Archives For Health and wellbeing

Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2021
Happy Valentine's day
Happy Valentine’s Day

We are living in a time that is adding pressure to so many relationships. Friendships and relationships are private affairs witnessed by others. Some of us have had more time to reach out to the people we care about and others have had less time. We all give and desire a different level of support to those in our personal lives.

Valentine’s Day is whatever you want it to be. It can be a day to remember those you have loved who are no longer here. You may also remember those you loved, who brought something wonderful into your life for a time. You may think of the ones you love now, a love that has endured through challenges. Perhaps you’ve found a new love in this difficult time.

As well as giving to others we also need to remember to look after ourselves. Loving ourselves with all our flaws may be the most challenging love of all.

There are 5 love languages and this helps us to know how we show love to those in our lives and how we let others know what we experience as an act of love. The idea is that we have a primary or preferred way of giving and receiving love. Once we know this the key is to communicate that to those we love.

The 5 love languages are:

Words of Affirmation

Quality time

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

Gifts

Consider which is your primary love language and how that shows up in your life. We’ve had to make many adjustments over the past 12 months. If holidays and hugs were your main ways of showing love then you’ll be particularly challenged by all the lockdowns. Perhaps you’ve had more quality time and now value this a bit more. Or maybe like me you’ve been using online shopping for those little gifts to keep you going.

Please comment below and share how lockdown has impacted how you give and receive love.

Journal 2021

December 30, 2020

I’ve added my love of photography to my work in ‘writing as therapy’ and created a journal for 2021. You’re welcome to try it too. It has a writing prompt, space for what you’re thankful for, how you plan to look after yourself and any goals you have for 50 weeks of the year.

2021 journal
Back and Front cover of A4 journal with 50 writing prompts and 100 pages

You can be as focused or as vague as you like , just the weekly reflection should be useful. It’s my first journal so I’m excited to try it and to hear how you find it on Lulu here. Start the year with intentionality and positivity.

https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/shirley-anstis/journal-2021/paperback/product-ykkzdp.html?page=1&pageSize=4

A beautifully unique image

I’m surprised by the women (and men) I speak to who often see themselves as half empty and lacking something. They compare themselves to what they view as perfect lives online and decide that they are not good enough.

The problem is our peer group has greatly evolved over the last decade or so. 

In the past, our peer group were people like us who lived in our communities or geographical area. They would have similar lifestyles to us.

But we now compare ourselves in a global space, with great disparities in wealth and power, to people who have vastly different lifestyles to us. They are the tiny percent who are wealthy, beautiful and celebrated. We damage our self-esteem if we constantly compare ourselves to these people and find ourselves lacking. They can help to motivate us in small ways, but our aim cannot be to become them. There is only one of you and one of me, with our very own strengths and weaknesses. Human beings are imperfect.

We do well to acknowledge all that we have learnt and experienced in our very unique life. Awareness of who we are helps us to make the best decisions. Denial of who we are encourages us to make bad decisions. 

With so many examples of success in the world it can seem that it comes easily to some. I know from my training, my work and myself that we all have struggles, although these may not be visible or made public. (On the plus side, we get to see so many different ways of living a successful life and can step towards one that resonates with us). 

Talk to the people in your life and ask them how they’re doing. You may find many are struggling with something. 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 8 young people will have a mental health problem. 

As we acknowledge #Timetotalk let’s reconnect to people in our circle, speak our truth, listen to theirs, and be non-judgemental. 

There’s a lot to be said for simple appreciation and encouragement. As we give so we receive. Everyone benefits from a kinder world. Judge less, listen more. Let me know what you think by commenting below. Thank You.

Shirley Anstis

Time to Talk

February 7, 2019

As a practising counsellor I feel I want to encourage people to have better conversations about mental health. But the phrase ‘time to talk’ is so well used now that I wonder what we mean by it.

I remember when I first returned to live in England how I had to concentrate on the person I was speaking to figure out when they were genuinely interested in what I was saying and when they were just being polite. The difference between the two and the subtlety with which it is communicated affects us all.

So perhaps we can: –

Decide that – it’s time to talk

Create space – to talk

Choose a time – to talk

Communicate a desire – to talk

Show up, listen, empathise and not judge.  The people we connect to will appreciate it.

Most of us spend large parts of our day multitasking; at home, whilst travelling, at work, in meetings, with family and with friends.

What if we could create time to listen to ourselves? Is our self-talk supporting us or hindering us?

We too need the non-judgemental supportive space we create for others.

Through one-to-one counselling and writing workshops I try to provide this space for others.

I also provide such time for myself as often as possible. Whether I am walking between appointments or having a relaxing bath I allow myself space to be mindfully present and listen to what is going on inside me.

Let’s find ways to really talk to each other and to actually listen to ourselves. Each of us deserves to be heard.

 

 

Many people would like to write a book, but few put in the effort to achieve this.  

Would you like to write your book?

Do you have a story to tell? Have you had interesting experiences in your life that others might enjoy reading about?

Have you witnessed things you’d like others to celebrate or avoid?

Do you have a message that you would like to put into the world? 

Writing Your Story

Come and meet local authors who have taken the plunge and written several books. You might be motivated to record your life story and gift it to family and friends or

publish your learnings for sale to the wider community. This could also be a way to demonstrate your expertise. You may want to share your passion for a particular place

or experience. The possibilities are endless, you decide your theme and focus.

Come and join several authors who will talk about their experience of writing their books. Our speakers include authors Una Chandler, Cecily Mwaniki, Keith Seville and

Shirley Anstis. You will also explore the steps you need to take to get your book completed. Join others on a similar journey and be encouraged in the process.

We begin where you are and help you plan the route ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

It is only for people with mental health problems

You may think that there are people who have mental health problems and others who do not, but the truth is that we all have mental health and any one of us could experiences challenges in this area. Mental health is on a continuum and during our lifetime we can be located on different positions as it is not a static thing. Of course, we can build up resilience but sometimes we break because we refuse to bend. Statistics in the U.K show that 1 in 4 of us will have a mental health challenge during our lifetime. If that is not you it will be someone you know.

It is only for those on the verge of a breakdown

Some people think they need to be on the verge of a breakdown to seek help but that is not so. Therapy allows you to explore the shape of the life you live and how that fits with who you feel you are on the inside. The mere fact of exploring this could be preventative and therefore make a breakdown much less likely to occur.

Everyone has mental health

 

Therapists only look backwards, never forwards

There is a view that therapists are only concerned with the clients’ childhood. Whilst childhood is important in many approaches there are some schools in therapy that create healing through being in the present or by focusing attention on finding solutions to the current problem and so create a better future. I practice an integrative approach which gives space to all of these time phases.

One size fits all

This imagines that all clients are the same and can be worked with in the same way. Yet every professional knows that their clients are different in small and important ways and in order to serve them well we need to be in tune with that diversity. Some clients might be on medication, some might be in support groups and others could be in full-time employment. We could all benefit from taking some time out to reflect on our life choices and consider making beneficial changes.

They’re all the same

People resistant to getting help or those believing they can’t be helped might turn to an experience where they tried to get help and it didn’t work out. This may even be second hand information because they had a friend who was not helped as expected. By imagining that all therapists are the same (not individual humans) they do not need to open themselves up to trying again and possibly finding someone that is a better match to their personality and story. If you choose a therapist in line with your world view, then you’re more likely to find a fit and build the trust required to explore the issues.

Do any of these misconceptions chime with you or do you have a few others not covered here? I’d love to know what you think so please leave a comment below

This week

November 13, 2016

Autumnal walk

Autumnal walk

It’s been a challenging week for so many people in big and small ways. We’re all struggling to find our place in a rapidly changing and uncertain world. This is a good poem to return to again and again.

Desiderate

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
By Max Ehrmann

 Quiet spaces

It is important to have time to reflect on our life, the journey we are on and where we are heading.  It is about stopping and enjoying the moment.

Many people are embracing the idea of going slow, which is an antidote to all the rushing around and multitasking that many of us try to do.  Since starting a mindfulness course I am finding it more difficult to multitask and that feels like a good thing.

I do not believe that human beings are designed to go as fast as we are trying to.  We are presented with hundreds of choices every day from emails, posters, supermarkets, outfits and travel options to name but a few.  I am like every one else – trying to absorb everything so that I can make the best choice.  Sometimes it simply is not worth the effort and takes up valuable down time.

Another way of slowing down is to engage in the practice of meditation (or prayer).  Many great thinkers and spiritual people find this a rewarding experience.  Although we think of meditation in the context of Buddhism I believe Christians and other faiths also have a place for meditation in their belief systems.  It is also possible to meditate and not belong to any faith group.  There are lots of resources and centres that can tell you more about the practice and benefits of meditation.  ‘Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.’ Joseph CampbellI do know that it helps us to slow down and find peace within ourselves and we can then carry this into the world through our daily encounters.  I do not meditate as regularly as I would like but I am doing more of it and I do know that whenever I do I am never disappointed.

So we need to give ourselves time for being rather than only doing.  I think many of us can get caught up in the need to tell others what we did on the weekend, a bank holiday, for our birthday or an anniversary.  What will our friends say if we told them we spent the weekend listening to music, writing poetry or meditating?  Are we always busy so we don’t appear boring?    If we don’t give ourselves time to reflect how do we know why we are doing what we are doing?  I think that quiet times help us on our quest to a fulfilling life that connects to our values.

Throughout this I am also encouraging us to ask questions of ourselves, and those in our life.  It is not good to accept what others tell us we should be doing.  Socrates says that ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. This whole book is dedicated to asking questions of ourselves and then honestly seeking out the answers.  This seeking is what makes our life uniquely ours and offers vitality, authenticity and genuine freedom.

What do you think?

 

Nature

Life is also about our connection to nature.  What does the word nature conjure up for you? For some it is a country walk and a picnic with beautiful scenery.  For others it might be about being cold, wet and exposed to the elements.

Having some sense of what is happening in our environment is healthy and nature is part of that environment.  Many studies show that we become a lot calmer when we have access to green spaces or the sound of flowing water.  This is an easy and often free way to recharge our batteries.  I am convinced that wherever we are we can find some connection to nature even if it is just going outside and looking up at the sky.

Like many of the other awakenings we have looked at you may decide that nature is quite important to you and this could affect your decision about where you live and the type of job that you do.  When I worked as a careers adviser I would discuss the impact of job environment – including indoor and outdoor work -with my clients.  If you enjoy nature you are more likely to become a farmer in a rural area than an office worker in a city.  An office worker in a city could still include nature by incorporating a short walk, going jogging etc. Looking after a pet, such as taking a dog for a walk, could also encourage engagement with the natural world.

I enjoy picnics and I have several friends who love camping.  I also like walking and for the past few years I have been getting into planting flowers.  There is something very affirming about planting something and seeing it grow.  Much of nature is free and available; we can enjoy it without owning it.

Are you someone who often pays attention to the changes in your natural environment or do you only notice the new buildings in your area?  Can you be still and feed your soul or do you feel uneasy when the birds sing and the rivers flow?

Here is a link to a current concern that you may find interesting and informative  The BBC on butterfly populations

 

love

The Bible says that God is love and sacrificed Jesus because he loved us so much.  William Shakespeare refers to music as the food of love in Twelfth Night.  Sigmund Freud identifies it in Eros as life’s energy force.  Others say love (and money) makes the world go around.  Hollywood tells us that we all want to fall in love, as many times as possible.  Some of us are in love with love.

There are probably as many views of love as there are people on the planet.  Great writing, music, art, film, dance and architecture have been inspired by love and serve as a monument to its expression.  Love is powerful.  Oprah Winfrey says that experiences presents us with an opportunity ‘to choose love over fear.’

Love is certainly part of human need, desire and longing.  Some of us are lucky enough to experience it at some point in our lives, and others are not.  Maybe loving others starts with loving ourselves.  In order to give and receive love we need to be able to trust ourselves and trust another.  Can we love if we know that our feelings will not be reciprocated?  Some people find it easy to love their children, family and friends; others do not.  I have heard parents say that they would be prepared to die for their children: real sacrificial love.

Love may be both about who and what we attach ourselves to. We may have been badly hurt by our earlier attempts to love and be loved.  Consequently we may find it easier to love power, status and material possessions.  We can find ourselves becoming addicted to that which we once loved, or we might assume we love something because we are unhealthily addicted to it.  Love is mysterious and can turn into hate.

Some powerful questions you might want to consider: Who or what do you love and how does that affect how you relate to them?  Does it feel like a healthy love or more of the obsessive kind?  Have you been hurt by loving and need to heal before you can love again?   Do you not love because you are afraid of exposing yourself to the pain of disappointment?  Are you missing out on beautiful emotional connections because you fear it will all go wrong?   Do your actions express what is in your heart?

There is no need to love everything or everyone but to be open to the possibility seems important to me. What do you think?