Category Archives: Perspectives

What’s the Quickest way to get rid of Negative Thoughts?

What’s the quickest way to get rid of negative thoughts and feelings?

In a nutshell acceptance of the negative thought will make it easy to work with.

That’s easy to say when they can feel too powerful at times and impossible to get rid of. I remember trying everything I could to think more positively as I was being told that was the antidote to my anxiety and the states of mind that came with it. 

In fact it just made it worse. 

I tried distraction, challenging and rationalising them but nothing seemed to touch the sides. This made me feel such a failure as surely I could get a grip and control my thoughts like everyone else seemed to be able to do?

Injured

What I didn’t know was that my limbic system which is responsible for my survival response and emotions was overstimulated and strained. This results in a limbic system hijack which left me feeling anxious and out of control, this repeatedly can cause physical alterations to the brain which scans are now picking up to show that anxiety and depression are physical conditions and not states of mind.

I call this an “injury” to the brain which is similar to a physical muscle strain.  You wouldn’t try to heal a physical injury with some positive thinking, you would follow instructions from someone like a physiotherapist to help it heal.

The more you take pressure off your limbic and nervous system the easier it becomes manage negative thoughts and feelings.  Over time this has a very powerful effect on helping healing anxiety and depression.  Demanding 21st century living is adding too much pressure to our nervous systems so we need to take better care of ourselves or risk mental health issues.

Thoughts are not Dangerous

Thoughts are not real no matter how they feel, what they contain or how useful not they are. “Thoughts are just thoughts,”  is my favourite mantra and most used mindfulness tool. I also know that deep in my subconscious it’s entertaining every possible future negative outcome it can for survival and wellbeing purposes. The more pressure there is on my nervous system the closer to the surface those negative predictions rise which can even trigger various levels of the fight or flight response too.

If you treat certain thoughts as dangerous then your limbic system will over react to them and anything similar.

Strategy

Practise this with some thoughts which trouble you and build up in time to the stronger ones. It gets  much easier and more automatic with time.

Instantly take pressure off your limbic and nervous system through slow and rhythmic focus on diaphragmatic breathing (down to the belly). Upper chest breathing sends signals to the brain you are in danger, to switch to safe mode you have to become a deeper breather down to the gut. 

Welcome these negative thoughts as just thoughts and let them be where they appear which is usually in front of you, big in size and all blown out of proportion.  This is something we evolved to trigger an adrenaline freeze, fight or flight response. Expecting them to come and embracing them changes your relationship with thoughts altogether.

Allow the thoughts to just be there no matter how tempting it is to judge, analyse or get rid of them. Accept any feelings that come with the thought no matter how strong they feel.  Breathe deeply into those feelings, they are there to get you to act which is great for life and death situations but not for risks to your emotional wellbeing.

Option one – Move attention back to where it needs to be. If you are short on time or in the middle of something then by having an awareness of welcoming, allowing and accepting the thought doesn’t try to get rid of it.  I can have negative thoughts, do this process and simply move my attention to something more important within seconds.

Option two – If you have time try and keep the thought there for as long a possible, breathe into it and if you get bored or distracted etc then keep bringing it back to refocus on it. You may notice your feelings with the thought getting weaker and the thought itself beginning to fade. This helps train the brain to no longer have such an issue with the thought and let the wise, rational and logical parts of the brain take back over. If it becomes harder to think of then your mind will return it’s attention to where it needs to be.

Option three – Not everyone can do this but have a go anyway to see if this works for you. Bring the negative thought into focus. If it appears in right in front of you to try and trigger a survival response then breathe into the thoughts which is just a thought and gently move it away from you.  If it helps to visualise it on a screen slowly moving back to give you space then do that.  Slowly shrink it and lower to the floor if you can as this helps train the brain to reduce the importance of this thought.

Repeat as needed.

Work still has to be done to continue taking pressure off your limbic system for you to feel more in control and you may find this article useful to keep that going.

 

Friday Takeaway!

Whoo hooo! It’s nearly the weekend and that for most of us is the time we look for treats, chill out, let our hair down (that one’s a bit difficult for me 🙂 and spend time with the people we love.

IMG_3338

The danger though is the hard work we may have put into our diets and exercise is at risk from being undone because we have weirdly been conditioned to see treating ourselves a certain way.

The picture of the pie and chips is a prime example of a treat a lot of people will go for tonight. We have been conditioned to believe this is much more attractive than boring old “healthy” food which you may have begrudgingly dipped into throughout the week.

Life changing chocolate bars?

I was watching some adverts this week where they are trying to convince me my life will be more than fulfilled and more exciting by drinking a popular soft drink. My mid week will be sensational by eating battered chicken and I can be even more quirkier and funnier by buying low quality chocolate filled with even lower quality sugared fillers.  I don’t even need to have a hearty breakfast according to one young guy, I can get that in a bottle…*retch

What have we become 😦

Obey, conform, don’t question.

WTF is going on? Seriously?  I’m not denying that carbs filled with sugar and salt can initially taste great but that’s going to be about it. A few mouthfuls later and I’m bored and wondering “why am I doing this to myself?” There’s pretty much no nutrition in this sh*t food and the damage it does with your body is shocking but yet we like to conform to what the junk food companies say we should be eating.  Obey the adverts people and just eat…

Sexy Salad?

When was the last time you saw salad being sexed up to entice you to think of it differently?  (the aubergine emoji doesn’t count btw).  Healthy food has a serious PR problem and junk food is winning the war in that respects as it’s brainwashed the masses to believe their cr*p is the exciting, life enhancing and tastier product.  Add a few sexy people chowing down on it and we want what they have as the PR machine of life says “these are the hot, sexy people you should all be emulating. If you don’t, you are a failure.”

This is also feeding the obesity problem massively as a plate of pie and chips won’t actually feed your body, it just blocks up your gut.  Malnutrition is becoming too common as people caught up in a cycle of over feeding to try and get nutrition into the body but their cravings for salt and sugar lead to choices which simply won’t do that.  I don’t even need to tell them what to eat instead to get their health back, these are intelligent people but sadly their conditioning means that eating healthy food is boring and hard work whilst junk is so much more fun and easier and after a hard week…it’s their treat.

Itsu lovely

I went to Itsu today, that for me is my Friday ritual and you get some great tasty food which actually does “feed you.”  That for  me is a real treat, there are so many flavours to dip into and it costs around the same as the pie and chips.  I felt full and satisfied and I won’t have to battle any guilt for ruining the hard work I am putting into my health and fitness program. There’s a Leon a few steps away too which is much better than junk or a bland beige sandwich.  What are you worth and does your food represent that?

Monday Diet Day?

Eating well over the weekend makes a huge difference to your mental and physical health.  You can’t put a price on what it’s like to start Monday feeling refreshed from your weekend.  Feeling fat, bloated and hungover makes your week much harder than it need be. In all honesty, life’s hard enough as it is without being tricked into believing cr*p food will make your life more exciting and amazing.

What is funny is how many people start diets on Mondays after binging all weekend which dooms it to failure as they feel so low in energy it doesn’t take long to reach for the treats causing the problem in the first place.

Don’t question me!

The food industry actually lobbies government to make sure no laws come into play which impact too much on their brainwashing. The sugar lobby is very powerful in making sure you get your fix and won’t tolerate any moves to hold it back.

Your choice is whether you continuing to conform or not or break out and devalue this sh*t food for something that is worth your time and hard earned money.

End the battle

Therapists like myself can help explore your conditioning and help decrease the value of the food which doesn’t feed you and increase the value of food which will.  What’s great about that is that I eat what I want and what I tend to want more often is great, tasty and healthy food. There’s no diet to battle and I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything at all.  My advice is to stop dieting as that is just doomed to fail and feels miserable. Learn to change your food habits so there is no battle, nothing to fail and will make you more aware of your conditioning so you choose your food instead of wandering like the Walking Dead to the beige boring old takeaway.

 

 

Drop your Chores!

I may be lucky enough to live by the sea but that means nothing unless I make the time to go and experience the beach and seafront.  The same goes for the countryside, parks, rivers, lakes and areas of beauty which can be very easily taken for granted.

The effect on the mind being in areas of beauty is a powerful one and even taking a 10 minute break to get some air can make a huge difference to your mental health.

As you can see from the picture, it’s a gorgeous sunny day and there’s not an actual lot to focus on when sat looking out to sea. The same goes for the countryside too, whilst it’s beautiful there’s very little information compared to a city to stimulate the mind so it can take a bit of a break from being overstimulated by our busy lifestyles.

Panic!

I can see some clients begin to panic when asked about making time to be outside as their productivity levels will drop by taking some time out.  Yet their brains and yours benefit so much from investing in mental health, the results tend to be more clarity, focus and much better productivity in the areas that matter.

Procrastination tends to happen when the mind is tired and tries to conserve energy for “real” emergencies like life or death situations.  Luckily most of us won’t face a life threatening moment today so we can put that energy into investing in quality of life.

Bank

You need to bank energy to spend it and popping out for a walk, eating healthy, exercising, relaxing and having fun are just a few ways to gain energy for those tasks which can feel like hard work.

So drop your chores, get outside for a bit and bank some energy, life’s simply too short not too.

Overload!

I have seen a huge increase lately in clients who are caught in a caffeine trap where they drink it throughout the day to keep alert and “function.” The problem is that they feel they need it as their minds are dulled and foggy from the bad nights sleep and sleeping medication they  try to knock themselves out with.  Yet one part of what’s causing their anxiety and stress is their caffeine habit and so the cycle continues.

You may want to rethink your “afternoon pick me up.”

What’s quite clear is that a lot of people really don’t know how powerful caffeine really is and that it can stop you sleeping and feeling more relaxed. Whilst some of you reading this may raise an eyebrow at what seems like common knowledge, there does need to be better information out there on what this powerful drug can do to your mind and body.

Redbull with your session?

Some clients suffering with anxiety will arrive for sessions clutching coffee and even energy drinks to sip during the session.  At least when I see this we can approach this lifestyle habit which can be changed easily. Just this little change can help someone feel so much better in themselves very quickly.

Did you know?

400 milligrams (mg) of coffee is apparently the limit of a safe amount we can have each day with around 250mg classed as a normal amount.

Some high street double Espresso shots can contain over 220mg.

A high street americano or flat white can contain over 270mg depending where you shop.

A green tea surprisingly can contain around 70mg which is not far from some single shot Espresso’s.

The effects of caffeine can be felt up to 6 hours after drinking it. If you drink a cup 6 hours before bed your sleep time can be reduced by an hour.  It also reduces the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is the deep sleep you need for recuperation.

Caffeine triggers the flight or fight response which during the hyper aroused state can make you more over reactive and stressed. If you are an anxiety sufferer then you have this happening too much already, adding more strain to your brain will cause more problems.

Healthy?

It’s not all bad as there are some health benefits to drinking caffeine such at reduced risk of strokes and oral, throat cancers.  But if you are having mental health issues then assessing and reducing your caffeine intake can help you speed up your recovery.  For some it’s worth reducing and stopping altogether and funnily enough those that have stopped find themselves not lacking in energy at all.

If you feel you are reducing or giving up something wonderful with coffee then yes it will be a bit of a battle. By increasing the value of what you will get from changing this habit can make it so much easier to let go of or alter to suit your circumstances.

Free!

As one client told me that by reassessing their caffeine intake combined with the anxiety management strategies I teach they felt so free. They had much more energy, mental clarity, better sleep and healthier relationships with the people around them as they were much less reactive.

Something which you simply cannot put a price on.

 

 

 

 

 

Snap out of it!

Younger me

Despite the smile, I was terrified inside.

When I was younger I avoided any type of therapy and help which would have hopefully tackled my anxiety head on. It wasn’t that I wanted to keep the anxiety, I would have done anything to turn it off but I just felt stupid and weak for not being able to sort it out myself.

Surely I could snap myself out of this couldn’t I?  Just be more positive, man up and just get on with it, what was all this worry nonsense?  In the cold light of day I just felt so powerless and pathetic!

So the battle with negativity continued as I tried my best to control my thoughts and make them more “half glass full instead of empty.”  I shudder now at such an ignorant attitude but it was understandable especially in a society that in general doesn’t understand mental health issues.

In honesty I wasted years naively thinking that seeking help was for the weak and stupid as my anxiety was my own fault and a state of mind I should just snap out of.  

I didn’t know that anxiety was an injury from my past and that seeking help was an act of strength not weakness.  It takes a lot of guts to go and open up to someone about your state of mind and explore healing your anxiety injury which is why you may be fooled into staying in your comfort zone of misery.

Life really is too short not to seek help and explore the options available in improving your quality of life.

Boring Beige Junk Food

Beige has to be one of the dullest and laziest colours on earth, it’s not white and it’s not even brown.  It’s a colour which appeals to people who want to blend in and not be noticed and as we get older it seems to be something “comfortable clothing” comes in various shades of.

It’s also the main colour of some peoples junk food diets.  Crisps, bread, cereal, biscuits, chips, pies, pasta, noodles, burgers, fried chicken and so on come in various shades of beige. If there’s a colour variation it might be brown or red, mostly from chocolate, meat or a condiment. Colour is often omitted in favour of salty and sugary foods which when all put together looks like crap…literally.

A theory I once heard which kind of makes sense is that the baby food which had as children which was mostly beige can create an association for food that colour.  Hence why I often hear “I love food,” and yet it’s a love for quite a childish bland, boring diet which is ruining their health and looks.

That’s not love for food that’s love for salt and sugar which often leaves out food of variety and colour.  Interestingly enough if they go out to dinner in a restaurant, their tastes seem to change a bit for more variance and colour.  Suddenly their sense of self worth and being an adult in a different environment can increase and they want something of quality and not just dull, lifeless junk filled rubbish.

It’s really worth keeping a diary of your food or just taking some pics of it throughout the week and place those pics together in a folder. How do they look altogether?

If it all looks a bit beige then it might be time to add some colour and variety to your diet.

Arn’t you worth it?

 

 

 

 

Shame Porn

I think I can speak for plenty of people when we say that we are so glad that social media and camera phones were not around when we were young!  To think of my whole history being there to be viewed online whether I put it there or not is a really frightening thought.

Besides my huge fashion and hair faux pas (RIP hair) The main reason is like most people there were times I lost control of my emotions which for someone suffering from anxiety was just too easy to do.

Who hasn’t lost control of their emotions at some point?

Where I am very lucky is that none of this was captured on camera or other forms of social media and used to publicly shame me in some way.  Mental health issues are hard enough as it is and I don’t know how I would have dealt with a viral video hungrily watched by people who love Shame Porn.  I call it Shame Porn as like Poverty Porn tv shows such as Benefit’s Street, Can’t Pay? We’ll take it away and Jeremy Kyle use exploitation of someone’s condition for entertainment.

Clickbait Revenue

As Shame Porn is a great way to earn cash the media searches high and low for clips which will on face value remind us how awful some people are.

Looking on a few news sites this week I have been told how awful an elderly lady was on a train to a young mother and how much of a brat a young teen was to her Grandfather in an Apple store. Millions are likely to see these clips across the globe.

In the age of social media and how handy some people are in capturing these moments with their phone camera’s shouldn’t we really think twice before publicly shaming these people?

They Shouldn’t Have Done it Then!

This lack of empathy may be just a way of trying to protect yourself from acknowledging your own flaws whilst making you feel better about yourself in the short term as after all it’s not you looking stupid in public. (Well for now at least.)

Life Ruined

Do these people really deserve their lives being at risk from ruin after an ill timed loss of control especially as it can go publicly global in minutes.

We don’t know the full story either of anyone who seems to be acting badly on camera.  What if the child having a tantrum was suffering from a mental health condition?  What if the elderly lady was mourning the loss of someone close and just lost control of her emotions?    Do they need to become such public villains vilified by millions?  In the future that young girl may be googled for a job interview and what happens if that video is found?

Agenda

It’s so easy to judge on face value but don’t we owe it to ourselves to look with empathy at what the publicly shamed person may be going through too?

I wonder what the agenda is of the person uploading these shame videos onto YouTube is?  Public service or rubbing their hands  in glee at the money coming in from the advertising that can come from these shaming videos.

Maybe we should stop indulging in Shame Porn and try looking at the bigger picture as after all the only ones benefitting are the media companies income.

What if your next?