Too busy to think about Christmas?

Too busy to think about Christmas?


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Overworked and stressed already?

Perhaps you are juggling a working life with a family life, or perhaps you feel like there’s just not enough hours in a day?

The Christmas period seems to start earlier every year – looking around the town and online it is already upon us and it’s still only November! Even with a few weeks to go, do you feel stressed or even overwhelmed with how much you have to do?

If you have a look around on the internet you’ll find lots of people offering to coach you through this – they even pop up on Facebook ads now so there is no escape. It just goes to show what a problem it is for people – spawning all these new businesses! So with all the stuff that’s out there – usually pretty basic stuff too – what advice can I, as a Psychologist, pass on?

First of all, recognise that you have an issue with constant busyness and that it leads to inevitable overwhelm. How many of these ‘busyness’ behaviours do you recognise?

  • Multitasking – “I am listening to you, I’m just quickly replying to this email/message/doing something else”
  • Time Management – “I have to finish this so I’ll just work through my lunch/take it home/cancel my day off/use my only free time”
  • Messy workspace or home environment – “I know I have stuff everywhere, but I know where things are”
  • Unfocused – “I check my social media in case I miss something – I try not to get too distracted from what I’m supposed to be doing”
  • Being too available to everyone – “If you need to reach me, then just phone/message/email me and I’ll get right back to you”

Recognise any of these? They can apply to your work or your home life, or perhaps both!

Did you realise that the happiest, most successful people are relaxed and take things in their stride because they have firm boundaries around working time and personal time?

This includes the distinction between work you do in the home (housework, childcare, chores) versus the things you enjoy – the stuff that nurtures you and feels good.

The happiest, most successful people are not constantly busy. They prioritise their time in a healthy way. They don’t stay late at the office and they always take all of their holiday entitlement. They take days off. They enjoy their weekends. They spend evenings at home with their family, making time to relax or socialising, not constantly buried in a laptop, paperwork, their phone or endless chores. They ensure they make time for quality sleep. They make time to eat mindfully – enjoying a meal rather than being engrossed in something else. If this doesn’t sound like you, but you’d like it to be – you now know what you need to do!

If you need help with that, then have a read through some of my previous blogs or get in touch to find out about how you can work with me.

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

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Life can be hard – how do I build resilience?


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Resilience in action!

On holiday this year I spotted this tree at Loch Lomond. Despite the environment trying hard to uproot it and wash it away, that tree has found a way to stay steady and to thrive, even in a tough location. It prompted me to think about resilience and how people manage to survive and even thrive despite the world sometimes seeming to be against them. Perhaps you will recognise yourself or someone you know in what follows, and if you do then I hope you find this blog helpful.

Life throws us challenges continuously, and often problems happen one after another. When some people face difficulties, particularly when they become prolonged, all of their emotions become negative.  When life is good, they feel great, but when things turn bad, they feel terrible and don’t cope well.

Resilient people are able to find something positive in even the worst of circumstances. They definitely are aware of the bad stuff, but at the same time they find a way to also see the good. For instance, they will take the perspective that as bad as something may seem, at least they don’t have ‘such and such’ a problem. How do they do that?

How do you learn to become more resilient – more able to cope well with life’s problems?

Positive Mental Attitude

Oh I know, it sounds such a cliche – that PMA! However, it is helpful to recognise and acknowledge that the way you think affects the way you feel. In order to change unhelpful emotional patterns, you need to curb that habit of negative thinking and build up your positive thinking. You need to strengthen the neural pathways that support this more helpful way of looking at things, so that becomes your habit instead.

When you find yourself ruminating negatively, notice what’s happening and challenge your viewpoint –  ‘What’s the real evidence that things will never get any better?’ All people have memories of success and of failure. Thinking that things will ‘never’ improve is an example of extreme, black and white thinking and not accurate.

We experience this negative type of thinking because our brains are naturally wired to focus more attention on negative events than positive ones. We have evolved to watch out for things that threaten us, so we are attuned to spotting them. So, even though positive events are happening, we have a natural tendency to filter them out. When you take time to notice and appreciate the positive aspects of experiences, you begin to build up a more balanced evidence base and this allows you to make better judgements. A consequence of this, is developing your resilience and enjoying the good things in your life.

Learn from experience

All good and bad experiences provide opportunities for personal growth. When you see events from this perspective – life as a learning experience – the more resilient you become. Resilient people look at a problem and say – ‘What will solve this?’ and ‘What am I learning from this?’ Problems provide an opportunity to learn and problem-solve – developing these skills allows your resilience to develop. Ask yourself questions such as –  ‘What is useful in this?’ or ‘What available choices do I have?’, rather than focusing on ‘What’s going wrong?’ or ‘Who can I blame?’ It takes practice to shift your thinking in this way, but it is worth the effort.

This type of learning encourages you to think more broadly and to accept what is possible. Alternatively, focusing on the negative will impact on the way you communicate with others and possibly make problems even worse. Perhaps you have experienced this yourself?

Be kind

Being kind boosts the serotonin or feel good chemical in your brain. Practicing kindness to others and also appreciating kindness from others, and being grateful for the good things in life (and yes, everyone has something!) allows you to see any difficulties from a more balanced viewpoint. Think about this as filling up your very own reservoir of resilience. Having a reservoir of resilience you can draw on, means you will be able to cope well when difficult times come along.

Treat yourself well

Stay mentally and physically healthy by eating a balanced diet and taking regular exercise. Spend time with people whose company you enjoy. Laugh and nurture the humour in situations – after all, gallows humour is a coping mechanism! Take time to relax – listen to your favourite music or go for a walk in nature. All these things relieve stress and allow you to top up your vital reservoir of resilience.

Finally, if all of this just seems too hard, then please do seek out expert, professional help. A good coach or therapist will help you – you are not alone.

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

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

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

Inside my Therapy Toolbox – What is BWRT?

Inside my Therapy Toolbox – What is BWRT?


What is BWRT? I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it before now. BWRT stands for ‘Brain Working Recursive Therapy’ – quite a mouthful! It’s a new model of psychotherapy and a relatively small number of therapists around the world are registered as Practitioners. However, it is getting rave reviews in some psychotherapy circles as clients report how long standing difficulties are dissolving quickly and easily in one or two sessions. Obviously this result is fantastic for those clients and is the main reason why I became interested in learning more about this new approach.

Often people want a quick fix and this is not something a therapist is always able to help them achieve. I won’t lie, I was very skeptical about BWRT when I first heard about it. How could long standing anxieties and phobias suddenly be resolved without you even having to disclose the details of distressing memories? All the BWRT Practitioner needs to know is the outline of the problem and what you would like to change.

My aim has always been to help people overcome their difficulties in the shortest time possible so I felt that if there was a successful way to help resolve particular issues more efficiently then I needed to offer it. I followed the development of BWRT at a distance for several months, still unsure about it’s efficacy. A few months ago my professional body, the British Psychological Society approved the BWRT training course as Continuous Professional Development for members and this endorsement reassured me that BWRT was robust enough to add to my therapy toolbox. I completed the course and passed my theory and practical Practitioner assessment last month. I am now a registered BWRT Practitioner with the BWRT Institute, one of the first 400 practitioners in the world to use this new therapy and the first to provide it in York, England.

So what is this new therapy all about?

BWRT is based on the latest discoveries in neuroscience that have allowed us to better understand how the brain works. During the BWRT process you are encouraged to overwrite old outdated automatic patterns that trigger your unwanted symptoms. Unlike other therapies, you don’t need to share anything you would rather not discuss. This is hugely appealing to people who do not want to disclose sensitive or intimate information and have been put off seeking any professional help for this reason. I only need to know how you feel in problematic situations and how you would prefer to feel instead.

BWRT allows you to choose and create a new response to previously difficult situations so that you feel, think or behave in the way you really want. Once the process is complete, the old symptoms are simply no longer triggered.

The mind boggling title ‘Brain Working Recursive Therapy’ describes the recursive looping process that the practitioner uses during a session to get you focussed on your symptoms and then to create and reinforce your new chosen response. The BWRT Institute reports that results from two years of worldwide testing experience have been encouraging and suggests that the changes made by clients are permanent. Furthermore they report no evidence of symptom substitution. All very interesting and amazing stuff!

Only Certified Practitioners have been trained to deliver BWRT and all have to adhere to a strict ethical code. Find out more at http://www.bwrt.org

You can read more about BWRT on my website at http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com/bwrt.html

I currently offer BWRT appointments at my clinic in York and I am exploring the best way to offer sessions via SKYPE. You can contact me via my website.

Looking inside my Therapy Toolbox – What is EMDR?


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In my therapy practice I offer a range of different psychotherapeutic approaches and techniques so that I can use the most appropriate tool from my toolbox to help a client with their own individual issues. Good psychotherapists are committed to continuous professional development and undertake additional courses each year to keep their skills up to date and to stay abreast of new methods, models, techniques and research in the world of psychotherapy. Perhaps you have been seeking therapy or are just interested in what is available?

If you have ever checked out various therapist websites you are probably bewildered by the strange sounding therapies and techniques they offer. Whilst hypnotherapy is now very common, other evidence-based therapies such as EMDR are less well known. I trained in using this form of therapy a few years ago, when I felt I needed an extra tool in my toolbox for dealing with distress in a fast and effective way. In this blog I am talking about EMDR and how it can be invaluable in helping people overcome serious distress.

So what is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. It is a powerful psychological treatment method that was first outlined in the 1980’s by Dr Francine Shapiro, a clinical psychologist. Shapiro developed the EMDR therapeutic approach based on specific principles, protocols and procedures with the goal of reducing distress in the shortest period of time.

Substantial research has demonstrated the benefits of EMDR in treating psychological trauma and (PTSD) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is now commonly used to help the victims of large-scale catastrophes around the world including experiences of war and natural world disasters. However, it is also used to help people overcome the distress experienced from childhood abuse or neglect, assaults, surgical trauma, road traffic and workplace accidents. For example, train drivers who witness fatalities on the line are treated with EMDR as it can relieve their distress quickly and effectively. It can also be used to help people experiencing emotional distress with other issues including anxiety, phobias, grief, divorce, illness, performance anxiety, self esteem or any distress from the past, which is still impacting on day-to-day life.

So how does it work?

Being involved in a distressing event can feel overwhelming and the brain may be unable to process this information in the same way as it would an ordinary memory. The distressing memory seems to become frozen on a neurological level. Recalling the distressing memory, which can sometimes be triggered when you least expect it, can cause you to intensely re-experience whatever you could see, hear, smell, taste or feel at the time of the event. Sometimes the memory is so disturbing that you avoid thinking about it so you don’t have to experience the distress. In PTSD, people experience flashbacks and nightmares that are as intense as the actual incident that created the distress.

EMDR aims to identify and process dysfunctional and unhelpful behaviours, emotions, cognitions and memories arising from recent or past trauma and distressing life experiences. The theory behind the treatment proposes that unprocessed traumatic or distressing information produces dysfunctional reactions. These unprocessed memories are stored in separate unconnected memory networks in the brain. In EMDR, bilateral stimulation allows you to make connections between these neuro-networks causing spontaneous insight and change, resulting in learning and relief of emotional distress.

For example, let’s suppose someone was bullied at school and instead of the brain making sense of that experience and letting it go, the distress experienced is stored in a separate memory network along with all the emotion, beliefs and physical sensations that were there at the time. When something happens perhaps 20 years later that the brain interprets as being similar in nature (perhaps a boss at work makes a negative comment) the brain makes sense of it by linking to the old memory and all the associated feelings come flooding back. This person may not understand why the boss being negative triggers such a distressing reaction in them because it is happening automatically and is beyond their control. In EMDR, that old memory can be processed appropriately as you learn what you need from it and let the rest go. The original memory is transformed and stored in this reconsolidated form so the person can’t be triggered any more.

The treatment phase of the EMDR protocol can seem a little strange when you first encounter it. Alternating eye movements (or sometimes tapping or sounds) are used to stimulate the brain into reprocessing the frozen or blocked information that is being triggered and creating the distress. This bilateral stimulation allows you to re-process the distressing memories more appropriately, so they lose their intensity and can be stored in the same way as normal memories. The effect is believed to work in the same way as we naturally process ordinary memories during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) or dream sleep when your eyes move rapidly and repeatedly from side to side. After treatment, past memories no longer cause you distress, allowing you to respond adaptively in the present and in the future.

What happens during EMDR treatment?

In my therapy room, I start with a history taking session during which I assess your readiness for EMDR and develop a treatment plan. Working together, we identify possible targets for EMDR processing. These include recent distressing events, current situations that elicit emotional disturbance (triggers) and related historical incidents.

I always ensure that every client has adequate methods of handling emotional distress and good coping skills before any processing work takes place. Hypnotherapy techniques can be great for doing this effectively and the bonus is that you learn and practice some valuable skills that can be used in everyday stressful situations, as well as during or between sessions.

Once an initial target has been identified, it is processed using EMDR procedures. This usually involves you identifying a specific visual image related to the memory, beliefs about yourself in that situation, and the associated emotions and body sensations. There are other ways of using EMDR where you don’t have to openly share distressing information with the therapist, so before any processing starts we decide together which way of working would be most beneficial for you.

When the processing stage begins you are asked to focus on aspects of the memory whilst simultaneously moving your eyes back and forth following my fingers as they move across your field of vision for 20-30 seconds. You may be asked instead to listen to alternating tones or use a tapping device, which you hold in each hand to experience the bilateral stimulation, which enables the processing to take place. You are then asked to relate whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation comes to mind. This is repeated numerous times throughout the session. As the memory is adapted appropriately you will notice things changing and the associated distress subsiding until it disappears. Depending on the complexity and severity of the distress, it may take several sessions to process the old memories in a fully adaptive way.

After EMDR processing, clients generally report that the emotional distress related to the memory has been eliminated, or greatly decreased, and that they have gained important cognitive insights. Usually they cannot recall the old memory in the same distressing way again. Importantly, these emotional and cognitive changes generally result in spontaneous behavioural and personal change, which can be further enhanced.

When I first experienced EMDR I was blown away by it’s effectiveness. I have since used it very successfully for treating many clients including people suffering from the effects of phobias, anxiety, relationship distress, and road traffic accident traumas.

I have completed all 4 parts of an EMDR Association approved course and supervised practice in Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. Training on an approved course is restricted to mental health professionals who hold current registration to provide psychotherapeutic services (such as British Psychological Society membership). I am pleased to be able to offer this service to my clients alongside my other services.

If you are interested in EMDR there is a link on my website to find out more: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com/links.html

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