Category Archives: counselling

Anxiety Toolkit

Do you needs tools to manage your anxiety?

Wouldn’t it be great at times when you want to avoid situations or people, you could pick out a tool to help you? Imagine when anxiety strikes you try a techniques and it helps you get rid of that anxiety feeling. You then get on with your life. Rather than end up feeling destabilised.

This post will show you various tools to use. Some will work for you. Others will not. You need to find the ones that work for you. You need put them all in an imaginary box. Be prepared to try different ones at different times. Be open minded – do not dismiss an idea until you try one. Often one that feels won’t work for you, will work. If you find other techniques that work for you that are not mentioned – put them in your imaginary box too.

Do not forget…..

…..Praise yourself

When you find you are able to a technique that helps you stand up to your anxiety, then praise yourself. It is essential you stay kind to yourself. Keep reassuring yourself you are ok, right now and doing your best.  Celebrate every positive step you make, even the small ones. Self-praise helps up keep ourselves motivated rather than self-shaming. If you do mess up, don’t beat yourself up about it. Let yourself off the hook. Remember we are all a work in progress. Still growing, still learning.

In the anxiety toolbox are techniques that can be done by anyone and anywhere. Start tackling your anxiety today and take steps to freedom.

…..Get to know yourself

Get to recognise the onset of an attack. What does it feel like? What are your thoughts and feelings that warn you that your anxiety is rising and might be hard to manage? As soon as you start feeling anxiety then you can try one of the techniques below. You want to be able to manage it before it stops you leaving your house or avoiding a social situation. 

Anxiety Tool Kit

Count the colours

You can do this anywhere. With any colour. It helps you take your thoughts of your mind and become aware of your surroundings. I’ve picked yellow as it feels a cheerful colour but you can pick any colour that you fancy.

  1. Look around you and find something yellow. Pick something that is close to you or a yellow object that is obvious. Focus on it.
  2. Now look around you and find other yellow objects. Something big. Something small. Keep count of your objects.
  3. Sit somewhere quiet. Close your eyes. How many yellow things can you imagine. Keep count.

2. Stand up Straight

When we feel anxious we tend to make ourselves small. We try to hide away so that no-one can notice us. Instead you need to stand tall and imagining yourself taking up all the space.

  1. Put both feet flat on the floor with your weight evenly distributed
  2. Consciously straighten your back from your tailbone. Put your head forward.
  3. Take a deep breath and broaden your chest, and let your lungs expand.

3. Five, Four, Three, Two, One

This exercise is a popular when you feel a panic attack coming on. It is useful for when you are waiting around and help you feel grounded fairly quickly.

  1. What fivethings can you see? Count five items on one hand. It can be anything – a car, crack in the pavement, your feet.
  2. What four things can you hear? Listen for four different sounds around you, and again count them on your hand one at a time.
  3. What Three things can you smell?
  4. What two things can you feel?
  5. What one thing can you taste?

4. Hands on

This exercise is useful if you find focusing on your breath does not help you. By focusing on a sensation it helps stop your mind racing.

  1. Take one hand and hold it in front of you. Have the fingers relaxed.
  2. Place the first fingers of the other hand on the base of your thumb. Slowly move your finger up the side of your thumb as you breathe in. Pause briefly when you get to the tip. Then trace your finger down the other side, then pause when you get to the fold between the thumb and the next finger.
  3. Breathe round your fingers. Continue in the same way round the rest of the fingers. Breathe in as your go up, pause at the top , out as you go down, pause at the fold, swap hands and repeat. 

5. Worry time

This exercise encourage you to set a time aside for 10 minutes and write down all your worries. Look here for the excercise. If your mind is really busy, you can just try to sit down and write everything that is on your mind. Everything. Keep writing until it is all out. When you have finished, tear up the paper, keep tearing it into small pieces. Throw the pieces into the bin, and take a deep breath. This helps you see how illogical your thoughts are. Writing them down helps slow them down and bring some calmness. See for more details

6. Exercise

Being active can help us burn off anxious energy. And finding small ways to build movement into your daily routine can help us keep anxiety in check. Think of small changes you could make such as:

  • Ending your commute to work one or two stops early and walking the rest of the way home.
  • Taking the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Going for a walk with friends rather than sitting in a park, coffee shop or a bar.
  • Pacing whilst on the phone.
  • Taking a walk at lunchtime, even it is just round the block, campus or playground.

7. Get rid of the parrot

Do you often have a parrot on your shoulder telling you that you are not good enough or a failure? Yes. You need to shoot that parrot of it perch.

  1. Take note of the negative thoughts and feelings that are screeching in your mind.
  2. Imagine a parrot on your shoulder shouting out all these insults and your insecurities.
  3. In your mind eye, knock the parrot of your shoulder, so you do not need to listen to him again.
  4. If the negative thoughts persist, knock him back off. Anytime you notice him or her on your shoulder, knock him off.  

8. Project playlist

Music is a great way of changing your mood. Do you have a song that can make you dance or sing? At a time when you are feeling fairly contented put together a play list of songs that evokes the mood of calmnexx or makes you feel secure. Notice how each song makes you feel. Notice the physical sensation that go with this feeling of calm or happiness.

9. Mood journal – how I am feeling right now?

Keep a mood journal for a few days At intervals throughout the day, mark yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is completely calm and 10 is hyper-anxious. 

Super chill                                   on the edge                                                  Peak anxiety

Note down the time as well as the score, then you can see what patterns arise – are there regular times when you are more anxious? If so, try to build some of the ‘calm zone’ ideas into your routine, ahead of these anxiety-inducing times, people or places.

10. Reframe reality

This is a mental rehearsal trick. Visualise yourself succeeding at something you are dreading. It might be a date, or a work performance review. This is focusing on the external. Instead of focusing on all things that could go wrong, imagine all that could go right. Go all out, then all out again…until you are ready to let you star shine bright.

  1. Imagine an upcoming scene vividly. Your senses all props. What will you be able to see, hear and smell?
  2. Who, what and how? What’s your wardrobe? Who are your co-stars? What’s the backdrop? And what’s your motivation? The more detailed you can be, the better.
  3. And action. Imagine the best possible way that things could play out. Picture yourself calm, confident, in control. We’re talking best-case scenario her.

11. Mindfulness

To find more about mindfulness, look here.

Counselling private practice – Love what you do.

Reflections on starting my own counselling private practice

My decision to starting my own counselling practice was based on two reasons.  Firstly, I loved being a counsellor and secondly, I really wanted to be independent.  

You simply have to enjoy being self-employed and love counselling.

You also need to be prepared to work at being successful. The reality is that it is more likely that you will not make much money at the beginning of starting your counselling practice or be inundated with clients. There is a lot of counsellors out there and plenty of competition. Every day I see a new counsellor going into counselling private practice. It is no longer difficult for someone seeking help privately to find a counsellor.

The question therefore to ask yourself, ‘why would someone choose YOU instead of another counsellor?’

Be different in your counselling practice.

You need to be different and stand out from the crowd or be doing things in a different way. This is what will make you unique. Reflect on what niche you want to focus on, for example, trauma therapist and think how you can make yourself stand out. If you say you can do all types of counselling, does this make you any different from anyone else?

Do not be afraid of competition.

The sad reality is that many people are suffering from a wide range of mental health issues. This means there is demand for counselling. Networking with other counsellors and embracing the competition is a positive way forward. I recently remember a new potential client ringing me up for a session when I was full and could not take on more clients. Rather than put him on a waiting list, I recommended another counsellor who practices nearby. The client seemed surprised another counsellor would recommend a nearby counsellor. 

However, I see it as business sense. If you remember there is enough for everyone and keep self-belief, then you stop feeling threatened by competition. Recommending someone else, not only helps the potential client out, but it shows kindness. Kindness can go a long way. It is not forgotten. When I started up, various people helped me in different kinds of way, so I am only too happy to help others. What goes around, comes around.

Be patient

It does take time to build up your practice. Once it is built you will get recommendations and people will come to you. Do not expect results overnight. It can take time. Patience is key. I never stopped believing in myself. I know that one day I would have a full client load.

Always remember you are a business

You need to put a business hat on. You have all the essential counselling qualifications and skills. So, what will make you look professional? Some helpful first steps are:

  • Find a venue to hold your counselling. You may choose your home or prefer to rent a room. I’d recommend started renting a room which you can rent ad hoc. This means you have less costs to worry about.
  • Take out liability insurance. Popular companies who provide insurance for counsellors are  Balens and Towergate.
  • Design a counselling contract and privacy statement.
  • Decide where you will advertise and who you want to attract. More information about that later on. You may find it helpful to devise a one year strategy on how your business will grow.

What do you charge?

One of the most common questions asked by people setting up private practice is how much do I charge as a counsellor?  You need to think about covering your costs (membership fees, room rent, insurance etc). Remember to be successful, you need to make a small profit as well as a wage. The more skilled you become the more your wage should increase just due to the fact that not everyone has the same skills and experience as you.

Give yourself an identity

The final, yet most important step, is that your business needs an identity and you need to think how you will advertise. You will not get any clients unless people know that you exist.

Some ways to advertise are:

  • There are a few counselling directories that specially for counselling. Counselling Directory, and Psychology Today are a few worth looking at.
  • Social media–  Facebook is an active way to advertise your business. You can pay to boost a post. I suggest you only pay £2 at a time or the charges will run away from you. I also share my page to different groups. You must limit this, or Facebook will think you are spamming and will ban you for 30 days. Don’t forget to have a social media policy if you use it. You need to protect your client’s confidentiality 
  • Website –I started using WordPress. You can get a page for free. However, many domain names are not that expensive. I have my own domain name through 1 and 1 and have never had any problems with it. I pay less than £10 a month. I have found blogging is the way to finding my way up the google rankings. More information can be found here.
  • Google –Once you have found a venue, subscribe to google maps. This will get your business onto google maps.

There is much more to starting up a counselling practice. If you want more information, there are a few books which may help you. In the meantime the above basic steps will get you started.

Remember network.

Do not fear competition.

And never stop believing in yourself.





Identities Working Together

Counselling and social work – can two identities can work together?

Guest blog post from Lynn Findlay, (counsellor and psychotherapist based in Sheffield) who reflects on whether two career identities can work together. You can find more of her reflective writings here

I never realised until recently how much my identity is bound in my career and my job role. I now see this too in my clients, it can be expressed as a dilemma, a frustration and a loss. A loss of Something that we traditionally think is external until we are without it, or facing being without it, then it becomes our safety net and comfort zone.

Identities working togetherWhat is it? Our job role or title becomes our identity and an important part of our “I am”. Imagine you are introducing yourself to people you have not met before, perhaps at a family event or new social gathering. What is the next thing you say after your name?

For me it was always “I am a social worker”, often before my roles in my family, those I care about the most who accept me unconditionally, or the hobbies I enjoy which give me more enjoyment and pleasure. Work was always there, always second on the list.

Who ‘I am’ in my career?

I have been a qualified social worker for over 20 years, and over the past three years as I completed my counselling training, I have grappled with who I am in my career. I noticed I began to add on to my introductions an “as well”, usually “I am also training to be a counsellor”. But this was an add-on and I thought perhaps it was because I was still in the doing phase rather than the being.

I am now a qualified counsellor and psychotherapist. But I am still a social worker first. My working week is shared between the two roles. I am trying hard to see myself as both my identities, but this isn’t easy at times. I have considered moving on from social work but I know I am not ready to let
this part of my identity go, just yet. It is my safety net and my comfort zone.  I am still getting the “I am a counsellor” to flow. 



Working in dual roles also enables important reflections on the shared values and skills across the professions, with building relationships and making a difference to people’s lives, alongside some of the differences, most notably in power and assessment. Being a counsellor has changed how I view power and I consciously address this now in my practice where I can, both in how I am working and being perceived by others, and in the wider systems we operate in.

Having these different roles brings privilege and I can use this to empathise with clients who are too facing change, wanting to make changes to their “I am” or moving on from being stuck. It is a loss we often don’t consider, especially if it is through active choice, rather than retirement or redundancy.


Now when I am introducing myself to others, I consciously try to remember all the roles I have in my life, and bring these into the conversation. Just as I encourage with my clients when we explore their wholeness and all their parts of self which come together to make the whole person. It does feel
strange not to put work first all the time and I often try to begin with my hobbies, although these often precede with ‘aspiring’. Noticing how you introduce yourself to others highlights what you value and what you think others value in you. It might be time to try things in a different order….?

Embrace change or resist it?


Do you struggle with change? Are you aware of your own reactions to changes? Do you resist change?

Sound familiar?

What is it that makes us resist change? Often fear of the unknown, feeling overwhelmed or denial that change needs to happen or a lack of trust of those bringing about the change.

Change brings about different reactions within us and even irrational behaviour. Therefore a common first instinct is to resist the change.

How can we deal with change?

When change happens, it is useful to reflect on our inner resistance to change. If we have a deeper understanding of ourselves, it will help us understand how our inner resistances work and how we generally react to different situations. By learning more about ourselves and our reactions we can adapt to different situations and learn to cope with them.

A strong sense of self-awareness will help you to take personal reasonability and stay more in control. It is up to you how you chose to react to each situation. Learning how to manage change more effectively will help you to be better equipped and more positive when it change happens to you.

Positive ways to make changes

  1. Embrace Change

Change often only happens when we want it too. If you procrastinate, you will be putting of inevitable. The danger is we may be wasting precious time in our lives being unhappy when we could turn it all around by embracing change.

  1. Be open-minded

Your mind works best when it is open. As Frank Zappa says ‘Your mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work, if it isn’t open’. Sometimes we can drag the baggage of the past and superimpose it on to situations without being open-minded and taking a fresh perspective. One thing I hear from clients who resist change is ‘Well we tried that before and it didn’t work’ You need to remember every situation is different, and just because something different work last time, it does not mean it will not work next time. Give it another go with an open mind without the expectation that it will fail.

  1. Prepare your emotions

Accept the fact that you may be emotional during the change process. Change may make you feel unhappy, fearful, insecure, unsettled, frustrated. On the other side of the table, however, you may feel enthusiastic, elated, delighted and excited. Any of those emotions will have an impact on your energy levels so it is really important to prepare yourself.

  1. Relax and go with the flow

Sometimes change happens and we have absolutely no control over it whatsoever. When this happens you have to choose how you are going to respond. If you resist change and remain rigid and inflexible it will be a lot more difficult and even painful. Going with the flow sometimes is the best approach.

  1. Be positive

Having a positive attitude about change is the right mindset to cultivate. If we go into the change situation believing that it is negative then we are more likely to experience negative outcomes. Whilst it is important to understand some of the risks and pitfalls involved it is also important to focus on positive outcomes.

  1. Keep some familiarity in your life.

Understandably changing everything sends people into panic as it threatens to destabilise their world. If you are embarking on a major change, then keep up as many familiar things that feel comfortable to you. This will help remind you that there are things in your life that do not need changing, and how much is in your life that isn’t changing. For example, sticking to same routine or seeing friends you normally see. You can then reassure yourself that not everything has to change just because some things have.

  1. Challenge your perspective

Sometimes the way we view a situation can be very narrow because we are perceiving it through our own filter, and will perhaps benchmark it against our previous experiences. It is important to really examine and look at the situation from all angles. Be careful not to get yourself stuck up a one-way street with your thinking. There is always another angle and another perspective.


As a summary when thinking about change:

  • Understand why the change in your life is happening
  • Actively seek out the opportunities this will bring
  • Be positive and open minded
  • Understand your emotions around change
  • Take responsibility for your reactions and choices.


Do you resist change? Will any of the above tips will help you to adapt to change?

What I’ve learnt on my journey with grief

Grief journey

I have had several losses in my life and been through different journeys with grief. When grief first entered into my life,  it would have been helpful if someone explained the stages of grief to me.  It would’ve been good if someone just told me that grief was normal. I was doing alright. It was ok to feel all those bad feelings. I had to feel them. I tried to ignore them but i needed to go through them all – bad and good. Grief comes with no timetable. It differs from person to person. You have to be patient, and allow the journey unfold and go in whatever direction it takes you. 

So what did I learn from my journey with grief?

I learnt about myself and I changed. For the better. I’ve become empathetic and kinder. I learnt that as hard as it gets, it does get easier. You don’t forget but you do learn to live with the pain.

What are my tips to help others who are grieving? Here are a few points, I think are useful for anyone experiencing grief.

1. Walking

It saved me. I walked for miles. It was a time when I really let you in grief. I cried, I shouted. Every step helped. It got me out of the house and gave me exercise. It allowed me to be myself. Sometimes I stomped. Eventually my step came lighter. I now take this lesson into my work by offering walk/talk therapy.

2. Writing.

When I worked overseas, I wrote to a family member. Each evening I wrote for 10 minutes or so. At the time, I did not realise how therapeutic this was. Evenutally I turned this to writing to the deceased. When I felt lonely. I wrote and told them. It allowed me to share my feelings – anger one day, sadness the next. It helped me recognise what I was feeling. Knowing what I was feeling helped me feel better equipped to deal with the various feelings, especially through the depression stage.

3. Allow yourself to grieve.

I stayed in the numbness stage and managed to supress those feelings. I became an expert at burying them. I do wonder if I accepted those feelings sooner, perhaps I would’ve moved on quicker. It is important to acknowledge the pain. This will be the start of the healing process. It is good to read around and gain some understanding of the grieving cycle.

4. Lean on friends and family.

Friends were there to help. I rejected most help. You think they will be bored with your story but they are not. Embarrassment kept me to keep things to myself. If only I told some of the friends how lost I felt and how I was feeling. I had a lot of expectations from them without telling them what I really wanted from them. If you experience a traumatic death as we did as a family. Talk. Share. Work through that trauma together. Stop thinking you must protect each other.

5. Seek support.

Find a therapist. Counselling what helped me through the depression. Counselling helped me work through the intense emotions and identify the barriers to my grief. It also helped me learn how I react to my emotions.

6. Take care of yourself.

I was bad at this. I did not eat and as a result I had no energy. At times I became lethargic and those were the days when it was easy to do nothing. I slept the day away. I did not go out and hid away from people. I lost my confidence and self-esteem. Arrange times to meet up with friends.

7. Plan for the triggers.

Birthday’s, anniversaries, Christmas, Mother/Father day etc They are all triggers. Often the lead up to them are worse than the actual days. Each year it can still be painful but careful planning does help. You can find out more information here.



Dear Grief…….

Dear Grief,

Bang, you came knocking on the door one day. You swept in pushing me over, changing my life forever. The one thing certain in life is that we are going to die. We know this. Nothing can prepare us for the loss of a loved one to death when you enter into our lives grief. You are hard to describe grief especially as everyone experiences you differently.

I can’t remember what I ate yesterday yet I can remember word by word that phone call when I first met you 26 years ago. ‘Dead? No.’ I cried, slumping to the floor. At that moment my world stopped. A wall of fog came up in front of me. I felt lost, frightened, confused and lonely. I could not imagine my life going on.  On the journey home, we stopped at the services and I just starred in the mirror looking at myself. I had to tell my reflection what was happening. I just froze and numbness hit me. Once home, the practical side of things took over and it was easy to focus on that. I even remember us laughing as a family. Laughter as such a sad time. How irrational you can be grief!

The funeral. I think I was there. I can’t remember the day. I only remember how you felt grief. You hurt. I could not breath. The pain was unbearable. It was even worse that having cerebral malaria. And that hurt!

As I prepared to go back to University to sit my exams, denial hit me. I could not accept that the loss had occurred. You’re good at that grief. Letting us deny what has happened. I remember a friend asking me how I was. ‘Numb’ I said. ‘I cannot believe it has happened’. ‘You’ve said it enough times’ he replied. ‘You should know by now’. At that moment, I realised I was alone with you grief. I was surrounded by people my age who had not experienced loss. They did not understand. Their live’s went on.

I became a robot. I got up every day. Sat my exams. I functioned. Friends slipped away and I withdrew into myself. Days I could keep you at bay grief. Some days you hit me when I least expected you.  Throughout that time, I felt useless. Reflecting back it is amazing to how I managed to carry on. I got that Master’s and before I know it, I was on my way for my first overseas assignment. I threw myself into my work. I kept that denial up. I was ok. I was superwoman.

Until one day a monster took over me. I still remember that day. I cringe at the friend who the anger was directed at. An overwhelming rage overtook me. And that anger stayed. I did not realise at the time but that anger stayed with me for over a year. Nothing was right. I blamed everyone apart from myself. Everyone else was the problem. At one stage, I was even angry at the person who left me. How dare they? If only they stayed at home that day. You know the drill grief. And then came the anger at myself. If only I went home the weekend before the death. If only I was a better person. If only……

If only someone sat me down and explained you grief, to me. If only someone took the time to listen to me. I am sure the grief journey would have less bumpy if I shared my grief and worked my way through it. Rather than keep stabbing in the dark and resisting you grief.

Two years later, I sank into a deep pit of depression. I was swarmed. I crumbled. I slowly lost my friends. Sadly most friendships have not recovered. Luckily someone picked me up and gave me that hug, and put me in right direction of help. Six months of help helped me crawl through that depression and start believing in life again. I accepted the grief. I was ready to move on. I could see my future. I knew I could start living my life.

Grief, what a journey we’ve had together. I would give up everything to have stopped that journey. But I have to admit, grief, that I have grown from our journey together. I would not be the person I am today without that journey. Some of the opportunities that came knocking on my door would’ve not happened if I wasn’t on your journey. You and I have our distance now grief. But you come knocking on my door sometimes. The birth of my son – a happy moment which you pushed your way into. What’s different now grief, is I allow that moment of unhappiness. I then look at where I am and those who are around me. I can then sit with you and let the happy memories flood in.

In the next blog post, this will look at things that I have learnt from grief and useful tips to help anyone experiencing grief through a loss.

Stop drinking alcohol – mental health benefits and more

Decision to stop drinking

Nearly two years ago, I decided to stop drinking alcohol. I read about a friend who had given drinking (who I have had a few merry nights with) and the positive impact it had had on her life. From this I decided I would go a month without alcohol. I succeeded. That rolled on to another month. Then another month and another. And it still continues. 

Drinking socially and for the sake of it

I have to put my hands up. During my student years and as an aid worker, alcohol was a social part of my life. Watching Adrian Childs programme ‘Drinkers Like me’ reminded me how my own social life often circulated around drinking. Plans were made around meeting at pubs, picnics with wine, taking a bottle round to a friends. Many goods times were had. However, some times are fuzzy and some meant I did not enjoy the day after. Regrets, giving up? No. Regretting not giving up earlier? Yes. 

Reflecting on my life without alcohol has shown me that it has had a positive impact on my life, and in hindsight I wish I had not gone back to alcohol after the birth of my children. I thought I would share with you what I have learnt about myself and other things I have discovered since I gave up my relationship with alcohol.

Three main impacts of stopping drinking alcohol

  • I feel healthier. I no longer wake up to a hangover or feel not quite right. I am able to get up early and have more energy during the day. I feel less sluggish and less irritable during the day.
  • My sleep has improved. Years of having continuous sleepless nights has stopped. I now recognise that alcohol helped me get to sleep. However, I would always wake up, and struggle to get back to sleep. In the last 2 years, I have found I have deeper and less interruptive sleep. 
  • Improvement on my mental health. Looking back on my daily reflections, I notice that I have a more positive outlook on life and I have more motivation. I am able to look at issues more rationally and as a result my confidence has grown. I find myself getting less bothered about things.

Reflecting on what I have discovered

The three reasons above are good reasons for me not to pick up a glass of wine again. However, I have discovered other things. Not only about myself but also about others. I thought I would share these with you. 

Not drinking alcohol saves money. Going out with my friends is cheaper. Drinking socially is expensive. Food bills without alcohol is considerably cheaper.

Fun with drinking

I do not need to drink to have fun. Dry January –  I would hear people say that they could not go out during this month, or they could not wait until the end of January when the fun could start again. It resonated with me as I remember making similar comments. Yet here I am now. I am having same amount of fun (if not more) as before alcohol.

No hiding

I do not have to hide behind alcohol. I can be who I am. Confidence in myself has to come from me not from drinking. I am able to be myself in social or networking situations. I feel I come across as more confident and relaxed. I can be me. Being sober means I fully trust myself. I am in control of my emotions and actions.

More time

I have more time. This does not mean I am going out less. No. What I mean is my evenings at home are focused around spending time with the family or doing things for myself. Instead of sitting down with a glass of wine watching the television or hurrying bed time, I am valuing my time at home.

No drowning sorrow

Good and bad times can be felt. I do not need to drown my sorrows. I do not need celebrate my successes with a glass of champagne.  Instead feeling those strong emotions is good. There is no need to supress them. I can work through hard times by myself. I can feel happy and elated and enjoy that feeling. I can share it to. Feeling these good and bad times means I feel more alive.

Tackle problems rather than avoid them

Alcohol makes problems worse. How easy it was for me to drink to help me forget a bad day? The reason for bad day is still there tomorrow. Worse off if I was hungover, I was usually feeling irritable or tired, making the problem seem worse. Drinking does not make a problem go away. It only delays having to face it.

Enjoying sobriety

I’m enjoying sobriety. The longer I am sober, the more I want to be. I had to admit giving up drinking was not easy. The main battle was my mind. When I first gave up, I seemed to be thinking about drinking daily. However, like most habits, once I had got past the 30 days, I stopped thinking about it. My evenings are planned on what I want to do, rather whether I can drive or not. The longer sobriety lasts, the less I want a drink.

Judgement from others

Other people have problems with me giving up. Yes, it is true. People now comment on my lack of drinking (I never got comments that I drank too much!). People think I cannot walk into a pub without drinking (I can and do –  though pubs do need to improve their choice of teas though!). Giving up is my choice. I do not judge my friends or anyone else on whether they drink socially. That is there choice. I can still laugh and have fun with those who are drinking.

Enjoying more activities

I have a wider social circle and activities. Rather than arranging to go out with friends for a drink, I am discovering other things to do. Both on my own and with new friends. I am enjoying different activities. I feel some friendships have deepened. Without drinking, my conversations are meaningful and relaxed.

Where do you go?

It is hard to find a coffee/ tea shop open after the hours off 5pm (apart from the chain coffee shops). Since giving up, I have noticed there are not many non-alcoholic places to meet in the evenings in the centre of Sheffield. 

Role model for children

I am conscious on the positive role modelling I am having on my children. My children talk about not drinking when they are older. They are learning from me. They see fun can be had without alcohol. I am more even tempered so they are not seeing any cross words through alcohol or seeing me out of control. When I am with them I am just me.

In conclusion if I had to choose the one reason to stop drinking, it would be the improvement on my mental health. My mental wellbeing has improved immensely. 

Do you feel alcohol impacts your mental wellbeing? 

Grab a cup of tea and let’s talk about mental health

Jess Glynne inspiring me to write about mental health

Last year, it was This is me, I make no apologies song that inspired me for #timetotalkday. This year my inspiration is Jess Glynne’s song ‘Thursday’. Although it is a love song, some of the words struck a chord with me and seemed apt.

Often clients who have had time off work for anxiety, stress or depression, worry about returning to work. ‘What will people think of me?’ they ask me? ‘What will my colleagues say?’ ‘No-one will understand’? The stigma of mental health is something they fear. The importance of Time to Talk is to create conversation and discussion. This will help stop the stigma around mental health. Stop the fears that my clients and others who suffer from poor mental health.

I’m sick of covering up

Jess’s second line of the song says ‘I’m sick of covering up’. That is what #Timetotalk is saying. Let’s stop covering mental health up. Let’s talk.  We don’t need to hide or be ashamed if we have a mental health problem.

Jess’s second line of the song says ‘I’m sick of covering up’. That is what #Timetotalk is saying. Let’s stop covering mental health up. Let’s talk.  We don’t need to hide or be ashamed if we have a mental health problem.

I’m tired of feeling so broken

‘I’m tired of feeling so broken’ continues in the song.  Yes, those suffering mental health problems are exhausted from feeling broken. Many want to move on but don’t know how too or feel afraid too. It is isolating as people as people that they feel they are the only ones broken or depressed. Talking about mental health and their struggles, would help stop people feeling isolated. This can be achieved through talking to friends, sharing on social media or through a qualified counsellor.

‘I wanna love, I don’t wanna cry, don’t want those tears inside my eyes’

Jess’s song continues. Often clients who come to counselling sit embarrassed by their tears or will announce they will not cry today. They see tears as a sign of weakness. It is not. Crying is an emotion. Sometimes you cannot stop the tears falling. The emotions need to come out. Perhaps it comes from our childhood trying not to cry in front of others. I remember as a child being told to wipe away my tears or being called ‘cry baby’.  How shameful is that? In fact, all I just wanted was a hug and a chance to talk. So where is this going? Well, maybe next time you see someone crying, why not sit with them, and ask if there is anything you can do for them. Show them empathy.

‘I try to embrace all my insecurities’.

 Insecurities can cause highly emotional responses, and make us feel bad about ourselves. This in turn causes a lot of mental stress or anguish.  Embrace your insecurities and try to tackle them one by one. Notice it when feel an insecurity. Rather than react to it (for example, run away or ignore it) try to tackle it. Feel it. Look at where it comes from and think how you can change or build upon it. Don’t beat yourself up. Try to put positive words into your head and be rational. 

‘I was always taught to just be myself. Don’t change for anyone.

How inspirational these words in the song are? It important to have the confidence to be yourself. Believe in yourself. If you are going to change, only do it because you want too. If you notice a behaviour in yourself that does not help or makes you feel bad, then change it. Only make changes because you want to. It is helps you be happier. Remember to do it at your own pace. 

The song ends ‘I wanna to feel beautiful’. Yes! Learn to love yourself. Feel positive about who you are, and grow from your mistakes. Don’t struggle.

How would you continue the conversation of talking about mental health? #timetotalk

8 helpful ways to deal with stress

Do you find you often feel stressed?

Are your nights disrupted with poor sleep?

Is your mind often thinking about too many things.

Then STOP.

It sounds as though you are stressed. 

Below are eight helpful ways of dealing with stress. Active change can help you build a happier life for yourself. Continue reading

Therapeutic Journal – Journey to knowing yourself

Why write a therapeutic journal?

Therapeutic journal


Therapeutic journal is aimed at helping you, the writer, to understand yourself better. It can take you on a journey where you discover the ‘real’ you. It can help you to start understand how your think. It can help you learn to feel your emotions. It can help you unpick your problems. Through your therapeutic journey you can learn how to tackle your issues head-one. Continue reading