Managing stress – Men’s Health Week 2016

Rupert Counsellor

Today – Monday 13th June – marks the beginning of Men’s Health Week . This year the theme is stress, and the Men’s Health Forum which promotes the week in the UK asks: ‘We all get stressed. The question is: what do you do about it?’.

Statistics show that

  • 76% of suicides are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 (ONS)
  • 12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders
  • Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women – Health and Social Care Information Centre)
  • Men are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs
  • Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. Only 36% of referrals to IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) are men.

The forum compares the chances of a man experiencing mental health problems is 3/1, similar to those offered against France or Germany winning the Euro 2016 football tournament. “In other words, it’s likely to happen sooner or later if we let stress build.”

This action against stress is reinforced by a lot of useful information on the Men’s Health Week web page. You can also download a ‘toolbox talk’ on beating stress HERE.

mhw_2016logoWe have written about men’s mental health in the past a number of times. The key to success seems to be the encouragement to talk about the stress, depression and anxiety many experience but find it hard to describe, or open up about to friends or colleagues. It is really important to recognise the stress you are under, and take steps to address it. After all, statistics suggest:

  • Men are less able to recognise warning signs, or to act on them, and are therefore less likely to contact support services. This is very similar to the male response to physical symptoms.
  • There is an increased reliance on self-management or medication using alcohol or drug abuse which can wreak havoc on their own lives and those of their family and friends.

So if you are concerned about your own mental health, or that of someone you know, visit the Men’s Health Forum website and start the conversation now.

Here at The Terrace we have a number of counsellors skilled in the mental health needs of both sexes. Please do contact us for a no-obligation initial discussion  – we are keen to help.

5 fabulous exam tips for the final push…

Nearly there – the exam period is in full swing and all that revision should be paying off. Well, we hope so. It is a tough time for anyone finishing a school or college year; whilst others can relax and enjoy the early summer sun, there is last minute revision to be done and the inevitable nerves to deal with.

So, we thought we would share the exam tips we have been posting over the past few weeks on an ‘omnibus’ blog post, offering you the opportunity to remind yourself of all those things that are important over the coming weeks as the exams end and the results come in…

Exams1

Find a revision buddy

Exam stress is tough- Try not to compare

Eatingwellexams

This final tip is very important. It is easy to forget, when under such tremendous pressure, that the results of the exams you are sweating over will not define the rest of your life. It might be difficult, but try a little mindfulness meditation and remember, whatever happens there is still a way forward.

Exam tip 5

And after those exams are over, read our post on dealing with those post-exam feelings that can be surprisingly difficult to cope with.

Good luck – we have everything crossed for you!

 

Mental health in rural communities: A farmer’s life

Farmer depressedLast week, officials from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) agreed to pursue the development of a mental health strategy for the farming industry, prompted by David Simpson MP, who demanded government intervention to deal with the specific mental strains that farmers face.

Despite appearances – the rolling fields, animals peacefully grazing and fields of crops lighting up the landscape, farming is a very high-pressure job, with few days off, round the clock working and the pressures of the market.We have seen in Somerset the additional pressures placed on those who are largely responsible for managing our landscape. Flooding on the levels devastated many and TB in cattle is an ongoing concern.

Most farmers are male, and as we have written about on this web site, men are far less likely to discuss their personal problems and are statistically much more likely to commit suicide than women.  Hours alone in the fields, isolation both physical and mental and the additional burden of running a business in tough times  can exacerbate mental health problems and the social isolation can mean that others fail to notice the symptoms until it is too late. There are particular difficulties in accessing support in counties such as Somerset, where stretched services are concentrated in urban areas, but there are some organisations that are devoted to working specifically with the farming community. These include:

The Farming Community Network  which can take calls between 7am and 11pm, with those answering having specific knowledge of rural issues..

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I.), which helps farmers and farmworkers of any age if financial issues are causing strain.

And of course there are mental health charities such as Young Minds, Mind, Sane and Time to Change which can offer support for those experiencing depression and anxiety and many other mental health issues.

The BBC Countryfile magazine website has a particularly good article HERE

So if you or anyone you know works in the agricultural industry, it is a good idea to be specially alert to the symptoms of depression and take care of emotional as well as physical well-being. Do get in touch with us here at The Terrace if you think we can help. We are always happy to talk through the options available.

 

Insomnia – How psychotherapeutic techniques can help.

images (11)Here at The Terrace we are lucky enough to have a group of therapists skilled at working with clients on specific issues. Today we are highlighting insomnia – an inability to sleep – that can affect any of us for brief periods (due to a short-term stressful situation for example). However, for some it can become deeply distressing and life-changing.

Helena Trump – Counsellor & Psychotherapist here at The Terrace writes:-

I recently seem to have had a plethora of clients, all with insomnia!! Insomnia, or the inability to sleep, “wakefulness”, as I like to call it, affects one in every three people in the UK. It can be occasional episodes, or for some people it can last months, even years. Wakefulness can take a serious toll on your quality of life, affecting moods, work and relationships.

How much sleep do we need ? It is thought,on average, that a normal adult needs 7-9 hours, older adults less. For me, when a person does not stay asleep long enough to awake feeling totally refreshed in the morning, then it really is a problem, and time to tackle it.

Initially it is not always clear what triggers insomnia. It is often associated with stress, anxiety, trauma, lifestyle factors or mental health conditions such as depression. I have found that clients who experience insomnia, often have a tendency to internalise their feelings. Counselling can help you to deal with, and so avoid, the thoughts and behaviours affecting your sleep patterns, steering you towards full expression of your feelings. That expression will often result in multifarious long term health and life benefits.

To book a free 20 minute appointment with Helena to discuss your “wakefulness”, just call the Terrace on 01823 338968, and to find out more see Helena’s page on our website over at www.the-terrace.co.uk

More poetry for mindfulness: Rainy days..

14300922917_ef36d68a0b_mThe weather in Britain in the past two months has been extraordinary. Talk of climate change was once more to the fore as we waited in vain for the crisp, cold days of winter. Instead of a white Christmas we had the warmest December on record, record rainfall and the consequent horrors of flooding, and now January is throwing everything at us.

Winter is often a time for reflection, but it can be a time when the black dog of depression and deep sadness comes over us. Relationships are vulnerable, the world seems drab after the light and sparkle of the festive season and spring can feel a long way off.

We are great advocates of mindfulness here at The Terrace, and it is at times like this that the practice of being mindful can come into its own. As we are paying attention to the present moment, meditating on our environment, and focusing on our breathing, we are more aware of our feelings, and can let painful and frustrating thoughts go with greater ease. Emptying our minds is difficult, but as Wendell Berry (a great exponent of poetry appropriate for mindfulness practice) maintains in this poem, it is only as we let things go, and cease to be distracted by indecision, that our mind becomes a space in which we can appreciate the ‘clear days’…

The Clear Days by Wendell Berry

The dogs of indecision
Cross and cross the field of vision.
A cloud, a buzzing fly
Distract the lover’s eye.
Until the heart has found
Its native piece of ground
The day withholds its light,
The eye must stray unlit.
The ground’s the body’s bride,
Who will not be denied.
Not until all is given
Comes the thought of heaven.
When the mind’s an empty room
The clear days come.

Do you have any poetry that helps still your mind and enables you to focus? We would love to hear your ideas.

Miranda Bevis, our Mindfulness expert, is offering new 8 week courses this month. 
Starting Tuesday January 26th 6.30- 8.45pm
Starting Wednesday January 27th 9.15- 11.30am

Optional half day for both courses: Sunday 6th March

Contact us at post@the-terrace.co.uk or on 01823 338968 for more details

Image courtesy of Phillippe Gillotte on Flickr Creative Commons

Switch off the email notifications, switch off the stress….

_85489389_85489384Do you ever switch off? REALLY switch off?

Many of us take a break by going for a walk, chilling on the sofa with a box set of our favourite programme, or having a meal out with friends. But is it really relaxation if we take our phones with us and allow it to make endless ‘ping’ ‘ring’ and ‘whoosh’ noises at us?

We would say no. Turning off a mobile phone whilst in a therapy room is a must, but it should be silent at any time we like to call ‘ours’, otherwise that time can be eaten into by a relentless stream of updates.

So we were glad to see reports in the press today, highlighting a study undertaken by psychologists at the London-based Future Work Centre, exploring email pressure’ and how it affects work-life balance.

The study found that emails, although a brilliant way to communicate, are equally good at causing our stress levels to rise. Researchers found that the two most stressful habits were leaving email alerts on all day and checking emails as soon as one gets up or lay down to sleep at night. We would add the stress of notifications from social media accounts too – Facebook and twitter streams can contact us 24 hours of the day if we let them.

The study found that turning off email updates on mobiles and laptops (and tablets too surely) will help reduce stress levels. It can also affect our perceptions of stress, as it feels as if we never get a break, when actually we have control over how we interact with our technology.

The study also found, perhaps predictably, that those in managerial positions felt higher levels of email pressure than non-managers.

Figures given by Ofcom suggest there are 2.5 billion email users worldwide, with adults spending an average of over an hour of each day on emails.

So perhaps, as we head into another year, almost certainly offering us means of communication in easier and quicker ways, we take a step back and analyse, honestly, how our lives are affected by those endless little noises we seem so reluctant to ignore….

A Mindful New Year…..

new yearWell we are a week into 2016, so we thought we would repost a great piece by our own mindfulness expert, Miranda Bevis. How many of us are still keeping to those new year’s resolutions? Should we even be trying – adding additional pressures to our already stressful days? 

In days gone by, as the old year departed, I would enthusiastically construct a huge list of New Year’s Resolutions. This was it! I was at last going to get in control! Become thin and fit and popular, well read, up to date with current affairs and so, so organized. And for the first few days, I’d get up early, go for a run, read improving books and eat improving food. Hoover under the sofa, tidy my sock drawer and open brown envelopes immediately.

If I’d managed to carry all these good intentions through, by now I would be lean and fit, living a life that worked like clockwork, fluent in a number of foreign languages, with an In tray that was always empty, and an Out smugly full. But happier? I’m not so sure.

Anyway, not surprisingly, I rarely got beyond week one with any of them; certainly they never made it to February. Very quickly, exhaustion, apathy and chocolate would take over, and I would be back where I started.

Why do we do this? I suspect it’s got something to do with wanting getting to grips with life, and to feel more in control. Perhaps coming from a feeling of not really being in control.

And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve aspects of our lives, perhaps we need to hold on to these goals lightly, and understand that even if we achieved them, it wouldn’t necessarily make us happy or help us to navigate the pitfalls of life.

The truth is that we just aren’t fully in control of our lives. Difficult things are always going to happen. Mindfulness offers the possibility of being “in control of not being in control”. It helps us embrace both the pleasant and the unpleasant, the joys and the tragedies of life with equanimity. It’s not about trying to change things, but simply learning to be OK with being exactly where we are.

So these days, there’s only one item on the list, and that is to do as much Mindfulness as I possibly can. Over and over to come back to the present, to the simple breath, to an awareness of what I’m doing , while I’m doing it.

And strangely, the more I practice, I find that some of the things on the original list begin to come more naturally. By developing a kindly awareness towards myself, it becomes much easier to give myself what I truly need.

Still not great with brown envelopes though.

Miranda Bevis Mindfulness GroupsMiranda is offering mindfulness taster sessions at The Terrace, Taunton in January 2016:


Taster Sessions:
Tuesday January 12th 6.30- 8.00pm
Wednesday January 13th 9.30- 11.00am
Cost £5

Eight week Mindfulness Courses
Starting Tuesday January 26th 6.30- 8.45pm
Starting Wednesday January 27th 9.15- 11.30am

Optional half day for both courses: Sunday 6th March See the Events page of The Terrace website for full details.