How to Sleep Well…




I recently posted a blog about sleep, takin from my Anxiety Workbook ( available on Amazon!). It highlighted how important sleep is to our mood and mental health in general. I shared how differently I felt after having a good nights sleep and how it made me realise that I was actually sleep deprived. I was not going off to sleep well. I was waking up at regular intervals throughout the night and then was wide awake from 4 or 5 am.

My brain was whirring, I was composing emails that I needed to write the next day, adding to my to do you can tell, none of which needed to be done at his hour of the night or morning! But I could not seem to stop the loop, and a loop it certainly was. After several hours, my mind would return, as if by magic to the original email that I had composed…and not yet sent!
I decided that I needed to address this part of my life. I researched sleep, because that is often how I tackle a problem and set up my own action plan. I like a plan! This is what I learned, some I used, some I haven’t yet..

  1. Sleep needs routine. Regular bedtimes, not trying to ‘catch up’ on sleep at the weekends.
  2. Lavender helps me to sleep – but be warned find you own aromatherapy oil as for some, lavender is a stimulant!
  3. Have the room as dark as possible. Apparently, blackout eye masks help sleep better than ear plugs.
  4. Have a sleep hygiene routine, it warns your body that sleep is imminent. Have a bath, a shower if you prefer..relax, turn down lights.
  5. Do not use your bedroom for TV…use it for sleep.
  6. Turn off your phone ( sorry!), tablets etc by 8;30 or 9pm. The white light stimulates the brain, firing patterns are activated and slope is the furthest thing from it’s desire!
  7. Learn to meditate. There are loads of apps etc available, there will be one out there that suits you. It is not a contest, you cannot get it wrong! If your mind floats off, that is ok, just recognise it and re-focus on the meditatio
  8. Try not to exercise too vigorously late in the evening
  9. Make sure your bed, pillow etc is suitable for you.
  10. Ensure you have warm feet! But have bedding that keeps you at an optimum temperature.

Photo by Photo by Logan Nolin on Unsplash

Too Old to Blog??

Hi, I am writing this as a way of cataloguing my path into social media. I am a mother to 3 adopted children ( 19. 18 & 16) and my youngest has many complex issues. I have been married for over 26 years & still love my husband! I have 2 dogs, a springer who is now 6 and a year old Working Cocker. I work as a Counsellor and write books & blogs. I exercise regularly ( British Military Fit) and am generally always looking for new interesting projects!

Becoming a Counsellor.

The issues with my son meant that I could not go back to the role as a Scheme Manager for Mencap and having researched and taught myself all about Attachment Theory and how to be a therapeutic parent, Through our experiences, I was all too aware that there is too little support out there for families that struggle and decided to train as a Counsellor. I qualified in 2013 and have worked in 3 schools, a College and set up my own private practice and am an Accredited therapist & Suprervisor.

My First Book: Loving Eric

Due to the daily stress visited upon me over the years, I found that writing was a great way of offloading and resuming a sense of calm – before the next assault! I would share it with my lovely sister ( Elaine) and feel less alone. Elaine convinced me to write a book about my trials and tribulations but I only felt able to publish it when I felt things were a bit less tense and I had some answers to offer others. ( Amazon : Loving Eric)

Lifespan Integration Therapy

Through seeking help for my son, an excellent Educational Psychologist introduced me to Lifespan Integration Therapy ( LI) and I am now Certified in this field and going onto be a Consultatnt ( Supervisor). This therapy helps with Attachment, grief, loss, anxiety, trauma…and I believe that it should be ready available to all!

Book Number 2: Anxiety Workbook

Over the years as a therapist, I realised that I worked ( and still do) on different levels. The LI work is deep and transformational but at the same time I developed the Anxiety Compass. This I developed and published into a workbook for people to use themselves or with another ( i.e partner, friend, teacher, child). This is also on Amazon the Anxiety Workbook.

To get back to the point of this blog…

I still write regularly and I definitely write better when I feel passionate about things! I am a natural campaigner and feel that we should always seek to improve. I am always curious and questioning.
I then realised that nobody knows that I am here! I only have likes from those who know me. I have never been good at marketing or networking ( probably too blunt!). Social media has never interested me and this is not helped by the fact that I am coming into it all a lot later in life than most! Looking at others blogs, ages and photos, has made me question “Am I too old to blog?’
However, I decided that age should not be my limiting factor! As with many things, I think, cringe and then move forwards! I know that I want to have a voice and to be heard. I want to help others who struggle. I love to empower others and assist in them grabbing life with both hands. I do believe that with help, time and a desire to make things better, then this can happen. I also know that I must get out of my comfort zone & learn about social media.
Any advice, sharing & kind words gratefully accepted! Thanks for reading!
Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

Why a Vision Board is a great idea!!

This time of year often calls upon us to reflect on the past year and think about the year ahead. It can be a time of happy memories or of sadness or a combination of the two. It can be poignant on so many levels.
Dreaming about how you want the next year to shape up is a vital tool for making it happen. It is true that we have very little control about so many things, life and death are part of the human condition. We cannot make people love us again but we can have some control over things that are within our reach.
It is true that what we visualise is very likely to happen. We imagine disaster or failure and manage to make it come true. The opposite is true also and this is the amazing part of our brains and how we choose to use them. We can spend hours ruminating over disasters that may never occur or past events that we cannot alter, so why not spend more time on shaping our dreams and making them a reality?
Athletes use visualisation in order to ensure they succeed, they imagine the training session, the race or the game going well and them winning. They realise that to imagine failure will result in failure:
“When athletes visualize or imagine a successful competition, they actually stimulate the same brain regions as you do when you physically perform that same action. Visualization in sports or mental imagery is a way of conditioning () your brain for successful outcomes.” (
I know that we can make (some) dreams our reality. A tool for helping us is that of the ‘Vision Board’. This is a visual board that encapsulates what we want from the year ahead. It is a visual reminder of our hopes and dreams. They can take any form that suits you as an individual. It can be completed on the computer, laptop or phone or images can be pinned to an actual board or printed off so that it that hangs on your wall, somewhere that you can see on a daily basis.
It can be made up of just images or images & words. It can have inspirational quotes…whatever works for you! The process starts by collecting images in the first instance, images that appeal to you. Cut them out from magazines, take them from the computer…write down phrases that speak to you, collect motivational quotes.
Next blog: I shall offer some hints about how to create your board or if you feel like it, create it now! The beauty is that it is yours, individual to you and cannot therefore be wrong. Have fun, dream big, imagine the what ifs….
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Create your Vision for 2019!


In my last Blog, I talked about how important it is to visualise what you want rather than what you do not want to occur in life. Visualisation is the opposite of anxiety, it allows us to dream of how we want our life to look. It is anticipatory rather than fear driven. It is liberating and actually helps us to achieve our hearts desires…On elf my goals
The thought of creating a vision board may sound daunting but it is far from it. My last blog encouraged you to cut up magazines or mine images or quotes from the internet. The only rules were that they should be aspirational and positive in nature. Things that make you feel happy, hopeful and positive, as things that we visualise are very likely to occur!
The next part is up to you and how you like to approach projects. There are no rules, so if you are naturally creative and free thinking then make up your board exactly how it appeals to you. You can have several boards for different facets of your life or one large board. You can have an image on your phone, tablet or computer that is a compilation of all your images, available to look at whenever you use your device. As long as it speaks to you, the you have a vision board!
If you are wary of getting started then you can follow these guidelines:
Prepare your images &/ or quotes
Separate them into different categories i.e relationships, exercise, healthy eating, job or education.
Dream about what you want to have achieved by the end of 2019. Write it down i.e I want to get that promotion, be in a relationship, have travelled to..? Dream big!
Create your success in images or words. If you want to write a book, design the cover & write your name on the cover. Write No1 Bestseller! Want to receive an award? Then create the image of you receiving it!……… get the idea.
Start sticking, copying & pasting. You can divide the board into as many sections of your life as you wish and then start applying them.
Stand back & admire. Then add to the vision or be happy with it as it is, your choice!
Make sure you hang it up or keep it in a place where you can see it regularly.
Update it as you meet the goals!
Sharing your vision board with others, if you wish, can be a good idea because it makes the dreams feel more tangible & you can enlist their support.
Enjoy! it is your board! If you like it & it speaks to you, then well done!
I hope this process is an enjoyable one. It does work!

Exercise & Anxiety

Exercise is vital to keep our minds and bodies healthy. We as human beings, were not designed to sit behind a desk and then go home and sit on the couch. Our bodies are amazing, they self heal, they create new cells, without them we do not exist. It is worth keeping our bodies well and this positively impacts on our mental health. A lot of people say they hate exercise, but there is something out there for everyone!
I personally, have found that British Military Fit (BMF) 3 or 4 times a week ( when well!) for the last 10 years, has saved my sanity. For that 1 hour I cannot think about anything other than breathing. Our instructor Taz is always amazing, calm but encouraging. BMF is not for everyone, I do appreciate that but it is about finding your own personal remedy.

“Taking part in physical activity can improve our self esteem (3) and reduce stress (4), thus helping to stave off the development of mental health problems (5). It improves the quality of our lives (6). It can show us measurable improvements that we can reflect on and this improves our feelings of self worth.
Regular exercise can improve our body shape, our body confidence and can improve our lung efficiency and our auto immune system, thus benefitting our general health as well as our mental wellbeing.” taken from my Anxiety Workbook .
Exercise is an investment. Our bodies sometimes are not truly appreciated until they stop working well. Body and mind need equal attention, they are connected.
(3) lfermann, D. & Stoll, O. (2000). Effects of Physical Exercise on Self-Concept and Wellbeing. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 31, 47–65.
(4) Salmon, P. (2001). Effects of Physical Activity on Anxiety, Depression, and Sensitivity to Stress: A Unifying Theory. Clinical Psychology Review, 21 (1), 33–61.
(5) Zschucke, E., Gaudlitz, K. & Strohle, A. (2013). Exercise and Physical Activity in Mental Disorders: Clinical and Experimental Evidence. J Prev Med Public Health, 46 (1), 512– 521.
(6) Alexandratos, K., Barnett, F. & Thomas, Y. (2012). The impact of exercise on the mental health and quality of life of people with severe mental illness: a critical review. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 75 (2), 48–60.

How Education or Work effects Anxiety

Anxiety is becoming more prevalent. In my counselling practice the majority of my clients suffer from anxiety. The effect of anxiety on our systems is cumulative, a bit like repeatedly filling our coffee cup without first rinsing it out from the last time we used it. Anxiety takes hold of us and restricts our lives.
Anxiety at work or school can prevent us achieving what we are actually capable of, thus making us more anxiety ridden. This is an extract from the Anxiety Workbook:
“Anxiety and stress can affect the ability to perform at school or work. It can make us not want to go into school, college or work. Missing school has a massive impact on our ability to achieve academically. Missing work will often result in disciplinary warnings and possibly dismissal.
Wanting to achieve can make us anxious but it is likely that depression affects academic achievement not the other way around.
It affects ability to socialise, perform well and concentration. Anxiety can make people too scared to go into examinations, make them ‘go blank’ and fail to get their knowledge out onto the exam paper. Fear prevents us doing well and this effects future career goals. This fear and anxiety, unless dealt with, can follow us throughout our lives, stopping us achieving our full potential. This can also lead to depression.(8)”
This is the second part of the Anxiety Compass, contained in my Anxiety Workbook. The book has more information and a guide to help you overcome this condition that can be so invasive.

Living with ‘Eric’: The Coal Face of Adoption


I have lived with ‘Eric’ ( the impetus for writing my first my ‘Loving Eric’), since he was 2.5. None of it has been easy. A history of adoption is a history of trauma, running deeply throughout his cells, predetermined before we even knew he existed.
Eric has an Attachment disorder, this means that as the primary carer I am the focus and indeed the locus of his anger. I create the chaos within him but equally I am the only solution.
Eric has Autism. His world is not our world. He treads a different path. He does not understand social cues, niceties, feelings he engender in others.He feels deeply but only from his frame of reference. He feels injustice and seeks slights where none are meant. He antagonises his peers but accepts no blame.
Eric has ADHD. His mind like a bubbling pot over which he has no control when feeling anxious. It is as if the firework display has been set off all at once, before everyone has arrived. Which firework to look at, oh too many choices!
Eric has Dyspraxia which effects his fine and gross motor skills. I believe, although our Health Authority does not recognise the condition, that he has Pathological Demand Avoidance, this means that any request such as, please turn your light off can set off a major, messy meltdown.
Eric & I have always battled. I have been convinced that my tenacity can keep him safe, help him value himself and make him achieve against all odds. I have shaped his world, swept up in front of him, behind him, to the side of him. I have fought tooth and nail, to the point where my nail beds are engorged with blood ( figuratively) to get him support that has been so sadly lacking. I never considered that I could not make my boy live a life he deserved.
Recently I have had to reevaluate. He is now 16years old. We have all of the above plus teenage hormones and the desire to be unfettered by parents. He wants, no demands that I treat him as if he is 16 ( or older) but acts like a toddler. I have been sworn at viciously and blamed for all that is wrong. I have been told that he hates me so many times but I am realising that my methods are not working.
This term has been a disaster. He has fallen out with everyone, been beaten up at least twice. He has been reported missing once to date. He left college without permission, refused my calls and returned home at 10;45pm on my Birthday, the night before 10;30pm. He mixes with appalling role models, the effect of hanging with these certain individuals is like watching an actor taking on a role. He morphs within an hour of meeting the person into a feral, unreachable street child.
Eric did not celebrate my Birthday, no card, no present, deliberately not coming home and joining in our family meal. I was hurt but made sure that I appreciated the effort that my husaband had gone to in order to make me feel special. I made sure I appreciated my girls and how they felt for me when Eric went MIA ( Missing In Action) for 9 hours. I refused to let him spoil my evening, pushing down the hurt and worry, realising that neither emotion was helpful or could change things.
Eric sees no risk. He believes that he is safe. He believes that he is streetwise, able to keep himself safe. None of this is true. He believes that these influencers are his friends. They are not, but he will only see this when they reject him or hurt him physically as well as emotionally. Then he will feel regret but will also fail to learn from the situation and the next unsavoury character he meets will sweep him up into a loop of self destructive behaviour.
I am now in the process of changing how I face these challenges:
Trying to be more relaxed around him. Not engage in squabbles.
Take time to meditate
Take time out with my 2 daughters.
Realise that this fear I carry is just that. I am sitting with it and trying to connect with other healthier tethers, such as family, friends, even the elements.I cannot make him be what he does not wish to be.
When talking with him, I am not allowing him to talk about my wrong doings but bring the focus back to him, his choices.
Pick my battles. I now just want to know he is safe, where he is and agree at time ti come home.
Accept his mistakes that he is making, are his. I do not need to vicariously suffer.
Never stop loving him
Never stop trying to do my best for him
Remain in the wings….one day he may realise that I have always been the one holding his head above water.

Home Life & the Anxiety Compass

I designed the Anxiety Compass so that you can evaluate your life, your balance. I have come to realise that our lives need balance in order to make us feel connected with ourselves and with others. This connectivity reduces feelings of isolation and allows us to see our lives as a whole rather than in fragmented pieces. It is only by looking at our lives as a whole that we can see the parts that out of kilter. With knowledge we can then concentrate on that part that is lacking balance, helping to restore equilibrium. With balance comes less stress and inner turmoil.
“Families are complex. Media portrays the idyll, smiling families with 2.4 children, happy, wealthy, often living by the sea in an amazing house. The reality for many is starkly different.
Understanding your family dynamics and personalities can help you understand yourself.
Anxiety does not like to be alone, it feeds off others peoples anxious thoughts and actions. It is all too easy to gathers the traits from those around us, influencing us. Anxious young people often have anxious parents, it becomes the family script “we are all anxious in our family”.
In addition to this is the fact that not all families are supportive, living together or indeed in contact. These realities cannot be altered but can perhaps be accepted rather than railed against. If a family is too dysfunctional then support may be needed from external people.
It can be useful to identify who, if anyone in your family is a calming influence and encourage spending more time together.”
Please read my Anxiety Workbook available on Amazon or through my shop for more information and worksheets to help assess your life!

The Anxiety Compass

I am going to share how I developed this model of working. I would sit in the counselling session, some clients talk a lot, some not so much! I have worked in schools and a college for 5 years and you can imagine that some teenagers can be even more extreme at times. I found that a good way of entering the clients world was to plot out their life on a large piece of paper.
As time went on, the themes we covered became more clear, commonalities were everywhere. I then decided to consolidate my approach into a model that can work for anyone.
“The compass
Life is an intricate web of many interrelated parts that make the whole, the you. If one or more of these parts is out of balance or neglected completely then more often than not we feel unhappy, dissatisfied, out of kilter.
We know things feel wrong but are unsure why or how to make it better. This imbalance means that we use all sorts of coping mechanisms to self soothe. These are wide ranging and varied but here are a few examples:
• Avoid all social occasions
• Stay in your room/home
• Make your life shrink
• Self medicate with drink/drugs • Stop doing things
• Self harm • Give up
If we are able to identify which part is out of balance, then we can adjust it, a bit like balancing a wheel on a car. I have drawn up a ‘Compass’, with you at the centre and all your life parts on the circumference.
I have identified 8 parts that make up a balanced life, each one represents the most important components of a persons life. One part or many may be out of alignment.
The parts are:
1. Home life
2. Educational or work life
3. Exercise
4. Diet
5. Sleep
6. Digital life
7. Creativity
8. Socialisation
The aim is to look at each ‘part’ in depth, see how you now feed it or starve it.
The next stage is to collect ideas about how that part of you could be nurtured and then you plan for how to address the missing elements.
Each part is taken in turn and can be worked on over the course of a week or a number of sessions. It is up to you!”
Taken from my Anxiety Workbook available on Amazon or copy link one my shop.
Photo: Photo Aron on Unsplash

Anxiety Stops Us Enjoying Life..

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