To make life a little easier we have listed some of our favourite ways to take care of your brain:
+ Being safe – the reptilian brain
Buy some time:
When you are emotional, whether that be angry, stressed, anxious, you are less likely to think clearly as you function in your reptilian brain (fight, flight or freeze response). It is crucial to buy yourself some time before reacting instinctively, saying or doing something that is not thought through. Take some time out to buy yourself a fraction of a second longer to make a conscious choice to respond. It might be that you take a walk outside – walking will allow more parts of the brain to come online, even just going to the toilet can be enough to give you a little bit of space. You will make better choices by responding not just reacting to situations.
Just like your luggage that is put through an x ray scanning machine at the airport, imagine scanning your body from your feet upwards, noticing each body part, how it feels. Is there a tension, ache, pain, heaviness, hotness or coldness?
Observe your thoughts:
We get so carried away on a train of thought. Imagine sitting at a train station on a bench facing the tracks, a train approaches the station it does not stop but will pass through, this train is a thought of yours – you choose to either jump on this train of thoughts and get carried away or stay sitting on the bench and watch the train of thoughts pass through the station.
Use a positive anchor:
Find an object that has a positive connection, it could be a stone, shell or photograph. When you start to feel stressed or anxious spend one minute focusing on your object ….. allow the positive feelings that are connected with your object to surface.
When we get worked up our breathing becomes shallow and short, we can begin to pant. Do 2 minutes of deep belly breathing – count how many second you can inhale and exhale for.
Connect to your heart:
Just by putting your hand on the centre of your chest will connect you with your heart. This is really good to do if someone has been mean or critical to you.
+ Being Satisfied – the subcortex
Each day list 3 things that made your day that little bit better. Even if you have had a terrible day, acknowledging the small things that were good will help redress the balance between positive/negative.
Focus on the positive and do what you enjoy:
Take a moment to think back over your day; which experiences stand out for you? For most of us, it’s the negative ones We can develop blinkers and focus on all the things that are keeping us stuck in a rut. This is your brain’s negativity bias in action. The law of attraction state that what we focus on we will attract into our lives. Focusing more on the simple pleasures creates lasting value.
Enrich and absorbed the positive:
When you have a positive experience do not let it pass through like a water through sieve, take a moment to relish the feelings and commit it to mind. This will make a stronger neural pathway in your brain.
Physical health impacts emotional health:
You can have the best personal trainer or dietician but if your mind is not in the right place you will get limited results. The reverse is true you can do lots of work on your mind but if you are not looking after your physical body the results will be limited. How good is our sleep? Diet? Exercise? Can you minimize toxins?
Silence your inner critic:
What we tell ourselves becomes our inner narrative – if you say harsh, mean, cruel things to yourself you are limiting your ability to lead a happy, fulfilling rewarding life.
+ Being Social – the neocortex
Do a Random Act of Kindness each week:
The law of karma states that every action must have a reaction. If you do something nice for somebody else, this will make them feel good which will have a ripple effect. It might be that you give somebody a compliment, pay for the person behind you in the queue’s coffee, pick up some litter when out walking. Doing nice things will also make you feel good.
Smile … it is contagious:
When you beam a smile at someone they will respond by smiling. Sensorimotors in our brains mimic facial expressions in order to better understand a person and respond appropriately. When you see a facial expression you want to know what it means so you recreate that expression in your brain.
Nudge your comfort zone:
It is easy to get stuck in a comfort zone and become bogged down in routines that are safe and predictable. It is impossible to learn and grow if you stay within your comfort zone. So, each day so something different – even if it is switching up your morning routine so you eat breakfast before you get dressed instead of the other way round. Live each moment with the intensity it deserves.
What imprint do you leave on other people?:
Every day we have multiple interactions – whether that be with family, people at the train station, in a shop, at work, at the school gate – ask yourself how do you make these people feel? What imprint do you leave? By making the extra effort to smile, say something positive or thank a person can make a difference. Add this up over a lifetime of interactions can make a world of difference!
Helpful websites, books, apps and resources:
+ Abuse (domestic, violence, child, sexual)
NAPAC is the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, they provide a dedicated support line (0808 801 0331) and free online resources
NSPCC is the children’s charity dedicated to ending child abuse and child cruelty. Runs Childline (08008 800 500) and a helpline for adults concerned that a child might be at risk
Survivors UK provides help and support for men who have experienced sexual violence or abuse. This includes counselling and online and SS chat support all run by professionals who specialize in the field of male sexual violence
Women’s Aid are a gressroots federation working together to provide life saving services and build a future where domestic violence is not tolerated 24 hour helpline 0808 2000 247
Domestic Violence Resource UK & International links, also US domestic violence handbook
+ Advice and information
Citizens Advice Bureau helps people resolve legal, money & other problems by providing free information & advice
Community Legal Service Free, confidential and independent legal advice
Direct.gov Provides information & access to forms on topics such as money, tax, benefits, motoring, education, employment, health and wellbeing, crime and transport.
National Debt Helpline Provides free, confidential & independent advice on how to deal with debt problems
MyGrants.co.uk provides a guide to the benefits and grants that older people may be entitled to.
+ Addiction and Substance misuse (alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, gaming)
Al-Anon Family Groups provide understanding, strength & hope to anyone whose life is, or has been, affected by someone else’s drinking.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men & women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.
Drink Aware a charity working to reduce alcohol misuse & harm in the UK, Website has free drink trackers nd tools to assess your own drinking levels
Cocaine Anonymous running self help groups based on the 12 step programme
Talk to Frank is the national drug education services. It provides information on legal and illegal drugs for teenagers and adolescents, including a confidential information line and live chat (0300 123 6600 text 81222)
SMART Recovery provides training to help people manage their recover from any type of addictive behaviour including drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, eating and shopping
Online gamers anonymous is a fellowship of people sharing their experiences
Paula Hall & Associates runs groups, Skype sessions & training for people with sex & porn addiction & their partners.
Life Works helps people overcome addictions, compulsive behaviour and mental health issues
Anxiety UK is a charity run by people with lived experience of anxiety, aiming to support everyone effected through information and self help groups. Call 08444 775 774
No More Panic This site provides information for sufferers & carers of people with Panic, Anxiety, Phobias & OCD
Fear Fighter is a NICE approved evidence based online program for gernalised anxiety and panic
Flying without Fear A site dedicated to helping you find the quickest and lasting way to overcome your fear of flying
OCD Action focuses on obsessive compulsive disorder. Providing information and support running self help groups, online support and advocacy services Call 0845 390 6232
Autscape A charity run by adults with autism. They organise an annual 3 day conference and have a chatlist so people can get talking to each other before they attend
National Autistic Society provides lots of information, resources and support for individuals, family members and professionals
ADDISS UK Attention Deficit Disorder Information & Support Service Helpline 020 8952 2800
Bereavement Advice Centre supports and advises people after a death in England & Wales. Website provides help with a range of practical issues. Call 0800 634 9494
Cruse Bereavement Care offers support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies. Their helpline is on 0808 808 1677
Lullaby Trust provides specialist support for bereaved families and anyone affected by a sudden infant death
Charlie Waller Memorial Trust was set up in 1998 in memory of Charlie Waller, a young man who took his own life due to depression. His family founded the Trust to educated people on the importance of staying well mentally. Delivers training in a wide range of setting to raise awareness of depression & reduce the stigma
Living Life to the Full An on line life skills course with modules that include; understanding why we feel the way we do, helpful and unhelpful thoughts and anxiety control.
Depression Alliance This web site contains information about the symptoms and treatment of depression
+ eating disorders
ABC (Anorexia & Bulimia Care) is an eating disorders organisation providing ongoing care, emotional support and practical guidance for anyone affected by eating disorders. Including nutritional guidance and a befriending service. Helpine 0300 111 1213
Beat Information on all aspects of eating disorders, including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, binge eating & related eating disorders.
National Centre for Eating Disorders An organisation set up to provide solutions for all eating problems, compulsive or “binge” eating, failed or “yo-yo” dieting, bulimia and anorexia.
+ Health Related Issues
Healthcare in Berkshire provides details of all hospitals, walk in centres, out of hours clinics in Berkshire
Patient.UK Comprehensive, free, up-to-date health information
Health Talk provides free reliable information about health issues by sharing peoples real life experiences
Age Concern The UK’s largest organisation working with older people
Men’s Health Forum provides information on men’s health issues
Terence Higgins Trust The largest HIV and AIDS charity in the UK
Food for the Brain raising awareness of the importance of optimum nutrition on mental health. Small changes in diet and lifestyle can have big impact on mental health.
Stonewall works to achieve equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people.
PACE Promoting lesbian and gay health and well being and offering low cost counselling
Pink Therapy A London based counselling practise working with sexual minority clients
+ Local Counselling Centres
ARC Information & Counselling Service Based in Wokingham, offering free counselling (evening sessions available)
Berkshire Counselling Centre Based in Wokingham, providing counselling to the community
Talking Therapies East Berkshire NHS funded counselling.
+ Relationships & Sexuality
Esther Perel has some fantastic blogs about being in love & having a fulfilling sex life
OMGYes.com is a hands-on, modern exploration website for women, based on research and using new touchscreen simulations so you can try it all yourself.
Relate offers advice, relationship counselling, sex therapy, workshops, mediation, consultations and support.
Coming off contains useful information for people interested in learning more about coming off psychiatric medication in a careful, planned way.
+ Mental Health
Bracknell Forest Community Network aims to connect people recovering from ill health, helping them to remain socially connected, prevent relapse, develop confidence, life skills & resilience. Call 01344 823 300 to request an Introduction From
Mind The leading mental health charity in England and Wales. Working to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress.
Mental Health Foundation A leading UK charity that provides information, carries out research, campaigns and works to improve services for anyone affected by mental health problems.
SANE Provides information and emotional support to those experiencing mental health problems, their families and carers.
CBT Online is an interactive site that teaches people about cognitive behavioural therapy skills to prevent and cope with depression
Elefriends run by Mind aims to provide a safe, supportive online community where everyone can share experiences relating to mental ill health and get support from people with similar experiences
Happyhealthy is an app linking brief daily reflection exercises to allow people to make more mindful decisions abut lifestyle exercise, nutrition and sleep to manage mental wellbeing
Headspace an app based around teaching mindfulness meditation principles to improve wellbeing
+ Mobile Phone Dependency
Article exploring the compulsion to check mobile phone
Moment App tracks how much you use iPhone each day, you can set limits to reduce usage.
+ Professional Theraphy Organisations
UK Therapy provides information about various types of therapy, training events and therapy related articles
+ Self Harm
Harmless is a user led organisation providing a range of services about self harm including support, information & training to people who self harm, their friends and families. Includes resources on alternative coping strategies
National Self Harm Network offers an online moderated forum for people affected by self harm
selfharmUK is a project dedicated to support young people, providing a safe space to talk, ask questions & be honest about whats going on in their lives. Run by Youthscape
Big White Wall is an online community of people who are anxious. down or not coping & support each other by sharing whats troubling them. Also availble as an app
+ Self Help
Get Self Help website provides access free downloadable worksheets on a range of topics
Living Life to the Full course is a life skills course that provides access to practical & user-friendly training. The course content teaches key knowledge in how to tackle and respond to issues/demands which we all meet in our everyday lives.
Self help guides produced by Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust titles cover a range of mental health issues.
Sleepio is an App for sleep management combining cognitive behavioural principles and the latest in sleep research
Stressbusting Provides lots of tips, techniques and suggestions for managing stress
WorkGuru is a web based stress management programme providing tools to build resilience and manage stress in the workplace
+ Trauma, Crisis & suicide
Assist is a charity dedicated to offering emotional & practical support to individuals & families affected by trauma.
Stay Alive App is a suicide prevention app, allowing users to create a list of resources & strategies to stay safe from suicide and links into crisis support availble
Samaritans are always ready to listen to anyone who needs to talk in a crisis. Call 116 123
Young Minds Parents Helpline 0808 802 5544 for concerned parents about their child’s emotional problems or behaviour
Maytree An adult respite sanctuary for the suicidal 0207 263 7070
+ young people
Kooth provides online support for young people delivered by qualified counsellors via chat based service
Appyness App score your mood daily, top tips and signposting to local organisations
Childline Free helpline for young people. Call 0800 1111 free 24 hours a day
Daisy’s Dream offers advice & support for young people up to the age of 18 who have been bereaved.
Youth Line Free, confidential counselling for young people in Bracknell, aged 8 to 25 years.
Young Minds is committed to improving the mental health & emotional wellbeing of all children and young people.
RD4U a website designed for by young people. It supports people after the death of someone close.
Your Life, Your Future Booklet for young people on being in care and leaving care, what you should expect.
Students Against Depression for information and self help material
Relax Kids use mindfulness principles to support young people. Fab CDs and books
List complied from utopiacounselling.co.uk