Nicola CharrettCounsellor & Psychotherapist
Leatherhead, Surrey

Employer Mental Health Support ‘Lacking During The Pandemic’

The mental health implications of the global pandemic are huge, but it seems that many people around the UK haven’t been receiving the support they need from their employers since it hit in March, with 56 per cent of employees saying that this is the case.

This is according to new research from mental health organisation TalkOut, reported on by HR News, revealing that although a significant increase in anxiety has been seen among workers, just 44 per cent have been offered some kind of support or advice.

The survey also found that 68 per cent of people reported feeling anxious or apprehensive about returning to the world of work, while 35 per cent said their mental health is now worse than it was before the pandemic.

Of those asked, 85 per cent said they didn’t believe that their mental wellbeing had been prioritised by their employers during the pandemic.

CEO of TalkOut Jill Mead said: “Whilst businesses were quick to adapt to social distancing and working from home, for many, the emotional wellbeing of employees was an afterthought.

“But the psychological strain of the crisis is impossible to ignore and whether staff have been working on the frontline, furloughed or working from home, it’s likely to have a long-term impact.”

If you are experiencing covid-related anxiety, stress, depression or another kind of mental health condition, talking to someone about how you’re feeling can really help. If you start to feel overwhelmed, acknowledge your own feelings and make sure you speak to someone you trust.

Are you looking for a Surrey counsellor at the moment? Get in touch with Nikki Charrett today.



Is This Your First Time Experiencing Mental Health Issues?

With everything that is going on around the world, from politics, financial strains, current events, and a global pandemic, it is quite common to be not quite feeling your usual chirpy self.

But when issues begin to be more than just having an off day, and you can’t seem to shake the worries and concerns that plague you, leaving you feeling disinterested and disconnected from others, then it can become a much bigger problem. According to the Guardian, those aged under 25 have been increasingly suffering from mental health issues over the past few months.

When your symptoms are interfering with your sleep patterns and leaving you unable to concentrate on work, feeling helpless and unable to act, then you could be suffering from depression, anxiety, or even both.

You might never have had any history of mental health issues previously, but given the perfect storm of a deadly global pandemic, the onset of a recession and the financial pressures that will bring, and months of isolation during the lockdown, it’s bound to trigger issues with mental health that you have never had to deal with before.

Imagine that you have a reserve tank of brainpower, giving you just that bit extra help on tough days when nothing seems to be going right. The more of that reserve brainpower you have, then the greater your resilience for those bad days.

However, our daily routines can either charge or drain this reserve. You might previously have had a healthy lifestyle, but when unhealthy habits creep in during the lockdown - drinking more, comfort eating, less exercise, up all night Netflix binging - you will lower your reserves, causing you to be able to deal with the everyday stresses, as well as the uncommon stresses we are facing.

It’s also essential to seek professional help with your mental health issues, as well as keeping yourself hydrated, get half an hour of exercise a day, and try to get a better, healthier diet.

If you’re looking for a Leatherhead counsellor, book an appointment today!



Research Finds Heatwaves Affect Mental Health

We can spend all winter wishing that summer would hurry up, but once the high temperatures start rolling in, not many of us are that great at dealing with it. Without air-con, open-air pools, and siestas we’re all tired, hot, and drenched in sweat.

As if pandemic, political, economical, climate change, and everyday anxieties weren’t enough to deal with, research has shown that heatwaves can also damage our mental health, it’s not just sunburn and physical discomfort we need to watch for, according to The Conversation.

The author of the research, Harriet Ingle, a researcher in climate psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University, says that hot weather can incite rage in us that otherwise might lie dormant.

She explains that historic studies dating back to the early 19th century discovered that hotter regions had higher violent crime rates than cooler countries. In those regions, violence is higher during the hotter months, even taking into account other factors such as poverty, unemployment and age.

A quick Google search for the most deadly riots in the USA would show they all happened between May and September in cities with very high temperatures.

Harriet cites a UK study that found that above 18C, every 1C increase in temperature is associated with a 3.8 per cent increase in the incidence of suicide and a 5 per cent increase in violent suicide.

‘In fact, during the 1995 heatwave in the UK, suicide increased by a staggering 46.9 per cent. Similar results have also been observed in other parts of the world,’ she explains.

More research of the psychological impact of heat needs to be done, but we do know that spikes in temperature increase our cortisol levels (the stress hormone), as well as adrenaline and testosterone, which can lead us to become aggressive, violent, and sexually hungry.

It can be easy for the excessive heat to throw anyone into a mental spiral and for tempers to become frayed and short.

If you do find you are needing help, then talk to your GP, or seek out a Leatherhead psychotherapist.



Remote Therapy To Benefit Young People Post Lockdown

Youth Access, an umbrella organisation that provides youth advice and counselling services, has published a report that recommends combining traditional face-to-face mental health support with remote interventions.

According to the organisation’s press release, a more innovative approach that incorporates both types of support to build a more young person-centric service, as well as giving young people more choice and control.

The findings from the research were drawn from an analysis of 50 studies on remote health interventions, carried out across nine countries. The key highlight from the analysis was the reduction in young people who accessed remote forms of support in the severity of clinical symptoms, as well as increased wellbeing and lower levels of suicidal behaviour and stigma.

There is also increased accessibility for those who struggle with face-to-face services, such as young men, young carers, young people with disabilities, LGBTQA+ young people, and those living in remote locations.

Remote support is more accessible to young people due to the flexibility of the time, shorter waiting times, and no requirement to travel to appointments, according to the report. Young people also felt safer, saying there was less of the risk of being judged compared to face-to-face sessions.

The report does also state that remote interventions are not a one size fits all solution, and should not replace face-to-face services

Barry William, the charity’s interim chief executive officer, said: “As we emerge from lockdown, we have a unique opportunity to build for the future, embedding this innovation to offer what young people have been telling us that they need: a blended model of mental health support that provides remote interventions alongside face-to-face support.

“This report adds to the growing body of evidence that this is the right way forward,” he said.

If you are looking for a counsellor in Surrey, get in touch!



Student Mental Health ‘Should Be Top Priority’

Lots of university students have been deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic, having had their education disrupted while their lecture theatres and laboratories have been forced to close.

After the government imposed lockdown towards the end of March, students across the country were left in limbo, unable to continue with their studies or complete their end-of-year exams. This was especially detrimental to those in their last year of further education, with results of their missed exams determining their overall degree qualification.

It was particularly difficult for international students who had to remain living on campus while their education was put on pause. Furthermore, they were separated from family and friends and unable to return home due to the crisis.

Therefore, it is not surprising many students have experienced a deterioration of their mental health over the last few months, unsure of what the pandemic would mean for their future.

As a result, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said it is essential they are given adequate support to get them through this challenging time.

“Mental health and the wellbeing of all students, whether they come from here or further afield, must be a top priority and it certainly is one of mine,” she stated.

To help higher education pupils, she announced a £3 million fund for an online resource called Student Space, giving university goers in England and Wales the chance to access support when they need it.

This includes tips for boosting mental health, online resources, peer support platforms, volunteering opportunities, and signposting to therapies.

Students in Surrey could benefit from counselling in Leatherhead, where they can get the help they need.



How To Cope With COVID-Anxiety

It can be difficult for anyone to remain positive and upbeat during a global pandemic, especially if you have struggles with your mental health or you have a physical illness. And it’s completely understandable to be feeling anxious - whether it’s about your own health, or that of a loved one or friend, or just how the coronavirus is going to impact your life, work, and finances.

Even though the easing of the lockdown measures have reduced the anxiety levels of Brits, they are still much higher than they were last year, and you should never criticise yourself for feeling rotten and anxious during such a peculiar time in our history.

But we have some tips to help you cope and manage your anxiety.

Talk to someone about how you’re feeling

If you begin to feel overwhelmed, then you must acknowledge your feelings and speak to someone you trust.

Arm yourself with the facts

There is so much information - both real and ‘fake news’ and misinformation - about the virus that it can certainly acerbate anxiety. Get the facts from reliable sources of information, such as the government’s COVID-19 website website, and the NHS coronavirus page can be very useful. Don’t trust everything you read on social media, and avoid overexposure to the news.

Do take a break from social media if you feel like the updates are getting too much. Remember you are in control of what you see on your feed. Take breaks when you do feel like things are getting too much or mute and unfollow accounts that make you feel more worried.

Know what you can do

If you are feeling scared or panicked by the coronavirus, remind yourself that there are practical things you can do. There is lots of advice about this on the NHS website.

If you need to speak with someone, consider speaking to a counsellor in Surrey then .



How to Help Someone Struggling With Anxiety

At times, we feel anxiety - a sense of unease or worry about something uncertain in the future - which is a good thing: A bit of performance anxiety, for example, which can manifest as apprehension or even dread, might motivate you to hunker down and prepare for a test or a speech.

But for those with anxiety disorders, these intense feelings rarely dissipate, and sufferers tend to feel ramped up anxiety more of the time and in more aspects of their everyday life.

The most common physical symptoms of anxiety include chronic stomach aches or abdominal pains, chest tightness, sweating, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

When it comes to supporting a loved one with anxiety, being empathetic is very important, but you don't want to step in and try to offer solutions or ‘fix' things outright. Most often, simply having someone check-in is more important. Just validating instead of trying to offer advice is a huge thing.

Here are some other ways you can be an ally:
• Practice empathetic listening: Taking time to listen to someone's concerns (without responding with judgmental statements or questions) is immensely helpful.
• Allow them to voice their concerns freely: Especially if you are a close family member or a friend, give the person with anxiety the space to speak about their anxiety or their triggers.
• Be flexible and lower the stakes when you can: Remind them that they can delegate some of her responsibilities to take time for themselves.
• Be watchful for signs of anxiety: Anxiety can generally be broken down into anxious thoughts, anxious behaviours or physical symptoms. These signs can be subtle, so be on the lookout for changes.
• Empower them to handle their own challenges: While it's important to provide support and encouragement when necessary, it can be easy to overstep. Encourage an anxiety sufferer to get professional help, especially if their main way of coping is avoiding all anxiety-inducing situations.

The COVID-19 crisis has made life more challenging for everyone—especially those who are struggling with a mental illness. Counsellors in Leatherhead are always on hand to help, so get in touch today.



3 Ways To Manage Sleep Anxiety

These unprecedented times are bound to cause mental health issues for many, whether you’ve suffered from anxiety issues in the past or not, From the global impact of coronavirus to the pressures of financial challenges and new learning curves around working from home, there are many scenarios that can keep us wide awake and worrying at night.

As anxiety charities report a surge in demand for their services during the lockdown, we wanted to look at trying to get a good nights sleep, which can often be an issue for many people. Sleep is meant to rejuvenate us for the next day, but the lack thereof can often leave us feeling drained, lethargic and lacking motivation.

1. Avoid reading the news before bed

Many of us like to keep up to date with the news and social media, checking our newsfeed before bed, but doing so will fill your mind with information, and will keep you awake and alert, and potentially more anxious.

Use the hour before you go to bed to have a digital detox: run yourself a hot bath, read a book, meditate, or do some yoga.

2. Keep to a consistent routine

Self-isolating and lockdown can play havoc with our daily routines, from balancing working at your kitchen table from home with home-schooling the kids, it isn’t easy to maintain a regular sleep routine when the lines between home and work become blurred.

Keeping a consistent wake-up routine will help you fall asleep and stay asleep at night time.

3. Try to stay active

Whether you're an early riser and like to squeeze in-home workouts before the day begins or prefer to run on your lunch break, making time for exercise will help to boost your mood, improve your health and help you to sleep better. Getting outside and exposing yourself to daylight when possible will also be a big help.

If you’re struggling and would like to talk to a counsellor in Surrey, then get in touch.



5 Hobbies To Keep Yourself Busy

If you’re adjusting to self-isolation, and already watched everything on Netflix, drank all your wine, and eaten all your snacks, it’s time to try a new approach before the rot of boredom can set in. Maybe you need to feel more productive during your extra free time, or perhaps getting yourself - and the kids if they’re restless - involved in a new hobby.

Investing time in a hobby can be very good for mental health, and reducing stress and anxiety, and while everyone is cooped up inside, it’s essential to prioritise our wellbeing.

From learning new skills to flexing your creative muscles, here are a few ideas for making the most of your downtime.

1. Painting

YouTube has plenty of tutorials on painting for beginners for learning the basics. You’ll need art supplies, brushes, paints, a palette, and something to paint on, but it can al be bought easily online.

Be adventurous and explore different techniques, maybe even have a go at creating your own take on the contemporary abstract and line work, which is immensely popular in interior design at the moment.

2. Learn a language

It’s possible that you’ve never attempted to learn another language since taking French or German at school, but that never means it’s too late to try now. There are some excellent smartphone apps, such as Babel and Duolingo, available to teach you a plethora of new languages at any level from beginners to those who simply want to fine-tune their skills.

3. Knitting

For a hobby that’s maybe a little more zen and sedate, knitting is maybe one of the most mindful pastimes going, thanks to its repetitive nature. YouTube is a treasure trove of content for beginner knitters, with tutorials from how to nail the essential knit stitch to switching up your designs with different colours and patterns.

4. Creative writing

There are many free online creative writing courses available that are built around getting your creative juices flowing. You’ll learn how to flesh out your ideas, develop your characters and you’ll get feedback on your stories from others taking part in the course too.

5. Yoga

Whether you’re looking to be more flexible, or progress to some impressive inversions, yoga is a great hobby to take up. There are so many ways to learn, from Yoga With Adriene on YouTube to apps like Glo.

Hopefully, a new pastime will help you relax and feel creative, but should you feel you need the services of a counsellor in Leatherhead then get in touch.



Tips To Take Care Of Your Mental Health During Isolation

With the whole of the UK now in lockdown, and people not able to leave their homes unless it’s absolutely necessary, you may be worrying about how to look after your mental health, especially if you live alone.

Speaking to the BBC recently, Linda Bauld, professor of public health at Edinburgh University, offered some advice on how to take care of your mental health while you’re isolating.

If you already have a mental health condition, it’s essential to stay in touch with your mental healthcare professional, she asserted. Other steps to take, whether you suffer from mental health issues or not, include setting a routine, which involves getting up at a set time in the morning.

Professor Bauld also highlighted the importance of having contact with someone else, even if that can’t be in person.

She recommended doing this early in the day, whether it’s online or even just using the telephone to have a chat to a friend or family member. Another tip is to do some exercise and, where it’s practical, to go outside and get some fresh air.

Buzzfeed recently shared advice on how to cope with self isolation from people who have already been doing it for a while. The tips range from making a plan for each day to learning a new language.

Another person recommended starting a gratitude journal to remind yourself of the good in your life, while another tip for those working from home while self isolating is to not feel guilty about taking a lunch break or finishing work at a reasonable time.

If you think you could benefit from speaking to a Leatherhead psychotherapist at this time, get in touch with us today.



The Mental Health Impact Of Covid-19

Everyone around the world is now aware of the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19), with the respiratory illness having spread all over the globe at an unprecedented rate over the last three months.

However, while advice on when and how to self-isolate has been well-publicised, there has been less media coverage on the emotional impact of Covid-19, whether you have contracted the illness or not.

Indeed, simply the act of self-isolating or social distancing could have an adverse effect on mental health, not to mention the repercussions that could come with the pandemic, including job losses, business closures and cancellation of important plans, such as weddings.

An article in the Psychiatric Times pointed out: “As concerns over the perceived threat grow, people may start to collect (and hoard) masks and other medical supplies. This is often followed by anxiety-related behaviours, sleep disturbances and overall lower perceived state of health. Individuals with mental illness may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of widespread panic and threat.”

While the impact of Covid-19 on mental health has not been studied so far, depression rates usually climb after infections. Therefore, it is likely coronavirus will have effects that last much longer than the illness itself.

This pandemic could result in stigmatisation of individuals, such as those of Chinese descent; a reduction of trust in medical care; anxiety about a lack of treatment; obsessions about contamination and an incessant need to clean, wash and sterilise; and anxiety about future consequences of Covid-19 on food supplies, infrastructure, business and the economy.

To alleviate this potential crisis, the Mental Health Foundation has issued advice on how to look after emotional wellbeing during this difficult time.

Those who need more support should contact a counsellor in Leatherhead to talk through their anxieties and depressive feelings.



The Common Unnoticed Symptom Of Anxiety

Anxiety sensitivity is an often unnoticed, and misunderstood, symptom of anxiety, but it can be a much larger part of the condition that most of us realise.

In the UK, more than one in 10 people are likely to suffer from a disabling anxiety disorder at some point in their life, but thankfully, as the stigma towards the condition lessens, the conversations surrounding anxiety are more widespread than ever.

It’s also good to realise the differences between stress, worry, and anxiety, and to be able to recognise the symptoms as they occur. However, there are some aspects of anxiety that remain a mystery, one of which is anxiety sensitivity.

It’s a term used to describe the fear that people with anxiety disorders develop towards their anxiety symptoms, in particular the physical manifestations they develop as part of their anxiety. They can fear that these bodily sensations will make their anxiety more visible to others, or be the signs of a more serious physical or mental illness.

Anxiety symptoms that can trigger the sensitivity include irregular breathing, heart palpitations, trembling, and sweating. These are common indicators of the body’s fight-or-flight response, but for those dealing with anxiety sensitivity, these symptoms could trigger further anxiety, exacerbating their bodily symptoms and leading them into a negative cycle.

While anxiety sensitivity is something mostly experienced by those with anxiety disorders, it can happen to anyone at any time. For example, the nervousness felt before having to give a work presentation may lead to fears that people will notice you trembling, or that your voice might crack in the middle of your speech, which leads to further anxiety.

The good news, however, is that being aware of this, and recognising and understanding the anxiety sensitivity can be very helpful in reducing its impact on us.

If you have concerns about anxiety, or anxiety sensitivity, and would like to talk to a professional counsellor in Leatherhead, then get in touch today.



Farming Industry in a “Mental Health Crisis”

Anyone working in the farming industry at the moment concerned with their mental health and wellbeing should perhaps consider going to see a professional counsellor to help them work through their feelings, given the assertion that the sector is now facing a “mental health crisis”.

This year’s Mind Your Head survey, carried out by the Farm Safety Foundation, found that 81 per cent of young farmers agree that mental health is in fact the biggest hidden danger that the industry faces today.

And 85 per cent agree that there is definitely a link between mental health and farm safety, something that will be the focus of the third annual Mind Your Head campaign, which is running this week (February 10th).

It was observed that there is now “no point beating about the bush … we are in a mental health crisis. Levels of depression are thought to be increasing, stress-related calls to farming charity helplines are increasing and, in 2018, 83 suicides were registered among people working in agricultural and related trades in England and Wales”.

In addition, it was noted that there is still stigma around mental health and seeking help for problems - and farmers may well be culturally ill-equipped to discuss their mental health.

Counselling can be very helpful when it comes to gaining insights in your feelings and behaviours, helping you to make any necessary changes. It can also offer you the emotional support you need to help you start living a happier and healthier life.

Looking for a Surrey psychotherapist? Get in touch with us today.

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