Over at the TLC Hub I have been working very closely with some of my clients and their mixed balloons of emotions metaphor. Do you resonate with any of these?
My Emotional Balloons...
I'm holding tight because they are mine,It’s what I do to keep myself fine,It’s the only word that I ever say,When people ask me how I’m feeling today.Am I fine? Am I? Though really?It’s what is expected, be positive! be cheery!But if I could name all the emotions I really feel,Then would it make me more congruent, more real?
So here we go let me hold on tight,To allow my balloons to float into sight,Sometimes what I really want to say,Is actually, I’m not really feeling that great today!I’m feeling scared, anxious, sad, and worried,I’m feeling angry, empty, Lost, and hurried,I’m feeling tired, confused, not quite tip-topMy already deflated balloons are ready to pop.I’m feeling afraid, belittled, weary, small,I’m feeling lack-lustre about to fall,I’m feeling timid, fed up, overwhelmed, shakingI feel my balloons are at the point of breaking.I’m feeling low, and unenthusiastically berated,I’m feeling stressed, insecure, totally frustrated.I’m feeling unimportant, unheard, with dreadI’m holding my balloons by the merest of thread.I’m feeling so many different things today,A cacophony of balloons with no sound,… but hey,The emotions make all the noises they choose,I’m the dealer with the greatest hand to lose!My emotions are at the core of my being,They are all consuming they are all unseeing,So next time you ask me how I feel,Just pause for a sec… and think of my emotional deal.Try to look beyond to what I actually say,By noticing the emotional balloons stuck in my way,I’m hoping now that you really do see,This wall of complex emotions that make up me!!TLC HUB 2020
We all have them, we all carry them, and sometimes we just do not know what to do with them! Emotions are complicated parts of ourselves that can cause great happiness and complete despair! By naming and understanding our emotions it may unlock an awareness from within and provide an inner calmness. Quite frankly who does not want that!
Over the years much research has been carried out about our emotions. Some researchers argue that there are 8 main emotions, others say 6 but I am going to go that extra mile and go with 5. There are 5 core emotions that we carry as human beings. The rest have just become extended versions of these 5.
So What are Our Main Emotions?
The concept of core or “primary” emotions is not a new one. It is based on the premise that we, as humans, are “hardwired” with a defined set of basic emotions that have evolved in response to basic survival needs. However nothing is ever that simple is it? We are complex beings and therefore our emotions have inherently become complex too.
Now lets turn that 5 into over 100 hundred different emotions ‘Woah what’ I hear you say… There are three main factors which contribute to the complexity of labelling our emotions:
(1) The intensity in which we feel a core emotion can vary
(2) We can combine two or more core emotions at once
(3) We can mix core different emotions of varying intensities.
We can feel any of the core emotions with differing levels of intensity, and the intensity in which we feel any one of the five core emotions in and of itself establishes a new emotion. When emotional intensity is factored into the equation of labelling how we feel, we quickly expand beyond 5 core emotions into a spectrum of hundreds of emotions.
We rarely feel just one emotion at a time that would make life far too easy! Instead, our emotional experiences are typically made up of feeling a combination of emotions simultaneously. When this happens, the combined emotions establish a new emotion, with its own label.
For example using the diagram above, a feeling of angryand disgustresults in feelings of contempt, or a feeling of joy and fear results in feelings of surprise.
Emotions Are Complex – So Find a Simple Way to Describe Them
The problem with simplifying our experiences to only one of the 5 core emotions is that it often negates the intensity or complexity of how we really feel. With the range of emotions growing exponentially due to intensity and our ability to combine and mix emotions, the complexities in communicating to others how we feel also increases.
This is why it is so important to teach our young children about emotions, how complex they can be and how to label them appropriately.. Only when we understand how we use our 5 core emotions can we teach children so they can find the right label to best communicate what they truly really feel. The Disney Pixar movie Inside Out demonstrated the 5 core embodied emotions perfectly!
So How Do We Capture Our Emotions ?
Try to talk to those closest to you about what you are feeling/thinking.
Try to write them down in a notebook or a journal.
Try to capture them in the moment as they appear the negative ones too: sad, fearful, angry. We are taught as young children to repress our negative emotions. It then can make us feel guilty/shamed when we do use them!
Accept your emotions all of them it makes you more comfortable with them.
Try to embrace them as they come in and go with what you are feeling.
Try to not supress them as this will lead to more complex deep rooted emotions.
Give yourself some space by being kind to yourself. Time to adjust to what you are feeling.
If your feeling it say so, people always prefer an honest approach. ‘I can’t come to the cinema tonight as i’m feeling really sad because my cat died (own it!)
Knowing when to express your emotions- self regulation is the key. There is a time and place for everything. Shouting your head off in the middle of Waterloo Station is perhaps not the best way to express your emotions.
Look at the stressors in your life, the more stressed we become the more havoc stress plays on our emotions.
Wave goodbye to toxic friends and family, quite frankly if they make you feel less than then its time to get rid of the emotional baggage they leave you with! You are truly worth so much more.
Thanks for reading this blog hopefully it explained a bit about those complicated things called emotions!
It sounds like its should be a title for a movie that has you suspended at gripped at every turn, but actually 450 hours is very significant number over at the TLC HUb. Last years the Hub’s Director Nicky Bates was struggling to accrue the 100 hours needed to pass her foundation degree course in Humanisitc and Gestalt Counselling. Fast forward 1 year and she now has clocked up a staggering 457 hours which means she can now apply for BACP accreditation. This is fine recognition in the counselling world!
The TLC Hub is really going from strength to strength with 37 clients on their books, working with all sectors of the community such as Police, Army, Nurses, civil servants, teachers and many more. We have won major contacts with Local councils and have been working closely with community groups. On average we are receiving approximately 2-3 new enquires a week. At this rate we will be taken on more staff to assist with this busy quirky practice.
Really though, it seems today’s society is anything but kind! Following the recent tragic death of TV personality Caroline Flack on the 15th of February 2020, the TLC Hub would like to dedicate this blog to her and to all the other people who have committed suicide or are contemplating suicide.
Her Instagram post of the 5th of November ‘in a world where you can be anything be kind’ is now being used as a slogan on a t-shirt produced by fashion company In The Style. The t-shirt made 100k in the first day of launch and all the proceeds were donated to the Samaritans https://www.samaritans.org/. As a counsellor this fills my heart with joy in supporting mental health, but for Caroline, and for the millions of other people, it has sadly come far to late!
The Director of the TLC Hub uploaded the above Instagram post back in October 2018. Sadly 2 years on nothing has changed with suicide statics ever increasing. The Samaritans report that suicide figures in the UK in 2018, were 6,507 deaths by suicide (a rate of 11.2 deaths per 100,000 people). Overall, men accounted for three-quarters of UK deaths by suicide. The Statistics sadly highlights deaths by suicide are on an increase and rose by 10.9% in the UK in 2018.
So why is it so important to be kind?
Firstly and most importantly everyone on this planet matters. No matter of your race, ethnicity or background. This is known as humankind!
Everyone has a right to their own opinions, and the choices they choose to make.
Kindness is a quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
Being kind often requires courage and strength and is an interpersonal skill.
Devoting resources to others, rather than having more and more for yourself, brings about lasting well-being.
Kindness is a willingness to full-heartedly celebrate someone else’s successes and tell them so!
Kindness is also about telling the truth in a gentle way when doing so is helpful to the other person.
Kindness includes being kind to yourself, giving yourself the time and space you need for self-care. In order to look after others we must be kind to ourselves first.
it can help you make positive connection to others
Kindness can accelerate the healing process.
Kindness is an act of giving without the act of receiving.
It can boost someone’s self esteem, and someone’s self worth. Demonstrating the first point that everyone matters!
Kindness could create like a domino effect!
Have you heard of the term the domino effect? This can best be described as, a chain reaction that has a cumulative effect produced when one event sets off a of similar events. The term is best known as a mechanical effect and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes. It typically refers to a linked sequence of events where the time between successive events is relatively small. It can be used literally (an observed series of actual collisions) or metaphorically (causal linkages within systems such as global politics, society fads also known as the ripple effect). The term domino effect is used both to imply that an event is inevitable or highly likely (as it has already started to happen). You could offer that Caroline’s unprecedented t-shirt sell out has created a domino effect. Sadly though, she will never actually know how much she was truly loved by our KIND nation and our KIND hearts!
Useful links if you or someone you know is suicidal!
Talk to someone you trust
Let family or friends know what’s going on for you. They may be able to offer support and help keep you safe. There’s no right or wrong way to talk about suicidal feelings – starting the conversation is what’s important.
Who else you can talk to
If you find it difficult to talk to someone you know, you could:
call your GP – ask for an emergency appointment
call 111 out of hours – they will help you find the support and help you need
contact your mental health crisis team – if you have one
This stunning picture was taking at night using a special UV camera to demonstrate what light flowers emit that are not visible to the naked eye. This got me thinking about humans and what is not seen by the counsellor during the sessions.
What the Counsellor does not see is the client’s thoughts, the client’s fears or the depth of their presenting issue. The counsellor cannot possibly see the client’s vulnerability. You cannot see the courage it takes for the client to just sit there and not bolt right out of the door! We cannot see their anxiety, stress or the whirling thought processes. We cannot see OCD, depression or bi-polar.
As a counsellor we cannot possibly see the weight the client has been dragging around with them from their past into their here and now. Which could ultimately ruin their future. We cannot see the complicated layers they have built in the unconscious, often unavailable parts of their minds. We cannot see the trauma they have encountered or the pain they may have endured.
We cannot see their attachment style or how they bonded to an early care giver. We cannot see what love means to them, or how they possibly do or do not absorb it. We cannot see the often anxious fragility of their minds, or the terror that sits behind their eyes! We cannot see the loneliness that invades their core being.
What I see in my Gestalt capacity, is a person sat in front of me who is waiting to be seen!
It is said that January is the most difficult month of the year for some people. Is it fact or fiction read on to make up your own mind!
So the tree, the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations are down. The lounge looks sparse, and unwanted Christmas presents sit in neat piles in the corner of the room. We have returned to work, and the weather outside is dark and gloomy. The wallet and credit card have taken a massive hammering at the not so discounted sales, and whilst the embers of Christmases past stay lingering in your mind, is it any wonder that January is deemed the hardest month of the year!
Fact- January is the second month of winter gaining between 90 seconds and two minutes of daylight each day.
Fact-January’s reputation as a month of endings and beginnings has carried on throughout history. The fact that we have 365 days to write a new chapter can only be a good thing!
Fiction-Blue Monday is the name given to the third week in January claiming it to be the most depressing day of the year. The concept was first publicised as part of a 2005 press release from holiday company Sky Travel, which claimed to have calculated the date using an equation.
However depression suffers will know it is not that simple! A statement on Mind’s websites says: “Here at Mind, we think it’s dangerously misleading.
“Those of us who live with depression know that those feelings aren’t dictated by the date.
“Implying that they are perpetuates the myth that depression is just ‘feeling a bit down’, something that doesn’t need to be taken seriously.”
Fiction- New year new me! Wrong same you different perspectives maybe? We all do it… this is the year that I will loose weight, save for my dream holiday, be dry for January, join the gym. Why does it have to be just January why can we not have dreams and aspirations all year round!
SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder
Is this really a thing? Do people suffer from lack of daylight hours? Where did it even stem from?
Fact- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter.
The exact cause of SAD isn’t fully understood, but it’s often linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days. The main theory is that a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the:
production of melatonin – melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy; in people with SAD, the body may produce it in higher than normal levels
production of serotonin – serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression
body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) – your body uses sunlight to time various important functions, such as when you wake up, so lower light levels during the winter may disrupt your body clock and lead to symptoms of SAD
How to beat the blues anytime of year!
It’s time to crawl out from under the duvet and try these tips to keep the momentum going and, for possibly the first time ever, beat the blues at anytime of the year!
Take more vitamin D Studies are constantly reiterating the mood-boosting benefits of this vital vitamin. However, as our skin largely manufactures vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, it’s also regularly highlighted that, during the dark winter months, we probably aren’t getting our recommended daily dose. Plus, along with improving your mood, topping up on vitamin D can help strengthen the immune system and keep bones and teeth healthy.
Cautious on the comfort eating front, the stodge, the left over Christmas goodies. There are several reasons we sometimes resort to food for comfort, particularly at this time of year. An exaggerated craving for carbohydrates in winter can actually be a sign of SAD. Overeating in winter may also simply be due to the fact that we’re indoors more and we’re cold! Eating a well balanced diet all year round should alleviate your desire to scoff in the winter!
Keep moving…the novelty of your new gym regime is probably wearing off by now. Exercise releases the happy hormone serotonin and, as well as being important for health, regular exercise will boost the positive results of all your healthy eating efforts – so keep going! It is also a great way to reduce stress. If your workout is feeling more chore than choice, make sure you’re giving your body everything it needs to perform at its best. Exercise all year round not just in the summer months!
More sleep, with partying season long behind you its now time to replenish those sleep stores! Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.
The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.
Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you’re sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It’s forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Studies show that a good night’s sleep improves learning. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative.
Studies also show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some pathways of the brain. If you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behaviour.
Connect with Nature
It has long been proven that connecting with nature has had many therapeutic benefits. Over at the TLC Counselling HUB being near the sea is our grin and tonic!
Nature is good for us. There’s plenty of evidence that exposure to nature is good for people’s health, well-being and happiness – with green spaces even promoting prosocial behaviours. Less is known about why nature is good for us. Simply put, nature is good for us because we are part of nature. We are human animals evolved to make sense of the natural world and this embeddedness in the natural world can often be forgotten and overlooked.
Mentally, we can become disconnected from nature because we’re now deeply embedded in a human-made world. Emerging research is showing that knowing and feeling this connection with nature is also good for us, and it helps bring about the wider health benefits of exposure to nature. Knowing your place in nature brings meaning and joy
(Dr Miles Richardson 2019).
Thanks for reading this article please let us know if you would like any topics covered in our blogs.
“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength” (Corrie Ten Boom ).
Over at the TLC Counselling hub we are seeing an increasing number of clients with anxiety or anxiety based issues walking through our door.
So what is anxiety?
Anxiety is what we experience when we are troubled, tense or afraid particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. Things that we actually usually have no control over. Anxiety is a natural human response that recognises when we are under threat. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. Also known as the flight fight response.
Signs and symptoms
The list is not prescriptive and not to be used as a diagnostic tool. Common signs and symptoms present as:
Effects on your body
a feeling of being completely overwhelmed
churning feeling in your stomach
feeling light-headed or dizzy
pins and needles
feeling restless or unable to sit still
headaches, backache or other aches and pains
a fast or irregular heartbeat
sweating or hot flushes
lack-increase of appetite
changes in your sex drive
having panic attacks.
Effects on your mind
rumination – thinking over and over about the same thing, until it is all you can think about.
depersonalisation – feeling disconnected from your mind or body, or like you’re watching someone else
worrying a lot about things that might happen in the future –
feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax
having a sense of dread, or fearing the worst, taking thoughts to the worst case scenario.
feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down
feeling like other people can see you’re anxious and are looking at you
feeling like you can’t stop worrying, or that bad things will happen if you stop worrying
worrying about anxiety itself, for example worrying about when panic attacks might happen
wanting lots of reassurance from other people or worrying that people are angry or upset with you
worrying that you’re losing touch with reality
What Causes Anxiety?
No one knows exactly what causes anxiety problems, but there are probably lots of factors involved.
unresolved past or childhood experiences
your current life situation
physical and mental health problems
drugs and medication
Research shows that having a close relative with anxiety problems increases your chances of experiencing anxiety problems yourself. Currently there is not enough evidence to show whether genetic factors make us more prone to developing anxiety, or because we learn patterns of behaviour from our parents and other family members as develop.
Self-help useful resources
A self-help resource might be the first treatment option your doctor offers you. This is because it’s available quite quickly, and there’s a chance it could help you to feel better without needing to try other options.
Self-help could be delivered through:
Workbooks. For example, your GP might recommend particular titles from a scheme called Reading Well Books on Prescription. This scheme is supported by most local libraries, so you can go and check the books out for free – you don’t actually need a prescription from a doctor. (Find out more on the Reading Well website).
A computer-based CBT programme for treating anxiety and panic attacks. There are several app-based CBT courses recommended on the NHS apps library, which you can search to find an app that may work for you.
Talking Therapies & Relaxation Techniques
If self-help resources aren’t likely to help with the anxiety problems you’re experiencing, or you’ve already tried them and they haven’t helped, your doctor should offer you a talking treatment. There are three types of treatments recommended for anxiety.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – this focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour, and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.
Counselling with a qualified counsellor who will listen without judgement about your anxiety issues. Sometimes just saying it out loud will be beneficial. Over at the TLC Counselling Hub we use creative therapy to try to find out the root cause of your anxiety.
Mindfulness – Mindfulness is the psychological process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment, which one can develop through the practice of meditation, relaxation. Mindfulness is derived from Buddhist traditions.
“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far” (Jodi Picoult).
Thanks for taking time to read our latest blog please leave comments if you would like to see other issues covered. The TLC Hub 2019.
Over at the TLC Counselling Hub we recognise the importance of self care. In light of World Mental Health Day on October 10th 2019, now has never been a better time to look after yourself and your metal health. We find colour and regular walks by the sea are the Hub’s grin and tonic!
We realise how important self care is and why we need to make it a priority in our life. Self care is vital for our mental, emotional, and physical well being. It aides to help maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself and helps to boost confidence and self esteem. Self care also promotes positive feelings and can aid in awareness of self, others and the environment.
What is mental health?
‘Mental health is defined not just in terms of the absence of mental disorder, but is a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community’ (WHO 2014).
Who is affected by mental health?
In many ways, mental health is just like physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it. Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as OCD, depression, anxiety, loss, trauma to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
What are the early warning signs?
Changes in mood and attitude can provide the first signs that all is not well. Mood swings and social withdrawal may indicate some degree of emotional distress. Any of the following, might provide an indication that something is not right for the individual and they could be experiencing some degree of mental health difficulty. It is important to view this list in terms of a collection of signs rather than as a diagnostic tool.
Erratic or unpredictable behaviour
Agitation or overt anxiety
Social withdrawal/avoidance of social interactions or contact
Reduced attendance work/school/college
Sleep or appetite disturbance
Poor concentration and or motivation
Unexplained prolonged crying
So how can I look after my mental health?
The Mental Health Foundation offer these 10 suggestions for better mental health: