Edwina HawkridgeCounselling in Stamford, and City of London

Articles. Fireworks

Remember, Remember!

November the 5th is possibly my favourite day of the year after my birthday. Why? Because of the 3F’s

Fireworks is the first obvious F that springs to mind when talking about November the 5th. I love fireworks they remind me of happy times from childhood trekking out in mismatched gloves and a hat a few sizes too small, me against the cold to watch sparks of light that are truly beautiful. The moment of anticipation when you hear a firework shoot off into the dead of night and await the boom that reverbs in your chest. Fireworks are amazing I defy anyone to be miserable whilst watching them. The benefits of getting outside in the fresh air to watch fireworks are numerous.

For me my close friends are like my family, there is something so special about shared moments on bonfire night. Displays can really unify members as you are entertained by light and sound. Spending quality time with friends and family is important to support your mental health and most of us do not make enough time for it so if it’s been a while since you caught up with relatives why not invite them out to a fireworks display. There’s nothing like bonding over a bonfire and huddling against the cold whilst you catch up with loved ones.

The final F is for food. On bonfire night though food has magical properties. It is able to warm you up from the inside whether you normally have something hot and spicy like a chilli or a curry, a jacket potato or soup. Bonfire night food is normally hearty and warm. People often bring out their tried and tested recipes or have competitions for the best chilli. Bonfire night is perfect for traditions and keeping family memories alive.

Bonfire night is the perfect combination of connecting with friends and family, sharing something hearty to eat, the collective experience of being part of the crowd and you get to witness some pretty awesome pyrotechnics. When the 3 F’s come together it ends up being food for the soul.

What is Bulimia?

Articles. Bulimia

Bulimia is an eating disorder and mental health condition. People who have bulimia go through periods where they eat a lot of food in a very short amount of time (binge eating) and then make themselves sick, or do excessive exercise, or a combination of these, to try to stop themselves gaining weight.
Bulimia is often a vicious cycle of binging and purging, triggered by things such as hunger, sadness or stress. You may set very strict rules for yourself about dieting, eating or exercising. Failing to keep to these then leads to periods of excessive eating and loss of control (binge eating), after which you feel guilty or ashamed. You then purge to get rid of the calories, leaving you feeling hungry again, and the cycle continues.

Who gets Bulimia?
Men and women of any age can get bulimia, but it's most common in young women and typically starts in the mid to late teens. There is no cause for bulimia but it is widely recognised that some predisposing factors make you more susceptible to developing an eating disorder. Predisposing factors include things like; eating disorders, depression alcohol or drug addiction within the family. If you have been criticised for eating habits, body shape or weight or if you have been abused, anxiety, low self-esteem, obsessive personality or are a perfectionist.

Health Risks
There are many health risks associated with Bulimia and this eating disorder can quickly lead to physical problems associated with not getting the right nutrients, vomiting a lot, or overusing laxatives. Possible complications include feeling tired and weak, dry skin and hair, swollen glands and muscle spasms as well as sore throats damaged tooth enamel and bad breath, heart, kidney and bowel problems and bone problems.

Symptoms of bulimia include:
  • eating very large amounts of food in a short time, (binge eating).
  • making yourself vomit, or using laxatives, to avoid putting on weight after a binge
  • Doing an extreme amount of exercise after a binge to avoid putting on weight
  • fear of putting on weight
  • being very critical about your weight and body shape
  • mood changes – feeling tense or anxious
  • behaving secretively around food

    What it is like for the Sufferer
    All eating disorders including Bulimia are a complex relationship between the mind, body food, control and emotions. It often starts when there is a period of stress for the person and develops as a strategy to help them cope. Bulimia is Maladaptive which means it changes and there comes a point when the sufferer realises that they are no longer in control of the binge-purge cycle. People with Bulimia feel trapped and often become frightened of how out of control their binge eating and purging has become. A competent eating disorder therapist should work with you in all areas of the sufferers life to assist recovery.

    "we clear our plates, yet we are still famished- starving for something other than food’ – Kate Wicker

    Getting Help
    If you are worried that someone you know may have bulimia encourage them to see their GP as soon as they can as the earlier an ED starts to get treated the better the prognosis for recovery. For the sufferer it can be very hard to admit they have a problem and ask for help. It may make things easier if you bring a friend or loved one with you to your appointment.
    You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from the eating disorders charity BEAT. Their adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711 has advisers that will be able to give you further information.

    You can recover from bulimia, but it may take time and recovery will be different for everyone. Your bulimia plan will be tailored to you and will take into account any other support you may need for depression or anxiety. Your recovery plan may include elements of CBT, nutrition rehabilitation, psychoeducation and habit formation. As well as keeping a food diary and making a plan for meals.
    ‘There is no magic cure no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward: an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore – Laurie Halse Anderson
    If you think you may have bulimia or know someone who does get in touch for a non-obligation chat 07784 105 769.

  • Self Certified Chocoholic?

    Articles. Chocolate

    Many people think that they are addicted to chocolate when in fact they have a dependency on it or like it a lot. Chocolate like most things that contain sugar stimulates your opioid system. Your brain is one of the biggest users of glucose (sugar) in the body. Over time sensors in your brain become down regulated or desensitized to sugar and therefore it takes more and more of the same substance (sugar) to feel the same ‘hit’ or level of happiness after something sweet. It is this process that happens within the body that has people thinking they are addicted to chocolate as they seem to be eating more and more of it. If you’re concerned about the amount of Chocolate, you are craving or eating there are things you can do to break the cycle and curb your cravings.

    Low Battery
    We crave sugar for many reasons one of which is low blood sugar which translates to low energy. The brain relies on glucose to function properly. When our blood sugar drops rapidly our brain releases chemicals that has us craving something sweet like chocolate.

    Poor nutrition, through not eating a range of foods can lead to us being deficient in magnesium and chromium which can sometimes lead to sugar cravings.

    High Stress
    Stress can have a huge impact on the number of sweet things we eat.

    Serotonin Imbalance
    Serotonin imbalances may also be leading you to crave something sweet. Sometimes people with depression try to eat their way out of their depressed state as food is mood changer especially sweet things that spike your opioid system which is your happiness and reward system.

    Lack of Sleep
    When excess sugar is consumed the body converts sugar into glycogen, when these stocks are full the body converts excess sugar into adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is excess fat that normally hangs around the midriff and is accurate at determining health risk factors.
    When blood sugar levels rise too quickly our body produces too much insulin which can lead to insulin resistance or prediabetes so how do I curb my cravings for chocolate I hear you ask?

    Curb the Craving

    By eating a range of foods that include chromium and magnesium, mainly whole grains and leafy greens you are giving your body what it needs to beat cravings. The nutrients within these foods increase cell sensitivity to maximise the amount of sugar your body can metabolise and burn off.

    Balance out your blood sugar levels by eating regular meals that contain protein, good quality carbs and good fats to help maintain satiety and blood sugar levels. Cinnamon, Cardamom and Nutmeg have been shown to help people with type 2 diabetes gain better control over their blood sugar level. Adding healthy fats like Avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, salmon, nuts and seeds to your diet can help keep your blood sugar levels stable which can reduce the risk of insulin resistance developing.

    High stress and cortisol levels can lead to sugar craving, manage stress to manage cravings, move for fun, exercise, take a bath, try a breathing exercise it all helps.

    Stimulus control
    It is much easier to say no once in the supermarket to a bar of chocolate than every single day that it is sat in your cupboard! Practice not rationalising having chocolate in the house ‘for someone else’ chances are you will be the one that ends up eating it and sending your blood sugars on a rollercoaster ride which will have you craving more…. sugar.

    Sleep Right
    Get plenty of sleep. Lack of energy is one of the reasons people go for chocolate in the first place. Pay attention to your environment, keep your bedroom clutter free and at the right temperature, minimise light and noise so that you can get good quality sleep.

    Don’t Skip
    Try not to skip meals this will force your blood sugar to drop and will have you craving something chocolatey. Stick to a regular schedule of eating breakfast lunch and dinner minimum.

    Swap it out
    Make a swap dark chocolate is a sensible swap for milk chocolate products. Dark chocolate is classed as a superfood it is packed with antioxidants has a much lower sugar content and can assist heart health.

    I’m a firm believer that most things should be present in your diet and that cutting out entire foods or food groups can be more detrimental to your physical and mental health. It is much better to learn how to moderate and make sensible swaps to support your health.

    Improve your Work-Life Balance

    Articles. Ballerina Balance

    One thing that can lead to job burnout is not having an appropriate work life balance. Some signs that indicate you may be feeling burn out are:
  • Dragging yourself to work and have trouble getting started
  • Becoming cynical or critical at work
  • Irritable or impatient with co-workers
  • Lack of energy to be productive
  • Lack of satisfaction from your achievements
  • Using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to feel nothing at all
  • Sleep habits changing.

    If you have some of these signs there is a possibility that burnout is around the corner. Improving your work life balance is one step that may be helpful in fighting burnout. If work is getting on top of your chances are your work life balance is off as the desire to succeed professionally often means we neglect other areas of our lives. It’s National work life week therefore what better time to start improving your work life balance?

    The first step is to assess your own needs which will be different to those of your colleagues or partner. Not everyone’s work life balance will look the same and people rarely divide their time in half. True work life balance is about having the flexibility to get things done in your professional life whilst still having enough time for a personal one. You may have to work longer one day to ensure you get a long weekend away. It is important to remember that balance is achieved over time, not each and every day.

    Sometimes thinking about changing careers or roles at work can be a good idea. It’s unlikely that people find work in something that they love 100% of the time however if you hate what you do it can make it difficult to get up in the mornings and stay motivated.

    Prioritise your health
    It is important to prioritise your health, both physical and emotional. If you currently have ill mental health like anxiety or depression you will need to schedule time in your week to attend therapy. If you normally attend an exercise class or workout it’s important to keep doing these things. By looking after your wellbeing, you are likely to be happier at work and more productive. balance.

    Disconnect from the Devices
    Use travelling time or a section of your day to disconnect from work emails and your phone. Read or practice some mindfulness as a way to de-stress and disconnect from the world. Overall, you’ll feel more refreshed and able to continue your day if you’re able to get a little you time.

    Take a break
    A holiday or a staycation it really doesn’t matter as long as you have taken a break away from work to physically and mentally recharge. A few days is all it takes. Try not to think about work or upcoming projects whilst you are away.

    Quality time
    Prioritise activities and hobbies that make you happy. No-one at work can love and appreciate you the way your friends and family can. Ultimately everyone is replaceable at work, but you are truly special to those who love you. Just because work keeps you busy try not to neglect personal relationships. Plan one to one quality time with other people, it will make all the difference to your happiness and theirs.

    Set boundaries
    Set boundaries for yourself to avoid overworking and burnout. Consider having a separate computer or phone for work so that when you leave work you can shut it off and ‘clock out’. Determine when you will work and when you will stop working otherwise work life may start to take over when you are on holiday or on a weekend away. By advising team members and your manager about your boundaries and contactable hours will ensure that they understand and respect your workplace limits.

    Set goals
    Set achievable goals for different areas of your life that you are passionate about, for example career, health, relationships and personal life. Think about what tasks are important within these areas of your life to help you achieve a healthy work life balance, prioritise these goals and set realistic timescales for them to be achieved by.

    Take note
    Pay attention to when you are most productive at work and block that time off for your most important work-related activities. Filter out the less important jobs that add little to no value to your day.

    Avoid checking your phone or email every couple of minutes as these waste time and break your concentration. Set times to check and respond to incoming information which is a good time management strategy and may provide you with more time to relax once your work is done.

    Work-life balance is a very personal thing and will mean different things to different people. Only you can decide what works for you and your lifestyle. However, if you work life balance is out of kilter for too long the detrimental effects on your health and wellbeing can be severe. Hopefully some of the above strategies will prove useful.

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