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 4EW07531 555 878 or email lynnwulcko@yahoo.co.uk 

Negative thoughts and how to beat them

Does one thought lead into a whole stream of negativity until it becomes so big that it seems to become the truth?

While sticking your fingers in your ears may help you, here's more ideas to think about that might be more useful........

As a small negative thought can escalate and drain your of energy and keep you from being in the present moment, try to not give in to negative thoughts.  The more attention you give them, the stronger they become.  Imagine them as a small ball rolling along the ground.  The more you pay attention to them, the bigger and faster that ball becomes.

If you imagine that same ball but as a positive thought, it could blossom into a wonderful feeling filled with potential.

Here's a list of some of the things that can be helpful.  Maybe try one.

 

1. Meditate or do yoga

Meditation or doing yoga focusing your attention of breathing and moving so your mind doesn't have to space to focus on negative themes.  It helps you stay in the present moment instead of jumping into the future and what might happen, dwelling on past events that haven't turned out how you wanted them, etc.

 

2. Smile

It really does help change your mood and relieve stress. You can trick your brain into thinking you are happy because you are smiling .... so it starts thinking you are.  

 

3. Surround yourself with positive people

 

Calling a friend who can give you constructive and loving feedback on your thoughts.  When you’re stuck in a negative spiral, talk to people who can put things into perspective and won’t feed your negative thinking.

4. Change the tone of your thoughts from negative to positive

For example, instead of thinking, “We are going to have a hard time adjusting to our living situation,” think, “We will face some challenges in our living situation, but we will come up with solutions that we will both be happy with.”

 

5. Don’t play the victim. You create your life—take responsibility

 

The way you think becomes the way you act.  If you are thinking you are stuck then you will become stuck thinking like that.  Try to think of it as 'I was stuck'.  Even if our living situation becomes unbearable, there is always a way out. You will always have the choice to make change happen, if need be.

6. Help someone

 

Take the focus away from you and do something nice for another person. If you can make something for a friend, donate something to charity or visit an elderly neighbour, it helps takes your mind off your worries and makes you feel better for helping someone else.

7. Remember that no one is perfect and let yourself move forward

It’s easy to dwell on your mistakes. The voice saying 'I felt terrible that I acted this way' or 'I wasted that opportunity'. The only thing you can do now is learn from your mistakes and move forward.

8. Sing

Try belting out along with the radio.  You don't have to remember all the lyrics but the deep breathing involved, the chance to show our feelings and be loud can be an amazing stress relief.

 

9. List five things that you are grateful for right now

 

Being grateful helps appreciate what you already have. Focusing on the good things you have helps balance things out.

10. Remember this quote

 

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

 

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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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Are you finding your relationship feels strained this year?  Here are a few ways that can help you re-connect with your loved one.

Try making time every day to do this exercise.  Try having five minutes when you can connect in the five ways below.  Each section is designed to help us understand each other that little bit better.

 

APPRECIATIONS: Take turns acknowledging each other, sincerely and specifically. This isn’t the time to simply say, “You’re a great mother,” or “I appreciate that you’re kind and caring,” or slipping in requests, such as, “I’d appreciate you calling me next time you’re going to be late,” or “I appreciate you remembering to take out the trash — tomorrow.” Be precise and authentic. For example, “I appreciate all the effort you put into making a really wonderful, delicious dinner last night, especially that you cooked things you knew the kids would love,” or “I appreciate the text messages and pictures you’ve been sending me during the day to connect with me and show me our adorable baby!“No matter what stage or situation your relationship is in – even (perhaps especially) during periods of stress, crisis, change, or uncertainty — we can always find something to genuinely appreciate in another person. Be generous in your acknowledgments and affirmations of those whose lives you witness. Your heartfelt words will help maintain goodwill, boost self-worth and self-esteem, and create an environment in which you can work together to constructively address the challenges, obstacles and differences that are a natural part of every active relationship.

NEW INFORMATION: Be intentional about keeping each other up-to-date on what’s happening in your life, whether it’s something significant or relatively minor. For example, “The kids want to go to Granny's for dinner tonight,” or “I heard someone else also got sick from the burger van in the high street," or “Veronica is going leaving work tomorrow and I’m thinking about how we’re going to adjust to her leaving,” or “I read an interesting article in the newspaper this morning about a new exercise class that is starting in the hall and feel I want to try it,” or “I lost my balance during my walk yesterday and I’m thinking about making a doctor’s appointment,” or “Your sister called to say she she’ll arrive next Wednesday and can’t wait to see you and the baby.“

Sharing the events of our lives, including allowing significant others to know what we’re thinking about and feeling, is vital to the experience of bonding – a need we all have as humans. Too often, even in a world with technologies for sharing information that were unimaginable not long ago, couples and families can lose each other in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives with consequences that can last a lifetime. Keep each other up-to-date.

PUZZLES: What are you wondering about that’s connected to someone important in your life? What assumptions are you making that you haven’t checked out that could be affecting your own attitude, beliefs or actions?

Frequently couples on the verge of separation or divorce have made huge assumptions about how the other person seeks the world, their prior actions towards each other were based on a web of assumptions and reactions that weren’t validated. 

Puzzles is your chance to ask questions about anything you’re wondering about. It doesn’t mean you’ll get answers – or that you’ll necessarily like the answers you get — but it’s an important step to make sure you’re not making and acting upon inaccurate assumptions.

For example, “I notice you haven’t seemed very happy this week, I’m wondering what’s going on?” or “I noticed you looking at new cars on the Internet? Are you thinking about trading in your car?” or “Annie said she thought she saw you at the pub having lunch yesterday? Was that you? Who were you having lunch with?“

As you’re learning to re-connect with each other and especially if your relationship is in a fragile state, be patient with each other; begin with smaller issues to give yourselves a chance to become comfortable with the process, develop good speaking and listening skills, and clearly establish good will.

After you share a puzzle, the listener can respond with information to answer or shed additional light on your question, can let you know that they’ll give your question some thought and would like to talk about it later (as long as later actually comes), or can simply thank you for sharing and leave it at that. Asking questions doesn’t require the listener to answer, but it does offer the opportunity.

No matter what the issue, remember to stay grounded in goodwill, respect, empathy, and openness to learning. If the answer to a puzzle is going to take more than a few minutes, it’s better to schedule time outside the of this daily check in for a discussion.  The idea of this daily check in is that is a relatively brief period of time that you can consistently devote to each other.

CONCERNS WITH RECOMMENDATIONS: We are all unique. Differences are a natural part of every relationship, very much influenced by our individual perspective, personal history, and life experiences, as well as our physical, mental, and emotional well-being at any given moment in time. Rarely are differences themselves destructive to relationships; frequently, however, the ways couples, families and co-workers deal with differences is destructive.

Significant research has indicated that you can predict a great deal about the future of a couple’s relationship by watching the first minute or two of how they deal with conflict. When one person or the other responds to someone’s expression of disappointment, sadness, frustration, anger, or concern in a way that adds more fuel to the fire (actively or passively), we eventually deprive ourselves of the opportunity to fully know and accept each other, create an environment in which it’s safe to confide, grow, and work through concerns, and become closer through our successful navigation of the challenges woven throughout our love and life experiences. It’s vitally important to develop the habit of listening with empathy and a desire to understand when someone we love shares a concern.This is easier to do when we’re comfortable with our own sense of self-worth and can be quite difficult when our self-esteem is low.

When sharing a Concern with a Recommendation, be specific about the behavior you’re concerned about (don’t attack, judge, blame or criticize), say how you feel (not think) when the behavior happens, and ask for exactly what you want instead.

For example, “When we make plans to do something together and you change them 30 minutes before we’re supposed to go out, I feel sad and scared that I’m not important in your life. What I want instead is to talk through plans fully when we make them and that if something comes up where you think it will be necessary to change our plans, you bring that up with me at least a day in advance,” or “When I come home after a long day and driving through an hour of traffic and the first thing you do is begin telling me things that you want me to do, I feel frustrated that I don’t have time to first unwind and scared that I can’t do it all. What I want instead is that you give me an hour after I get home to just relax and get settled before bringing up things you want me to do.”

As the listener, after you’ve heard a concern with recommendation, you can answer (yes, no, or yes with conditions, i.e. here’s what I’d need from you), schedule a time to follow-up with a more extensive conversation outside of the cgeck in, or simply thank the speaker for sharing, knowing that you now have more information about what you can do to be a pleasure in the life of someone who is important to you.

WISHES, HOPES, DREAMS: There’s a popular myth that says when you really want something, you should close your eyes, wish for what you want, and not tell anyone for fear that then it won’t come true. As volumes of research and much popular literature argues, the exact opposite is more often true. Creating a life in which our dreams have an opportunity to come true involves actively (and passionately) sharing them with others; enrolling those closest to us to support and encourage the fulfillment of our goals and ambitions; and waking up each day learning the lessons and taking the actions necessary to breathe life and potential into those dreams we most desire. Whether it’s the special meal you’d like this weekend, the baby you’d like to create together, the test you want to pass, the holiday you want to enjoy, the home by the sea where you hope to retire, or anything in between, regularly sharing your wishes, hopes and dreams – and encouraging others to share with you – brings us closer to each other, exponentially increases chances for our dreams to come true, and deepens our experiences of love, intimacy and connection.

Try spending 5 minutes each day for a month to see how your relationship unfolds.

 

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Keys for a successful life

 

Firstly, what does that mean to you? For some it may mean a life without money worries, others want to achieve promotion and feel powerful in their company and some want to leave a legacy for which they might be remembered.

All of those, and others, are perfectly valid ideals so how can one piece of advice help you achieve that goal.  That’s the dilemma.  Any one piece of advice is useful but maybe you need to listen to lots of inspirational people who have achieved their individual ideal of success and blend their suggestions into your own mix.

Some ideas that you might like to think about …..

Think BIG

There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires to people all over the world.  His work in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican and his statue of David.

Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist. Imagine if he felt his original idea of the statue of David was too big and he made it only 2 feet high.  Would it have been as impressive?  I think not.

Also, being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

Many times, people decide to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier.

Find what you love and love what you do

Imagine that you get to do something you love every day and you get paid for doing it!  Oprah Winfrey said ‘You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it’. 

 

If you are in a job that you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

Even if you’re not successful, you can still fill your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

Work Life Balance

All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

Learn how to fail

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

Be the person that does things

Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

Applying this to you?

Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

Believe that you can do it

Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

Keep dreaming!

Have a Positive Mental Attitude

From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America once said ‘Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.’

Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.  You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

Hard work pays off

You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration”.

True success comes from work.

You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

Trust in your own gut instincts

In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

If you put all those ideas into practice and you work hard every day with a confidence in your heart that you will achieve things, then go for it!!

 

 

 

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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Mindfulness - what is it?

 

The Wikipedia definition is as follows:-

….. mindfulness is defined as moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, characterized mainly by "acceptance" - attention to thoughts and feelings without judging whether they are right or wrong.

Whether you think that sounds simple or incredibly difficult then you are right!  Trying not to judge ourselves, trying not to imaging how other people perceive our actions or not second guessing what we ‘should’ be doing in a situation can be incredibly hard for some people.  We all have an inner voice either urging us on or questioning our abilities so image you can just ‘be’.  Can you begin to think how it would feel if that questioning voice was just a whisper which we could pass over and get on with our lives – enjoying every second of it?

 

Mindfulness encompasses various methods of reminding ourselves of the moment-by-moment feelings, thoughts, emotions and physical sensations so we can be more in tune with our bodies.  Maybe during these darker months when we can’t get out and about so much, how about getting ‘in’ more – in tune with ourselves.

 

On YouTube there are 1000s of mindfulness videos guiding you though body scan meditations, relaxation techniques, explanations of processes, in fact anything you might want to learn.  Why not treat yourself and go somewhere exceptional?

 

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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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Spring has sprung and the weather might be getting better so can being outside and around nature affect my mental health?

 

 

Simple answer is yes.  

 

 

Spending time in green spaces or bring nature into your everyday life can benefit physical wellneing.  For example, doing things like growing foor or flowers, exercises, being around animals can have lots of positive effects on us.  It can improve our moods, help reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and anger, it can help us take time out of our busy lives to make us feel more relaxed, being outside can help improve our physical health, this can improve our confidence and self esteem, help us be more active, help us make new connections with neighbours being out and about and this can provide peer support for times when we need it.

 

Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems including anxiety and depression.  For example, research into ecotherapy (a form of therapy which involves doing activities outside in nature) has shown it can help with moderate depression.  Being outside in natural light can also be helpful if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects people during particular seasons or times of the year.

 

Try taking a small walk around your neighbourhood.  When you are walking, try to engage with what is around you.  Can you feel your feet as they press against the road or pavement?  What sounds can you hear?  Is there any birdsong or traffic noise?  Be mindful of feeling the sun (or wind or rain) on your face as you walk.  Are there any smells along your walk.  Being more present in your body than in your head and your thoughts can feel very relaxing on even a short walk.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lynn Wulcko

07531 555 878

 

Heathbury

Baker's Lane

Chilcompton

BA3 4EW

 

 

 

 

I am a fully insured and Registered Member of BACP

 

 

 


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