Tag Archives: self help

an empty wooden bench looking out across sea and sand

2023: what will be new for you?

The start of a new year can be an exciting time – there might be a feeling of a fresh start, anticipation of adventures to come and hope for better times ahead. For the first few days of a new year, you might even be feeling refreshed and energised if you’ve been able to have some time off work.

You might well know yourself what suits you better: are you someone who benefits from setting yourself clear goals that you can then systematically work towards across the year? or are you someone who is better suited to adopting a theme for the year, maybe something like a way of being or doing that you’d like to grow over the year? Maybe you know that actually springtime is a better time for future planning for you? It takes a lot of self awareness to understand what works best for you, especially if it’s something different to what we are told is the norm.

Perhaps you’re someone who has noticed that you have a tendency to set yourself targets at this time of year, targets that you very rarely meet, and that really don’t give you any pleasure. I wonder what is going on there – a wish to be someone who you aren’t, an uncomfortableness with who you actually might be, or a belief that things should be hard and painful?

If you have time, this year, before you set yourself your goals, targets, resolutions or themes, I wonder if you could spend some time reflecting on what has worked for you in the past? Have you successfully made big deliberate changes in the past – and how did you do it? Do you need rewards, or friends to help, or someone to be accountable to? What has worked? If nothing comes to mind, consider what you might try. If you can consider this quietly, away from distractions and judgments, perhaps you’ll have a sense of what will work best. And then experiment: if possible, keep close at hand a sense of kindness, softness and gentleness towards yourself. Remember that actually, you already are good enough, any changes you do make will be the icing on the cake!

Good luck with whatever you decide – whether it’s big changes, small changes, or a decision to accept things as they are. Remember that talking things like this over with a counsellor can be really helpful. Your counsellor can be someone who helps you work out what to do, reflects on what’s happened and supports you to make changes. A good place to find a counsellor is on the BACP Therapist Directory, or if you think we might be a good match to work together, contact me here:

    an empty wooden bench looking out across sea and sand

    Christmas is approaching.

    As November continues, Christmas is getting closer and closer. I am mainly aware of this because Christmas adverts are appearing, plus conversations about these adverts, which seem to lead to other conversations about Christmas. Rather than make me excited about the coming festivities, I notice that actually, a lot of these adverts make me quite angry – particularly the messages that I must buy things. You might notice that you get a bit – or very – angry as well, maybe for the same reasons, or perhaps it’s the depictions of family life at Christmas that get to you.

    What else comes up for you as Christmas approaches? It’s not an easy time of year for a lot of people: we see all these messages on the media about how we should be spending it, how we should feel, what we should be offering to others. We also have our own histories of Christmas past, and we might also be aware of the histories of people close to us. If a close friend loves Christmas, is there space for you to not love it? You might find yourself building a wall inside you, to protect you from all these difficult feelings and memories.

    As Christmas gets nearer, I find myself needing more time outside in nature, where I can observe the cycle of the year amongst the trees, and in the sky. I need to focus on the jewel-like berries on offer to the birds, on the fallen leaves that will become food for next year’s seeds. I can imagine those seeds already under the ground, composting away quietly. Sunrise is later and later, and being able to catch stunning orange skies at the start of the day feels like nourishment to me. These are the adverts I really need to see.

    You might find it hard to talk about what you really feel about Christmas, and to share memories of Christmases that weren’t like the ones on the adverts. But sharing these stories and the feelings that come with them can be healing, and exploring them might mean that things move around for you inside, making space for a Christmas that suits you.

    A counsellor might be someone you can explore these kinds of issues with, or you might prefer to journal about this time of year. A quiet walk in the woods might be right for you – or a mixture of all three. Taking steps like this, where these feelings are allowed out, and where these stories can be told, might mean that Christmas can feel easier for you in future.

    Where next?

    Here are some ideas for making the most of nature for healing: https://www.meditationoasis.com/how-to-meditate/simple-meditations/nature-meditations

    Here’s a nice ‘how to’ start journalling: https://www.wikihow.com/Keep-a-Mental-Health-Journal

    And if you would like to start counselling, contact me here, or have a look at the BACP Therapist Directory for someone who feels like a good match: https://www.bacp.co.uk/about-therapy/how-to-find-a-therapist/

      As the seasons change, so do we:

      This time of year isn’t great in my experience. It’s the time between summer and autumn. The weather has certainly changed, it’s colder, greyer, wetter and darker. The leaves have started to change – but they’ve only just started changing. So the colours are muted, a few oranges and yellows here and there, but there are more dull greens and greys. I’m looking forward to proper autumn – to the fabulous colours of the trees and to more crisp bright sunshine days.

      When the seasons change, I don’t know about you, but I feel things within me shift around as well. When winter comes, I feel like staying close to home, warm and cosy and quiet, embracing the feeling of composting. Springtime might be a time of things stirring, ideas bubbling up to the surface with some energy. Summer can be a mixture of relaxing and moving, of languid and high energy. Autumn to me feels like the bang of the end of the year, beautiful colours are everywhere, a real celebration of the year we’ve had.

      But this moment, these few weeks between summer and autumn seem to be pretty rubbish, neither one thing nor another. This particular year feels worse to me, there’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of things to worry about – as well as waiting for the colours to reveal themselves, we’re also waiting to see what’s going to happen next in the world. Maybe you’re finding yourself feeling (much) more anxious than usual?

      How can we best support ourselves in times like these?

      I wonder if you find that just when you most need to support yourself, is also just when you stop doing the things that support you. Just when I know more meditation and yoga will help me, is just when I find it harder and harder to get onto the mat. Just when I know I need to support my immune system with lots of fruit and veg, is just when I reach more frequently for biscuits and cakes. It takes more effort than normal to do those things I need to do.

      A resource I find myself turning to at times like these are Tara Brach’s talks and meditations. She talks about our human experiences, and shares stories. I find myself feeling calmer and more grounded, more connected back to myself and my human nature. When the outside world seems overwhelming, https://www.tarabrach.com/navigating-the-dark-ages/, this talk has helped me. There’s a long list of other talks here https://www.tarabrach.com/talks-audio-video/. You might find yourself drawn to one as you scroll through.

      Finding a counsellor for yourself is also a great way to support yourself. Your counsellor is someone who’ll come to know you well, and only want the best for you. Your counsellor can be there to hear just how awful you find certain times of the year, and you can share everything with them – no need to worry about burdening them, or about having to make time to hear their worries as well. If you think we could work together, fill in a contact form below. If you’d like to have a look at some other counsellors, see who’s out there and who might be a good match for you at difficult times, a good place to start is the BACP Therapist Directory https://www.bacp.co.uk/search/Therapists.

      I hope you find some ways to help you through these difficult weeks, and let’s all look forward to the display of reds, yellows and golds that’s coming our way any minute.

        Reading Well

        Just a quick note to point you in the direction of an NHS programme of bibliotherapy: Reading Well. It’s all about recommending books that might be helpful for you to read to support your mental health.

        A lot of the books are available from your local library, and most libraries nowadays use the Libby app so you can download your books direct to a device without having to go anywhere. This also means that the books are returned automatically – so no more library late fines!

        There’s a huge list of books on Reading Well – I hope you find something that helps you!