I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t need a bit of #mentalhealth advice at the moment, so I hope this chat with psychotherapist @Jonathan_Hoban is helpful. We cover stress, anger, coping mechanisms at home, why it’s important to let your feelings out, and how routine & the outdoors can help.
The Lockdown Sessions …
Health Benefits – Q&A
Jonathan and Julia explored the many dimensions of the health benefits of the outdoors during lockdown in a recent interview on Instagram. Julia addressed the key issue of the moment and the effect it’s had on the lives of individuals, couples, and families. The impact embraces feelings of being isolated, powerless, trapped, living in fear. Jonathan considered the depth of those feelings aroused and offered insightful comment and advice on how to cope during lockdown:
1/ JB – It’s OK for us to feel stressed in these unprecedented times isn’t it?
Yes, of course it is.
Especially so given our current climate: With many of us feeling:
• POWERLESS and OUT OF CONTROL
• Feeling that our LIBERTY has been TAKEN AWAY in many respects.
• Feeling TRAPPED & CONFINED in our homes, which for some can create FRUSTRATION, or a STRESSFUL family dynamic.
• Feeling OVER PROTECTIVE & WORRIED about our families and finances, the financial climate, and where this will all leave us.
• ANNOYED or SADDENED that we are unable to have physical contact with friends and family.
• Sitting with a strong feeling of UNCERTAINTY and FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN.
• FEAR of catching COVID-19
So given all that …..yes it’s reasonable
2/ JB/ So…. What happens in the body and mind in these circumstances?
• Our cortisol, noreprinephine,(which are stress hormones) along with adrenaline levels are greatly raised, and this makes us HYPER-VIGILANT, OVER REACTIVE, FRUSTRATED, STRESSED or ANGRY.
• After a prolonged period of time IF not MANAGED properly can lead to burn out, and what I’m calling LOCKDOWN BURNOUT, which can create anxiety, depression, fear and general sense of dread.
3/ JB – It’s perfectly natural isn’t it?
YES, it’s PERFECTLY NATURAL. It’s the correct PRIMAL, SURVIVAL responses for our bodies to have.
My first piece of advice is simply;
• ACKNOWLEDGE and ACCEPT how you FEEL, and how your body is REACTING.
• DO NOT ‘REPRESS, SUPPRESS or IGNORE your feelings of ANXIETY, FRUSTRATION or ANGER. Like a pressure cooker with no release valve, if you repress them, EVENTUALLY you will either EXPLODE or IMPLODE. Internalising Anger, will INCREASE Anxiety and Stress levels. This can lend us to CATASTROPHISE, make ASSUMPTIONS and plan for the WORSE CASE SCENARIO. This often drains our energy, makes us worry more, and OVERTHINK.
4/ JB – I have found building a routine invaluable – ME time is important isn’t it?
It’s VITAL, in fact it’s a FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT. We need ORDER, if we don’t have ORDER, we have CHAOS, and our life becomes UNMANAGEABLE along with our emotional and psychological well being.
DIARISING, creating a ROTA (especially where HOME SCHOOLING is concerned) creates TIME BOUNDARIES and a coherent PLAN OF ACTION for the day/week ahead.
What different types of boundaries do we need to set for ourself that can benefit our mental health and well-being during lockdown?
• Setting PERSONAL BOUNDARIES, helps us be able to allocate some ME time and get that much needed HEADSPACE
• BOUNDARIES in the form of a ROTA, allows a family living in CLOSE PROXIMITY to be able to work as a TEAM, and RESPECT each other’s daily needs. In this climate of UNCERTAINTY we need CERTAINTY, and a PLAN OF
ACTION for the DAY AHEAD is ESSENTIAL. I can’t EMPHASISE this enough.
• Make a PERSONAL COMMITMENT to keep your living environment CLEAN, ORDERED, and DE-CLUTTERED each day. As the saying goes, TIDY SPACE, TIDY MIND. Get your kids involved, as it will also help give them STRUCTURE each day. This is an ESTEEM-ABLE DUTY for all concerned. It helps connect you as a team and creates a sense of PURPOSE, and DISCIPLINE. If you live alone, a structure and list of chores, is even more key to help maintain a healthy mindset.
• YOU MUST ….DIARISE IN TIME TO SELF REGULATE &/ OR REGULATORY ACTIVITIES, TO HELP CALM AND SOOTHE, MIND & BODY – This needs to be TOP OF THE LIST. If you are not able to regulate your OWN feelings, how can you possibly be expect to be able to regulate or mediate others emotional outbursts if and when they arise.
In a busy home with lots of noise, Gaming OR Time spent on tech, or mobiles ISN’T regulating, in fact over stimulates the brain. This is called AUDITORY AND RETINAL OVER-STIMULATION, and leaves you feeling OVERWHELMED, IRRITATED AND AGGRESSED.
My advice is to really MAKE THE MOST
OF YOUR ONE PORTION OF EXERCISE PER DAY. Personally I feel everyone should GET OUTSIDE and connect with NATURE.
• When we walk OUTSIDE in nature, we CONNECT with our more PRIMAL SELF. This is less CEREBRAL and more INTUITIVE. Therefore it helps us to switch off our brain, and FEEL, rather than THINK. We can hear and feel ourselves breathing, as it were. When we feel the SUN ON OUR FACE, the WIND IN OUR HAIR, or even the RAIN on our skin. We feel ALIVE and CONNECTED to something greater than ourselves that provides and instant SENSE OF PERSPECTIVE. Even walking on your own, you don’t feel alone anymore and get an instant sense of BELONGING. After all, we’re primal beings it’s where we come from. It’s a part of us as much as we’re a part of it.. AND being SURROUNDED by nature, (in your garden, planting seeds, doing crafts or playing games with your kids) it is INSTANTLY calming, because we’re in a SOOTHING, NURTURING, NEUTRAL, NON- JUDGMENTAL ENVIRONMENT.
5/ JB if we don’t put things in place – what happens?
• We hit BOILING POINT.
• We become more REACTIVE
• Our decision making process becomes WORSE.
• We feel then feel OVERWHELMED which increases stress hormones, that leads burnout, and what I am calling LOCKDOWN BURNOUT.
• Our lives become UNMANAGEABLE. Unmanageable for us and unmanageable for everyone else around us.
6/ How do we manage our feelings of anger and frustration in this time of close proximity?
When we SHOUT, are PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE, and PROJECT our ANGER and FRUSTRATION onto others, it’s extra UNWANTED NOISE or STRESS none of us need during this time, and will always leave each and everyone of us feeling UNHEARD and UNSEEN.
Therefore we need to find more sophisticated ways of communicating and observing how we feel.
1.TRAFFIC LIGHT SYSTEM:
Anger has spectrum of low level to higher level. And this is very useful to be AWARE of. Therefore the traffic light analogy of green, amber and red lights within the body, is a useful tool to isolate and identify where are anger levels are currently at.
• LOW LEVEL ANGER – (GREEN LIGHT) is more sulking, petulance that if not seen or recognised by ourselves, will get suppressed. If SUPPRESSED, then it will INTENSIFY, and become more HIGH LEVEL ( FRUSTRATION, ANGER, REBELLIOUS ANGER, and RAGE). So our anger will slowly was escalate from GREEN to AMBER, to RED.
NOTE: If we are not aware of how WE feel, how can we possibly communicate this to OTHERS.
• We need to try communicate our feelings of stress, annoyance or frustration on either GREEN or AMBER. However, if we are on AMBER, we are more easily triggered to hit RED.
• So take some TIME OUT, to SIMMER DOWN and STEP BACK. A little bit of TIME will help to gain some PERSPECTIVE rather than being instantly REACTIONARY.
• When we hit the RED LIGHT, we communicate IRRATIONALLY. We, can’t hear what the other person has to say, and everything becomes NOISE, CHAOS and is completely unproductive of time, emotional resources, and we end up feeling DRAINED.
• As we CONSERVE OUR FOOD, we also need to CONSERVE OUR ENERGY. If we are TIRED it becomes much harder to MANAGE OUR EMOTIONS, and this is when we’re most likely to REACT or have ARGUMENTS.
2: NAME THE FEELING .Before you make explicit what you feel angry or frustrated about, make sure you’ve had TIME TO THINK about what it is EXACTLY you wish to COMMUNICATE.
• So once again….STEP BACK, take some TIME OUT and be REALLY CLEAR what you wish to communicate and WHY?
• The PROCESS of writing down how we feel beforehand, can really help us to find clarity, and the words to match how we feel, and what we wish to COMMUNICATE.
• This in turn helps us develop an EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY. If we don’t take accountability for our emotions or develop an awareness around them we will tend to PROJECT them on to others, and this isn’t fair. We ALL need to be ACCOUNTABLE and ANSWERABLE for how we’re feeling. Don’t do the BLAME GAME, it won’t end well.
3. Often It’s the ANTS not the ELEPHANTS ….the LITTLE NIGGLY THINGS that can become the most irritating when living in close proximity
.• We need to CHOOSE OUR BATTLES WISELY, and try to let the LITTLE THINGS GO. Try to CONSIDER what will add VALUE to the situation.
• Arguments are an ENERGY DRAIN. If we are drained it’s harder to manage our emotions. We then become more REACTIVE, which keeps us in a VICIOUS CYCLE. So this is exactly why we need to choose our battles wisely.
4: SHOWING THAT YOUR LISTENING … IS KEY!!
•We need to provide real FOCUS and ATTENTIVENESS to address what the other person has said, so that they feel SEEN, HEARD, TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION, and DO NOT feel IGNORED.
• DO NOT have IMPORTANT discussions when tired OR you’re in the middle of something else.
• DO NOT, have important discussion when drinking alcohol.
• DO NOT try to QUICKLY FIX or USE HUMOUR to diffuse a tense conversation. This will always DIMINISH the importance of what the other person is trying to say. Best to WALK AWAY. It’s a CLASSIC.
3: TAKE YOUR EGO OUT OF IT – This is not all about youYOU. We’re allALL in the same boat. We have to learn QUICKLY how to develop a THICK SKIN, and LET IT GO.
• DO NOT TAKE EVERYTHING TO HEART OR TAKE IT PERSONALLY. It’s easy to do so if you’re a SENSITIVE person like me. And being locked in a confined space will only exacerbate this.
4: BE ASSERTIVE WITH A GENTLE TOUCH
• Learn how to deliver what you wish to say with softer tonality, and calmer mannerisms. No scowling or facial contorting. It’s not a good look.
• When you WALK OUTSIDE, whether it be a trip to the shops, in a park or amongst nature, always SMILE at others, and say GOOD MORNING. Try to have kind eyes when you make this CONNECTION, and don’t IGNORE, SHRUG or GLANCE away. Keeping your vibe light can have a tremendously positive effect for those around you. We can choose to either add a lot of WEIGHT to a situation, or TAKE IT OUT and MAKE IT LIGHT. And this rule applies to both inside and outside the home.
5: CALL A FRIEND TO DE-BRIEF – This really helps, but choose the RIGHT person, to talk about the RIGHT ISSUE, with, so you feel seen, heard, understood and NOT JUDGED, or SHAMED. If you live alone, having this SUPPORT NETWORK is vital, especially when/ if you need to REACH OUT an ASK FOR HELP.
6: REALLY TRY TO EMPATHISE – To do this effectively, ONCE AGAIN..
• STEP BACK and do your very best, to SEE THE OTHER PERSON’S POINT OF VIEW. Put yourself down for a little while.
• SEE THEIR DISTRESS.
• REALLY LISTEN. And DO NOT try to FORMULATE a DEFENSIVE RESPONSE, whilst they are in the middle of TALKING
• ACKNOWLEDGE with a nod or physical gesture that you’ve heard them and that you UNDERSTAND. Even when you DON’T. Put YOUR PRIDE down for a second, and FOCUS on the other person NEEDS.
7: BREATHING TECHNIQUES: Yoga, meditation and breathing techniques are all valuable. The 4-7-8 breathing technique in my experience is easy to do and works the best to decrease stress and anger, and help your mind, body and spirit to relax and reset.
In their second lockdown session, Jonathan and Julia explore how people who are feeling anxious or depressed can be helped during this difficult time. They discuss how parents can best communicate with teenage children who might be feeling anxious and isolated, how best to advise people who appear to be ‘stuck’, and what role breathing techniques and positive affirmations can play in helping to keep ourselves relaxed and calm.
1 / JB – How can parents help teenagers who are anxious about coronavirus?
When it comes to anything MEDICAL you have to STICK WITH SCIENCE.
Provide your child with the latest scientific information and guidelines or encourage their AUTONOMY to research themselves. Don’t engage with any conspiracy theories they have, it’s anxiety making and a waste of ENERGY.
Teenagers have incredible energy and it’s about channelling that energy into the right thing, giving more autonomy and RESPONSIBILITY. One of the many reasons teenagers have anxiety is because they don’t feel fully equipped with the TOOLS to deal with everyday life.
Anxiety can be a necessary driver for us to move out of our COMFORT ZONES in order to survive. We need to learn how to RESPOND to our anxieties, not RUN AWAY from them. In the way that young animals are forced to do in the wild. It’s what we are ultimately designed to do.
We need to listen to anxiety and take account of its PHYSICAL RESPONSES. Give support and guidance to teenagers as they develop tools to deal with DIFFERENT LIFE EVENTS, and debate with them INCLUSIVELY what, when and how it’s best to use them.
It’s all important to engage in OPEN COMMUNICATION with our children and to take them SERIOUSLY.
2 / JB – Teenagers are smarter than we sometimes give them credit for aren’t they. What if they come to us with what sounds like a crazy idea?
TRIAL AND ERROR is the only real way that teenagers and children will learn. If we find ourselves over protecting them, is this a means to over-protect ourselves from feeling anxious?
We need to look at HOW we protect and ask ourselves whether wrapping them up in cotton wool is actually really protecting them or HINDERING THEIR LEARNING.
Children and teenagers are RESILIENT and more energetically in touch with their primal energies and instincts, more RISK TAKING. Parents need to mould their children’s ideas, add to them, and not hinder them.
Providing guidance and encouraging LEADERSHIP QUALITIES and giving GREATER RESPONSIBILITY will lead to them becoming more CONFIDENT, SELF-AFFIRMING and UNAFRAID to move out of their comfort zone.
Teenagers are more able to quickly adapt to situations than we are, we sometimes don’t stand back and let them. A lot of the time we can be too quick to intervene.
JB: So reinforce the message that it’s OK to feel like this?
It’s more than okay.
TRUST takes TIME to build and is very quickly broken. Children need to be SEEN and HEARD, just as adults do.
LISTENING SKILLS involve putting ourselves down and be there FULLY for the NEEDS OF THE CHILD.
If parents are UNAVAILABLE to their children in some way, if we don’t take them seriously, negotiate with them, take their needs into consideration, they won’t RESPECT us. And then they won’t feel SAFE coming to us, they will feel more alone and WON’T TRUST US.
For teenagers feeling REBELLIOUS, FEARFUL AND OVERLY ANXIOUS, we need to start with basic listening skills. When they talk don’t formulate what you are going to say because they will see your mind ticking over and will feel that you’re not PRESENT AND TRULY LISTENING to what they’re saying and therefore not respecting or taking them seriously once again.
It’s a TWO-WAY STREET. If you’ve lost your teenager’s respect and they are starting to refuse what you are asking of them, you need to EXPLAIN THE CONTEXT OF THE BOUNDARIES you are setting and that life is made of choices. If they choose NOW not to do what is being asked of them, there will come a time in the future when they ask for something else and the answer will be NO. They need to know about CONSEQUENCES.
Teenagers can be a REFLECTIVE TOOL. If you don’t like the way your teenager is behaving they may be MIRRORING YOU or BOUNDARIES HAVE NOT BEEN AS STRONG as they need to be. Beware that manipulating something a teenager says and turning it around to suit our needs as parents will only dismantle trust and dismantle open communication. This is one of my pet hates. We’re not in a court of law!
We may have our doors shut in lockdown, but we need to firmly keep the doors of communication open. The RULE BOOK IS OUT. We need to touch base on a weekly and sometimes daily basis to collectively figure out what’s working, what’s not working, and what we need to look at. WE ARE ALL ADAPTING TOGETHER and working together as a tribe/pack/team.
3 / JB – New topic: How can we help people who are struggling but who don’t want to accept our advice?
It’s important for people to have a listening ear so they can offload. But it can be annoying and frustrating when they repeatedly rebuff any suggestions.
Channel your frustration into being ASSERTIVE. Create a BOUNDARY, and DON’T ENABLE. Our intention to protect them is in fact starting to hurt them because we’re keeping them in their comfort zone.
People who constantly want to offload are anxious and fearful and ruminating can be very inward. You could develop a script such as:
“This is what works for me … this is what I’ve seen works for other people … this is what I’ve read … I’m sorry I can’t offer you any further advice. You seem to be STUCK. have you thought about counselling or coaching to help you become UNSTUCK?
We can encourage people who are stuck to build their esteem and then share focus of themselves by doing ESTEEMABLE DUTIES, such as chores, showering, getting up and dressed nicely, exercise, AND/OR some charitable work and ASKING OTHERS HOW THEY ARE.
4 / JB – Is it good to encourage people with depression or anxiety to help others?
It can be very useful. Being of service to others takes the attention off ourselves and slows down anxiety and rumination. It can be EMPOWERING and can help with developing a MORE POSITIVE ATTITUDE.
Over thinking has a SNOWBALL EFFECT, thinking about something more and more just makes it go faster and keeps feeding it. Whereas helping others is ESTEEMABLE, raising self-esteem and confidence and REDUCING ANXIETY.
5 / JB – Can breathing techniques help during periods of anxiety and stress?
Yoga, medication and breathing techniques are all valuable.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique in my experience is easy to do and works the best to decrease stress and anger, and help your mind, body and spirit to relax and reset.
This technique really works and doesn’t take long to do. You could go out into the garden, or find a quiet corner indoors, or open a window.
6 / JB – Lastly, I wanted to touch on positive affirmations. What’s your take on them?
It’s true that the more you look for bad the more bad there can be! It can be very useful to instead ask yourself ‘what do I have in my life that’s positive?’ And to draw up a GRATITUDE LIST.
With positive affirmations we can sometimes get a little lost with WORDS. One way around this is to instead do things for our body that connects us to our LIGHT-HEARTED SIDE.
Fun activities like dancing, which connects us with our bodies and music, creates OXYTOCIN in the brain which reduces STRESS, and helps us develop our INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIP.
Flip things around to find an outlet you don’t normally use. AFFIRMATION is about making yourself FEEL GOOD – painting, drawing, crafting, singing, dancing, walking, getting that vital dose of nature. Whatever it is that makes you feel positive and alive.
Walk with your Wolf – Jonathan Hoban https://www.amazon.co.uk/Walk-Your-Wolf-Reconnect-confidence/dp/1473693217/ref=nodl_
The Oxygen Advantage – Patrick McKeowan [link to The Oxygen Advantage – Patrick McKeowan [link to https://oxygenadvantage.com/books/
Why We Sleep – The New Science of Sleep and Dreams – by Matthew Walker (Professor of neuroscience & psychology) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-We-Sleep-Science-Dreams/dp/0241269067
Dealing With Uncertainty
At this time of uncertainty, ambiguous or unclear advice can lead to feelings of anxiety and isolation. In this session Jonathan and Julia discuss techniques that can help with decision making and taking back control. They also discuss sleep issues, particularly for those suffering bereavement, and ways to ward off distraction and remain ‘in the moment’.
1 / JB: How can we make decisions for ourselves at this tricky time?
Uncertain or ambiguous messaging can make us feel powerless, anxious and stressed.
Providing CERTAINTY FOR OURSELVES in the absence of clear direction can help us take back control.
Listening to our INTUITION, can aid clarity with what we need to do. Questions to ask ourselves might be:
- What things do I have control over?
- Where can I provide certainty for myself?
- What is it that I need to do?
Finding our own DIRECTIVES will help to create certainty in our own minds.
JB: How do we prioritise what we need to take control of when our chatterbox on the shoulder is piling on anxiety?
Yes, anxiety can definitely pile cargo onto a sinking ship. We can REMOVE THAT CARGO by asking ourselves what daily tasks are MANAGEABLE.
SIMPLIFY each day as much as possible.
Change the focus of the day. This will help to silence the chatterbox – it will get bored if you disengage with it.
2/ JB: Any advice for parents confused about children going back to school?
Again, INTUITION can be a great help here.
Ideally you have a TRUSTING RELATIONSHIP with your INTUITION, which you have built up over time by listening to it.
Listen to BODY SIGNALS – if there is an alarm going off inside it’s a clear indication of threat.
If it is necessary to become our OWN LEADER we need to listen to our intuition. It’s a wonderful part of our brain, a prehistoric part.
JB: What about a situation where a parent needs to return to work for financial reasons, and feels guilty about sending their child back to school?
Most of us don’t face a life and death situation every day of our lives – unless we’re working on the frontline during this coronavirus crisis.
One way to make a difficult decision might be to weigh up the severity of a situation and ask ourselves what are the IMPORTANT CHOICES.
3 / JB: Many people are suffering from insomnia at this time. Are there ways to tackle this?
We are having unprecedented reactions to an unprecedented situation.
If we are trying to sleep, the more pressure we put on ourselves the worse it will get. It might be helpful to accept you are in for a sleepless night. It will at least remove the pressure.
Breathing techniques can be helpful – like the 4-7-8 breathing exercise we discussed in the last session. See https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324417
A walk in the evening under the stars can produce calming Oxytocin and lower adrenalin.
Laughter will also raise Oxytocin and help you to feel relaxed. Try watching a favourite TV sitcom before bed.
BEREAVEMENT can also lead to insomnia and make us feel very ALONE.
For anyone who has lost a family member and is struggling to sleep, giving yourself permission to have feelings of grief can help to ride the storm. There’s no timeline for grief.
Cruse Bereavement Care is a wonderful website and helpline offering advice and care for those suffering bereavement: https://www.cruse.org.uk/
Finding a movie that speaks to your experience of grief may bring a sense of comfort. Watching the film ‘A Monster Calls’ shortly after my own brother died helped me.
3 / JB – One of many questions we’ve received on social media is from Cheryl: ‘How can we remain in the moment?’
Even if it might not seem a good day, there is good in every day isn’t there? How do we make sure we savour the moment?
Stopping that ‘spin cycle’ is so important. Finding things that give a POINT OF FOCUS will help. Gardening can be fantastic for this, if it’s an option.
Walking can also be really helpful in refiling any emotional backlog and getting rid of negative energy. Just looking at the sky can raise Oxytocin and bring on feelings of calm.
Doing good deeds for other people, or any mindful activity that brings a sense of purpose, will help with ability to focus and preventing thoughts from turning inwards.
Walk with your Wolf – Jonathan Hoban https://www.amazon.co.uk/Walk-Your-Wolf-Reconnect-confidence/dp/1473693217/ref=nodl_
Why We Sleep – The New Science of Sleep and Dreams – by Matthew Walker (Professor of neuroscience & psychology) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-We-Sleep-Science-Dreams/dp/0241269067
A Monster Calls – 12A, 2016, Fantasy/Drama. A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to help him cope with his single mother’s terminal illness.
Being Kind To Yourself
In this 30 mins chat with psychotherapist @jonathan_hoban, Julia discusses kindness, being kind to yourself & how to edge yourself back into the world from lockdown as measures ease. It’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek & so important for us to talk.
Questions with answers to follow shortly.
Why it’s OK to have an emotional episode during times like this
This is the 5th #LockdownSession with psychotherapist Jonathan Hoban, author of Walk With Your Wolf. In this session we discuss why it’s OK to have an emotional episode during times like this and why it’s essential to let these feelings out (after my own personal experience recently). We also talk about the toxic unhealthy environment on social media that should sometimes be avoided, and Jonathan shares an exercise from his book, to help us stay grounded and tune into our intuition.
1. JB/ If feelings have been building up during lockdown is it OK to let them all out?
FEELINGS can very easily be pushed to ONE SIDELINE. The more DIFFICULT the situation the more STOIC we can become.
During times of adversity this can in fact be a GOOD THING – we tend to SUBLIMATE and CHANNEL our feelings into other activities or create other psychological or physiological distractions for ourselves.
SPEAKING OPENLY about our feelings to friends, family, a random stranger even, can help give each other permission to open up about our feelings.
Taking the risk to share, however hard, can inspire others to do the same. It will also prevent us from internally combusting emotionally speaking.
This emphasises and highlights the IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY CONNECTION, and ascertaining who we need as part of our TRIBE.
Some people are comfortable sticking to a routine. But high energy DRIVERS – the people (like me) with what I call a GLADIATORIAL COMPLEX who like to be busy all the time – require a SENSE OF PURPOSE to give a SENSE OF CONTROL.
When there is something we CANNOT CONTROL, this can suddenly mirror everything else out of our control and TRIGGER an emotional outpouring.
ANGER is often the first emotion to be experienced. ANGER IS AN ENERGY and can be the fuel to DRIVE, but it can also PUSH other feelings to the wayside.
DRIVERS tend to FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT and then CRASH. There will be a point when we need to learn how to just put everything down.
Anger can be like a BLOCK IN THE SINK, once released it allows other feelings to move and come up. It’s good to have people in our community who we can check in with regularly, keeping things light, but who are there for you if you do need to open up about feelings.
JB / So this could be a good time to build on friendships and really develop them?
Yes, this is a time when we’re especially really valuing the importance of community and of who is in our tribe.
2. JB / How much should we tune into social media at a time when ‘keyboard warriors’ are on the march?
We’ve all been through a SHOCK. And as shock subsides, this can be followed by a sense of DISBELIEF, similar to what we experience in GRIEF, and we can ALL OF A SUDDEN recognise and CONNECT what has happened, and what we’ve been through, and might still be going through.
What INITIALLY feels SURREAL, suddenly feels REAL. Because of this we can feel suddenly overwhelmed as ALL our emotions rush to the surface, and we can find them hard to manage.
JB / It’s about avoiding scapegoating isn’t it?
When we don’t take ACCOUNTABILITY for our FEELINGS, sometimes they are REPRESSED, and we may start PROJECTING unwanted feelings onto others.
I’ve seen communities develop on twitter that further INCITE ANGER as a means of channelling out UNWANTED feelings. But this will just increase more stress, and you will go around recycling this feeling if you don’t take accountability of it or know where it stems from.
WE CAN CHOOSE NOT TO GET INVOLVED IN THESE TYPES OF CONVERSATIONS WITH OTHERS OR GROUPS.
3. JB / How can we reground ourselves now we’re a couple of months into this lockdown situation?
What I call the WISE part in us can be the most GROUNDING part in us. We might not feel able to access it easily but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
I use an exercise that helps me to tune into my INTUITION when there’s too much going on in my head. It’s particularly useful at a time when we all need to be guided by our intuition and not by what other people might be telling us.
ALTER EGO EXERCISE – From ‘Walk with Wolf’:
While out walking, select someone who inspires you (famous, not famous, living, dead, friend, relative, stranger, fictional character):
My alter-ego is:
Now ask this person a few open-ended questions:
- How do you think I handled this situation?
- How could I have handled it better?
- How would you have handled it?
- What might I learn from this for the future?
Try not to PRE-EMPT the conversation, JUST LISTEN, take note of what your alter-ego is ‘saying’ and as you’re walking try to see how their advice might influence your own approach next time you face a challenge.
4. JB / How about if we’re feeling stressed and insecure because of changes in our lives?
It doesn’t work to run away from fear because anxiety will only increase. Using ANGER AS ENERGY will help. Power walking, running, listening to music while exercising, can help to burn off anger so you can start to THINK STRATEGICALLY and plan how to MOVE FORWARD.
Doing small tasks and achieving quick wins are good. They provide HOPE, and boost CONFIDENCE and SELF-ESTEEM.
5. JB / Any advice for NHS workers who might feel they are starting to burn out?
As a health professional it’s very hard to leave the work of caring to somebody else. But it’s very important to TAKE A BREAK – even if only a week – so you can get some SELF-CARE. Passing on the baton for a short while until you come back refreshed and ready to take it back. It’s all part of working as a TEAM.
Walking in a green space is so good for mental health and is great for burn out. Try not to be tempted to use tech while on your break – you are likely to already be over-stimulated. Instead, if you can, lay on the grass and look up at the sky!
Grief and how to say goodbye to loved ones
In this episode Jonathan and Julia discuss grief and how to say goodbye to loved ones, how important regulating energy levels can be and lockdown fatigue.
Questions & answers to follow shortly.
TOG asked him how he met Julia. He told us,
“After seeing her on TV, I followed Julia on social media, and responded to her tweets which I always found to be helpful, and always got to the heart of the issue, consistently.
On topics such as walking in nature, and how it can help empower and heal us, we have views in common. Julia invited me onto Talk Radio, which she was hosting at the time, and our professional relationship developed from thereon in!”
Jonathan, author, psychotherapist, business coach and expert speaker, is a professionally registered member of the British Association of Counselling Psychotherapy (MBACP) specialising in areas addiction, anxiety disorders, depression, anger management and trauma work.
He has worked within the NHS, treatment centres and corporate companies around the U.K, predominantly in the City of London extensively over the last ten years with great success.
His book ‘Walk With Your Wolf’ is a part-memoir, self-help and life coaching book that explores the restorative power of nature; he coined the phrase ‘Walking Therapy’ and has pioneered it since.
His expertise on Walking Therapy is second to none and provides other therapists with Walking Therapy Training course, overseen by the BACP ethical framework team.