Mindfulness – Beat #Depression


Tip 23  – Extract from “50 Tips to Beat Depression” available on Amazon

There are many types of meditation and ways to meditate.  Mindfulness meditation is a particular type of meditation which originated in the East and has been shown to be particularly helpful for those with depression and anxiety (Williams et al, 2007).  It is especially helpful in enabling the individual to develop the ability to detach from negative or troublesome thoughts.  Essentially, mindfulness teaches us to focus on our experiences moment by moment, without judging or getting caught up in inner dialogue.  With practice we learn to become fully aware of what is happening in the moment, acknowledging  sensations, emotions, impulses, thoughts and images, yet simply accepting them without trying to explain, rationalise or reason.  Thoughts are just thoughts, and mindfulness teaches us to observe them just as we might observe a cloud passing in the sky.  Here is a useful breathing mindfulness meditation to begin with.

One: Make yourself comfortable, sitting with your hands resting in your lap.

Two: Focus on your breathing and notice the gentle in and out of your breath.

Three: Focus your attention on the movement and sensation of the breathing process. Do not try to alter it, merely follow it.

Four: As you find your mind wandering (and it certainly will) simply bring it back to the breathing process and focus again on what is happening.

Five: Continue this for a few minutes; with practice, lengthen the time as you become more proficient.  Some people find it helpful to meditate at the same time each day.  You may find it useful to do so at a time when you are particularly troubled by negative or troublesome thoughts.  Do not worry about your wandering mind, the key is catching yourself doing it and bringing your awareness back to your breathing.  Remember, even the most experienced meditators have wandering minds and may have to bring their attention back many, many times.

Until next time.

With best wishes, Steve.

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to stevecliffordcbt@gmail.com

Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @  www.steveclifford.com                                                                                      Ask us your mental health questions anytime @ www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters                                                                  Tweet us @ cbt4you



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With best wishes, Steve.

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to stevecliffordcbt@gmail.com

Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @  www.steveclifford.com                                                                                      Ask us your mental health questions anytime @ www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters                                                                  Tweet us @ cbt4you



Broken Light: A Photography Collective

Photo taken by contributor Lori Goodwin who has fought a lifelong battle with severe anxiety, depression, OCD, and PTSD. She has had many people in her family also struggle with mental health issues, including a mother with depression; father with anxiety, depression, and OCD; and an uncle with schizophrenia. Three of Lori’s four children also suffer differing combinations of anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and/or chronic insomnia. Lori is a long-time single mother who’s had very little in the way of resources except courage and resilience. She feels like a sensitive soul trying to find a place in what feels like a loud, angry, cruel world.

About this photo: “This photo depicts the extreme isolation and loneliness I’ve felt much of my life, as I’ve tried to hide my fear out of shame.

One that is generally despised, rejected, avoided.


Rock-the-dysfunctional-boat rider.


One who speaks
 when no one…

View original post 92 more words

Colour and Mood – Beat #Depression


Tip 33 – Extract from “50 Tips to Beat Depression” available on Amazon

Throughout the centuries the effects of colour on our moods and behaviour have been well documented.  As human beings we are conditioned to respond to certain colours.  The same is true of animals such as dogs, cats, fish, birds and insects.  We all know how a bull responds to a red rag!  As colour can have such an influence on our mood, it is worth giving this serious consideration when depressed.  For example, the environment is enhanced by certain colours and shades; some colours are warm whilst others are cool and calming; others offer a more neutral stance.  The same is true of the colours we select for our clothes. Below is a list of some of the effects of different colours.

Red is associated with stimulation, energy and power.  It can stimulate and warm.  Whilst some might like to feel held and secure, for some people, however, it can make them feel enclosed or hemmed in, similar to being surrounded by a womb, as it is a colour that appears to reduce space.

Orange is another stimulating colour and may be associated with creativity and sexuality.

Blue is a cool and calming colour and may be good with anxiety, as it can help to lower tension.  Blue is symbolic of the spoken word and communication.

Green is the colour to choose to restore balance and harmony.  It is representative of growth and well-being.

Yellow is a vibrant colour for those affected by darkness, as in the case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).   It assists clarity of thought, confidence and enthusiasm.  It is also associated with physical aspects of the self and self-esteem.

Purple and violet are colours which help to promote mental and emotional harmony and can help restore mental balance and stability.  Purple has long been associated with the higher mind and spirituality and can bring peace of mind.

Turquoise is good for recharging; it is calming yet has the ability to lift lethargy and boost energy levels.

Pink is a calming colour and an antidote to anger.  It is associated with the feminine side of our psyche and promotes serenity.

Brown and greys: brown is an earth colour and represents order, security and stability.

Until next time.

With best wishes, Steve.

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to stevecliffordcbt@gmail.com

Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @  www.steveclifford.com                                                                                      Ask us your mental health questions anytime @ www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters                                                                  Tweet us @ cbt4you

10 tips for a good ROW

File:Patchwork Girl Arguing with The Bear King Pg 295.jpg

Are you the type of person who would do anything to avoid a row, or are you never happier than when you vent your feelings? Well the good news is that experts tell us that not only are regular rows with our loved one’s normal, but they can actually be good for our health.

When you live with someone or spend a lot of time with them, rows are inevitable.  The closer we are to someone else the more we become aware of the differences between us. Not just differences in the way we do things – how we go about brushing our teeth, squeezing the toothpaste and loading the dishwasher – but also differences in the way we think and the values we have. Differences that are not talked through carefully can easily lead to misunderstandings and rows.

Good rows, the sort that enables both parties to say how they feel and get issues resolved. The sort that enable you to acknowledge the other’s perspective are very healthy. The other kind of row, where we say things we regret, are not good and can undermine the very fabric of a relationship.

When used properly, arguments can be very cathartic and can vitalise the body and soul. Most of us are pretty rubbish at rows, except perhaps lawyers and children – and most of us hate arguing and don’t do it very well.

Jonathan Herring, author of “How to Argue Powerfully, Persuasively, Positively,” ( Pearson Life) tells us that, “Arguments are great tools when used properly.”

Here are ten tips to improve your rowing skills that don’t involve bloodshed, broken crockery or dented frying pans…

1. Choose your battleground wisely, in other words choose the time and place to express how you feel – avoid public rows, but select your venue as soon as possible so that you can vent your spleen sooner rather than later.

2. Offload only as much ammunition as you need to do the job. Keep the message brief. Say exactly what you need to say initially. Ask the other person to listen while you deliver your opening salvo.  Once the other person has received what you have got off your chest, don’t belabour the point because if you do so, that runs the risk of rubbing it in (dirty fighting!) or of escalating the exchange.

3. If the person does not hear you, and this can happen often in the case of a row, because the  “thinking” part of the brain  automatically disconnects as a result of the “fight and flight” response. Use assertive repetition to emphasise your point – but don’t rub it in (dirty fighting!)

4. Use specific, objective language. Avoid generalisations like “always” and “never”. Describe ( don’t label) the behaviour you are angry about. Try saying something like, “you’ve just interrupted me twice,” rather than, “you’re always rude and inconsiderate”.

5. You may find it helpful to use what I call the “three finger exercise,” where you incorporate “I” statements and “feeling talk:”

I FEEL ( your feelings)

WHEN/BECAUSE (behaviour you dislike)

NEXT TIME, I WOULD PREFER (behaviour you desire)

For example: I FEEL really annoyed, BECAUSE you didn’t ask my opinion before you made that decision. NEXT TIME, I WOULD LIKE YOU TO consult me before making a decision that affects us both.

6. Avoid character attacks. Remember to respect the person even if you don’t approve of the behaviour. For example, if your partner leaves his or her clothes in a pile on the floor instead of putting them in the laundry basket, don’t criticise and call them “inconsiderate or lazy,” all this does is create negative perceptions on both sides. Instead use the above three finger exercise to highlight the behaviour you do not like and what you would like them to do in future.

7. Do not sulk or stonewall, refusing to talk or listen. This is “passive aggressive” behaviour and actually shows disrespect and possibly contempt, while at the same time inflames the underlying conflict. It is much better to listen and discuss things in a respectful manner.

8. Where possible aim for a compromise or agree to disagree, remember that there is not a “right” or a ” wrong” way to look at things. You cannot ” make” the other person see your way, don’t take is as a personal attack if they have a different opinion.

9. If you are likely to “explode” you need to consider using a technique known as ” time-out.” It has been used successfully by many people to stop their anger surfacing in an unhealthy manner. While it won’t solve arguments, it will ensure that you and those around you are safe. Follow these four steps BEFORE YOU EXPLODE, rather than picking up the pieces afterwards:

Step 1 – When you feel your anger rising and you notice your body becoming tense, say to the other person: “I a beginning to feel angry and I need to take time-out.”

Step 2 – Remove yourself from the situation for half an hour. No shorter. No longer.

Step 3 – Do something physical and relaxing, such as taking a walk.



Step 4 – When half an hour has elapsed, return. Check in with the other person, offer to talk about the problem if they feel like discussing it.

Do not use time-out to get out of work or things you do not wish to do – that is unfair.

10. Finally, remember that poor communication weakens bonds, creates mistrust and erodes relationships. While good communication can strengthen relationships, build closeness and increase intimacy. It helps to develop trust and mutual support.

Until next time.

With best wishes, Steve.

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to stevecliffordcbt@gmail.com

Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Visit us @  www.steveclifford.com

Ask us your mental health questions anytime @ www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

Tweet us @ cbt4you

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APatchwork_Girl_Arguing_with_The_Bear_King_Pg_295.jpg

Hug a tree for better health

File:Christmas tree, City Square, Leeds (17th December 2012).JPG

Most people think that depression is all down to some sort of chemical imbalance in the brain. Well, it would appear that while that may be true, there could be other factors that need to be given consideration. A study in 2011 in the journal Nature identifies an interesting trend, in that city dwellers have 39 per cent higher rates of depression than that experienced by rural dwellers.

What is the answer? Well, we can’t all move to the country, however, perhaps we owe it to our children and to their health to make our urban environments more country like.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen master, peace activist and author of “Peace is every step; the path of mindfulness in everyday life,” tells us that when we are cut off from nature we get sick. Surrounded by only cement, metal and hard things, our fingers do not have the opportunity to touch the soil.He reminds us that we all need to go out from time to time and be in nature.

He recounts the following story:

“One day, I imagined a city where there was only one tree left. The tree was still beautiful, but very much alone, surrounded by buildings, in the centre of the city. Many people were getting sick, and most doctors did not know how to deal with the illness.. But one very good doctor knew the causes of the sickness and gave this prescription to each patient: ‘ Every day, take the bus and go to the centre of the city to look at the tree. As you approach it, practice breathing in and out, and when you get there, hug the tree, breathing in and out for fifteen minutes, while you look at the tree, so green, and smell its bark, so fragrant. If you do that, in a few weeks you will feel much better.’                                                                        The people began to feel better, but very soon there were so many people rushing to the tree that they stood in line for miles and miles You know that people of our time do not have much patience, so standing three or four hours to wait to hug the tree was too much, and they rebelled. They organised demonstrations in order to make a new law that each person could only hug the tree for five minutes, but of course that reduced the time for healing. And soon, the time was reduced to one minute, and the chance of being healed…was lost.”

A salutary tale, perhaps the moral is one that we all need to think about when we allow our rural landscape to be turned over to development.

Until next time.

With best wishes, Steve.

Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to stevecliffordcbt@gmail.com

Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Visit us @  www.steveclifford.com

Ask us your mental health questions anytime @ www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

Tweet us @ cbt4you



Thich Nhat Hanh. (1991) “Peace is every step; the path of mindfulness in everyday life,” Rider

10 Strange And Obscure Facts About Mental Health by CHRISTOPHER STEPHENS MARCH 9, 2014. http://listverse.com/2014/03/09/10-strange-and-obscure-facts-about-mental-health/  [Accessed 03/04/14]

Image ref:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AChristmas_tree%2C_City_Square%2C_Leeds_(17th_December_2012).JPG