Photos from today’s session at Finola’s Healing Concepts (Bodytalk) with the great John Veltheim! Another great day of Healing!
With the publication of the spending review on Wednesday (Report, 24 November), it’s imperative the government invests in psychological therapies. Failure to address mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, devastates lives, puts a huge strain on the government budget and undermines economic productivity. Psychological health problems have a worse impact on people’s happiness and life satisfaction than physical health problems. In financial terms, the cost of mental ill health in England has been estimated to be £105bn per year.
Fortunately, a number of evidence-based psychological therapies exist and are effective. Investment in psychological therapies to date has been a success, but it is a success that could be multiplied. The improving access to psychological therapies programme is only funded to reach “at least 15%” of the people who need it, and retention and recovery rates could be improved. Everyone with a need for psychological therapy should be able to access it within 28 days. We urge more research funding to show which therapies work best for which people. And we advocate training to ensure the NHS workforce can deliver in practice the full range of evidence-based therapies that it offers in theory. We believe this would go a long way towards improving the wellbeing of the nation and the state of the public finances.
Veteran Psychotherapist, Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master Maureen Courtney of Breakthrough Retreats is seeking to raise awareness of the remarkable effectiveness of transpersonal psychotherapy for individuals suffering from any number of personal issues. In order to reach as many people as possible she is making her new guide available online for free.
As Maureen explains…
“All of us have things we’d like to change about ourselves, yet rather than tackle them head on, we simply find ways to cope with them and smother them with work and family. Although this may be easy, it will only exacerbate the problem in the long run. For those people motivated to make a positive change in their life (rather than those who simply refuse to acknowledge their problems), psychotherapy can be enormously helpful. Whether you’re suffering from stress, depression, anxiety or addiction, psychotherapy sessions will enable you to identify the true origin of your issues, recognise negative behaviours in yourself and develop the means to tackle them effectively.
“Unfortunately, however, despite its proven effectiveness, many people still struggle to fit weekly sessions into busy lives. For people in this position, a short personal development retreat is the perfect solution. Despite lasting only a matter of days, a retreat has the same impact of 3 or 4 years of psychotherapy. To raise awareness of these retreats I’ve decided to make my new guide, “Unlocking your full potential: An introduction to the incredible impact of personal development retreats” available for free online.
Anyone interested in a copy can order theirs at www.breakthrough-retreats.co.uk.
Veteran Psychotherapist, Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master Maureen Courtney of Breakthrough Retreats has recently published a series of articles in which she explains the importance of escaping everyday routines.
As Maureen explains…
“All of us have things we would love to change about ourselves, but many of us ignore these desires in the hope that they will somehow disappear in time. Rather than tackling those issues which are bothering us most, we become consumed by our day-to-day lives and begin to put personal development on the back-burners, allowing it to bow to the demands of work.
“In order to bring about lasting change it is important to tear yourself away from your daily routine. Although this can be achieved to an extent by making an effort to do something different during your lunch breaks or after work, the most effective way of tackling mental health issues is to escape the city altogether on a personal development retreat. By visiting a retreat, not only will you benefit from the peace and quiet of the countryside and the help and advice of various experts, you will also have time to identify, engage with and overcome those problems you had hidden away.
“Unlike weekly therapy sessions, a retreat will revolutionise your approach to life in a matter of days. Unfortunately, however, many of those who would benefit most from a bespoke health retreat are unaware that these retreats even exist, which is why I’ve written a series of articles on the subject. Anyone interested in exploring the articles can find them at www.breakthrough-retreats.co.uk.”
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Veteran Psychotherapist, Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master Maureen Courtney of Breakthrough Retreats has recently published a guide to introduce those dissatisfied with traditional therapy to the concept of personal development retreats and is making it available online for free.
As Maureen explains…
“Although currently weekly, one to one therapy sessions are the go-to solution for anyone struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, abuse or other such problems, this way of approaching personal development has major flaws. Despite the fact that treatments such as psychotherapy and hypnotherapy have been proven to be extremely beneficial to individuals, weekly hour-long sessions can only go so far towards true personal change as the brevity of these sessions undermines their effectiveness. Rather than being able to reflect on what they have uncovered properly after each session, on leaving, individuals are immersed once more in their normal lives.
“In contrast, personal development retreats take people away from their day-to-day lives in order to allow them to focus exclusively on solving whatever problems they are dealing with. Able to benefit from a wide range of treatments as well as amazing scenery and good food during these retreats, the impact they can have is far beyond that of traditional weekly therapy sessions.
“Unfortunately, however, few people are aware that these retreats are available, let alone how effective they are, which is why I’ve written my new guide, “Unlocking your full potential” and made it available for free online. Anyone interested in a copy can order theirs at www.breakthrough-retreats.co.uk.”
Maureen Courtney, new proprietor of The Briers, and her team welcomed local Politicians and representatives from the Tourism, Business and Health sectors as well as therapists and activity facilitators, Pips, SRC and the I3 programme and other organisations concerned with the promotion of well-being and health in the community, as she launched the newly renovated Country guest house and the innovative Break through retreat centre.
Guests were treated to a tour of the newly refurbished bedrooms, disabled facilities and Annie’s Cottage’, self- catering for up to 7 people. Martyn Todd, Alliance Candidate for Westminster.
In her opening address Maureen thanked her team for their support and praised the builders, Joe Curran Contracts for the quality of workmanship that had transformed the premises to such a high standard. Maureen thanked everyone for the warm welcome she had received since relocating from Hertfordshire in England to realise her vision of creating this facility and looked forward to, becoming a part of and to making a positive contribution to The Mournes and County Down area.
Introducing Breakthrough Retreats, a concept new to Northern Ireland, and coming in the form of 1-7 days programmes for individuals or groups formulated by a team of experts in the field of Holistic and alternative therapy and activity specialists, Maureen invited anyone who would like to know more about The Briers and the Breakthrough Retreats’ services available, to contact Maureen for information or to view the facilities.
Maybe you’re on a phone interview for the perfect job opportunity, or maybe your in-laws are due to show up any minute.
To deal with these everyday stresses and anxieties, we often subconsciously pace back and forth with no destination or clear goal in mind. But what causes pacing, and can it help ease our mood?
“Pacing is a behavioural signal to tell yourself that you’re too overwhelmed,” Sunna Jung, Ph.D., a psychologist specializing in anxiety and trauma, tells Mashable. “It could be a signal trying to teach you about something that’s happening in your internal state, or it can be a form of distraction in the moment to calm yourself down.”
On a basic level, Jung believes pacing is a way to release muscular tension or discomfort. Your body is sending a signal to your brain that it’s uncomfortable: “Pay attention; something isn’t right.” When it comes to anxiety, pacing could be our mind and body’s attempt at relief.
While anxiety can range from temporary anxious feelings to a serious illness, it’s incredibly common. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. — 40 million American adults (18% of the population) suffer from anxiety. And although it’s highly treatable, only one-third receive treatment.
Pacing isn’t exclusive to anxiety either; it can be a symptom of depression (though, nearly half of those diagnosed with depression also live with an anxiety disorder, according to the ADAA), as well as ADHD and autism (as a repetitive body movement).
When it comes to everyday anxiety, pacing might help you stay calm and collected on that phone interview, concentrate more when making a decision and feeling more comfortable by the time your in-laws arrive.
But are there any drawbacks?
“When you’re in a state of distraction, and you’re staying away from the actual sensation or memory or thoughts you’re trying to keep at bay, it can place you in a state of constant anxiety without any kind of real resolution it can place you in a state of constant anxiety without any kind of real resolution,” Jung says.
Pacing is just one of several bodily reactions to stress and anxiety, like twitching or stomach discomfort. And while pacing is one of the most common, it might not help anything either, depending on your source of discomfort.
Jung’s patients spend more time in their heads, ruminating — which is similar to pacing in its repetitive nature. Pacing, she says, is not very harmful and common enough that her patients don’t talk about it much or do it in the room with her. Ruminating, on the other hand, can be harmful; spending too much time thinking about something, even when there’s no resolution, can make it worse.
That’s why, when we pace, we should be more mindful of what we do and think about.
“Notice each footfall as it hits the ground, and notice how the body is responding to it … That awareness, over time, brings you more stability and more self-regulation,” she says. Pacing isn’t something psychologists “prescribe,” of course, but “in that case, it really wouldn’t be pacing any longer. It would be a mindful way of taking steps, both metaphorically and physiologically. It would be a mindful way of taking steps, both metaphorically and physiologically, toward understanding the internal activities that are going on in that moment.”
Jung tells her patients to pay attention to the physicality of anxiety: heart rate, temperature, tightness in the chest, or tension in their shoulders and legs. But just as important is using external tools — things that will ground them. Plants and pets at home, a photograph or meaningful object at work, anything with a warm connection that allows them to feel more present to who they are.
“We all experience anxiety at different points in our lives, and it’s really how we respond to it that’s important,” Jung says. “That’s what’s going to get us through those difficult moments.”
Next time you find yourself pacing back and forth, try some of Jung’s tips — and you might just feel better, faster.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Problems with close personal relationships can have a devastating effect on how you feel about yourself and the world.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Despite being a treatable disorder, more than 50% of people with schizophrenia cannot access adequate treatment, and 90% of people with untreated schizophrenia live in the developing world.
On 10 October we celebrate the most important day in the mental health calendar and shine the spotlight on “living” with schizophrenia. From those who face every day of their lives with it, to their families, friends, doctors and even society as a whole, we all have a part to play in raising awareness of schizophrenic illness.
We want to ensure that people with schizophrenia get the best possible care and support to manage their illness and to help them recover.
What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia affects how a person thinks, feels, and acts but it’s actually a word that describes a number of symptoms that psychiatry has labelled a disorder. Not everyone with schizophrenia has the same symptoms and the definition of the disorder is wide, including a number of combinations of different things.
Schizophrenia may make it hard for people to judge reality and key features of early psychosis include:
- Sleep disturbance
- Appetite disturbance
- Marked unusual behaviour
- Feelings that are flat or seem inconsistent to others
- Speech that is difficult to follow
- Marked preoccupation with unusual ideas
- Ideas of reference – thinking unrelated things have a special meaning, ie people on television talking to you
- Persistent feelings of unreality
- Changes in the way things appear, sound or smell
Schizophrenia can occur in anyone but it’s a treatable disorder. Long term medication may be necessary for some people but talking therapies and self-help groups can also be effective.
If you’re dealing with Schizophrenia, depression, seeking treatment for abuse or having problems conquering other personal issues and would like to learn more about how hypnotherapy and other similar treatments available at 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.