Tag Archives: Christmas

January blues, not if we can help it!

21 Jan

Well, the festivities are over and many of us are back at work. The weather is chilly and there is a distinct lack of sunlight. Energy bills are looming and those New Year resolutions are proving very hard to keep. Oh dear, there is little doubt January can trigger the blues!

Let’s try to analyse how we can be feeling and how we can change our demeanour and state of mind.

• Maybe there was a little over indulgence and now we don’t like what the scales are telling us. This is not a major problem, if we address the problem straight away. Remember, the way we eat over the Christmas period is bound to pile on the pounds. However by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and combining a sensible diet with regular exercise, within weeks an ideal weight can be achieved. So, that is one problem that can be solved with a little effort and determination.

• Often there is a deflated feeling due to the tensions and stresses of being around relatives for a prolonged period of time. There may have been arguments and upsets between family members that still need resolving. These are better sorted out sooner rather than later and not allowed to fester. If possible, contact the people concerned and build bridges. Nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Make amends and move forward. Another issue that is within our capabilities to solve!

• An important trigger of January blues can be returning to work after a long break, to a job we are not happy in. Try to make some changes, so your present job will be more acceptable and fulfilling. If that is not possible, you may feel that the only way forward is a change of career. Our Master Class ‘Introduction to counselling skills’ can give you an insight in to one possible career move.

• Ok, we should be feeling a lot more positive now, but we still have to discuss the issue of over spending at Christmas. This is a tricky problem but one that should not be swept under the carpet. Depending on your financial situation, make a plan on how you can ease the burden of your debts and make sure you keep to it. You may need to alter the way you spend to make your plan work. Probably the most challenging problem to deal with but certainly if you deal with it, your mood will be lightened due to the constructive attitude and actions.

Well, there are lots of things to consider but we think January is starting to look a lot more enjoyable. We will finish with an interesting phenomenon – the lack of natural sunlight at this time of year, can lead to tiredness and feeling under the weather. While we cannot change the latitude of the county, there are things we can do to increase the amount of daily sunlight we receive. Try to get outdoors during the day, maybe at lunchtime, and go for a nice, long walk at the weekend. This is also an enjoyable way to help to get to grips with that weight gain topic we discussed earlier! The wonderful thing about our climate is its distinct phases and they should be embraced and enjoyed. The more time you can spend outside, the better!

We love January with its potential to set you up for a great rest of the year and hope you do too!

Tis the season to be jolly!

17 Dec

However, often this is not the case as Christmas is the most likely time of the year to experience depression.

To many people this will be a bewildering fact; surely Christmas should be viewed as a joyous occasion, spent with friends and family, having fun and enjoying the time spent together.

So what is it about this time of year that people depress themselves about?

  • Christmas is a time of great expectations. We demand that perfect Christmas experience.
  • We can become overwhelmed by a sense of failure and disconnection.
  • It may be helpful to consider the true meaning of Christmas. The message is always there – celebration, peace and good will to all.
  • By accepting reality; reducing unrealistic expectations and demands; by not getting lost in all the Christmas hype; we can use the time to invest in our relationships, and ensure this Christmas is a highly rewarding one.

 

christmas pic

 

 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) can help identify the expectations and interpretations that can lead towards depression and anxiety; adjust to reality and break through avoidances and inhibitions. Implementation of CBH can help you change your cognitive processes, which then leads to changes in your feelings and behaviours.

For more information on the treatment of reactive depression using cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy (CBH), you may be interested in our Master Class

Investing in your relationships

1 Feb

Christmas can be a tough time for many people, either triggering problems or highlighting existing problems in relationships, not just with distant family who we may only see at Christmas time, but on our relationships with our close family.  It’s therefore no surprise that January is the most popular time for a couple to file for divorce in the UK – not a great start to the New Year is it?

Invest in your relationships

Invest in your relationships

It’s common for most of us at one point on another to have experienced difficulties or challenges in our personal relationships. While these feelings are common, and on the whole, not an issue, its once they become entrenched or habitual when real issues start to arise, such as experiencing anxiety, irrationality, anger, hurt, depression and unhealthy jealousy. Once we start to experience these feelings, that run in to Christmas can take us to breaking point – hence November being the most popular month for couples to start talking to solicitors…

Divorce Rates

It’s quite well documented that divorce rates are on the rise, and this trend hasn’t changed with 2010 seeing 119,589 divorces in England and Wales, up from 113,949 in 2009. The numbers are highest amongst couples in their early 40s, typically between the age of 40 and 44, with the most popular reason for divorce often given as unreasonable behaviour.

Christmas period

Couples who are struggling find that the onset of the Christmas period really doesn’t help. Everything that comes with the festive season results in increased financial demands being made on couples, as well as having to spend more time together and with the in-laws.

Combine all these facts and feelings with the fact that the festive season provides people with time to reflect and make a final decision on the state of their marriage; it’s perhaps no surprise then that final applications for divorce are made in January.

Financial climate

The current financial climate has a role to play – not only in adding pressure to our daily lives (money matters always adds strain on relationships) but also by influencing our decision about divorce. Many couples feel forced to stick together simply because they cannot afford to get a divorce. This recent trend though is probably set to change, as there seems to be no end of the economic gloom, couples wish to take control back of their lives and are starting to prepare to cut their losses.

How do things get that far?

The majority of couples get married with no fear of a possible end in sight – which is how things should be, however the stresses of modern life, financial pressures and general day to day life make us often forget the more important things in life. It’s normal to face challenges in our relationships, these challenges are common place, and in many ways help us grow as a couple. But challenges that we don’t overcome, or ignore are dangerous. Negative feelings are common place, but once they become entrenched in our daily lives and become the “norm”, then real issues have started to appear with any relationship.

It’s common to experience hurt where you think that your partner’s insensitive behaviour towards you implies lack of care or love. It’s also common to experience guilt regarding your past behaviours and wrong doings. Many individuals may also feel anxiety about a whole host of reasons, ranging from anxiety about irrational jealousy to anxiety about our partner’s anger. So you see there are so many things to deal with when we look at relationships – what’s important is that we deal with these feelings sooner rather than later. For some, divorce may be the only safe and viable option, for others, a little time and investment back into their relationships is all that is needed.

Relationships that are generally successful and work well in the long term tend to have the following ingredients; good communication between the partners, compatibility and shared values and last but not least emotional stability of the partners.  It is more likely than not that love will last in a healthy way this way.

Addressing our emotional state

At the heart of CBT and CBH is a belief that our thoughts and beliefs are the key drivers of our emotional state and cause our behaviours. If your thoughts or beliefs about your partner are unhealthy, then your relationship will become unhealthy. Essentially the message is that we are responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, our behaviours and the types of relationships that we tolerate. When we don’t take responsibility, it will more than likely be projected onto our partner – with you now believing that they are the cause of these feelings.

So some basic techniques from CBT which you may find helpful as a starting point are listed below:

  1. Accept that you are responsible for your own emotions and actions
  2. Communicate without pointing a finger, use expressions like, “I feel angry about…” and not “You made me angry about…”
  3. Accept yourself as a valuable but imperfect human being.  Judge your behaviour rather than your worth, for example, accept you are a fallible person, but you can learn from your mistakes
  4. Be assertive but not aggressive. Communicate thoughts and feelings appropriately and not defensively
  5. Always keep in mind the bigger picture and remember to focus on your partner’s good qualities.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2012

23 Dec

Christmas is upon us, so from all of us here at The Hypnotherapy Team and the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CCBH), have a great Christmas and enjoy the new year. Remember what Christmas is all about, invest in your relationships, have realistic expectations and enjoy…

We look forward to seeing you all in 2012…

Christmas Holiday Anxiety

20 Dec

Once we get past November the 5th and our firework displays, our mind soon focuses on Christmas. What to get the kids? What to get for your secret Santa? Who is visiting who for Christmas day or Boxing Day? How much food should we get in? Hmmm….Oh and do we have the money for all this?

Christmas is a very unique time of the year. For the majority of us it’s a time of great excitement and expectation. However, it’s also a time associated with high anxiety and dread. This year, with the current tough economic climate having a big impact on our wallets, many of us are experiencing worries about just how much Christmas will cost. Handling that Christmas budget can turn an occasion that should be of celebration into one of great stress.

Christmas Holidays

Have realistic Christmas Expectations

 

Expectations

Christmas is a time of great expectations. We are aware of gift and entertainment expectations from our kids, from our friends and family and this can be fuelled even more by peer pressure. We even place on ourselves great expectation, for example providing that perfect Christmas lunch (see our post on dealing with a stress free Christmas lunch – https://thehypnotherapyteam.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/10-tips-for-a-stress-free-christmas-lunch/)

We demand that perfect Christmas experience, and ensure this Christmas is just “how it should be!” Demanding of ourselves that everyone should be able to get what they want at Christmas, and also what we want them to have, places greater strain on our budget. That drive for the perfect Christmas often sees us making decisions with our hearts and not our minds, placing too much on our flexible friends, the credit card.

 

Don’t get caught up in the hype

At Christmas it’s very easy to get caught up in all the glitzy shop windows, the gifts, and the luxury food. Getting caught up in the hype can be dangerous. If we do end up placing too much on our credit cards, we find that the New Year is not such as happy one, as we start it with added debt to deal with.

Through all the hype it’s very easy to miss the actual point of Christmas. Rather than investing in gifts, shouldn’t we be investing in our relationships?

 

What to do

First off we must all recognise our own situation and that the economic situation is affecting most people. Accept this reality and reduce your Christmas expectations accordingly. Most families when presented with the actual facts, that times are tough, are highly supportive and understanding. It is when we try to deny the reality we are in that issues arise. By trying to hide stress and tension, families often start to fail to communicate and are denied the opportunity to be supportive and caring for each other, and isn’t that one of the deeper meanings we all search for at Christmas? If Children are told they cannot have this year’s latest computer games console but are also given a reason as to why, they are able to respond with understanding and love. Most children are not obsessed with “things” at Christmas, but the attention and time spent with their family away from the usual work routine is something they care about.

By accepting reality; reducing unrealistic expectations and demands; by not getting lost in all the Christmas hype, we are able to budget for Christmas accordingly. We can invest heavily in our relationships, and ensure this Christmas is a highly rewarding one, while at the same time, remove anxiety and the stress associated to money and debt issues that could otherwise start 2012.

Christmas family strain

16 Dec

How many films have been made all about the stress of family life over the Christmas period? Quite a few. Many of these films are comedies, and most end with everyone enjoying their family Christmas. But the reason we find these films so funny, is because we can relate to that Christmas family stress all too easily.

Family can be a real strain at Christmas

Family can be a real strain at Christmas

On a serious note, many of us actually get highly stressed and feel anxious about Christmas, and these anxieties maybe about one of the following:

  • A need to have everything run perfectly and for everyone to appreciate your efforts
  • A need for other people to show the manners that you expect them to have
  • A need for everything to be easy and comfortable

You may have just read that list and thought to yourself these are all reasonable expectations. But if you are feeling anxious about any of them, then something isn’t right…

 

What’s reasonable?

It is reasonable to want things to run perfectly. It is reasonable to want all family members to appreciate your efforts. It’s reasonable to want all family members to behave appropriately and it is reasonable to want everything to be easy and comfortable. Anxiety is, however, triggered when you transform your wants and desires into needs and demands. When this happens, everything HAS to be the way you want it or else.

This type of thinking is at the heart of anxiety and stress, and at Christmas time, this can be amplified. At Christmas you become anxious about family members who are not acting warmly towards one another; or family members you may have problems with; or family members who behave in a passive aggressive or discourteous manner; or family members who do not chip in and help or simply a family member you just don’t like very much.  It’s these scenarios that we find in many Christmas films, and they are scenarios we all relate to on some level.

 

How to manage those anxieties

If you find you are anxious or stressed about any of those family scenarios or issues, then how do you manage that anxiety? Well here are a few pointers that will help you manage your anxieties better:

  1. Accept imperfection. No one is perfect and your Christmas day does not HAVE to be absolutely perfect. Remembering this will help you feel more relaxed.
  2. While it would be fantastic that everyone showed appreciation, you certainly do not need it to have a great time. It’s not a reflection on your worth, unless you make it so. If you do, then you will feel stressed, so don’t judge yourself negatively.
  3. Remember that you don’t control other people. If someone acts in a way that you are not happy with, don’t get too stressed about it, rather address the situation, calmly but firmly explaining why that behaviour is unacceptable. Remember, if it’s not a major thing in the scheme of things, you can choose to tolerate it.
  4. You are in control of what you say and do. Imagine the things you are worried about, and think in advance of ways in which you can deal with those things. Most of the time anxiety is maintained because we spend mental energy trying to ensure the bad things don’t happen.
  5. If you really aren’t looking forward to being with a particular family member, then remember that it’s only for a limited time.
  6. Always remember the bigger picture and meaning of Christmas. The message is always there –  celebration, peace and good will to all. Make sure you don’t lose sight of this.
  7. Focus on what’s important, by doing this it enables us to handle tensions and stress far better

Our unrealistic expectations are often provoke Christmas stress.. So set realistic expectations and look to enjoy the Christmas period, with family and friends.

Merry Christmas…

10 Tips for a stress free Christmas Lunch

2 Dec

Christmas can be a tough time, the office party (not embarrassing yourself), flying elbows while doing your Christmas shopping, and of course, planning and cooking your Christmas lunch – especially if you have family and friends coming to yours!

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Lunch. Don't let it stress you out...

The whole idea of the Christmas Lunch can actually cause a lot of anxiety and stress, as we try to ensure that everything goes perfectly. So here are our top 10 tips…

  1. Plan realistically. Don’t demand perfection with your Christmas lunch, and in any case, what would perfection be? We recommend you adjust your expectations to what is reasonable on the day, taking into consideration Christmas Eve and morning, and how long you want to spend preparing and cooking on Christmas day…
  2. Reflect on past experiences. Reflecting on past experiences will help you form good plans. We all learn from mistakes and experiences in our past, Christmas lunch is no different. Remember shortcuts that have worked in the past, and how you and others, have managed the excesses of Christmas spirit.
  3. Have a contingency plan. Obviously, worst case scenario, something goes horribly wrong, you have a power cut, the Turkey has been cremated or it all simply goes “belly up”. So, have a backup menu, something you know doesn’t take long, and is enjoyed by you and your guests. No matter what, you will be sitting down to Christmas lunch with a smile.
  4. Remember not everyone will like everything. Everyone has different tastes and things they like and don’t like. Whatever they don’t like or leave, is in no way a reflection on you or your food. (I won’t eat the sprouts for example).
  5. Don’t take it all too seriously. Enjoy the day, relax, don’t take lunch too seriously or yourself.
  6. Ask for help. If you need help, then ask for it…
  7. Remember the kids. Ensure children are catered for (within reason). Also remember to have something to occupy them. Christmas day is really exciting, so it’s unrealistic to expect them to sit through Christmas lunch, being rather well behaved (though desirable).
  8. Who cares if you have forgotten something? If you forget something, then don’t let it bother you, it’s not the end of the world or a complete catastrophe unless YOU think it so.
  9. Keep perspective. Remember this is only lunch!  It doesn’t HAVE to be perfect we are human and fallible after all.
  10. Christmas is about celebration. Remember Christmas is about celebration of family and Christian values, enjoy the day no matter what. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. And over all these virtues put on love, which blinds them all together in perfect unity”.

So there you have it, our top 10 hints and tips on enjoying a stress free Christmas lunch. We hope you all have an enjoyable Christmas and New Year…