Stress - Time to Regulate

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.

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Mindful Minute Video - Facing Lockdown Again

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZvCFk9hLL8&t=1s

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Support available from NowCounselling in early 2021

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.

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Best wishes from NowCounselling as we end 2020

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.

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What are Choice Theory, Reality Therapy and Lead Management? Plus details of courses available (including a video).

Choice Theory is a psychological model which aims to explain human motivation and behavior.    

It was originated by the American psychiatrist, Dr William Glasser, based on his experience dating from the 1950s right through to this century – his final book was published in the last decade

Choice Theory is about relationships. With others, and with ourselves.

It is a method of trying to understand ourselves more effectively and to make more informed choices about how we behave and it is a method for trying to understand the perspective of others and to make more informed choices about how we behave in all of the relationships that we are in – whether that is one to one or in the many groups that we find ourselves part of in life from families to friends to classrooms or teams at work, in formal or informal associations, clubs, and sports

There are four different components to the model; 1 - our motivation system of our basic human needs and 2. the things that we want that meet these needs for us, 3 our Behaviour and 4 - the way that we Perceive things. In all training courses I introduce these separately before demonstrating how they combine as one system .

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Suicide Prevention Week at YouthLink Scotland

The youth work sector has always been a crucial source of support for young people in so many ways. The lasting relationships that are built provide safety for young people as they learn and develop and face the new challenges that are part of the journey to adulthood and beyond. This is particularly important during difficult times when mental health and wellbeing can be potentially seriously impacted. For many young people, and also youth workers, recent months have been more difficult than anyone could have imagined at the beginning of 2020.

As ever, so many people across the sector have worked together to support each other as we have faced the challenges caused by COVID. Disconnection, loneliness, worry, fear, inactivity, grief and loss are just some of the feelings that young people have been dealing with. We were proud to launch Heids Together a few weeks ago, which is a resource that demonstrates some of the ways the young people have adapted so well to support each other whilst facing the challenges of Lockdown.

We were joined in the collaboration (done over less than 3 months from May to August) by specialist mental health focused organisations SeeMe and Penumbra and by young people and youth workers from LGBT Youth, Scouts,  Passion4Fusion, St Mungos High Youth Work Team led by Fare and by the local authority teams from Glasgow Life and Dumfries and Galloway.

The resource offers information and creative and innovative ideas that can be useful at any time as we try to support ourselves and each other, and not least during this Suicide Prevention Week. Knowing exactly what to say and do when someone is struggling is much less important than listening and conveying the message that it is okay not to be okay. After all, we are all unique, so simply being there for someone in whatever way that you can is the best thing that anyone can ever hope to do. Heids Together is not only a helpful resource but a testament to the resilience and the remarkable diversity of the youth work sector in Scotland.

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Introduction to Choice Theory, Reality Therapy and Lead Management

Choice Theory is a psychological model which aims to explain human motivation and behavior.    

It was originated by the American psychiatrist, Dr William Glasser, based on his experience dating from the 1950s right through to this century – his final book was published in the last decade

Choice Theory is about relationships. With others, and with ourselves.

It is a method of trying to understand ourselves more effectively and to make more informed choices about how we behave and it is a method for trying to understand the perspective of others and to make more informed choices about how we behave in all of the relationships that we are in – whether that is one to one or in the many groups that we find ourselves part of in life from families to friends to classrooms or teams at work, in formal or informal associations, clubs, and sports

There are four different components to the model; 1 - our motivation system of our basic human needs and 2. the things that we want that meet these needs for us, 3 our Behaviour and 4 - the way that we Perceive things. In all training courses I introduce these separately before demonstrating how they combine as one system .

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Mental Health Awareness Week at YouthLink Scotland

I wrote this recent review of Mental Health Awareness Week at YouthLink Scotland.

https://www.youthlinkscotland.org/news/may-2020/mental-health-awareness-week-at-youthlink-scotland/

 

In many ways, last week was no different to any other across the youth work sector with the usual kindness, connection and collaboration to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people and youth workers clear for all to see. It was also another week where the necessary creativity and innovation was demonstrated across digital platforms to ensure that the usual variety of activities were delivered and one to one and group sessions held as we continue to adapt our working practices during COVID-19.

What made the week special was that it was Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme for 2020 was kindness.

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Taking Care of our mental health during COVID-19

I wrote this blog for YouthLink Scotland for Mental Health Awarness Week - https://www.youthlinkscotland.org/news/may-2020/taking-care-of-our-mental-health-and-wellbeing-during-covid-19/: 

 

Our mental health and wellbeing officer Sean Humphreys talks about how we can take care of ourselves and others as we continue to adapt to life under lockdown.

Whether you are reading this as a young person, a youth worker or an organisation that works with young people, you may be feeling scared, worried or anxious right now. You might also feel sad, flat, detached or numb. Maybe you will feel none of those things but are noticing the impact of COVID19 in another way. If so, then you are human.

The results of the recent Lockdown Lowdown survey, which we worked on alongside our partners Young Scot and the Scottish Youth Parliament, certainly show that a lot of young people are not feeling okay right now. And young people are not alone in this. Whoever you are, if you are not feeling okay then you are certainly not alone.

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Helping Hands Mindful Minutes during COVID19

Recently at Edinburgh Helping Hands, we have started making a series of videos as part of our plan to support ourselves and those around us as we adapt to life during COVID 19. A variety of different subjects are covered and are available on Twitter, Facebook and the You Tube Channel. 

Some of the videos that I have made so far, on mental health and wellbeing, are below: 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO5MNEy2StQ&feature=youtu.be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeGYgEj6Lsg

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Coronavirus & Mental Health: Your Questions Answered: For Young Scot

I recently too part in a piece of partnership for YouthLink Scotland, along with Young Scot and CAMHS. A copy of this is below: 

 

 

Young Scot put your questions about looking after your mental health and wellbeing during 'lockdown' to two experts.

Cathy Richards, the Lead Clinician and Head of Psychology at CAMHS and the CAMHS advisor to Scottish Government.

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Self Care for Mental Health and Wellbeing during COVID-19

 Self Care for Mental Health and Wellbeing during COVID-19

If you are feeling worried or anxious, numb, then you are human. There is no such thing as a 'normal' way to feel, particularly during difficult times. One of the only things that we can be certain about right now is that this is a time full of uncertainty.

But we can also be certain that there are still many things that we can do to support ourselves and others

This is Self care.

The only thing that we have any control over is our actions, right now. Supporting oursleves and others to take action to stay well has never been more important. 

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Policy Hub Scotland Conference - Mental Health and Wellbeing Resilience in Boys

I am very much looking forward to being part of the next Policy Hub Scotland Conference - Mental Health and Wellbeing Resilience in Boys on March 17th at the COSLA Conference Centre in Edinburgh. This is such an important topic and I will presneting on the power of community, alongside Pauine Scott, Ross Deuchar, Graham Goulden and Suzanne Zeedyk. 

 

For further details and to book a place: https://policyhubscotland.co.uk/events/building-resilience-in-scotlands-boys-conference/

 

 

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Time to Talk 2020

There are so many examples of fantastic work being done to support the mental health of children and young people right across the youth work sector in Scotland every day. There are also lots of great examples of youth workers and volunteers supporting each other. At YouthLink Scotland, we know beyond doubt that #YouthWorkChangesLives.

Connecting with others, talking and listening, are the foundations for mental health and wellbeing. Being there for others and offering support (whether that is to young people, our colleagues, friends, team mates, class mates or family) really makes a difference. But it is not always easy to find a way, and even when it is, learning new ideas is always good – especially when they are fun!

Today is Time To Talk Day 2020, led by our Mental Health and Wellbeing partners SeeMe Scotland. It is a chance for us to think about the conversations that we are having with the people that we connect with in our day to day lives, wherever that may be. Conversations really count. Words really matter. Talking and listening helps. That is why the theme of the day is ‘Choose Talk, Change Lives’.

For some ideas on how to get started, check out the posters, cards and other conversation starting resources available which are all based around the game that you will probably know; ‘Would you rather’?

My favourite is ‘would you rather miss a penalty or talk to a team mate about mental health’? I know what my answer would be, and that is not only because I have missed a penalty (or two) in my time!

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Happy New Year to you all! Latest news from NowCounselling

Happy New Year to you all – An update from NowCounselling

Firstly, I wish you all the best and hope you are going well so far in 2020!

I am delighted to confirm that I will once again be leading weekly Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Groups for men in North East Edinburgh starting on Friday 31st January based at the Ripple Project. Referrals come from Community Link Workers who are based in local GP surgeries, as part of the successful Social Prescribing initiative driven by the Scottish Government, NHS, local surgeries and third sector organisations. Participants will learn about stress and the impact it has on all of us, and ways to manage this positively so that anxiety, depression and other health problems can be improved.

I am also delighted to say that I will once again be delivering the training programme for the new intake of Alcohol Counsellors who will be joining the 50 year old institution - Edinburgh and Lothians Council on Alcohol - from February onwards.

Meanwhile, I am leading three groups of students through the 2nd level of the internationally recognised qualification in Choice Theory (trauma informed relationship based psychological framework), Reality Therapy (the application to a therapeutic setting) and Lead Management (the application to an education, workplace or personal environment). The students are based in Edinburgh, Midlothian, West Lothian and Liverpool, so if you are in the those areas and are interested and wish to connect then please let me know. Following two successful courses last year, I am also in the process of connecting with some people who have made enquiries about taking part in the first level – a Basic Intensive Workshop – later this year. If you are interested in finding out more about this opportunity then please get in touch.

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Helping Hands - Improving Mental Health and Wellbeing Step by Step

An article I wrote for Edinburgh Helping Hands 

 

https://solidaritynotcharity.com/2019/09/25/improving-mental-health-and-wellbeing-step-by-step/

 

Mental health and wellbeing is a subject that is appearing in discussions more and more. Conversations are happening. From community hubs to cafes and classrooms, from shops, warehouses, offices and meeting rooms to playgrounds, parks and pubs – a topic (and I believe that we should be talking about it as one topic rather than separating mental and physical health) which is integral to every single human being in the world is appearing more regularly than ever before in one to one discussions, group chats, formal presentations, written articles, documentary films, drama productions and across social media output. 

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Lets Talk: The Tweenage Years - Teenage Brain, Mental Health and Wellbeing

I am very much looking forward to speaking at Lets Talk: The Tweenage Years - Teenage Brain, Mental Health and Wellbeing at an event for parents, care givers, teachers, youth workers and anyone else in the lives of young people. 

I will explore topics such as the various stages of development and the impact on young people and those around them, the additional impact of stress and any childhood trauma, and what can be done to support young people on their journey to adulthood. 

The event will be held on November 23rd at Linlithgow Academy, West Lothian, Scotland and is part of the Scottish Book Trust's Scottish National Book Week. 

For further information and to book tickets: 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lets-talk-the-tweenage-years-tickets-71304574903

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Joining the team at YouthLink Scotland - and other updates from NowCounselling

If you are not already aware, I am delighted to share with you that I recently joined the team at YouthLink Scotland, for 3 days per week. This will combine very well with my other work, which currently includes leading an internationally accredited Basic Intensive Workshop in the psychological model of Choice Theory and the application to counselling or counselling skills relationships (called Reality Therapy). The course also includes practical applications in education and leadership in the workplace (Lead Management).  This is based in Midlothian, Scotland and I am also facilitating the follow on course, a Basic Practicum, with a group in Edinburgh. These are steps 1 and 2 of 5 in becoming a qualified practitioner. 

I am also currently doing one to one counselling and one to one and group supervision work for counsellors and those who use counselling skills in their work, such as project workers, healthcare professionals, teachers and managers.

I am also very much enjoying leading a self care for mental health and wellbeing group for men at The Ripple Project in Edinburgh (@RippleRestalrig), as part of the NHS  social prescribing Community Link Worker programme. 

For further details of training, supervision, coaching and counselling options (all trauma informed and skilled) and availability or to make a booking with NowCounselling, please get in touch. 

Another important area of my life that  is giving me great enjoyment is being part of the team of volunteers at Edinburgh Helping Hands (@EdiHelpingHands). For more details of how to get involved by volunteering or supporting the work with a donation, for details of the variety of support on offer for people and communities, or all of the above - visit https://solidaritynotcharity.com/

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NowCounselling Quick Introduction to Meditation and Mindfulness - Get Started Now

Interested in learning more about self care for your mental health and wellbeing? 

Ever tried mindfulness or meditation? If not, the first steps are easier than you think.

All you need is yourself!

Take just a few minutes - outside is ideal but not essential - where you feel comfortable and safe and where there is a good chance that you won't be disturbed.

Think about putting all of your thoughts on pause, other than those related to what is going on for you right now in the world around you. There is lots of information available to your senses right now, more than you may feel consciously aware of, and you can choose to observe some of it. 

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Basic Intensive Choice Theory, Reality Therapy and Lead Management course booked for September 2019 plus other opportunities

Choice Theory Basic Workshop running in Midlothian, Scotland - places available for September 2019

 

Plus Basic Practicum group places available and news about other courses and services: 

Following the recent NowCounselling Basic Instensive Workshop in Edinburgh on the psychological model of Choice Theory (which is primarily about understanding self and self care), Reality Therapy (the application of this in a counselling setting) and Lead Management (the application of the psychology in a counselling skills setting such as support work, medical professions, teaching - indoors or outdoors, sports and management), I now have a course booked for September 2019 (Monday 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd) with places available - the cost is £350. If you would like to discuss further details or to register interest in a place then please get in touch. 

This is an opportunity for a useful and valuable personal development experience, as well as continuous professional development should that apply to your situation. It is also step 1 of the UK and internationally recognised (https://www.wgi-uk.co.uk/ and http://www.wglasserinternational.org/) qualification as a Choice Theory, Reality Therapy and Lead Management practitioner (denoted by the initials CTRTC after one's name). 

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