Edwina Hawkridge Counselling in Stamford, and City of London

Blog. Balloon Love

Valentine's Day and Loneliness

February the 14th is approaching and for many, being single or bereaved on Valentine ’s Day, makes it a difficult day to get through. Over the last few years it seems that Valentine ’s Day has exploded, year on year it seems to be bigger than ever. From cards, to shop displays, to social media blasts, memes and supermarket deals. For those people who are singletons who don’t want to be or people who are bereaved it can be a potent reminder of what they feel is missing from their lives. Although I am all for spreading more love in the world I guess it’s about recognising that it’s not all love and happiness for everyone. There are plenty of people who find Valentine ’s Day and the preceding weeks leading up to it difficult and it is possibly more people than you may think.
In a world where we are more ‘connected’ than ever and it is easy to catch up with that long lost cousin over social media we are becoming ever lonelier and socially isolated so why is this? Social isolation is linked to higher blood pressure, lower cognitive abilities and increased chances of premature death (The Conversation 2018). It is thought that loneliness is the new bad kid on the block and its negative impact on health are thought to rival that of smoking and obesity.


Blog. Little Hearts

9 Million people in the UK or to put it another way 1/5th of the UK’s population say that they are always or often lonely according to a survey completed by the British Red Cross and the Co-op in 2016. Feeling lonely can be difficult especially if it coincides with other co-morbidity such as obesity, depression or anxiety. There are steps that can be taken to help make you feel less lonely.

Charles Bukowski once said – “if you have the ability to love, love yourself first” and I think this is true. Love does need to come from within and it feels as though with Valentine ’s Day looming it is the perfect time to remind you how counselling can help you feel less lonely.


Blog. Best Gift is You

1) Counselling gets you out of the house and away from work. By going to see a therapist you are tackling the problem head on by admitting that something in your life is not OK. It gives you somewhere to go that is a neutral and safe space where you can talk about anything that is on your mind, including your loneliness.

2) Your Counsellor will most likely focus on your feelings. By expressing what is going on for you and letting it out you are no longer holding on to the same level of emotional distress. The saying goes; a problem shared is a problem halved and although there are no guarantees that your therapist can cut through your problems like a hot knife through butter they will listen to you with empathy and understanding and help you make sense of your emotions.


Blog. Connected

3) Your Counsellor is dependable they will be there week in week out at a time and date of your choosing. This helps to make you feel more grounded and in control, plus your week will have structure, centred around human connectivity. You’ll know when the next time that you will be talking to someone will be to directly tackle the issue of your loneliness.

4) Entering into counselling has a likely side effect that your confidence and self-esteem will grow which may lead you to wanting to try new things which seemed daunting in the past. Trying new things is a great way to make new friends and meet new people who if you connect with should stop you from feeling so lonely.


5) The therapeutic, professional relationship between yourself and your Counsellor is genuine and real, not only will your Therapist be supporting, empathetic and helpful it also proves that you are able to make and maintain a genuine relationship with someone else. This connectivity from another person is priceless, as humans we are social animals and need to connect with others to survive and thrive. Which is why feeling lonely can be so detrimental to our health.


Blog. Pink Love

Therapy is a great place to start feeling better about yourself and your life so that you can move forward feeling more empowered to make new and lasting connections with other people and to make significant changes.

Loneliness is not to be taken lightly given its mental and physical health impact. If you are feeling lonely perhaps it is time to reach out to a professional counsellor who can help you start feeling less isolated and more in control.

If you’d like to reach out to me feel free.

W: www.edwinahawkridgecounselling.com
E: [email protected]
T: 07784105769
Facebook Page: Edwina Hawkridge Counselling
Twitter : @Ehcounsellinguk


2019 CHINESE NEW YEAR - YEAR OF THE PIG


Blog. Pig

On the 5th February Chinese New Year begins and 2019 is the year of the pig. Pigs are associated with being glutinous, lazy and carrying excess fat. In the story of the Zodiac where the animals have a race to determine who will have years named after them and in which order, the pig was last to the meeting, and stopped halfway through the race to have a feast.
If you are born in the year of the pig you are supposedly good at socializing and maintaining relationships. I am in several group chats one of which is heavily centred on food. Various different people when discussing what or where to eat will casually throw in a pig emoji to symbolize that they feel like overindulging. Within the obesogenic environment in which we live it feels as though pigs are the animal representative of the overindulgence. For some people the connotation is that overindulgence leads to being overweight, this association is unfair. There is currently a lack of compassion and understanding around why and how people become overweight. The crisis of obesity that we are facing in the UK is not because of one particular reason, but is as a result of several factors; these Include mental health, genetics, physiology, environment, culture, nutrition to name a few. Obesity as a label may be reclassified as a disease in order to stop the stigma and shame that often comes hand in hand to people who are overweight and have poor body image.


Blog. Upset Woman

A Cautionary Tale

A friend told me about an interesting body image incident that happened in her workplace between two ‘normal weight’ colleagues. My friend works in an office environment which is predominantly female. One colleague was leaving, in preparation a leaving card, which had a picture of many different animals and objects on the front, was being circulated for everyone to sign so that it could be given to the team member who was moving on to pastures new. Someone (in what they thought was good humour) labelled all the animals with colleague’s names. The person whose name was associated with the pig hit the roof; she was really upset, assumed it had been an insensitive man who had done this, went red in the face and became tearful and angry that her name had been chosen as the pig. The person who had labelled the card instantly became defensive, told her not to be so sensitive and that they had assigned names to animals at random.
For the upset colleague the pig held all kinds of negative meanings such as her colleague thought she ate too much, she was overweight and was lazy. What started off as an insensitive joke caused pain and upset. There’s little doubt that the colleague who got upset was working from her own frame of reference and was potentially suffering from poor body image. Had she had a better body image perhaps her reaction would have been slightly different. She would not have seen her name being associated as a pig as a personal attack, not only on her physical appearance but also on her personality. It is remarkable how easy it is to fall into our own body image shaming mantras quickly and detrimentally. The colleague who became upset was not overweight but felt it, which is why she felt defensive at being associated with the pig.


Blog. Smiley Balloons

Body Image

Body image is a tricky thing to remain positive about as we are bombarded by images of the ‘ideal’ body shape from magazines, TV, adverts and social media. This feeds people’s attitudes around how they think of people who are overweight as being glutinous, and lazy. For people who are or feel overweight shame and negative body image are often at the heart of their interactions with other people.
In an ideal world everyone would feel OK within themselves to not react to insensitive jokes where their name is associated to pigs. We are far from living in an ideal world; I work with people who struggle with their body image because their relationship with food has impacted the way they see themselves. They feel overweight in a society that does not understand them or view their body image concerns with empathy or compassion.


7 SIGNS YOU MAY HAVE AN EATING DISORDER


Blog. Forks

It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week - 26th February to Sunday 4th March 2018. As a counsellor who works in this specialist area and with obesity it is always heart-warming to see a matter close to my heart have a light shone on it by the media.
Did you know that 79% of adults asked in a yougov survey in 2018 could not name psychological symptoms of eating disorders? Read on to become part of the other 21%.

Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are well documented, with more awareness growing about Orthorexia, Binge Eating Disorders and others. People don’t always connect the dots that they have an eating disorder which may be driving their weight issues as they are treated for a bad back, achy knee, depression or weight related symptoms instead of the underlying cause EATING DISORDERS!


1) Preoccupation with weight loss & dieting

I am told there are a few people out there that have never embarked on a diet, if however you are like the other 99% of us then you have tried the plethora of diets out there from cabbage soup to weight watchers. It’s alarming to know that dieting behaviour can be a precursor to eating disorders in some people. A preoccupation with weight loss, dieting and control over food move to being primary concerns you spend most of your time thinking about food and the next meal sometimes obsessively planning it or planning how to avoid it. A preoccupation with weight, food, calories, carbohydrates, fat grams and dieting to the point where it becomes obsessive should set off alarm bells. It’s easy to see why dieting can lead to this mentality as there isn’t a diet in existence where you’re not measuring fat, carbs, calories, sugar or all of the above in order to restrict food intake.


Blog. Mirror

2) Frequent Checking

The preoccupation with weight, shape and size leads people to consistently check in the mirror for flaws. ‘Fun’ fact the longer you look in a mirror the more flaws you pick up and the fatter your brain perceives your body to be (Fairburn) once these flaws have been established they is hard for the brain to forget. So each cycle of checking just brings more and more unhappiness and perceived flaws which become distorted. This is being seen more and more in young people and the amount of selfies they take in a day. Frequent checking is part and parcel of low self-esteem a huge driver in eating disorders.


Blog. SecretShhh

3) Secrecy

Pretty much every eating disorder out there comes with an element of secrecy whether that is hiding food to eat later, eating large amounts of food alone, not eating enough and lying about it sprinkling crumbs around so that it looks like meals have been eaten when they haven’t. Eating disorders foster secrecy as they can come hand in hand with great dollops of shame. Eating disorders are great at isolating their sufferers and keeping them tracked in their eating disorder dishonesty.


4) Mood

Eating disorder affect sleep and energy levels through flooding the system with high fat high sugar calories (binges) or through starvation (Anorexia) Both play havoc with your hormonal system. The binges surge sugar into your blood stream making your blood sugar level spike, and then drop, when you hit a drop in your energy levels it has you reaching for the chocolate which starts the cycle again. Mood swings follow the patterns of the peaks and troughs with aggression or ‘hangry’ levels rising when your body craves energy.
At the other end of the scale lack of food means that your body is fasting, by not breaking the fast by eating cortisol and other stress hormone levels remain high which make you irritable. Your mother really wasn’t lying when she said breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it is for this very reason.


Blog. Isolated

5) Critical Voice

The voice is often talked about; it is critical, brutal and mean. Often urging individuals to feel guilt and shame around food and body image. Imagine carrying that critical voice everywhere every decision you make regarding food or exercise reminding you how worthless you are it chips away at your self-esteem which leads people to overeat or starve as both have a way of numbing unbearable emotions. The critical voice can lead to feelings of defeat, helplessness and miserableness.


Blog. Pizza and Friends

6) Isolation

Eating disorders are very adept at keeping their sufferers caught in a cycle of isolation. Our culture is built around socialising with food. People with eating disorders can become very anxious around food whether there is a risk of a binge or fear of eating the food itself to the point where they stop socialising where food is involved and start making excuses


7) Control

Whether it is lack of being able to stop eating when binging or extreme control over the small amounts of food consumed eating disorders and control have a tricky relationship that needs to be unpicked in therapy.


Getting Help

Preoccupation with weight and shape checking, obsessing over food coupled with a critical voice would suggest that an eating disorder is present which years of dieting may have made worse as a history of disordered eating by excluding some food groups puts you at risk of developing an eating disorder.

If you think you may have an eating disorder It is always worth getting specialist help sooner rather than later.


If you think that I may be able to help you as a counsellor working with disordered eating, overweight and obesity issues as well as eating disorders feel free to get in touch by email: [email protected] I have trained with The National Centre for Eating Disorders, the primary organisation in the UK who work with people who struggle with these issues, to use an evidence based approach to help you tackle these issues.


Your GP is also a good port of call; they should be able to point you in the direction of an eating disorders service.

The Counselling Directory Website will help you identify counsellors trained to deal with this specialist area of therapy.

Beat is a charity that offers information and support around eating disorders. Beat Website.


References
Christopher Fairburn – Overcoming Binge Eating
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-43140176
https://www.mind.org.uk

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