Worried about the future? Concerned about current events? Not sleeping well? You are not alone. As a professional therapist I’ve had a rush of clients seeking help with these issues over the last couple of weeks. The prospect of emerging from lockdown and heading towards the new normal can be daunting. Anxiety and stress relief are needed more than ever now. The UK Office of National Statistics say that nearly half of us (47%) feel our wellbeing is being affected by the pandemic. Stress, anxiety and worries about the future are the most common issues. In my therapy work I have helped many people with these issues, enabling them to thrive, not just survive.
The Good News
I’m going to share some powerful, behind the scenes techniques and resources from professional counsellors, psychologists and therapists. These techniques can help you feel calmer, worry less, sleep better and feel more in control, no matter what’s going on at home, at work or in the outside world.
Please note – this guide and any of the information or services provided by Change for Good therapies are not a replacement for any medical treatment, psychological or psychiatric services. If you need urgent mental health support click here for NHS information on where to get urgent help.
Here are the proven facts
Human beings have an inbuilt capacity to survive, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Even if it feels like life will never be the same again, we have the ability to get through and recover. We can even learn and grow from the experience. Overcoming challenges is actually necessary for us to thrive. As the old saying goes “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” This ability to bounce back is known as resilience. Many scientific studies have shown that resilience helps us respond to and recover from stressful circumstances and traumatic events. It’s also associated with reduced anxiety and increased life satisfaction. In this guide I will show you effective skills and strategies to increase your personal resilience. These can help you to thrive, not just survive.
Let me spill the beans here
The ability to cope and recover from adversity can be learned. It’s about how we respond to whatever life throws at us. Resilience isn’t about pretending to be happy all the time, or ignoring stress or sadness. It’s about learning the best route through the hard times and successfully coming out the other side. As Winston Churchill said “if you’re going through hell, keep going.”
I’m sure you’re wondering
How can it be possible to cope better and be happier during times like these? It’s about changing your perspective, the way you see things. Positive psychology researchers say that even a small change in how you view situations can lead to massive improvements in your wellbeing and quality of life. Read more about why the world needs these skills now and find useful tips for boosting your own resilience here.
Here’s the big deal
Human beings tend to focus on negative situations or events.This may have served our distant ancestors well, when a rustle of leaves in the forest could mean a dangerous wild animal heading your way. It was better to assume the worst and run, rather than end up as a tasty snack for a sabre toothed tiger. Nowadays such fearful thoughts and pessimism aren’t so helpful. We can’t fight or run away from today’s problems like the coronavirus, financial worries, grief or loneliness. Rather than trying to ignore fear, worry or other negative thoughts Eckhart Tolle, best-selling author, suggests becoming “the silent watcher” of your own thoughts. It’s as if a part of you is simply noticing and acknowledging these thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. At the same time we can learn to build up our reserves of positive thoughts, feelings and actions.
What’s the bottom line?
Our thoughts matter, because they influence our beliefs and our behaviour. The more we notice our unhelpful, automatic thought patterns the better we can become at replacing them with helpful thoughts, feelings and actions. For example you might have an automatic thought pattern of catastrophising and blowing problems out of proportion. Perhaps you have a habit of over-generalising, saying things like “that’s just my luck” or “nothing good ever happens to me.” Susan Jeffers, internationally acclaimed author and psychologist describes these automatic thoughts in our heads as “the chatterbox.” When working with my clients I often use the metaphor of the poison parrot to describe these unhelpful automatic thoughts. Imagine having a parrot in a cage in your house that says something horrible to you every time you walk past it. (Disclaimer, I wouldn’t personally have a caged parrot, but this is just a useful metaphor). What would you do with your poison parrot? Would you keep it and suffer its insults, decide to re-train it or give it away?
Challenging our automatic thoughts is an effective technique used in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It’s like re- training the poison parrot. Cheryl Rickman, author of psychology and self- help books suggests taking your thoughts to court. It works like this- when you feel anxious or upset, jot down any negative automatic thought or belief that is going through your mind. Next, think of all the evidence that could prove the belief is not accurate. If there is even a shred of evidence against the thought then write it down. Notice the positive change in how you feel as you begin to dispute the negative beliefs. Have a look at this short video about common types of automatic thoughts and how to challenge them. See if you can identify your own automatic thought patterns and practice taking them to court
Relax, Recover, Re-set
We will explore more techniques and powerful strategies from professional therapists in future blogs. To give your coping skills an extra boost I am creating a Relax, Recover, Re-set meditation and self-hypnosis audio recording. Specially designed to help you thrive during the coronavirus pandemic and the new normal, it will be free to use as often as you wish (more about this and access to the recording in future blogs).
For now, I wish you well and hope you found the information and resources useful. If you would like to experience the benefits of live one to one hypnotherapy, talking therapies or motivational coaching for stress, anxiety or other issues such as weight loss (including gastric band hypnotherapy), smoking, phobias, sleep problems and more just call or email me for a free initial phone consultation. Call 07415 499156 or email [email protected]