Stress And Its Consequences

I’m currently writing and working on a stress management course. Sounds like some boring HR exercise right!?!

So why? What’s the problem with stress?

A little stress in our lives can be a good thing, motivating us, helping us to reach our goals and encouraging us to get out of bed (especially now the nights are drawing in and bed is oh so cosy!). Stress becomes a bad thing when we feel overwhelmed by the demands that are being placed on us and we don’t feel we have the resources to cope with them.

According to the Health and Safety Executive stress is a leading cause of time off work with the total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2014/15 being 9.9 million. Equating to an average of 23 days lost per employee who experiences stress (1)?

This means stress accounts for 35% of all work related ill-health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health.

What we are saying is stress can lead to depression and/or anxiety, particularly if the stress being felt is prolonged, unmanaged and you can’t access support. It can affect your work life and your home life causing symptoms such as:

  • Irritability
  • Being unable to sleep
  • Overthinking
  • Worrying
  • Relationship issues
  • Feeling anxious
  • Digestive troubles

So what, if anything can be done?

The ideal is to reduce or resolve whatever is causing you stress, as well as building up your emotional and mental resilience to stress. With my Clients I use a range of techniques to help them with this including:

  • Developing long-term habits to alleviate stress including how to access support and resources

  • Learning body movements and relaxation, to reduce the impact of stress on the body

  • Using meditation techniques to take control of their thoughts and improve their focus

  • Counselling for long-term issues

If you are stuggling with stress and would like more information please get in touch.

  1. http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/index.htm

No rainbows without rain.

These days it can be easy to fear depression, it is the apparent curse of our age. Depression can be transient, a feeling much like any other that comes and goes like clouds in the sky. The problem comes when the feeling gets stuck, and it stays for weeks, months or even years. The bleakness of depression can be strong, and some lose their lives to it.

Meme2

Negative feelings like sadness, depression, loneliness, trauma, hurt, anger and loss are useful and essential emotions. They tell us that something is wrong and it needs to be changed, or worked through. Loss of a loved one for instance cannot be changed but it can be worked through with the process of mourning.

Depression is exactly what it says, a pushing down or ‘depression’ of feelings, because the change that is needed or the working through has got stuck for some reason. In pushing our feelings down we maintain the status quo, keeping everything as it is, and at times this might be a desirable outcome. However the longer it goes on the the more we push away or deny a part of ourselves.

In the quote ‘Without the rain, there would be no rainbows.’ Chesterton reminds us that suffering is inevitable, but that if we take a chance, to make the changes we need or to work through our hurts and trauma, we can glimpse the rainbow.

Some people can do this on their own, but others may need help and guidance on their journey with depression. Counselling and some types of meditation can be useful tools. Please seek help if you need it.

Let me know your thought on, and experiences of depression below.

 

 

Does meditation have side effects?

I recently came across this article exploring the side effects that meditation, and mindfulness in particular can have:
http://www.theguardian.com/…/23/is-mindfulness-making-us-ill

Mindfulness is often touted as a panacea for many of today’s ills, but is it really a cure all?

I posted the link on my Facebook meditation group for us to discuss, and after 2 hours or so we came up with some questions:

  • Is there anyone for whom meditation isn’t a good thing and why?
  • What is the difference between meditation and mindfulness?
  • How important do you think it is to have a well trained teacher when it comes to meditation?

I thought I would share my thoughts on these questions here, with you.

There is never going to be one therapy/pill/treatment that works for everyone, we are all different biologically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. There are many types of meditation because the ancients who passed down the traditions of meditation knew that there was more than one path to peace. So you need to find what works best for you.

For instance, someone who is hyper-vigilant or avoidant of their thoughts and feelings are likely to struggle with mindfulness as it reinforces their hyper-sensitivity to the world around or provokes anxiety by asking you to concentrate on the things you are trying to avoid. A better option would be for them to learn first to relax, to not see danger in their thoughts and surroundings, to learn to let go.

So what is the difference between mindfulness and meditation? In Western society we like to find that magic ingredient, that extract that we can remove, concentrate and administer to make us better. Mindfulness is an extract of meditation, it is one quality, one skill that improves our focus, bringing us into the present moment allowing us to stop worrying about the past or the future. Mindfulness meditations can work really well for some people, but not everyone.

Meditation is broader in its scope encompassing different types of meditation and relaxation. It is often set within a religious or psychotherapeutic framework, which allows the meditator a space and the resources to work through their emotional and mental baggage. See my blog: Meditation, is it all just sitting around? for a fuller discussion of this process.

Which brings us to the question of the need for a teacher. A good teacher will help you to find the right type of meditation for you, after listening to what you feel, think about and want from meditation. They might ask about your motivation, the type of person you are and if you have experienced depression, anxiety or mental health issues. They will be able to help, guide and support you through the process, particularly when any emotional issues arise. Most importantly a good teacher will have been there before you, faced those struggles and worked through them. Beware the teacher who doesn’t practice what they preach.

 

 

 

 

The Viniyoga of Counselling and Meditation

I am currently doing a course called The Art of Viniyoga, it is about the viniyoga of yoga. So what has this got to do with counselling or meditation? I hear you ask, well it’s like this…

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 3:6 states tasya bhumisu viniyogah

tasya = of it  bhumiuu = stage, level viniyogah = application, progression.

vi = special, intelligent  niyogah = continuous application

The sutra suggests that: Progression requires consistent, steadfast and intelligent application. Therefore viniyoga is about how the tools of a particular discipline are applied specific to the individual.

I have studied many ideas and theories about how the mind works and responds to trauma, stress and loss, as well as how we can help people who are in that place of distress. From Bowlby’s attachment theory, to the Yoga Sutras, cognitive behavioural therapy, Freud, Jung, Fonagy and more. Yet time and again research shows regardless of the theoretical orientation of your therapist, the best indicator for your therapy being useful to you is whether or not you have a good therapeutic relationship with your counsellor. In many ways I think the same is true for meditation.

A good therapeutic relationship, puts the Client at it’s heart, valuing and inspiring them in the good sessions, and the more challenging ones. It goes at a pace the Client can usefully work with, suggesting without imposing, supportive but not intrusive, holding the Client’s best interests and self-determination as a core principle. This is because each therapeutic journey is unique, not ‘better’ or ‘worse’ just different. A good therapist will therefore meet their Clients where they are and enable them to move forward, by taking the path that suits them, not some textbook definition.

The same is true for meditation, there are many types because people are different, some can visualise in full colour HD, others struggle, some find it difficult to work with their overthinking, others just prefer music or silence. If the aim is to help someone develop a regular meditation practice, it’s about meeting the Client where they are, finding what works for them and helping them to achieve their goals.

This is the viniyoga of counselling and meditation, applying each theory and tool individually to the Client, working with them where they are, until they are where they want to be.

So when I see my Clients this week I will not be trying to fit them to some theory, they are not some standardised textbook example. They are human beings with lives, loves and losses. What I will be thinking about is how to best work with them to help them take the next step on their unique journeys.

Need

I have been spending time working out how to reach people. Those who can’t afford therapy, those who find it hard to say I have a problem and I think I need help, those too busy to relax and those who haven’t yet noticed their life consists of work, work, work or stress, stress, stress.

My community work is growing, our free Meetup group is expanding and twice a month I get to work with some amazing people, unfortunately many can’t make Thursday nights or have other appointments. Some of the work I do with my private Clients is online or over the phone, as part of this I often email meditations I have recorded over to them to work with. I have decided to use this principle in a different way and I have released 3 free guided meditations on my website http://www.infinitedimension.co.uk/meditation (at the bottom of the page). My hope is that they will help more people to relax and become more in tune with the whole of themselves instead of constantly living in their heads. We often do this when we worry and have a lot of stress in our lives, agonising over decisions and things we have said and done.

Meditation is about bringing you back to your Self body, mind and spirit.

For those who need a little help coming to terms with things that have happened to them, changing things in their lives and having a better relationship with themselves I offer counselling and transpersonal development. Going forward I’d like to work out how to add this to my outreach programme, but for now I offer 2 low-cost places for those in need.

So why? Why do I value community and outreach work so much?

I love my work and over the years I have discovered need is not based on wealth, or an ability to access private therapy. At a time when so many are displaced and struggling, it is my small way of giving back, of doing something practical to feed my soul and lift someone else up. If you would like to know more or would like to do some work with me, do get in touch charlotte@infinitedimensions.co.uk.