Depression

Depression is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. 

Depression is different from feeling down or sad. Unhappiness is something which everyone feels at one time or another, usually due to a particular cause. A person suffering from depression will experience intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity and helplessness, and the feelings stay with them instead of going away.

Depression can happen to anyone. Many successful and famous people who seem to have everything going for them battle with this problem. Depression also affects people of every age.

Half of the people who have depression will only experience it once but for the other half it will happen again. The length of time that it takes to recover ranges from around six months to a year or more.

Living with depression is difficult for those who suffer from it and for their family, friends, and colleagues. It can be difficult to know if you are depressed and what you can do about it.

 

Signs and symptoms of depression

  • Tiredness and loss of energy.
  • Sadness that doesn’t go away.
  • Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting.
  • Feeling anxious all the time.
  • Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends.
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
  • Sleeping problems – difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up much earlier than usual.
  • Very strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
  • Finding it hard to function at work/college/school.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Loss of sex drive and/or sexual problems.
  • Physical aches and pains.
  • Thinking about suicide and death.
  • Self-harm

What causes Depression?

Depression can happen suddenly as a result of physical illness, experiences dating back to childhood, unemployment, bereavement, family problems or other life-changing events.

Examples of chronic illnesses linked to depression include heart disease, back pain and cancer. Pituitary damage, a treatable condition which frequently follows head injuries, may also lead to depression.

Sometimes, there may be no clear reason for your depression but, whatever the original cause, identifying what may affect how you feel and the things that are likely to trigger depression is an important first step.

 

Types of depression

There are several types of depression, some of which are listed below.

 

Mild depression

Depression is described as mild when it has a limited negative effect on your daily life. For example, you may have difficulty concentrating at work or motivating yourself to do the things you normally enjoy.

 

Major depression

Major depression interferes with an individual’s daily life – with eating, sleeping and other everyday activities. Some people may experience only one episode but it is more common to experience several episodes in a lifetime. It can lead to hospital admission, if the person is so unwell they are at risk of harm to themselves.

 

Bi-polar disorder

The mood swings in bi-polar disorder can be extreme – from highs, where the individual feels extremely elated and indestructible, to lows, where they may experience complete despair, lethargy and suicidal feelings. Sometimes people have very severe symptoms where they cannot make sense of their world and do things that seem odd or illogical.

 

Post-natal depression

Many new mothers experience what are sometimes called ‘baby blues’ a few days after the birth. These feelings of anxiety and lack of confidence are very distressing but in most cases last only a couple of weeks. Post-natal depression is more intense and lasts longer. It can leave new mothers feeling completely overwhelmed, inadequate and unable to cope. They may have problems sleeping, panic attacks or an intense fear of dying.

They may also experience negative feelings towards their child. It affects one in ten mothers and usually begins two to three weeks after the birth.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is associated with the start of winter and can last until spring when longer days bring more daylight. When it is mild, it is sometimes called ‘winter blues’. SAD can make the sufferer feel anxious, stressed and depressed. It may interfere with their moods and with their sleeping and eating patterns.

 

Taking control of your depression

Depression often makes you feel helpless. Taking action to make yourself feel more in control will have a positive effect, whether it’s going for treatment, joining a gym, going for daily walks, or doing something that you are interested in or good at. If you don’t feel up to starting something new or joining a local group on your own, ask a friend to come with you.

There are many things you can do to help manage your symptoms and a wide range of treatments, both medical and non-medical.

 

How you see yourself

The way you think about yourself will affect your frame of mind and feelings of depression. It is common to have feelings of worthlessness or guilt with depression. Try to be aware of any negative thoughts you have about yourself and how they might be affecting how you see yourself and how you feel. If you can, try to think about how realistic these thoughts are and how you might change them into something more positive.

 

Social networks

If you feel depressed it can be difficult to be sociable. Loneliness may make you feel worse, so it’s important to keep in touch with friends and family. Having people around you or groups that you are involved in will help to reduce feelings of isolation.

 

Worries about work, money or a legal situation

Making sure that you do not feel overwhelmed by your work responsibilities is important because it gives you a sense of being in control. It’s important to make time for yourself to do things you want to do or to be with friends and family.

If you’re struggling to cope with work pressures and you have access to an occupational health department, you can speak to them about how you are feeling. They may be able to help you to review your work commitments or address specific issues that are affecting your work.

Where possible, you should always try to keep working. This is because people with depression often find that having something meaningful to do and a reason to get up in the morning is very helpful. Being with work colleagues, having a routine to the day, and the sense of achievement in getting a job done are all good for your mental health.

 

Close relationships

Problems with close personal relationships can have a devastating effect on how you feel about yourself and the world.

 

Physical activity

There is good evidence that exercise can lift your mood because it can take your mind off your depression as well as stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are neurotransmitters produced in the pituitary gland in the brain that produce feelings of happiness.

 

Diet

Some studies have suggested a link between what you eat and depression, but there isn’t enough conclusive evidence to say whether or not it can definitely make a difference. There is some evidence that foods that are rich in some essential fatty acids found in oily fish, like mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, kippers and fresh tuna can help to relieve depression.

Whether there is a direct link or not, eating healthily will help you generally feel better and give you more energy, especially if you are also exercising.

 

Avoiding alcohol and drugs

Alcohol acts as a depressant on the brain. If you drink too much or too often, you are more likely to become depressed. If you are already suffering from depression, drinking alcohol can make you feel worse instead of better. With such a vicious circle it is best to drink moderately, if at all. Recreational drugs should also be avoided.

 

Managing anxiety

Around half of those people who experience depression will also experience anxiety. Taking steps to manage your anxiety can help give you the mental space to begin to deal with your depression. Talking about what is making you anxious, as well as a healthy diet and exercising, will all help you to control your anxiety. Some people, especially those with mild depression, find that relaxation techniques such as massage and yoga help them to manage their anxiety.

 

Complementary medicine

There is some evidence that St John’s Wort can help with mild to moderate depression. However, this drug is known to interact with other substances so you need to get advice from a pharmacist or other health professional before taking it.

 

Talking Therapies

Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and some forms of counselling and psychotherapy work well for depression. Always check that any private therapist is registered with a professional body.

There are several different kinds of talking therapy.

  • Counselling gives people the chance to talk through everyday issues that may be causing depression and to develop strategies for resolving them.
  • Cognitive therapy (sometimes called cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT) addresses the way you think and how this can cause depression. It teaches you skills to identify patterns of behaviour and thinking that are causing you problems and change them.
  • Psychotherapy can be more intensive than counselling although people and organisations often use these terms interchangeably. It often looks at how past experience may be affecting your life now, so it may involve delving deeply into early experiences and key relationships. This may take more time, although shorter more focused ways of doing this have also been developed. Interpersonal therapy focuses on how you relate and behave towards others. It helps you to build a better self-image and communicate more effectively with others.

 

If you’re dealing with depression, seeking treatment for abuse or simply seeking advice on how to be at one with yourself and would like to learn more about how a health retreat can help, visit www.breakthrough-retreats.co.uk. There you’ll be able to claim your free copy of my new guide, “Unlocking your full potential: An introduction to the incredible impact of personal development retreats”, packed with information on everything from what a spiritual retreat looks like to the benefits of getting away from it all.

 

Original article: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/D/depression/

Breakthrough Retreats’ Top Tips for good mental wellbeing over Christmas

With Christmas and the New Year fast approaching, Maureen Courtney offers advice on how to cope with the pressures of Christmas and how to implement positive mental change for 2015.

 

 

Drink sensibly

The celebratory spirit of Christmas and New Year often involves social drinking and although the consumption of alcohol might make you feel more relaxed, it is important to remember that alcohol is a depressant and drinking excessive amounts can cause low mood, irritability or potentially aggressive behaviour. By not exceeding the recommended number of safe units, you will be better able to sustain good mental and physical wellbeing.

 

Eat well

The festive period has become synonymous with over-indulgence, which in turn prompts a pressing desire for many of us to lose weight in the New Year. Therefore, where possible, it is important to maintain a good balance of fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein and omega 3 sources throughout the year in order to help us work towards weight loss in a sensible way. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight can improve your mood and can work towards preventing symptoms of lethargy and irritability that many of us feel during the busy festive season and dark winter months.

 

Be active

Exercise releases the feel-good chemicals, endorphins, which help you to relax, feel happy and boost your mood. By undertaking simple tasks such as cycling to work, walking in the park, or joining in with Christmas games, you can benefit from experiencing reduced anxiety, decreased depression and improved self-esteem. In addition, recent research has indicated that regular exercise can help to boost our immune systems, enabling us to better fight off colds and flu viruses that are prolific in winter months.

 

Get involved

The festive period provides us with an ideal opportunity to talk to, visit or engage with the people around us. Face-to-face communication has been shown to improve our mental and physical wellbeing as this interaction produces the hormone, oxytocin, which can benefit our immune system, heart health and cognitive function. It has been reported that a third of us have a close friend or family member we think is lonely, a Christmas or new year’s resolution to see our friends and family more often can help to boost both our own mental wellbeing, and that of others. If you are apart from your family then volunteering for a charity or local community organisation can provide that same human contact, as well as help provide essential support and encouragement for others in need. These interactions can easily be sustained throughout the coming year and need not just be for Christmas.

 

Relax

Christmas can be a very busy and stressful time as we prepare to entertain family and friends, worry about cooking a delicious Christmas dinner, and fit in some last minute present shopping. These feelings of being under pressure can produce symptoms of anxiety, anger and difficulty sleeping which, if prolonged, could have a long-term detrimental impact on your mental health and wellbeing. By exercising more regularly or practicing mindfulness – a combination of meditation, yoga and breathing techniques – you can help to both alleviate the symptoms of your stress and gain more control when coping with difficult situations. Christmas presents aside, implementing a new exercise regime or signing up for a course in mindfulness, such as our online course in mindfulness-based stress reduction, could be your best investment for a more relaxed Christmas and New Year.

 

Sleep

Despite many of us having time off work during Christmas and the New Year, our sleep patterns can be disturbed between catching up with friends and family and partying late in to the night. There is mounting evidence on the link between sleep and mental wellbeing, meaning improvements in the quality of your sleep could result in improvements to your overall mental health. There are several steps you can take towards achieving a better night’s sleep: attempting to get back in to your regular sleep routine as soon as possible after the party period, consuming less alcohol during the festivities, implementing regular exercise into your weekly routine, and taking measures to alleviate your stress.

 

If you’re dealing with depression, lonliness or having problems conquering other personal issues and would like to learn more about how our bespoke health retreats could benefit you, visit www.breakthrough-retreats.co.uk. There you’ll be able to claim your free copy of my new guide, “Unlocking your full potential: An introduction to the incredible impact of personal development retreats”, packed with information on everything from what a spiritual retreat looks like to the benefits of getting away from it all.

 

Original article here.

 

 

The Importance of making a Will

balance loveFrom October 2014 the estates of people who die intestate, or without a will, are to be divided differently.

Rules of Intestacy; determine what happens to a person’s estate if they die without a will.

The major change is if a person who is married or in a civil partnership dies intestate (without a will), their entire estate will now automatically pass to their direct family.

However, couples who aren’t married or in a civil partnership and who don’t have a will still don’t automatically receive anything from their partner or spouse’s estate.

There are several key changes to the rules.

Couples with no children

Previously, in the case of couples with no children, the spouse or partner would inherit the first £450,000 of the estate plus interest, half of any remaining value and the deceased person’s personal property, known as chattels. The remainder would then go to any surviving blood relatives such as parents or siblings. Now the entire estate passes to the surviving spouse or civil partner.

Couples with children

In the case of couples with children, previously the spouse or civil partner would take the first £250,000 of the estate and all the deceased’s chattels. They would also have what’s known as a ‘life interest’ in half of any remaining balance, where they are entitled to use a property or use an income for their rest of their life. The children would take the other half. Now, the spouse or civil partner receives the half of any remaining amount as a cash sum upfront, with the rest still going to the children.

Personal property or chattels

As these laws haven’t been revised since 1925, there are plenty of archaic descriptions of what chattels might be included, such as carriages and scientific instruments.

The new laws now define chattels as “anything that is not monetary, business assets or held as an investment”. Experts say the latter definition is too ambiguous and could lead to arguments among families as to what is an investment.

Adopted children

A child can still inherit part of an estate via intestacy, even if he/she is then adopted. And a person who is “treated as a child of the family” is also able to make a claim.

The amount that can be inherited by the spouse or partner

Previously, the amount the surviving spouse or partner received when someone died intestate was fixed at either £450,000 or £250,000 depending on whether or not they had children. This is known as the statutory legacy. Now this amount will be reviewed every five years in line with the Consumer Prices Index measure of inflation and rounded up to the nearest £1,000.

The importance of making a will

While these changes are an improvement, they still don’t eliminate the need to make a will if you want to ensure your estate goes to certain people. This is obviously especially true if you’re not married or in a civil partnership or if you have partners or children from other relationships.

Making a will also means your family isn’t left dealing with paperwork of intestacy after your death, trying to second-guess your wishes. In addition there’s the prospect of your loved ones paying inheritance tax on your estate if you haven’t planned properly.

Nearly two-thirds of people do not have a will, according to new research by the Co-operative Legal Services.

Original article information here.

The effects of Bulimia on the Body

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which a person creates a destructive pattern of eating in order to control their weight. People with bulimia tend to go on eating binges, consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time. This is usually followed by an attempt to rid the food from their body using laxatives or self-induced vomiting. This behaviour is usually carried out in secret, taking a tremendous emotional toll.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, up to 3 percent of the population has bulimia. Roughly 9 out of 10 people with bulimia are female.

In addition to mental stress, continued bingeing and purging also puts great strain the body. Unlike the eating disorder anorexia, people with bulimia may not appear to have significant weight loss. However, complications due to bulimia are serious and can put your life at risk.

Bulimia nervosa is a mental health disorder that puts enormous strain on the body and the spirit.

The effects of Bulimia on the Body

The Effects of Bulimia on the Body

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which a person creates a destructive pattern of eating in order to control their weight. People with bulimia tend to go on eating binges, consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time. This is usually followed by an attempt to rid the food from their body using laxatives or self-induced vomiting. This behaviour is usually carried out in secret, taking a tremendous emotional toll.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, up to 3 percent of the population has bulimia. Roughly 9 out of 10 people with bulimia are female.

In addition to mental stress, continued bingeing and purging also puts great strain the body. Unlike the eating disorder anorexia, people with bulimia may not appear to have significant weight loss. However, complications due to bulimia are serious and can put your life at risk.

 

Mental and Emotional Health

Bulimia is a mental health disorder. People with bulimia tend to show signs of depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorders. They’re also at risk for substance abuse problems and suicidal behaviour.

Constant monitoring of food and weight can become an obsession. A person with bulimia may binge in secret and hide evidence of food and laxatives. Having to keep secrets contributes to the cycle of stress and anxiety.

Bulimia may cause moodiness and irritability. Compulsive exercising or preoccupation with appearance are common symptoms. It’s not unusual for someone with bulimia to spend a lot of time thinking about food and how to control it. This may be accompanied by feelings of embarrassment and shame. It’s hard to measure the emotional cost.

 

Digestive System

A sore throat or stomach pain may be the first obvious physical side effects of bulimia.

Chronic self-induced vomiting can cause a variety of symptoms in the digestive tract, beginning at the mouth. The high acid content of vomit can damage teeth, causing enamel erosion, tooth sensitivity, and gum disease. Puffy cheeks or jaws come from swollen salivary glands. Excessive vomiting may cause a sore or swollen throat.

Acid can irritate or tear the oesophagus. Blood in vomit may be a sign of a ruptured oesophagus. The stomach also becomes irritated. Stomach aches; heartburn, and acid reflux are common.

Putting your finger down your own throat is one way that people with bulimia induce vomiting. Doing this over and over can scar the skin on your fingers and hands, due to exposure to acidity.

Another way to rid the body of food is to use diuretics, diet pills, or laxatives. Overuse of these products can make it difficult to have a bowel movement without them. Misdirected use of diuretics may also damage the kidneys. Damage to the intestines can cause bloating, diarrhoea, or constipation. Straining to move your bowels can result in haemorrhoids.

Recurrent bingeing and purging is physically demanding and can bring on general weakness and fatigue.

 

Circulatory System

Frequent purging can cause dehydration, leading to dry skin, weak muscles, and extreme fatigue. Vomiting often can throw your electrolytes out of balance. Low levels of potassium, magnesium, and sodium are not uncommon. This is hard on the heart and can cause irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), weakened heart muscle, and heart failure.

Bulimia can cause low blood pressure, weak pulse, and anaemia. Throwing up can be a violent event. The sheer force of it can even cause blood vessels in the eyes to rupture.

 

Reproductive System

Bulimia can interfere with your menstrual cycle or stop it altogether. A hormonal imbalance and fatigue can kill your sex drive. If the ovaries no longer release eggs, conceiving a child becomes impossible.

Pregnant women who continue to engage in bingeing and purging behaviours face additional complications for themselves and their babies. These include:

  • Maternal high blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Miscarriage
  • Premature birth
  • Breech birth
  • Higher risk of C-section
  • Low birth weight babies
  • Birth defects
  • Stillbirth
  • Breastfeeding difficulties

Use of diuretics or laxatives during pregnancy may be harmful to your unborn baby.

 

Source: http://www.healthline.com/health/bulimia/effects-on-body

Mental Health Statistics: Suicide

It’s estimated that around one million people will die by suicide worldwide each year. 

Suicide remains the most common cause of death in men under the age of 35 (Five Years On, Department Of Health, 2005).

Mental Health: Suicide

More than 5700 people in the UK died by suicide in 2010 (Samaritans Information Resource Pack, 2012).

British men are three times as likely as British women to die by suicide (Samaritans Information Resource Pack, 2004).

The suicide rate among people over 65 has fallen by 24% in recent years, but is still high compared to the population overall. (Samaritans Information Resource Pack, 2004).

If you’re dealing with depression, seeking treatment for abuse or having problems conquering other personal issues and would like to learn more about how our bespoke health retreats could benefit you, visit www.breakthrough-retreats.co.uk. There you’ll be able to claim your free copy of my new guide, “Unlocking your full potential: An introduction to the incredible impact of personal development retreats”, packed with information on everything from what a spiritual retreat looks like to the benefits of getting away from it all.

Information from here: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-statistics/suicide/

Mental Health Statistics: Men & Women

mental health men womenWomen are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men (29% compared to 17%). This could be because, when asked, women are more likely to report symptoms of common mental health problems. (Better Or Worse: A Longitudinal Study Of The Mental Health Of Adults In Great Britain, National Statistics, 2003)

Depression is more common in women than men. 1 in 4 women will require treatment for depression at some time, compared to 1 in 10 men. The reasons for this are unclear, but are thought to be due to both social and biological factors. It has also been suggested that depression in men may have been under diagnosed because they present to their GP with different symptoms.  (National Institute For Clinical Excellence, 2003)

Women are twice as likely to experience anxiety as men. Of people with phobias or OCD, about 60% are female.  (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)

Men are more likely than women to have an alcohol or drug problem. 67% of British people who consume alcohol at ‘hazardous’ levels, and 80% of those dependent on alcohol are male. Almost three quarters of people dependent on cannabis and 69% of those dependent on other illegal drugs are male. (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)

 

If you’re dealing with mental health issues, depression, seeking treatment for abuse or having problems conquering other personal issues and would like to learn more about how our bespoke health retreats could benefit you, visit www.breakthrough-retreats.co.uk. There you’ll be able to claim your free copy of my new guide, “Unlocking your full potential: An introduction to the incredible impact of personal development retreats”, packed with information on everything from what a spiritual retreat looks like to the benefits of getting away from it all.

 

Article information from here: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-statistics/men-women/

10 Ways to Look After Your Mental Health

anxiety awareAnyone can make simple changes that have a huge impact on their mental health and wellbeing. We’ve come up with ten practical ways to take care of yourself and get the most from life.

Mental health is about the way you think and feel and your ability to deal with ups and downs. Making simple changes to how you live doesn’t need to cost a fortune or take up loads of time. Anyone can follow our advice.

 

Talk About Your Feelings

Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. It’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.

 

Eat Well

There are strong links between what we eat and how we feel – for example, caffeine and sugar can have an immediate effect. But food can also have a long-lasting effect on your mental health.

 

Keep in Touch

Friends and family can make you feel included and cared for. They can offer different views from whatever’s going on inside your own head. They can help keep you active, keep you grounded and help you solve practical problems.

 

Take a Break

A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you.

 

Accept Who You Are

Some of us make people laugh, some are good at maths, and others cook fantastic meals. Some of us share our lifestyle with the people who live close to us, others live very differently. We’re all different.

 

Keep Active

Experts believe exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep, look and feel better. Exercise also keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy.

 

Drink Sensibly

We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary.

 

Ask for Help

None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things go wrong. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help.

 

Do Something You’re Good At

What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself helps beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it and achieving something boosts your self-esteem.

 

Care for Others

Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together.

 

If you’re dealing with depression, seeking treatment for abuse or having problems conquering other personal issues and would like to learn more about how our bespoke health retreats could benefit you, visit www.breakthrough-retreats.co.uk. There you’ll be able to claim your free copy of my new guide, “Unlocking your full potential: An introduction to the incredible impact of personal development retreats”, packed with information on everything from what a spiritual retreat looks like to the benefits of getting away from it all.

Welcome to The Briers Country House; New Retreat Centre Review

We ran our first retreat at our custom Retreat Centre earlier this month. We were so bowled over by the review that we got from our very treasured Dr client that we had to share it with you. Our treasured client also provided us with some lovely pictures that we know you will appreciate. Please enjoy his words.

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The Retreat

The retreat was well organised and ran smoothly.  The experience sought to achieve a holistic healing of mind, body and spirit and involved a number of different psychological and holistic therapies/techniques.  In between specific therapies, there was ample time to chat with Maureen (Courtney) to explore issues and to provide feedback about therapies.

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Location-wise, the retreat centre could not have been better placed: The Briers is situated on the outskirts of Newcastle, County Down, in close proximity to the Tollymore Forest, the Mourne Mountains and the Irish Sea, an ideal place to “get back to nature” and a sanctuary to find peace and serenity.

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The Therapists

Therapists I worked with in the Breakthrough Retreats team included:

  • Gareth for Bio Cranial Sacral therapy
  • Joanne for Reflexology
  • Jacquie for EMDR
  • Janine for Massage
  • As well as Maureen for Hypnosis, reiki, journey therapy, regression therapy

All the therapists I worked with were very friendly, supportive and positive; it was very easy to build rapport with them.  Each therapist is very experienced and an expert in their field, and passionate about holistic therapy.

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As the organiser of the retreat, Maureen was the therapist with whom I spent the most time.  She was very friendly and approachable, and in between specific therapies, I found it easy to chat to her about my issues and also about my own developing interests in holistic healing.  In her capacity as hostess, Maureen was always keen to make sure that my stay at The Briers was comfortable and pleasant.

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NI Bootcamp Activities

Incorporating outdoor / adventure activities into the retreat was inspirational.  Ian, from NI Bootcamp (Who Breakthrough Retreats work in conjunction with to produce the outdoor leg of their Retreats), was a joy to work with; a gentleman, professional, passionate about what he does, he provided me with support and motivation in all activities we did together (running + circuits, mountain biking, hill walking, indoor climbing).  Ian was very easy to talk to, and share personal experiences with; we found that we had similar personalities and issues and I found chatting with him to be inspiring and illuminating.

First Retreat Kim Ian April 2014

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Food, Accommodation & Hospitality

The Briers Country House was like a home away from home; very comfortable and peaceful, an ideal place to escape from the hustle and bustle of 21st Century life.  The room I had would have been able to sleep 3 people (one double bed and one single) and had an en suite toilet and bath/shower.

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The home-cooked food was wonderful and well-portioned: with a choice of breakfasts, including full, cooked Ulster breakfast, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, porridge, cereals, toast, fruit and yoghurt. The three-course dinners were always tasty and satisfying.

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Maureen was a wonderful host.  She was keen to make my stay as pleasant and as comfortable as possible. Maureen was also very kind enough to do some laundry for me (after I had got a bit muddy doing some of the NI Bootcamp activities).

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If you are interested in hearing more about our Group Retreats at The Briers then please Contact Us.

What is Shamanic Healing?

Dating back thousands of years, Shamanism is a truly ancient method of spiritual healing. Rather than treating the physical manifestations of an issue (for example, for individuals dealing with depression this might be an inability to get to sleep), Shamanism looks at identifying and resolving the spiritual causes of the problem.

Perfect for people seeking to achieve oneness of body and spirit, this treatment involves the Shaman engaging and communicating with the spirit world via alternate levels of consciousness inaccessible to you and me. For those who embrace these sessions, they can go a long way in showing you how to be at one with yourself.

In doing this, the Shaman receives guidance which they will then use to ensure your mind, body and spirit are functioning in unison. With individuals this may involve anything from repairing the soul to tackling spiritual blockages.

Though this method of healing will require an open mind, there is a reason Shamanism has stood the test of time – it really does work! Whether you’re dealing with depression, seeking treatment for abuse or having problems conquering other personal issues, shamanic healing can produce remarkable results. For this reason, it is one of the key therapies we offer at our spiritual retreats.

For more information and to discover what other treatments are available at our spiritual retreats, visit www.breakthrough-retreats.co.uk. There you’ll be able to claim your free copy of my new guide, “Unlocking your full potential: An introduction to the incredible impact of personal development retreats”, packed with information on everything from what a spiritual retreat looks like to the benefits of getting away from it all.

What exactly is transpersonal psychotherapy?

Having trained for five years to become a transpersonal therapist, this is an area of particular expertise for me.

Forming a large part of our health retreats, this incredibly effective form of therapy healing involves searching for the origin of your problem (be it stress, depression, anxiety or addiction) and helping you recognise negative behaviours in yourself and develop the means to tackle them effectively. Transpersonal psychotherapy sessions may also involve looking at your situation on a spiritual level. Lots of people have spiritual beliefs which are different to those of their family, which can be extremely difficult to come to terms with. Similarly, dream analysis can form an important part of these sessions.

In short, transpersonal therapy, like other effective mental therapy treatments such as hypnotherapy, is concerned with tracing everything back to its root cause. Often this won’t be immediately apparent, but will emerge gradually after several sessions at your retreat centre. For example, if you are struggling to deal with stress and anxiety, though you might initially think work is to blame, we may discover in the course of the therapy that the real cause is an inability to deal with abuse suffered in the past at the hands of parents or partners. Whatever the origin of your problem, identifying it is a huge step towards tackling and overcoming it, and essential if you are to be able to live the life you want in the future.

If you’re dealing with depression, seeking treatment for abuse or having problems conquering other personal issues and would like to learn more about how a break at one of our retreat centres could benefit you, visit www.breakthrough-retreats.co.uk. There you’ll be able to claim your free copy of my new guide, “Unlocking your full potential: An introduction to the incredible impact of personal development retreats”, packed with information on everything from what a spiritual retreat looks like to the benefits of getting away from it all.