There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage.

Even couples who say they are happily married go through ups and downs, occasional fights and misunderstandings. But many end up with divorce not because the love is gone but because they wait until it’s too late to get the help necessary to save their marriage. If the flow of your relationship is going through lots of bumps, consider the following self-help tips to get your marriage back on track.

 

Identify what the real issues are.

When we are angry at our partner, we tend to dig deeper into the past, looking for the past mistakes they have done to us. This habit however, can stray you away from the real issues your marriage is facing in the moment. Create an honest list of problems that your marriage has, including those you have never brought up yet to your spouse but you think is essential to your relationship.

 

Assess the weaknesses and strengths of your marriage.

In the past years you were together, what had been the greatest hindrances or issues you encountered? What are the qualities that make your marriage special? What can be done to reduce the issues and increase the quality of your marriage?

 

Focus on what you can do.

No one likes being told that they are doing things wrong, or that they are a bad person. When dealing with marriage problems, we tend to focus on what our partners should do or change. But this can just lead to further misunderstandings. Try not to focus on your partner’s flaws, rather on what you could do differently.

 

Stay in the calm zone.

Avoid snide remarks, sarcasm, criticism, anger, blame, accusation, etc. If you really can’t stop yourself from saying hurtful things to your partner during a conversation, then just leave. Get some fresh air. If you let yourself be flown away by your emotions, you might end up saying or doing things you will just regret in the end.

 

Learn to express concerns constructively.

Avoid beginning your sentence with "You always…” or “You never…” Remember, you must focus on fixing issues on your end. Instead of saying “I would like you to…” say “I would like to…”, or “My concern is…” etc.  

 

Set up conversation rules.  

Try not to interrupt until your partner is done speaking, and avoid raising your voice. As for clarification if you need to, so you can check they completely understand what you are trying to tell them or what he or she is trying to tell you.

 

Create positive experiences together.

Touch more. Kiss more. Smile and laugh more. Talk more. Have sex more often. Spend more time together. Don’t last a day without giving your partner a nice compliment. Give more praise and show more gratitude. Go out for a romantic date. Travel together. Do the things you used to do when you were first dating. One positive experience can overthrow ten negative experiences.

 

Seek professional help.

Many marriages have been saved by counselling. If you can’t avoid arguing when discussing issues in your marriage, maybe you need the intervention of a qualified therapist.

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

 

How to be productive at work while suffering with depression

 

Mental health problems such as depression are one of the leading causes of absences and productivity issues among employees. In 2010, a survey conducted by the UK IDEA (European Depression Association (EDA) revealed that 26 per cent of people in the UK have depression, and this mental illness is costing the government £105.2 billion each year – which covers the direct cost of mental health services, lost productivity at work, and reduced quality of life.

Staying productive at work is one of the biggest challenges that people with depression face. One day you are perfectly doing well and meeting your deadlines, the next day all you did was to look at your computer screen for eight hours. Overcoming depression is not an easy process and sometimes, it takes months (even years) of therapy to overcome this debilitating condition. The good news is that you can still manage to be productive at work and perform at your best even though you are depressed. Here’s how a few ways to help you:-

 

Take one step at a time

 

People with depression easily get overwhelmed even with simple tasks at work. Because of the vicious cycle of negative thinking, you may even find it hard to know where to start and how to deal with the problem at hand. One good strategy is to break big projects into smaller, achievable tasks. It can be helpful to create a to-do list or a chart that outlines the things you need to do and their expected completion dates. This helps reduce the anxiety you feel which is common during depression.

 

Take regular breaks

 

Taking a break is probably the last thing you want to do when you are anxious and afraid of not completing a task on time. But really, it can help ward off mental fatigue that prevents you from performing well at work. During breaks, avoid staying on your desk and take the opportunity to unwind a little. Go out for a cup of coffee, or stroll outside. Chat with your work buddies or call a friend. Trying to bust negative thoughts can consume a lot of your energy. Give yourself time to recharge.

 

Learn some relaxation techniques

 

It’s usual to experience burnout when you are depressed. The workweek may have just started but it may feel like you’re already in the middle. Relaxation techniques are very practical tools to reduce feelings of anxiety, fear or restlessness that you may experience from time to time at work. Among the best techniques are meditation, deep breathing and stretching. When things are getting too overwhelming, close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Shift your focus to your breathing pattern and to the sensations you feel in your body. And slowly release the tension. You will be surprised of how calming this simple exercise is.

 

Personalise your workspace

 

If your desk is full of clutter, it’s likely to worsen your depression. You want your environment to be as calm, beautiful, peaceful, fresh and organised as possible. Hang a picture of your family on your wall or post inspiring motivational quotes. The inspiration you get from these things can really amp your productivity levels.

 

Give time for regular exercise

 

Not only will this fuel your energy at work, it will also help reduce symptoms of depression.  A 30-minute daily exercise routine will do you a long way. But if you can exercise more, much better!

 

Make the most out of your rest days

 

Weekends only constitute two days so make the most out of it! As much as possible, avoid doing anything that’s work-related and stay away from your laptop or mobile phone (as they can make you feel like you’re at work). Rather, go out with friends and family. Spend your rest day staying physically active by playing a sport, backpacking or engaging in adventurous recreational activities.

 

Lastly, don’t forget to seek professional help. Talk to a therapist and know your options. Depression does not only affect your work but all other aspects of your life, including your personal and social relationships. Remember that depression is a treatable disorder which many others have been successfully recovered from and you can too.

 

=======================

 

Worrying?  Worrying too much?

 

If your worrying is too severe that it’s already affecting your quality of life, you probably are a chronic worrier. Worrying is natural and believe it or not – it’s important to your security and survival. The problem is that when your worrying becomes excessive, you increase your chances of developing anxiety disorder, depression and other mental illnesses.

 

Here are 10 signs that you are an excessive worrier:

 

You think you are born to be a worrier. Worries are not born, they are made. Excessive worrying is a habit that some people develop through traumatic experiences or major stressful events, or acquire from their parents or people around them.

 

When you worry, you think it’s going to happen. The truth is that most things people worry about don’t really happen.

 

You believe that worrying will prevent bad things from happening.  No. Worrying alone doesn’t prevent anything from happening – only action does. The problem is, according to the study of Graham C.L. Davey from The City University in London, chronic worriers tend to have very poor social problem-solving confidence so they are less likely to come up with the best solution to the obstacles they face.

 

You think that by worrying about others you are showing you care about them.  There’s nothing worse than knowing that someone is excessively worrying about you. If you are worried, let them know.

 

You feel anxious most of the time. Chronic worrying doesn’t give you peace of mind, rather anxiety and sense of chaos. These negative feelings are so severe that they are already interfering with your work and personal life.

 

You have trouble sleeping at night. Excessive worrying prevents your body from relaxing. As a result, you find it hard to fall asleep at night. Sleep problems are a known risk factor for many health problems, including heart disease, stroke and obesity.

 

You spend more time thinking about the problem than the solution. Most people make decisions based on their ‘instincts’. Not all issues or challenges you encounter every day need plenty of time to think through. Some answers are just right in front of you.

 

You think feeling anxious about something is an indication of a threat. The truth is that people can get anxious for many reasons – pain, fatigue, stress, lack of sleep, and physical illness. Just because you are feeling anxious doesn’t mean you are about to face a problem or a threat.

 

You feel responsible for the bad things that are happening around. Many people come to believe that they are somehow responsible for the bad things that happen and have the power to prevent these situations. But this feeling of ‘responsibility’ is what usually triggers chronic worrying. Whilst you have control over some things in your life, you don’t have control over most things.

 

You are a perfectionist. Many chronic worriers are perfectionists. They like to think through a worry until they have exhausted every possible problem and come up with the best solution. But the problem is that their standards are so high they tend to feel dissatisfied with the solutions they’ve obtained, so they end up worrying too much.

 

Excessive worrying can cause an imbalance in your life. But the good news is that

there are many ways to counter chronic worrying. Consider the following steps:

 

Talk to a therapist. Begin by assessing your level of worrying, including the triggers and causes. You can do this by seeking help from a professional therapist. Treatments like counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are good venues to tackle your worry issues. Through psychological interventions, you can learn different coping strategies for the problems you encounter every day.

Exercise regularly. Exercise helps you ward off feelings of anxiety as well as the negative thoughts that fuel your worries. When you are physically active, your brain releases hormones that uplift your mood, boost your energy, and strengthen your immunity.

Learn to relax. You can activate your body’s relaxation response (a physiological state characterised by feelings of warmth, peace of mind and mental alertness) through deep breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, listening to calming music, etc.

Meditate. Practising meditation daily can help you overcome excessive worrying and improve your well-being. What’s more, it decreases your body’s stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) that are released when you are in the ‘fight or flight’ mode. High levels of stress hormones have been linked to a wide range of illnesses.

 

Let’s face it. We all worry at times. It’s our body’s natural response against perceived threats. But allowing our worries to take control of our life is not really helpful. If you think you are a chronic worrier, it’s time to take action today. Talk to your therapist and follow these recommended tips. Therapy becomes successful if you also work on getting better.

 

 

 

 

 

A large body of research tells us that happiness go beyond material things.

 

It’s true that a new car or house, a luxury trip, or some designer clothes and bags can give us an instant feeling of joy and gladness. But the positive emotions brought by these things quickly wane and if we cling on them as our major source of happiness, we could find ourselves lonely, discontented and disconnected at the end of the day.

 

If it’s not money, fame or fortune, then what makes us happy? There’s no secret formula to lasting happiness. But numerous researches suggest that happiness could be a product of the following things combined together:

Good Health

An illness doesn’t only drain our wallet, but also destroy our energy and zeal in life. Therefore, the body must be treated well and given its needed nourishment, love and care. When you are healthy, you could focus more on what you do and be able to deal with problems much better. We can opt to live a healthy lifestyle by engaging in regular exercise, getting enough sleep, eating right, and learning to manage stress.

Affection

Humans are social beings. Therefore, it is a basic human need to look for affection from others. We all need to feel loved and cared for. It is crucial that we have at least one person to share our life with. Research published in 2001 in the Journal of Counselling Psychology found that people who feel more connected to others have lower rates of anxiety and depression. They also have higher self-esteem, and are more trusting, empathic and cooperative with others. As a result, the number of people who love them increases.

Sufficient Source of Income

As mentioned, happiness goes beyond material things. But in order to have more time on things that give us lasting happiness, we also need to work hard to get a sufficient source of income. This reduces our worries about where to get our basic needs and concentrate more on things that truly matter – like health, family and social relationship. Whilst we can always aim for higher status in life, it should not be our motivation to be happy.

Compassion

The cliché “the more you give the more you receive” is true.  People usually feel good when they donate to charities, help someone in need, and reach out to others. Compassion is critical to happiness. When our hearts are filled with love for others, our sense of well-being dramatically increases. Not only that, it benefits our brain too. A research by Jordan Grafman, a neuroscientist from the National Institute of Health found that the "pleasures centres" in the brain, or the parts that are active when we experience pleasure from food, money or sex, are equally active when we observe someone giving money to charity as when we receive money ourselves.

Defined Goals

In life, we should have a clear idea of what our goals are. Goals are what give direction to our lives. They motivate us to do better, keep learning, exceed our limits, and work harder. After setting our goals, we must make a clear plan on how to achieve them.

Gratefulness

Without being grateful, it’s very difficult to be happy. A bulk of studies confirms that gratitude is vital to happiness. “Thank you” is a simple yet powerful phrase that can uplift our spirit and touch other people’s lives.

Optimism and Resilience

Seeing the glass half full has a significant effect on our happiness levels. Optimism is what gives us hope to move forward despite the adversities we experience in life. It goes hand in hand with resilience – which is the ability to handle difficulties effectively. The world is full of imperfections. No one in this world has ever experienced any problem at all. Challenges are part of life. But they shouldn’t be a hindrance to our happiness.

Unless we incorporate all these things to our life, we can never be completely happy. Not practising one of them is like forgetting the secret ingredient that makes a recipe stand out. Good health, affection, sustainable income, compassion, defined goals, gratitude and resilience – all these things are essential to happiness. And the good news is that they are something we can learn and master over time.

 

 

 

 

 

Building a better relationship - things to try

 

With all the daily stresses and responsibilities we face each day, it can be easy to lose track of our relationship and get disconnected from our partner. Yes, keeping a relationship strong requires great effort. But there are simple, proven exercises that couples therapists recommend to deepen your relationship and make it more fulfilling.

If you have tried couples therapy before, you probably have encountered several of these.

 

Active Listening

Many times, a simple conversation could lead to a week-long of cold war or simultaneous arguments. That is why a lot of couples therapy exercises are designed to make both partners ‘active’ listeners. Active listening doesn’t only make discussion of sensitive issues easier, but also allows both of you to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other.  When practising active listening, it is important for the speaker to remain focused on a single thought or point, and for the listener to concentrate on sharing their partner’s perspective. Here are simple rules to follow when practising active listening:

  • Listen to what your partner is saying. Take notes if necessary.
  • Let your partner know you understand every bit of information he/she says by wrapping it up in your own words, without adding your own point of view, and without judgement or criticism. If your partner said you got it, let him/her proceed. Otherwise, ask him/her to tell you what you missed.
  • Validate your feelings. Validating is a way to tell how your partner’s feelings make sense to you, or how you are able to understand your partner by putting yourself in his/her shoes. This could be the most difficult step, but with practice, you can get better at it.
  • Exchange roles.

Spare a few minutes daily to practise this exercise and see how it can enhance many aspects of your relationship. Whatever the issue is, the best way to practise active listening is to do it with patience and love.

 

Appreciation List

 

Study after study shows that grateful couples are happier and more resilient. Appreciation is vital to a relationship. But sometimes, especially among long-term couples, appreciating becomes a rare thing. If you’re lacking of this, there’s a very simple exercise that couples therapists recommend and it only requires making a list. Here it goes – daily, for five days, write down things that your partner did for you that you appreciated. They don’t have to be grand. Simple, sweet acts would do, like taking your dog for a walk, watering your plants, preparing your breakfast, making you smile, massaging your pounding head, etc. After the five days, exchange lists.

It is very easy to feel that you are being taken for granted and feel that your partner doesn’t recognise your efforts and the little things you do for him/her. This simple exercise can help both of you see and appreciate small gestures of love and care that you have for each other.

 

Using Positive Language

 

Miscommunication is a common problem among couples. Many of us often make false interpretations of what our partner is saying. This can lead to arguments, emotional disconnection and feelings of rejection. Couples therapy exercises can greatly deepen your bond and help you tackle even the most complicated issues without lashing or arguing. One of the best exercises for better communication is using positive language.  A good communication exercise is using "you said" and "I heard" statements during conversations. In this exercise, you and your partner take turns repeating the other person’s statement and explaining your own interpretation of the message. Beginning your sentence with “I heard” makes your partner feel that you pay attention to and care about what he or she is saying. Saying these two words is like saying “I’m listening to you because what you have to tell me is important”.

 

Love List

 

Many times, we get too caught up doing things that we think our partner would really love and appreciate that we forget to ask ourselves – is it what he/she really desires? We need not always do or spend so much to please our special someone. Sometimes, it’s again the little, sweet acts that matter to them. Whilst surprises and gifts are really so romantic – sometimes, it’s the affectionate gestures like running errands for him/her, sitting with your partner to watch the same movie over and over again, or kissing him/her before leaving for work and the moment he/she comes home are enough to make your partner feel loved by you. A great exercise that therapists usually ask couples to do is to write down five things your partner can do, or does to make you feel loved.

 

Dating

 

Lots of couples stop dating after marriage, which is wrong. Dating is essential to keeping the fire burning and retaining the kind of excitement you both have experienced before. Maintaining relationships require hard work, and can be really stressful at times. Therefore, it is important for you and your partner to relax and unwind. Arranging a trip with your partner can be one great way to practise the above exercises whilst having a little fun. It doesn’t have to be a grand vacation. A simple getaway will do as long as you are in a place where you can relax – away from the things that remind you of your work, responsibilities, and all others that stress you out.

 

Intimacy Builder

 

When you already have kids, intimacy becomes much more of a challenge. Intimacy is about being emotionally close to your partner. It’s also about being able to bring your defences down and accept and share in your partner’s thoughts and feelings. It’s about being able to share your “inner world” to this person. Intimacy is basically one of the most rewarding aspects of a relationship. Many couples start out their relationship thinking that they have achieved the highest level of intimacy that they have never experienced before. Yet, as years go by and they go through the highs and lows of marriage, they tend to discover a series of deeper levels in their intimacy. And each discovery only makes their relationship deeper and more rewarding.

A great intimacy builder routine, which you can do daily, involves sitting facing each other and closer that your knees are almost touching. Take a minute or several minutes to look into each other’s eyes. Assess your own reactions and thoughts. And share them with your partner. Feel the moment. Experience the closeness. This exercise is one way to connect with your partner after a hard, tiring and busy day.

 

Every relationship goes through rough waters. Incorporating all if not some of these basic couples therapy exercises can greatly improve many areas of your relationship and help you and your partner deal with issues more effectively, and grow closer. Marriage counselling exercises can also help you revive intimacy, strengthen the bond between you two, and maintain a healthy, happy and lasting relationship.

 

=======================================

 

Ways to boost your confidence

 

Confidence. It is something we need on a daily basis. It is something we need to start the day right, end it right, and prepare for another one. We need it to reach our goals, face the challenges ahead, and be successful in life.

There are a lot of ways to build confidence. And one of the most helpful is to go beyond our comfort zone. When you push yourself to do things that give you a little discomfort, scare you or intimidate you, you expand your comfort zone and learn to become more comfortable in doing things.

Apart from going beyond your comfort zone, below are five key habits that are have proven to have confidence-building capabilities.

Accept the reality.

Many people are fond of wishing that things would have been different from what they are. They wish they have a different job. They wish they were richer. They wish their partners would behave differently in certain situations. But getting stuck in wishing for things to be different is rejecting the reality, which crushes your confidence. Instead of making us more confident, it gives us regret, anxiety, and anguish that all destroy our confidence.

Learn a new craft.

Learning should not end the moment you graduate from school. Learning is an ongoing process. We all should strive for learning no matter what age we are, regardless of what point in life we are now. Learning a new craft is a great way to build confidence. Mastering a skill gives us a sense of accomplishment which in turn, boosts our performance.

Meditate.

How does meditation boost confidence? While it does not directly impact our self-esteem, the amazing benefits of meditation significantly impact our confidence level. Practising this mind-body technique is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, through lowering blood pressure and resting heart rate. And just in case you didn’t know – stress and anxiety are two of the biggest threats to our confidence. When you are stressed, anxious and emotionally not feeling well, you are less likely to have high self-esteem.

Work out.

This may come to a surprise, but working out does really benefit your self-esteem. Same with meditation, exercising can greatly reduce stress and anxiety, and boost positive feelings. Of course when you are feeling great, so is your self-esteem. Speaking of exercise, lifting weights should be part of your workout routine. Lifting weights builds muscle and physical strength, which makes us stronger, mentally and physically. Also, losing excess fats keep us in shape and enhance our physical appearance, thus, boosting our confidence.

Prepare.

It is hard to feel confident about anything when you are unprepared. Think about taking an exam. How would you be confident when you didn’t study? Now, think of life as an exam. How would you prepare for it?

Smile.

Not really sure how to do it? Smile. Smile is a little tiny thing that can have a huge impact on your self-esteem. It calms you, and puts positive vibes to the people around you. Smiling doesn’t cost a thing. But your self-esteem will thank you.

Be grateful.

The more you think about what you do not have and what you can’t have, the less confident you become. Simply thinking about your positive attributes, as well as your accomplishments and blessings, can already boost your confidence. Remember, you don’t have the right to wish for more when you can’t fully appreciate what you already have.

 

 

 

 

Anxiety

 

Do you always find yourself feeling anxious every now and then and couldn’t figure out how to deal with it? Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time. But sometimes, it becomes unbearable that it already affects our quality of life. Anxiety involves both physical and mental symptoms that further stress us out.

 

But don’t worry. You can get through it. The next time you are hit by anxiety, here are some very helpful tools that give you immediate relief:

 

Practise mindfulness. When you are anxious, your mind is off the present moment. It is occupied with so many thoughts of the past and the future - yep - even things that haven’t happened yet. The moment you realise that you are succumbing to negative thoughts, intentionally focus on the present. Snap those scenarios in your mind away, and just breathe. Brining yourself back to awareness is really liberating. It allows you to feel in control of yourself. So how do you practise mindfulness during stressful moments? First, breathe.

Then look down on your body. Notice your clothes, your feet, and the comfort level you are experiencing at the moment. Notice any tension you feel at any part of your body. And slowly, release the tension. Lastly, look around you. Notice the details of your surroundings. When your mind starts to wander again, bring it back to the present. Don’t feel bad. It’s normal.

 

Laugh a little more. When anxiety-provoking moments strike, having an extra dose of laughter can be really helpful. Laughter is one simple and free tool that alleviates symptoms of anxiety and lifts your mood. When you laugh, the ‘happy hormones’ in your brain activate which gives you positive feelings.

It could be difficult to insert some laughter when you are already stressed out. So just like mindfulness, you want to intentionally make yourself feel better. Rest for a while. Watch a funny video or a comedy film. Chat with a jolly friend. There are so many ways to add joy to your life. And yes, it’s the best medicine.

 

Get rid of the grudge.  The longer you hold on to your grudges, the worse you will feel and the more anxious and stressed you become. Practising forgiveness may be a difficult challenge. But the reward is amazing. Not only does it help restore the connection you have with another person. It also greatly improves your health and well-being.

Healing takes time. Don’t push yourself if you can’t forgive. But don’t prevent yourself from forgiving when you feel like you are ready enough. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean having to acquaint with him or her again. It simply means forgiving that person for what they did and allowing yourself to move forward with life, without hurt or resentment over that person you wronged you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journalling?  Keeping a diary?  It can be a good idea to help you organise your thoughts daily. It can help you give an outlet to your thoughts and feelings like no other.  Here are a few ways that it can help up when you keep a regular, daily journal.

 

 

Slowing down your thought process.  If you mind if all jumbled up with thoughts and feelings and emotions that don't make sense, journalling gives your mind the opportunity to slow down and process those emotions.  Sometimes we can use this if we can't find someone to talk to.  Journalling is an effective way to help you identify what's going on and help clarify your emotions.

 

When you start to clarify your thoughts when you can start to reflect and understand and know yourself better.  You may start to identify thought patterns and any emotional blocks that could be hindering your.  Similarly, any strengths and qualities can be identified which you can utilise in your life. 

 

If the difficulty is an argument, then writing about the events can help you understand the other person's point of view so you may feel better able to deal with it and maybe resolve the conflict or identify any triggers you have.

 

Wrting about events can give you a sense of what is around you and help you be more grateful of good things and events. Psychological researchers from the University of California at Davis, found that participants who wrote a daily journal about five things they were grateful for felt better about their lives overall, were more optimistic about the future, and reported fewer health problems than those who wrote about the daily hassles they experience and those who didn’t write a journal at all.

 

When you get into a routine of writing a journal you may notice patterns of behaviour which you can identify.  You may not have been aware of these previously and you may notice how these are contributing to the issues you are experiencing at the present.

 

Your journal can be a place where you express your true self and you won't be worried about being judged and you can feel free to express all your emotions.

 

Journallinghas therapeutic benefits and is cheaper than seeing a therapist! In the study published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Psychology, the psychological stress levels of athletes who were asked to write about their negative experiences related to their injuries and treatments were significantly lower than that of the control group.

 

You can find a place to plan for your future and look at your specific goals.  Your goals can be weekly challenges for small changes in your life or for more life challenging events.  Be reflecting in your journal about your success or otherwise  by doing the challenges, can also be insightful by looking at how you managed it, how it felt, was it really what you wanted?

 

 

 

 

Lynn Wulcko

Heathbury

Baker's Lane

Chilcompton

BA3 4EW

07531 555 878

 

 

 

I am a fully insured Registered Member of BACP