New Aspect Counselling Counsellor in Haywards Heath and Brighton

New Aspect Blog

Thoughts and opinions on counselling, mental health and related issues....

To access archived blog posts, click here.


New Aspect Blog. Blog_proc_sands_time

The Problem of Procrastination
- 24th May 2018

Procrastination is the art of filling tomorrow with the tasks of today. And when tomorrow finally becomes today the process starts all over again. How often do we put off the inevitable, the things that need to be resolved and sorted out? How often do they hang around in the back of our minds, niggling us that they’re incomplete? And yet we still don’t do them, killing time instead when there’s something pressing to be completed.

Before the advent of our digital world, it was harder to procrastinate. You had to get up and find a distraction, or make do just looking out of the window. Now most of us can reach for our phones and instantly access a world of news, games, videos and music.

Procrastination often occurs when there are no immediate consequences to avoiding a task, and no immediate benefit from doing it right now. If you decide to eat healthier and do more exercise, the sacrifice happens now, but the benefits will take weeks or months to show, so it’s easy to put it off for something with more immediate rewards. We favour instant gratification, so the gap between taking action (or avoiding action) and receiving a response encourages procrastination.

Procrastination is effectively handing responsibility to the future you. Christine Tappolet describes this phenomena as “leaving the dishes to our future self”1. If you don’t feel connected or responsible for your future self it can be easy to let them clean up the clutter later. However what soon happens is that you’re knee deep in the mess, wondering why you didn’t sort it out sooner.

Perhaps a fear of engaging, of failure or of finding things difficult can stop us even starting. If it seems like its going to be painful, difficult or not fun, there’s an incentive to avoid it, perhaps in the vain hope that it will go away. However, this usually doesn’t work, and then it still needs to be done, but more urgently than before.

So how can procrastination be managed? One way to begin is by deciding what’s really important. Simply, if it’s something what ‘would be good to do’ but doesn’t really matter, just remove it from your list. This will leave you with a more accurate, and perhaps less daunting picture of what actually needs to be done right now.

Another idea is to use the 10-minute rule. The idea is that you start a task you’re delaying, but just do it for 10 minutes, then after that time you can stop if you want to. What often happens is that after 10 minutes you’re up and running and you’d rather just finish it than start again another time. Sometimes you’ll find it only took 10 minutes to complete, and in the worst case you’ve made 10 minutes of progress.

To help combat the issue of reward and effort being so far apart, set small milestones and rewards to give a tangible link between the two. A friend of mine used to practice yoga because they knew it would be good for their back long-term. However this long-term goal was difficult to relate to the short-term effort every day. To keep their motivation up they rewarded themselves with some chocolate or another small treat after they’d done their yoga. No yoga, no treat. It was just a small thing, but enough to keep motivation up on a day-to-day basis.

Finally, if you know you’re prone to procrastination, plan for it! Making it harder to procrastinate will help keep you on track. If you don’t need the internet for what you should be doing, turn your Wi-Fi off, or switch your notifications off and leave your phone in another room. If procrastination takes more effort than just getting on with the task at hand, it’ll be easier to focus.

Procrastination can bog you down, but by understanding the reasons behind it, and doing a little forward planning it’s possible to concentrate on the task at hand and free yourself up for other things you’d rather be doing.

1. Tappolet, C. (2010) Procrastination and Personal Identity in The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination edited by Andreou, C. and M. D. White. New York: Oxford University Press pp115-129


New Aspect Blog. PSYREG_Patience

Is Patience Still a Virtue?
- 5th April 2018

This month's article was published on the Psychreg website, to access it, please click here.


New Aspect Blog. CC_inefficiency

Are We Neglecting Life? - In Praise of Inefficiency
- 25th March 2018

This month's article was published on The Counsellors Cafe website, to access it, please click here.


New Aspect Blog. KaufDichBlog1

“Kauf Dich Gucklich” – Can You Buy Yourself Happy?
- 30th January 2018

Recently I was visiting a friend in Germany, and we went to a café called “Kauf Dich Glucklich”, which means “Buy Yourself Happy”. While I was making my way through an admittedly very tasty waffle, I kept thinking of the name of the café, and how the phrase “Buy Yourself Happy” says much about our society, where we are often valued in our role as consumers, not individuals.

The old adage is that money can’t buy you happiness, and this is a view I tend to agree with. But many of us feel we would be happier if we had an extra holiday, or a bigger home, or perhaps just fewer money worries. However the things that our long-term happiness is founded upon tend to be the relationships around us, who we are and what we do, not what we have just bought or are just about to buy. We get used to the things we buy. They are exciting for a time, then they simply become another piece of clothing, another gadget, another object to be stored away in bulging cupboards with the rest of our once-loved, now neglected items.

There have been criticisms of the view above, and many researchers say that money does make a difference, however a study from Princeton University1 breaks down ‘happiness’ and makes the situation clearer.

The study suggests that there are two ways of looking at how happy and contented we are; Life evaluation - how we feel about the life we are leading in general, and emotional well-being - how we are actually feeling right now.

The study suggests that, unsurprisingly, income does make a big difference to life evaluation, and there seems to be no cut off point. This makes sense, as the more money we have the more we may feel successful in our lives compared to others, with more freedom to do what we want. However when it comes to emotional well-being, money did have an impact, but once household incomes the UK equivalent of £35,0002, increases in emotional well-being levelled off.

I feel the levelling off is because life events that affect emotional well-being can be made worse by a lack of money, but having more money will not simply resolve them and remove the emotional impact. Events such as divorce, disagreements, death and illness can be harder to bear for someone with money worries as the life event adds to an already difficult situation. However having money cannot prevent bad things from happening.

Money does influence our happiness, but it is not the deciding factor in whether we are happy or not. More money can help smooth out the bumps in the road of life, but it can’t insulate us completely from the trials and tribulations that living brings. Having no money at all can make us unhappy, but money alone is not the key to a happy and contented life.

1. Kahneman, D. and A. Deaton. (2010) High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107:38 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1011492107

2. The study showed that a household income of around $75,000 as the cut off point. Around 60% of US households earn below this figure. Approximately 60% of UK households earn below £35,000 per year.


New Aspect Blog. blog_NYres

The Problem With New Year's Resolutions
- 27th December 2017

The New Year brings with it the opportunity to stop and reflect on ourselves, our feelings about the year gone by and our hopes for the year to come. It’s often the point at which we decide we’d like to change something about our lives, with the aim to be happier, healthier or wealthier.

However what often happens is that we decide on the end goal and begin, full of enthusiasm, but the initial eagerness soon begins to subside and our new resolution becomes sporadic and inconsistent, and by March is all but forgotten. Setting New Year’s resolutions that fail year after year can have a negative impact on your self-esteem, as it reinforces a feeling that no matter how enthusiastic you are for change you will still fail in the end.

The problem with New Years resolutions is that too often they’re New Years Aspirations. We aspire to change our lives, we aspire to do things differently. It's something we really want, but wanting is a long way from actually achieving. Aspiration is to hope to achieve something, whereas resolution is a firm decision to act, to be resolute or determined.

So what can we do about this?

Make sure your goal is a resolution not an aspiration. Make sure it’s something you really want, that you’re prepared to put the work into, rather than something that would be nice if it happened.

Split the goal into smaller, achievable milestones. If your goals are too large it can be disheartening when it takes a long while to reach them. By having smaller milestones along the way there is a feeling of progress, which can help keep your enthusiasm up.

Get support from others. Friends and family can provide moral support and encouragement, and a friend with a similar goal can be your partner for an activity. It’s amazing how often two people will meet up on a cold morning for a run because they don’t want to let the other person down, when both would have stayed at home if they were going alone.

Celebrate the successes along the way. Some goals may take the whole year or even more to achieve. It’s a New Year’s resolution, not purgatory, so celebrate your progress! The small wins along the way will keep you motivated and believing that you can achieve the end goal.

Accept failure. This may seem a strange idea, but New Year's resolutions don’t usually work first time, and this doesn’t mean you should give up. If you have a wobble in mid February, accept that it happened and keep going. It’s OK to re-resolve in March, You will be more likely to achieve your goal if you realise that failures are inevitable. Accept that it will take time and there are many bumps along the way.

If you do decide to make a New Year’s Resolution this year, choose something you’re determined to do. Get support from your friends and remember: there will be bumps on the road to your goal, so take time to celebrate your success along the way!


New Aspect Blog. Christmas Blog 1

Christmas Is Coming: 5 Things to Remember At This Time Of Year
- 7th December 2017

This month's article was published on The Counsellors Cafe website, to access it, please click here.


New Aspect Blog. CC Blog Board Games

5 Ways Board Games Are Good For Your Mental Health
- 8th November 2017

This month's article was published on The Counsellors Cafe website, to access it, please click here.


New Aspect Blog. seuss blog pic

Why Everyone Should Read Dr Seuss's "Oh, The Places You'll Go!"
- 11th September 2017

I am drawn to Dr Seuss’s books as they combine wonderfully surreal escapism with accurate insights about the human condition. Mixing the two together makes his wise advice about life much more accessible. One of my favourites is “Oh the Places You’ll Go!” To me it feels like a slightly off the wall version of the advice a parent would give their child

Early on Dr Seuss writes: “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes; you can steer yourself in any direction you choose” – we have more freedom than we realise, and we’re urged to have confidence in our own selves, to be the masters of our own destiny, taking charge of our own lives, to engage with life and do something with it.

But in the midst of the fun, all the excitement and adventure, when you’re the “Best of the Best” it all stops, as “Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you”. He describes being in a slump, and that it’s difficult to get out of. Dr Seuss doesn’t sugar coat the world by only describing all the wonderful things, it has its ups and downs.

He tells us of “The Waiting Place” with its denizens waiting for things to happen to them, for someone to come along and fix their problems. They’re waiting for “a Yes or No… a Better Break… Another Chance”, but you’re reminded that that’s not you, you’ll think for yourself, escape the waiting and go on to better things. However sometimes you’ll play “Games you can’t win, ‘cause you’ll play against you”. But even in the midst of the self-criticism, fear and anxiety he describes the determination of the reader’s character, who is able to work through and overcome their problems.

It’s a children’s book so [spoiler alert] it ends well, but it ends well and includes the bad times. The bad times are part of the journey. So often we’re shown how a perfect life should be, and it can become easy to forget that sometimes you won’t feel up to it, life will feel like a riddle, a maze, a puzzle, and that it’s all part of the journey.

It may take place in a fantasy world of strange beasts, bright colours and ridiculous contraptions, but “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” is one of the most honest and realistic children’s books I’ve ever read.


New Aspect Blog. Sleep Blog

Is Sleep A Waste Of Time?
- 25th July 2017

Thomas Edison, the man who brought us the electric light bulb, thought sleep was a waste of time. We are living in a world that is awake, active and ready to engage 24 hours a day, and it’s easy to be tempted to agree with Edison when presented with all the interesting things to do that are accessible every second of every day. Unlike 30 years ago, when TV channels used to stop after midnight (google it millennials, I’m not joking) we can carry on gaming, shopping, chatting, reading, watching or whatever we like 24 hours a day. It may be the small hours of the morning here in the UK, but there’s always someone in a different time zone who’s awake. An article a few years ago in the Guardian showed that John Lewis had noticed a 30% rise in sales between midnight and 6am, fuelled in part by people having tablets in bed with them. The bedroom has become another place to access the world out there, rather than a restful escape from it.

Sleep is a natural process in the cycle of daily living. Our body tells us when we need sleep, and generally regulates sleeping to the hours of darkness. Over the course of your life it’s the thing you will spend the most time doing. Sleep enables the body to power down, to recharge and repair itself. From a physical perspective, those who work night shifts over a long period of time have less effective immune systems and a lower life expectancy. It seems that the body is set up for a natural rhythm and we ignore this at our peril.

The effect of a lack of sleep on our minds is just as important. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep has a wide-ranging impact upon the brain. Those who don’t get enough sleep make riskier decisions and are less creative. From a mental health perspective, disrupted sleep can cause the brain to hold onto negative memories instead of positive ones, and it’s also suggested that it limits the ability to empathise with others.

A much higher percentage of those who are depressed also suffer with insomnia. Studies are unclear whether one causes the other, but the lack of sleep contributes to and reinforces the depressive feelings and impairs relations to the rest of the world. It is not without reason that sleep deprivation is considered as a torture method in the Geneva convention.

For many, sleep is often seen as a necessary gap in between doing things rather than a relaxing and helpful part of our daily routine. But sleeping is essential for our health, both physical and mental. Not getting enough sleep can affect not only your body, but your emotional health and the supportive relationships around you. The Dalai Lama once said that “Sleep is the best meditation”. Perhaps if we fully understood the vital role that sleep plays in maintaining our health we’d be better able to prioritise it. Although it cannot be a cure for all life’s ills, sleep is the foundation on which a healthy and happy life is built.


New Aspect Blog. CountrysideCCArticle

'Forest Bathing' - Why the Countryside is good for your Mental Health
- 24th June 2017

This month's article was published on The Counsellors Cafe website, to access it, please click here.


New Aspect Blog. CALM Huddle Blog May17

Man, It's Good To Talk
- 13th May 2017

I few weeks ago I was asked to attend ‘Huddle’, a fundraising event in Brighton in aid of the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).

If you haven’t heard of them, CALM is a brilliant UK charity dedicated to preventing male suicide. Statistics show that in the UK around 75% of all people who die by suicide are male, and it’s the leading cause of death for men under 45.

I was there to be a point of contact for information about counselling and support in Brighton. During my research I was very pleased to find that there were a high number of counselling organisations that offer accessible low-cost counselling – As You Are, Cruse, Rock Clinic, Age UK, YMCA to name a few.

The day was a lively mix of music, art, poetry and puppetry, and what it reminded me was the importance of having an outlet. One of the poets who performed talked to me about how his poetry gave him a way to express his emotions, meaning all of the difficult things he was feeling didn’t stay bottled up inside him.

We all need an outlet, a place to express ourselves. It may be something creative, a sport, just being with friends, or at times this may include seeing a counsellor. At the event I was a source of information for where to get help in Brighton, as it’s important to have a network of people who will be there to support you when times are hard. The temptation can be to ‘man up’, to hold onto things and not deal with them in fear of burdening others. However those that support you do so because they are there for you, not because they need you to be OK all the time. Not processing things means that negative emotions build up and have to be carried around, adding to the burden of everyday living. There’s no opportunity to get a perspective on the problems, to explore and work it through so that you can let them go.

For men it can be difficult to put in place those support networks – there is a stereotype that men often don’t talk about their emotions, particularly not to other men, who can often make up most of their close social circle. This was summed up in the CALM magazine that I was given at the event, being described as “impressing not expressing”. The need to show how good you are, whether to impress or just feel good enough, becomes the most important thing. The destructive stereotype that to be a proper man means you are in control at all times, not expressing your emotions as people might doubt your man credentials. Thankfully the work of CALM is helping to change the conversation, reminding men that you can talk about difficult things, that you and your mates are going to struggle at times, as life is hard, and difficult things are going to happen, but you can be a man and get the support you need.

Having counselling as an option is vitally important, however there are a great deal more people in the UK than there are counsellors, so perhaps what is most important is on a day to day basis having that outlet, and with it a group of people you trust to be there for you when you need support.


click
©2018 New Aspect Counselling is powered by WebHealer
Cookies are set by this site. To decline them or find out more visit our cookie page