neighbours to distributing hot soup to the homeless, there are many ways you can connect with the local community.

Celebrating Christmas with the Family

6 – Share your good fortune

Look around your home – aren’t you blessed that you have so many things? Many people have less than you, for whatever reason, and simply cannot afford to celebrate Christmas. How about creating a stocking full of treats and gifts, or put together a food hamper, and place it on the doorstep of someone you know would really appreciate it? Or give your time freely to a community organisation to help with Christmas celebrations? Whether you help cook Christmas Dinner at your local church hall or look after abandoned pets, there’s always a way you can help.

7 – Setting good intentions

Rather than treating kindness and compassion as a seasonal activity, why not make plans to carry on through the next 12 months. Set out your intentions to do one good deed every day, and be grateful for one good thing that happens to you every day of the year. Studies have shown that consistent positive interactions and practising gratitude can increase happiness and decrease levels of depression.

Filled Under: Depression, Happiness

Colouring books for adults – what are the benefits?

Posted November 24th, 2017

Adult colouring books have been around for a few years now – have you tried them yet? It might be silly to think that something as simple as a colouring book could be beneficial to our health, but research does support this idea. In fact, the benefits for the adult brain from the simple act of colouring has been known for over 100 years, with many psychiatrists throughout history recommending the practice to their patients.

Relieves stress and worry

Colouring is said to have stress reducing benefits. It calms the part of the brain related to the stress/fear response and stimulates the part of the brain that is responsibility for logic and creativity. In 2005, a study documented reduced anxiety in participants after only a short time of colouring in geometric patterns. Colouring for at least 5 minutes before bedtime is said to help you sleep better, while colouring therapy is used experimentally to treat anxiety and stress related disorders.

Boosts concentration and creativity

Adult colouring books are becoming increasingly popular among creative professionals and executives in high stress jobs. The reason is that there’s evidence to suggest that even short colouring sessions can boost focus and concentration, spurring creativity. Some companies are so convinced of the benefits that they make time for group colouring sessions to improve the focus and creativity of employees working on a major project.

Has a calming, meditative effect on the mind

The psychological benefits of meditation and prayer are well known, but many people struggle to ‘switch off’ and calm the mind. Colouring is a hands-on activity that can be used to overcome this issue. It allows you to be active – to ‘do’ something – but without needing your full concentration. Studies have shown that colouring and similar activities have a meditative effect on the brain.

Improves relaxed and social interaction

Recently, colouring time has started to become a social activity, with many clubs and local community groups putting on ‘colouring’ meetings. Take your colouring book along and meet others who also enjoy colouring. Spend time focusing on this relaxing activity while having a natter and making new friends. As a social exercise, it’s a fun activity that you can even share with your kids!

While colouring therapy is used experimentally to treat sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and stress related conditions, it isn’t recommended that you use it in place of regular therapy with a qualified psychotherapist or counsellor.

That said, as a complementary activity that is both relaxing and enjoyable, there’s certainly no harm in putting an adult colouring book on your Christmas list.

Filled Under: Anxiety

Are you SAD?

Posted November 9th, 2017

Sad Woman Looking Out Window

As the days get shorter and the weather turns colder, winter can affect our mood in many ways. But if The Winter Blues leaves you feeling miserable, irritable and tired every year, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a form of depression that can affect your mood, appetite, sleep and energy levels. It can play havoc with all aspects of your life – from your relationships and your social life to you sense of self-worth. You may feel that you’re a totally different person during the winter and find it tough to function normally. Then, come spring, it’s like a dark cloud has lifted and you can feel yourself again.

Treatment for SAD typically involves light therapy, using a light box that delivers up to 10x the intensity of normal daylight that is missing during wintertime. Daily exposure will trick the brain into producing less melatonin (the hormone that makes you feel sleepy and less energetic). Phototherapy is an effective treatment but it doesn’t work for everyone. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can also be highly beneficial for suffers of seasonal depression.

Whichever treatment plan you favour, it’s important to combine it with self-help techniques that will help you manage your symptoms. By adopting healthy daily habits and scheduling time for fun and relaxation into your day, seasonal affective disorder can be controlled in the short and longer term.

Top 5 Self Help Tips for SAD

1 – Get as much exposure to natural light as you can by spending time outdoors in the winter sunshine, and keep curtains and blinds wide open during sunny days.
2 – Take regular exercise (preferably outdoors!) – 30-60 minutes a day are recommended. It will help you boost all those feelgood brain chemicals, improve your sleep and self-esteem.
3 – Be social and reach out to friends and family, meet new people or take up a hobby. Being around other people will take you out of your shell and provide inspiration to make positive changes.
4 – Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to keep your energy up. Stay away from sugary foods and simple carbs, choosing whole grains instead to minimise mood swings.
5 – Beat stress and counteract negative feelings through daily relaxation techniques including yoga and meditation, and make time for fun activities that make you feel good.

If you feel that you would benefit from speaking to a trained counsellor or psychotherapist to discuss any of the issues mentioned above, please contact the KlearMinds team on 0333 772 0256 or email your enquiry to info@klearminds.com. We are delighted to have helped many people overcome a wide range of concerns, empowering them with the skills to maintain happier and more fulfilled lives.

Filled Under: Depression

6 questions that mean you should practice some self-care

Posted October 16th, 2017

Stress at work

Regardless of how much energy you dedicate to your job or to other people, you need to ensure that you don’t neglect yourself. Looking after Number One is often easier said than done, but it’s important to find the right balance to ensure your wellbeing.

We all lead busy lives with never enough hours in the day to get everything done. Stress and anxiety disorders are common complaints in our 24/7 Western society. Admitting that your needs and wants are just as important as any item on your to-to list is the first step to a sustainable way of managing your life. You can’t be a superhero all the time; you’re human, after all.

1 – Are you neglecting your basic needs?

Skipping breakfast once in a while because you’re running late is fine, but making a habit of it is not healthy. Nor is getting only 5 hours sleep a night, or working 14 hours a day on a regular basis. Over time, these and similarly unhealthy habits mean that you’re depriving your body and mind of vital nutrients and rest.

If you’re not eating or sleeping properly, you’re literally running on empty, sacrificing your own health for your career. Without the energy to perform at your best, you won’t excel at work. In fact, your productivity is bound to suffer.

2 – Do you feel as if you’re stuck on autopilot?

Do you work to live or live to work? If your life is a case of ‘eat, sleep, work, repeat’, you may be stuck in a vicious circle that just allows you to go through the motions every day – with nothing left in the tank for anything other than the basic necessities.

What about your other needs? We all have emotional desires and social needs, and a drive for self-fulfilment. Crucially, we also need to get out there and experience all that life has to offer, rather than letting it pass us by.

3 – Are you always doing something for others?

While putting other people’s needs first can be a wonderful character trait, there are those who will take advantage of your good nature. If you’re a giving person, you will find it hard to say ‘no’ to others – but it’s essential for your own wellbeing to learn to define your boundaries.

You can’t give from an empty cup, as the saying goes. In order to stay strong, you need to protect yourself. Recognise when others are asking too much of you, and decline firmly but politely, putting your own needs first.

4 – Have you lost touch with friends or family?

When was the last time you met up with friends or family? If you’re spending too much time with co-workers who mean nothing to you on a personal level, your personal relationships with the people you love most will suffer as a result.

Make time for the people who matter to you. After all, which are you going to remember in 5 years’ time: the months you spent working late, or the times when you watched the kids perform in the school play?

5 – When was the last time you had fun?

When was the last time you left all your worries behind and just had fun? Perhaps you’re associating ‘fun’ with being a child, and feel guilty when you’re not working? Having a healthy work/life balance means that there should be regular time for enjoyment and relaxation in your life.

Make sure you ringfence some time for yourself and spend it on whatever makes you happy. Go for a walk in the country, eat an ice cream, take up a sport or a hobby, book a holiday.

6 – Can you remember who you are?

If you don’t take an active interest in yourself, then what are you left with? A humdrum existence that revolves around work and chores? Where is the person who once had hopes and dreams, who laughed and loved without the weight of the world on their shoulders?

Take some time out for yourself and find out what it is you need to do to get your life back on track. Life Coaching can be incredibly helpful to build confidence, overcome blocks to success and improve your quality of life. Call KlearMinds today on 0333 772 0256 or contact us here.

Filled Under: Happiness

Are you afraid of heights?

Posted October 3rd, 2017

Fear of heights

A fear of heights may be irrational and excessive to the onlooker, but it’s a very real anxiety disorder and a frightening experience for those who suffer from it. Of course, there are varying degrees of severity – some people may be just about able to manage a flight journey, while others would rather drive an extra 50 miles than go over a bridge.

There are actually several height related phobias including:

• Acrophobia – an extreme fear of heights where the person may only be able to function at ground level
• Aeroacrophobia – an irrational fear of open high places such as being in an aeroplane or in a hot air balloon, or on top of a mountain
• Illyngophobia – an extreme fear of spinning and dizziness, usually due to the height
• Climacophobia – an irrational fear of going/climbing down for a great height such as ladders, stairs or slopes
• Bathmophobia – an extreme fear of stairs or slopes, regardless of whether they’re being climbed

The symptoms of height related anxiety vary from one person to the next and can include sweating and cold flushes, trembling and dizziness, a racing heartbeat and a sense of panic, tight chest, nausea, numbness and many others.

If you encounter someone who is in an acute state of panic, you can help by providing empathy and reassurance. Stay with the person and, if possible, move them to a quiet space where the view to the ground cannot be seen. Be calm and explain in short sentences that s/he is not in danger and that you will help them get back down as soon as possible.

Living with a phobia means living in fear – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Therapy can be extremely effective for treating phobias such as being scared of heights. Counselling can help you confront your fear head on and learn to overcome it completely. The particular treatment option depends on the individual concerned, but the most common approaches include:

• Talking therapy (Counselling)
• Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
• Exposure Therapy

Alternative therapies such as Hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) may also be helpful.

Alternative therapies such as Hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) may also be helpful.

At KlearMinds, our therapists have many years’ experience of dealing with all kinds of phobias including a fear of heights. For more information or to book an appointment, please call 0333 7720256 or get in touch here.

Fear of heights - Trift Bridge

Filled Under: Phobias

Are you having a panic attack?

Posted September 27th, 2017

Anxiety Wordcloud

A panic attack is an extremely intense psychological event. An overwhelming wave of fear may strike without warning or apparent reason, but with an intensity that is both debilitating and immobilising. In fact, the sudden onset of severe anxiety may make you think you’re going crazy or are about to die.

You may only ever have one panic attack or suffer from recurrent episodes that may be triggered by particular circumstances that make you feel endangered and unable to escape. Triggers can be specific situations that are particularly fear inducing to you, such as public speaking, being stuck in a lift or crossing a bridge.

Whether you are normally a happy and healthy person or your panic attacks are part of a wider mental health issue such as panic disorder, social phobia or depression, it is treatable and the sooner you seek help, the better. Coping strategies can be used to deal with the symptoms, while effective panic attack treatment can help you regain control of your life.

Signs and symptoms

A panic attack develops suddenly, typically reaching its peak within 10 minutes and lasting about half an hour. Perhaps surprisingly, the signs and symptoms are physical rather than mental and often mimic very serious health issues. Typical symptoms include:

• Chest pains
• Shortness of breath
• Dizziness or fainting
• Muscle weakness
• Racing heart
• Tingling or numbness in hands/feet
• Hot and cold flushes
• Nausea
• Trembling all over
• Feeling detached from reality

Could it be a heart attack?

Since the signs and symptoms of a panic attack are so physical and severe, it is easy to mistake them for heart attack symptoms. However, there are some important differences:

• Heart attack induced chest pains tend to radiate more through the shoulder
• Heart attacks peak straight away while panic attacks tend to peak after around 10 minutes
• Heart attacks may involve vomiting

Panic attacks often cause incredibly intense feelings of impending doom, like something terrible is about to happen. Unsurprisingly, many panic attack sufferers will head straight to the doctor or hospital to get treatment for what they think may be a life threatening medical emergency.

Admittedly, the symptoms can be confusing to the lay person and often the only way to obtain clarity when you’re having an attack is to seek medical advice right away.

How to treat panic attacks

Panic attacks can be treated successfully with counselling and psychotherapy to help sufferers understand and manage symptoms, overcome attacks and reduce the frequency of occurrences. Panic attack management therapies can also help with the development of skills needed for coping successfully with any future attacks.

Panic attacks can be treated successfully with counselling and psychotherapy to help sufferers understand and manage symptoms, overcome attacks and reduce the frequency of occurrences. Panic attack management therapies can also help with the development of skills needed for coping successfully with any future attacks.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is generally viewed as the most effective psychotherapy for dealing with panic attacks and panic disorder. Focusing on the thinking patterns and behaviours that bring on panic, CBT can help to reshape these thought patterns. Relaxation training and exposure therapy may also be used to help overcome the problem.

Psychotherapy is a useful tool to help panic attack sufferers understand the root of the problem through childhood experiences, previous personal difficulties or past relationships and remove any underlying issues that may give rise to panic.

Finally, it is useful to have an arsenal of self-help tips at your fingertips to help you cope with anxiety and minimise your exposure to it. These include:

• Deep breathing exercise to relieve hyperventilation and calm yourself down
• Relaxation techniques (e.g. meditation, yoga) practised regularly to combat stress
• 30 minutes of regular exercise a day (e.g. walking, running, swimming, dancing) to relieve anxiety
• 7-9 hours of good quality sleep per night to maintain a healthy balance
• No smoking, alcohol or caffeine or other stimulants since these can provoke panic attacks in some people
• Social contact with friends and family to avoid isolation induced anxieties
• Education about panic and anxiety to help you recognise symptoms

Filled Under: Anxiety, Panic

7 new ways to challenge yourself

Posted September 25th, 2017

7 ways to challenge yourself

Do you feel unhappy with the way you look, your job, relationships or finances? Are you feeling stuck somehow, unable to make progress on issues that are important to you? Whatever it is that’s keeping you in a rut, there are ways to motivate yourself to make changes and move forward with your life.

Anthony Robbins, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford and Mark Twain have variously been attributed with these wise words: If you always do what you’ve always done you will always get what you’ve always got. It’s clear that you need to make changes – but how?

We’ve compiled 7 ways that you can challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and see what you’re really capable of.

1 – Increase physical exercise

If you want to lose weight, being more physically active is non-negotiable. In any event, exercise is good for your health and the endorphins released during physical exertion makes you feel better about yourself. No need to join the gym or do hours of gruelling exercise. Start with a simple 10-minute routine – perhaps a walk or jog round the block or 10 minutes of dancing around your living room – and notice the difference.

2 – Keep track of your spending

Many people struggle with money management. Whether you’re overspending or failing to save for a rainy day, proper budget discipline can be learnt. Challenge yourself to break your current financial habits, using a spreadsheet to keep track of your outgoings. Set a realistic limit and record every expenditure on your sheet. Try it for a week, or month, and see what you can learn. Have you saved any money?

3 – Learn a new language

If you’ve always fancied learning a new language, try tools such as Duolingo, a free app that’s fun to use. From Spanish or German to more far flung languages such as Russian or Japanese, there’s no need to attend traditional classes. Whether you’re hoping to boost your skills on your CV or your own personal development, the emphasis is on playful learning – from your phone, tablet or computer.

4 – Confront your fears

If you’re afraid of talking to people on the phone, or of public speaking, it may hold you back in your career. Whatever you’re feeling uncomfortable about, if you can learn to overcome the things you’re scared about and emerge a stronger person. Challenge yourself to set 5 minutes aside each day to acknowledge, analyse and face your fears. Be persistent and have courage.

5 – Take up a hobby

Broaden your horizon and do something you love! Whether you tap into your inner creative and take a painting class, take dancing lessons with your other half, or learn how to invest in stocks and shares, the important thing is that it’s not work. The aim of the exercise is to challenge yourself to relax, destress and stop feeling guilty about having fun!

6 – Invest in professional development

If your career is going nowhere, start building a bridge to a better job. Sometimes, what you know may not be enough – it’s who you know that could be opening the door to the next career opportunity. Attend conferences and events that are relevant to your profession and network with industry contacts to broaden your reach. Aim to go to one career related event every month.

7 – Meet new people, see new places

Whether you go travelling to explore new cultures, or you discover a new interest in your local museum, being open to new experiences will change you as a person. Take an interest in new people including those you wouldn’t normally engage with – the checkout girl, the homeless man, the old lady next door? There’s no limit to what you can learn about the world or about yourself.

If you feel you may benefit from professional assistance, Life Coaching can be an effective way to help you build confidence, while identifying, setting and achieving new goals in your life. Why not contact KlearMinds to find out more?

How are you angry?

Posted September 5th, 2017

Anger is one of many human emotions – we all feel it on occasion. But it’s when anger gets out of control that it can cause huge problems in your life, your work and relationships, your health and your overall happiness.

Anger can manifest in different ways, and psychologists have long tried to come up with an agreed set of anger types. The trouble is that anger is unique in every case and highly affected by the cause and context that it occurs in, which makes categorisation difficult.

Nevertheless, learning to understand the different types of anger that can be experienced is essential in managing any anger issues constructively, so that self-confidence, harmonious relationships and personal happiness can be restored.

Volatile Anger

This type of anger seems to explode out of nowhere. The intensity can be frightening and verbal outbursts and physical violence, often triggered by a particular personal annoyance or a perceived wrong, can result. Anger management techniques are very effective to deal with volatile anger by teaching you to identify the signs and symptoms and employing strategies (e.g. breathing or leaving the room) to calm down.

Chronic Anger

Chronic anger can bubble beneath the surface for years, unable to express itself. Rather, it can manifest in a widespread resentment of other people or life in general. Chronic unexpressed anger is unhealthy – it can lead to depression and a range of other mood disorders, and can manifest as addiction, eating disorders and self harm.

Passive (Aggressive) Anger

Anger that’s repressed or concealed will often find a way out in unpredictable or unusual ways, sometimes without the anger sufferer being aware of what is happening. This includes sarcasm, deliberate avoidance or under performance techniques and a host of other passive aggressive behaviours. Passive anger is one of the most difficult to identify and deal with.

Judgemental Anger

This type of anger comes out of resentment or loathing resulting in unfavourable judgements made about other people or situations. Judgemental anger typically manifests as critical or hurtful comments that are deliberately directed at the source of the anger.

Overwhelmed Anger

When everything gets on top of you or circumstances conspire against you to an intolerable extent, a feeling of anger may overwhelm you. Rather than ‘giving up’ in the face of extreme adversity, your frustration may be directed outwards.

Retaliatory Anger

Anger can be a powerful motivator for revenge actions directed at a person or an organisation who you feel has treated you wrongly. Whether it’s a relationship that has ended badly, or a company refusing to refund faulty goods, this type of anger can lead to dangerous behaviour.

Constructive Anger

Anger can be a positive thing in that it provides the motivation and drive to initiate positive action. If you believe you have suffered an injustice, anger may help you to overcome any shyness or fear that might otherwise stop you from standing up for yourself. Or perhaps you deliberately work yourself into a state of anger to be in peak performance for the gym, or a boxing fight?

Whichever type of anger you may suffer from, the anger management counsellors at KlearMinds are well placed to help you understand how and why your anger occurs, helping you to recognise triggers and manage and express your feelings safely and constructively. Using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) alongside other psychotherapy techniques allows us to tailor our therapy to suit your individual needs and circumstances. For more information, please contact us confidentially on 0333 7720256.

Filled Under: Anger, Anger Management

Next Page »