About Kathleen Roberts

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So far Kathleen Roberts has created 22 blog entries.

Light at the end of the tunnel

The past year has been an anxious and stressful time. It’s also been a lonely one for many people since Covid-19 struck our communities. Hopefully we are emerging from the worst of the pandemic now, so cautious optimism is justified – as long as we take it carefully.

I’m taking new face to face bookings, and the damaging effects of the past year are clearly apparent from the conversations I’m having with clients. Emotional exhaustion and burnout, grief, the fallout from relationships broken or damaged by unbearable strain, guilt at being unable to see loved ones during illness, or being able to say goodbye as they died – these are just a few of the issues raised, and there are many more. Some people have been undoubtedly traumatised by what has happened to them since the virus struck and are finding it very difficult to cope.

On top of this is the worry employees have about their job security, and for self-employed people, a questionmark as to the viability of their businesses.

For those of us who have been affected the most, it’s not been just a double or even a triple whammy – it’s been an assault on every aspect of our lives.

And still we need to be careful, and remember that the precautions we have taken against the virus should not be jettisoned until we can be sure it is safe to do so.

So if you are thinking of getting in touch and feel that you are only comfortable with face to face contact, you can be confident that my therapy room is as Covid-safe as possible. I’m still happy to work with clients via telephone or Zoom sessions as well. And initial consultations are free, as usual, and completely confidential.

There is light at the end of the tunnel – and I hope that I can help to brighten it for those of you who use my help.

By |2021-03-05T14:48:39+00:00March 5th, 2021|Uncategorised|

Seize the day – even if we are still in lockdown

As I write, the garden is blanketed with snow, but Spring is almost on us and brings the prospect of lighter, longer days and warmer weather. At the same time we look ahead to the hope of more social interaction and an eventual return to something more like ‘normal life’.

But let’s not forget that the best way to cope with the stress we may be feeling now is to find solace in the present. “Don’t wish your life away” is an old adage and a valid one. In our current circumstances we can be forgiven for thinking that life has been pretty much suspended and we are desperate to simply get through these times and move forward.

Many mistakes have clearly been made during this pandemic and bad things have happened. Bereavement and misery, ill health and loneliness are widespread in our country and the suffering is continuing.

But throughout this, the good in people has shone through. And strangely, the pandemic has had its benefits; many of us have learned new skills, discovered the joys of nature and bonded closely with those in our households.  The treadmill of commuting has been stopped for the masses of those in cities, and large numbers of people have gained insights into the way they have lived for years – with considerable numbers of them deciding to make changes.

So let’s not wish away today, however dark, dismal and lacking in joy it may seem, because we are hoping for something better tomorrow.

I often ask those of my clients who suffer from anxiety or low mood to find three things each day to value. “But what if there isn’t anything?” they ask.

Of course, in reality there always is, but perception is everything. We forget what we have, because we are focussing on what we haven’t.

To the person in chronic pain, a pain-free hour is a blessing. To someone who is homeless, a clean room with a bed is something to be grateful for. The difference between happiness and misery can be as simple as kind words from those you love rather than constant criticism.

And life itself is something to cherish, at a time when so many people have lost theirs.

So greet each day as the gift that it is, and look for the opportunities it brings to find some joy in life – and to give it to others. You won’t regret it.

By |2021-02-09T13:44:35+00:00February 9th, 2021|Uncategorised|

Christmas – are you really crackers about it?

Once a time for Christian religious worship, now a time of peak consumption. I know people who are so stressed about Christmas that they can barely sleep for worrying about posting cards off in time, getting the right presents for their family and friends, planning the schedule for the ritual Christmas dinner, cooking it – and making sure that everything goes exactly right throughout the whole day.

And what of those who don’t spend Christmas with a partner, friends or family? Having experienced this myself, I know only too well that if you aren’t initially upset about your situation, everyone else will unwittingly conspire to ensure that you are, as the day approaches. Were you looking forward to getting up when you felt like it, eating what you want when you want, going out for a walk in the woods and then luxuriating in a hot bath, before catching up on that box set you’ve been saving up? Hard luck. By the time the day arrives, you’ll feel like a solitary failure of a human, because you’re ‘on your own on Christmas Day’.

Last year one of my clients was in full Christmas meltdown and described it as a “greed-fest”. She felt worn out by the responsibility of making sure that the whole thing went as it should and that everything was bought, posted, wrapped, decorated and cooked: “I’m on a treadmill and I can’t get off,” she lamented. She was not the only one to feel that way.

It’s worst of all for those who are getting into debt so that their children and families “can have a Christmas”. And those who are homeless, out of work, or simply out of luck already feel bad enough about their situations without being bombarded with reminders of what they can’t afford.

How did it come to this? When did goodwill and peace on earth turn into a pile of presents, many bought in desperation? All of the accessories – the tree, the decorations, the wrapping paper, cards – all end up as rubbish to be disposed of or recycled in the New Year.  And what of the overeating, the excess, and most of all, the hard work and the stress? For the people stage-managing it all (and usually they’re women) the emotional fatigue sets in long before the turkey goes in the oven.

Having witnessed Christmas grow into the monster that it has become during the course of my life, I ask my stressed-out clients what they want to do about their Xmas anxieties  Many of them say they want to get off the treadmill – in fact, I’ve seen the very thought of it bring tears to their eyes.

And yet getting off the treadmill is so easy. It’s staying on it that’s hard!

Talk to others first, of course, in plenty of time. And when you do you may find that they are enormously relieved as well. Make a plan. Perhaps you’ll agree that everyone will buy just one small gift as a ‘secret Santa’ lucky dip, or maybe give homemade presents like jars of chutney or biscuits. Or you’ll donate a gift to a women’s refuge for them or their children to have something to open on Christmas Day. Instead of buying something, you might wrap up a promise (to clean your friend’s house, do the ironing, make a cake, take them out for the day, go to the cinema, etc). If you want a big get-together, you could each bring something for a shared Christmas dinner, ready-prepared. Or you could just go for a walk in the woods or on the beach, breathe some fresh air and focus on what you have to feel grateful for. Instead of piles of Christmas cards that are thrown away on Twelfth Night, send your friends a real Christmas message by email, one that is personal to them.

Maybe it’s too late for this year and you’ve already sent the cards, ordered the turkey, done the online shopping and the real-life shopping, wrapped the presents and decorated the tree. But there’s always next year.

Or maybe you’re a big fan of your current way of celebrating the festive season – in which case, there’s no problem.

I personally love Christmas but what matters to me is the emotional connection with others.

But if Christmas for you is a treadmill of excess and stress rather than a time of peace, hope and goodwill, just be aware that it takes more effort to stay on that treadmill than it does to step off it.

And remember – the most important gifts come from the heart and not the wallet.  And we can give those at any time of year.

By |2019-12-11T13:31:35+00:00December 11th, 2019|Uncategorised|

November blues!

It’s that time of year again and I’m reminded of the poem by Thomas Hood, which ends with the lines: “No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, November!”

Dark nights and gloomy days can make the most cheerful of us despondent. But those suffering from anxiety or stress may find the ‘winter blues’ affect them in a disproportionate way.

If that sounds like you, there are things you can do to help combat those feelings, and it’s worth making that little extra effort.

First of all try to make the most of what natural daylight there is. If you can, spend some time outside during the day and especially if there is any sunlight. Even if the sky is grey, research tells us that being outside is beneficial to body and mind. A brisk walk (and at this time of year, brisk is best!) will also burn up those calories and release endorphins that lift the mood.

Also, make some time to practise relaxation is a mindful way. Even if this is simply doing some conscious breathing for five minutes of the day, I promise you that you’ll feel the benefit. And even better is a short mindfulness meditation that can be done on a daily basis and takes up only a tiny part of your daily routine.

Take pleasure in small things. Let yourself notice the beauty of nature even at a time of dormancy – at the dead time of year, the shapes of the trees are revealed clearly and only then can their sculptural forms be appreciated as the wonder that they are. Let your eyes and mind linger on things that you wouldn’t usually notice or are normally distracted from.

And finally – smile at a stranger. You’ll be surprised how many people will smile back!

By |2019-11-04T13:12:21+00:00November 4th, 2019|Uncategorised|

Mental health in the NHS – the Cinderella service?

Mental health services in the NHS will be getting an extra £2 billion per annum as a result of the recent budget But is it too little, too late? The promised funding is not due to arrive in NHS budgets until 2023 and the plan is to create a new mental health crisis service, provide mental health provision in A&E, and to prioritise mental health support to young people.

The Royal College of Nurses is dubious about the plans as they will inevitably depend on the existence of a well-trained and expert workforce of healthcare professionals. They point to the current staffing gaps in A & E departments which don’t seem likely to be filled in the near future.

As I listen to the stories many of my clients tell of the mental and emotional distress and anxiety that they suffer on a daily or even hourly basis, I frequently wonder how we have arrived at this state of affairs. The catalogue of misery that often precedes a mental health crisis is often made up of a series of events and incidents that could have been avoided. In addition, the person affected might have been able to cope better with some support and help. This is only offered when they have become ill.

A Health Service – or an Illness Service?

A National Health Service should be about wellbeing – people need to be cared for and supported whilst they are well, to stay that way. They also need help to continue to remain in the best health that they can. The NHS is waking up to this for physical conditions such as diabetes where overweight people are referred to support groups and given other help to ensure that they do not develop the disease. But our so-called ‘health’ service is anything but when it comes to emotional wellbeing. This is understandable when money is in short supply.

But we need help to learn how to relax and be mentally and emotionally resilient. That’s the only way to deal with the blows that life will deal us. Happy people are almost always emotionally and mentally well. People who are worried and have problems that seem insurmountable, feel undervalued or bullied and intimidated at work or at home, are being constantly worn down and their energies depleted. Sooner or later they will break under the strain.

My plan

I’m planning to set up a small class in my area to promote emotional and general wellbeing. This is something new for me and I’m getting excited about how to help people to become stronger, happier, and more resilient. I’m thinking of calling it the ‘Don’t Give A -” course. Some time ago worked with a very poorly person who hadn’t been out of the house for a long time. She finally managed to overcome her fear and go to her children’s sports day. When asked how she had managed it, she said: “I had hypnotherapy. After that I didn’t give a s**t!”.

Watch this space…

By |2019-02-01T15:21:53+00:00October 31st, 2018|General News, Hypnotherapy|

Make 2018 your year to blossom!

The start of a new year is usually a time to reassess our lives and work out how we want to make changes for the better.

We often think about this in negative terms, because we perceive that we have ‘bad’ habits or our self-image is somehow unsatisfactory.

Instead of self-criticism, I encourage my clents to focus on the positives. For example, don’t beat yourself up about being fat – focus on how fantastic it would feel if you could walk up a hill fast and get to enjoy the view at the top without even thinking about being out of breath, or wear the clothes you’d really like to be able to buy.

Stressing about the negatives just brings you down even more.

Think of a plant and how it grows… It doesn’t fear the frost or worry about being attacked by predators. It pushes out new growth, and after even the coldest, darkest winter, its buds will burst into flower on the first day of sunshine.

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Why not make this year YOUR year to blossom?

By |2018-11-05T14:10:03+00:00January 6th, 2018|General News|

“Take care” means just that.

I lose count of the number of people (especially women) who use the words “take care” automatically when signing off an email or note. It’s become an almost meaningless cliché.

But we need to start to really mean it when we say it, for our own sakes. Because we simply aren’t taking enough care at the moment –not of our friends and family members, but of ourselves.

Many people seeking help from hypnotherapists and counsellors want to lose weight, or stop smoking or deal with anxiety-related issues.  They see these problems as individual and specific issues that they are suffering from and that they want to get rid of. lonely-273629_1280

However, the cause of many of these problems is that we aren’t taking care of ourselves, in the sense that we aren’t caring properly for our physical bodies and our minds.

I said to a (very stressed client) just recently: “Would you let your car run out of fuel, never replace the oil, and overload it with heavy weights?”  No, of course not. But that’s what we’re doing to ourselves.

People experience different results from hypnotherapy, as with all therapies, and some clearly derive more benefit than others. But hopefully all of them will exit a course of therapy understanding that they need to care for themselves better in the future. They will also have some techniques and strategies that help them to do this. Because many of them haven’t been looking after themselves  properly for quite a long time.

A recent analysis by Cancer Research concluded that cancer rates will increase nearly six times faster in women than in men over the next 20 years, with obesity al least partly to blame. Other factors are smoking, drinking and lack of exercise.  So why are women increasingly more at risk?

I suspect one reason is that women themselves are often the care-givers – they care for their partners, their children, their elderly parents and perhaps their neighbours too. Sometimes they are providing emotional support for colleagues or even working as volunteers.  This inevitably takes its toll, and the person giving the care may be the one neglecting to care for herself.

Caring for ourselves is crucial. If we are strong, healthy and resilient, we have a better quality of life and we also are better at looking after others.

So if you’re one of those people who sign off by saying “take care”, how about focusing on yourself for a change?

By |2018-11-05T14:10:12+00:00February 3rd, 2017|General News|

The season of goodwill?

rainy-83136_1280“Happy Christmas”! To anyone feeling lonely, anxious, fearful or depressed, those words sound not only hollow but cynical.

In fact, they just seem to emphasise that many people aren’t actually happy at all, and won’t miraculously become that way just because it’s the festive season.

But it’s worth remembering that those smilingly wishing us a happy Christmas are often not very happy themselves – their smiles may hide heartache, worry, illness or even downright misery.

Talking to people can help, which is why so many of us turn to counselling and hypnotherapy. But a bit of  ordinary, genuine goodwill can also go a long way towards making people feel better.

In the run-up to the Christmas holiday, I plan to make sure that I perform at least one small act of kindness or consideration every day, even if it’s only telling someone that they’ve done a good job or thanking them properly for their help. Simply smiling at people who serve you in shops can make their day that bit better.

If we could all do this, it would make our lives a little bit happier, I’m sure. And who knows – it might become a habit.

Because goodwill is for life, not just for Christmas.

By |2018-11-05T14:10:30+00:00December 7th, 2016|Anxiety, Hypnotherapy|

Smoking harms DNA

cigarette-666941_640A new study proves that tobacco smoke harms human DNA and is linked to a whole range of cancers. This was a large-scale research exercise involving 5,000 smokers so it can’t be dismissed.

Though I don’t specialise in smoking cessation myself, it is something I feel is very worthwhile and other hypnotherapists report good results as long as their clients are really motivated to stop.

One reason that I don’t offer smoking cessation is that I have a personal interest that makes it hard for me to be objective. In her youth and middle age, my mother had been a very heavy smoker. When she was in her last months of life, I watched her trying desperately to breathe, hooked up to an oxygen cylinder. This is an image that will stay with me always. She had suffered from breathing problems for years and her whole retirement (after a life of hard work and little enjoyment) had been blighted by this disability. I had health problems myself that later were recognised as the result of passive smoking.

I do offer help for clients who want to rid themselves of unwanted habits and lead healthier lives. Some of these issues – such as obesity or excessive drinking – have a negative effect on their families and friends. But only smoking harms such a wide range of people, including the general public who are breathing in the harmful ‘second-hand’ smoke. Does passive smoking also harm DNA? It would seem likely.

For more information, see:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/03/dna-study-lays-bare-devastating-damage-caused-by-smoking

By |2018-11-05T14:10:44+00:00November 4th, 2016|Hypnotherapy|

Anxiety and male deaths from cancer

Anxiety is bad fordespair-513530_640 us: we know that. But it is a killer – or can it save our lives?

A large-scale study has found that men over 40 who suffer from significant levels of anxiety are twice as likely to die from cancer than their female counterparts. Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common mental health problem that is associated with an increased risk of suicide and other mental health problems. It affects about 5% of the population. But the male sufferers studied in the research were found to be at greater risk of dying from cancer than the females – or from other men who did not suffer from GAD.

Was this because the men worried about their symptoms in silence?  Did women react differently, worrying more about theirs and consequently taking steps to gain reassurance from their doctors? Were there other differences caused by gender-related issues? Or did the anxiety itself cause cancers to develop more frequently in men, and not in women for some reason?

Much more research needs to be undertaken to find out the answers. What is certain is that anxiety, like stress, is bad for our physical health as well as for our emotional and mental wellbeing.

For more details on the study, go to

http://www.clinicalpsychiatrynews.com/specialty-focus/anxiety-disorders/single-article-page/gad-tied-to-twice-the-risk-of-cancer-mortality-in-men/6824470a2410bb60736b00f74b661560.html

 

By |2016-09-23T16:02:25+01:00September 23rd, 2016|General News|