Archive | September, 2013

Solitude – why it’s good

23 Sep

“the state of being or living alone; seclusion: to enjoy one’s solitude.”

Most of us lead extremely busy lives these days. We spend at least 1 hour and 30 minutes each week stuck in traffic, over 30 minutes waiting for public transport due to traffic and road works, over an hour waiting in queues and shops, at least an hour dealing with bureaucracy and even longer trying find things we have misplaced at home. On average we spend one working day per week in these time consuming activities. On top of that working days are longer and we have access to many stimulants like the Internet, Twitter, Facebook and computer games. Time for taking a breath is a luxury for most.

Socrates said “An un-reflected life is not worth living”. This may be a tad strong of course but the point is reflecting on one’s life and taking stock every now helps us to grow, be thankful, question if we are happy and hopefully find solutions; to do that we need solitude. Solitude also allows us to just stop and take a breath and just be.

Great ideas and solutions more often stem from being alone with one’s thoughts.

For many people solitude is also a time to connect with greater things, for some it may be God or the higher self, and for others it may be nature or just being. This may be going to a place of worship such as a Church or walking in the countryside or just sitting in a park. For many people solitude is a time for nourishing the spirit.

 

069

 

Why is it hard for some people?

Solitude is hard for some people because they have grown accustomed to a particular life style where being busy or being engaged in something external like Twitter or Facebook or the Internet is a buzz. Children are growing with over stimulation as a result of fast moving action packed games. The child grows into an adult who is unaccustomed to being OK with quite alone time.

For others it has become a luxury due to long working hours as well as having a busy family life.

For others it triggers anxiety. This is rather common. Some people think ‘I have to be doing something, being productive, because if I’m not it’s unbearable and proves I’m lazy’. So some people link it to their self worth and have low frustration tolerance to it.

For others it triggers anxiety about being alone. We have worked with many people, using Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) model that it based on Laws of Nature, whose anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia would make it impossible to sit alone and enjoy the solitude. The anxiety disorder itself is an obstacle to having solitude.

 

006

 

How to achieve helpful solitude?

If someone does not get anxious about being alone, then there are many practical things to do. The most important step in creating time alone and solitude is setting a goal and then committing to it. It is vital that solitude is seen as a beneficial state first. You have to think of the benefits of solitude and make it significant. It has to be your personal goal.

1) Make solitude a goal and commit to it

2) Think of options available to you e.g. meditation classes, sitting in the park on for half an hour, walking, spending time alone in your home reflecting and so on.

3) Choose one or two

4) Do it regularly and consistently.

You don’t have to do this daily even though some people do of course. You can choose whether it’s once, twice, three times a week or even every other week. That too would be beneficial. You may decide to drive to the countryside every month or two. There are many alternatives, so be creative.

Anxious at the thought of taking time out?

If however, you become anxious at the thought of taking time alone or even being alone, then you need to explore what’s at the heart of your anxiety.

REBT, the philosophical CBT, has a simple explanation about why we feel anxious. It states that we feel anxious because we hold unhelpful or unhealthy beliefs and thoughts about something. There are four types of unhealthy beliefs that can trigger anxiety.

1) Absolutist thinking e.g. I must have feeling of excitement when I’m alone, I must not be bored, I have to be busy

2) Exaggerating the badness if the internal demand is not met e.g. it’s horrible to be alone, it’s terrible not to be busy

3) Low frustration tolerance if the demand is not met e.g. I can’t stand being alone, I can’t bear it if I’m not busy

4) Damning the self if the demand is not met e.g. If I’m not busy it proves I’m lazy and worthless

Such beliefs would trigger anxiety and most people have a tendency to avoid situations or states like solitude if it triggers anxiety.

Solution to anxiety about taking time out?

The solution is change the above beliefs by reflecting and realizing that they are not based in reality and that they are unhelpful if you want to make solitude a personal goal.

1) So accept that you don’t always ‘have to be busy’ for example

2) It’s not horrible or terrible even if you don’t want to do it often

3) You can stand it and bear it

4) You are not worthless if you take time alone

Initially as you practice solitude you may feel uncomfortable but keep thinking in the helpful and realistic way above and sit with this discomfort. After practicing this a few times you will become accustomed to solitude and from then on you will begin to have feelings of comfort and positivity about it. Your mind will then be free to just be, or to reflect.

People with anxiety disorders must first see their GP and perhaps consider therapeutic help.

How to cope more effectively with work-related stress

16 Sep

Work-related stress is one of the biggest (and most modern) blights to our physical and emotional wellbeing. According to research last year from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), staff sickness cost the UK over £6.5bn. The report also said that staff absenteeism cost the average company about £620,000 a year.

 

Meanwhile, The Labour Force Survey 2011/12 found that around 22.7 million working days were lost last year because of work-related illnesses, whilst another, more recent, study of over 3,000 people discovered that one in three said their stress was work-related.

 

That’s a lot of lost money, a lot of lost days and a lot of unhappy workers!

 

shutterstock_114042076

 

Work stress can come in a variety of guises, be it long hours, a workload that’s far too heavy, deadlines that are way too intense, interpersonal difficulties (such as not getting on with your manager), performance expectations, boredom, the threat of redundancy, and more; the list goes on.

 

Stressed out employees are more likely too feel irritable, experience mood swings, feel unable to cope and generally lead less productive working lives than their more relaxed counterparts.

 

Work stress itself can lead to a multitude of disorders including anxiety, depression, anger management issues, panic attacks, insomnia, alcohol and drug problems, even tension headaches and migraines.

 

The Healthy and Safety Executive (HSE) define stress as, “The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work,” while the British Standards Institution (BSI) says, “Stress manifests as a physical, psychological or social dysfunction resulting in individuals feeling unable to bridge the gap with the requirements or expectations placed upon them.”

 

Technically, stress is the manifestation of the flight-or-fight response, a much-needed safety mechanism that helps alert you to danger and take the appropriate action. However, it’s meant to be a one-off reaction to specific challenges and pressures. Once the danger is over, the body (and the person that inhabits it) can return to normal.

 

Sadly, modern life is a never-ending series of threats and pressures and so the chemicals associated with the fight-or-flight response are constantly dumping toxins in the body, creating physical and emotional ill health.

 

But, there are things you can do to help restore that balance and become a healthy and productive working member of society once more and no, we’re not talking about changing your job!

 

Sure, it’s an option but, it’s one that’s a little drastic for some and nigh on impossible for others. Also, it doesn’t change the nature of the beast. What if the new job is even more pressurised than the last?

 

Which is where cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy (CBH) comes in very handy indeed.

 

CBH follows the philosophy that it is not the events in life that disturb you, but the views that you take of those events that disturbs you. So, if you’re thinking, feeling and acting in a way that you don’t like, but don’t seem to be able to change, we don’t look at the ‘thing’ we look at what you are telling yourself about the ‘thing.’

 

Change what you tell yourself, and you can change how you think, feel and act.

 

Work, then, is the ‘thing’ CBH can help you change your perceptions of. A trained professional can help you cope with pressure more effectively, facilitate solutions to difficult workloads and deadlines, aid you in dealing with those irksome interpersonal difficulties in a better way, conquer your angers and anxieties and lead to an altogether healthier, happier and more productive you.

 

shutterstock_67128502

 

CBH, in the form of therapy, is an excellent tool for helping you manage your work-related stress. However, when delivered in the form of workshops (and yes, we are talking to all you HR managers out there) it can be an excellent form of prevention.

 

Just think what it would mean for your company and your staff if you could head stress off at the pass?