Remember the Positives – Beat #Depression

50Tips

Tip 6 – Extract from “50 Tips to Beat Depression” available on Amazon

It’s very easy when you are feeling down to lose sight of the positives.  One facet of depression is the way the depressed outlook shapes thinking.  The depressed person tends to ruminate on the negative things people say, and hears only critical comments. This is called “filtering out” and is a particular type of unhelpful thinking trait that often goes hand in hand with depression.  Instead of noticing things in a balanced way, we only notice things that “fit” our negative mind-set and we dismiss the positives. This in turn serves to reinforce low self-esteem and a negative outlook.

One way to turn this around is to create a positive book (see tip 25).  Buy a small exercise book, and if you are creative, cover it with a bright paper cover or positive images from magazines.  Use this book to jot down positive things that happen, positive things people say and positive things that you have achieved during the day.  Slowly you will begin to notice more and more positives as you learn to hear them and not dismiss them from your radar.

Consultant Psychologist Rick Norris, in his excellent book, “The Promised Land,” recommends compiling a list of 20 positive memories.  He acknowledges that this can be somewhat overwhelming, as depressed people get out of the habit of playing memories that make them happy, because their mental filter tends to screen these out of their conscious mind.  He suggests recalling three positive memories each day for a week. He tells us the benefit of doing this exercise last thing at night is because it can be a pleasant way to drop off to sleep and also that we tend to be more in tune with our sub-conscious mind during sleep, perhaps  leading to sweeter dreams!

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

Make a Comfort Box – Beat #Depression

50Tips 

Tip 3 – Extract from “50 Tips to Beat Depression” available on Amazon

It’s often hard to remember the good things in life when you are feeling low in mood.  At such times happiness and positive memories can seem far away.  Stimulating positive memories and associations can be invaluable in helping to keep us grounded in the real world and help lift the spirit.  Creating a “capsule” containing mementoes from the past can help to evoke feelings of comfort, warmth and personal security during difficult times.

A shoebox, biscuit tin or similar can be used to house objects to inspire hope.  I have a comfort box and mine includes a variety of objects: photographs and even “thank you cards” which I can use as “evidence” to support my being a worthwhile person.  I recommend any of the following:

CD, LP, MP3 of favourite music, chill-out, relaxation, etc.

DVD of favourite film with uplifting, or feel good theme, etc.

Photograph of a loved one or of something or somewhere of importance

Memento of a holiday, postcard, seashell, souvenir, foreign money, flight ticket stubs, booklet or programme from places visited

A note, card or letter from a loved one or write a letter to yourself when feeling well, offering encouragement and re-assurance that you will come through this difficult time

A favourite poem, statement, prayer or article that inspires hope

A favourite book, magazine or colourful picture

A favourite object, i.e. a small stone, crystal, lucky charm or something that is tactile

A sketchpad with crayons or watercolour paints

Aromatic oils for massage, scented candles, bath bombs or bath oils/salts

Herbal teas such as Chamomile, known for its calming properties

Favourite item of clothing, warm jumper or a blanket

A hot water bottle

Vouchers for a massage or beauty treatment

A list of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses of family or friends to whom you can turn for support (try to look for support from more than one person).

A list of national help lines e.g. Samaritans, Sane, MIND, etc. .

Any object associated with feeling happy and well.

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 at: www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters                                                                  Tweet us @ cbt4you

It’s good to talk

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Sometimes life can seem very overwhelming,  especially if you’re suffering with a mental health problem. For years I have suffered with anxiety and depression. It has affected every aspect of my life from my relationships with partners, friends and family, to my work and even my physical health. My chronic low self esteem has led me to walk with my head down for so many years that my neck and back have slowly deformed and I now have a small hunch. It’s just one more thing to hate about myself, and another reason why I felt I couldn’t live anymore, why I felt I didn’t deserve life.
When I planned my suicide the first time I was at an all time low, but strangely I didn’t recognise that. I felt calm and in control. I made meticulous plans and took my time stockpiling prescription and over the counter drugs. I cheerfully strolled into the supermarket and purchased alcohol. The checkout girl could be forgiven for thinking I was having a party, because in my head I was. I was finally going to be free of all the agonising feelings, the torturous thoughts and the confused state my mind was in. I had been looking forward to this day for weeks and had all my affairs in order. I went home, made sure I left the door unlocked, fed my cat, put on my favourite album and poured myself a large glass.
When I woke up in hospital initially I was devastated, how could it have gone wrong? But as I looked around at the tear stained worried faces I began to realise that maybe people did care about me. Maybe their lack of warmth and comfort towards me was really lack of knowledge and understanding. The question I was continually asked was “why didn’t you tell us that you felt so bad?” Well I thought it was obvious! But apparently it’s not obvious.
When you suffer from depression for a long time you can get very good at keeping your brave face on in public and the inner turmoil you’re feeling may not show on the outside. It’s only once you express that turmoil that people can begin to understand and maybe even help.
Unfortunately this revelation was not the end of my depression and I did wake up in hospital on another 3 occasions. However it did start my journey onto talking, writing and expressing the pent up feelings I had inside of me, which helped other people understand more. I am still suffering with my mental health but I am on the road to recovery. Letting the thoughts and feelings out rather than keeping them hidden in my head has taken the weight off and I feel a little freer of my illness every day.

Thank you anonymous

With all good wishes

Steve

Please email your submission posts to stevecliffordcbt@gmail.com                                Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

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

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Ten steps to greater self-confidence

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Here at my practice in Bexhill I see lots of people who struggle with self-confidence. This isn’t a problem unique to Bexhill as I frequently discuss confidence issues with clients all over the world via Skype.

Why is it that low self-confidence is such an issue?

There can be many reasons. Often low self confidence has it’s roots in our early relationship with our parents or siblings; sometimes bad childhood experiences such as bullying and abuse serve to shape the way we view ourselves. The cumulative effect of “put downs” and ridicule lead us to form a view that we are somehow less worthy than others. .

This view of ourselves becomes a rigid template upon which we hang our identity. Yet, so often, these, what I consider to be, “false beliefs” are never challenged or even questioned. More often than not they are accepted as established facts, yet these so called “facts” are just “opinions”.

It is time to challenge and re-shape these opinions. Here’s how:

1. The first step in improving self-confidence is to accept responsibility for change and growth. By this I mean, to make a decision to change the patterns of behaviour and thinking that keeps you locked in a cycle of insecurity.

2. Stop spending time aimlessly drifting; stop procrastinating and do things on time. Recognise your own needs: sleep, relaxation and a good diet.

3. Are you a dreamer? If so, make some goals so that your dreams can come true.

4. Take risks, share in groups, give feedback to others. Don’t be too proud to ask for help and admit you’re wrong. Don’t refuse help when it is offered.

5. Start asserting yourself and stop saying yes when you really want to say no. Stop being a “people pleaser”.

6. You are an OK person. You do not need to depend on others for a sense of importance. You are of equal worth.

7. Speak up, believe in yourself. Remember, no one can insult you or put you down unless you allow them to so. It is how you feel about yourself that really matters.

8. Behave towards yourself as you would a friend you care about. Listen to your inner compassionate voice not your inner critical voice.

9. Lower your expectations of yourself. No one has to be perfect. Avoid self pity at all costs. Poor me, poor me.

10. Remember you are unique; you have a lot to offer, you are special and there is only one of you in the world. You are a worthwhile person.

Begin to make changes now. Improve your life by changing your outlook.

Good luck.

Until next time, Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @  www.steveclifford.com                                                                                      Like us @ www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters                                                Tweet us @ cbt4you

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Ten simple rules to improve your self-esteem

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In my Bexhill practice I see many people with low self-esteem. Sometimes it arises out difficult childhood events, such as bullying or abuse, sometimes it is the bi-product of depression, anxiety or insecurity. Fortunately, it is very treatable.

As children we take on board messages and believe that we are somehow not good enough, illness too can really squash our outlook. However, as adults we can now choose to take on, or reject the messages we are given.

High self-esteem arises out of a combination of key ingredients. The more you work to put in place these ingredients the higher your self-esteem will be. Building high self esteem is not something that can be achieved instantly. It is something that develops when you do certain things and stop doing certain other things. Every single person is capable of having high self esteem if certain rules are followed.

The ten simple rules are:

1. Stop putting yourself down. Don’t ever use derogatory comments such as, “you stupid fool” or any other such statement however negative you are feeling about yourself. Stop insulting or mocking yourself. Be compassionate, kind and understanding towards yourself.

2. Forget all about comparing yourself with others. There will always be people who are better (or worse) than you. If you start doing this you will never feel good because there are always going to be those who appear more confident, more intelligent, more witty, more wealthy, more sexy, etc.

3. Take on board compliments, say “thank you,” not “Oh, it was nothing.” Stop rejecting compliments, you are worthy of praise and remember people like giving compliments just as much as you should like receiving them.

4. Use positive affirmations on a daily basis. For example, repeating a phrase such as, “I am a valuable and worthwhile person who has views and opinions of my own.” Believe in your worth as much as your own views and opinions.

5. Use every opportunity to read about developing self-esteem. Make it your life’s work and remember this will be “work in progress” from now on. Even if you only find one thing that resonates with you when you read a book on self-esteem it will have been worth the money you spent on it.

6. Mix with positive people, avoid people who will put you down. They are confidence destroyers not confidence feeders. Just like a flower, you will grow in confidence and esteem with the right conditions, just as the flower will blossom with the right fertiliser and the right conditions.

7. Keep a positive book and list all your successes, however small. Read this list often. Shut your eyes and feel your success throughout your whole body.

8. Spend time doing the things you love and feel passionate about. Do things that make you feel good. Devote some time to others, helping them. Remember to give of yourself, for you are developing abundance and positivity.

9. Be true to your values. Live the life you want to, not the life others think you should have.  The only person you need approval from is yourself.

10. Remember this always – You are a magnificent human being with a positive contribution you can make to the world. This is your birthright. You are truly unique, worthy of love for yourself and capable of giving love to others. Feel good and respect yourself.

Start today.

Until next time, Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Visit us @  www.steveclifford.com                                                                                      Like us @ www.facebook.com/yourmentalhealthmatters                                                Tweet us @ cbt4you

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