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:
This poem was thought to have been given as a speech by Charlie Chaplin on his 70th birthday.
Over at he TLC Hub we love this poem as it is very much in keeping with the Gestalt way of being and very much in the moment!
As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is Authenticity.
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call this Respect.
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call this Maturity.
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call this Self-Confidence.
As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call this Simplicity.
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is Love of Oneself.
As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is Modesty.
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it Fulfillment.
As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection Wisdom of the Heart.
We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing, new worlds are born. Today I know: This is Life!
The actual author is a re-translation (from Portuguese-BR) of a text from the book “When I Loved Myself Enough” by Kim & Alison McMillen (2001).
As Albert Einstein once said, “To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play.” So, what exactly is the link between childhood and creativity?
Creativity and Play and Fostering Creativity
Creativity is the freest form of self-expression. There is nothing more satisfying and fulfilling for children than to be able to express themselves openly and without fear of judgment. The ability to be creative, to create something from personal feelings and experiences, can reflect and nurture children’s emotional health and mental well being.
The experiences children have during their first years of life can significantly enhance the development of their creativity. Unfortunately in today’s society we want to wrap our children up in cotton wool. They need to spend more time getting messy. We have created a germ phobic society. To be honest there are probably more germs on their mobile phones, than their paint brush if they even own one!
Importance of the Creative Process All children need to be truly creative is the freedom to commit themselves completely to the effort and make whatever activity they are doing their own. What’s important in any creative act is the process of self-expression. Creative experiences can help children express and cope with their feelings.
A child’s creative activity can help teachers to learn more about what the child may be thinking or feeling. Creativity also fosters mental growth in children by providing opportunities for trying out new ideas, and new ways of thinking and problem-solving. Creative activities help acknowledge and celebrate children’s uniqueness and diversity
The Benefits of Creativityfor all
Freedom: There is no right or wrong way to be creative. When we create, it gives us the opportunity to engage with the world without judging ourselves. To return to the feeling of freedom we may have experienced during childhood. Where we did not have to know or be an expert. It gives us permission to take risks, try new things, and strip away inhibitions in a healthy way.
Self-awareness and Expression: Creativity is the route to authenticity. As we create we begin to access our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. When we take the time and energy to develop our own ideas, we learn to understand, trust and respect our inner self, (inner child), in turn enabling us to better express ourselves. You may be surprised at the resources, thoughts and impulses that you discover there.
Faith and confidence in our instincts: When we create, we may start to value our work, even if it is not published, displayed or presented to the public. We can learn to trust our instincts and gain confidence from expressing them. This confidence carries over into decisions we make in other areas of life.
Stress Relief: Being creative is meditative. Taking the time to use our hands, minds, and energy doing something we enjoy and that makes us happy is of highest importance in life. Creativity is fun, and doing anything that brings joy reduces our stress levels and improves our quality of life.
Problem solving: There isn’t a manual to being an artist, Monet didn’t follow a script, and there isn’t a manual for being alive. Obstacles and challenges throughout life are inevitable they are part of the journey. However, when we make creativity a habit, we continue to learn new, resourceful ways of solving problems in our artwork, and in our personal life.
“Creativity is a celebration of one’s grandeur, one’s sense of making anything possible.” ~ Joseph C Zinker
Creativity in Gestalt therapy means venturing beyond self-expression and entering the dynamics of the productive interchange within the therapeutic relationship. Gestalt therapy uses creative mediums to help the person make sense of who they are in the world. No matter how old we are creativity is a form of self-expression of feelings and experiences.
The inner child never really leaves us, so go grab that paint, or those beads, or that glitter, sand or mud and create something unique and beautiful today!
Amabile, 1 (1989). Growing up creative: Nurturing a lifetime of creativity. New York: Crown.
Bergen, D. (Ed.). (1988). Play as a medium for learning and development: A handbook of theory and practice. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Chenfeld, M. B. (1983). Creative activities for young children. (2nd ed.) New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Church, E. B., & Miller, K. (1990). Learning through play: Blocks: A practical guide for teaching young children. New York: Scholastic.
Over at the TLC Counselling Hub we love a bit of colour. Is it any wonder why we are very drawn to Plutchik’s 1980 Wheel of Emotions.
Walking around with a mind full of confusion and uncertainty can make anyone feel sad or overwhelmed. This is especially true of individuals who want to understand themselves or a stressful situation, but don’t know where to start. With a wheel of emotions, the individual can view the various emotions and pinpoint the specific ones they’re experiencing in the moment. This fits very well with our Gestalt theory, in that is predominantly about awareness.
Emotions influence our health, performance, well-being, motivation, sense of fulfillment, and decision-making skills. It’s important to understand and manage them. When people don’t understand their current emotion, they may panic as their internal locus of control leaves them in disillusionment. When our emotions are triggered, they are done so to elicit one of our basic survival behaviors. This happens on a subconscious level, i.e out of our awareness.
Psychologist Robert Plutchik states that there are 8 basic emotions: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, anger, and disgust. Plutchik’s wheel of emotions illustrates these 8 basic emotions and the various ways they relate to one another, including which ones are opposites and which ones can easily turn into another one. This framework helps bring clarity to emotions, which can sometimes feel mysterious and overwhelming.
Opposites: Each primary emotion has a polar opposite, so that:
Joy is the opposite of sadness.
Fear is the opposite of anger.
Anticipation is the opposite of surprise.
Disgust is the opposite of trust.
Combinations: The emotions with no color represent an emotion that is a mix of the 2 primary emotions. For example, anticipation and joy combine to be optimism. Joy and trust combine to be love. Emotions are often complex, and being able to recognize when a feeling is actually a combination of two or more distinct feelings is a helpful skill.
Intensity: The cone’s vertical dimension represents intensity – emotions intensify as they move from the outside to the center of the wheel, which is also indicated by the color: The darker the shade, the more intense the emotion. For example, anger at its least level of intensity is annoyance. At its highest level of intensity, anger becomes rage. Or, a feeling of boredom can intensify to loathing if left unchecked, which is dark purple.
Being attuned with what one is feeling (and therefore doing) can be very empowering. Instead of trying to suppress, reject, or ignore emotions, people learn how to express and share them in a constructive way, as well as analyse the role they play in one’s life.
Gaining awareness in this area can give clients a chance to align themselves with the things they want, the outcomes that interest them, and the emotional states that help them work towards their goals despite imminent challenges. Being in awareness can bring about great change for individuals.
Over at the TLC Counselling Hub we are very excited today, as today we welcome our very first client through the door. These keys were given as a gift by a very thoughtful kind friend who has supported my journey from start to finish for the last seven years. Seven years of hard work, seven years of continued friendship, and seven being her lucky number. The Hub dedicate this rainbow poem to you.
On Saturday the 30th of June the TLC Counselling Hub attended a 6 hour study day on attachment with one of the leading speakers of the field Jeff Lane. Why does that matter we hear you say. It matters because attachment lays the foundations for how we fundamentally form relationships with others.
Our style of attachment affects everything from our partner selection to how well our relationships progress, the choice of friendships we form to, sadly, how they end. That is why recognizing our attachment pattern can help us understand our strengths and vulnerabilities in our relationships. An attachment pattern is established in early childhood s and continues to function as a working model for relationships in adulthood.
So are there different attachment styles?
Mary Ainsworth (1970) a leading psychologist of her time, identified three main attachment types, secure type, insecure avoidant type and insecure ambivalent/resistant type. She proclaimed that these attachment styles were the result of early interactions with the primary caregiver e.g. mother, father, grandparents ect. A fourth attachment type known as disorganized was later identified by (Main, & Solomon, 1990).
Secure Type of Attachment
Such children feel confident that the attachment figure will be available to meet their needs. They use the attachment figure as a safe base to explore the environment and seek the attachment figure in times of distress. Securely attached adults tend to be more satisfied in their relationships. A secure adult has a similar relationship with their romantic partner, feeling secure and connected, while allowing themselves and their partner to move freely.
Insecure- Avoidant Type of Attachment
Insecure avoidant children do not orientate to their attachment figure while investigating the environment. They are very independent of the attachment figure both physically and emotionally. They do not seek contact with the attachment figure when distressed. Such children are likely to have a caregiver who is insensitive and rejecting of their needs and is often unavailable during times of emotional distress.
Unlike securely attached couples, people with an anxious attachment tend to be desperate to form a fantasy bond. Instead of feeling real love or trust toward their partner, they often feel emotional hunger. They’re frequently looking to their partner to rescue or complete them. Although they’re seeking a sense of safety and security by clinging to their partner, they take actions that push their partner away.
Insecure Ambivalent/Resistant Type of Attachment
Here children adopt an ambivalent behavioral style towards the attachment figure. The child will commonly exhibit clingy and dependent behavior, but will be rejecting of the attachment figure when they engage in interaction. The child fails to develop any feelings of security from the attachment figure. Accordingly, they exhibit difficulty moving away from the attachment figure to explore novel surroundings. When distressed they are difficult to soothe and are not comforted by interaction with the attachment figure. This behavior results from an inconsistent level of response to their needs from the primary caregiver.
People with a insecure ambivalent style of attachment have the tendency to emotionally distance themselves from their partner. They may seek isolation and feel “pseudo-independent,” taking on the role of parenting themselves. They often come off as focused on themselves and may be overly attending to their creature comforts. They are often psychologically defended and have the ability to shut down emotionally.
So today sees the start of a very important journey for me. As I hurl myself forward into the world of counselling it is with great pride that I start preparing for my future.
I have immersed myself in counselling courses since 2012. Having just completed a foundation degree in Humanistic/Gestalt counselling, I can now plan for a very promising worthwhile career. A career where being kind, creative, showing unconditional positive regard and empathy is all part of of the process in helping people.
We all have the ability in life to achieve great things and I truly believe this is by far one of my greatest life achievements!