Tough times make you want to holler, but don’t stop looking after yourself.
We are living in tough economic times, there is no doubt about it, and this is leading to increasing uncertainty and fear for many of us.
As always, we need to turn to history and calmly remind ourselves that economic downturns are always cyclical and things will eventually get better.
But this is often easier said than done, and when people are being forced to count their ever-decreasing pennies in the here and now, one of first things that goes out the window is their focus on their mental wellbeing.
So how then in these tough times can you look after yourself in a way that won’t cost a fortune.
Here are eight of my low-cost suggestions – I’d welcome hearing yours.
1. Take a break from the regular news – this will help reduce anxiety and remind yourself that “this too shall pass”
2. Put down that phone – committing to looking less at your mobile (and avoid sleeping next to it at night) will help bring down ‘always on’ stress levels
3. Commit to some form or regular daily physical exercise - whether that be a lunchtime walk, taking a yoga session on YouTube or even mopping the floors is great for clearing your head as well as your home!
4. Look after your gut – this is where anxiety often manifests, so reduce alcohol intake (it’s an expense you won’t miss) and replace with a cheaper healthier option such as kombucha, or even try making a homemade sauerkraut and change your breakfast for oats (a cheap superfood) whilst swapping out all other processed nasties where possible
5. Exercise your mind – there are lots of online learning opportunities to flex you brain muscles and distract yourself from your worries to expand your skillset and help you feel like you have accomplished something, both of which will make you feel more positive
6. Remember to breathe - meditation is not for all of us, but a simple, regular deep breathing exercise will help refocus you and calm the nerves
7. Take your memory to your special place - remember a special place, person and or pet and think about the feelings they evoke when you go there.
8. Cherish sleep – commit to a regular sleep schedule, ideally 8 hours or more. And if you have trouble sleeping at night, guided visualisations and sleep stories can often create a sense of peace before you nod off.
There are many challenges that come with addiction, however I thought I would draw attention to one which rarely gets airtime, and that is how addiction can cripple your spontaneity, namely the ability to confidently go with the flow and of course 'be present.'
Addictions of all types control and manipulate the sufferer's behaviours, forcing them into a “bad trance” that is akin to zombie movies and makes sufferers behave in a way which is at odds with their core value system. According to some of my clients, their addiction is ‘sneaky', slowly robbing them of what makes them unique, replacing self-belief with shame and guilt where planning for a future beyond the immediate seems futile.
“No one chooses to become an addict... recovery is possible,” said Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, earlier this week as part of a new campaign to confront the shame of addiction.
I agree. However, recovery from addiction does require the addict themselves to make the bold decision to seek or take help, and once that decision is made then the benefits of recovery can quickly follow, including the confidence to be spontaneous once more.
Case in point, I have witnessed many of my brave clients with addictive behaviours spanning gambling, alcohol, drugs, compulsive lying, and shopping make this decision and start to enjoy the benefits of a fully present life once more.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction and are motivated by the idea of rediscovering the joy of spontaneity as part of your recovery path, then please do make the bold decision and seek help.
“This Be The Verse”
BY PHILIP LARKIN
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
This famous poem was written in 1971 by the English poet Philip Larkin.
Most parents of course have great intentions for their children, however there is truth to be found in Larkin’s profound (and profane) words when it comes to the negative influence parents can sometimes have on their children.
My own experience of providing therapy to people of all ages and walks of life has shown me that many come with deep awareness of the emotional (and occasional physical) pain experienced at the hands of their parents. And with that awareness also comes hope that they can come to terms with the pain by moving on from perceived fault and even forgiving past generations as they heal themselves.
And with the release of self- judgement is the opportunity to focus on other areas of their lives that they want to improve, such as growing confidence to be better public speakers for example.
Because by letting go of their parents’ past put downs, they are free to step-up and be themselves. How great is it to let go of that fear – as a therapist it is a wonderful thing to witness. And the first step to achieving this goal is the strength to be vulnerable this can have a positive knock-on effect in all other areas of their lives.
We are after all the masters of our own destiny, and it matters not what others think of us. The writer and performer John Paul Flintoff’s words ring true.
Only by getting in front of people often enough – in person and online – have I learned that I have no control over what they think of me.
We have no power to control what others think of us. But we do have the ability to tame our thoughts, release old judgements and put in place coping strategies to fall back on.
Combined with the power of the neuroplastic mind, hypnotherapy is a key that can help us let go these past learned beliefs and learn new things that make us stronger.
ADHD in Adults – The Great Reboot
Wherever I look through the health sections of newspapers recently there always seems to be a new piece on ADHD in adults, and word is spreading. My best girlfriend told me she was waiting in a London post office listening in on two women talking about their ADHD symptoms.
This conversation is not limited to the UK – everywhere more of us are being diagnosed with ADHD in adult life. The Australian government is taking the issue seriously, and I am glad they are as I think the potential population is vast. Here in Melbourne, I have clients who are part of the same conversation and would likely find they have ADHD if they sought an official diagnosis, and often the reason they do so is through parenting their own children with ADHD.
Once the ADHD diagnosis is formalised and accepted, then it can very quickly help these individuals better understand their lives and address the symptoms whose cause was previously unknown. This also presents the opportunity for change, or a “reboot”, as Zoë Rose mentions in the Guardian on her recent diagnosis, “You’ve got to relook at your entire life”.
This change can come about in many ways, but often the strategies employed to do so realise multiple benefits. For example, turning around negative coping behaviours means saying farewell to substance abuse, overspending, compulsive lying and controlling behaviours (the list goes on).
In their place, positive coping strategies help people understand key triggers linked to ADHD, and with this understanding they learn to be a fully present partner, parent, colleague, and friend. And to know that they are supported.
Georgina Delamain is a counsellor and clinical hypnotherapist with over 25 years experience working with adults and young people in Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. She is now working at St. Kilda Stables, Melbourne on Thursdays and on line the rest of the week.