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Burnout

Feeling helpless, disillusioned, and completely exhausted? Then you may be on the road to burnout. Feeling like this for short periods is not a concern, but if you feel like this most of the time you may be burned out.

Burnout is a gradual process, it doesn’t happen overnight, but it can creep up on you. It’s a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.

Burnout may be the result of constant stress, but it isn’t the same as stress. Stress usually involves too much – too many demands, too much to cope with physically or mentally. However, stressed people feel that if they can just get on top things, get everything under control, they’ll feel better. Burnout, on the other hand, is characterised by not enough. Burned out people feel empty and mentally exhausted, devoid of motivation and beyond caring. People with burnout usually don’t see any hope of an improvement to their situation.

Susceptibility to burnout can be influenced by three main factors – work, lifestyle and personality. Work related causes include feeling like you have little or no control over your work, lack of recognition or reward, unclear or overly demanding job expectations, monotonous or unchallenging work and a chaotic or high-pressure environment. Lifestyle factors include working too much without enough time for socialise and relax, lack of close, supportive relationships, taking on too many responsibilities and not getting enough sleep. Personality traits can also contribute including being a perfectionist, having a pessimistic view of yourself or your environment, the need to be in control and a reluctance to delegate to others.

Turning to others and socialising is a powerful antidote to burnout. Enjoyable time spent with friends and loved ones can have a positive impact on mood and outlook. Correspondingly time spent with negative and aggrieved people will have the opposite effect. Where possible limit contact with these people.

Most of us spend a large part of our lives at work. Being happy there is important. So, developing friendships with people you work with can help. Having friends to chat and joke with during the day can help relieve stress and make the day more enjoyable.

Everyone must find some value in what we do. So, even if your job is mundane you can often focus on how your role helps others by provides a product or service, either for external or internal customers. Focus on aspects of the job that you do enjoy, even if it’s only chatting with your co-workers at break time.

If you truly hate your job, then looking for meaning and satisfaction elsewhere in your life might by helpful. Perhaps in your family, friends, hobbies or voluntary work. Remember focus on the parts of your life that bring you joy.

Your lifestyle and habits can be a good way to address burnout. Things like taking a break from technology, making time for relaxation and ensuring you get plenty of sleep are a good place to start. Learning to set boundaries and limiting responsibilities will allow you to feel more in control. Also, nourishing your creative side is a good reliever or stress. Perhaps something new, start a fun project, or resume a favourite hobby.

It might be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re burned out but physical activity is a powerful antidote to stress and burnout. It’s also something you can do immediately and easily to boost your mood.
Diet is also an important area. Try to minimize sugar and refined carbohydrate foods as these can affect your mood and energy levels. Other areas include using caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in moderation or not at all if possible. 

Hypnotherapy can help relieved a wide range of symptoms of burnout and help you to make the changes to avoid it in the future. These include relaxation, boosting confidence / positive affirmation, meditation, progression muscle relaxation and stress reduction. Also it can help you to deal with sleeplessness, smoking, alcohol use or weight gain, Furthermore it can help with better diet – eating disorders, sugar addiction, comfort eating and any other unwanted or problematic habits. So if you think I can help then contact me.

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IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK – Part 2

“Despite being commonplace, too many people with mental health problems still face stigma, prejudice and discrimination”. Luciana Berger (Former MP for Liverpool Wavertree, UK).

A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of seeking help early on when you are struggling with mental health, and indeed physical and emotional health. I struggled to write that post as I had so much that I wanted to say on the subject. I found a way through it by splitting what I have to say into more than one post. This time I want to focus on stigma and discrimination around mental health.

Stigma and discrimination can contribute to worsening symptoms and reduced likelihood of getting treatment. This can, in turn, leads to a range of symptoms including reduced hope, isolation, lower self-esteem, increased psychiatric symptoms, difficulties with social relationships, reduced likelihood of staying with treatment and difficulties with family and work.

This can be all the more common in men. As Mauro Ranallo (Canadian Sports Announcer) said, “I believe the biggest stigma right now, with mental health, is that a lot of men are not talking about it”. Typically, men are slower or less likely to seek medical help with physical and mental health issues.

Mind (UK mental health charity) provide support for those with mental illness or those caring for them. Meanwhile, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (a US based group) has some useful suggestions about what we can all do to help reduce the stigma of mental illness. These include:
* Talk openly about mental health. It’s not something to be ashamed of.
* Help to educate others. Challenge misperceptions or negative comments by sharing facts and experiences.
* Be aware of language used. Words matter. Avoid and challenge the use of derogatory, judgemental or stigmatising language.
* Promote equality and parity between physical and mental illness. For example, draw comparisons to how someone with cancer or diabetes is treated.
* Show compassion and care for those with mental illness.
* Be honest about treatment. Normalise mental health treatments, just like other health care treatments.

One further, very powerful, approach is to choose empowerment over shame – “I fight stigma by choosing to live an empowered life. To me, that means owning my life and my story and refusing to allow others to dictate how I view myself or how I feel about myself.” Val Fletcher (Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health).

If you, or someone you know, is feeling stigmatised, here are some ways you can deal with it. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, get the treatment you need. Try not to let the fear of being labelled with a mental illness stop you from getting the help you need. Sadly, mental health issues are rarely something you can deal with on your own.

Do not believe the hype. When you hear or experience something often enough, you start to believe it. Do not let other people’s ignorance influence the way you feel about yourself. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and is not a sign of weakness. Talking about your mental health issues with healthcare professionals will help you on your road to recovery or management. Even understanding what the issue is, that it’s not unique to you, and that there are well used treatment options can help to reduce anxiety and isolation.

Many people with mental illness choose to isolate themselves from the world. This can be a block to getting the help they need. Reaching out to people you trust, such as family, friends or religious leaders, will mean you get the support you need. Some companies offer confidential help and advice to their employees. Connecting with others can be very valuable. Doing so, either online or in person, can help you deal with feelings of isolation and make you realise that you are not alone in your feelings and experiences.

Remember, your illness does not define you. You wouldn’t say, ‘I am cancerous’. This simply change to the way you talk about your illness can be very powerful. So, instead of saying ‘I’m a schizophrenic’, say ‘I have schizophrenia’. It’s a condition, it happens, it’s not what I am. There is real power in language.
Don’t give up on people who seem judgemental or insensitive. It’s rarely personal. Their language or judgements often come from a lack of understanding or information rather than anything else. If you feel able, then education and inform them. Importantly, do not believe that their views have anything to do with you personally.

So, as Mark Twain (American Writer) said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. Reach out, talk to someone and get the help you need.

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Keep it simply

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” Henry David Thoreau

12th July marks National Simplicity Day, which falls every year on that day to mark the birth date of the author, environmentalist, abolitionist and American icon, Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau was an advocate of living simply and wrote a number of books on the subject. He followed the philosophies of simplifying life in both mental and material ways.

Thoreau believed that people have knowledge about themselves that transcends all external forces in their lives. He advocated for living a simpler life to better get in touch with those feelings. For example, his most famous work is Walden, written in 1854, it’s an account of the two years he spent living alone in a cabin – which he built himself by Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts.

Modern life has many distractions. From our phones and other electronic devices to social media as well as work and family commitments, we rarely have time to just sit and reflect and gather our thoughts. Here are some simply ideas you could try on your Simplicity Day.

• Challenge yourself to take a break from all technology for a day. It can be refreshing to not be constantly plugged into the lives of other people on social media and have more time for yourself. It’s an act of self-love.

• Use your Simplicity Day to look at all your various belongings and figure out what’s important to you as opposed to just taking up space. Everything that falls into the latter category can be donated or given to a charity shop. You will feel more comfortable in your home and you will have done a good deed.

• This simplification process can be used to prioritise other areas of your life. As Thoreau said, “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” It’s an opportunity to think about what you spend your time and energy on and whether it would be better to do more useful or constructive things.

• Take time to unwind. This is all the more important for more empathic people. Our lives are scheduled around jobs, school, workouts, childcare, etc. and we often forget just how taxing that can be. Take some time out, even if it’s just mentally, and focus on the importance of the simple things.

• Spend some time in nature, even if it’s just in your garden or a park. It’s all too easy to under estimate the importance of nature to our psychological and emotional health.

As we head into the summer holiday time, we could perhaps use the principles of Thoreau and properly switching off from work, spent quality time with friends and family and be mindful, slow down and take a moment. This will ultimately make you more productive and help to guard against stress and burnout.
With the current pandemic and lockdowns, you have an opportunity to take time for reflection and moments of calm and clarity. 

However, if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed talk to someone, but make sure you also take the time to just stop, even for a few moments, and breathe. With Hypnotherapy, for example, you are able to explore your thought processes and beliefs. These can be that the root of emotional, physical, mental or even spiritual problems. Once identified, changes can be made to address these issues and improve your quality of life. To find out more, click here.

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National Health Information Week

This year Monday 5 to Sunday 11 July is National Health Information Week. The idea is to increase the quality of health care people receive by promoting high quality information for patients and the public. It’s about highlighting the importance, and raising the profile of, health literacy; offering a platform for collaborative working between different partners; and reminding us all what good, reliable, health information looks like.

Are you currently undergoing medical treatment or taking prescription medication to treat a condition? Do you know what condition you have? Do you understand the treatments you are receiving and any likely side effects? Are you fully aware of the range of treatments available to you? Did you choose your treatment option or did your Doctor do it? Do you suffer with side effects from medication you are taking? Is there an alternative medication? You owe it to yourself to fully understand what treatments you are receiving and whether they are the best option for you.

Now, this may simply be a chat with your Doctor or Specialist, but this can be challenging. They don’t mean to but they can use confusing jargon and technical terms, be short of time or feel you are questioning their judgement. Also, even if you do have a good conversation, you may not remember all of what they said or become overwhelmed by information.
One way to combat this is to do some research beforehand. The internet is a truly amazing resource of information on virtually every subject you can imagine. But beware, there are pit falls. Not everything on the internet is true and in some cases information can be biased, misleading or deceptive. Even other media such as TV and newspapers have to be treated with caution. Often journalists are looking for a good headline rather than to slavishly report the facts.

There are some useful questions to ask about health information you find. These are:
• Where does the information come from? Who produced it? Was it the NHS or a trusted charity or health organisation?
• Is the information relevant to the country you live in? Not all treatments are available everywhere.
• How up to date is the information? When was it published or last updated? Health information changes over time – make sure it is current.
• Who is the author? Does it make sense that they would know what they are talking about.
• Is the information based on evidence reviews or case studies?
• Why has it been produced? Is it to inform or is there an agenda? Is the website profit driven / trying to sell you something?
• It is also a good idea to cross-check information. This means looking to see if it is repeated by more than one reliable source.

Remember, Hypnotherapy can be an alternative to other more invasive or time consuming therapies. Hypnotherapy can be used to treat a wide range of conditions. Please check out which condition I treat by clicking here. But I am not an expert on everything and other Hypnotherapists may offer other services and treatments.