Lynn Wulcko Counselling Heathbury, Baker's Lane, Chilcompton, BA3 4EW 07531 555 878 or email
               Lynn Wulcko Counselling Heathbury, Baker's Lane, Chilcompton, BA3 4EW 07531 555 878 or email 

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.




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.




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.


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. 


As we are being snowed in with the 'Beast from the East' and Storm Emma we are all hearing of communities looking out for each other.  So why do we worry about each other?

We all know the health basics: eat fruits and vegetables, exercise, and get enough rest and sleep. It appears though, from psychological perspective, that these are not enough for us to survive. Being ‘social beings’, we also need to establish social connections. That is, make friends with others.

Plenty of studies tell us that social connection plays a significant role in our physical and mental health. People who have satisfying relationships have been shown to be happier and have fewer health problems. What’s more they tend to have longer lifespan than their less social peers, according to the 2010 study published in the Harvard Women’s Health Watch. Another study, carried out by Steve Cole of Carnegie Mellon University showed that the genes impacted by social connection also code for immune function and inflammation, which helps people recover from illness faster and lengthen their life. What’s more, friendly individuals are at a lower risk of anxiety disorder and depression, reports a 2001 study which appeared in the Journal of Counselling Psychology. They also have higher self-esteem, and are more empathic, trusting and cooperative to others, which in turn further deepen their social connections. 

Are we wired to be social?

The question is – does our ability to connect with others simply a product of human intelligence or is it something that has been hardwired in our brain for so long? In his article posted on Psychology Today, Matthew D. Lieberman, Ph.D., a Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioural Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), explains:

"If social intelligence were a random application of our general intelligence, we would expect to see the same brain regions associated with both kinds of intelligence. That would be a sensible story if it were true, but it isn’t. The brain regions reliably associated with general intelligence and its related cognitive abilities, like working memory and reasoning, tend to be on the outer (or lateral) surface of the brain, whereas thinking about other people and oneself utilizes mostly medial (or midline) regions of the brain.”

"Moreover, neural networks that support social and non-social thinking often work at cross-purposes—much like the two ends of a neural seesaw. If we look at the brain when a person isn’t being asked to do anything in particular, we see the social cognition network turned on.”

By taking a closer look at the human evolution, we will see that back in the old age, our ancestors benefited from making alliances with other people. Those who lived alone tend to die earlier, not from diseases but from wild animals. On the other hand, those who lived in groups had greater odds of survival. The logic is clear. Someone could alert the others if there’s a predator, whilst others can get ready to attack.  From here, our need for social connection appears to have rooted from our ‘survival instincts’. In the modern times, whilst there are no more predators to be afraid of, we seek social connection to find people to depend on more than anyone in the world, disclose our innermost secrets and vulnerabilities, and obtain support.

But despite its importance to our health and survival, sociological research suggests that social connectedness is declining at an alarming rate, suggests a study by the University of Arizona and Duke University. This may explain why there’s an increase in loneliness, isolation and alienation as reported by several studies. In Britain, experts believe that the country may be suffering from ‘loneliness epidemic’. According to the charity Campaign to End Loneliness, the number of people who described themselves as ‘sometimes healthy’ has increased by 20 per cent, whilst 10 per cent of adults over 65 are ‘chronically lonely’.

Furthermore, the rise in the rates of depression and stress-related chronic conditions, according to the University College London, could be blamed to the physical and social lack of contact with others. In this study, the researchers followed 6,500 British people over 50 from year 2004 to 2012. They found that the most socially isolated of this group were 26 per cent more likely to die during the study period than those with active social lives. The results were the same even after taking into account other risk factors like mortality, age and illness.

More recently, a study by the University of Michigan suggests that ‘social rejection’ activates same areas of the brain that are stimulated when we experience physical pain. Another research by the University of California Los Angeles revealed that stress due to conflicts in relationship results to increased inflammation levels in the body.

Cultivating Friendships

As all this overwhelming body of research suggests, we should give extra efforts establishing social connections. But are you too shy to meet people? Hush and don’t worry. The interesting fact is that you don’t need too many friends. A few would be okay as long as you have quality relationships with them. Just because one of your friends on Facebook has over 1,000 ‘friends’ doesn’t mean he or she is bound to experience the great benefits of social connection. In fact, studies suggest that social media could be making us feel more socially isolated – opposite of what it should be doing. One example is the study by Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan. He found that rather than making us feel connected, social media interaction contributes to loneliness and reduces overall life-satisfaction.

Here’s the other good news – even if you are an introvert or a loner, you still can reap the benefits of social connectedness! You ask, how’s that possible? Basically, a sense of connection is internal. Researchers agree that the health benefits of social connectedness are linked to your subjective sense of connection. That means if you ‘feel’ connected to others deep inside; you are bound to experience the amazing rewards of social connection. Nevertheless, you still want to consider meeting new people and establishing positive friendships. It really is worth trying. And if you are already ‘blessed’ with good friends, take time to thank them. Invite them for a cup of coffee or a dinner perhaps. It’s not enough that you chat and text. Personal interactions have greater impact on the quality of your social relationships.  So maybe go outside, knock on a neighbour's door and see if they are OK.... and see where it leads.




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.



New Year 2018 and a new start.....

Each New Year we can start a new chapter in our life and if you have made mistakes in the past that had caused you to feel unworthy of enjoying life to the fullest, then you may need to forgive yourself. All of us make mistakes, so there is no need to beat yourself up over them. It’s part of being human.  Also, if you have been carrying around a huge baggage of emotional hurt because of a childhood trauma or the like, it may be time to learn to forgive yourself.

How to begin to Forgive Yourself Right Now

1. Accept yourself and your flaws.

You are okay as you are, even with your flaws! Your flaws, rather than making you “less” of a person, are what make you who you are. There is no such thing as perfect; everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes help you learn and grow as a person, sometimes we get it wrong before we can get it right. You must accept yourself exactly as you are now if you are to progress in life.

2. Talk to someone.

It really helps to share your baggage with someone you trust. Someone who can provide a safe space for you to release and listen without prejudice. When you’re upset at yourself, emotions can cloud your reasoning abilities. A friend will often point out a reason why you deserve to forgive yourself that you never would have seen yourself.

3. Do the best friend test.

Imagine your best friend had done exactly what you did and then came to you for advice. What would you tell them? You would comfort and reassure them, and tell them not to be so hard on themselves. You would tell them that everyone makes mistakes.

4. Be kinder to yourself

We often give ourselves “self talk”, that we would never, ever say to another, even those we dislike. We can be our worst critic, reminding ourselves of every error and mistake whilst forgetting everything we are getting right!  Question the self talk. If you would say better things to a friend who had done the same, say that now to yourself, even as you look at yourself in a mirror.

5. Be your own best friend!

Decide from this day onwards as soon as you catch yourself saying those harsh words you immediately say in your mind the word “STOP!” Then replace them with the words you might say to a dear friend in the same position. Feel how kinder that is, and how much you are beginning to feel like you actually do like yourself more, you may have to do this a lot because you are forming a new positive habit.

6. Find the positive in the negative

Take stock of the situation. Sometimes when we look back we have done some of our most important work or our most important life changes, after mistakes, failures or even after a disaster. Good and bad happens in life sometimes.

7. Ask a good question to focus on better solutions

Know there is something important to learn here. Ask what this has taught you, or what can you do differently next time. This will focus you back on track again in the right direction.

8. Move on

Seek help if you need it, and place your best foot firmly forward, but don’t stay stuck. If you have gaps in your knowledge or even have no clue what to do next, don’t be afraid to seek the help you need. This could be a good coach, a trusted therapist, a knowledgeable friend or someone who already excels in what it is you now want to achieve. You will get the results you want quicker using what others have already learned (they will have already made a lot of mistakes along the way, so you can avoid the same pitfalls)

9. Make amends if you want/need to and it’s safe to do so

You may feel like you need to make amends. For some this may be a simple, a daunting or impossible task, some may want to just let the whole thing go. Usually when we are human enough to admit our mistakes and be vulnerable, people are often kinder than we might imagine. It’s when people refuse to admit what they have done that we stay angry. Making amends may not be possible if you do not wish to or feel ready to, or if it is someone from your past who has now passed away.  If you can’t do it in person, you could lighten the load you are carrying by writing the whole thing out in a letter to them. If it’s not appropriate to send it you can simply burn it, as a symbol of releasing the issue. This can also be done if it would feel too difficult to face someone and apologise right now. Forgiveness is also about bringing a sense of peace to our minds.

10. Do something positive for someone

Do a kind gesture for another who perhaps could never pay you back, this may not feel necessary to most but it reflects your change of heart, and will help you to sow good and positivity into this wonderful world, of which we are all a part. This will help especially if we are not able to forgive the person in person, for whatever reason. The positive ripples we may make from this may reach a long way.

After all that work you may like to look back and reflect on what you have achieved and then make time to celebrate.

Think of how you would congratulate a good friend. Even if it’s a quiet celebration or a small treat for yourself do it. It will encourage your new positive habits of rewarding the good that you do and being your own best friend.  




Holidays and how to survive them......


Whilst the Christmas holidays can be the most wonderful times of the year, they can be very stressful for many. Well, a lot of things need to be worried about – the gifts, foods, family gatherings, reunions, parties, etc. We all have this desire to meet other people’s expectations, impress them, and make them happy.

But all these can make us feel anxious and stressed to the max so that we end up not enjoying the holiday season at all. You might ask how you can avoid or reduce this, one effective strategy is to stay mindful. What is mindfulness? It is quite simply paying full whole-hearted attention. Being mindful allows you to keep track of your emotions, thoughts and feelings. It helps you find balance and prevent yourself from experiencing stress and anxiety.

So in the busiest time of the year, how can you stay mindful? Here are some tips for you to try.

Define a mission for celebrating holidays.  

Take some time to think through your holidays. What do the holidays mean to you? What’s your ideal holiday like? What are you most thankful for? What were your most cherished holiday memories and what can you do to re-create those memories? Focusing in on what you want and what really means something special to you helps you to get exactly that in your holiday.

Don’t forget your “me-time”.

It may be the busiest time of the year but you still don’t want to forget about yourself. Make “me-time” a daily habit. Even for just 30 minutes, engage in activities that relax you, nourish your creativity and give you a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment. Having a warm bath and candles, going early to bed with a good book to read a few chapters, watching your favourite film again, etc. When you feel calm and energised, you can perform you responsibilities and carry out your holiday plans in a more efficient way.

Think before you spend.

The financial side of the holiday season can be quite a burden. It’s easy to get spurred by advertisements, and holiday sales and specials. But over-spending can leave you feeling distressed and in debt.  So before you handover your credit card, think and plan first. Ask yourself – what do I want to give this person? How much am I willing to spend and how much can I afford to spend? It’s a great strategy to list down names of the people you wish to give gifts and the items you think they would appreciate the most. It’s not always about the price. Doing the sums prior to gift shopping can save you from financial burden comes January.

Consider doing mini meditations.

It can be difficult but it’s definitely worth trying. Before shopping, before you start your day, before you start preparing the foods, before attending a social gathering, and before everything else. Spare at least 5 or 10 minutes to forget about your worries, plans and all other things – just empty your mind, sit comfortably and focus your attention to your breathing. Then conduct a body check – feel where the tension is and relax that area(s). Pay attention to the now and you will find peace of mind despite the hassle and stress the holidays bring.

Make giving more mindful.

Do you give just because others expect you to or because you find joy in it? When you write Christmas cards this year, take time to say a few words that express the reasons why you love or appreciate the recipient. This is the best time to practise gratitude. Maybe try writing a greeting card for yourself too. As you prepare for another year, take time to look back on the blessings you have received for the past 12 months. Congratulate yourself for being able to surpass the big challenges you have encountered this year and be thankful for the positive experiences you had. Read it every time you’re feeling anxious, tired or stressed.

Ask for help.

It’s perfectly okay to engage others and ask for help. You need to know your limitations – what you can and cannot do. Write your “to-do” list and assess what tasks you can do on your own and what you can pass on to others. Many family and friends are happy to help. You just have to ask.

Focus on people and relationships.

Don’t get too caught up in the kitchen workload. Come on, like everyone else, you also deserve to relax and enjoy. Sit down with your friends and family, start a conversation, laugh and enjoy the moment. Also, take time to establish new relationships and repair some broken fences. Call a friend or relative you haven’t spoken with for a long while and express your holiday greetings..

Christmas is a good time to practice mindfulness. Pay attention to each person you meet, and to every sensation you experience. And carry on the spirit of mindfulness as New Year comes.




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.


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.


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.


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.




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.


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.


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?


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.







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


Baker's Lane



07531 555 878




I am a fully insured and Registered Member of BACP