The Power of Positive Thinking

Although in the UK our exposure to sunshine is limited, we still can understand the undeniable positive effect of sunshine on our mood.

Somethings just help us feel better….
1.  The sun on our face
2. A glorious view
3. A good night’s rest
4. A smile from a stranger
5.  Seeing dogs or children playing in a park

There are lots of ways to positively influence our mood, and don’t just wait until you are feeling down.  We are so used getting on with things and being busy that we often don’t realise until it’s too late that we are feeling low.  That’s why it’s best to always think, EVERY day……

‘What have I done today that was good for me,  that made me feel good or of value?’  {Alive even, if you like.}  Especially important in our current situation.

Everyone can answer that question a different way, however, if you get to the end of the day and you can’t think of anything, then you need to think about the value that day had to you and how that could be improved upon.

It doesn’t have to be major things, but it is important to take time to reflect on what had a good effect on us and why…. then we can repeat it or call on that whenever we are feeling down.


“There is just this moment. We are not trying to improve or to get anywhere else.”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are

For anyone interested in mental health it would be impossible to have missed the explosion of Mindfulness. I use it in my work with clients that I believe will find it helpful and if they are interested in trying it out. There are very simple exercises which you can find free on the net or a book from the library.
Although the focus in Mindfulness is not to try to progress or fix anything there are many recognised benefits. Increased focus and cognitive flexibility. Reduced stress and rumination about the past or the future.

For someone coming to counselling you could hope for less overwhelming emotional reactions to difficult experiences and more insight into your experience of these experiences. That inner feeling of strength that comes from feeling competent, knowing you are able to manage your own life and find meaning in it.

‘Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when We are growing’ William Butler Yeats

Sleeping Problems

Having sleeping issues can be a real problem.  It can lead to reduced performance or anxiety.  Our emotional problems are more difficult to deal with, if we are already tired.

Fortunately, sleep problems can often be behavioural.   It is good to check there are no issues with a medical doctor however barring that, there are some easy things to try.

1.  Get enough sunlight.  No sunlight – reduced melatonin, the sleep hormone.  Conversely, a nice dark room at night.

2.  Get out and about or some exercise.  Doesn’t have to be hard core, maybe a walk.  Body needs to be tired to sleep.

3.  Keep a routine.  We are creatures of habit.

4.  Do not make up for lost sleep by having a long nap the next day.  There is only so much sleep you need.  If you take it during the day, you won’t need it at night.  Unless you like a siesta and are happy sleeping less at night.

5.  Everyone is different but most adults need about 6-8 per night.

6. Unless you have been having trouble for a while, having less sleep for a night or two doesn’t necessarily have to affect your life.  It may not even affect your productivity.  You may feel differently but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative or useful.

7.  What are your expectations? 8 hours uninterrupted sleep?  Maybe it’s time to lower your expectations,  especially for uninterrupted sleep.  We wake more easily as we get older.  Waking up doesn’t devalue our sleep.

8. Depending on what wakes you up and where you are in your sleep cycle it may be up to 45 minutes before you get sleepy again.  Don’t get frustrated, get up if you feel wide awake or read a book.  You will know when you are sleepy again as you will feel colder and start to yawn.

9. Try not to get frustrated with yourself. Maybe try a book or music to relax.  Or even some free podcast self hypnosis tracks.   NO back lit electronics for a hour at least before bed.

10.  Eating or drinking is a tricky one, try to remember what works for you.  Milky drinks aren’t a great idea unless they are already part of your routine.  Same as food.

11.  Lastly and maybe most  important.  Don’t worry about how much you sleep.  It puts more pressure on yourself.  Just another thing you have to be good at.  That’s not fair.

Unless you are a chronic insomniac, you are not harming yourself.  Do a few things to waken yourself up in the morning, music, hot shower, exercise and then put that night behind you.  You assume you will not be as productive when tired but who knows really?  The altered state may be a new way to look at things – hopefully for a short time

Are you Interested in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

cbt post  ‘What people think about you is not important.  What you think about yourself means everything’

I suppose it’s quite an easy way to get to grips with CBT therapy.  With CBT you look at how you think about experiences and how they impact you, paying attention to how you might change this thinking.

At first it might sound a little like saying, ‘Your suffering is all your own fault, you are thinking about it all wrong.’  but another way of looking at it is that ‘You have the potential to alleviate your suffering.  You cannot change your experiences but there is potential to hope that you could live differently with them’

It’s not for everyone but when the circumstances are favourable it can be extremely affective.

Supervision Course

I’m very excited.  After over 1000 clinical hours  I feel ready to take on supervision.

1st and 2nd July Essential Supervision Course approved by the British Psychological Society  I’ve done some great courses with them before and looking forward to this one.

Change Your Personality!

New research from the British Psychological Society has shown that with coaching and effort we can choose to change our personality. Quite a positive message for people who are hoping for change with therapy.  It also shows the possible outcomes available when people are energised to change.

‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new’    Socrates

A path of pebbles on a white background

Neuroplasticity – in practice

spider plantIf you’ve been to therapy, you may understand this term.  It’s maybe the basic brain function that gives us all hope that we can change or help others to change.  It relates to the fact the brain can learn new things and change your experience of memories.

Thinking and talking about your experience creates different connections between neurons all over the body and accessing this very powerful agent for change is one of my goals.

There are many ways to achieve this and some of these centre around positive psychology exercises such as keeping a journal of the good things that happen or doing something small for someone else every day.

I thought it was time I tried the one that appealed to me the least. Do something new and scary as much as possible, every day if you can.

For me, that was drawing.  Here is the first drawing I have done since art classes at school when I was 14.  It was a scary experience creating something that I would find embarrassing however I already have a small sense of achievement that I did it…. after all it has been over 20 years since putting pencil to paper.  I have no idea how many new connections that made in my brain, I only know that I will maybe care a little less about being good at things.


Just in case you don’t recognise it – it’s a spider plant in my consulting room.

Losing a celebrity you admire

LeafTerry Pratchett: Facing Extinction


I saw this on iplayer this week and I began thinking about how the death of celebrities can affect us.  I’m not ready to watch a programme with Terry on it; too raw yet that this is a man from my past not future.


You may have your own ‘Terry’. Perhaps Lou Reed or Robin Williams.  Someone who was part of your life through their work.  Someone who you associate with sharp memories of laughter of astonishment.  Sometimes we just miss the people and what they had to offer the world.  Sometimes it’s the way they die that fills us with regret for the life lost.


For myself,  I can’t remember a year when I didn’t read a Terry Pratchett book.  He was certainly a prolific author but that has all come to an end now.  It will no longer be on my Christmas wish list. No more easy selection for my partner. The tiny changes in my life that his death brings I can’t know yet.


But the memories won’t fade, especially the earliest one.  I remember my brother’s book shelf and the colourful array of disc world novels that he guarded preciously.  I way too young to appreciate the contents,  I just wanted the dust covers to wonder at.  I wanted to draw like that and invent that world.  My brother stills wants to write that fantasy book;  I think most of us harboured that ambition after reading Terry.


Whatever our sense of loss there is always their legacy, their work, a little bit of them made everlasting in the memories of others. I’ll never pick up a Pratchett book now without a tinge of sadness but I know it will be quickly followed by a smile at the sheer audacity and brilliance of the man that even a cruel illness like Alzheimer’s will never tarnish.

Autism Awareness Day


Today is World Awareness Day for Autism. Visit the Autism Speaks site to find out more about this condition and all manner of useful information.  #AutismAwareness

We often think of children getting an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis however our education and care systems were not always so responsive.  Many adults get diagnosed in their 20s and beyond.

Having a diagnosis can be an epiphany for some adults:  Finally having a tangible explanation that they and their loved ones can both relate to.  What a relief!

But what of regret and anger for all the times they felt different and ashamed of it. For all the times they could have been supported rather than misunderstood.  What would life have been like?

Well you aren’t alone. Try looking on this site and see all the wonderful opportunities out there to help


Anxiety in other people is hard to put into words.  I found this article interesting.  It doesn’t really explain much about what anxiety is or how it might arise but it does speak to how helpless people can feel.  It they could do something about it, they would.