Walking and Talking is good for us all

May is National Walking Month and what a gorgeous month to have it in!!

I was out last weekend doing some #mindfulwalking, and I wanted to share some of the benefits with you.

When we slow down and start to notice what is around us, the temperature of the air, the smells (good and bad!), the colour of the leaves or buildings, listen to sounds we may not have noticed before, we activate our pre-frontal cortex which helps us to access wellbeing and self soothing.

Add to that being outside with a trusted friend or counselling therapist, reflecting on our challenges and having a conversation about how we would like to approach the next steps as we literally take our next steps.

Ending a counselling session refreshed and energised, having breathed fresh air and shifted the tension we might be holding.

I’d like to challenge you to invite someone for a walk this month. You could:

Meet your best friend for a chat and a wander instead of a coffee?

Walk the kids to and from school and have a chat on the way about their day?

There are lots more ideas on the Living Streets website, link below.

Who do you know who would benefit from these tips? Feel free to forward, or share this article.

#nationalwalkingmonth #nwm2019 #walkthismay #counselling #psychotherapy #wellbeing #happiness #thriving

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Let’s talk MORE about sex

I was still a little sleepy when I got a call from BBC Radio 5 Live on Wednesday morning, asking me to talk about the sex survey featured by the BBC on whether Britons are having less sex. Now there’s nothing I enjoy better than being asked to talk about sex on national radio so of course I jumped at being given the opportunity.

Because from the conversations I have with others, either in the therapy room or with friends and family, I see that we are not talking enough about sex. My take on this is if you can’t talk about sex with someone, it’s probably not a good idea to be having a sexual relationship with them.

Sex is communication of course, a wonderful way of talking with our bodies, but it’s not enough, and it’s too easy to miscommunicate, to get our wires crossed.

It made me chuckle when Nicky Campbell admitted to blushing when he was reading out listeners’ texts and tweets about their wonderful sex lives, because I remember clearly sitting in my training with the Relate Institute pushing through that discomfort of asking people about sex. I remember sitting in a counselling room at Relate asking couples the first few times about their sex lives and blushing furiously.

But soon I saw that talking about sex was a relief and a release. Starting to support people in sharing what they wanted and needed from each other in their closest moments, seeing the changes, made me realise that it’s more embarrassing NOT to talk than to talk about our desires, what turns us on, where we like to be touched, how we like to be touched.

If you’re interested the BACP wrote a little summary of the piece here.

So, today, right now , whether you’re single or coupled up .. ask yourself .. what do I want, what do I need from my sex life, and who can I share my thoughts with?

Stepping Forwards

I’m up early again today .. not just to enjoy a beautiful North Tyneside sunrise, but to put my walking boots on to raise money for Acorns, a charity that supports the recovery of children and young people affected by domestic abuse.

I spotted the charity walk in January on the North East Guides website when I was feeling a bit run down and looking for things to get me out. At the time April seemed pretty far away and I had ideas of sauntering along Hadrian’s Wall on a sunny Spring day, enjoying the views.

Well .. it’s looking a bit different now, rain forecast, and it’s pretty exposed up on the tops there.

I know it’s going to be tough. Sitting in a counselling room with my clients is massively rewarding for me, and together we make so many mental and emotional leaps forward that sometimes I forget to physically move enough. I’ve been practising but this will be the longest walk I’ve done in a long while.

I chose Acorns because I know what drives me in work and life is playing a part in making kids lives safer and happier. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realised how much fear had played a part when I was growing up, and that’s what led me to what I do today. Acorns provides a safe and welcoming place where children can make sense of what they’ve seen and heard, and start to recognise what loving behaviour looks like.

We can’t choose where we came from, and often we don’t choose what happens to us, but we can choose where we go from here.

So when I’m wet and cold and I can’t see the end in sight I’m going to put my head up and keep stepping forwards. I’m going to think of all the wonderful people who are supporting me in doing this walk and I’m going to remember that although sometimes life can be tough I am so very blessed in this life I’ve stepped into.

I was on that there BBC World Service!!

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to go to the BBC studios to take part in an episode of The Why Factor! on the BBC World Service. The programme is billed as ‘The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions’.

I love when I get invited to do things like this as it’s an opportunity to try out a new experience, and being a media ambassador for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy brings me these challenges.

It was a bit nerve racking going into a tiny room by myself and putting on the headphones, but Sandra the presenter and I had spoken before on the phone and she soon put me at ease. We chatted for nearly an hour, although but if you listen you’ll hear just a couple of snippets of our conversation. It amazed me how much time and effort goes into creating a 23 minute programme!

The episode aired last Friday and I got a lovely email thanking me for taking part. This one is about Blame, and the description says:

‘When things go wrong, we crave something or someone to blame. It’s an emotional response found in nearly every culture. The Why Factor asks: why do we play the blame game?

See if you like it and let me know.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00xtky9

Taking Stock

I wanted to share with you a great habit that I was taught to carry out at the turn of the year, and which has served me well .. which is reflecting on what happened in the past year and how I handled it.

I love the quiet time in between Christmas and New Year and I made a commitment to myself a while ago to take this time for myself, for quiet enjoyment of the season, the weather, and taking a look back over the past twelve months.

Life has a habit of throwing the unexpected in our way, however well we plot and plan our lives, and often I’ll be surprised at the things that happened that I could never have predicted the year before. Sometimes these are wonderful and sometimes less so: in examining how I responded I find clues to who I am and how I’m showing up in my life and others’

So maybe you’d like to join me. Carve out a little space for yourself in the next few days to ask these questions:

What happened in this past year that I could never have predicted?

How did I respond? Was that helpful to me and those around me?

Who was important to me in the past year?

What one thing would I have liked to be different?

What would I like to do differently in this coming year?

I’d love to hear your thoughts .. do you have any other questions you’ve found useful?

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Merry Christmas to you!!

Thank you for being part of this year’s Relationships Advent Calendar, I hope you’ve had as much fun joining in the fun as I’ve had creating it ..

I’ve been inspired along the way by the penguins at noomi, whose Kindness Advent Calendar I follow every year, so check that out too.

And today of course is a day for family so I’m off to spend a peaceful day with mine .. wishing you a love-filled day close to your special ones, whoever they are ..

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Relationships Advent Calendar . Day 24 . Find Your Airlock

Most people are going to be slap bang in the middle of the last day of holiday preparation today .. last minute cards to drop off, ticking items off your to do list, some of you will still be at work .. and it’s tricky to move instantly from that ‘doing’ state of mind to the ‘being’ and ‘feeling’ one we value more at home .. so today take 5 minutes to work out what helps you make that transition .. maybe for you that’s a shower when you get home, a run, a 10 minute sit down with a cup of something calming after the kids are in bed, a minute of mindfully breathing or a 5 minute stretch ..

One Mindful Minute
* To prepare breathe normally while counting your breaths for one minute.
* Once you know how many breaths you take in a minute sit somewhere comfortable where you won’t be disturbed.
* Close your eyes
* Concentrate on the breath entering and exiting your body while counting each breath
* When you reach the number of breaths you usually take in a minute, open your eyes, come back into the room and give thanks for this moment of peace

When you’ve found your ‘airlock’ don’t forget your sweetie .. instead of passing them the baby as soon as they walk in the door because you’re tired (and covered in dried baby rice) give them the gift of a big kiss, and some time of their own to decompress ..

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