I very much enjoyed being interviewed for Frog Systems Mental Health and Wellbeing platform - Champions Cinema - recently, covering the link between sport and our mental health.
I speak from my perspective as a counsellor, coach and training consultant and considering my work at Street Soccer Scotland, plus most importanly of all from my lived experience.
Questions include; Why do you believe football works well to bring people together, and what advice would you give to somoene who might be struggling?
You can watch all 10 short videos here:
Inspired by an idea from a group of men at the Florrie community project in south Liverpool (@TheFlorrie) and after further encouragement by Scotland men's football captain Andy Robertson, I am organising a @WalkFlorrie style men's wellbeing walk which will take place every Monday at 10:30am, meeting outside the Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre (@GoodtressNC) in Moredun, South Edinburgh.
It will last an hour or so and is an opportunity to do some exercise and spend some time with other people, and if you feel like it - talk about how you are doing.
It will be organised by me, but led by what everyone in the group wants to do as we progress.
It is free to take part, and the first one is Monday August 1st.
It is a beautiful and simple as that really, but if you want any further information, please give me a shout:
I very much enjoyed meeting so many people at the Edinburgh Wellbeing Festival on Sunday. I was part of a panel discussion on mental health for men along with David from the Joshua Nolan Foundation, Cathy from Fathers Network and hosted by Phil, the CEO of Mental Health and Wellbeing focused media platform company Frog Systems.
I look forward to collaboarting more with all in future.
Stay tuned for updates of my video release with Frog Systems Champions Cinema over the coming weeks.
I am very much looking forward to setting sail for Sarajevo, Bosnia for the European Association for Reality Therapy Faculty Retreat where I will be presenting on my work over the last couple of years. However, most of all I am looking forward to connecting with colleagues from accross Europe that I haven't seen for close to 3 years and learing together.
Stay tuned for further updates!
During this Mental Health Awareness Week, I have been thinking a lot about where we are now compared to previous years, and not least 2020 as we all tried to adapt to the demands of COVID and Lockdown.
I was asked around this time to make a video, in collaboration with Young Scot and CAMHS, during which I attempted to answer questions from young people about mental health. I think that this is just as relevant two years on. See what you think:
Today at Street Soccer Scotland we announced news of a new session that I will be running every Wednesday morning in Edinburgh to support our players with their mental health.
From StreetSoccerScotland.org and social media:
'We will be starting a new weekly session focused on supporting mental health and wellbeing at Powerleague Portobello.Want some time and space to talk about your mental health? We’re here to listen.We are aiming to build a strong community who are willing to support one another'. Get in touch for more information, the session will be every Wednesday at Powerleague, Portobello.
We recently marked #TimeToTalk Day 2022 at Street Soccer Scotland at a number of our sessions in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Livingston.
This day is an important reminder of the power of talking and listening, and how relationships are the foundation for our mental health.
Check out StreetSoccerScotland.org for more information and content, and here is a video about the day:
I made a short video recently about one of the most important things that we can learn to understand - and do - when it comes to taking care of our mental health, and that of others.
Self care means taking care of ourselves, and also includes helping others too, because of our need for relationships.
Self care is a journey of individual discovery, about finding things that work for us, that help is to feel a sense of wellness.
A great place to start a moment of self care is to focus on the only thing that we have any control over, at the only time that we can control. In short, our actions - right now.
A self care action can be a planned activity or an impromptu moment such as this walk along the beach during a break from work. As long as we focus on what we are experiencing, it can work for us.
Here is a chance to listen to the Women's Sport Show on BBC Radion London live recently where I appeared as a guest.
Heard of Choice Theory, Reality Therapy or Lead Management? If yes, read on as this is for you.
If no, read on as this is for you!
Connecting with nature in any way that we can is good for our mental health and wellbeing. I think it is fair to say that after the last 18 months or so, most of us agree with this statement now more than ever before.
So, I am delighted to announce news of an opportunity for you to do just that. Following several successful courses together, I will be delivering another in partnership with Big Wild Life, outside in the forest in Midlothian, Scotland. It is another Basic Intensive Workshop in a psychological approach which is all about internal control. We will explore, through experience (such as practical activities, interactive teaching and group discussions) how we can apply this to help us connect more closely in all of the realtionships that we are in. This includes with friends, with family, at work or where we study, and most of all with the person that we spend the most time with - ourselves.
The course lasts for 3-4 days (depending on how many hours we work together for on each day) which can run consecutively or with time in between. Further good news is that the timings and the dates are up to you. Considering the ongoing challenges that we are still facing which impact our lives, Rather than ask you to book, we are asking for notes of interest including your scheduling preferences.
When considering what we want to include in our self care routine for our mental health, the key is to choose to do things that work for us as an individual, in a way that suits us - because although we all share the same basic human needs, we are all unique.
Having time for ourselves is important, and spending some time with others - as often or as little as we prefer - is essential as we strive to find our mental health balance. Team activities and sports are a great way to combine exercise with socialising and fun, and provide us with a chance to connect with others - to talk and listen; the foundation of wellbeing for all of us.
This is something that I have been experiencing a lot first hand recently since joining Street Soccer Scotland as Mental Health Officer for part of the week, and here is a video where I share some more of my thoughts.
Whatever team activity or sport you enjoy, notice the impact on how you feel when you next take part, or if you are not currently part of a team or group maybe now is a time to try something new in your local area?
Whatever works for you - enjoy!
Want to learn about Choice Theory - ‘The Psychology of Personal Freedom’ ?For your own personal development or to help you at work - or both? Come and learn through experience outdoors at Newbattle Abbey College forest, Midlothian, Scotland, with me (NowCounselling) and Big Wild Life directors Eve Reid and Donna Strachan. This is not only a one off development opportunity that offers you a chance to perceive yourself and the world around you differently but also an accredited, internationally recognised qualification in psychology and counselling skills. The basic requirement is an open mind, and an interest in learning and having fun. Ideal for people with either lots of work or personal experience, or little. £395 for the 4 day course which will run Mondays 23rd and 30th August, 6th and 13th September. For further details or to book a place, get in touch! What is Choice Theory? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hwy0p78Fvy8
Face to face work is on its way back in and around Edinburgh and I am pleased to announce that I will be running a Basic Intensive Workshop in Choice Theory, Reality Therapy and Lead Management in partnership with Big Wild Life. Check out details of this fantastic Midlothian, Scotland based organisation here: https://www.bigwildlife.uk/
Interested in improving your mental health, and/or supporting others around you to improve theirs? Then this course is ideal for your personal or professional development.
This is a useful course on its own, and is also step 1 of 5 required to become an internationally accredited (https://www.wglasserinternational.org/ ) practitioner with the post nominals CTRTC.
The learning experience will also be enhanced further by the setting. The course will be focused around experiential learning in the forest, with lots of interaction and a chance to experience the benefits of being outside in nature, whilst also being very close to the nearby towns and cities to make travel and other commitments convenient.
The 4 day course will run over a number of weeks. Dates and further details will be confirmed very soon, and in the mean time if you would like any further information, please get in touch.
Guided Self Care for Mental Health and Wellbeing: Mindfulness
Activity: Body Scan
Focusing our thoughts and actions completely on the present moment - which in turns focuses our feelings and biology on the present moment too - mindfulness helps us to balance (or regulate) our stress level.
Regulating our feelings helps us to feel more relaxed and able to focus on the next part of our day more clearly. There are many ways that we can do this, and mindful activities are very useful, effective and quick options for us to consider at any time of the day.
This is ideal to help with relaxation, including to support with falling asleep.
A reminder that all videos that I have made over the last year or so are available on Twitter and Facebook, as well as my YouTube channel, as well as my recently launched Instagram page @NowCounsellingOfficial
Here is one for today, an important day in Scotland as COVID Lockdown restrictions contiue to ease:
Even during the least challenging of times, like everything else related to our mental health and wellbeing - stress affects every single one of us. It is our internal response to things that are going on around us that feel challenging, difficult, scary, or just unusual or new.
'Feeling stressed' is completely natural, and a very normal part of life. In fact, if we never felt any stress at all then we would struggle to go about our lives, to get anything done, and to stay safe and away from danger. It becomes problematic when we find ourselves experiencing stress in a way which is harmful for us, and this can happen in a variety of ways. It effects our mental health, such as how we think and feel - but also the physical part of our health too. That means that In the short term it affects things such as our energy levels and our immune systems and over the longer term it can have more serious consequences for our health too. These serious consequences can be damaging for people of all ages, not least for children and young people for whom stress can be toxic to their psychological and biological development that is not only harmful at the time, but can lead to more health problems later in life.
Life has always been challenging enough, with stressful experiences being a feature of what we encounter very regularly in our day to day lives, but what we are all living through at the moment makes things so much more challenging. In short, life is much more stressful for most people at the moment than it has ever been. So it is more important than ever that we are aware of stress and how it can impact us and those around us, and to do whatever we can to try our best to do the things that we need to do to take care of ourselves (and support others to do so) by helping us to find our balance by regulating our minds and bodies so that the hormones that we release when we are stressed no longer have such an intense impact.
Our actions and thoughts that help us to regulate are the key to this essential part of our self care routine. And the fact that our experience of feeling stressed is our internal response to what is happening around us means we have some control over this. We can always try to choose thoughts and take actions that can lead to us feeling better - mentally and physically.
As with all elements of self care for mental health and wellbeing, how you do it is very much down to you. The only rule is that it must work for you. It might be connecting with others (in whatever way you can) or maybe you like to spend some time alone. It might be a walk or a run or to read or write, create, listen or watch. Perhaps you enjoy having fun and relaxing by cooking or to practice mindfulness and meditation. From a bath to a wild swim, from martial arts to dancing - anything that helps you to focus your actions and thoughts on the present moment is what works.
In short - a lot of us are really struggling at the moment. It is not quite the start to the year that many have been hoping for.
The impact of COVID and the ongoing lockdown restrictions continue to take their toll on our mental health and wellbeing. The impact on jobs, education, the freedom to be able to do some of the things that we enjoy for sports and leisure ,the ability to connect with friends and family – all of this and more is affecting our mental health and wellbeing in a variety ways. And that is not to mention the other health impacts of the virus, both in the short and longer term, including the bereavement that many of us are suffering.
And what is making it worse, I think, for a lot of people – is the feeling that the last couple of weeks has felt like a backward step.
Perhaps even almost like we are back to square one again.
These worries, fears and anxieties are totally valid – it makes sense to feel this way. Actually, it makes sense to feel however you feel. It always does.
Thank you to everyone who I have had a chance to connect with this year. I always value working together with others and learn so much through the process, whether it is delivering training courses and presentations, facilitating one to one or group supervision, or mentoring, coaching or counselling.
Many of the connections this year have been very different to what any of us could have anticipated this time last year, but I have valued all of the video production, digital meetings and distance learning connections, and socially distanced meetings in PPE, and had the chance to add to my skill set somewhat too.
This time of year, for those of us that celebrate Christmas, is often a time for getting together with others. To meet with family, friends, classmates and work colleagues and enjoy time visiting and at gatherings, parties and days and nights out.
For many people, not being able to see others and spend time with people that they love, share food and drinks and gifts, or to go out and have some fun and to relax - particularly after such a busy and challenging year - is going to have a negative impact on mental health and wellbeing - particularly for people who live alone and are already all too familiar with isolation and loneliness.
And also for some of us, Christmas is not a wonderful time. It is not a time associated with fun, spending time with others and celebration. Instead, for a variety of reasons, this time of year can be a time of anxiety, depression and sadness.