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Have you had a chance to read my blog series on self-care?

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Blog Series: Week 8: Look after yourself by…keeping fit [video content included]

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Today I’ve invited Becky Murrell to answer a few questions about the importance of keeping fit. She a Personal Trainer based in Brighton and Hove, as well as creating workout videos for her facebook and instagram community, and holding events in her local area.

Let’s get to the interview…

 


So, what does keeping fit actually mean?

To me, keeping fit means keeping active and improving your fitness. You don’t have to go to extreme measures to keep fit.

Fitness is personal to everyone and what works for one person might not necessarily work for another.

One of the hardest things to do is staying motivated and staying motivated is part of keeping fit. Whether that be going to yoga once a week or the gym every other day.


 


Do I have to be in a gym every day for an hour to achieve physical fitness and wellbeing?

Absolutely not!!

Some of the most effective exercises involve using your body only and can be done in less than an hour. You most definitely don’t need a gym to do that in.

Exercise is so good for the body but it’s only good for the body if it benefits your goals. You don’t need to slave away every day to reap the benefits.

Exercise should be enjoyable and you’ll have great results if your form is correct and the exercise is performed correctly.

Remember quality over quantity.

That’s not to say training every day is bad, it’s always good to mix it up and do some cardio, strength, mobility to help keep your body mobile and strong.


2How does keeping fit affect my mental health?

It’s in so many studies: when we exercise endorphins are released which makes us feel good.  Par of my Personal Trainer Qualification, was studyingthe benefits of exercise on mental health.

As someone who personally has anxiety and previously had depression I can first hand say that exercise is the number one reason I am able to control that.

Exercise is so wonderful for so many reasons and one of those reasons is helping you feel in control. When I exercise I feel I am on control which is so important because anxiety and depression can make you feel helpless.


 


Do you have any tips for people that might find exercising a bit difficult to schedule into their daily lives?

Absolutely. The truth is when we enjoy something we find the time to do it. If you can’t find the time then you haven’t found the right exercise for you.

Don’t pick an exercise that others like – find something that meets your needs, that you enjoy.

Pick the right environment that you will feel comfortable in. Invest time in finding what makes you feel good.

We are all able to schedule stuff in if we really want to. Keep looking for that perfect exercise for you and you wont look back.


How does diet enter into this?

Diet is extremely important; however I believe balance is important! Life is for living and we should all have a treat.

If you have specific goals to look a certain way or enter a competition then diet is the most important thing because you can’t out-train a bad diet. But if you want to enjoy food and exercise without be strict then eating healthy most of the time and having a treat is absolutely something I recommend.


 


Any final thoughts on self-care?

Self care is so important to ensure you have a healthy and happy life. A lot of people think looking good is the main part of self care but actually there are more important things like our wellbeing, our mental health, looking after the inside of our body, having balance and being happy, getting enough sleep. All these things form part of self care.

The human body is amazing, you only get one. We should be doing all we can to keep it healthy happy and balanced.


To read more about Becky’s personal training classes and events, and watch some more of her amazing workou videos, go to her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Instagram.

 

 

Blog series: Week 7: Looking after yourself by spending quality time with family and friends

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Last week we talked about having time on our own so we could re-charge our energies to be able to function well in life, relationships and possibly also meditate and get creative.

This week, we are talking about the opposite side of the spectrum: spending time with others, i.e. friends and family.

So, why is this important, you ask?

Well, according to research, spending quality time with others leads to increased wellbeing, mental health, and will also allow us to live a stronger, healthier, longer, and most importantly, a happier life!

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Peer relationships begin to be important – if not the most important – part of our lives during our teenage years. These early friendships, and also relationships with siblings of similar age, help with dealing with self-doubt, self-consciousness, fear and loneliness during those confusing years.

It is in these relationships where we start learning who we are, what we like, what we don’t like, and who we can trust with our feelings and struggles. Later on, these relationships might strengthen or be replaced by others, and change in the way we engage, including what activities we engage in with them.

Talking things through is something that friends and family can help with. We can be there for one another, and share the load, the stress, and look for a solution together, or just sit next to each other. Being understood by our loved ones relieves some of the pain and allows us to share the experience and not feel alone with our struggles.

When we engage with others, we might plan activities that we might not do if on our own. We might go for long walks or cycles, eat at a new restaurant and pick the healthier dishes.
Laughing with others increases endorphin levels and therefore increases happiness and reduces cortisol levels and therefore reduces stress. This in itself should make it more appealing to keep and develop relationships with others.

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Creating memories is also a good reason, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or cost much at all!

So, schedule time for friends and family, create memories that will last a lifetime!

I hope you are enjoying the Looking after yourself Blog Series

Tomorrow, I will be posting on how to look after yourself by spending time with family and friends.

Next week will be the last post of the series, so I thought I would start by thanking you for reading and following so far!

I hope you will stay with me for the next series on dealing with Mental Health Issues: “In Therapy: working through…” and tell your friends, family, and colleagues about it!

In this new series (Mondays), I want to talk about particular Mental Health issues and how to work through them in therapy and also giving some tips on what you can do on your own, some food for thought, and signposting to services that could be of help.

Do contact me if you have any particular topics you would like me to discuss – anxiety, depression, relationship issues, shame, loss, will be some of the topics but there are so many more!

As information is a bit low sometimes, or at the very least confusing! I am also going to post mid-week (possibly every week or every fortnight!) about Counselling and Psychotherapy modalities — how they work, why they work that way, and how they can help with the Mental Health issues discussed above.

Don’t forget you can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Connect with me on LinkedIn!

If you want to collaborate with the series in any way – maybe with a guest post of your own in a related topic, or to make an appearance in one of the topics I’m posting about, drop me a line and I will be more than happy to have a conversation with you and come up with great content for everyone to read and get something out of!

Enjoy the rest of your day!

 

Blog Series, Week 6: Looking after yourself by…having a bath!

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Yes, you read right…but having a bath is not all I want to talk about this week.

What this article is really about is this: being on your own.

Now I realise that society tells us that being a hermit or isolated from others is a terrible, terrible thing. But I’m not talking about being on your own all the time. I am talking about taking the time to be on your own, to re-charge your energies and therefore be able to be with others feeling better about yourself and them!

For me, I need to disconnect from people to re-charge. Doing my counselling work is different though. It is more when I’m socialising that I feel drained by the end of it. So having my own space is important to me.

Others might re-charge by actually spending time with others, which will be the topic of next week’s post!

So do I feel lonely when I spend time on my own? Not at all! In fact I believe it is necessary for everyone to have time on their own once in a while.

Solitude is important to replenish yourself with what you need to be able to do life and to weather everything it has to give: problems, fun times, strong emotions, as well as it replenishes us in order to be able to give to others, to do our work well, to live well.

Here are some suggestions of how to be alone – without feeling lonely – and getting the most of that time:

Have a bath

I learned from a young lady with Autism that I used to support. When she had a bit of a difficult day, she would ask for a bath. Sometimes she would have 2-3 baths in the space of 7 hours, but it really relaxed her! At this point I hadn’t had a bath since playing with my sister when we were little, and saw no benefit – just a waste of time and water.

But having tried it since then, I am definitely a fan!

Get some Epsom Salts, Lavender Salts, some candles and your favourite music, and relax!

Try it and drop me a line below with the results!

It will also give you a chance to meditate and reflect on life, your plans, your relationships, or just a chance to zone out and enjoy time to yourself.

Get to know yourself better

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Meditating will allow you time to think about the things that you have done in your life in the past, what you are doing now, and what you want to do in the near and distant future.

Getting to know yourself better will also allow you to change the way you are in relationships, to begin new ones or end the ones that are either toxic or not good for you in other ways, to set clearer boundaries that make you happier, and to find ways to care for yourself that match your personality and needs.

Reading / writing / journaling / drawing / colouring / singing / cross-stitching or crocheting

This is a bit of a varied list, but not all of us are good at all of these or would necessarily enjoy some of these as a relaxing activity!

I particularly would prefer to read or write, which is what I am doing right now! Be true to yourself and find what works best. Remember, it’s about relaxing and looking after yourself. You have enough “work” to do in other areas of your life, this is a gift from yourself to yourself, something easy and lovely for you to enjoy!

Have a nap

This is one of my favourite activities, anyone that knows me will vouch for this one!

Sleep is a great way to disconnect from everything around us and, I find that it helps to work through problems or to think through what to do next – for example what to write on my blog next comes up for me after a nice bit of sleep!

So you need sleep not only to get your body and your brain to rest, but also to process your emotions, and any issues, problems or situations that might be going on for you right now.

Cook a nice meal for yourself or cheat and get a take away!

Cooking can be a very relaxing activity for some of us. Others might just go for the take away menu and make a call, which is perfectly fine. I like doing that too!

There is something in preparing our own meal, there is something caring about it. Meditation can also be done during this time as you focus on chopping, frying, preparing.

Find something you enjoy, find its recipe and ingredients and enjoy!

Exercise / go for a walk

In a few weeks time, I will be talking about the importance of keeping fit, so will keep it short here.

A great space to meditate is amongst nature, amongst the fresh air. So you get two things for the price of one! And both are free!

So go for it, try one or two or all of these and let me know how it goes!

Until next time…

Emotional Overwhelm – Guest Post at The Richness of a Simple Life

I am happy to present a guest post that Nikki Meadows from The Richness of a Simple Life  has invited me to write for her community!

Emotional overwhelm is something that gets us at some point – or many points in life. When we are in it, it’s hard to know what to do to solve it, avoid it, and prevent further overwhelm.

This post talks about just that – what you can do in the middle of the emotional storm! Have a read and do leave your comments for me and Nikki either on her site or below this post!

Click here to go to the post!

You can follow Nikki on Twitter and on Facebook!

 

Blog series, week 5: Looking After Yourself – A Personal Perspective [video content]

Looking after yourself by...

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This week, it is my utmost pleasure to introduce Tami Bauer, my best friend since we were 5 years old!

This woman is such a powerful example of what a massive change you can make when you finally take the steps to look after yourself, by finding a way – or in Tami’s case, a variety of ways – to do so.

As everything to do with emotions, scars from the past, things we have ignored or ‘swept under the carpet’, they catch up with us and demand our attention, one way or another.

I asked Tami about her own journey to successful self-care and how she keeps it up, with everything life throws at her.

In this video, Tami answers some questions that we all can learn from, and have probably asked ourselves. Maybe it has stayed at the asking stage for some of us.

Take some inspiration from Tami’s journey, and let me know how it goes! Taking the first step is the hardest but possibly the most rewarding in the end!

2She goes through some of the things we have already spoken about in the past blog posts – setting boundaries, getting rid of toxic people or comments people make, being more assertive, being kind and compassionate to yourself, and others.

Below the video, I will leave the questions I asked Tami so you can follow the video or skip to the questions you want to know more about.

 

What led you to start your journey?

What was the first step you took to look after yourself?

Did the other aspects of your journey come after this?

Who has supported you throughout this process?

What do you do on those days that it’s difficult to keep up with the diet, the exercise routine, the positivity to carry on?

If you could speak to the Tami from 20-25 years ago (you must have been between 11-16 years old), what would you say to her now?

How about 15 years ago (aged 22)?

What advice would you give to people in a similar situation to you in regards diet/food related issues? in regards to exercise? and in regards to mental health/healing past hurts?taminme

Thanks Tami for this in-depth and very personal account of what your journey has been like, and how you are better off for braving it all and powering through day to day!

If you want to follow Tami’s journey even further, You can do so by liking her Facebook page and Subscribing to her youtube channel.

Blog series, week 4: Looking after yourself: Un-plug from technology and plug-in to nature

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In the past editions of the series, we have looked at how to set boundaries and honour our feelings. This week we will look at how to look after ourselves in the “plugged-in” environment we live in 24/7/365 nowadays.

We need technology to communicate with loved ones and friends all over the world, we need it for our business – heck I need it for keeping tabs on my blog, followers and potential clients contacting me for counselling or tutoring! – But do we need this 24/7/365?

It’s hard to disengage, it’s like we’re going to miss something great if we disconnect for even 5 minutes!

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Recent studies and articles have mentioned how technology is affecting our mental health – getting a like on Facebook, a retweet on Twitter, a follow on other social media platforms, can mean a good day for someone…a negative comment can do the opposite altogether. Also, sitting in the “in my phone” position gives us back problems, neck pain
and possibly even headaches! Not to mention the fact that it separates us from what is happening in our environment.

Now I’m not saying get rid of your technology, I would be a hypocrite. I’m not getting rid of my technology either! It’s just how we manage and balance life with technology in it.

So what alternatives do I suggest for you this week? Have a look at what Ecotherapists recommend:

Bring nature into your home environment2

This could mean an art activity while you fill your home with things you’ve found on a hike, a walk or a visit to the local garden centre.

Position your furniture -maybe a chair or your bed – in such a way that you can see a tree or a nice plant from your window.

Getting indoor plants is an easy way to bring nature in, especially if you live in a city or a block of flats. Horticulture is a good way to re-engage with nature: grow plants in a window box,  help a neighbour with their garden, get an allotment, go to pick-your-own farms and get fresh and organic vegetables for your dinner.

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Listen to sounds of waves, birds, and other sounds of nature you enjoy.

Do more activities outdoors

Spending time in nature is free, so that’s a bonus!

Fit in a short walk around a park before work or on your way back. Do more exercise outdoors, with the fresh air.

Go for a walk along a beach and pick up curious objects along the way.

Meditate – find a favourite spot and just sit in silence, learn to “be” rather than “do” all the time…

Animals 

Go bird watching. Go for wildlife walks where you look for animals in their natural habitats.

Visit a local farm.

No automatic alt text available.Pet sit your neighbours’ animals. Or get a pet yourself is this is possible!

Hang bird feeders to attract birds, and maybe even build nests for them.

There is much that nature can give us that technology can’t – not all the time anyway. Sometimes just a short walk without our phones could do the trick. Or sitting at the beach looking at the water and listening to the sounds of the seagulls, the waves.

So, check yourself:

how will you balance all that nature brings with all that technology brings, how will you get what you need from both while at the same time looking after your mental and physical health?

What can you do to reach a better balance which won’t mean giving up on the life that you’re used to with technology around?

Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoor

Is there a park near you that you can go to more often? Could you read your kindle book there instead of indoors? How about starting an adventure and growing your own plants for the first time (those are my first little plants on the photo)?

Any more ideas? Drop me a comment below!

Blog Series, Week 3: Looking after yourself by…Honouring your Feelings

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Welcome to week 3 of the blog series Looking after yourself! Thanks for following and I
hope you enjoy this one on honouring your feelings!

In case you missed the past posts, find the first one here and the second one here (there is also a version in Spanish for each!)

So, what does it mean to “honour” anything or anyone?

The Cambridge online dictionary defines honour as follows:

to honour is to show great respect for someone or something, especially in public.

So, for the purposes of this article, honour means to show respect, and it is interesting that it says that this is especially the case when in public. So if we are talking about honouring our feelings, we must do this both when we are on our own, but especially when we are in the presence of others!

Wow! That is powerful!

In order for others to honour us and our feelings, we must show them how we honour ourselves and our feelings!

Observe yourself

I mean, really watch your reactions, both physical, emotional and in your thinking. All of these things we do that we usually take for granted or are sub-conscious and automatic, will tell us what we need to know about how we really feel about something. This in turn will allow us to make a decision of what to do with that person, situation or thing we are dealing with.

Trust your “gut” and bodily responses
That gut feeling that everyone talks about is on the go all the time in our lives. The difference is whether we listen to it or shrug it off, only realising later on that if we had listened to it we would have avoided an argument, an accident, an uncomfortable situation.

Our bodies tell us a lot about how we really feel about something or someone – we might start shaking when an old boyfriend walks past, we might clench our fists when near that person that hogs all the attention with silly stories, or we might feel sad when going past a particular street where we used to hang out with that friend that is no longer with us…

So what should we do about the gut and bodily feelings? Listen to them, respond to them. Maybe get away from that person that angers you; go work through your sad feelings, maybe all you need is a little cry to honour yourself and that friend you lost.

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Get out of your head and into your heart

Don’t get me wrong, thinking is as important as feeling, but when trying to honour our feelings, we need to stop that voice that starts judging, saying things like:

“oh your friends won’t like that you’re telling them they upset you”

“you should put their feelings before yours”

“it’s not socially acceptable to think about your own feelings and much less to let others know about it”

“you are going to end up without friends if you say/do that”

If you are going to have a thought about how you’re feeling, let it be something like this:

“I am entitled to feel this way, I am not hurting anyone with how I feel, I need to be true to myself or these feelings are going to get bigger and then I will explode, It’s better to deal with them right now”


Process past hurts

There is a lot of value in working through issues from our past, when others might have not honoured us or our feelings and left us hurt and vulnerable. We might repeat these learned painful patterns with others if we don’t work through them.

I am not saying it will be easy, but learning how to process that anger, upset, sadness (etc…) that you might not have been allowed or known how to work through in the past, will be a step in the right direction.

It will allow you to name your feelings, to understand what you might have felt at the time, and feel those un-felt feelings, which will free you from those “ghosts” of the past.

Giving these un-felt feelings space to come up and out means you are honouring your past self’s feelings and therefore it will be easier to honour your feelings from now on.

If you feel it – value it, it must be important!

Last week we talked about valuing ourselves – part of this is acknowledging our feelings are important. We will never feel anything out of thin air or without it having a real meaning for us.

If we understand this, then we will be more assertive and more able to honour ourselves, to set those boundaries with ourselves and others.

It is like creating a habit, it will take time to set clear boundaries with others, and it will

take time to value your feelings and not feel ashamed or mean when expressing them; but once you do, it will be great!

Following these tips will help you can assert yourself – to yourself and others:

you will be able to accept all your feelings, to express how you are feeling – to yourself and others – and more importantly to be caring, compassionate and empathic to yourself about what you are feeling.

This in turn will lead others to do the same for you, and maybe even start being more caring to themselves!

Blog series, week 2: Looking after yourself by…Setting Boundaries

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Welcome to week 2 of the Blog Series on Looking after yourself. If you missed the first 
one, you can catch up
here for the version in English (Spanish 

version here).

This week I want to talk about setting boundaries. So, you ask, what does “setting boundaries” mean?

A boundary, in simple terms, is a limit, it is as far as someone or something can go. If we think about it in terms of geographical terms, a boundary is the frontier between two countries. In the context of this article, I will be referring to a boundary as the limits we make for and around ourselves to keep safe in relationships, at work…in life in general really.

Physical boundaries

These relate to your personal space, your privacy and your body. You might like your door locked to keep others out while you are busy working on the laptop, watching your
favourite Netflix series or resting. When you say hello to someone, do you do one kiss, two kisses, a handshake or hug, or just wave at them from a couple of feet back. What things are a no-no for your wellbeing – maybe loud music annoys you and you prefer a bit of silence? How are you in your sexual relationships, what is acceptable, with whom, and possibly where also.

Material boundaries can also be included here – do you lend books, clothes, money or other possessions to your friends and family or do you keep them to yourself?

Emotional boundaries
This is a big one for many if not all of us, and something I see a lot in sessions with clients. People tend to take responsibility for their emotions and those of others, carrying a big burden that doesn’t even belong to them!

An example –Anne has just had an argument with their best friend, Mary: Anne is  being open and honest with Mary about how Anne felt let down when Mary didn’t show up to the cinema and didn’t even call to say she wasn’t coming. Mary gets defensive and says Anne is exaggerating and making her feel upset. Mary doesn’t apologise or acknowledge her responsibility in the matter. Anne leaves feeling guilty about upsetting her friend, forgetting that Mary let her down.

In a healthy scenario, Anne wouldn’t feel guilty about expressing her feelings to Mary, and Mary would take responsibility for her actions without blaming Anne of exaggerating. Each would own their part in the argument.

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Psychological boundaries

These are very close to emotional boundaries. Setting psychological boundaries help us keep safe from others’ inflicting emotional harm on us.

 Boundaries equal respect

Yes, respect for yourself, and for others, and from others towards you. As we saw last week, society tells us to be there for others whilst disregarding ourselves. But if we do this, we will not be respected, and the longer we let this happen, the more difficult it gets to set boundaries and be listened to. It is not impossible to set them after a period of time has passed. In fact it is better late than never!

So, let your friends, family, and even yourself, what your boundaries are – what’s OK and what’s not OK in your books – how you want to be respected. Read this letter to a parent (from about paragraph 6), it is a great example of setting boundaries!

Get rid of toxic people

OK, this one sounds a bit harsh, but it is sometimes necessary for our wellbeing. The types of people I’m talking about range from people who are always negative, always criticising you and others, people that always want attention without considering your needs (we called them selfish on the last article), jealous and possessive people, those who play the victim and don’t take responsibility for their actions or words, and those who keep disappointing you, like Mary. I would like to add Narcissits to this list, as they will display many of the behaviours above and blame you for them behaving in those ways. You will end up confused and hurt without realising – until a later point – that they are responsible for their behaviours but they are putting the blame on you instead.

Learn to say no

If we agree to everything everyone asks of us, we will run out of fuel and run out of time to ourselves. When we don’t say no to people, we are saying in other words that we don’t respect ourselves or our time, and they can disrespect you too by demanding more and more of your time. Nobody is going to die because you say no to driving them to the shops, or meeting them on Saturday when you said you were free on Sunday. If someone calls you selfish, then that’s their opinion and they own that opinion, you don’t have to fall prey to it and give in to their demands.

Unless you want to help them out, then it’s fine! Just stay true to your feelings, needs and self.

Value yourself and others will follow suit

For this last bit, I have invited Carla Dena, entrepreneur behind Inspired Spaces, to tell us how she has achieved this in her life and work:

“Valuing oneself is important for freelancers like me. When I was starting out as a freelance writer, I had a tendency to lower down my rates just to land projects. Clients who wanted to cut down labor costs preyed on newbies like I was then. Later on, I realised that time and expertise are my two most valuable assets as a professional and I shouldn’t just give those away almost for free

(unless for a good cause). And so, I began becoming more assertive in setting fees for my services. As soon as I did this, clients also began looking at my work as valuable investment. In the end, it’s not just about the money, but about finding value and fulfilment in one’s career.”

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