Lynn Wulcko Counselling Heathbury, Baker's Lane, Chilcompton, BA3 4EW 07531 555 878 or email lynnwulcko@yahoo.co.uk
                                  Lynn Wulcko Counselling Heathbury, Baker's Lane, Chilcompton, BA3 4EW 07531 555 878 or email lynnwulcko@yahoo.co.uk 

Bad day? Just because your day didn’t start right doesn’t mean it will not end right. Even during the most stressful situations, it’s good to know that there are easy, quick remedies for your mood problems. Research suggests that life’s circumstances only account for 10% of happiness. About 40% of our happiness is influenced by what we do ‘deliberately’ to make ourselves happy.

Try these quick, easy mood boosters and see for yourself!

Munch on a handful of walnuts.

Nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which according to the researchers at University of Pittsburgh, have mood-enhancing effects. Don’t want nuts? Sneak salmon into your salad!

Take off the clutter.

Those crumpled paper, candy wrappers and empty cups or bottles on your desk could be adding to your stress levels. According to Elaine Aron, PhD, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, clutter can ‘make you feel like a failure’. If you don’t have the pleasure of time to conduct deep cleaning, just make sure you get and put things back on their right places.

Do something awkward.

Wear a green lipstick, put a temporary tattoo on your ankle, or change your hairstyle. Injecting a little silliness in your daily life can significantly improve your mood and well-being.

Smile.

Even if you don’t want to. Studies show that muscular changes can elevate mood as good posture does. If you act like a happy person, there’s a good, good chance that you will be one.

Shake it!

A 5-10 minute exercise can do you a long way when it comes to improving your mood and sense of well-being. So get moving and shake it out!

Scan your old photos.

Better yet, make a photo album. There’s really something special about flipping through old photos. Basically, they bring back good memories – those special moments (birthdays, anniversaries, dates, and bonding moments) that will surely paint a smile on your face.

Do someone else a favour.

A large body of research tells us that acts of kindness can dramatically uplift our happiness. Just recently, researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School in England found that people who volunteer had lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being.

Get your daily dose of sunshine.

When the sun beams from the corner, go out and feel its revitalising warmth and mood-enhancing light! Sunlight increases the level of vitamin D in your body, which in turn, keeps your serotonin (feel-good hormone) level high.

Stretch to your toes.

This loosens up your hip joints, where most people store tension.  According to the study by Spanish researchers, a daily, short stretching routine can significantly reduce anxiety and increase feelings of well-being. They also found that stretching reduces bodily pain and exhaustion, and boosts vitality, mental health, general health and flexibility.

Turn up that music.

Listen to your favourite upbeat song and experience a significant improvement in your mood within seconds!

Get a power nap.

Feeling tired, exhausted and drowsy? A 30-minute nap will do. Push your chair away from your desk, kick up your feet and close your eyes and sleep the bad mood away.

Look at the bright side.

If a friend or loved one is driving you crazy, take a few minutes thinking about the good things he or she has done for you in the past. That will make you feel better fast and more likely to forgive.

 

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With our long dry summer, we may be spending more time outside in our gardens than other years.  The benefits of gardening extend well beyond adding beauty to your turf. According to a new study, pottering around the garden or fixing the house provides protection against life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease, and could promote longer life.

 

Researchers from Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm looked at the activity levels in-between sitting down and full-on exercise, such as cutting the lawn, fixing up the car, performing home repairs, or going hunting. The study lasted for 12 years and involved 4,232 older adults aged 60 and above.

 

The results showed that people who were more active on a daily basis had the lowest risk of a heart attack, but those who were merely active without exercising still had a lower risk than those doing nothing. In particular, being active cut the risk of heart attack or stroke by 27 per cent and death from any cause by 30 per cent. They also found that sitting for long periods of time may lower people’s metabolic rate, and may alter hormones produced in muscle tissues.

 

"A generally active daily life had important beneficial associations with cardiovascular health and longevity in older adults, which seemed to be regardless of regular exercise." the researchers wrote. These findings have ‘high clinical relevance’ among older people who spend more time sitting on the sofa or lying on bed. In the study, older adults tended to spend more time being sedentary than people in other age groups.

 

Physical activity linked to longer life

 

In a BBC interview, Dr Tim Chico, honorary consultant cardiologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said "Although this study only examined people aged 60, it is reasonable to assume that the more active someone is throughout their life, the lower their risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

"The message I take from this study is simple. If you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, be more active. Don’t sit down for long periods; get up on your feet and do something you enjoy that involves moving around."

 

More Benefits

 

Not only does gardening promote long life. Past studies have shown that it also has the power to boost well-being and improve mental health. Just this year, a 17-year study by the University of Exeter suggests that parks, gardens and green spaces in urban areas can improve the wellbeing and quality of life of people living there.

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A dozen ideas to brighten up your day

Bad day? Just because your day didn’t start right doesn’t mean it will not end right. Even during the most stressful situations, it’s good to know that there are easy, quick remedies for your mood problems. Research suggests that life’s circumstances only account for 10% of happiness. About 40% of our happiness is influenced by what we do ‘deliberately’ to make ourselves happy.

Try these quick, easy mood boosters and see for yourself!

 

Munch on a handful of walnuts - Nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which according to the researchers at University of Pittsburgh, have mood-enhancing effects. Don’t want nuts? Sneak salmon into your salad!

 

Take off the clutter -Those crumpled paper, chocolate bar wrappers and empty cups or bottles on your desk could be adding to your stress levels. According to Elaine Aron, PhD, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, clutter can ‘make you feel like a failure’. If you don’t have the pleasure of time to conduct deep cleaning, just make sure you get and put things back on their right places.

 

Do something outside of your comfort zone - Wear an  orange lipstick, put a temporary tattoo on your ankle, or change your hairstyle. Injecting a little silliness in your daily life can significantly improve your mood and well-being.

 

Smile - Even if you don’t want to. Studies show that muscular changes can elevate mood as good posture does. If you act like a happy person, there’s a good, good chance that you will be one.  If you can't fake a smile, putting a pencil between your teeth will activate those smile muscles and replicate it for you.

 

Shake it out - A 5-10 minute exercise can do you a long way when it comes to improving your mood and sense of well-being. So get moving. Dance to a track, march your way through the commercials or just walk outside.

 

Scan your old photos on your phone - Better yet, make a photo album. There’s really something special about flipping through old photos. Basically, they bring back good memories – those special moments (birthdays, anniversaries, dates, and bonding moments) that will surely paint a smile on your face.

 

Do someone else a favour - A large body of research tells us that acts of kindness can dramatically uplift our happiness. Just recently, researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School found that people who volunteer had lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being.

 

Get your daily dose of sunshine - When the sun beams from the corner, go out and feel its revitalising warmth and mood-enhancing light! Sunlight increases the level of vitamin D in your body, which in turn, keeps your serotonin (feel-good hormone) level high.

 

Stretch to your toes - This loosens up your hip joints, where most people store tension.  According to the study by Spanish researchers, a daily, short stretching routine can significantly reduce anxiety and increase feelings of well-being. They also found that stretching reduces bodily pain and exhaustion, and boosts vitality, mental health, general health and flexibility.

 

Turn on your music player - Listen to your favourite upbeat song and experience a significant improvement in your mood within seconds!

 

Get a power nap - Feeling tired, exhausted and drowsy? A 30-minute nap will do. Push your chair away from your desk, put up your feet and close your eyes and sleep the bad mood away.

 

Look at the bright side - If a friend or loved one is driving you crazy, take a few minutes thinking about the good things he or she has done for you in the past. That will make you feel better fast and more likely to forgive.

Any of these could take a few minutes and could shake off that mood.

 

 

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8 tips to keep a marriage happy

There’s no 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. Clarify if you need to, so you completely understand what he or she is trying to tell you.  Many couples think they have heard it before and start to talk over their partner so never really hear what is being said.

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.  This may seem a bit false but marriage needs effort and work on both sides.

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.  Don't leave it until one of you has packed a suitcase and is threatening to leave.  Going before it gets to that stage makes the changes easier.

Even though there are always going to be problems in your relationship, both of you can do something to minimise their impact on your marriage and make your relationship stronger and more satisfying.

 

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Ways to help cope with major life changes

They say nothing is constant in this world but change. In life, changes are inevitable. You will meet new people, you will lose some. You will grow old and there will be things you won’t be able to do anymore. You will achieve new accomplishments, but you will also encounter failures. All these changes, big or small, can have a dramatic impact on your life, health and well-being.

Dealing with major changes in life is not easy, but there are ways to stay intact and strong. Whilst these changes can make you feel anxious, uneasy, or depressed, they also provide opportunities for growth and personal development. Whether you’re moving to a new place, leaving for college, shifting career, or experiencing a divorce, here are tips and insights that you might find useful.

Acceptance

When dealing with a negative transition like a divorce, an accident, or a chronic illness, one of the most usual responses of people is to deny such change. Whilst it can be difficult, the best way to deal with major changes in life is to face them and acknowledge the fact that they are happening. Instead of staying with what you have left behind, focus on getting through the transition and be hopeful about a better, brighter tomorrow. But in order to do that, you have to accept first that your life would never be the same again.

Let the pain in and have a wallow

You won’t be able to accept the change if you are afraid to experience pain. It is perfectly fine to be emotional in times like this. You are not a superhuman. You are fragile and vulnerable to pain, just like everyone else. Cry if you want and pity yourself. Allow yourself to feel the anger, frustration, disappointment, regret and all those negative emotions, but only for a short period of time. If you spend more time on them, you won’t be able to adapt with the change. Remember, your goal is to move on. Let the pain linger, but only for a while.

Understand that change is part of life

Sometimes, when we are going through difficult changes, we think that we are dealing with something that no one can ever understand. We tend to think we are very unfortunate to have experienced difficulties. But again, change is inevitable. Every day, millions of people around the world deal with change. It is also difficult for them. Knowing that you are not alone in this battle can give you strength and hope that just like the others, you too can efficiently deal with it.

Know you can always adapt to the new change in your life

We, humans, have an amazing ability to adapt. Our brain is flexible enough to help us deal with challenges in life.  You may have seen people with disabilities being able to do things like healthy, completely able people would. You may have known people who were able to find a new love after a major divorce or breakup. You may feel so helpless now. But it’s going to be temporary. Over time, the pain will subside.

Find time to reflect and think things through

Changes offer us opportunities to discover ourselves even further and improve our ways. Whether it’s writing about your feelings, taking long walks on your own, meditating, or talking to a therapist – find time for self-reflection. It can help you determine the root cause of your worries or fears, and help you come up with solutions to your problems. Self-refection allows you to recognise unhelpful emotions from the helpful ones, and be able to think more clearly and deal with the situation in the best possible way.

Take things one at a time

When dealing with major changes, even the smallest issues like the clutter in your house can feel overwhelming. It can be helpful to be more organised. Plan ahead. List down what you need to accomplish for a particular day and allocate enough time for them. Set small, achievable goals. Accomplishments, no matter how small they are, can boost your confidence and self-esteem, which in turn help you deal with changes better.

Find someone to talk to

Talking to a friend, a family member or someone who had gone through a similar life transition you are going through today is really helpful. If you don’t know of anyone, consider joining a support group or talking to a professional therapist. These people can give you advice on dealing with change.

Try to think positive!

Believe that every change has something beneficial to bring to your life. Try not to focus your attention to the negative side, but to the opportunities change could provide you. Being optimist can do you a long way.

Changes – positive or negative – are part of life. When the change you’re going through is causing you too much pain and distress, follow these tips. 

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Wouldn't we all like to live to be 100 years old?

Whilst there are several factors that affect life expectancy (including genes), there’s no doubt that health and lifestyle are among those that play a huge role. There’s no precise formula to living long. But there are plenty of ways to increase your lifespan and quality of life. Here are some health and life practices that many centenarians incorporate in their daily life.

Top of the list would be to stop worrying. According to Thomas Perls, MD, founder and director of the New England Centenarian Study (which has conducted extensive research on longevity), “part of living to 100 seems to require having the right personality”. Of the centenarians they studied, many scored low in neuroticism. Dr Perls said it means they tend not to dwell on things. Furthermore, centenarians manage their stress efficiently. They don’t internalise stress, which has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and dementia.

Maybe mum was right telling you to eat your greens. Eating vegetables does have a lot of health benefits. Aside from keeping you strong and sharp, it helps flush away the toxins in your body which promote ageing. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a diet rich in fats and proteins from vegetables instead of meat may help lower the risk of heart disease.

Simply brushing your teeth can have a big affect. Yes, your oral health could be affecting your life expectancy. Scientists at the U.S. Centres for Disease Control found a strong link between dental health problems like gum inflammation and gingivitis and heart disease – the number one killer in the world.

Keeping in touch with friends. Getting old doesn’t have to affect your social life. Social connection is vital to your physical and psychological health. A 1988 study published in the journal Science suggests that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than smoking, obesity and high blood pressure. On the other hand, strong social connections increase our lifespan by 50 per cent, researchers at Brigham Young University have found.

Don’t smoke. Quit if you are already smoking. According to Dr Perls, this deadly habit automatically cuts 15 years off your life! Smoking is among the leading causes of preventable disease. Unfortunately, many people smoke, especially the young ones. The good news is that if you quit at the age of 35, your life expectancy is just slightly lower than those who never smoked. And if you stop at 50, your risk of dying from smoking-related disease would have been reduced by 50 per cent!

Stay lean and trim. You will rarely see obese centenarians. One of the keys to long life is to stay fit and lean. In 2009, researchers at Oxford University found that moderate obesity, which is very common nowadays, reduces life expectancy by about 3 years, whilst severe obesity can shorten life span by almost 10 years. What’s the antidote to obesity? Aside from observing a proper diet, make regular exercise a priority. Even leisure-time physical activity has been linked to longer life expectancy. In a 2012 study published in the journal PLOS Medicine, scientists found that adding low amounts of physical activity in an individual’s daily routine, such as 75 minutes of brisk walking per week, was associated with increased longevity.  Getting active doesn't have to mean hard work just not being a couch potato.

Don’t skip breakfast. They say it is the ‘most important meal of the day’. Not only does it give you energy for your physical activities, but eating a healthy breakfast may keep your insulin, glucose and cholesterol levels stable, and therefore can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses.

Get ‘enough’ sleep. In 2010, scientists from the University of Warwick and Federico II University Medical School in Naples, Italy, found that sleeping less than six hours a night could increase the risk of early death whilst sleeping more than 9 hours can also cut down life expectancy. So how much time should you spend on sleeping? We can assume it’s about 7 to 8 hours.

Drink moderately. They say a glass of red wine a day may keep the doctor away. Just be sure you don’t go beyond the recommended alcohol intake. A 2013 study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that people who drink heavily and smoke may show early ageing of the brain.

If you followed these ideas you may strive for a long life but also a happy and healthy life.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Lynn Wulcko

Heathbury

Baker's Lane

Chilcompton

BA3 4EW

07531 555 878

 

 

 

I am a fully insured and Registered Member of BACP

 

 

 


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