Stress at Christmas

Stress at Christmas

OUR BLOG ON

Stress At Christmas

Stress At Christmas

Rachel Copeland for The Henry Centre

Festivities this year may feel quite different from previous seasonal celebrations and stress at Christmas is likely unavoidable. However, many of us will still want to mark this time of year with our loved ones. Whatever else may be going on in our lives, it’s important for our mental health to set aside time for ourselves. Indulging in the festivities the winter season has to offer is just one way to take care of our emotional needs. But how do we do that when we are met with unexpected challenges? Let’s look at how we can manage expectations as they contradict reality and find ways to care for our own mental health.

A Different Christmas

As we all know, this Christmas is going to be a bit different from others. As such, we’re all trying to do our best to make it as special as any other. Maybe even more special to make up for whatever we feel we may be lacking. 

If we take the time to list all the expectations we put on ourselves at this time of year, it’s no wonder we are feeling the strain…Family difficulties, pressures to provide the perfect Christmas for our children, financial strains, topped off with unhelpful social comparisons… However, life is just too complex to ever guarantee the idealistic ‘perfect’ Christmas. Yet, somehow we still seem to expect it. 

Let’s look at some of these stress factors a little more closely, beginning with family difficulties. Christmas traditionally focuses on families, but not all of us are part of an ideal family. Even if we are provided with support and involvement from our family, this in itself can prove to be a cause of stress. There may be clashes of opinions, which can result in tense atmospheres or even arguments at the dinner table. Trying to manage these family disputes during what we would prefer to be a peaceful time can be a diplomatic feat. 

Even if there’s no obvious source of disagreement, a prolonged period in close quarters (rule of 6 inclusive) with family can still be stressful. The lack of privacy compounds the situation. 

We may even be having arguments in our own head over these competing perspectives with our family. Our “responsible adult” thinking vs our “subservient child” leading to confusion and stress as we swing from keeping the peace and wanting to assert ourselves.  

Let’s not forget those of us with splintered families and those who have no family to celebrate with at all. Loneliness can be so hard to bear at this time of year with such a bright spotlight on families. It’s unsurprising feelings of loss and grief are heightened. 

Financial Strains

So, if family difficulties aren’t challenging enough, throw financial worries into the mix and we are really starting to feel the strain. We can’t seem to avoid the expectation to spend more money at this time of year…and what if we already have financial worries? The extra pressure may keep us awake at night, unable to switch our brains off from obsessing over budgeting plans and nightmare scenarios. When you want the best for your nearest and dearest, it really is a struggle to keep up with the expectations of buying the best gifts.

Societal Pressures

Unless you have your head under a pillow, it’s impossible to escape the societal pressures all around us. Messages telling us we need to do more, be more, give more…Be perfect! But what exactly is perfect? Christmas media, is just one example of the social expectations thrust upon us, to have the BEST XMAS EVER whilst looking amazing and feeling fabulous, surrounded by perfectly behaved children and happy family members. Society’s illustration of the ‘perfect’ Christmas is suddenly in our front rooms,  with songs blasting through the speakers  ‘wishing it could be Christmas every day’ and sometimes it can all feel, well…just a bit too much really. 

It’s especially too much if you’re feeling the opposite of Holly Jolly this year. You may have noticed that any expression of that can sometimes lead to unsympathetic accusations of being the Christmas Grinch interspersed with phrases like “Bah Humbug”. This can lead to us feeling misunderstood and isolated when we need more support than ever. 

Traumatic Anniversaries and Bereavement

It’s also possible that this time of year could bring up painful feelings for those of us who have lost loved ones or suffered some form of trauma around this season. Traumatic memories may replay due to the constant context triggers which come with this time of year. It may feel as though there is no escape. 

Depression


All these added pressures can lead to us to struggle with feelings of anxiety and depression. For those who already suffer with mental illness, Christmas can be an extremely challenging time. Feeling down at this time of year can be quite a surreal experience when we are surrounded by such seemingly happy individuals. However, even without a diagnosis, feeling low at this time of year is actually more common than we are led to believe. It can be a difficult emotion to admit to…possibly due to the pressures we feel to be happy. However there is always a legitimate reason for feeling this way and we don’t need to suffer alone.

It’s possible this season magnifies what you feel is missing from your life (particularly in terms of relationships at a time when the focus is on family and relationships). The stark contrast can bring a real jolt to our hearts. 

Winter Blues

A possible biological reason behind some depression may be due to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a common biological imbalance which can occur as the nights draw in and we have less exposure to daylight. It can be remedied through a Vitamin D supplement and regular exposure to a sun lamp. (However, it’s always best to check with your GP before taking any supplement.)

Any of these instances can lead to feelings of overwhelming disappointment that Christmas is not meeting our expectations or our perception of the expectations of others… If that’s not too confusing?! 

Unhelpful Coping Mechanisms

We may find ourselves attempting to control our stress in unhelpful ways such as over-eating and drinking. As Christmas is a time when people are encouraged to ‘eat, drink and be merry’ we can end up consuming more alcohol than is healthy. Sometimes we have that extra glass of wine or slice of cake in an attempt to numb the stress, but we all know the negative side-effects… feeling bloated and run down and possibly even guilty if we’re trying to be healthy and we end up overdoing it. Over consumption has the opposite effect of pacifying our emotions. Alcohol actually turns up the volume on how we’re feeling and can lead to depression. Of course, a drink or two in moderation is perfectly acceptable as part of enjoying the festivities! However, using drugs, alcohol or other external things as a crutch to deal with difficult feelings usually only adds to the discomfort and self-hatred. The ‘solution’ often becomes the problem. (If you feel you may have an issue with alcohol or any other type of self-medication, taking the brave step of reaching out for support can be the key to rediscovering your well-being. See the end of this article for lists of professional organisations who may be able to help.)

Over-efforting

As another way of trying to cope with increased anxiety levels, we may end up over-efforting all over the place. Even if we are usually a happy introvert, the calendar flips to December and with it comes a sudden expectation from others (as well as ourselves) to socialise. While it is important to spend time nurturing family connections and friendships, it doesn’t mean we need to spread ourselves so thin with social engagements we risk tearing the fabric of our social selves. 

We can’t underestimate the amount of effort involved in pulling off a first class Christmas…decorating, cooking and gift buying (much of which is expensive at a time when money is tight).

The two week school break may be termed the ‘Christmas holidays’, but the demands of maintaining the household don’t suddenly go on holiday. In fact there is additional cleaning and cooking involved. This is piled on top of our already busy lives due to everyone being at home (some with selective memories for how to clear up after themselves)!

Over-giving

Another way we may attempt to control stress, particularly any possible feelings of inadequacy, is through over-giving…of things and of ourselves. Many of us may struggle with over-giving in our lives at the best of times, but this time of year may send us into overcompensation overdrive.

Parental Pressure

I’m sure we all remember watching in horror as Arnold Schwarzenegger charges around the malls in a desperate attempt to source that illusive toy for his son in the classic Christmas film, Jingle All The Way…The mere memory of the scenario would bring a wrench to any parent’s gut and serves to prove the sheer pressure on parents to provide not only the perfect present, but the perfect Christmas for their children. Ok, our Christmas shopping experience may not be as chaotic and calamity-ridden as a Hollywood Blockbuster plot line, but it’s true that whoever ends up bearing the brunt of the great Christmas preparations is bound to be at greater risk of stress.

If we take a moment to stop… breathe… and think…when we look at these super-human/ Santa Clause level efforts, we’re potentially over-giving and forgetting to leave anything for ourselves…

As well as cooking up the Christmas pud, we may also be cooking up a recipe for burnout. However, it is possible to still give, but in a more balanced and mindful way.

Healthy Coping Strategies

So we’ve explored some of the less healthy methods we may be using to cope. Let’s now take a look at the more mindful ways of coping. 

Becoming more self-aware through self-reflection is a good place to start, as sometimes we can unconsciously repeat unhealthy patterns of behaviour which further impact our stress levels. 

The Gift of Presence

It’s important to tune in and listen to our bodies. Even if we’re not admitting to others how we’re feeling (or even ourselves) our body will certainly be telling us when something’s wrong. Headaches, stomach cramps, insomnia…Sometimes the most helpful thing to do is to accept these feelings instead of beating ourselves up for having them. Being nasty to ourselves is NOT going to make us feel better. Through paying attention to our own needs and practicing some self-love we can begin to start experiencing a more stress-free existence. 

By consciously working on making this season easier for us and more fun we are able to be more present instead of focusing on what we have to do. Watching out for the words ‘should’ and ‘must’ when we talk about our to-do list will tell us if we are doing things from a place of inner need or outer pressure. Becoming more tuned into ourselves and present means we can begin to appreciate the simple blessings this time of year has to offer. The simple things we may miss if we’re running around like proverbial headless turkeys.

Journaling

If the pressure is becoming unbearable, how about making some time for a five minute brain dump? Journaling can be such a powerful release for pent up emotions and can bring unexpected clarity to a chaotic situation. Once our thoughts are out from our head and down on paper it can really lift that burden from our shoulders.

Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries can be a transformative way to support ourselves. As we have discussed, it can be all too easy to over-commit at this time of year. Rather like a reliable steam engine chugging up the hill, we may feel we have to just press on regardless, doing what we’ve always done every year, but the truth is, we DON’T have to – it’s absolutely acceptable to be discerning about what invitations and commitments to accept. Even if others (and ourselves) are used to expecting more from us. If we keep doing what we’ve always done expecting a different result…well we all know the definition of that line of thinking!

How about delegating a few tasks to share the load. This combined effort can create more of a friendly team effort feel. It also empowers others with some responsibility who may be keen to help out anyway. 

Sometimes having a ‘script’ can be helpful. Something to acknowledge the other person’s point of view, but clearly stating our own preference. For example: ‘That does sound like fun, but I’m quite tired/not feeling 100% and need to get an early night.’

Learning to recognise our limits allows us to give less and to take more care of our own needs. This is an empowering decision in line with self-care. If we are honest and open about our needs and have a proactive boundary plan to communicate these with our VIP’s, we begin to create healthy boundaries which harnesses healthy relationships and supports our mental well-being.

Honouring Anniversaries

It’s also important to be mindful of any possible traumatic anniversaries around this time of year and to remember to be kind to ourselves. Allowing ourselves that time and space to honour those emotions can be so healing. Therapy can be useful for this. This is an opportunity for people to gather (in person or remotely) to acknowledge the Christmas season without that forced sense of happiness (which can be so difficult to be around when feeling lost and alone). Through acknowledging these feelings of loss with others who have also experienced loss, we feel a sense of belonging. We may even move towards a place of gratitude for the memories and moments spent together with our loved ones who are no longer with us. It can be terrifying to reach out but the support can be transformative. 

Family Fixes

What about difficult family situations? They don’t just magically disappear. We have to deal with them. Let’s have a think about the level of expectation. High expectations (even if the intention is coming from a good place) can pile on the pressure, particularly on relationships which are already strained. 

Adopting a more realistic view about what we are likely to expect from our time together will help avoid disappointment and arguments. It may even help to heal pre-existing family rifts. Realistic expectations will help decrease our stress levels.

Volunteering

However, while the rest of the world is focused on managing family demands, conversely, it may be loneliness which strikes at this time of year. It can be tempting to hibernate away from the painful feelings of loneliness and wait until the season passes. However, it has been psychologically proven that participating in your local community (in a Covid safe way) can help reduce loneliness and give a sense of purpose. It’s also a brilliant way to raise self-esteem and boost our mood.

Donating our time to those less fortunate is such a rewarding experience. Helping and being kind to others can add true value to the lives of others who are struggling at this time of year. We then begin to tap into the true meaning of this season (whatever our faith may be). Plus, modelling the spreading of love and compassion as a parent is especially good for teaching kids empathy. 

Budgeting

In the case of financial pressures, setting ourselves a budget and sticking to it as best we can before Christmas shopping is a good way to stay in control. The creatively inclined among us may benefit from indulging in making  gifts. These admittedly do take time and effort but the act of creating is so therapeutic. Not only does it provide a cheaper alternative for gifting, the act in itself reduces stress levels. However, this is not for everyone. Reminding ourselves of that well-worn saying ‘the best things in life are free’ is so beneficial. As corny as the expression may be, it’s true that the most precious gift we can ever give our loved ones is our time and undivided attention. Spending time together playing a board game or watching a film can be just as meaningful and will help create happy memories. These gifts cost nothing but mean the world. 

Let Go of Comparisons

It may not be possible to completely switch off from social pressures, but it is possible to choose what we consume. Taking a break from social media platforms can reduce our FOMO (fear of missing out) and the unhelpful social comparisons we may make in response to the picture perfect posts from friends and followers. 

Press Pause

Allowing ourselves a ‘time out’ if we find our stress levels rising can be a circuit breaker for stress. If there is enough time, taking up a well-being class such as yoga (either online or in person) can provide mental and physical health benefits. This can be hard to achieve if we have responsibilities such as work, caring for a loved one or looking after children or even feeling obligated to entertain visitors. If it’s possible to make arrangements with a partner, friend or family member to take over for an hour or so to give us a break, that would provide some much needed support at a busy time. If this is not possible, then simply opening a window, listening to music, or sitting in the garden for some fresh air can blow away those cobwebs. Evidence increasingly indicates that outdoor activity provides additional benefits to health and well-being. 

So, let’s remind ourselves that we are not alone in experiencing this annual stress and try not to be so hard on ourselves. Let’s pledge to do things differently this year. If we honour our feelings and intuition and make time for ourselves we can begin to move towards a more healthy mindset conducive with coping. Who knows we may even end up enjoying the Christmas festivities after all! 

Helpful Organisations

The Samaritans

 116 123

 https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/

 The Henry Centre

 01702 814044

 The Old Station House, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 7SB

 

More From Our Blog

Breaking the chains of intergenerational trauma

Breaking the chains of intergenerational trauma

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion around mental health and counselling, particularly when it is relevant to seek help and when it is not. A somewhat old fashioned idea is that because it was something that wasn't spoken about or sought after in the...

Is self diagnosis becoming a Tik Tok trend?

Is self diagnosis becoming a Tik Tok trend?

Tik Tok has exploded with full force onto our screens and while many of us may not be directly part of the community, much of social media is now awash with shared and re-shared videos, which cover a mind boggling array of subjects. Whether you are looking for a...

Psychosomatic illness

Psychosomatic illness

Although often physical and mental health are considered separately and in their own right, the reality is that often one can greatly affect the other. In the same way that having a physical ailment can make you feel down, even to the point of depression, the opposite...

Losing the stigma of asking for help

Losing the stigma of asking for help

Realising that your mental health is not where you would like it to be, or reaching out and asking for professional help can be a real hurdle for a lot of people. Often we don’t want to admit that something is wrong, or that we have a problem that we can't fix...

Different types of Therapy at a glance

Different types of Therapy at a glance

Beginning the process of finding therapy can be a bit of a minefield. As well as considering cost, time and if you click with your therapist, there is also the fact that there are many different types of counselling which needs to be added into the mix. While the term...

How to choose the right therapist

How to choose the right therapist

Making the first step towards getting help with your mental health can feel like a massive one. Choosing the right therapist is vital.

Stress at Christmas

Stress at Christmas

Festivities this year may feel quite different from previous seasonal celebrations and stress at Christmas is likely unavoidable.

I Am Enough

I Am Enough

Read our blog on I Am Enough, one of our clients accounts on how they found their confidence…

Let's Talk

[email protected]

Westcliff Centre: The Old Station House, Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Southend, Essex, SS0 7SB
01702 814044

Chelmsford Centre: Rochester House, 145 New London Road, Chelmsford, CM2 0QT

From Break Down to Break Through

From Break Down to Break Through

OUR BLOG ON

From Break Down to Break Through.

From Break Down to Break Through

Uncovering Hidden Opportunities in Challenge

Rachel Copeland for The Henry Centre

 

Your World Falls Apart

We’ve all been there…the relationship we thought would last a lifetime ends…the business we spent years building up folds…the exams we studied hard for earn us a fail…all of the above and more, usually topped off with a broken phone screen, flat car battery, that email meant only for your friend’s eyes, is sent to your boss… and your world falls apart. We may experience breakdowns differently, but what we all share is, we know what it is to be fragile. To be human.Sometimes terrible things happen to us seemingly for no reason at all other than the law of sod. Sometimes we make terrible mistakes and all the truths we hold close to our hearts are ripped away. 

Extraordinary Times

We are living in extraordinary times, experiencing rapid change both globally and perhaps personally. Many of us are facing the necessary reinvention of careers, relationships and identities when we never thought we would have to.

Silver Linings

So, how on earth can these breakdowns possibly offer us opportunities? How can we ever learn to see the positive in these negative things that happen to us?

The age old saying ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ could quite honestly lead even the most level-headed of people to punch whoever said that square in the face, but often these age-old adages are age-old for a reason. It’s because (like it or not) there is truth to them. Ok, we may not want to hear it when we’re knee deep in snot-soaked tissues, puffy-eyed and hoarse from shouting “Why me?!” to a seemingly empty universe, but bear with me…

It Is What It Is

There is wisdom in accepting a situation for what it is and breaking away from what no longer serves us really can provide us that profound opportunity to break through to a more meaningful life. If, instead of using our energy to fight against what is unchangeable, we focus that energy on ourselves, we can discover a resilience we may not have previously realised was there.

The Wisdom To Know The Difference

Like the serenity prayer reminds us:

Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,

The courage to change the things we can

And the wisdom to know the difference.’

we need to decipher between accepting what we can’t change and what we can. Certainly there is little wisdom in passively accepting ‘our lot’ when we are able to make positive changes. 

The Blessing in Disguise

The irony is, sometimes our life has to detonate to shock us into recognising the changes we need to make.

The field of uncertainty, though full of pitfalls, is a place of immense opportunity. Being thrown out of our comfort zone allows us to explore new territory. Life-shattering moments create space for new adventures.

Why Me?

These unexpected, unasked for and seemingly unfair breakdowns can sometimes cause us to dig our heels and resist the changes. After all, you didn’t ask for this, did you? Asked for or not, believe it or not, the breakdowns present a profound opportunity because no progress can happen without change.

When we feel the world is against us, it’s easy to fall into to victim mentality: “I haven’t asked for what’s happening! It’s not my fault!” However, there is a line of thinking which suggests we consciously or unconsciously create our reality through the choices we make. This is not to insinuate blame…more of a call to step into an empowered state of awareness and conscious choice-making.Forgiveness of others and of ourselves is the gateway to freeing ourselves from limiting victim mentality.

Even at the depths of my own despair, as I sat, defeated, watching my life come tumbling down around my ears, I found myself thinking, there MUST be some use for this.

Golden Opportunity

Amidst the apparent destruction these breakdowns cause, lies the gift of a golden opportunity. This golden opportunity was not lost on the ancient Japanese. Kintsukuroi is a centuries-old Japanese art of repairing broken pottery. Rather than rejoining ceramic pieces with an invisible adhesive, the Kintsugi method involves tree sap lacquer, dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The result is stunning. Seams glitter in the conspicuous cracks, give a unique appearance to each “repaired” piece.

The history of each piece is celebrated through emphasising the fractures instead of disguising them. In fact, many view the “repaired” piece as more beautiful than its original perfection. What better metaphor exists for rebuilding ourselves, stronger and more beautiful from our experiences?

Reframing Our Story

What stories are we telling about our experience? Are we introducing ourselves as the single mother whose partner left because he/she was having an affair? Apologetic for our lack of work experience/ qualifications/ driving licence? How does the way we talk about ourselves and present ourselves to the world impact the way we view ourselves? Focus on the breakdown, the cracks, the destruction and that’s all we will see. If we reframe the story, our perspective changes and we see the beauty in the new version of who we are. How we view ourselves has power because it affects how we portray ourselves. If we present ourselves as broken, others may treat us as something of no value.

To Go Through Or To Grow Through

Post breakdown, which each step we take next is our responsibility.

Even if circumstances seem out of our control; how we respond to the situation is not. I’m unsure if everything happens for a reason, but I do know we can find reason in everything that happens. Choosing to grow through these challenges rather than just go through them is an empowering decision.

Broken But Beautiful

Like the broken Japanese vase, the fact we broke is not important; accepting we have broken and deciding to lovingly rebuild is the most important gift we will ever give ourselves. So, how do we view our restored selves? Focus on the cracks, lamenting the image of who we were and how we thought we would be, or do we see the golden opportunities within these cracks? Restoration is an art and we are our own masterpiece.

The Key

The key is learning how to accept what has happened. If we find peace amidst the changes, we find power to heal and find purpose in the pain. We are not broken, we are mosaics, abstract, Kintsukuroi…human works of art.

References

My Modern Met. 2020. Kintsugi, a Centuries-Old Japanese Method of Repairing Pottery with Gold. [ONLINE] Available at: https://mymodernmet.com/kintsugi-kintsukuroi/. [Accessed 25 August 2020].

Sifton , E. (2003). “The serenity prayer: faith and politics in times of peace and war.”  (6th edn.)

 

Whatever any of us imagined we would be doing at the start of spring, when schools had broken up for Easter and when the sun was just emerging, I think we can all agree this wasn’t it. A life most ordinary has been interrupted, and for how long we are not yet sure. In an effort to keep each other safe and ease the effect of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) on our beloved NHS we are being urged to stay indoors, avoid physical contact with those outside of our households and be vigilant about washing our hands.

The effects have resulted in empty streets across the country and whilst the birdsong seems to have been turned up a notch, any hint of human activity seems to have been muted. In a unique way much of the world is experiencing a shared occurrence, one entirely out of the ordinary and one which is forcing us to behave in ways unlike what we are used to.

Humans are, after all social creatures, pack animals. We cuddle close to those we love; we shake hands with those we don’t know yet, we share meals in each-others houses or in crowded restaurants, we flock naturally to places where other people are. And yet that has been suspended. In a strange reckoning, unlike anything we have seen before, we are being asked to stay apart.

But being physically apart doesn’t mean we have to feel alone. Now, in a time of uncertainty that plays into so many of our base fears, is exactly when we need to reach out to each other that little bit more.

 

More From Our Blog

Breaking the chains of intergenerational trauma

Breaking the chains of intergenerational trauma

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion around mental health and counselling, particularly when it is relevant to seek help and when it is not. A somewhat old fashioned idea is that because it was something that wasn't spoken about or sought after in the...

Is self diagnosis becoming a Tik Tok trend?

Is self diagnosis becoming a Tik Tok trend?

Tik Tok has exploded with full force onto our screens and while many of us may not be directly part of the community, much of social media is now awash with shared and re-shared videos, which cover a mind boggling array of subjects. Whether you are looking for a...

Psychosomatic illness

Psychosomatic illness

Although often physical and mental health are considered separately and in their own right, the reality is that often one can greatly affect the other. In the same way that having a physical ailment can make you feel down, even to the point of depression, the opposite...

Losing the stigma of asking for help

Losing the stigma of asking for help

Realising that your mental health is not where you would like it to be, or reaching out and asking for professional help can be a real hurdle for a lot of people. Often we don’t want to admit that something is wrong, or that we have a problem that we can't fix...

Different types of Therapy at a glance

Different types of Therapy at a glance

Beginning the process of finding therapy can be a bit of a minefield. As well as considering cost, time and if you click with your therapist, there is also the fact that there are many different types of counselling which needs to be added into the mix. While the term...

How to choose the right therapist

How to choose the right therapist

Making the first step towards getting help with your mental health can feel like a massive one. Choosing the right therapist is vital.

Stress at Christmas

Stress at Christmas

Festivities this year may feel quite different from previous seasonal celebrations and stress at Christmas is likely unavoidable.

I Am Enough

I Am Enough

Read our blog on I Am Enough, one of our clients accounts on how they found their confidence…

Let's Talk

[email protected]

Westcliff Centre: The Old Station House, Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Southend, Essex, SS0 7SB
01702 814044

Chelmsford Centre: Rochester House, 145 New London Road, Chelmsford, CM2 0QT

I Am Enough

I Am Enough

OUR BLOG ON

I Am Enough

I have been involved in competitive sport my whole life, 12 years in gymnastics, 4 years
in crossfit and always a runner! I have always loved the challenge, the mental and
physical strength to push myself, the exhilaration of success, the camaraderie and all the
wonderful health benefits sport brings!

Being a perfectionist in nature; I have naturally, always set the bar very high,
expectations and personal standards of myself (in every area of my life) that were, at
times, highly unachievable, but I would strive further and never quite be satisfied with my
efforts. This mind-set is very unsustainable and becomes a vicious circle of self-doubt,
anxiety and struggle!

As an athlete, teacher, wife, mum, friend – I have always had huge expectations of
myself and accepting that ‘my effort that day is good enough’ is something I am learning.
With these high expectations, the juggling act of being a full-time working teacher
mummy has seemed impossible at times and on reflection something that needed
tweaking!

Lockdown has definitely not helped, but what it has taught me is that when you feel knee
deep, reach out, talk, lower those expectations and be kinder to yourself because we are
all in this together right?!

I used to chase times, count numbers and always strive for that none existence
perfection, now I put my trainers on, my headphones in my ears, one foot in front of the
other, start and finish without a timer and instead I hear the voice telling me to simply
finish the race! ❤

More From Our Blog

Breaking the chains of intergenerational trauma

Breaking the chains of intergenerational trauma

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion around mental health and counselling, particularly when it is relevant to seek help and when it is not. A somewhat old fashioned idea is that because it was something that wasn't spoken about or sought after in the...

Is self diagnosis becoming a Tik Tok trend?

Is self diagnosis becoming a Tik Tok trend?

Tik Tok has exploded with full force onto our screens and while many of us may not be directly part of the community, much of social media is now awash with shared and re-shared videos, which cover a mind boggling array of subjects. Whether you are looking for a...

Psychosomatic illness

Psychosomatic illness

Although often physical and mental health are considered separately and in their own right, the reality is that often one can greatly affect the other. In the same way that having a physical ailment can make you feel down, even to the point of depression, the opposite...

Losing the stigma of asking for help

Losing the stigma of asking for help

Realising that your mental health is not where you would like it to be, or reaching out and asking for professional help can be a real hurdle for a lot of people. Often we don’t want to admit that something is wrong, or that we have a problem that we can't fix...

Different types of Therapy at a glance

Different types of Therapy at a glance

Beginning the process of finding therapy can be a bit of a minefield. As well as considering cost, time and if you click with your therapist, there is also the fact that there are many different types of counselling which needs to be added into the mix. While the term...

How to choose the right therapist

How to choose the right therapist

Making the first step towards getting help with your mental health can feel like a massive one. Choosing the right therapist is vital.

Stress at Christmas

Stress at Christmas

Festivities this year may feel quite different from previous seasonal celebrations and stress at Christmas is likely unavoidable.

I Am Enough

I Am Enough

Read our blog on I Am Enough, one of our clients accounts on how they found their confidence…

Let's Talk

[email protected]

Westcliff Centre: The Old Station House, Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Southend, Essex, SS0 7SB
01702 814044

Chelmsford Centre: Rochester House, 145 New London Road, Chelmsford, CM2 0QT

Connection in Times of Isolation

Connection in Times of Isolation

OUR BLOG ON

Finding connections in a time of social distance

Finding connections in a time of social distance

 

Whatever any of us imagined we would be doing at the start of spring, when schools had broken up for Easter and when the sun was just emerging, I think we can all agree this wasn’t it. A life most ordinary has been interrupted, and for how long we are not yet sure. In an effort to keep each other safe and ease the effect of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) on our beloved NHS we are being urged to stay indoors, avoid physical contact with those outside of our households and be vigilant about washing our hands.

The effects have resulted in empty streets across the country and whilst the birdsong seems to have been turned up a notch, any hint of human activity seems to have been muted. In a unique way much of the world is experiencing a shared occurrence, one entirely out of the ordinary and one which is forcing us to behave in ways unlike what we are used to.

Humans are, after all social creatures, pack animals. We cuddle close to those we love; we shake hands with those we don’t know yet, we share meals in each-others houses or in crowded restaurants, we flock naturally to places where other people are. And yet that has been suspended. In a strange reckoning, unlike anything we have seen before, we are being asked to stay apart.

But being physically apart doesn’t mean we have to feel alone. Now, in a time of uncertainty that plays into so many of our base fears, is exactly when we need to reach out to each other that little bit more.

Stay at home and stay safe, but also keep connected. Send letters, send texts, pick up the phone or use video chats to keep in touch with those that mean the most to you. And reach out to those around you where you can. Even a cheery wave and a hello from a distance when you are out buying essentials can mean the world to somebody. It is also a time to not feel afraid of asking for the same support yourself.

It is now that we need to take extra care of our mental wellbeing. In a period of unease, where the world feels different to what we know, other people can be a great way of anchoring yourself. Services such as counselling are still up and running, though often taking different forms such as video chats or over the phone, and when everything else feels a little confusing and upside down, therapy can be a wonderful tool for keeping grounded.

A pandemic like this has the potential to stir up all sorts of feelings, including some that we didn’t realise were there. Feelings of being unsafe, being alone, being under threat, amongst many others. Keeping an eye on fluctuating mood and emotions can be a useful way of supporting your mental wellbeing and there are a number of small practicesthat can be helpful in lifting your mood, such as those outlined of the NHS website.

Seeking out a therapist in times where life feels tricky to navigate can be a great exercise in self-care and now, more than ever, it is important to protect your mental health. For those who feel that they would like to speak with an accredited therapist during these unprecedented times, get in touch with The Henry Centre today. With a variety of hand-picked, specialised counsellors, they are able to find the perfect therapist to meet your needs.

You can find the original article on our Facebook page here.

More From Our Blog

Breaking the chains of intergenerational trauma

Breaking the chains of intergenerational trauma

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion around mental health and counselling, particularly when it is relevant to seek help and when it is not. A somewhat old fashioned idea is that because it was something that wasn't spoken about or sought after in the...

Is self diagnosis becoming a Tik Tok trend?

Is self diagnosis becoming a Tik Tok trend?

Tik Tok has exploded with full force onto our screens and while many of us may not be directly part of the community, much of social media is now awash with shared and re-shared videos, which cover a mind boggling array of subjects. Whether you are looking for a...

Psychosomatic illness

Psychosomatic illness

Although often physical and mental health are considered separately and in their own right, the reality is that often one can greatly affect the other. In the same way that having a physical ailment can make you feel down, even to the point of depression, the opposite...

Losing the stigma of asking for help

Losing the stigma of asking for help

Realising that your mental health is not where you would like it to be, or reaching out and asking for professional help can be a real hurdle for a lot of people. Often we don’t want to admit that something is wrong, or that we have a problem that we can't fix...

Different types of Therapy at a glance

Different types of Therapy at a glance

Beginning the process of finding therapy can be a bit of a minefield. As well as considering cost, time and if you click with your therapist, there is also the fact that there are many different types of counselling which needs to be added into the mix. While the term...

How to choose the right therapist

How to choose the right therapist

Making the first step towards getting help with your mental health can feel like a massive one. Choosing the right therapist is vital.

Stress at Christmas

Stress at Christmas

Festivities this year may feel quite different from previous seasonal celebrations and stress at Christmas is likely unavoidable.

I Am Enough

I Am Enough

Read our blog on I Am Enough, one of our clients accounts on how they found their confidence…

Let's Talk

[email protected]

Westcliff Centre: The Old Station House, Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Southend, Essex, SS0 7SB
01702 814044

Chelmsford Centre: Rochester House, 145 New London Road, Chelmsford, CM2 0QT

Anxiety Responses to COVID-19

Anxiety Responses to COVID-19

OUR BLOG ON

Anxiety Responses To COVID-19

Our Anxiety responses to COVID-19, as in any other response are informed by our internal world. It seems that people are pulled in one direction or the other and it can be challenging to find that balance between neurotic and pragmatic. For some the response is one of fear, for survival for them and their’s. For others there is more of a denial response, ‘well if we’re going to get it we’re going to get it, the flu killed 89k people last year….’ and so on. These are both different responses to the same problem.

An underlying anxiety that feels too difficult to cope with. We either choose to try and minimise, or desperately try to control the elements that we can. It’s difficult to find that place in the middle where we are concerned enough that we take this issue seriously and yet pragmatic enough to realise that beyond doing what we can in terms of precautions, there is little else we can do.

Our Anxiety responses to COVID-19 are informed by our internal world and will tap into our basic survival instincts. It’s difficult to sit with this anxiety and think about what it all means, in which ever way it presents. Particularly in relation to our internal world and how we relate to others, which will often be a reflection of our own experience.

I have heard of people being mugged for toilet roll and I have seen heartwarming British spirit, people coming together to help others in their time of need and offering whatever they have.

 

Life, is it a web or a ladder?

Life is a web, not a ladder! We were taught, particularly in this country, for many years that life was a ladder to be climbed. That success was about getting to the top of it. It’s not! Life is a web and in connecting and developing relationships with not just those close to us, but people throughout our communities and even those that we don’t know YET. This is what life is really about, how this mutual exchange of energy, ideas, kindness, interest and care provides what we really need, rather than what we think we need.

 

Final thoughts

It takes a village to raise a child and a community to fight a virus. (Even if it is at a distance of 3m 😊) Stay safe people 🌎

You can find the original article on our Facebook page here.

More From Our Blog

Breaking the chains of intergenerational trauma

Breaking the chains of intergenerational trauma

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion around mental health and counselling, particularly when it is relevant to seek help and when it is not. A somewhat old fashioned idea is that because it was something that wasn't spoken about or sought after in the...

Is self diagnosis becoming a Tik Tok trend?

Is self diagnosis becoming a Tik Tok trend?

Tik Tok has exploded with full force onto our screens and while many of us may not be directly part of the community, much of social media is now awash with shared and re-shared videos, which cover a mind boggling array of subjects. Whether you are looking for a...

Psychosomatic illness

Psychosomatic illness

Although often physical and mental health are considered separately and in their own right, the reality is that often one can greatly affect the other. In the same way that having a physical ailment can make you feel down, even to the point of depression, the opposite...

Losing the stigma of asking for help

Losing the stigma of asking for help

Realising that your mental health is not where you would like it to be, or reaching out and asking for professional help can be a real hurdle for a lot of people. Often we don’t want to admit that something is wrong, or that we have a problem that we can't fix...

Different types of Therapy at a glance

Different types of Therapy at a glance

Beginning the process of finding therapy can be a bit of a minefield. As well as considering cost, time and if you click with your therapist, there is also the fact that there are many different types of counselling which needs to be added into the mix. While the term...

How to choose the right therapist

How to choose the right therapist

Making the first step towards getting help with your mental health can feel like a massive one. Choosing the right therapist is vital.

Stress at Christmas

Stress at Christmas

Festivities this year may feel quite different from previous seasonal celebrations and stress at Christmas is likely unavoidable.

I Am Enough

I Am Enough

Read our blog on I Am Enough, one of our clients accounts on how they found their confidence…

Let's Talk

[email protected]

Westcliff Centre: The Old Station House, Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Southend, Essex, SS0 7SB
01702 814044

Chelmsford Centre: Rochester House, 145 New London Road, Chelmsford, CM2 0QT