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If you are struggling to make breathing exercises work for you, or find breathing exercises make your anxiety, stress, anger or other emotion feel worse rather than better, this blog post is for you.

Why your breathing exercises aren’t working

Your therapist or friend (or someone else) has told you that you need to do breathing exercises to manage your anxiety, anger, or other emotional responses. You have tried them but they just do not work for you. Sound familiar? If so you are not alone.

I am a clinical psychologist and I teach many people each week to use breathing exercises to manage their anxiety…

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Are you in a country where lockdown is starting to ease?

Are you worried about overdoing it once you are able to go outside and get back into your activities? Or, are you the opposite, thinking “I don’t want to get back out there yet, I’m not ready!”?

If you said yes to either of these questions, this article is for you. I will give you 9 steps to help you look after yourself, prevent burnout and manage anxiety as lockdown ends, wherever you are in the world, and whenever it is that your local area starts to open up.

Whatever you are feeling it’s ok

In some countries including the…

COVID-19 has changed our lives. One of the many things it’s changed is how we attend our therapy sessions. Gone (temporarily) are our weekly trips to our therapist’s office, replaced instead with a new method of communication: Video call, voice call, instant messaging, text or email.

For many, this transition can feel anything from odd to really damn scary. I keep hearing questions such as will it feel the same? Will our relationship change? How will I manage this new way of connecting? What if I can’t manage the technology? Mostly, the question I get is: Please can you give…

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When anxiety, stress, jealousy, rage or any other fight-or-flight based emotion comes knocking at our door our problem-solving abilities shut down. We slip into ‘fight for your life’ or ‘run for it’ mode, which means that we are suddenly unable to see any kind of solution to the problem in front of us. More than that we often become passive witnesses to the automatic and often volatile responses that fly out of us during those times.

Have you noticed this? Can you think of a time recently when you felt stressed or worried and you felt like you had no…

If you have just received a new mental health diagnosis (or have had one for a while) this letter is for you…

Dear You,

Today (or recently) you had some news. I don’t know how you felt about it. I don’t know how you feel about it. However, there are some things I know to be true:

You are no different to who you were prior to the diagnosis. You are the exact same person you were yesterday. You are still that same person who has lived your life, has had your experiences, who knows what it is to be…

Do you know someone with a mental health diagnosis? Is it someone you care about? Someone you love? Do you know someone who is extremely distressed? Anxious? Depressed? Struggling with something similar?

It can be so hard to know how best to help. You can be so desperate to do the right thing but never sure what that is. So desperate to take the pain away but with no idea how to even start.

I have written this post in response to these questions and these feelings.

Here are 9 clear actionable steps you can take:

Sometimes the frustration of…

I get a lot of questions about motivation. Specifically, how to get motivated and overcome laziness. These questions can be hard to answer as they are so general. For example, there could be a million reasons someone doesn’t feel motivated to take action in their lives. That person could be burnt out or exhausted, meaning they don’t have the energy required to do the task. That person could be anxious or stressed meaning that their fight-or-flight response is activated making them want to run away from or fight against the task. …

Self-compassion is something we could all benefit from. It soothes the fight-or-flight response and gets us back into the present moment. It is also the perfect antidote to the inner critic (as well as many other situations). However, practising self-compassion can feel weird for a lot of us. The reality is, those of us who find the idea the most odd are probably the ones who need it most.

Self-compassion has been championed by the psychologist Kristin Neff. Kristen writes beautifully on this topic and has a website devoted to exercises in self-compassion. The ideas compiled here are deeply rooted…

We all talk about wanting to overcome our inner critic. We all talk about wanting to feel less undermined by that never-ending voice in the back of our heads that constantly picks at us and laughs at us; the personal bully that is never out of reach. However, it is common that when we get down to trying to overcome the inner critic there is a sneaky belief that gets in the way. One that we don’t often examine.

What am I talking about? I am talking about a belief around the importance of self-criticism. If we don’t examine it…

We all do it. We should ourselves, we should others and we don’t realise the damage we are causing with this tiny word. We also shouldn’t ourselves, which is equally detrimental (so from now on as I talk about the word should, please assume I am also referring to shouldn’t).

Can you think of some examples? Times you have should-ed yourself recently?

If not, here are a few that you may be able to relate to: We go to school or to work and think “I should work harder, I should be doing better, I should be top of the…

Dr Soph

Clinical Psychologist and Yoga Teacher. Writing about mental health and effective strategies for improving your wellbeing.

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