Summer Days!

Hello everyone,

I wonder how your summer has been? Here at circle we have been working on several new service offers and ideas for the new school term! Watch this space over the coming months!

At this time of year it can be hard to return to work after holidays and breaks. Clients often express their difficulties around re-engaging in work and coping with demands after a nice holiday or a quieter period.

I feel that boundaries are so important when it comes to holidays and breaks, we all need to re-charge and setting clear boundaries around this is so important for your mental and physical health.

Here are some tips for becoming more boundaried and less stressed!

1. STOP checking your phone!

Constant checking of your phone is proven to increase anxiety levels and also takes you away from the present moment. If possible, try to turn your work email off during your holiday and don't get caught in the trap of responding to work matters when it is supposed to be a break!

2. Schedule some fun things for the first week or two back at work. Having something to look forward to really helps us to counteract stress. Book to see a good friend or treat yourself to a treatment or some exercise.

3. Be boundaried on the weekend or your days off, try to leave work at work and allow yourself the time you deserve to rejuvenate on your days off. Thinking about work will not gain you any more control than you already have! It will all still be there to action and deal with on your return.

With the summer moving swiftly towards autumn, I look forward to helping you all to find balance and set your goals for the coming months.

Be kind to yourself. 

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Circle News

Hello! It has been a busy few months at Circle and we are really excited about how Circle is changing lives everyday! During the last few months we have been working on several projects including our first short story book for schools called The Circle Maze. This story of hope shows children that when you feel alone with your worries, there are others going through something too and we can come together to help one another. Watch this space for how to obtain a copy of this lovely story.

I have also been enjoying being a live speaker on our local BBC radio. This platform has been fantastic for talking openly about mental health and offering advice that can help those that may feel fearful of accessing therapy.

We have also been busy delivering our specialist training in schools. We have been helping teachers understand mental health issues in children and we have had fantastic feedback from our events. You can find out more on the bookings page of this website.

We have also been busy training Dave our therapy dog. Dave has secured his first school contract and is very excited to be coming to school to help difficult to reach children feel better.

So lots going on at Circle HQ and we are so excited about what the future holds!

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Spring Is Here!....or is it?

Today is officially the first day of spring! Waking up to snow and ice alongside severe weather warnings for much of the country wasn't what we expected.

This got me thinking about expectations, what we come to expect and how we can feel disappointed when our expectations aren't met. This could be for any of us child or adult.

By nature we are creatures of habit, we like to know what to expect and we grow to expect things from other people too. This week in my practice there have been a lot of discussions with children and adults about expectations. What we expect of others is often wrapped up in our conditioning and our self concept.

What are your expectations of others? Do you expect to be the one being cared for or being the carer? Are you used to being the one in control and making all the decisions? Do you expect to be let down by others? For many of us we base our expectations on how we have been treated in our formative years. If we had a reliable, nurturing and responsible adult caring for us, the chances are we expect good things from people when we are older. We see the good in people and expect good things to happen.

On the other hand if we have not received consistent care, nuture and understanding we may have developed a sense of expecting to be let down, expecting bad things to happen and becoming self reliant. This can be a source of constant disapointment leading to anxiety and depression alongside a poor self concept. It doesn't always need to remain this way, with help and understanding we can change how we relate, how we self protect and most importantly how we think about our own self worth. 

We are all deserving of care, respect and nurture. If you haven't received this from others then we need to find ways to offer that to ourselves. Allow people to help you, don't always be the carer and helper, allow yourself too be helped too.

Whilst the snow is unexpected and certainly not spring like, I encourage you to embrace what is, allow your inner child to come out and throw a snow ball or two....we cant change what is, but we can change how we look at it. 

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Eating Disorders Awareness Week

While eating disorders can affect anyone of any age, young people are at particular risk. We know that the earlier an eating disorder is treated, the better chance someone has of fully recovering. 

Bullying and eating disorders

Bullying is a particular risk factor in the development of eating disorders. Even teasing or throwaway comments about someone’s size can have a negative effect on someone who is vulnerable to developing an eating disorder. Bullying also doesn’t have to be about weight and shape – any kind of bullying can lead to low self-esteem, a key feature of an eating disorder.

There are many areas of the curriculum where topics related to eating disorders can be included. Personal, Social Health and Economic Education (PSHE), media studies, physical education, drama and creative work all provide opportunities. Including emotional literacy, building resilience and positive body image into lessons is particularly useful, as is covering media literacy and the way images are digitally manipulated in advertising. 

Individual pupils with eating disorders will require particular attention to their educational and pastoral needs. It may be necessary to adapt the learning environment to accommodate reduced physical strength or concentration span. People with eating disorders can have a strong drive for perfectionism and this can be evident in their academic work – with excessive neatness, increased anxiety about making errors and a tendency to become inflexible in thinking. Handwriting sometimes decreases in size to minute proportions. 

Signs to be aware of

There are some signs that may become especially apparent in the school environment, which might include:

  • Social isolation
  • Avoiding eating around others
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Low confidence and self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive and/or rigid behaviour
  • Perfectionism and setting unreasonably high personal standards
  • Self-harm
  • Changes to weight – either gaining or losing weight, or experiencing fluctuating weight

If you are concerned about your child. You can seek support from the following helpline sources.

https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/support-services/helplines

 

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Talking Mental Health....

Circle are always encouraging children and adults to talk about their mental health. Campaigns recently, including Time To Talk and Heads Together are campaigning to get more people talking.

Where do we talk though?

Is it to the parent next to us in the school playground? Our colleague at the next desk? Our boss? Our partner?

Sometimes all these options have barriers, barriers around a fear of rejection or judgement. My belief is that we want to talk about our mental health but we feel afraid to do so. One of the most common phrases I hear in my work is "I wish I'd known all this sooner!"

We wait until we feel dreadful before visiting a GP or contacting a counsellor. 

For this very reason during March, Circle will be starting conversations with you about mental health. We will be covering topics like anxiety and how to manage it, depression and when to seek help and many more areas of emotional functioning. We want to get people talking, sharing and asking questions. Follow our Facebook page to join the conversation.

 

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World Thinking Day...

February 22nd is World Thinking Day. Celebrated since 1926, World Thinking Day is a day of international friendship, speaking out on issues that affect girls and young women, and fundraising for 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world.

It got me thinking about issues that affect girls and young women and especially the effects of social media on body image. 

So many young girls now are measuring their self worth by how many "likes" they get on Instagram or Facebook. Alongside this we have the digital age of image modification, creating unrealistic images to live up to around physical appearance.

I recently shared the images below of Stacey Solomon's campaign to raise awareness to young women about digital modifications.

As parents we must explain this with our daughters and build their esteem on many things that are not focused on looks. We may be fire fighting but we must keep educating our children about this and building their self worth around all aspects of self, not just physical appearance!

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Lost in the Maze of "Therapies"......

I have been asked a lot lately about other kinds of therapy. I thought it would be useful to shed some light!

As an adult looking for therapy or indeed a parent looking for help for their child, it can be very confusing to decipher what "therapy" to choose.

A parent asked me recently what EFT, NLP, CBT and other things she had seen advertised stood for! I felt for this parent as they were desperately seeking help and like many parents, found herself confused about what all these mean.

As a an Integrative Psychotherapist I am trained in several modalities or theories that all come under a psychotherapy framework. Many of the other therapies are not psychotherapy based and are providing something quite different. NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) for instance, is more of a coaching tool and whilst it has some useful thinking, it does not qualify a person to work therapeutically with a mental health issue. EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapy) again is a technique rather than a psychotherapeutic training. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) does come under a clinical umbrella.

I would encourage adults and parents looking for mental health support to seek a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist. It is my hope that all practitioners whether coaches or psychotherapists are ethical in being transparent in what they are offering and that they assess clients appropriately.

It takes a lot of courage and faith to enter yourself or child into therapy so check the practitioners credentials, experience and ask them what they specialise in. Ask about registration and whether they are a member of a governing body like the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) and most importantly, trust your instinct, if it doesn't feel right then it isn't right for you!

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Spring is in the air....

It was a refreshing change to have a couple of sunny days this weekend. I noticed all the snowdrops appearing whilst out walking my dogs. I also noticed the birds are singing more in the morning and early evenings.....I love the feeling of the days stretching again.

The external weather and seasons affect us. Some people are severely affected by this and have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). When anxiety or depression are present getting outside can feel like a mammoth task and yet it is the one thing that can often help our serotonin levels in our brain.

Being with nature and the feeling of space can help low mood by getting you "outside" of your head. It is a common trap to become attached to our screens to escape whether that is the tv or our mobile phone. We are seeking to escape something by our constant screen involvement. 

For this week, I suggest making ourselves step away and step outside, your body and mind will thank you for it. 

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The Year of The Dog....

Today is Chinese New Year and 2018 is the year of the dog!

So Circle feels there is no better time to introduce our very own therapy dog "Dave" or as we like to call him "Brave Dave". Dave is a beautiful natured cockapoo who just adores being with children and adults. Dave continues to undertake special training to qualify him to work with children and adults.

Recently he won the Bedfordshire Canine Trust "Best Obedience Puppy' award for his dedication to his training!

Dave will be working with Circle in some of our schools and also within other projects too.

Keep watching for more Dave updates! 

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A Stressful Start...

Today I am considering stress and it's impact on our health. This morning on my drive to work, I witnessed an altercation between two drivers, one car had blocked the entrance to the other car's path. Rather than acknowledging the error, the driver rudely gestured to the other driver aggressively. 

This event took place first thing this morning, what it tells me is that even before the day has started, people are stressed. I use my short drive to work to listen to music and reflect on things, its a space that I often see as positive as I only need to focus on one task.

I wonder what was going on for this person, work pressure, homelife issues or a general feeling of anger and dissatisfaction. 

Try to start your day with space and breathe! We have another whole 8 or more hours to manage....start it right. 

 

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Love...what does it mean?

Today is Valentines Day, I wonder what you feel about this national event? Do you feel it is a commercialised marketing opportunity or do you like the sentiment of it?

On days like this my thoughts turn to self, what does loving the self mean and can we do it? There is a well known phrase "You can't love another until you love yourself" I think this is true.

Why is it that we find self compassion difficult? We are of course products of our history, our conditioning our environments and our relationships. From an early age we assess each of these elements to form our self concept or view of ourselves.

My hope for adults and children whether in therapy or not is that we can foster self love and compassion. Think about what you love about you, your strengths, your challenges and how you have travelled through them.

Forget the commercial aspect of Valentines Day and instead see your own worth.

 

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Children's Mental Health Week 5th -11th February 2018

Circle is so pleased to see the launch of children's mental health week. Place to Be and the Duchess of Cambridge are campaigning to promote the need for mental health provision in schools.

Circle is working to support this cause by providing consultation and services to schools in the three counties of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

We are working with schools, parents and social work teams to improve mental health for children, helping them to be open about their feelings and concerns.

Every child deserves a voice and we want to give them that voice.

I recently joined Nick Coffer on BBC Three Counties Radio to discuss child mental health and what we can do. You can listen to the interview on our Media section of this website.

 

 

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Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05thtjs

A New Year

I wonder how you feel as we enter a New Year? Often people find the "Happy" part of the new year events hard to digest.

We can't just switch off our unhappy feelings or change all of our challenging life situations because it is a new year.

At Circle we look at a new year like any other time, a time to reflect, explore and discover what you need and how you can begin to feel better, whatever your circumstances.

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THE SEASON OF CHANGE

"The leaves on the trees are falling"

I find that this time of year makes us confront change head on!

The trees are shedding their leaves and the clocks change, the days become shorter and we really notice change happening before our eyes. 

This can be both hopeful and difficult. For some, this change resembles difficulties passed and new beginnings, whereas for others this time of year represents loss. 

Children also experience this change, no longer able to play outside as it's dark and it's harder to get up in the morning when the clocks change. 

However we feel at this time of year, talking about change is important. Exploring what you want to hold on to and what you want to change is important throughout our lives, whether that be people, things or behaviours. 

I work with adults and children and help them embrace the changes in their lives, whether that be loss, separation, a major move or a change of direction. 

My focus this month is loss and what this means to each of us. 

My training on Attachment & Trauma considers loss and the effects on children and adults throughout life. 

Loss is often the source and root of anxiety and I address this in both my work and my trainings. 

Please see my website for more information on my services.