Increasing self-care

Do you want to see changes in your life? Have you made any resolutions to try and help that happen? A new year or a birthday can be a time of making resolutions. Resolutions that we hope will make a positive difference in our lives. It can be easy to get discouraged as the weeks go by if we don’t manage to do what we’d hoped. However any positive change we can make, however small, is valuable.

Some people look for a therapist at these points and therapy can provide an ideal environment for us to change and develop. Whether in therapy or not there are areas we can focus resolutions on which will always do us good.

One of these is self-care. Any increases in our self-care will be beneficial. A focus on self-care can mean many different things according to our unique situation and what resources we have to help us achieve this.

Any gains in our self-care will help us develop resilience which can equip us to deal with challenges we may face going forward….Are you interested in increasing your self-care? How might you better support yourself?

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 for reducing anxiety

Anxiety can be very difficult to deal with. There are many ways we can address it. One simple way in the moment is the 5,4,3,2,1 activity. It works well as it employs the use of the senses to distract us from anxious thoughts. If you experience anxiety and haven’t tried it yet, perhaps it’s worth giving it a go? It can be used by children and adults of all ages, anywhere, at any time.


Look around and find

5 things you can touch

4 things you can see

3 things you can hear

2 things you can smell

1 thing you can taste

Photo: Jane Edwards

The value of sleep

Do you get enough sleep?

It can be easy for us to get into habits that get in the way of us getting the sleep we need. Sleep gives our body and mind the chance to replenish itself. Through our dreams we may process experiences. Parts of us that need repairing can be attended to by our bodies own capacity for healing as we sleep.

At this time of year we may feel our energy is low. In the northern hemisphere, the days are short with little daylight. It can be really important to get what daylight we can preferably when it’s lightest. A lunchtime walk can do us good in the daytime and make it easier for us to sleep at night.

Photo by Beazy at

Establishing a good sleep pattern can really benefit us but there can be hurdles to overcome before we mange this. Getting into a routine of winding down before going to bed can help. Having something calming to listen to if we do wake up in the night and need help to get back off to sleep can be useful.

It may be anxiety that is keeping us awake. If so, it can be of benefit to talk over how we are with a counsellor. We may find relief, peace or the strength to work through longer term issues that have held us back for too long. If your worries are keeping you awake we welcome you to contact us and try a therapy session. You can judge the benefits for yourself.

Support, information and therapy

Many people are finding the current restrictions related to the corona virus pandemic very difficult. For some, they come on top of living with very challenging experiences of anxiety, trauma, bereavement, relationship difficulties or other very tough experiences.

Counselling/psychotherapy is being offered remotely (via Zoom, What’s App, phone or DoxyMe) through this time and therapy provided in this way can be very effective.

Alongside this, there are many websites offering helpful information and support. The mental health charity, Mind have a growing collection of articles for any who are finding this time difficult. Find them at:

We do hope you are able to prioritise your wellbeing and wish you well. If you would like a first session with either of us to see if remote counselling/psychotherapy would be helpful for you at the moment please contact us through this site.

photo: Boris Smokrovic,

At Christmas…

If we are finding living difficult, Christmas can be hard. It can seem as if everyone else is having a wonderful time and has no problems…though the reality may be far from this. We may feel very lonely or conscious that our struggles don’t just disappear because it’s Christmas.

The Chaplaincy at the University of Edinburgh which serves people of any faith and none has produced a series of podcasts on different aspects of wellbeing including anxiety, depression and leaning in, grief, loss and appreciation. They are designed for anyone, not only students may find them helpful. Called ‘Let’s Talk’ they can be found here

The Chaplaincy describe them here:

When we are struggling with our mental health, we will often think that no one else is feeling the same thing. It can be a huge relief to discover that you are not alone in these struggles. 

The Let’s Talk podcast is a new series bringing together different members of the University community to have honest and thought-provoking conversations about mental health. Each episode is hosted by our Chaplain, Harriet Harris, and features discussions between students and staff talking about a range of mental health topics, from loneliness and depression to imposter syndrome and a fear of failure. 

These are serious topics with lots of space to grow understanding – and with lots of laughter along the way too!

If we are finding this season hard, looking after ourselves by trying to sleep well, eat well and getting out in the daylight will all help. Perhaps too, it would be helpful to listen to a podcast and hear how others have lived with their struggles and found ways forward. In the new year counselling appointments will again be offered and can provide a space in which to grow in self-awareness, and find healing and hope for the year ahead.

May this season and 2020 hold good things for you and all whom you love.

Photo by unsplash

How to improve our sleep

Sleep is important. It affects our physical and mental health. Most adults need between 6-9 hours of sleep per night.

When we have a lot on our mind, one of the first things to suffer is our sleep. We may struggle to get to sleep in the first place, or may wake in the night and find it hard to get back to sleep.

If we are finding sleep a problem there are a few things to consider that may help. Having a good routine in which our body and mind are being prepared for sleep can make a big difference. This may mean limiting screen time in the period before sleeping, not eating heavy or rich foods in the late evening and making sure where we sleep is a pleasant, calming environment. Not taking naps in the day, getting plenty daylight and exercise are important. Many find listening to an audio book helps them drop off to sleep.

Seeing a counsellor provides a chance to talk over our unique situation and can help us improve our self-care including our sleep. If we find ourselves waking up and not able to sleep it may be that there are things in our minds that really need attention. Therapy provides a safe space for our anxieties to be explored and processed. We can gain support and new perspectives, and take decisions which help us move forward positively. This can lead us to be less anxious in the daytime which is key to improving our sleep.

For more information on sleeping and suggestions that may help promote good sleep go to


The paradox of change

Sarah writes:

In my work as a therapist and in my everyday life, I’m surrounded by people who want to change.   They are unhappy about some part of themselves in the present, and have a desire to eradicate it and embrace a new better evolved version of themselves.

Feelings of shame and disgust are usually attached to the unwanted self, and this almost always makes me sad.   People seldom have compassion for the parts of themselves they don’t like or don’t want.  I rarely see people try to understand or make sense of these bits, it’s much more usual for people to judge these parts of themselves in a nasty unhelpful way; being angry and impatient with themselves.

‘I hate that I…….. have no confidence…..can’t stop smoking …………….stress about exams…………am so fat……………’

Ironically this process and these thoughts delays change.

If I want to change something about myself, I must first understand why I do it in the first place.

I can’t fix the fact that I have no confidence without understanding why.  I can’t stop smoking/ taking drugs / eating too much without truly understanding why I do it in the first place.

These are broken and wounded parts of ourselves; and to heal they need compassion and understanding, not criticism.  

Beisser’s (1970) paradoxical theory of change states ‘that change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not’. Movement cannot happen without a sure foothold, and before we can move towards what we might like to become, we must fully acknowledge what we are.

If you were to try that, right now, how would that be?   To be more understanding of the broken and wounded parts of yourself and less critical.   How does that feel?

Accepting ourselves messy and whole; experiencing our feelings fully is an important part of movement in the process of change.

Carl Rodgers says:

‘The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I change’

Photo Sarah Loeb

Who does us good?

We all have limited amounts of energy and when we’re facing challenges in our circumstances or wellbeing we may find a lot of our energy gets taken up with just getting through the day. So, when we think of those people we spend time with regularly, it can be helpful to be aware of who gives us energy and who drains us. It may be that some friends or relatives have a beneficial impact on us ; we leave their company recharged and with energy and drive to face difficulties. Others meanwhile may sap our energy leaving us feeling worse.

Through increasing our self-awareness we may notice who drains us and who gives us energy by their presence or how they are with us. The next step is considering whether we want to change who we see and how often we see them.

Spending more time with those who do us good can give us the support we need to grow. Putting boundaries in place that limit the time we spend with those who drain us can be difficult, but important if we are to prioritise our wellbeing. If we don’t pay attention and act on our awareness of who boosts our energy and who diminishes it, we can make it harder for ourselves to progress and to thrive.

For us to flourish we may need to consider who does us good, who doesn’t and act on our insights.

Photo: Nathan Anderson

Real not perfect

Sarah writes:

Among people I know and work with, one of the biggest causes of unhappiness that I see is the pursuit of perfection.

People are mean to themselves when they don’t hit ‘perfect’, or if they hit ‘perfect’ and then find that they can’t keep it up. 

When this happens people are being mean to themselves for being human and real.

It’s not surprising that we often think of perfection as normal and hate ourselves when we miss.  We are surrounded by images that portray perfection as a normal everyday occurrence. 

The media and social media often depict images of beautiful people getting it right; and living lives where perfection is portrayed as easily attainable.  Whether it’s maintaining a difficult exercise regime, constantly eating a healthy diet (whipping something ‘easy’ up in 10 mins which would take me at least 40!); looking amazing, looking happy; achieving lots; balancing commitments; being a brainbox; being successful in love; being successful in your work and career, being a fabulous parent, the media is full of stories of people who can do it all, and do it all easily.

I’m far from perfect.  When I worked in an office my messy desk was legendary. I have to work hard to be organised and sometimes I miss.  Sometimes I’m too tired to cook healthy and I struggle to lose weight.   There were times as a new mum that I didn’t get out till 4pm and my clothes had sick on them.  Although I try my hardest now, I’m —definitely— still not a perfect parent.

I don’t believe it’s possible for any human being to be perfect.   At times in our lives, if we are lucky, we might do some things really well or get things ‘spot-on’ but it’s irrational to think that these standards can always be maintained.

Counselling is something that can help this process, counselling doesn’t turn us into perfect people.  It can help us learn to like and accept ourselves as we really are; and this can free us up to be happy; and, ironically, to achieve more.  Things become much easier to do when we aren’t worried about them being perfect.  

So how can we be happier?  Well, for a start it might help if we had expectations of ourselves that were realistic.   If we could believe the real version of ourselves was lovable and acceptable.

And in embracing the new imperfect you, try not to worry about being unacceptable or unlikeable.  In my experience imperfect people are very easy to like.  I’m always much more comfortable with imperfect real people, it feels more honest… and… I feel more at home…………

Honouring our bodies

This week 13-19 May 2019 is Mental Health Awareness Week in the U.K. and this year the theme is body image. How do you feel about your body? How do you care for your body and give yourself what your body needs? How do you respect your body and honour your uniqueness?

We all live embodied lives, yet so many of us struggle to honour and fully respect our bodies. We are surrounded by images in social media of unattainable physiques, sending us the message that we are not good enough, not thin enough, not beautiful enough, not young enough…these images create dissatisfaction, sadness and self-loathing.  

The message of this weeks campaign is to behold our own beauty, empower ourselves and recognise our own innate value and dignity. We are human beings with human bodies that speak of the reality of living in this time and place. We are invited to do something today that does our body and the whole of us good. To celebrate being alive and the bodies we have.

For an inspirational spoken poem on body image please go to

Beat: If you want to speak to a trained eating disorder helpline support worker then you can call Beat‘s helpline on 0808 801 0711 (UK) they are open 365 days of the year 12pm – 6pm Mon – Fri and 4pm – 8pm weekends and bank holidays.