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Guest Blogs

Homeopathy – individualised, natural healthcare for everyone

Written By Anna Hughes                              Date: 23/02/2024

An introduction from Homeopath; Anna Hughes

My name is Anna Hughes. I am a fully qualified, Registered Homeopath practising in Macclesfield and surrounding areas, keen to see improvements in the health and well-being of my patients. I love to work with people to help them live happier, healthier lives, and am frequently amazed by the power of homeopathy to help them to be
free of their symptoms.
A picture of homeopath Anna Hughes
Anna Hughes

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a system of natural healthcare that has been in worldwide use for over two hundred years and is used by 200 million people worldwide.
Homeopathy treats each person as a unique individual with the aim of stimulating their own healing ability.
A homeopath selects the most appropriate medicine based on the individual’s specific symptoms and personal level of health.
Homeopathy may be used at all stages of life, including when pregnant and whilst breastfeeding. It is safe, non-toxic and can be safely used alongside all forms of medical treatment.
Homeopathic medicines, often called ‘remedies’, are usually given in the form of small tablets which dissolve under the tongue. They are easy to administer, even to babies and children.

How does homeopathy work?

Homeopathy works on the principle of ‘like cures like’. This means that a substance which causes certain symptoms when taken in large amounts can be used in small amounts to alleviate similar symptoms. The homeopathic remedy you are given is determined by your symptoms & how you are experiencing them and who you are as a person, not the name of the disease or condition which you have.
A person suffering from sleeplessness may be given a
homeopathic remedy made from coffee: coffee can cause sleeplessness in some people. Someone suffering from hayfever with streaming eyes and nose may be given allium cepa, a remedy made from onion. Another person suffering from hayfever but with different symptoms would receive a different remedy. The aim is to trigger the patient’s own system of healing so that their health can be restored, and they can live life to the full.
Further information about homeopathy and research into its efficacy is available at:
www.a-r-h.org
www.findahomeopath.org
A picture of homeopath medicines

Who uses homeopathy?

Lots of people! Homeopathy treats you as a whole person, rather than specific conditions in isolation, so people experiencing a wide range of symptoms may seek homeopathy treatment.
 
People have consulted me about:
eczema, asthma, acne, cystitis, arthritis, sleep/appetite problems, migraine,
fatigue, psoriasis, constipation;
problems with recurrent infections/
well-being/immunity;
periods, difficulty conceiving, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, menopause;
grief, feeling low, anxiety, fears,
poor memory, stress-related symptoms;
colic, teething pains, colds, coughs,
ear-ache, fever, tonsillitis, ‘flu;
first aid situations (cuts, bruises, injuries, stings, trapped fingers, trauma).
Some people use homeopathy just for acute illnesses such as ear-ache or fever. Others first visit a homeopath with an acute illness but then carry on to have longer term treatment to try to improve their overall level of health and well-being. Still others make their initial contact with a homeopath about a long-term, chronic health concern.
Patients are always advised to keep in contact with their primary health care professional.
At the first consultation I spend about 1½ hours finding out about you: your current health concerns, medical history, personality and lifestyle. I need to understand how you experience your symptoms and how they affect your life so that I can match you with the most appropriate remedy.
 
I try to build up a picture of you as a person including your energy levels and the way you live: the more you can tell me, the better!
 
In subsequent consultations, usually every 4-6 weeks, I ask you about any changes that have occurred so that I can understand how you have responded to the remedy.
 
This enables me to determine what the next step of your treatment will be.
 
Remedies to help with the distress of symptoms of acute illnesses, such as fever, vomiting or flu, are usually selected much more quickly.
Everything you tell me in your consultations will be treated with the strictest confidence.
A picture of a purple flower
For further information or to arrange a consultation please contact:
Anna Hughes
07985 130443
anna.hughes@talktalk.net
You can change it, you don’t have to put up with it
Categories
Counselling

What to expect from counselling sessions; By counsellor, Alison Ralph

Written By Alison Ralph                               Date: 05/02/2024

Although there has been a lot of talk over the past few years, and especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, about mental health and good self-care, there is not a lot known about counselling and what to expect from counselling sessions. So whether it is for you or a loved one, I am going to explain in this blog post what to expect from counselling sessions and help you to see the benefits and things to look out for. I want everyone to know that counselling is beneficial when you have found the right counsellor and counselling type for you. I will include:

  1. What counselling is 
  2. Who can benefit from counselling
  3. How many sessions you may need
  4. Different counselling styles
  5. What to expect in a counselling session
  6. Areas that counselling can help with
  7. Confidentiality – it’s importance and limitations
  8. Who Alison Ralph is and how we can work together

What is counselling

Alison talking to a client

The NHS defines counselling as ‘a talking therapy that involves a trained therapist listening to you and helping you find ways to deal with emotional issues’.

I feel that counselling is more than that. It is a safe space for a person to discuss their problems or any difficult feelings. The environment is confidential and with a non-judgemental third professional who has no ideas about your life or the people around you. This allows the client to talk openly and honestly. 

The counsellor will not give advice but will help you to understand how you are feeling and identify any possible root causes. They may then work with you to create a plan of action to help you to accept your issues or create new ways of coping with the way you are feeling. 

They may offer you tools and knowledge to help you to achieve the outcome you would like. 

Who can benefit from counselling?

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE A MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION OR DIAGNOSIS TO BENEFIT FROM COUNSELLING!

Anyone can benefit from counselling. Whether you are 6 years old or 96 years old. It is important to find the counsellor who is the right fit for you or your child. This could take a couple of attempts at meeting different counsellors but is very important! You might also like to find a counsellor who has experience working in a certain area or who is focussed on a particular issue such as, anxiety or relationships. 

How many sessions will I need?

It is difficult to say exactly how many sessions a person might need until speaking to them and then it is still not always predictable. I find that on average, clients stay for 6-10 sessions. However, I have clients who have been for less than this and have clients who have stayed with me for longer than a year. 

The important thing is that you can take as long as you want and need to work through the things that you feel are important to develop yourself. Everyone is so different and one client is never the same as another. 

Counselling styles

You might have heard of things like talking therapy and CBT but what are these and what does it mean for you. 

Earlier I mentioned that it is important to find the therapist for you. In the same way, different counselling approaches are more suited to some people than they are others. 

I am an integrative counsellor which means I am trained to work with all counselling styles and can tailor these towards each individual client and their needs. 

  • CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) – this is the one that is very popular with the NHS and can get quite a bad rep. I think that when used with the right person and alongside other counselling approaches, it can be very affective. It looks at being more aware of automatic thinking and changing thought processes to benefit a person. 
  • Person Centred Counselling – this approach is used to allow a person to talk through their issues and come to conclusions and treatment plans themselves. The counsellor is there to facilitate only.
  • Transactional analysis – This has become one of my most used approaches. It looks at linking current ways of thinking and feeling with past experiences and learning. We can then make sense of a certain behaviour or way of thinking and make changes.
  • Gestalt – This looks at focusing on the present ways of feeling and world around you to help with your issues. 

There are many other counselling styles too but these are not ones that I am familiar with. You will find when coming into my practise that I use a mixture of the ones above. 

What to expect in a counselling session

Alison Ralph sat in her therapy room

When you arrive for your first counselling session you will probably find that the counsellor will first outline the counselling agreement to be made between the two of you. This will ensure that you are both aware of the boundaries and expectations. The counsellor will be following certain guidelines to ensure you both remain safe in the therapeutic process. 

Your counsellor will then allow you to talk about your reasons for getting in touch, your expectations for the counselling sessions and what you are hoping the outcome will be. 

Together you will talk about a plan of action and if agreed, each session after this will work around the plan of action. 

You will find that the counsellor doesn’t ask you lots of closed questions, it shouldn’t feel like an interview. The counsellor will reflect on what you have said and allow you that time to talk and feel your emotions if you need to. 

Confidentiality

Confidentiality is very important within the counselling setting. Every counsellor will follow confidentiality as outlines by their professional bodies. This ensures that you can come to a place and talk about what ever you like in what ever way you want. 

Of course there are times that the therapist will break confidentiality and these are when they feel you are going to be a danger to yourself or anyone else. Or if they have agreed with you to talk to your doctor or medical professional for any reason.

How does counselling help?

Remember, you do not need to have a mental health condition or medical diagnosis to come to counselling. You also don’t need to feel at your worst!

Counselling can help with:

  • Stress
  • Overwhelm
  • Anxiety
  • Confidence
  • Depression
  • Fears and phobias
  • Childhood issues
  • Bereavement 
  • To talk through a dialemma 
  • And more!

Hello! I am Alison Ralph. I am a counsellor and hypnotherapist based in Macclesfield. I also work with people online. 

I have experience working with adults from a wide range of ages and for a number of issues. I often use a combination of counselling and hypnotherapy on agreement with the client and if we think that it will help. 

Areas I have experience working with are:

  • Anxiety and panic, including phobias
  • Depression
  • Stress and overwhelm
  • Confidence 
  • Childhood issues
  • Relationships
  • Bereavement  
  • Menopause
Alison Ralph

If you would like to have a chat and find out how we can work together then please get in touch. I always like to begin with a phone consultation so we can have initial contact and make sure that we are happy to work together. Use the links below to call or email. 

Categories
Hypnotherapy

5 ways hypnotherapy can help your menopause symptoms

5 ways hypnotherapy can help your menopause symptoms

Written by Alison Ralph                     Date 15 January 2024

Menopause! It can be a really difficult time in a woman’s life so here are 5 ways hypnotherapy can help your menopause symptoms. Unfortunately during the menopause, some women feel lonely, some do not know which way to turn and some even feeling like they are going mad! Luckily, there has been a lot more noise about the menopause over the last few years and more ways to help women cope are being talked about. One of those ways is hypnotherapy and I am going to explain how in this blog post. 

I will talk about these things and how they can help different symptoms and your overall well-bring:

  • Relaxation
  • Visualisation
  • Talking
  • The subconscious mind 
  • Tools that work!

Relaxation

A lady feeling relaxed. Showing relaxation after hypnotherapy.

Often, the menopause can cause a person to feel more stressed and have anxiety symptoms. When a person is in a hypnotic state they are generally in a state of relaxation too. This means that the body can slow down and the mind can have some time out. These relaxation techniques can also be practised at home, meaning that you can be more relaxed on a regular basis. This can help those feelings of anxiety and stress. 

Visualisation

In hypnotherapy we use a lot of visualisation because the brain responds well to it. We can visualise a cool place to help with hot flushes, a calm place to help with stress or the ways we would like to behave so the brain has a different path to follow. This can be a very successful way to achieve the outcome we would like. 

In a relaxing place on a hammock

Talking

Alison talking to a client

The first session of hypnotherapy with me involves talking and finding out what is going on for you. Talking is a powerful tool! It allows you to get all the thoughts and feelings out into the air, in a non-judgemental and understanding environment. People always feel better after this session and often say that a weight has lifted from their shoulders!

The Subconscious mind

Did you know that the subconscious mind controls everything that happens in your body? So even your hot flushes, anxiety and ways you feel about yourself. In hypnotherapy we work with the subconscious to help change the thought processes, helping you to feel in control and more positive! 

Image showing all the things the mind filters
Tools that work!

Cool place visualisation

When you are struggling with hot flushes during the day or night it can be extremely difficult. People become stressed by them, embarrassed and just want them to go away. They might start fanning themselves or striping off their clothes. When people react in this way, it causes the brain to send out the stress signals which makes the issue worse. Have a go at the cool place visualisation and notice how it helps!

Deep belly breathing

You may have found that anxiety and stress have increased as you transition through the menopause and you are not really sure where to start to reduce this. Deep belly breathing can help because it activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is the part of the body that deals with relaxation. When this is relaxed it sends a signal to the brain to say that we are relaxed and the brain then can send out the relaxing hormones. 

Instructions for a relaxing breathing technique
A lady writing in her journal
Journaling

Journaling is a very affective tool and can help you to raise self-esteem and confidence, create positive thinking and help you to understand patterns in behaviour and feelings. 

The above tools are just some that I introduce to my clients when they come to me for hypnotherapy. Unfortunately, hypnotherapy is not just a magic wand that makes changes and takes your issues away. It does require work from the client and these tools can help you to manage the symptoms of menopause that you are experiencing. 

As you can see, hypnotherapy can help with many symptoms of the menopause and it is a natural way to overcome these issues. It can help you to feel more positive and to help the transition feel easier. If you are unsure of the symptoms you have, take a look at this symptom tracker. It can help you ahead of any appointments you have and can be useful once you have started any treatment to recognise any progress made. 

If you would like to find out more about how therapy could help you, please get in touch – Alison Ralph Hypnotherapy And Counselling | 07719032346 | www.alisonralph-therapy.co.uk 

Categories
Self care ideas

5 ways to kick start your weight loss in 2024

5 ways to kick start your weight loss in 2024

Written by Alison Ralph                     Date 08 January 2024

Are you wondering how to kick start your weight loss in 2024? Maybe this is the year to do it properly, without diets and to make it a lifestyle change and allow yourself to become slimmer, fitter and healthier. You may not know where to start or even have the motivation.

As a hypnotherapist, I work with many people to kick start their weight loss and here I am going to share 5 ways to kick start your weight loss in 2024. Five things that I know work and have worked for many people in my therapy room.

I will talk about:

  1. Food diaries with a free downloadable resource
  2. Small changes
  3. Movement
  4. Storing unhealthy foods
  5. Head hunger Vs physical hunger with free downloadable resource
A bowl of fruit

Food Diaries

Keeping track of your eating habits using a food diary can be really helpful. This is the way I often begin sessions with a client as it helps to identify routines, where improvements can be made and what is going well. 

You don’t have to remember to fill it in everyday. You can sit and go through what you typically eat in a day and use that as a guide. Use this food diary as a template

Once you have completed the food diary take a look at:

  1. If your meals are healthy
  2. What times of the day you are eating unhealthily 
  3. Whether you have exercise or movement in your day
  4. The things you are drinking
  5. If your diet is well balanced 

Small Changes

Once you have identified where the issues are you can make small changes. When you go on a diet you often restrict a lot of things all in one go. The brain does not like this! That is why you find you can only do it for a short amount of time. When you make a small change and allow the brain to get into the habit of that before making another change, it is much more affective. 

Choose 3 small things you can change. Here are some examples:

  • Drink a bottle of water each day
  • If you eat chocolate everyday, reduce that to 5 days 
  • If you don’t eat any fruit or vegetables, start eating them on two days 
  • If you don’t exercise at all, start to walk more or get up and down more, use the stairs more
  • If you eat carbs with every meal, start to eat it with only 2 meals a day

Notice how all these changes are not taking away everything that you enjoy, just cutting it down slowly. Once you have nailed these small changes, you can make 3 new ones and continue in this way until you are happy with your habits. This might take longer than a diet would but you are more likely to keep these habits for ever!

Movement

Back view of a lady running

You can have all the will in the world to lose weight, get slimmer and healthier but without movement you will find it much more difficult. 

Movement is so important in the weight loss journey. 

If you are somebody who does no exercise at all then start off small. This can be making a conscious effort to get up during the day and do some steps, it could be going up and down stairs more often, cutting out the lift or finding exercise that you really enjoy. 

Get back to sport – in your local area there will be sports clubs of all different kinds. They even having walking team sports now – I have seen walking netball and football in my local area. It is also a great way to meet new people!

Walk – it does not matter where you live, there is always somewhere to go for a walk. It is really good exercise AND it is free!

Remember, we need to burn the fuel that we put inside us in order to lose weight!

Storing Unhealthy Foods

This one is going to sound a little harsh but why are you storing unhealthy foods at home?

I have worked with so many people over the years who will say things like: ‘We have a treat cupboard at home and I can’t help going in it’. ‘I get chocolate biscuits for the hubby and I eat these’. ‘I don’t want to deprive my children of the treats so we have them in the house’.

But why? or why so much that it is having a detrimental affect on your health? I often wonder if these are excuses to the person to enable them to have the snacks or ‘treats’ in the home. 

If you are in charge of the shopping then think about how much unhealthy food is being purchased and limit this so that you can have a balanced diet more easily and the temptation is out of the way. 

When you think about it that way, it makes sense doesn’t it?

Head hunger Vs physical hunger

Did you know that there were two types of hunger? Head hunger and physical hunger.

Our subconscious mind has control over our physical hunger. It prompts us to let us know when to eat in order to keep us alive. 

When the subconscious mind thinks it is time for us to eat, it sends a signal to the stomach so the stomach can start getting ready for the food. This is when you get feelings of the tummy rumbling. This is the only time we need to eat!

Every other time we eat is referred to as head hunger. .We are eating because of boredom, stress, sadness, celebration or fear. This type of eating is what helps us to gain weight. 

It is important to understand your head hunger so you can be aware of it and start to make changes so this is not causing you to eat. 

You can use the below handout to help you understand and change the head hunger. 

If are are fed up of using diets and not getting anywhere or want to look at different ways this time then try these 5 things to kick start your weight loss in 2024. It is important to not only focus on the food but also how the brain is working because of past messages or coping strategies and these ideas can help you to do that. Let me know how they go and which one is your favourite!

If you feel overwhelmed or are not sure where start then get in touch to find out how we can work together – Alison Ralph Hypnotherapy And Counselling | 07719032346 | www.alisonralph-therapy.co.uk 

Categories
Self care ideas

What is seasonal affective disorder and how can I help myself if I have it?

What is seasonal affective disorder and how can I help myself if I have it?

Written by Alison Ralph                     Date 03 January 2024

Do you struggle with your mental health during the winter months?

Many people find this time of year and going into the New Year a difficult time. It might be related to Christmas, but it can also be a result of the changing seasons. You are not alone if this is you and this condition is actually recognised as SAD, seasonal affective disorder. 
 
It is explained by the NHS as a type of depression that comes and goes with the change of the seasons. The symptoms are normally more apparent and severe during the winter and so it can be referred to as winter depression. 
In this blog post I will explain:
1. What seasonal affective disorder is
2. The possible symptoms of seasonal affective disorder
3. Ways to help yourself overcome the negative feelings of seasonal affective disorder

What is seasonal affective disorder?

There are a few different reasons that you may experience Seasonal affective disorder at this time of the year. These reasons are:

  1. Poor sleep patterns – poor sleep patterns can cause a dip in motivation and energy levels 
  2. Low serotonin levels – this can cause a low mood
  3. High melatonin levels – which can cause you to feel tired
  4. Family history of mental illness – you may be more prone to mental health illnesses 
  5. Lack of sunlight – this can cause more melatonin

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder

As with everything else, each person has a different experience of seasonal affective disorder. These are the most common symptoms of seasonal affective disorder:

  • Feeling low
  • Excessively tired
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Feeling irritable
  • Craving carbohydrates 

It can be difficult to face the world and continue with everyday life when these symptoms are present so here are some ideas which can help you with seasonal affective disorder. 

Self-care ideas to overcome SAD symtoms

If you would like to improve your symptoms of SAD to help with your day to day life then here are 5 ideas to try:

A picture of a number one

Go outside during the daylight – this can hep to increase serotonin levels which helps with overall mood

Walking outdoors during daylight

Brighten up your environment – have good lighting in your environment or invest in a light box – this gives the same affects as going outdoors

A bright workspace
An image of the number two
An image of number 3

Eat well – it is always good to eat well as this can improve our overall feeling of ourself and increases energy levels.

A bowl of fruit

Exercise (outdoors if you can) – this can help you to feel more motivated, energised and improve mood

Back view of a lady running
Image of the number 4
An image of number 5

Talk to a counsellor – this can help you to identify patterns in your mood, behaviours and feelings and may help you to make new ones that will help you to feel better. 

Alison talking to a client

If you would like to find out more about how therapy could help you, please get in touch – Alison Ralph Hypnotherapy And Counselling | 07719032346 | www.alisonralph-therapy.co.uk 

As you can see, there are many ways to help yourself if you are struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is important to remember that each self-care idea will not work for everyone so it is about finding the correct one for you. If you find that one of these suggestions help you then please leave a comment and let us know!

If you are struggling still after the self care, please see your doctor. They might recommend medication, even if just for a short time. 
 
Categories
Hypnotherapy

Stoptober – what is it and how can you prepare for it?

Stoptober - what is it and how can you prepare for it?

Written by Alison Ralph                     Date 05 September 2023

Are you wondering what Stoptober is all about and how you can prepare for it if you would like to stop smoking or vaping? In this blog post I will explain what Stoptober is and give you some ideas for how you can prepare for the month and stop smoking or vaping for good!

Putting a cigarette out on a calendar

What is Stoptober?

October was chosen by Public Health England as the National stop smoking campaign to help people to stop smoking for good. It started in 2012, meaning that it is entering its 11th year this year. It has helped many people to stop smoking over the years. October was chosen as the month because previous studies had shown that those who stop smoking for 28 days are FIVE times more likely to stop forever. Giving you some time to adjust and 28 days to not have any cigarettes.

If you wanted to, you can sign up for Stoptober through the NHS website to receive all the resources available. Smokefree Registration

How can you prepare for Stoptober?

If you have already tried to stop smoking or vaping on your own you may have noticed that it can be extremely difficult. You might miss smoking, feel that it helps you in some way or you may not be able to cope with the cravings it causes. Here are some tips for beginning a mindset change and lessening the nicotine percentage in your body. Giving you the best possible chance of stopping smoking.

A picture of a number one

Change your brand of cigarette – it may sound bonkers but smoking is a sub-conscious activity. This means that you don’t have to think about it when doing it. It always tastes the same too. Changing your brand of cigarette can help you to bring it into the conscious thinking. 

Smoke with the opposite hand. I know, another one that sounds a little strange. If you normally smoke with your left hand change to the right and visa versa. Again, this will help you to bring smoking into the conscious thinking and allow you to think about it a little differently about smoking. When it is in the conscious thinking you can make choices about how much you smoke or whether you are enjoying it or not.

An image of the number two
An image of number 3
A person snapping a cigarette in half

Cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke. You can do this by setting yourself a number of cigarettes for the day. To help you with this you may only take certain number of cigarettes out with you during the day or leave them in the car when you are in the house. You might smoke half of the cigarette and then put it out, every time you smoke. You might ban smoking in the car or house. There are many ways you can do this, get creative and decide exactly what you will do. Don’t be wishy washy!

Find new ways to release those feel good hormones. When the chemicals in the brain react with the nicotine you inhale, it releases the feel good hormones. Telling the subconscious mind that you are okay. If you can find new and healthier ways to do this, it can really help. For example, playing with a pet, going for a walk or playing a game. Find what works for you!

Image of the number 4
An image of number 5

Decide on your reasons for stopping and how you see yourself benefiting once you have. This is extremely important. Why would we force ourselves through something difficult if we couldn’t see how it would benefit us? Sit down and write all your reasons for stopping and how it will benefit you in the future. One example could be, having more disposable income. 

Have faith in yourself and tell yourself that you can do it. Being your own cheerleader is actually more beneficial than receiving praise from someone else. The more you tell yourself you can do it, the more motivated you will feel. In turn, releasing those all important feel good hormones. 

The number 6 inside a circle

What if I am a vaper?

A person holding a vape

I hear you saying, but what if I am a vaper, can these things also work for me? Vaping follows the same principle as smoking when trying to stop as the same chemical reactions happen in the brain. So if you would like to stop vaping, all of the above apply. If you vape with nicotine, it might be a good idea to start reducing the amount in the vape and if you can, take yourself down to 0% nicotine. 

Vapes can also become a comfort blanket, something that you always have with you or even hold in your hand. Start to reduce the time that you do this during the day so you can separate yourself from it. 

Benefits of stopping smoking

I have worked with many people over the years to help them stop smoking and everyone has their own reason for wanting to stop smoking. Once they have stopped I have received feedback from people saying:

‘I can’t believe how much more time I have in my day!’

‘I was able to save the money and treat myself and my partner to a holiday instead!’

‘I spent more time sitting on the floor playing with my children.’

‘I felt less stressed.’

‘I can breathe easier when training.’

 

There are so many benefits and some of these can be noticed quite quickly, whilst others take time. 

Have a read of this article. It explains how the body repairs itself once the nicotine has left.

What happens after you quit smoking? A timeline (medicalnewstoday.com)

If you would like to know how hypnotherapy could help you during the month of October, you can send an email here 

Categories
Guest Blogs

Art; how can it help you to ease Anxiety?

Art; how can it help you to ease Anxiety?

Written by Karen Prince                         Date 18 July 2023

Are you searching for new ways to ease the feelings of anxiety? In this guest blog post, artist Karen Prince tells us her real life story and how art helped her to ease anxiety.

I remember the first time I saw the words “Mental Health Issues” in my Medical file and I was shocked, I was sneakily reading this upside down from an open file on a consultants desk.

I thought “that’s not me”, “I don’t have mental health issues” ”I’m not mad am I?”

Then the realisation hit because I had reached out for some help with my anxiety that’s why this label was in my file. I hadn’t really made the connection that having an issue with certain things stopping me from living my life as I wished was a Mental Health Issue.

This was a few years ago now, luckily more and more people are talking about mental health issues and I hope the tide is turning. The more we talk about it the more it will be less of a taboo subject, sometimes there is so much pressure for us to keep things together.

My triggers

There are a whole bunch of issues that can cause anxiety, but my big triggers were….

  1. Watching my son having an anaphylaxis episode when he was 18 months old. It was terrifying watching him swell up almost beyond recognition and then struggling to breath. It also meant a lifetime of being vigilant with his food, eating out would never be the same again, or the weekly food shopping, having to read all the labels and the Epi-Pen training. After a second anaphylaxis episode, we found out he was allergic to Soya milk and soya protein too.
  2. I had a Brain Haemorrhage at the age of 39 with a then 2yr old and an 11 month old baby and in the middle of a building project. Luckily I didn’t need surgery and after almost a week in hospital I could return home. 

However I was left with a long term health issue of Fibromyalgia. I was exhausted a lot of the time and working full time was not an option and the kids were still little, I am grateful for every extra day I’ve had with my children, to be able to see them grow.

Painted flowers

My creative outlet

Before  all of this I’d always been a tad anxious but I always had a creative outlet. Painting and creating has always been my passion since I was a child. I started with painting by numbers and playing with paper dolls. My art teacher was always encouraging and it was the only subject that I loved and was good at. (I went through school being Dyslexic but not diagnosed but then that was the norm in the 80’s) Anyway painting took me to my happy place and 4yrs at Art College. I had a creative career, numerous jobs in different creative capacities and my anxiety was pretty much under control. Then I guess having children took priority over my creative outlet and my health suffered for it.

 

As my children grew older,  also to help with my recovery I started to paint and rediscovered my passion for Embroidery. I hadn’t done any Embroidery since leaving College and I found the repetitiveness of painting with thread extremely therapeutic. It calmed my mind, having a child with a severe allergy makes you always think the worst. We had quite a few trips to A&E, so much so I was getting calls from the Health Visitor. We discovered that he was also allergic to grass pollen, nope not just a bad case of hayfever! It took a few years before we had the right advice and the correct plan of action to get us through the summer months.

Discovering a new kind of Art

Fast forward to 2020 and we all know what happened then! However, for me it changed my life for the better. I was obviously very anxious like everyone else but a fabulous lady entered my life, in the form of Natasha Gulliford. I had been following Natasha on Instagram and I happened to comment on one of her paintings and she told me that she was going to be running a free Watercolour Workshop. So I signed up and every Monday there was a tutorial, sometimes my youngest son would join in. 

Natasha’s Workshop was a distraction from the awful daily horrors of the Pandemic and I fell back in love with painting. So whilst I suppose so many people were maybe experiencing anxiety for the first time during the Pandemic, I was finally getting to grips with some of mine. Spending hours painting, managing my emotions and it really helped once the home schooling started. At the end of Natasha’s free course she explained that she was going to be running a workshop to develop people’s work into Designs and also showing us how to digitise our paintings. I took the leap and invested in myself. For six months I had the pleasure of connecting online with other creatives. 

 

I guess we were our own version of Grayson’s Art Club..” we want to encourage everyone to express their creativity through Art. Art is good for you, whoever you are” Grayson Perry.

 

Natasha’s demos were so relaxing to watch, in fact I was so relaxed I would almost nod off. 

Have you ever watched a Bob Ross painting demo? It’s well worth the time it’s hypnotic watching an image being created. The saying goes that it’s like “watching paint dry” well in some cases that’s not a bad thing. It will make you slow down and connect with what you are creating. 

It might be how you are feeling, you just want to make marks, use bold brushstrokes that are full of energy.

It’s amazing how quickly time flies when you’re at your most relaxed and in your creative zone. I love painting florals and this has led me to wanting to grow flowers in the garden. Getting in touch and connecting to the Earth is magical and therapy in itself. Combining these two things is a real treat, my anxiety hasn’t gone away especially with the menopause in full swing, but I now have the tools to help me deal with my feelings. The colours and texture of paint can be such a joy and distraction, as an Artist/Designer I am constantly driven to explore and expand my creative process, self-discovery and growth. 

My own work

I’m delighted to be able to share my work on Instagram…Karenprince69

This has led to my work being in a few exhibitions, I have had some on line sales and I’m back to designing Wallpaper and Bedding designs.

I also teach watercolour workshops. It’s such a privilege and a joy to see people pick up a paintbrush, possibly the first time since leaving school. Some people get quite emotional, some decide it’s not for them and realise why they haven’t felt the need to paint. But it really is fantastic when people leave promising to start painting on a regular basis. Most people leave the sessions expressing that they haven’t felt so relaxed in a longtime and they can’t believe how quickly time has flown by.

Art work by Karen Prince

Art as self-care

We really do need to start making time for ourselves, to stop seeing spending a few hours painting or doing embroidery as a luxury. We need to think of it as looking after ourselves.

Many of us painted rainbows with our kids in support of our wonderful NHS workers during Lock Down, it was something to cheer us up when we couldn’t see our loved ones.

But if you feel that painting is too messy for you, try a colouring book, you can still be creative with this, in your colour choice or the marks you make with your pencils.

          

You could also start with something a little easier but very pleasurable like leaf rubbings or leaf printing,

I’m sure we all did this at some point when we were at Primary School. I love printing with leaves and incorporating them into a lot of my paintings, designs and embroideries.

Floral Art by Karen Prince

There’s nothing better than being in tune with the seasons but sometimes they seem so fleeting and it’s brilliant being able to use leaves and give them a chance to be permanent in a piece of work.

Painted flowers

We have so much inspiration at our fingertips and in the real World, next time you’re out having a walk , slow down and have a good look at the fauna and florals. Take your time looking at the textures and colours, nature really is amazing, since I’ve started painting again I notice things so much more. Have some away time from your screen and take yourself off for a little daily wonder. It doesn’t have to be long but just spend time looking and touching nature. It can be so rewarding, even better if it can inspire you to capture the moment by painting what you’ve seen. It will be your own expression in your own style, just have fun, your mental health really will benefit from it I promise you.

 

I love working in mixed media, I use concentrated watercolour as the colours are so vibrant and intense. Then I work on top with acrylics, so I can build some luscious texture.

My work is loose and expressive rather than realistic, but my style has changed over the years, just like my handwriting has changed from when I was younger. It’s about finding what flows for you, what works for you, about what comes naturally. Of course practice helps like everything else in life but the main thing is to have fun.

There are some fabulous artists on Instagram and YouTube who happily share their skills. Have a look, dip your toe into a new medium, look for a local art class where you can borrow the materials and then you can

See if it’s something you enjoy before investing in your own equipment. There are so many styles and mediums you can paint in, and fabulous new products being developed all the time. Also great brushes, they can make all the difference to your work.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to get in touch

 Dilindesigns@hotmail.com

Instagram Karenprince69

Categories
Guest Blogs

How scented candles can play a part in your selfcare routine

How scented candles can play a part in your self care routine

Written by Nicky Burnett                           Date 26 June 2023

Are you wondering how helpful scented candles can be to your wellbeing?
 
In this blog post, Nicky Burnett the founder of Amare Luxury Fragrance, tells how candles helped her during a tough time in her life, and how they can bring you moments of self care every day.

How it all began for me

Candles have always been a part of my self care routine.
They were my go to, to create a cosy space, to relax me or to give me a boost of energy depending which fragrance I chose.
A way to take little moments for myself every day.
I love the big self care gestures, like a spa day or a holiday, but realistically these aren’t things that we can do every day! I wish they were!
But lighting a candle is something that we can do for ourselves every day.
And those little moments of daily self care really do add up.
And we start to see and feel the wellbeing benefits for us.
Lighting the flame encourages me to slow down and really enjoy the beautiful aromas.
Taking time for myself every day.
I choose fragrances that calm or uplift me, depending on my mood and needs on a particular day. The fragrance you need and its benefits, will change all the time for you. That’s one of the beauties of scented candles!
Calming candle flame
So when my Dad was terminally ill, it came naturally to me to bring a candle into his room. Self care is important for everyone, but it can be particularly difficult to find the time and energy to take care of ourselves in busy and stressful periods of our lives.
But ironically these are exactly the times when we need it the most.
So bringing a candle into my Dad’s room was my way of helping to take care of both him and myself in difficult times.

During the time that he was very poorly, I started to dream about starting a business where I could encourage other people to cherish moments for themselves with beautiful fragrance, and gradually Amare was born. Amare means to cherish in Italian.

My purpose with Amare, is to encourage you to cherish moments of self care every day.
To keep yourself recharged and strong, to be able to cope better with whatever life throws your way.
 

What are the wellbeing benefits of scented candles?

Candles are a popular way to add a touch of elegance and luxury to any home, but they have been used for centuries for their, fragrance and mood boosting properties too.
And in more recent years there has been more interest in using them in self care.
There are so many reasons why candles can be beneficial as part of your self care routine. Here are just a few of them;
A picture of a number one

The act of lighting a candle can be a calming and mindful experience. It can help to slow down your thoughts and allow you to concentrate on the present moment.

Candlelight can help to reduce stress and anxiety. They create a calming and relaxing atmosphere that can be particularly helpful after a long day or when you are feeling stressed or anxious.
 
An image of the number two
An image of number 3
Research has proven that fragrance can have a powerful impact on your mood. They can boost our mood and make us feel more relaxed and happier.
 I certainly found this when I was lighting candles in my Dad’s room.
It calmed me down, created a pleasant atmosphere in the room for him, and generally lifted our mood in difficult times.

Beautiful fragrance can boost your creativity. It can help you focus and be more creative.

Image of the number 4

How you can include candles in your self care routine?

If you are looking for a way to incorporate scented candles into your self care routine, here are some ideas that I use:

  • Light a candle before bed. The soft light and calming fragrance of a candle, can help to signal the start of winding down ready for your sleep, and can help you to sleep better.
    Some fragrances have proven properties to help you to relax, such as Lavender and Camomile.
    Make lighting a candle part of your evening routine. Reminding your body and mind that it is time to slow down and switch off.
  • Take a bath with a candle.The combination of the warm water, bubbles and relaxing fragrance can help you to unwind and de-stress after a long day. I also add relaxing essential oils into my bath water!
    Remember to use your candle safety and keep it away from water 
  • Do your Yoga practice or meditation with a candle. Focus on the flickering flame and your breath. Let the calming candle fragrance help you to relax, clear your mind and focus.
  • Read a book curled up on the sofa, pressing pause on the world for a while. Candlelight provides a cosy and inviting atmosphere that is perfect for relaxing and enjoying your book. Or playing your favourite music.
  • Light your candle while you paint your nails, or give yourself a facial.
    The relaxing atmosphere created by candlelight can help you to feel pampered and indulged.
  • Light a candle when you spend time with loved ones. Candlelight can create a cosy atmosphere to sit with a glass of wine and chat, or maybe a romantic atmosphere.

Some additional tips when you are using candles for self care

  1. Place them in areas of your home where you will be able to enjoy the benefits of their gorgeous aromas, A quiet and relaxing space if your aim is to let the candle stress you.
  2. Light your candle and take a few deep breaths. Allow yourself to relax and feel the benefits of the fragrance.
  3. Create a comfortable space, get cosy on that sofa and light your flame.
  4. Take time for yourself, unplug your phone, turn your devices off, and focus on what you need.
  5. Remember to keep candles away from draughts and curtains, and out of the reach of children and pets. Never leave a lit candle unattended 
No matter how you choose to use them, candles can be a perfect way to add a touch of luxury and relaxation to your self care routine.
So next time you feel tired, stressed or overwhelmed, light that candle and take some time for yourself.
Taking a few moments every day for yourself, to reap all the wellbeing benefits that beautiful fragrance can bring you. 
To bring your mind, body and soul back into balance again, recharging and relaxing.
Categories
Guest Blogs

Sleeping in a heat wave

Sleeping in a heatwave

Written by Victoria Goss                             Date 08 June 2023

Victoria Goss logo

A huge thank you to Victoria Goss for writing this guest blog post for those having difficulty sleeping during a heatwave. Victoria Goss specialises in beautiful, pure cotton nightwear for women and so knows a thing or two about getting a good night’s sleep!

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to both our physical and mental well being but it can be difficult to achieve when the night is far too warm for comfort and so, with Summer just around the corner, here are a few quick tips to help you achieve that longed for sleep in hot weather:

A picture of a number one

Prepare your bedroom in advance for the night ahead – try to keep the blinds drawn when the sun is shining into your room and if the air is hot then close the window too during the day.  Open the window when the air has cooled in the evening to help lower the temperature inside.  A bowl of ice cold water placed on the windowsill will further help to cool the air coming into the room.

Only use natural fibre sheets on your bed – poly cotton or polyester sheets will only make you feel hotter.  A good quality cotton under and top sheet will help to let your body breathe overnight.  Don’t be afraid to wet your top sheet with cold water too, this will help to cool your skin and is a trick that is used frequently in Mediterranean countries.

An image of the number two
An image of number 3

Put the duvet away.  Even a summer weight duvet is too hot for heatwave temperatures.  A top sheet will probably be enough but if you’ve been very successful at cooling your room then add a lightweight woollen blanket to the bottom of your bed that you can quickly pull up if needed during the night.

Have a cool bath or shower before you go to bed.  This will remove any stickiness from the day and help to relax you especially if you use a soap or shower gel scented with natural lavender oil.

Image of the number 4

Choose your nightwear with care – a polyester nightdress will not let your skin breathe but a pure cotton one will.  Bamboo also makes wonderful fabric for nightwear in all weathers as it naturally helps to thermo-regulate your temperature and as it is produced in a jersey type fabric it has a bit of ‘give’ in it making it very comfortable.  Don’t be tempted to sleep without clothes, it may seem like a good idea but not only will you feel warmer than if you had a cool (again even dampened) nightdress on, you will be more likely to be bitten during the night by all those pesky insects!

Close down all blue light emitting devices at least two hours before bed.  Not only does the blue light confuse your brain into feeling more alert than it should at bedtime but having a gadget to hand will add extra heat to your room which you don’t want.

The number 6 inside a circle
The number 7 inside a circle

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during the day.  Tea, coffee and wine don’t really count for this!  A long glass of diluted fruit juice or squash is much better and I prefer it to plain water as it helps to add some important salts and sugars to your system.  Be sure to take a glass of water to bed with you in case you wake in the night feeling thirsty.

Eliminate all unnecessary light in your bedroom.  If you have a TV in the room then try not to leave it on standby.  If you can’t be without your phone close at hand then turn it off before you go to bed.  Let the darkness settle around you and allow yourself to be drawn into the shadows towards sleep by it.

The number 8 inside a circle

I hope you find these tips helpful and remember that if you need to purchase a pure cotton nightdress or pyjamas to wear on these warm nights there is a great selection to choose from at www.victoriagoss.co.uk

Categories
Self care ideas

How can reading promote good mental health?

How can reading promote good mental health?

Written By: Alison Ralph                                   Date: 16.05.23

If you are an avid reader then there is good news for your mental state. Reading has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression.

In fact, research conducted by Dr David Lewis (a cognitive neuro psychologist) showed that reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 60%! That is 68% better than listening to music, 100% better than drinking tea and 300% better than going for a walk!

I hear you asking how? How can reading help to improve my mental state?

1. Reading is pleasurable

Alison Ralph reading a book with a cup of tea

When we complete pleasurable activities it triggers neurons in our brain. This leads to the release of a chemical called dopamine which causes a feel-good sensation. When you choose a book you enjoy, this feel good sensation happens in the brain. 

2. Reading can provide an escape from the 'real world'

If you have ever felt stressed or anxious, you will know that it takes over your thoughts, and often your physical self. If you get lost in a wonderful book then this can take you away from those thoughts or feelings, even if just for a short while. 

Reading engages the imagination and stimulates creativity, which engages the brains prefrontal cortex. This is the area that houses the ‘anxiety brake’. As you feel calmer, the fear centre of the brain (amygdala) becomes less active and the rationalisation area of the brain (cortex) become more active. This shift in brain function can empower the ‘anxiety brake’ and leave you feeling calmer and more in control of anxious thinking. 

3. Reading lowers your heart rate and relaxes you physically

Due to the fact that reading deactivates the amygdala, the body becomes calmer, reducing heart rate and easing muscle tension. Breathing automatically slows and everything becomes much calmer. 

Alison Ralph Reading a book

4. It encourages you to have empathy for others and yourself

This is a really important one! Often our relationship with others can cause us to feel stress or anxiety or we may not have a great relationship with ourselves and this can create negative feelings. Reading a book can introduce us to different scenarios and how people react to these. It can help us to see things from a different viewpoint and may even relate to us in many ways. Once we have built up empathy for the person in the book, it can begin to transfer into our ‘real’ life.

Reading can help you become smarter

My voice will go with you book

You might be somebody who enjoys reading information books, or the book you are reading may just have a few new facts in it that you didn’t know before. This all contributes to you becoming smarter, and who doesn’t like the feeling of knowing stuff? It can help us to feel better about ourselves and raise self-esteem. 

Reading for me...

Harry Potter

I have to admit that I have never been an avid reader. However, when I got to university (I think), I decided to read he Harry Potter books and I was hooked. This was the beginning of enjoyment for reading for me. I think these books made me feel smarter and they gave me an escape from the stressful things around me. They also gave me something to talk to others about (many people were Harry Potter obsessed at the time and still are now!).

Travelling

When I was travelling the world after university I was in New Zealand and was recommended a book by the locals. It was a fiction book but based on truth. I cannot remember the name of the book but it gave me a sense of connection to the place I was travelling around at the time. It also helped me to feel that I know something about the history of the area. I remember reading this at times when I felt home sick or lonely and it really helped me escape form the outside world.

Spare

One of the latest books I read was Spare By Prince Harry. Now I am not somebody who is particularly into the royal family but I really wanted to read this and feel like I had heard his side of the story. I also think that as a therapist I am genuinely interested in people’s lives (you might say that I am a little bit nosey). I could not put this book down! It was extremely interesting and I felt real empathy towards him. Everyone deserves to tell their story!

Current reading

I am currently reading Roman Kemps autobiography which is interesting and focussed around mental health. I also read many different books by psychologists, hypnotherapists and counsellors as this helps me to develop as a therapist and find new ways of working with my clients. I guess this therefore makes me feel smarter!

Reflection

It is clear to see why reading is one of the best ways to relieve stress and anxiety and help promote good mental health. I wonder if you reflected on the books you have recently read you could find ways that it has helped you in a positive way. As you can see, just a handful of books I have read over the years have really helped me in the moment and for many different reasons. Everyone is different of course and you may find that if you are stressed or anxious, it is difficult to read. Remember, you only need 6 minutes a day to make a difference!

If you are finding that you used to enjoy reading but are not interested in it anymore or just cannot focus due to stress or anxiety, it may be time to talk to somebody. Feel free to contact me to find out how we could work together.