Breakthrough Counselling

The healing power of nature: why green spaces are good for you

Do you wish you could spend more time in the Great Outdoors? With the demands of modern life and the distractions of our phones and TVs, we spend far less time in green spaces than we used to. But research has shown we still have a strong connection with nature.

While being stuck in unpleasant environments (like a harshly-lit office or a busy store) can make us feel anxious, irritable or even helpless, just a short amount of time in a natural environment can lift our spirits again.

In fact, spending time in nature actually has a host of benefits for your mental and physical health. Whether you’re visiting woodland, a lake or a city park, studies have found visiting natural environments can boost your wellbeing – especially if you’re having a difficult time. 

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Overcoming addiction: 8 tips to get on the road to recovery

Are you worried you might have an addiction? You’re not alone. Addiction affects thousands of people every day. In fact, the charity Action on Addiction estimates a third of adults in the UK could be addicted to something.

The good news is addiction is treatable, and recognising you have this condition is the first step on the road to recovery.

In this guide I’ll explain what the symptoms of addictive behaviour are, and dispel some myths about addiction. I’ll give you a summary of the best steps you can take to overcome addiction, and at the end of the article I’ll list some organisations that will support you as you recover.

What is addiction?

Many of us associate addiction with substances like drugs, nicotine or alcohol. While these are some of the most common addictions, actually anything that has an effect on your mood can be addictive. Gambling, sex, self-harm, social media, shopping and work can also be addictions.

Read moreOvercoming addiction: 8 tips to get on the road to recovery

Creative ways to stay connected during lockdown

The New Year has brought the welcome news of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, and much-needed light at the end of the tunnel for everyone. But it’s also brought pressure of another lockdown at a time when many of us are flagging from being isolated for so long.

Most of us are cut off from people we care about; we might also be spending a lot more time with people who share our home, which is putting a strain on relationships. Some of us are experiencing ‘digital fatigue’ from so many video calls.  

If you’re having trouble connecting with others, or struggling with feelings of loneliness, this article is for you.

Read moreCreative ways to stay connected during lockdown

12 Simple stress-busting tips to make your day better

Feeling stressed out? You’re not alone. Today’s increasingly isolated lifestyles are putting a strain on our mental health, and at the moment many of us are feeling under extra pressure because of the ongoing effects of the pandemic.

Some people might be worried about their health, or the health of loved ones. Some of us are adapting to life changes imposed by the second lockdown, facing redundancy or job uncertainty.

It’s not surprising stress levels have been on the rise!

While some stress is actually good for us and helps motivate us to overcome new challenges, being under stress for a long time can cause physical and mental problems. So in these challenging times, it’s ideal to have a personal strategy for coping with stress.

The good news is there are lots of simple stress-busting techniques you can use when needed, and I’ve listed these below. Try out these techniques, and you can overcome stress, calm your body and mind, and become more resilient under pressure.  

Read more12 Simple stress-busting tips to make your day better

How to support someone who suffers from anxiety

Living in the shadow of the pandemic is hard for all of us, but it’s especially challenging for people with anxiety. If you know someone who’s struggling with anxiety at the moment, you might be wondering how you can help. Perhaps the person you’re concerned about is acting differently, or has become withdrawn. You might be desperate to support them, but you’re unsure what to say or do.

As a counsellor I understand the impact anxiety can have on sufferers, and also their family and friends. I’d like you to know there are some steps you can take to give your loved one the very best support.

What’s the difference between anxiety and stress?

So you can best help someone with anxiety, it’s a good idea to know the difference between anxiety and stress. From the outside they might appear similar. But while stress is a reaction to challenging events, anxiety can persist whether or not things are difficult.

Read moreHow to support someone who suffers from anxiety

How to nurture hope in difficult times

Seedling emerging from inhospitable environment.

The last few months have been stressful or even traumatic for all of us. We’ve had to deal with unexpected change and loss as a result of the pandemic. Some of us have lost loved ones. Some of us are struggling with the financial consequences of the pandemic. Some of us are recovering from the demands of a challenging and potentially dangerous workplace.

More recently, events in America – including the death of George Floyd at the hands of white police officers – have left some of us feeling shocked and exposed to a world that’s much less fair and just than we imagined; for some of us they’re a horrifying reminder of prejudice and persecution that occurs on a regular basis.

In times like these, it can be tempting to feel hopeless. But it’s times like these when you need hope most. Because hope is powerful. Hope will help you heal. Hope will help you succeed, and while it can’t put the world to rights, it will foster kindness and tolerance.

Read moreHow to nurture hope in difficult times

How to look after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

lady looking out of window

There’s no denying life is hard at the moment. Big changes have been imposed on us, and we’re living in an atmosphere of uncertainty. As the coronavirus spreads we’re worried for the safety of our loved ones, and we struggle with finances. All this anxiety teamed with the stress of being stuck indoors can impact our mental health – especially for those of us who already suffer from mental health issues.

But the good news is there are some practical things you can do to take care of your mental wellbeing during this challenging time. Doing these things will help you think more calmly, so you can look after yourself and the people you care about:

Read moreHow to look after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

Overcoming postnatal depression: what to do if you’re feeling low after having a baby

Are you worried that you or someone you know may have postnatal depression? You’re not alone. It’s a very common illness, affecting 1 in 10 women after giving birth. It can affect fathers and partners, too.

If you’re struggling with feelings of depression after having a baby, I want you to know it’s not your fault you feel this way, and it doesn’t make you a bad parent. Postnatal depression is a real illness, and you deserve to get the help you need. And the good news is it’s treatable; it can take time, but you can make a full recovery.

Read moreOvercoming postnatal depression: what to do if you’re feeling low after having a baby

Feeling stuck in life? Here’s how you can move forward

Do you find yourself feeling stuck in a rut, trapped in the same routines instead of looking forward to the year ahead? Feeling stuck can have a big impact on our mental health; it can be frustrating, but at worst it can lead to a sense of powerlessness, which can give rise to anxiety or depression.

Perhaps you’re bored or unmotivated at work. Or perhaps you desperately want your life to change, but you’re also scared of undermining everything you’ve built so far.If this sounds familiar, the good news is there are ways to break free of your rut – whether you’re stuck in your career, relationships or something else.

Read on to discover key strategies to help you move forward. Everybody is different, so you may want to choose the options you feel drawn to and leave the rest for another time:

Read moreFeeling stuck in life? Here’s how you can move forward

7 ways you can beat the winter blues

Are you feeling down with the onset of the colder months? If so, you’re not alone. The shorter days and gloomy weather take their toll on our wellbeing, and while the festive period is a time of joy for many of us, the high expectations to be happy can sometimes cause stress and loneliness.

Many people feel a bit low and lethargic over winter, but if the change in weather is having a severe impact on your mood and affecting your daily life you might have seasonal affective disorder or ‘SAD’. This is a type of depression that’s triggered by certain seasons and weather conditions.

Whether you’re struggling to cope with the festive season or the cold weather has left you feeling depressed, the good news is there are things you can do to boost your spirits. Read on for the best self-care tips to help you stay positive over winter.

Read more7 ways you can beat the winter blues