Do you suffer from anxiety or depression?

If so, how healthy are your thoughts?

These days most of us are conscious of our health and we do a great deal to ensure that we stay well. We watch our diet, many of us exercise regularly, and we know we need to get good quality sleep.

But how many of us are aware that to we need to watch what we think as well to protect our mental health?

In my psychology practice I am very aware that few people monitor their thinking. In fact, many people are of the view that the thoughts that go through their minds are outside of their control.

Individuals who are prone to anxiety thing a great many “what if” thoughts during the day, such as “what if I mess up during my exam”, whilst people who suffer from depression tend to ruminate excessively.

These types of thought patterns serve to “feed” anxiety and depression.

It is possible to gain control of your thoughts through CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy). This will enable you to break the cycle of anxious and negative thinking.

There was an interesting article on the Psychology Today facebook page today, which speaks about the serious consequences to one’s mental health of negative thinking habits:

www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/words-can-change-your-brain/201208/the-most-dangerous-word-in-the-world?

Steering away from negative thinking towards a positive mindset is the subject of Positive Psychology.

If you would like to be happier, more optimistic and hence more psychologically resilient I recommend that you embrace the principles of Positive Psychology.

Wouldn’t this be a great way to begin 2020 (and enjoy the festive season)?

Continue Reading No Comments

Anxiety. Are you dealing with it in the best possible way?

And what does your approach to anxiety tell you about yourself?

In my previous blog-post I talked about how important it is to examine your life and to work at understanding yourself.

Anxiety is something that we all experience from time to time. Why? Because life tends to be uncertain and unpredictable, and comes with a certain amount of risk – of accidents, illness, financial hardship and natural disasters – to name a few.

Evolutionary psychologists tell us that anxiety has been with us since the dawn of time and is a major factor in our survival as a species. Fear and anxiety are hard-wired into the most primitive parts of our brain.

However, of course, some individuals experience a great deal more anxiety than others do. Many have generalised anxiety disorder, where one is generally anxious without necessarily knowing what one is anxious about. Other forms of anxiety relate to a specific thing or situation, such as having a fear of heights or a phobia of snakes.

How do you deal with the uncertainty and potential risks in your life? If you tend to avoid things that make you anxious, this can lead to more and more situations that need to be avoided to relieve your anxiety, and life becomes very tough and stressful as a result.

A much better anxiety-management strategy is to identify your sources of anxiety and stress and examine your thought patterns that lead you to feel anxious. This is an element of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT and is an approach I use a great deal in my psychology practice.

Other very useful strategies for dealing with anxiety include meditation and mindfulness training. Regular exercise is also a very positive way to manage stress and anxiety.

If you have any questions about managing your anxiety better, please get in touch.

Continue Reading No Comments

How well do you know yourself?

And why does this matter?

Socrates famously said “The unexamined life is not worth living”.

Do you agree?

If so, how would you go about discovering more about yourself – your values, goals, personality traits, and your characteristic approach to life and to coping with adversity?

If you want to live a meaningful and authentic life, I believe it is essential to continually assess one’s life/

Over the next few weeks I will be writing posts on this topic. Please feel free to comment!

Continue Reading No Comments

Split loyalties can cause serious problems in intimate relationships.

What can you do if you find yourself in such a situation?

For example: You are in a relationship with a partner who has an ex-wife who seems to be totally helpless and calls your man every time there is some sort of crisis or emergency in her life. Because he is such a loving and giving person he jumps every time she makes any type of request, even when you have something planned to do together. This situation is starting to drive you crazy and is causing problems in your relationship because you tend to complain again and again about the issue.

Or an even more difficult situation:

Your partner whom you love very much has a child from a previous relationship and he regularly puts the child’s interests and requests ahead of considerations in respect of your relationship.

As a psychologist, over the years I have had many such clients who are grappling with this type of problem which can put intense strain on a current relationship.

What is the best way to approach such a situation?

First I would like to suggest things that are far from helpful such as:

1. Trying to give advice to your partner about his or her situation. Advice can very quickly turn into frustration when your advice is not taken or is actually ignored. A partner who is in this situation can very easily start to feel judged and controlled. He or she will very likely feel that he or she is being pulled in two opposing directions at once, leading to elevated feelings of stress which can lead to unproductive arguments between you both.

Because your spouse or intimate partner undoubtedly also feels a great deal of guilt in leaving his previous family, he is likely to resist any efforts on your part to cut back on his involvement with his previous family. If anything is going to give, it will in all likelihood be your relationship. This will seem totally unfair but is usually the reality unfortunately.

So what should you do?

Best to keep your own views to yourself initially and ask for advice from a trusted third party. Try not to feel too emotionally invested in resolving the problem in your favour (this is very difficult).

I would also suggest that you think empathetically about the situation from your partner’s point of view, and also those of his ex-partner and his children. This will help you come across to your partner as more sympathetic and encouraging of a contact scenario that will work for everyone in the family network.

 

Continue Reading No Comments

Generalized anxiety – is there an antidote?

Of course anxiety is an emotion we all feel from time to time. We wouldn’t survive without anxiety as it alerts us to possible danger and threat. Think of the last time you had to write an exam or had to visit the dentist. Very few of us can contemplate these types of experiences without a certain amount of butterflies in the tummy!

What I am speaking about here is “normal” anxiety which is situation specific. However, some people experience anxiety that is more general and unremitting. Often this is related to a dread of uncertainty. The future is often regarded as threatening as life is unpredictable and outside one’s control.

Continue Reading No Comments

The Benefits of Using Couples Counselling To Repair A Relationship

When your life gets busy, you may find that you and your partner start drifting apart. Couples Counselling is a great way to repair your relationship and get back to a point where both of you are happy. Here are a few benefits of using couples counselling to repair your relationship:

 

Clarify your feelings

Couples counselling will allow you and your partner to figure out where you would like your relationship to go. Speaking to a professional and giving yourself and your partner a specific time and space to speak to each other about your feelings can help you decide whether or not the relationship should continue.

 

Resolve past problems

Sometimes it is beneficial to speak about your problems with a professional third party involved. Often, you will find that you and your partner may argue about something and then suppress the emotions once the fight is ‘over’, but all you’re doing is holding in your true feelings in order to stop the argument. These unresolved emotions settle into your unconscious like an ‘unexploded bomb’. Going to couples counselling will allow you to speak in a controlled environment with a patient professional at hand. They can help you and your partner positively resolve past problems before that ‘unexploded bomb’ goes off.


Continue Reading 1 Comment

7 Tips on How To Maintain Your Mental Health

You are the most important person in your life. It may sound selfish, but you need to take care of yourself first before you can take of other people. Self-care is a combination of looking after your body and looking after your mental health – the two work hand in hand. There are a number of ways to take care of your mental health to ensure that you are in a good space.

 

Talk about your feelings

Something as simple as talking about your feelings can benefit your mental health immensely. A lot of people don’t like talking about their feelings and so they bottle everything up and try to deal with it themselves. Doing this will make your mental health deteriorate until you get the point where you just can’t cope with your emotions.

Continue Reading No Comments