Something is a miss..

Hi Everyone! I hope 2019 is faring well for you all! I have been remiss in my job of late- I have not updated my blog since the New Year. There has been a very good reason for this; last year, I had a loss in my family that was incredibly profound. It wasn’t my first loss, but it was my first loss as an ‘adult’, and it did hit me hard. Since then, as anyone who has experienced loss, I have been trying to figure things out and make sense of my, now changed, world. That’s not been an easy thing for me to do.

My first experience of loss was as a 7-year-old at school, my favourite teacher died of an asthma attack. I remember being so sad, but not understanding how something as simple as an asthma attack could kill someone. Being a young child, I quickly got over that loss and carried on with my life, back in my safe cocoon of knowledge that people don’t really die, unless for a ‘special’ reason. I carried on quite well for a few years and then experienced my first loss of someone who was personally important to me, as a young teenager- my Grandmother died (being that I am half Polish, she was my Babcia) and my whole world was shaken. Everything I thought I knew had been capsized.

A few years after, I lost my Grandad (Dziadek) and I think I was much better equipped to deal with that loss, as I had already experienced a loss that felt so huge, it would crush me. I can now see, with my Psychological training, that what I was experiencing was perfectly healthy! Had I not responded in the way I did, perhaps then there would have been something ‘wrong’, but we dealt with it as a family and we carried on. There is no ‘right’ way to grieve or process your loss. Psychologists and Psychiatrists have spent a lot of time trying to work out how our grieving processes work- Swiss-American Psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was frustrated by the lack of education that medical schools gave, in terms of the response to death and dying, so she started a series of interviews with patients, conducting her own research into the work that was already available, with regards death and dying.

1969 came and Kübler-Ross published her book, ‘On Death and Dying’  which published her idea that we go through stages of grieving, which she called the ‘Stages of the Grief Cycle’. Kübler-Ross initially assumed the stages to be linear, that is that one follows another, follows another, in order. However, later in life, she realised that the process was not linear, and that as individuals, we go through the process in differing stages, going back and forth as our own personal grief is processed. This kind of makes sense to me- I mean, we are all fundamentally human, so it would be sensible if we all reacted within some boundaries of a cycle, wouldn’t it? Or does that not account for our individual differences?

Kübler-Ross’ model does have criticism levied towards it, however. There are many reasons why the model might not be applicable; life is very different since KKübler-Ross created the model There is no definitive evidence that we actually pass through these stages; I use the model with clients to show that we all experience different reactions to loss, but that all of these reactions are part of a natural process. George Bonanno, a Clinical Psychologist at Columbia University in America has reviewed a number of peer-reviewed studies and journals and has come to the conclusion that we adapt and cope with trauma and loss through Psychological Resilience and some resilient people show no grief at all- but this doesnt mean they haven’t experienced the loss profoundly- this brings to mind an article I read about hypersensitivity, which would make an excellent blog post in the future. (Follow the links to read more about Psychological Resilience- it really is interesting!)

Whatever the theory behind grief and loss, we all experience it in our own way. For me, I felt the need to slow down my pace of work and to focus on the present more deeply. By doing this, it helped me to appreciate the here and now, rather than the what is going to happen in two weeks time, or the rumination on the past! Mindfulness, as always, has been a huge support for me. I guess this is my own personal resilience kicking in, acknowledging that there has been change in my life, and for me, change needs to be adapted to and worked with. Some changes happen quicker than others, I guess, and there are no rules as to how your own personal psychological resilience will kick in and work for you.


  1. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Dying-Elisabeth-Kübler-Ross/dp/0415463998
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kübler-Ross_model
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bonanno
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_resilience

Sometimes, Life just happens!

Hello everyone!

I really hope you are all well, and for those of you in the UK, are enjoying our strangely inclement weather!

I am so sorry for my silence over the past few weeks and months; as I am sure you are all aware, sometimes,  life just gets in the way. I have been very poorly with Pneumonia, and am well on the way to recovery now- thankfully!

My illness has made me incredibly grateful for my family and my very close friends- being sick is never fun, but when you are trying to balance all the stresses and strains of modern life, things can really get to you!

I have been practicing my Mindfulness and Relaxation (have you?) to get me through some particularly rough patches. With Christmas coming, it’s quite common for us to get stressed and irritated with the prospect of so much do organise and do. How about giving a bit of basic Relaxation a try? There are a lot of apps on the App Store and Android Store (even on Youtube) that you could find to help you 🙂

Anyway, this is just a very short post to reconnect and say ‘Hi!’ to you all! I am getting back to working condition, slowly and surely, and will be planning some stress-busting blog tips for the run-up to Christmas!

Have a wonderful weekend, and keep wrapped up!

Wanda

Stress- If I have no time for you, why should I have time for me?

This week has been a very busy week at WH Counselling- setting up on your own is a long, busy process. I have found myself working more than when I work as an employee! I am constantly thinking about work; a new blog post, a client, training, costs, timing- basically, you name it, it’s there! So, if I am so busy looking after the business, where is the time for me?

Whether you are setting up your own business, an employee or a stay at home parent, we will all suffer from one similar aspect- a lack of time and space! We are all too busy trying to get our work done, make sure dinner is cooked, children have done home work, we’ve done that special favour for a friend, or making time to visit a relative- so, what’s in it for me? You may ask, at the end of another busy week!

“I can’t justify spending time on myself, when there are so many other things I should be doing” is a common complaint among people nowadays- why is that? Are we working harder as a generation, or are we just not working smarter? For some people, working so hard is not an issue- they thrive on it. And, as long as it doesn’t negatively impact yourself or others around you, then I guess that is great for you and your sense of achievement. But, what if it is too much? And how will you know if it is too much? Are you feeling stressed and irritable? Do you feel pulled in all directions? Is it just too much effort to go out and meet your friends for a night out? It is? Well, perhaps it is about time you gave yourself permission to have a break!

When we are feeling stressed, all kinds of things happen to us; we may have physical symptoms- feeling tense, headaches, sweating, increased heart rate, butterflies and many more physical responses. We lose the ability to think as rationally as we would, were we not stressed. Our emotions change- we may not want to connect to people as much as we used too, we may feel sad, depressed, lonely, or like everything is too much to deal with. In turn, this can affect our behaviour- when you are stressed, are you more likely to shout at your children/partner/parents? Do you have less patience? Less interest in normal activities and, in turn, you are actually going out less or achieving less?

This is basically our adrenaline kicking in- our adrenaline is a hormone released from the adrenal glands and it’s major action, together with noradrenaline, is to prepare the body for fight or flight. Have you ever heard of our fight or flight response? It is our body’s way of protecting us and keeping us safe from stressful/dangerous/difficult situations. It can happen at any time- an exam could trigger it, being called in to your boss’s office at work, an argument, an accident or any other number of situations.

All of these physical and emotional response are perfectly normal when adrenaline is released- we might feel our chest tightening and a panic attack approaching, but again, this is just our adrenaline causing our fight or flight response. Everyone has one, and everyone has these symptoms at some point- it is a unique and different experience for everyone!

If you are feeling any of those emotions/sensations- what can you do? Well, sometimes we cannot just ‘get rid’ of our commitments and lower what we achieve. Perhaps we are committed to certain practices that we cannot get out of. But what IS important, is that you make time for YOU. “But I don’t have enough time to do that. I have too much going on. I am too tired in the evenings/weekends”- sound familiar?

At this point, it is even more important to make time for you! Life is incredibly stressful, and we all have a level of how much stress we can deal with- if we are already at our limit and the car breaks down, how are we going to deal with that extra stress? Not well! It may tip us over the edge- a problem that we, normally, if we weren’t stressed, could deal with easily, has blown out of all proportion and we just can’t deal with it.

So, what can we do to lower our stress levels? Make time for yourself! Every day, whether it is 30 minutes or a couple of hours; if it is just a bubble bath on your own, a yoga class, a walk, listening to music or reading a book, it is really important to give ourselves some time to relax and unwind. By doing this, we are reducing our stress levels, and then, when the next big stressful event happens, we are capable of dealing with it rationally and coherently.

Have you ever tried breathing and relaxation? By taking a little bit of time out to breathe, we give ourselves some much needed space to think about what we are going to do about the challenge that has just reared its head. By taking a few moments to breathe, it may stop us from saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, or something that we might regret! There are many free apps that you can download, which will help with breathing and relaxation techniques. However, a short ‘mantra’ for helping to relax with breathing, is to ensure that you breathe out for longer than you breathe in for- this reduces the CO2 and allows us a chance to calm and get rid of all the adrenaline that has built up over the stressful period/incident. Please do be aware, that although breathing out will help, it can take up to 2 hours for the adrenaline to leave our body- but, in that time, the body is not releasing more adrenaline; it needs to replenish what it has already released. So, calming down, may take time!

Mindfulness is another tool that we can keep in our stress relieving tool box- “Mindfulness is a mind-body approach to well-being that can help you change the way you think about experiences and reduce stress and anxiety” (Foundation, 2015). In short, it is learning to be in the present, rather than projecting to the future, or revisiting the past, and with this type of ‘relaxation’, it is possible to help with stressful situations. There are plenty of online courses, for free, that can help teach you mindfulness techniques- perhaps this could be part of your ‘me’ time?

So, what I am really saying, is that actually, it is ok to have a bit of ‘me’ time- it is not being selfish, it is taking good care of yourself, so that in times of crisis, you find it easier to cope! Finding the balance of ‘me’ time is very personal to you- what works for one person, may not work for all people, so do bare this in mind when you are working out what will help you! If you are not a sporty person, then there is no point in having your ‘me’ time as a sporty activity!

So, who of you is going to try and incorporate some ‘me’ time in to your day? I know I will be; at the end of the day, we all need a little pick me up from time to time. So, here it is- I give myself permission for some time off- will you?


 

 

 

Foundation, M.H. (2015) Be Mindful intro page, 17 March, [Online], Available: www.bemindful.co.uk [20 March 2015].