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''The Empty Chair''

01st December 2021

During the festive season, the empty chair around the dining table can be a poignant reminder of the loss of a loved one.

The pain of grief presents itself in varying degrees each day, but is most likely to be heightened during festivities such as Christmas with potential ‘triggers’ everywhere, in shops, on the television and on seeing family and friends. The build-up can evoke powerful memories, emotions and feelings and just getting through the festive season can sometimes seem impossible.

Tears, sadness, reminiscing and missing your loved one are normal parts of the grieving process, but if you are amongst those who are anticipating a difficult festive season here’s a few suggestions to support you:

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Do you have a fear of flying?

25th September 2021

With the recent easing of pandemic travel restrictions, I have seen an increase in clients seeking support to help address their fear of flying. 

Flying anxiety (aerophobia) is a surprisingly common phobia, is part of the spectrum of anxiety disorders and often is linked to claustrophobia, general anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.  It is mainly associated with fears and worries about what may happen, rather than the fear that may be experienced in a true emergency.

Typical fears associated with aerophobia could be:

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Can grounding techniques help relieve anxiety and stress?

14th June 2021

Simple answer - absolutely yes!

Using grounding techniques can be an effective way of helping to manage stress, anxiety, panic attacks, trauma memories and feelings of dissociation.  They provide a useful distraction from over-whelming and repetitive thoughts, helping you to break the cycle, calm the body, gain control and bring you back to the present moment.

There are many techniques out there to try, most of which involve mindfulness practice, meditation, connecting with your inner physical self, awareness of surroundings and focus on your breathing.  It’s useful to practice several techniques and have a few that you can call upon when needed.

Below is one of the grounding techniques I share with clients. Try this simple grounding technique to help alleviate stress and feel more connected and balanced. 

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Online therapy or face-to-face sessions?

14th June 2021

Online therapy has become the ‘new normal’ during the pandemic and a real ‘lifeline’ for many.  Whilst online and telephone counselling, psychotherapy and hypnotherapy has always been an option at Step-By-Step Counselling & Therapies, many people only considered face-to-face therapy sessions.

Prior to the start of Covid-19 restrictions, I always felt face-to-face therapy was the preferred modality but there has been a significant shift to online therapy.  I’m referring to online therapy where client and therapist can still see and communicate with each other using such platforms as Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp Video Call or Zoom etc and not live-chat/message/email platforms.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of online therapy compared to face-to-face sessions?

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5 ways to relieve anxiety connecting with nature

09th May 2021

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, I would like to share 5 ways to help you relieve anxiety and stress by connecting with nature.

Using nature to help us ground, centre and re-connect with ourselves and the earth can really help improve our overall wellbeing.

Here’s a few suggestions to try:

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Post lockdown anxiety - tips for looking after your mental health...

19th March 2021

As the government sets out its roadmap to start easing lockdown restrictions, many of us embrace the thought of seeing friends, family, returning to the workplace and doing activities we used to enjoy.

However, for some the long-awaited changes and return to ‘normality’ can bring very real challenges and anxiety.  Again, it’s more adjustments, more changes to comprehend, the fear of exposure to the virus once more, the return to real life pressures, time pressures, social expectations and ongoing uncertainties. 

For many, this may be a potential trigger for panic attacks, social anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder, phobias, agoraphobia, depression and many mental health conditions.

Each of us have had our own experience of lockdown and we will have our own unique experience of re-integration. We are all experiencing different levels of uncertainty and challenges and have varying levels of resilience and coping mechanisms.  So, I would strongly suggest not judge yourself too harshly or compare yourself to others and just focus on how best you can adjust.

Here are a few things to consider and some tips to help you cope:

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10 top tips to help combat lockdown anxiety...

14th January 2021

I’m sure many of you are experiencing increased anxiety, stress, worry and fear as a result of this latest lockdown. It feels as if the challenges from last year are taking their toll and so much feels out of our control.

There are currently so many changes, anxieties and pressures to cope with - maybe you’re working from home, home-schooling, shielding, feeling increasingly isolated, facing financial challenges or job-loss, have business worries, relationship issues, health issues, feel all freedom is lost and of course many are unwell with COVID-19 or have sadly lost someone they love.

Whilst we can’t change the global situation, we can try to take control of our world and a good place to start is to manage our own health and wellbeing.  It’s more important now than ever to look after ourselves and be kind and supportive to others.

Here are my 10 top tips to help you manage your anxiety and stress levels ...

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Can hypnotherapy help me?

30th August 2020

The answer is most definitely yes!

Hypnotherapy can be an effective therapy for many issues and provide long lasting and life changing results.

However, lots of people can ‘shy away’ from this transformative therapy, having false misconceptions of what is involved and many can feel sceptical about results.  This is totally understandable, as stage hypnosis and hypnosis techniques are often portrayed in an entertaining light and give the impression of not being in control of thoughts and behaviours.

So let’s address a few myths …

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Is Insomnia ruining your life?

03rd July 2020

Insomnia, or the inability to sleep, seems to be a real issue of today. All of us can experience periods of disturbed sleep, but sometimes our sleep patterns become irregular and over time this can become an exhausting problem.

Often, sleep issues coincide with difficult times in our lives, such as following a grief or loss, during relationship or work issues, or times of increased anxiety and stress; thus, magnifying the difficulties we are already experiencing and making each day seem even more challenging.

There are many emotional and mental health reasons for disturbed sleep, but if getting restful sleep is an issue for you over a period of time it is advisable to get a health check to ensure there are no underlying medical issues causing your Insomnia.  Sometimes sleep issues can also be a side effect of medication, so it’s worth considering this too.

So, what can we do to help regain a healthy sleep pattern and regular restful sleep? Here are just a few areas I would explore with clients:

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Surviving ‘social distancing and self-isolating’

22nd March 2020

‘Social distancing’ and ‘self-isolating’ - such new, yet now so familiar turn of phrase.

It’s been an unprecedented week, with the world and people’s lives being changed hour by hour.  Most people’s stress and anxiety levels will have risen considerably, with health, family, food and financial anxieties being real and major concerns. Sadly, illness and grief are also currently a real part of life for many. The words ‘social distancing’, ‘self-isolating’, Coronavirus or COVID-19 are now firmly imprinted in everyone’s mind.

It’s an extremely worrying time so it’s difficult to stay calm and positive.  However, it’s so important to realise how stress and anxiety affects the body; it triggers your flight-or-fight response, releasing stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol which can weaken the immune system.

Now, it’s more vital than ever to look after your well-being, support each other and try to remain calm.  Here’s a few ideas and strategies you can try to help maintain your mental and physical well-being:

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Jen Brown

Dip Couns, Adv Dip Hyp, Dip NLP, GQHP, MBACP Reg, GHSC Reg, GHR Reg, CNHC Reg, UKRF Reg, Bupa (MHW) Reg Therapist

Mobile: 07967797786
Email: jen@stepbystepcounselling.co.uk

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