What 10 things made this a good year?


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It’s that time of year when many of us look back on the year that has passed and have a quick mental review of what sort of year it was. We all wish each other a ‘Happy New Year’ at the start of January, so how did your year go? Spend a moment now just looking back over the last 12 months of your life and see what your overall feeling is about this year.

Isn’t it strange how when we do this we tend to focus on the things that went wrong, were really bad, or disappointing? I noticed myself doing this, which prompted me to write this blog.

For many, this has been a particularly challenging year as things have shifted on the world stage. Perhaps you have experienced #anger, #anxiety or even #depression. Add in any personal, financial or emotional challenges and your review may be teetering on the edge of that negativity cliff! We all have this negativity bias as part of our human nature and it helps us to watch out for threats or danger in our everyday lives. However, we can become too focussed on what went wrong and fail to notice what went right! It is easy to become blinkered to the good stuff. So, I decided to write a list of the things that made it a good year…..

  • Love and support from close family
  • Good friends
  • Opportunities for meeting new people who enrich life
  • Exercise to feel good and improve health
  • Getting out in nature
  • Regular, healthy meals
  • Time to rest and recuperate
  • Helping others
  • Enjoying hobbies
  • Learning from a new challenge

The good news is that there are many more than 10 things on this list – this list goes on. So, my new view overall is – that was actually a great year full of challenges and opportunities that stretched old ways of thinking, increased learning and therefore enriched life! If you are feeling down about the last year perhaps your focus is in the wrong place. Take a step back and shift your focus onto what went well. What did you learn? How did you grow and develop emotionally? If you find this difficult, the easiest way to start is to think about what you can be grateful for this year – perhaps things, surroundings or people you have taken for granted? Get started now. I wonder how many you can write on your list?

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and Personal Development Specialist based in York. You can reach me at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

Grateful for the small things


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This is a little Amaretti biscuit. I like one with my morning coffee sometimes. It’s just a little thing but it makes me happy. I take tiny bites to make the sugary, almond delight last longer.

Being grateful for such small things feels good. I appreciate this little taste of luxury. Did you know that practising gratitude can make you happier? I regularly encourage my clients who are experiencing problems with low mood to make a note of the things they are grateful for.

Every day, pause and notice at least 3 things that you perhaps take for granted, but you are grateful for. For some, it is the smiling faces of their children, for others the unexpected sunshine, or seeing a beautiful flower or tree. For many people life is tough and every day is a struggle. Perhaps feeling thankful is far from the way you feel about your life? Even in difficult circumstances there is always something to be grateful for – fresh, clean water when you turn on a tap, the fact that you are here breathing and living when others without choice are not, the ability to read these words. Search and there is something.

So allow yourself to experience that feeling of gratitude. Try it out. Even if it’s just for a little thing – it makes you feel good.

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy practitioner based in York. You can find out more about my work and how I can help you at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

Why positive memes don’t always help


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Sometimes I like those positivity memes we see scattered around the Internet and social media and I’ve even shared a few myself. However, the relentless message that you just need to be happy, or think positively, can be very frustrating -especially if you are really struggling with mental health problems right now.

Sometimes someone just needs you to sit and listen, to be there with them and acknowledge their difficulties. They may not be ready to see the bright side yet and seeing these supposedly uplifting comments, memes and quotations actually makes them feel worse, more of a failure, and wonder why they aren’t coping. This listening and sharing the shadows for a while, before encouraging someone to move forward, can be difficult, especially when it’s someone you love who is struggling.

As a professional therapist it’s my job to be that listening person. This week, I’ve spent several hours walking alongside people in the midst of their struggles. It’s my job to judge what approach is appropriate and when the time is right to support and gently guide someone to move forward along a new path.

If you are finding it difficult to support a loved one, you are not alone. I can provide efficient and effective help. I can help you to understand what is happening and how best to change things. As a psychologist, I have the knowledge and skills you need. As a hypnotherapist, EMDR and BWRT practitioner I have the techniques that will help. As a therapist I care about restoring your well being and it is a privilege to be asked to help you.

I can be reached via my website at www.mindmakeoveruk.com

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on positive quotations and memes – helpful or frustrating?

Cloud watching – Taking time out


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We all lead such hectic lives these days don’t we? Whether we are rushing around working, commuting, shopping, cleaning the house, caring for others or doing all the inevitable admin that maintaining a life brings, it’s all busy, busy, busy. When someone asks, “How’s things?” how many times do you answer, “Oh you know, busy!”

How often do you take time to be still and do nothing? I am still shocked but not surprised when clients tell me that they take work or laptops or work phones on holiday with them. Weekends and evenings also consist of checking emails and messages – just in case they miss something. Little wonder that these types of people often present with overwhelming stress, anxiety and feelings of depression.

Perhaps you make time for yourself to unwind and relax: maybe a peaceful half hour in the bath; or an evening walk; or listening to soothing music. When I ask my clients what they do to relax, most have to really think hard about it. Some can’t come up with an answer. Some think relaxing, which they equate with doing nothing, is wasted time.

However, we all need periods of purpose-free calm in our lives. Most of us are surrounded by human chatter or ringing phones or noisy traffic, which are all part of the competing demands and distractions of a busy life. We are on alert all the time, scanning for anything that might need our immediate attention. Tiring isn’t it?

Last weekend, on a beautiful summer’s afternoon in my garden, I looked up at the glorious blue sky and the fluffy white clouds passing by. I remembered lying on the grass as a child, and imagining the shapes the clouds were forming, and the stories I made up in my mind about them. Suddenly, I wanted to experience the joy of that again, so I got out of my chair and laid back on the grass and watched as the clouds floated by, transforming into wondrous shapes as they went. I found myself smiling as I recalled memories of carefree childhood days. The grass felt soft and warm against my back. The sunshine felt warm against my skin. The gentle breeze was cooling and refreshing. I could smell the fragrances of summer flowers and newly cut grass. Most of these sensations had gone unnoticed until I made the time to stop and take it all in. I took some long, slow deep breaths and felt my whole body and mind unwind and relax. I must have stayed there like that, just noticing, being mindful, for 20 minutes or so and when I stood up again I felt joyful, re-energised and grateful for the experience.

So how long is it since you took the time to allow yourself to be at one with the natural environment? When was the last time you stopped and stared and really noticed all the intricacies of something like a beautiful tree or flower, the sea or the clouds perhaps?

Put your busyness to one side and take time to try it out. Focus on all your senses. Notice the detail of what you can see, hear, smell, feel and perhaps even taste. Taking time to reconnect with the beauty of our natural world is never wasted time. It lifts the human spirit – which reminds me of the poem I learned as a child. Perhaps you remember it too?

Leisure by W.H.Davies

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy practitioner based in York. You can find out more about my work and how I can help you at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

Chronic Pain and Beliefs


Pain

Your experience of Chronic Pain is not just about the physical sensations. There are many psychological aspects to pain including what you think about pain, and how you think about it – which I mentioned in my blog – Pain and the Power of Words https://yorkmindmakeover.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/pain-and-the-power-of-words/

The psychological aspect to your experience of pain is based on your own beliefs – the meaning you give to pain.

  • Control

Do you believe you can control your experience of pain and manage how it affects your life? I use hypnotherapy to show people how they can learn to manage their own pain experience and gain control over it using self-hypnosis techniques. This gives you the power to change your perception of pain, lower the intensity of pain and lessen distress and depressive thinking

  • Acceptance

Helping people to explore their pain using mindfulness techniques is the first step in accepting that pain is only one component of your experience. Pain sensations are transient and can change. It is still possible to lead a satisfying life, and practising pain reduction is helpful but not necessarily central to this

  • Disability

When people believe they are disabled by pain they will necessarily behave that way. You need not be disabled by pain. Activity can reduce the experience of some pain (i.e. pain stimulated by physical damage) – despite common thinking that it will make the experience worse. For example, weak muscles are more likely to spasm so limiting activity only makes pain worse long term. Exercise to lengthen and strengthen muscles can stop pain getting worse

  • Fear of Harm

It seems common sense to believe that pain is a signal of physical damage so activity should be limited or avoided altogether. However, when pain becomes chronic, the intensity loses its association with the amount of physical damage. Gentle exercise such as stretching is in fact beneficial rather than causing harm

As you can see, your beliefs about pain guide your behaviour and therefore impact on your long-term health. Your beliefs will determine the strategies you use to cope. Maladaptive coping strategies include guarding yourself, resting and constantly asking for assistance to do things, believing these behaviours will help you avoid further possible harm. This limits your life and can lead to distress, withdrawal from society, anxiety and depression.

Adaptive coping strategies are the answer – including pacing yourself so you never get overwhelmed by pain, learning how to gain control over your perception of pain, learning ways of coping when pain flares, and encouraging regular gentle activity to encourage mobility.

Do you recognise any of your own beliefs about pain? Would you benefit from shifting your thinking?

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy practitioner based in York. You can find out more about my work and how I can help you at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

Pain and the Power of Words

Pain and the Power of Words


Chronic Pain

I’ve been working recently with people who suffer with chronic pain. Working together over several sessions we have experienced success in reducing the perception of pain and alleviating the suffering, as well as formulating new habits such as pacing so that the problem never reaches the point of overwhelm and is manageable.

What struck me about working with these people are the stories they tell about themselves and their pain experiences. They seem to have one thing in common – a person in authority in the medical profession has told them that the pain will always be there, it is something they have to live with and it will probably never go away. They can take medication but this in itself has unpleasant side effects, particularly when the dose needs increasing over months or years as they become tolerant to it. Again, they have been told that this is inevitable.

As a hypnotherapist I am very aware of the power of words. Let’s step back and think about the effect of these negative, disempowering messages. Set them in the medical context, delivered by an expert  – who has the patient’s full focussed attention, and it’s not difficult to see how these words have mesmerised them and affected the beliefs they now have about the pain. Negative hypnosis in action!

Did you realise that pain is not just about physical sensations? There are many psychological aspects to pain. What you think about pain, and how you think about it, has a huge effect on your experience. Catastrophising is common and is a consistent predictor of the level of pain and suffering experienced. When someone thinks that they cannot learn to manage pain themselves and are stuck with it, and then is constantly focussed on that pain and ruminates on that negative experience, it is no surprise that they experience higher levels of pain, possibly depression, anxiety, distress and even disability.

When people learn to use adaptive coping strategies rather than only relying on the doctor, hospital specialist or science itself to make them feel better, huge improvements can be experienced in terms of the intensity of pain, physiological functioning and activity levels. This can be done with the right professional help.

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy practitioner based in York. You can find out more about my work and how I can help you at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

Why having friends is more important than you might think!

Why having friends is more important than you might think!


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There’s one thing you can be sure of in life – that things change – and that includes having friends or a lack of them! Many of us are lucky enough to go through school making new friends, who often go on to share our good times and bad and sometimes become a part of our lives for many years more. Later in life we make friendships at work. Often we find ourselves part of larger social circles of friends through interests or just going to the same places. If we have children there are often other parents we see every day, dropping off and picking up at nurseries and at the school gates perhaps, and we fall into easy friendships over the years.

So what happens when children are grown or away making new lives for themselves, we change jobs or get made redundant or retire, we move house or area, or marriages end and all those familiar social circles disappear? Those old reliable friendships change. Sometimes we are left without any friends close by and we wonder to ourselves, “How did that happen?” Without realising it, we can become disconnected and experience loneliness for the first time in our lives.

As human beings we all have a number of basic emotional needs, which are essential for our well being. Throughout life, these needs are usually met by our work, our life at home and the interests we have. As our lives change however, these needs can become neglected and before we know it there is an impact on our sense of well being. The good news is it is amazing how many of these emotional needs can be met by regularly seeing friends! Here is what I mean:

  • We need to give and receive attention. We have evolved as social animals and we need human contact to stay mentally healthy. This is why solitary confinement is used as a punishment in jails! This attention can come from regular contact with our friends and having a balanced social life
  • We need to notice our mind/body connection. We are not machines and need to pay attention to good nutrition, sleep, rest and exercise. We can go walking with friends, do an exercise class together or perhaps even swap healthy recipes
  • We need a sense of meaning and purpose and to feel that we contribute to the broader community. Friends can help us to set goals or work towards something that we would like to achieve. Friends can help each other with charity fund raising or volunteering opportunities
  • We need to feel challenged and express our creativity so we have a sense of competence and achievement. A friend can help us to try something new that we perhaps haven’t considered or thought we could do – a new class or hobby or even an outdoor pursuit. We continue to learn when we mix with other interesting people from different backgrounds and life experiences
  • We need a sense of autonomy and control. Sometimes we can feel that life is out of our control and we need to get a handle on at least part of it. Friends can remind us and help us to relax and provide a helpful perspective on what areas of life we can control
  • We need a sense of status within our social groups. This can come from work or doing something helpful in the community. It can simply mean being recognised for being a good parent, grandparent, son or daughter. It can also come from being a good friend
  • We need to have some privacy as well as feeling secure and safe in our environment so we can develop as fully rounded people. A good friend can help us to see how we can improve this area of our lives – whether we need to change where we live or cut ties with people who make us feel insecure in some way
  • We need friendships and close relationships where we can be ourselves, share our ideas and ask for help when we need it. Many people are without supportive families so good quality friendships are even more important. We need to be emotionally connected to other people

I work as a psychotherapist and see so many people who are struggling with anxiety and depression. When we explore what is happening in their lives there are always emotional needs that are not being met. Friendships can help to fulfil so many of these needs. Friendships are important. Social Media and Internet access means there are now new ways to make friends that perhaps you haven’t considered. Regular groups have sprung up where like-minded friends meet for coffee or lunch reflecting the need many of us feel for that human connection. I recommend checking them out to anyone who is beginning to feel lonely or isolated. New friends can be only a mouse click away!

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and Hypnotherapist based in York. I specialise in helping people with depression and anxiety. You can contact me at http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com