Tired or just plain exhausted?

 

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With Christmas all but a fading memory, it not unusual for people to feel fed up and fatigued at this time of the year. In Britain it is estimated that at any one time 1in 5 people feel unusually tired and 1in 10 have prolonged fatigue, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Essentially, there are two main types of tiredness. There is the type of tiredness that is like a solitary grey raincloud. This is the type of tiredness that is transient. It might seem like it is with us for a while, but it will pass and usually it is the result of a busier than usual few days, several bad nights in a row or as a result of a stressful event you have just passed through.

The other type of tiredness is more like a grey oppressive sky, heavy and unmoving. It is typified by of a chronic loss of energy that accumulates over months. It may not always feel like tiredness or physical exhaustion but it doesn’t seem to shift.

Often the signs are subtle, perhaps hidden behind behaviour traits that might easily be missed such as:

1) Finding yourself constantly checking your texts, emails and phone messages.
2) Difficulty relaxing or switching off.
3) Forgetting about tea breaks or unable to relax over a meal.
4) Piles of unread magazines with articles you must read.
5) Having too much to do that you can’t take a day off.
6) “Switching off,” by eating, drinking or spending too much.
7) Losing yourself in mindless TV.
8) Working harder and harder just to stand still.

All these types of behaviours are signs that you need to stop and take a break. Powerful indicators that you need to take time out and really look at what is important. It is as if you have “over- ridden” the “over-ride” switch. This type of behaviour, whilst aimed at improving our lot, simply puts the rest of our life at risk of failure and leads to what psychologists call ” burnout.”

So what can be done to address the balance?

Here are a few pointers:

1) Start the day with a relaxing activity such as yoga, meditation or a fifteen minute walk.
2) drink more water, adopt healthy eating, exercising and sleeping habits.
3) Set “boundaries”- learn to say “no.”
4) Take time to disconnect from technology, put away your phone, lap-top or tablet.
5) Discover your creative side, take up a hobby or other activity that has nothing to do with work.
6) Finally, slow down, get support and re-evaluate your goals and priorities.

Make this the time to put the spring back in your step.

Until next time, Steve

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                           Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image:By Evgeny Galkovsky aka ZheGal (vk.com/limon_kiosk) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Why Self-Esteem Matters

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What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the way that you think about yourself. If your self-esteem is low, the thoughts you have about yourself are likely to be negative and you are likely to focus on what you think are your weaknesses.

Having low self-esteem can affect every area of life including work, personal relationships and your ability to socialise. Tackling low self-esteem and boosting positive thinking can really improve your sense of well-being and your mental health.

Here are a few tips you might find helpful.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. You will nearly always home in on their strengths and that will make you feel worse about yourself.
  2. Stop putting yourself down. Every time you that it will erode your self-esteem.
  3. Listen out for compliments, learn to accept them and say “thank you.”
  4. Find an affirmation, a statement such as, “I am confident and competent,” write it down and read it every day.
  5. Read everything you can about self-esteem, devour books, blogs, websites, etc, and make improving your self-esteem your mission in life.
  6. Avoid people who are negative and put you down, instead mix with people who are positive, confident and supportive.
  7. What do you like about yourself, however small? Kindness, friendliness, reliability, etc. note these down.
  8. Make a list of your past successes, however small, like learning to ride a bicycle or playing a musical instrument. Write these down.
  9. Try to do more of the things you love, rather than the things you think you ought to do.
  10. Finally, be true to yourself. Respect yourself, live your life, not a life dictated to you by others.

Begin to make these positive changes today – Good luck.

Until next time, Steve

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                     Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image: By Samael Kreutz from Concepción, Chile (Broken Heart) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Why does my brain freeze when asked a difficult question?

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I remember as a child hating maths and dreading the weekly maths lesson at junior school. There was I, a chubby eight year old in short trousers and a grey school uniform. It’s one of those abiding childhood memories that continues to haunt me. Maths held no joy for me as it was the setting for weekly ritual humiliation. There I’d sit, in the same chair at the same desk in rows with the others, sun streaming into the classroom window while I’d long for the ground to swallow me up. I’d feel sick the evening before in apprehension of this lesson.

Here we were, learning multiplication tables by rote. The teacher, a stern elderly lady with grey hair at the front of the class chanting a monotonous rhythmic dirge, “Two seven’s are fourteen, three seven’s are twenty-one, four seven’s are twenty-eight…” This boring chanting seemed to go on for ever. Or at least I hoped it would.

Then the moment of dread. “Clifford, you, boy! What are six eights?” Frozen to the spot, my school uniform boiling hot in the rays of the sun from the window. My tummy turning, eyes watering- I just wanted to run. “Well, boy?” She would exclaim. My brain in complete lockdown seemed to fail on me. Desperately I tried in vain to find the answer but in the end I blurt out some random figure. I now wait for the ritual humiliation to begin. A titter from the back soon turns into a chuckle, followed by laughter from what seems like the whole class. “On the chair”, she commands. I duly obey and go rigid waiting for the moment the ruler smashes into my leg, stinging. Children laughing. Once again my prediction had come true.

Now as an adult not only can I see the wrong in this sort of ritual punishment and gratuitous violence dished out in the name of education, but I can understand fully why I reacted as I did and my mind went blank. Some fifty years later as a psychotherapist who specialises in trauma, I now know all about “fight and flight” and our evolutionary response to threat.

I want you to imagine the scene; you are alone in the jungle and a wild animal, a tiger appears from the vegetation. You hear the rustle and see the leaves move. At once you spot it. Do you think to yourself, “I wonder if that is a male or female tiger?” or “I wonder if it is hungry?” No you don’t. Furthermore your brain switches off the thinking part. It does so deliberately, instinct kicks in and you make a grab for the nearest tree and climb up quicker than you have ever climbed in your life. You see, if you stop and think you are creating a delay, precious time when either you could attack the predator if escape. In other words, stop, think, equals lunch!

Looking back, if only I could have acted as my instinct was telling me? I would have leapt out of that sunlit window or broken down the door to escape. Still, that’s all ancient history now.

Until next time. Steve

 

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                     Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

image ref: By Contributor(s): Queensland figaro [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy a More Relaxed and Stress Free Home

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With so many stressors in our lives we all need a retreat, a nurturing environment where we can chill out and relax.

When you come in at the end of the day do you feel that your home is your sanctuary? Or do you feel overwhelmed by all the outstanding things you need to attend to? Is your home a place to truly relax and unwind? If it isn’t, maybe now is the time to make some changes.

Start by having a good look around you. Is your home an oasis of calm, or is it untidy and makes you feel stressed when you look at it? Living in a messy, cluttered environment is a sure way to feel stressed. Try to keep on top of small chores, and not to let things build up. Put things away as you go along, instead of making one task into two.

Pay attention to lighting. This time of the year it’s important to get as much light as we can to stave off  the “winter blues.”  Studies have shown that the presence of natural light indoors has a really positive effect on health, and stress in particular. In the evenings, a calm environment with mood lighting can help us relax and ultimately prepare for sleep.

I often suggest to my clients that they create a personal ”sanctuary.” It may be a quiet sitting area or a corner that you can make your own. A Buddha, incense burner and candle can create the ambience of a sacred place. Some photos of loved ones or a favourite pet might also make you feel good. Visit this calm space every day and meditate or sit quietly. Allow yourself time to unwind, reflect and recharge.

Brighten up and calm your environment by arranging some fresh flowers in a vase, and enjoying the colour and scent. Why not treat your loved one to a bunch of flowers as a token of appreciation, gratitude and love?

Until next time. Steve

You may wish to know that Steve is now offering therapy sessions via Skype Please contact us through our website @ www.stevecliffordcbt.com

Visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                           Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHome_Sweet_Home_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_21566.png

Ref: Marturana, A (2012) “10 Small Changes You Can Make Today To De-Stress Your Home.” The Huffington Post : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/10-small-changes-de-stress-home_n_1970796.html  [Accessed 20/10/15]

Are you struggling to sleep?

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Many people find themselves struggling to sleep.  It may only be the occasional night, but for some, night after night is a struggle. Here are a few tips that may make a big difference. It’s not a case of picking the ones you favour, you really need to put as many in place as you can.

* Keep a fixed bedtime and getting up time even if your sleep has been awful.

* No reading, listening to the radio, watching television in bed.

*No computers, tablets, smart phones (the light omitted disrupts the release of melatonin, a hormone required to sleep)  – the bed is strictly for sleep and sex only.

* Put your watch and alarm clock completely out of sight.

* Use ear plugs and an eye shade in bed to keep avoid exposure to sound or light during the night.

* Avoid caffeine (tea, coffee, fizzy drinks and chocolate) and nicotine from 2PM.

*Avoid exercise in the hour or so before bed.

* Eat a small snack several hours before bed.

* Spend no more than 20 minutes lying in bed trying to sleep.

If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and go to another room. This room should be warm and dimly lit.  Then perform a relaxing activity (not doing daytime tasks which act as a ‘reward’ for staying awake).

When you start to feel sleepy, go back to bed.  If you are still awake about 20 minutes later, repeat the process.

* Absolutely no naps during the day at all.

* Just prior to going to bed perform a relaxing activity.

* Once in bed switch off the light immediately.

* Always remember that sleep will come to you naturally and that different people need different amounts of sleep.

* Remember difficulty sleeping is very common, it is not as harmful as you believe.  Getting upset about it will only make it worse.

Good luck in putting these strategies in place.

Remember, sleep is a passive process, the harder you try to sleep the harder it will be.

Contact me if you wish to book an appointment to look closer at any sleeping difficulties you may have. Alternatively visit www.insomnia-treatment.co.uk

Until next time. Steve

You may wish to know that Steve is now offering therapy sessions via Skype Please contact us through our website @ www.stevecliffordcbt.com

Visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                           Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFree_College_Pathology_Student_Sleeping_Creative_Commons_(6961676525).jpg

Beat the winter blues

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While the summer may seem to be ideal for getting out and about, now is the time to be outside. As the seasons change and the sunshine fades away, all the beauty of Autumn appears. Trees take on the familiar reds and golds we associate with this time of the year and leaves begin to fall.

Rather than hibernate indoors, taking a stroll in the countryside can do much to lift our mood as the nights draw in. The colours of Autumn can inspire us and lift our spirits, so put on your wellies and head out into the countryside. Taking exercise and making the most of the light available can help fend off the “winter blues.” According to the SAD Association, about seven per cent of people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of winter depression and a further 17 per cent have mild symptoms or “winter blues”.

Waking up exhausted and wanting to sleep more is common in Autumn. This is due to longer hours of darkness which increases the amount of melatonin, the sleep hormone. If you can, stick to a routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time.

Shorter days and lack of sunshine reduces the body’s production of serotonin, which may influence mood in a way that may lead to depression.  Seasonal food contains serotonin-boosting carbs such as potatoes, pasta and rice and can help stave off low mood.

Just because it’s cold outside don’t just curl up in front of the TV. Certainly an evening watching a feel good film or chatting over home cooked food can be nice and make you feel better about life, but seeing friends is a must. Numerous studies have shown that spending time in the company of others prevents us feeling isolated and stops us getting down in the dumps.

Finally think about getting fit with endorphin boosting exercise, not only will this be good for you but you will have a three month head start on those who join the gym in the New Year!

Until next time. Steve

You may wish to know that Steve is now offering therapy sessions via Skype Please contact us through our website @ www.stevecliffordcbt.com

Visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                           Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHerbst.jpg

CBT shows promise for people with low back pain

New research has found that CBT can help sufferers of low back pain and accompanying psychological distress manage their condition. Contextual Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT) is aimed at helping people to learn to live with and accept pain that cannot be cured.

The researchers compared CCBT with physiotherapy in 89 patients with low back pain. The CCBT group reported greater improvements in pain and disability than those who received physiotherapy. However, many who took part in the study thought the best treatment was a combination of CCBT and physiotherapy. Patients also expressed a preference for one-to-one therapy rather than in a group setting.

Until next time. Steve

You may wish to know that Steve is now offering therapy sessions via Skype Please contact us through our website @ www.stevecliffordcbt.com

Visit our facebook sites:

www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters

www.facebook.com/bexhillmindfulnesscentre

www.facebook.com/mgbhillclimbchallenge

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                           Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Ref: www.therapytoday.net/Therapy Today: July 2015

Talking therapy shows promise for people with low back pain: http://tinyurl.com/ntb96qp 

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASpinal_column_curvature_2011.png