According to the mental health charity Mind, one in six people per week report experiencing a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression in England. If you suffer from depression, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you break negative thought patterns and aid recovery.
Research has found that people with depression may inadvertently suppress positive emotions with thoughts such as ‘I don’t deserve to be happy’ or ‘This good feeling won’t last’. This is called ‘dampening’, a negative defence mechanism to protect from potential disappointment.
CBT has been shown to help significantly with treating depression, allowing you and your therapist to work together to break the thinking error cycle and allow happy thoughts to remain. With the help of regular CBT sessions and additional self-practice, you can identify negative patterns and work towards leaving them behind. Here are 5 CBT techniques to help you.
1 – Recognise the problem and brainstorm solutions
Both journalling and talking with your therapist can help you to discover the root of your depression. When you’ve hit on something, write down in simple sentences exactly what is bothering you, then think of ways to improve things. One of the tell-tale signs of depression is the feeling that things will never get better. Making a written list of things you can do to address the situation – taking steps to join a local club to beat loneliness, for instance – can help ease feelings of depression.
2 – Write down self-statements to counteract each negative thought
Once you’ve identified the root problem of your depression, think of all the negative thoughts you use to dampen any positive thoughts, then write a self-statement to counteract each one – for example ‘It’s OK to have a good day’ to replace ‘I am so depressed right now’. Repeat them back to yourself and commit them to memory, so that you can use them whenever necessary. In time, you will create new associations to replace your negative thought patterns with positive ones.
3 – Look for opportunities to turn negatives into positive thoughts
If your immediate reaction to something is always a negative one, you can retrain your brain to think positively. As an example, rather than thinking ‘I hate the colour of this room’ upon entering, find 5 things in the room that you feel positive about. It’s a good idea to set your alarm three times a day to reframe your thoughts into something positive. If possible, buddy up with someone who is working on the same technique, then celebrate your successes together.
4 – Finish each day with a gratitude journal entry
Starting a gratitude journal is a great habit to get into. Finish each day by writing an entry that focuses on the day’s best bits. By simply focusing on the positives and writing down what you are most grateful for, it can help you form new associations in your mind and create new pathways. Your day may go from ‘Another boring day at the office’ when you wake up to ‘What a beautiful sunny day it was’ when you come to writing your journal entry at bedtime.
5 – Put your disappointments into perspective
Everyone has ups and downs and disappointing situations are a part of normal life. It’s your reaction to each disappointment that can determine how quickly you can move forward. For instance, after a relationship breakup you may be blaming yourself thinking ‘no-one will ever find me attractive again’. A healthier approach would be to allow yourself to feel disappointed about the things you cannot change, but write down your lessons learnt and what you can do differently next time.
At KlearMinds we are aware that people with depression often don’t respond well to self-study, which is why we recommend a course of CBT with one of our trained therapists. That way, your therapist can teach you helpful CBT strategies to counteract negative thinking patterns associated with depression, then help you stay on track with practising the techniques at home. For more information or to book an appointment, please contact us.
We all do it. Whenever you’re out for dinner or drinks with friends, chatting away and catching up on old times, where’s your phone? That’s right – it’s either in your hand already or sitting face up on the table, waiting to spark into life when that next social media notification comes in.
While social media can be a great thing, as success stories like the ALS #IceBucketChallenge prove, it can also be problematic – especially when it comes to our mental health. We as a society are now more interconnected than ever, but we are becoming over-reliant on social media. Recent research has even found that the average Brit checks their phones an 10,000 times a year, or 28 times a day. That is an obsessive level. We are addicted and most of us don’t even know it.
It’s not just the addictive side of it we have to worry about either. Social media often gets described as a ‘showing off contest’, due to people being able to upload images that seemingly glamourise their life. When you compare your own life to other people’s filtered photos, it’s easy to start wishing your life was better, or equal to theirs, which knocks your self-esteem.
Therefore, while social media can be a great tool, its overuse can have some harmful consequences. Here are four more ways in which using social media could be negatively affecting your mental health:
1 – Productivity
Let’s face it, social media is a massive distraction. Even while I’m writing this blog, I’m looking at my phone every now and then, so it’s affecting my productivity. It’ll affect your efficiency too, taking your attention away from the task at hand. This will not only affect the quality and accuracy of your work, but it will also waste time that could have been used to complete other tasks more quickly.
2 – Inadequacy
Having untapped access to social media means that you are always plugged into and looking at what everyone else is doing. Whether it be friends, family or celebrities, you are constantly comparing yourself to others all of the time, measuring your own life against a glamourised version of theirs. It’s not really a fair comparison, so don’t get yourself down if you feel like someone else’s life appears better than yours on social media.
3 – Inactivity
If you spend all of your free time glued to social media, flicking through feeds and replying to friends, when will you find the time to go outside and do something more active?
Being outdoors and getting some fresh air is vital to both your mental and physical health. The relentlessness of social media makes it difficult to break away from social networks, creating enough time to exercise. However, doing this is imperative, as exercise increases endorphin and blood flow to the brain, which keeps you healthy.
4 – Isolation
Talking to your friends through social media is not the same as meeting them in person. While life may get in the way, making it not possible to see friends face-to-face all the time, social media shouldn’t be a replacement for a true friendship.
Thanks to social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, interacting with others has become effortless – you can now even wave to your friends on messenger instead of saying hello. As a result of this though, we are now spending less and less time actually with other people, meaning we miss out on face-to-face communication and physical connection. This, in turn, makes us feel isolated – our only way of communicating coming through our phones.
Here at KlearMinds, we understand more than most about the power social media can have on mental health. If you suffer from feelings of inadequacy, isolation or unhappiness, get in touch with us today and we’ll be able to help you through it.
We all love a bit of retail therapy now and again, but when you get a buzz from the act of spending itself rather than from what you’ve actually bought, and particularly if you’re regularly spending more than you can afford, you might want to stop and think about what this might mean.
Put bluntly, emotional spending has nothing to do with shopping for things you need. Instead, you turn to spending money because of how you are feeling, such as in the following situations:
You’re feeling happy about something and you celebrate by going shopping.
You’re feeling unhappy with yourself and cheer yourself up by going shopping.
You’re feeling stressed about something and going shopping is a welcome distraction.
You’re feeling less than someone else and use shopping as a way to keep up with them.
A recent study showed that 19 million UK shoppers did so for emotional reasons. Emotional spending in 2017 led to a total of £26.5 billion in credit card debt – that’s a huge problem.
So, how do you know if you’re an emotional shopper? Well, ask yourself the following questions and see if one or several of them strike a chord:
Are you routinely trying to justify your purchases to yourself or to others?
Do you often feel worried or anxious after a shopping spree?
Do you make a habit out of hiding receipt, tags, shopping bags or any other shopping evidence?
Do you own lots of things you haven’t used or worn, or in fact forgotten that you had them?
If you’re affected by emotional spending, the trick is to understand what’s going on inside you, so that you can tackle the bad money behaviour. Here are 5 emotional motivations that can cause a disconnect between you and your financial decisions.
Once you’ve decided to put an end to your poor financial behaviour, there are some practical steps and techniques you can implement straight away to avoid emotional spending. These include:
Unsubscribe from mailing lists, so you are less likely to be seduced. The same goes for store cards – cut them up and close the account.
Never save your card details on shopping sites. The temptation to shop with just one click is far too great.
When shopping online, ask yourself whether you intended to buy the item when you first entered the website, how much you need it and how you would justify the purchase to someone else.
When you go shopping, set yourself a firm budget and take the money with you in cash, leaving cards at home.
Identify your triggers and devise alternative strategies to deal with the emotion that doesn’t involve spending.
As a last ditch resort, use the 24 hour rule: Wait for a full day and see whether you still really want to buy the item before making a purchase.
If you feel that it would be beneficial to speak to an experience and sympathetic counsellor about your emotional spending habits, please call the team at KlearMinds in confidence or email email@example.com. Our expert psychoanalysts, life coaches and counsellors are powerfully equipped to give you the best opportunity for positive results and help you achieve fast, lasting change.
If you regularly have trouble falling asleep, keep waking up in the night or suffer from insomnia, there may be a hundred reasons why this is happening. Perhaps an underlying medical condition, such as chronic pain, an overactive thyroid or kidney infection is causing you to sleep badly. Sleep deprivation can also be a symptom of stress, anxiety, depression and a host of other issues.
Whatever the cause, if it’s interfering with your quality of life or stopping you from performing your daily tasks, something must be done. Obviously, your first port of call should be your GP who can investigate (and hopefully eliminate) any physical health problems that might contribute to your poor sleeping.
If you think the cause may be related to your mental health, counselling or psychotherapy may help. Here at KlearMinds, we have a highly skilled team who have worked with many different people, and therapies that are designed to help you achieve positive, lasting change.
Meanwhile, back at home, there are some practical steps you can take to create the best possible sleep environment for yourself.
It all starts with having the right mattress. If your body is not optimally supported, you won’t sleep well. Too soft, too hard – everyone has their own preferences, but do get professional advice on the type of mattress that’s best for your body shape and weight. Do you sleep on your front, back or side? Suffer from chronic pain? Try out different mattresses in the showroom and look out for manufacturers offering trial periods (typically around 100 days) with a money-back option if the mattress doesn’t pass the home test.
Tech free zone
Your bedroom should be a place for rest. By all means watch a film, answer emails or catch up with social media in the evening, but keep it out of the bedroom. In fact, it’s a good idea to ban all gadgets and gizmos – TVs, laptops, tablets, smartphones etc – from the bedroom altogether. Not only do they have the effect of stimulating the brain when you want it to switch into sleep mode, any lights and noises emanating from the devices can disrupt your precious sleep.
Relaxing bedtime routine
Make it a priority to view your bedroom as your personal sanctuary. If necessary, use the next weekend to declutter and decorate to create a calming, restful vibe. A nightly wind-down routine is a great way to prepare your body and mind for bedtime. There are many tried and tested techniques you can try including a warm bath, a hot cocoa or herbal tea (no caffeine or alcohol!), relaxing essential oils (lavender pillow, roll-on aromatherapy blends, yoga or breathing exercises, ½ hour’s journal writing or reading in bed.
Ideal room temperature
A cool bedroom (6-18°C) will aid your sleep, while a hot room (24°C+) will make you toss and turn. Make sure you have a choice of winter and summer bedding at your disposal and use it wisely. During the warmer month, airing the room before in the evening will maximise cool air circulation (but do close the window if there’s a draught). In the winter, have a hot water bottle or fluffy bedsocks ready for extra snugliness that will help you drift off.
The importance of darkness
Our body’s circadian rhythm responds to light and darkness – we are biologically programmed to sleep when it’s dark and wake up when it’s light. Work with your body by keeping your sleep environment as dark as you can, eg by fitting blackout blinds, having a ‘no light at night’ house rule, wearing an eye mask and keeping phones and computers out of the bedroom – the blue light emanating from LED screens actually suppresses the release of melatonin, which our bodies need to relax and fall asleep.
Finally, make sure your sleep is not disturbed by noise, either from outside (traffic, dogs barking etc) or inside (night owl teenage kids, snoring partner, household appliances etc). Sometimes, earplugs are the only way to get some peace and quiet! That said, while loud, sudden noises will wake you up, soothing continuous sounds can be helpful to fall asleep to. Why not try one of the many ‘white noise’ apps available, or one that plays soothing nature sounds?
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
When a loved one dies, it can feel like the end of the world as we know it. The natural response of grieving for our loss is a hard and extremely painful process to go through, and we all have a different and unique response to losing someone close.
Bereavement counselling is there for you when it seems like you’re drowning in sorrow, unable to move forward. That’s when it can be enormously beneficial to work with a trained therapist who can help you through the stages of grieving to enable you to acknowledge and process what has happened. With the benefit of counselling, you will in time allow life to continue with adaptation and change while preserving the memory of the person who passed away.
There are 5 generally recognised stages of grieving that we all go through when learning to cope with personal loss. As you move through the bereavement process, you may experience some or all of these stages and in any order. It is an important part of the healing process to allow yourself to experience and accept all the feelings as they occur.
Shock and Disbelief
The first response to a bereavement is typically one of disbelief and shock, even if the death did not come as a surprise. Numbness is often a natural reaction to an immediate loss – it’s our body’s way to shield us from the intensity of the event, and can be useful when action needs to be taken, for instance to make funeral arrangements. As we slowly acknowledge what has happened, the feelings of shock and denial will diminish.
Guilt and Bargaining
This stage involves an intense preoccupation with what might have been, if only some other course of events had occurred. It’s easy to obsess endlessly about how things could have been better, what could have been done to prevent the worst outcome. That’s why it is important to resolve this stage, so that guilt and remorse don’t get in the way of the long-term healing process.
Many people will experience anger over their personal loss which may feel unfair and untimely. Strong feelings of anger can be a result of perceived helplessness and powerlessness, either as a result of having somehow been ‘abandoned’ by the deceased or because a higher power was at play.
Depression and Loneliness
Once the full extent of the loss is realised, sadness and loneliness begin to set in. Normal responses may develop into depression as it becomes difficult to ease the pain. Sleeplessness, low mood, appetite disturbances, lack of energy, self-pity, social withdrawal and physical pains are all symptomatic of this stage of grieving.
In the final stages of bereavement, we begin to fully accept that the death has occurred and we are slowly allowing ourselves the ability to manage its effect on us. Healing can begin once the loss becomes integrated into our life experiences and we are able to move forward with our life.
If you feel that it would be helpful to speak to an experienced bereavement counselor to share your personal circumstances, please contact us to arrange an appointment at one of our London clinics.
When you’re feeling worried or stressed, would you say your thoughts are mostly positive or negative? If you’re like most people, negative thoughts run rampant and you might feel that you have trouble controlling them.
Some people who suffer from anxiety or depression say they wish they could “shut off” their thoughts. Often, it is actually these thoughts rather than the specific incident or situation that is causing the anxiety or depression in the first place. (more…)
If you’re one of the many people who suffer from depression, it might seem like there is no way to stop feeling sad. Depression has a way of taking over your life, crushing your spirit and hampering your motivation.
Although these feelings often require professional help to resolve, there are quite a few things you can do on your own to mitigate the negative feelings.
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