Active coping from action for happiness

We are all facing a bigger challenge than we could have predicted for the year – and action for happiness are helping by giving us some lovely, little, mindful actions and a different focus for each day to help to keep the negative thoughts away.

Remember that if you are struggling, I am offering all of my counselling sessions via video calling, so you can still get the face to face support you need. Just get in touch to let me know what times work for you, and I can call you.

Coping through the Coronavirus pandemic

It’s important to me that we all do all we can to help each other during the worry and isolation of this Coronavirus pandemic – and I’m trying to share links and resources with my followers and clients as much as possible, so that we can all keep our mental health in check, maintain our emotional wellbeing, and help those more vulnerable than ourselves wherever we can.
I thought it would be helpful to put all of these resources in one place so that you can find them easily, and every time I find something new that I think helps – whether it’s something scientific, an app you can use to maintain your mindfulness and mental health, a news story or just a video to put a smile on your face – you will find it here – and I’ll share the link on my channels so you don’t miss anything.
Here is a very clever database being built: it takes one minute – or less – and can help to track and predict the spread to better enable our health workers to fight it:
 
Self-report daily.
Help slow the outbreak.
Identify those at risk sooner.
 
Help our scientists identify:
 
High-risk areas in the UK.
Who is most at risk, by better understanding symptoms linked to underlying health conditions.
How fast the virus is spreading in your area
 
This is a very simple, but clever, DIY face mask – please do remember that I’m not a medical expert, and that this won’t protect you from all harm – but it may give some reassurance and protection when you’re popping out to the shops.
This next link is a lovely – and free – course for mindful emotion coaching:
https://www.openlearning.com/courses/mindful-emotion-coaching/HomePage/
Here you can find a completely free weekly online mindfulness session – the first is today (March 25th) from 7-8pm and the website will give you information on the next sessions
If these ones aren’t at times you can do, there’s a resource here with a schedule of other sessions at a range of times – the times are American, so factor the time difference in (for example 7am ET – Eastern Standard Time – is 11am GMT)
these are held via Zoom, and there’s a simple link to click; if you’ve never used Zoom before do click the link ten minutes or so in advance or as soon as you’re able, and follow the instructions to install it on your phone, computer or tablet – it’s very simple and user friendly and guides you through each step so don’t be daunted!
Adams Psychology Services have their own page of resources to help during these trying times too – which is  a fabulous help for those just looking for coping mechanisms.
For those with children – particularly younger ones – this printable, downloadable resource is a superb way to explain the coronavirus to children, and to help them to understand how it spreads and the importance of hand washing
Another great way to explain proper handwashing techniques was shared by a Doctor on his Twitter account – watch this video and see just how much your usual, casual wash is missing! The video is in Italian – but you don’t need to understand the words to see clearly what the message is!
You can find all my latest posts and shares on my Facebook page – where you can also post messages for other people to smile at or share, and I will reply to as many as I can

All counselling can be continued via video and phone calls.

For everyone worried about the Coronavirus, and the ongoing impact on life’s regular routines and needs, whether you need to self-isolate or we hear the announcement from Government that we, like Italy, will need to be ‘on lockdown’, all quarantined in our own homes, I want to assure you that I am still here to support you.

If you usually see me face to face for counselling, or have been considering arranging some counselling support in the near future, or have seen your anxiety increase and would like some support, I am maintaining my appointments as video or telephone consultations.

Every appointment can be carried out via a Facebook Messenger call, or as a WhatsApp call – calling via these services is free (as long as you are connected to wifi; if you use pay as you go data please do inform me so I can be sure to be calling you, to prevent you incurring additional costs)

I know that things are very worrying right now – and it’s important that you know that I am still here for you, ready to support you and your needs no matter what happens.

None of us have lived through a situation like this one before – nobody knows quite what’s going to happen, or what the short and long term changes to our lives will be. Don’t try to face it alone – and don’t be afraid to reach out to me.

Though it’s not the same as being able to help you in person, I will continue to support every single person who needs it via these video calls or phone calls, whichever is your preference.

Call, text or message me here and let me know which is the best way to keep in touch with you.

If you aren’t already one of the people I support, but you are seeking someone safe to speak to about any worries you may have, or are seeing your mental and emotional wellbeing suffer as a result of this pandemic, and the impact it is having on our routines, our working lives, the health and wellbeing of the people we love, don’t feel like you need to cope alone. If we are quarantined or self-isolating, it could become a very lonely time – so reach out. I can help you to find the best coping mechanisms and help you to feel stronger and more ready to face the coming weeks and months.

You can find all of my contact information on the contact page;

We can get through this uncertainty, together.

All my best wishes,

Amanda Burbidge.

Safer Internet Day

The internet is a wonder – a tool which has been in our lives for such a brief period, by many measures, but which has so quickly become absolutely vital to so many areas of our lives.

It connects people globally, meaning that we can build relationships and friendships, that we can explore other cultures, experience events on other continents, share news and current events. The internet has allowed isolated people to reach out, has made it easy for us to shop for our groceries without leaving the comfort of our homes, to build businesses with lower overheads – there are so many ways in which it enriches our lives.

But – because it has grown so quickly – the internet has also grown more rapidly than the security measures and safety provisions could match. And, whilst so many of us simply benefit from the entertainment, networking and opportunities that a global network can offer, it also gives the darker underworld that human life has always come with an untouchable place to pedal their wares.

For every fun forum where like-minded people can talk about their favourite author, there’s a dark web listing for illegal weapons or drugs, for every dating site where we can seek a soulmate there’s a hidden world where innocent lives are traded like a commodity.

For lots of us the internet still feels quite new and modern – and our learning has been gradual, embracing it in some parts of our lives but ignoring the parts that mean nothing to us. We still remember the world pre-world wide web, and the ways we experienced the world (and coped with being out of touch with people!) but for the younger generation, the internet has been an every day part of their lives the way that TVs have been a part of mine, but were new to the recent generations before me!

This means that navigating raising our next generations safely, with this untameable beast, can be quite the challenge – and that parents often don’t know a great deal about what their children can access online – either knowingly or not. It’s astonishing how much of the very extreme content on the internet can be found with just a couple of clicks – and that it’s deliberately designed to be that way, so that people can accidentally happen across it and be sucked in.

Though many people might be embarrassed to speak about it, looking for porn is very, very common – particularly with the curiosity of youth, and the accessibility of a handheld device in a quiet bedroom – and though there’s nothing damaging or dangerous about a healthy sexual curiosity, these free sites are also host to a terrifying number of ads and links to the dark web, where it’s frighteningly easy to get sucked down a web of increasingly extreme content. Addiction to these forms of content is a growing issue, and it isn’t just the younger generation being exposed to it – those who once would have struggled to find a source for their darkest thoughts to be fed are now just the tap of a screen away from like-minded people.

With Safer Internet Day the campaign to educate and protect people from this dark underbelly sees Governments worldwide being petitioned to have better controls and regulations, better policing and response to online crime. The biggest social networks are currently not held accountable for the actions of their users, absolving themselves of any responsibility or refusing to cooperate with criminal investigations in a timely manner, meaning that more people escape justice, more victims suffer, and more innocents are exposed to content which can cause lifelong difficulties or damage.

As a tool, as a way to communicate, as a wealth of experiences, the internet can be a wonderland, and has truly changed the way the world works in just a few short decades – but more must be done to protect users, and those shaping the way that it is used, from harm – whether it’s intentional or as a result of blundering into the wrong corners of the web.

Today, think about the content that you consume – and the information about your private life that you so confidently share with a world full of strangers, not all of whom will want to be your friend.

Limit the amount of information you share, be careful about updating your location in real time, or telling the internet at large that you’ll be away from home when your address hasn’t been well protected. Protect your children and their private lives by limiting how much you show of them and remember that, without their consent, you may even be breaking laws in sharing too much about them. In particular, remember that there may be some people looking who don’t have your own innocent view of your children, and who may have ulterior motives for wanting images or information about them – or about you. Don’t share your financial information, don’t agree to meet with strangers without building trust and letting friends and family know what your plans are, and please do be wary of letting your young people explore the internet unsupervised; though they may be making good choices, there are still others who may expose them to inappropriate material. Secure your settings, and if you’re unsure how to do this, visit the safer internet day website for some great resources and information.

If you have found your life impacted by the darker side of the internet, or perhaps you’re worried that you or someone you love have travelled further than you ever planned to down the rabbit hole of dark web content, please do give me a call; my services offer you a safe place to talk honestly, without judgement, and to find ways to control your own impulses, to process your experiences, and to heal from the hurt of being exposed to traumatic experiences.

Call me now on 07849 037095 or email me on cnslng@outlook.com and I can help you.

Calm your breathing – and your mind

This moving graphic is a fabulous little tool I’ve found recently, and which is a great help in controlling your breathing and focusing your mind – which is very helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think, and if it has helped you to calm your breathing – and your thoughts.

World Mental Health Awareness.

If you were on any social networks, or saw any news, on Thursday October 10th, you can’t have missed the wash of images, stories and personal moments being shared to raise awareness for World Mental Health Day.

Of all the awareness days, this is the one that gives me the most mixed of feelings.

Of course, being a professional counsellor, working with those who have vulnerabilities, have survived difficult situations and events, who continue to face challenges with bravery and with support, I think it’s vital to have an open and honest dialogue about mental health.

I see, and am happy to see, the changes in how openly mental health, crises of mental health, and the depression and anxiety conditions which impact so many lives are being spoken about. We have celebrity – and even Royal – voices telling their own stories, making speaking about these issues more commonplace, making it easier for people to admit when they are struggling, and erasing the stigma and shame that always used to be paired with mental ill health.

These changes are superb to witness – and to be a part of. To be a service provider, helping those who come forward to say “I am not ok, and I need help” – but equally, I know that speaking openly on social media may not be helpful for some. It may open their vulnerabilities to more dangers, to strangers and trolls, to those who take advantage, and those who dismiss their pain and challenges. This can make a person who is already struggling yet more vulnerable, putting them at risk.

I also know that speaking more openly about the mental health crisis the country is currently facing won’t improve the availability of crisis services, which are already stretched far beyond their capabilities in every county throughout the UK.

Crisis counselling services have huge waiting lists, funding to provide more availability, to train and provide experience and support for those who can, and want to, help, and ongoing support beyond the initial mental health crisis an individual might suffer is scant, and a tidal wave of people speaking openly on social media may be helping to remove the stigma and embarrassment around speaking about our challenges – but it does little to provide actionable solutions which can help people in crisis.

I don’t know what the solution is, and I know that – as the country lurches towards yet more uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the political imbalances in the UK – the issues of the NHS, mental health provision and funding for supporting the most vulnerable in our society is going to remain a problem that we don’t know how to solve.

I may not be able to help every person in crisis, but I and the kind, beautiful, compassionate people I have the pleasure of working alongside know that every moment we commit to supporting those who are battling their own struggles eases some of their personal crisis – and every person we help is incredibly important to me, and to my colleagues.

If you are struggling, if you are looking for a safe space to speak and process your fears, anxieties and events which have impacted your life, I can help. Call me or contact me with your name and contact information, and I will respond as soon as possible – and we can arrange a time where you can tell me more about yourself, and discuss how I can help you with your challenges.

Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association

The SWEDA Support Group takes place on the first Wednesday of every month between 7.00pm & 8.30pm at our comfy meeting room in Shepton Mallet.

We have two qualified group facilitators, both with years of experience in eating disorders.

The next group will be on Wednesday 4th September at
The Coach House, Harvest Court, Park Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BS.

Please feel free to bring along a friend (they are welcome to join in the group or wait in our waiting area for you).

Our self-help group is user led, so in each session the discussion will vary depending on who is attending and what they are bringing to the session. You will always have an opportunity to discuss what is important to you. This will allow you to talk about things you might not be able to discuss with others. We are not here to judge you. You might just want to ask for information or for some advice. You may just need to off load (whatever is important and beneficial to you). We want to give you the feeling of empowerment, a sense of community, letting you know you are not alone. Our members have found this form of support helpful when used on a regular basis; there is no obligation to attend every month. It is completely up to you.

SWEDA has always recognised the value of peer support – people coming together to support one another, share their successes and challenges and to encourage each other along the journey to recovery.

We hope to see you there.

For more information (including how to find us and where to park) please visit our website: https://www.swedauk.org/services/self-help-support-group

SWEDA Support Group

The SWEDA Support Group takes place on the first Wednesday of every month between 7.00pm & 8.30pm at our comfy meeting room in Shepton Mallet.

We have two qualified group facilitators, both with years of experience in eating disorders.

The next group will be on Wednesday 4th September at
The Coach House, Harvest Court, Park Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BS.

Please feel free to bring along a friend (they are welcome to join in the group or wait in our waiting area for you).

Our self-help group is user led, so in each session the discussion will vary depending on who is attending and what they are bringing to the session. You will always have an opportunity to discuss what is important to you. This will allow you to talk about things you might not be able to discuss with others. We are not here to judge you. You might just want to ask for information or for some advice. You may just need to off load (whatever is important and beneficial to you). We want to give you the feeling of empowerment, a sense of community, letting you know you are not alone. Our members have found this form of support helpful when used on a regular basis; there is no obligation to attend every month. It is completely up to you.

SWEDA has always recognised the value of peer support – people coming together to support one another, share their successes and challenges and to encourage each other along the journey to recovery.
We hope to see you there.

For more information (including how to find us and where to park) please visit our website: https://www.swedauk.org/services/self-help-support-group

Grief

After a death, looking forward can feel almost impossible. However, most people after the initial shock begin to adapt to living and being without the person who has died. The change happens gradually, but over a period of time you will begin to notice that you are less consumed and preoccupied by the loss.

Initially you may be consumed with thoughts surrounding the death, and the person who has died, but as time moves on you will begin to ‘forget’, to begin with it will be for a few short moments, building to hours and eventually for days at a time. This is not a betrayal and it certainly does not mean that the loss means any less. It is natural to not think about a person, we do it all of the time with our living friends, family and acquaintances.

The goal of the grieving process is to learn to live with loss. As you grieve, your life can slowly begin to feel meaningful and pleasurable once again. You will at times be taken by surprise – a piece of music, a smell or place may remind you of the person who has died, and you will find yourself overwhelmed with grief all over again. This, too, lessens in time.

For some the experience of grieving can change their world view. They may reassess priorities, values, beliefs, hopes, dreams and aspirations, they may even re-evaluate friendships.

Create a memory box, you may choose to place a photograph inside your box, a piece of clothing, maybe jewellery or some other items that remind you of the person who has died. If none of these are available to you, try to recall a special place or event that held meaning to the person who has died, and write about that, placing your wonderful memories in the box, with perhaps a pebble from the beach, a football programme maybe, or the ticket stubs from the show you enjoyed together, the kind of things that you might add is yours to decide.

Self-Care is important, even when you feel you can’t be bothered, or that there is little point, try to eat, even a little bit will be appreciated by your mind and body. Try to bath or shower regularly, cleansing our body in warm water can lift our mood. Often when we are feeling sad and overwhelmed our body and mind want to ‘shut down’, remember that sleep has a restorative value, so allow yourself to rest a while. Equally getting some exercise has a beneficial alchemy, it is a way of releasing sadness, tension, frustration and anger, and so even though you may not feel like it today, it does usually help.
Grieving takes time, it is a process, but eventually your life will grow around your grief.

Give yourself credit for surviving each day that passes.

Self-Talk that helps you become smarter and feel better about yourself

GOAL SETTING; Setting a goal and making a plan, for example (What to do, when to do it, how to do it) can be a big help. You might just make a list. However, saying your goal out loud focuses your attention and reinforces the message, this in turn controls your runaway emotions and screens out those pesky distractions.

COMPLIMENTS; if you feel you deserve them, then give them to yourself (out loud). Do not wait for others to recognise your achievement, and offer the compliment to you. Your small or big acts that take care of you are important. For instance, you may have been really tempted to eat that cake, or have another alcoholic drink, but you remembered your commitment to yourself to lose a few pounds or reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. This certainly deserves a compliment “I’m proud of you”. You may have found time to finally get around to having the clear up you had been intending on doing over the last year, again celebrate your achievement with a self-compliment “well done me, great job”.

MOTIVATION; you might be struggling with difficult or mundane tasks, or keeping to those goals you set for yourself. Remind yourself of the why you set the goal, or the task that requires your attention, then with a kind voice to yourself “I have the energy to succeed today, so how about getting started right now”. Don’t forget to compliment yourself along the way, “well done me, I managed to get that job done” or “well done me, I stayed on track with avoiding unhealthy food and drink”

OUTER DIALOGUE; Choices are not always easy. Often we respond or react impulsively due to habit or our personal anxiety. Now is the time to create an out loud conversation with yourself, this way you will ‘hear’ what you think. An example of this might go something like this, “I would like to stay because xxxxxxx, however, I want to go because of yyyyyyy. I need to work out which decision is right for me”. Engaging in this self-dialogue can help you to make a compromise or a conciliation between your wants, your needs and other people’s expectations.

Regardless of living by yourself or with other people, you are constantly ‘living with’ your own self. Respectfully engage with your self-talk, it is not a sign of insanity or ‘losing the plot’. It is a sign of good mental health. Remember, you have the right and deserve to extend ‘Self-love and Self-compassion’ to yourself. Be your own advocate.

Wishing you all a happy and successful 2018, whatever your personal goals might be.

Amanda J