Running therapy up and … well … running!

With the gradual opening up of the South African economy many people are curious about accessing a psychologist.

At level 5 the practice is open for serious or emergency consultations only – all other consultations take place online.

At level 4 all clients can come to the practice for treatment. We observe strict protocols around sanitizing and social distancing.

At level 3 the practice is open as at level 4 AND with the added option of running therapy once again! The level 3 regulations allow for exercise at any time of day, provided that social distancing is observed. Please bring a comfortable face-mask or buff to cover your nose and mouth while we run or walk together.

Run from your problems

If you feel like you’re running in circles and struggling to get on top of your problems, then perhaps it’s time to find another way of getting back on the road to health and wellness…

Running Therapy is a relatively new method of counselling that involves talking about your problems one-on-one with a therapist while going for a walk or run. I covered the benefits of getting active in my previous blog, but running therapy in particular, is a highly effective means of enhancing your mood, reducing anxiety and improving both mental and physical wellbeing.

Whether you’re going through a divorce, dealing with the after-effects of a traumatic event, or simply struggling to cope with the more insidious effects of constant stress, getting moving physically (at a pace you’re comfortable with) really helps get things moving emotionally.

So, what is Running Therapy?

Well, in many respects it’s just like normal therapy in that it’s an opportunity to talk through whatever’s bothering you, but rather than sitting in an office, it takes place outdoors, and on the go.

Many people actually prefer running therapy to traditional methods because they don’t have to sit face-to-face with a therapist, which can be intimidating and reduce the likelihood of you opening up and sharing your thoughts and emotions. Instead, it puts you on the same level as your therapist, as you run (or walk) side by side all the way, which facilitates the non-confrontational flow of conversation.

Running therapy also gives people a great sense of accomplishment as they feel as if they are taking control of their lives again by literally “taking steps” to improve the situation they are in and therefore move forward in life.

And while we all know exercise is good for us, outdoors exercise in particular, has been shown to increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, which work to reduce stress and depression and can make people feel revitalised and more energetic.

As a runner myself, I know how beneficial it can be to my own mental health – it allows me time to clear my mind and run through whatever’s bothering me. Free from the daily stresses that often accompany our lives indoors, such as cell phones, TVs and computers, I can simply focus on putting one step in front of the next, and really take the time to connect with what’s going on in and around me. From focusing on my breathing, to taking in my surrounds, it’s quite a meditative process that leaves me feeling more connected to the world, more whole and more vital.

Running does require a certain level of commitment, which in itself can be a challenge when starting out, but every journey starts with the first step, and I’m ready to take it with you. As you start to reap the rewards of consistent physical progress, you’ll also reap the mental and emotional rewards of this path you’ve decided to walk.

So, if you can’t stand the thought of sitting still, or you’d like to try a new way of moving forward in life, then take the first step and get in touch with me to find out more.

The Winter of our Discontent

So, winter is here.

And no, I’m not talking about the upcoming return of Game of Thrones 😉 rather, I’m talking about the fact that we’re well and truly into the heart of winter – the days are shorter, the nights are longer and, by now, we’re all looking forward to the extra hours of daylight Summer brings.

In South Africa, we’re fortunate to be blessed with many a warm winter’s day, and yet even we tend to suffer from the “winter blues”.

So what are they?

Well, I’m not talking about full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder, which tends to be more common in the northern hemisphere, but rather the somewhat, persistent “low mood” that some people struggle with during the winter months.

Research has shown a definite link between the lower levels of light in autumn and winter with the so-called winter blues. If you’re feeling more down than usual or maybe even downright irritable, then you might be suffering from the winter blues.

If you find yourself struggling to stay motivated and productive, making a few, simple changes to your daily routine can go a long way to lifting your mood and helping you feel more like your old self again.

8 Ways to Ban the Winter Blues:

  1. Soak up the sun. It’s free! Get outside, take a walk, have a break, or even just sit by the window and soak up the sun for at least 10 minutes every day. Aside from the mental clarity that comes with taking a break from your work, research has shown that light exposure does wonders for the winter blues.
  2. Move more. Regular exercise helps reduce stress, improve sleep and boost your self-esteem. Add in the benefits of sunshine from an outdoor routine and you’re A for Away! Even something as simple as a brisk walk can boost your serotonin and endorphin levels and leave you feeling on top of the world.
  3. Stay healthy. While the cooler weather can make you crave comfort foods and sugary treats, watch what you eat and drink. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and stick to healthier complex carbohydrates and foods rich in omega-3s to help keep your energy and mood up. As an added bonus, it’ll also help you fight off the colds and flu that seem to do the rounds at this time of year.
  4. Set goals. We’re halfway through the year – the ideal time for taking stock and setting new goals. They’ll help keep you motivated and productive as you work towards achieving the results you want. And that sense of accomplishment you’ll experience once you achieve them will be second to none.
  5. “Spring” clean. Why wait for the warmer weather to do your spring cleaning? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be outside when the sun is shining. Instead, make the most of the fact that the cooler weather keeps you indoors and go through your house, cleaning, sorting and throwing away (or donating) anything that you no longer want. You’ll feel a lot more calm and in control when you’re done!
  6. Be social. Meet a friend for coffee, take a class or join a club, but whatever you do, reach out and connect with people around you. From your colleagues, to your friends and family, it’s those relationships that will help reduce your sense of isolation and boost your mood.
  7. Have fun. We’ve all heard it before: laughter is the best medicine, but it’s true! Having fun is a great stress buster – in that moment of enjoyment all our worries seem to melt away. So make a point of doing something you enjoy every day, such as painting, relaxing with a good book, going for a run or simply chilling with friends. What do you love to do?
  8. Try Running Therapy. I’ve already covered the benefits of getting active, but running therapy in particular is a highly effective means of enhancing your mood, reducing anxiety and improving mental and physical well-being. Getting moving physically (at a pace you’re comfortable with) really helps get things moving emotionally, and the best part? I’ll be at your side every step of the way.

So there you have it, eight quick and easy ways to take control of your mood and turn the winter blues on their head. That being said, if you feel like you’d still like a bit of support, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me!

Your one-way ticket to emotional wellbeing

In today’s economic times, hard work and long hours seem to have become the norm, rather than the exception. Of course, working hard is important – we all have bills to pay! But taking leave might have more of a positive impact on our wellbeing and overall performance than we realise.

Unfortunately, emotions like guilt, stress, perfectionism, fear (of even more work on your return or perhaps your boss realising they can do without you) are things that often hold us back from putting in for leave and taking the time we need, for ourselves.

What we don’t realise is that the psychological benefits of taking a regular break from your everyday routine far outweigh any reward that might come from being tied to our desks, day in and day out.

The benefits of taking a holiday

Holidays allow us to get away from all the routine “noise” in our heads, to refuel our tanks and to reconnect with our partners, our children and our selves.

Anecdotal research shows that people who take regular breaks are happier than those who don’t. Ever heard of happiness anchors? Well, holidays serve as “anchor points”, allowing you to make memories and strengthen family bonds that will last a lifetime.

But more than that, holidays allow you to experience life beyond the day-to-day. They broaden your perspective, expose you to the unknown and, as much as they’re considered a time for relaxation, they’re also a time of discovery and exploration.

Going on holiday:

  • Broadens the mind
  • Improves creativity at work
  • Encourages out the box thinking
  • Develops creative problem solving
  • Restores ability to focus and think clearly
  • Increases emotional resilience
  • Boosts health and wellbeing
  • Decreases absenteeism
  • Positively affects work performance and productivity
  • Refreshes energy levels and motivation
  • Decreases levels of stress and exhaustion
  • Increases levels of happiness and satisfaction

In fact, if you’ve been concerned about what your boss might think if you dare to take a few days off, then perhaps it’s time to reassess your thinking – it’s obvious that taking a holiday is good for everyone!

So how often should you take a break?

Well, as with most things in life, it comes down to your personal situation, so take a look at these suggestions and see what you can fit in to your life.

Every six weeks:

If you’re not in a position to get away for an extended holiday, try to take a long weekend every six weeks at least. Remember, you don’t necessarily have to go away on holiday to experience the benefits of taking a break – there’s much to be said for the humble stay-cation too! Simply being able to disconnect from work and reconnect with family and friends does wonders for our sense of personal wellbeing. Explore your neighbourhood, go for a walk on the beach, watch the sun go down, read a book and relax. Of course, if you can afford it, a change of scenery does work wonders, leaving you feeling refreshed and recharged.

Every three months:

In South Africa, we’re guaranteed a minimum of 15 days annual leave a year, but with some clever planning around our ample public holidays, you could really make the most of your time off and enjoy an extended getaway every three months! Studies have shown that the ideal length of a holiday should be at least a week (preferably a full eight days) in order to allow time for travel, a day or two to get over the initial guilt of being away from work and a few precious days in between to decompress and make the most of your break.

Once a year:

A lot of people tend to view the end of the year as the ideal time to recover from 12 months of hard work, but saving your leave for December is not necessarily the best option. Unfortunately some industries only shutdown over December/January, so if that’s the case for you, be sure to take a mini-break whenever possible (don’t forget those public holidays!). It’ll help keep your tanks topped up and your head above water until you can take the break you deserve at the end of the year.

Make every day a holiday

There’s no doubt that people come back from holiday calmer, happier and more energised than before. Less stressed, you’re likely to feel as if you can take on the world in those first few days back! Of course, the holiday high does tend to fade after a few days, so how do you keep that feeling as long as possible?

Make every day a holiday! Go for a walk or read a book in the park during your lunch break, take the kids to the beach after work, kick a ball around the garden or find something new and exciting to do together as a family over the weekend…it’s all about bringing those little moments of joy and discovery into your everyday lives. Enjoy!

Your attitude determines your altitude

It’s a platitude we’ve all heard before, but when you start to unpack what it means, you might start to realise that your attitude really does go a long way towards determining whether or not you will ever actually achieve your goals.

From losing weight to organising your finances, working on your relationship or getting fit, the time is NOW!

New year, new you?

January’s already gone and before you know it we’ll be half way through the year, and with almost 80% of people failing to stick to their New Year’s Resolutions, I thought now would be a good time to offer some practical advice for making 2017 your best year yet.

I’m not going to beat about the bush; changing years of habit and learned behaviour can be tough and you may have to take a long hard look at what drives your thoughts and actions before you start to notice any lasting improvement.

For instance overeating, overdrinking, overspending or even over-Facebooking could be signs of underlying anxiety, stress or depression. Perhaps your marriage is going through a rocky patch or you’re feeling under pressure at work? Going on a shopping spree or taking refuge in the online world provides quick, effective, but temporary relief from those negative emotions.

The trick to moving forwards and gaining control of your life again is to understand what lies beneath them and to develop an action plan for effecting the change you desire.

Making your dreams a reality

There is nothing more satisfying than self-improvement and setting goals. It can be messy. It can be hard work. But it gives us a sense of hope for the future and gives us something to work towards, everyday.

And as 2017 is all about making our dreams a reality, let’s take a look at how to set goals that work.

S.M.A.R.T Goals:

If you’re looking to make some real, lasting change in your life, S.M.A.R.T. goals are a good place to start, providing you with a set of practical and achievable principles that will see you well on your way!

  • Specific – Make your goal specific. Break it down into smaller, specific mini-goals, rather than one over-arching goal that may seem too enormous and daunting for you to even begin. Then you can enjoy a sense of achievement as you tick them off one by one, which will serve to motivate you even further!
  • Measurable – It’s all very well having some airy fairy idea of what you want to achieve, but if you have a specific number or an end result in mind, it will keep you raring to go if you’re able to see and measure the progress you’re making, knowing you’re well on your way to reaching your target.
  • Achievable – Sometimes looking at the big picture can be overwhelming. So don’t set yourself up for failure – rather break your tasks down into mini goals that you know you can achieve own that sense of satisfaction you’ll get when you smash your goals through the roof.
  • Relevant – Make sure your goals are relevant to where you find yourself in life. Give some thought to what you want to achieve. After all, you have to be 100% invested in the process for it to work and if you’re not going to find it rewarding, then you may as well find something else to do with your time.
  • Time-based – You know what they say: A goal without a deadline is just a dream. Make your dreams a reality. Set a date. And make them happen.

Change is good

Nobody likes change. And making a change in your life is often easier said than done but you don’t have to feel alone. Tell your friends about your resolutions. Hold yourself accountable. Ask for help. But most importantly, start. Start now.

If you’d like a bit of help to get started, then let’s chat!