Myira Khan Counselling

BACP Accredited Counsellor and Supervisor in Leicester and Online

Office Address: 12 Princess Road West, Leicester LE1 6TP

Telephone: 07864 523 545

Email: myira@myirakhancounselling.co.uk



Coping with Father's Day

  • by Myira Khan
  • 18 Jun, 2016

Tips to cope with Father's Day

Tips to cope with Father's Day. Myira Khan Counselling Leicester.
Coping with Father's Day. Myira Khan Counselling.

Coping with Father’s Day.

 

Father’s Day can be a special day of celebration with your father or as a father but what if this day reminds you of the difficult relationship you have or have had with your dad? What if your father is not around or has passed away? There is an expectation that it is a happy time for everyone, but for some it’s a time “to get through” and endure, with a longing for things to get back to the ‘normality’ of everyday.

 

Father’s Day can trigger a wide range of intense feelings, for a variety of reasons, such as the loss and grief from a father’s bereavement, separation from dad due to geographical distance, parent’s separation or breakdown in our relationship with our dad. The day can bring an intense spotlight on the nature of our relationship with our father.

 

If Father’s Day is difficult for you, give yourself support and self-care, to help you through the day.

 

Here are some tips on how to survive and cope with Father’s Day:

 

·         Honour your feelings: Recognise and acknowledge your genuine feelings. All feelings are real and your experiences are valid and important. Just because feeling sad, hurt or angry is not reflected in the media or ads does not make them any less real or important.

·         Express feelings creatively: By keeping a journal, writing a letter to your father or child, or creating a photo album/ memory box with keepsakes of your loved one supports expression of feeling.

·         Plan ahead: Find ways to support yourself by planning what to do on that day, such as an activity which honors your genuine relationship and feelings. This could be visiting a shared memorable location or carrying out a family tradition, if the day is about honouring a deceased loved one.

·         Decide what is best for your own self-care: If the day brings up feelings of a difficult or painful relationship, choose and decide what you want to do on the day itself, which is best for your self-care, rather than what is expected of you. Choose if or how you want to spend the time to celebrate the day with your father.

·         Talk about it : If the day is affecting your mood, you don’t have to keep this to yourself. Share how you feel with your partner, family member or friend (someone who you feel safe or comfortable talking to). You may find this supportive and can help to lift your mood.

·         Treat Yourself: If you feel that the day will leave you feeling left out of the celebrations, this doesn’t mean you can’t plan fun activities for yourself. Do something indulgent – have a warm and relaxing bath, read a book or watch a favourite movie – something that is comforting and nurturing for your own well-being.

·         Avoid social media: It can sometimes feel that other people’s lives are splashed all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc and on Father’s Day  this can be felt more acutely, as we can be overwhelmed with seeing how other people are having the ‘perfect’ day amongst their family and loved ones. This can lead to comparisons between our internal feelings of loneliness, sadness or loss and other people’s external images of their happiness and joy, which may lead to feeling worse about our experiences and relationship. By limiting/avoiding social media sites, this can help to prevent the comparisons between you and others.

·         Seek professional help :   Most importantly this is a time to take care of your wellbeing and to keep yourself safe. If the day or your relationship with your father triggers painful feelings, which are overwhelming or difficult to cope with, seeking the help of a counsellor or psychotherapist could be extremely useful to support and help you work through your relationship.

 

Author: Myira Khan - Counsellor

 

About Myira:

Myira Khan is a qualified counsellor in Leicester providing both face to face and online counselling through her private service: www.myirakhancounselling.co.uk .

Myira was awarded the Deputy Prime Minister’s Mental Health Hero Award in February 2015 (the East Midlands regional winner) and went on to be announced as a Woman of the Year 2015.

Myira is the Founder of the Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network ( www.mcapn.co.uk ) which supports Muslim counsellors throughout their training and career development as well as working to end stigma and break down barriers around mental health within BME and Muslim communities.


by Myira Khan 13 Dec, 2016

Coping with Christmas


For some people Christmas is a time to look forward to, spending time with family and friends, exchanging gifts and enjoying the break from school/work.


It can also be a very stressful time on top of the everyday stresses and worries that we deal with. This could be from the pressure to create and live up to expectations of having the ‘perfect’ Christmas, having the money to finance Christmas (i.e. food, drink, gifts), buying the ‘best’ gifts, spending time with family and perhaps with members who have difficult relationships with one another.


Due to traditions of overindulging in food and drink, it could also be a very vulnerable and stressful time for those who have a difficulty in their eating habits or have an eating disorder. The thought of being around food or a pressure /expectation to eat when at social events or family gatherings can lead to increased stress and anxiety levels.


From any reason why stress levels may increase around the festive period, it can further develop feelings of anxiety, anger, sleep difficulties, isolation, depression and impact upon relationships. 


Thankfully, there are some simple, practical steps that we can put in place to deal with such issues during the festive period:

 

Make sure to socialise : Choose to spend time and socialise with those who you care about the most. Whilst you may feel pressure to spend time with family, try to find a balance between time to relax, rest and socialise. Plan time to participate in fun activities with people who you enjoy being around, which may help to lift your mood, de-stress and feel more relaxed.

 

Exercise: Exercise helps to lower stress levels and it can help us to take a break from the ‘business’ of preparing for Christmas and throughout the festive period. Don’t stop any exercise routines you may already do throughout the year or you may want to start a new exercise activity to give yourself that break, such as going for a walk, bike ride, swimming or yoga, any activity that you will enjoy and help you to relax.

 

Personalise your Christmas preparations: Getting things ready for Christmas can feel stressful. There are gifts, food, drinks and decorations to prepare. Perhaps you enjoy baking or being creative with arts/crafts or decorating. How about combining the two and spending time baking some Christmas treats, creating/personalising Christmas cards or crafting your own Christmas decorations? Spending time doing something you enjoy and find relaxing, whilst also preparing for Christmas can help to keep your mood high, stress levels down and feel energised or motivated that you are achieving getting things done ready for Christmas.


Be money-savvy: Budgeting your Christmas spending in advance may help you to feel less stressed, if you are already having money worries or know you have limited spending. Perhaps it’s about individually or as a group to decide on a price limit for each gift you have to buy for one another, choosing which social events you want to attend and can afford or finding alternative cheaper ways to have your money go further, such as making gifts if you are creative, as the activity itself may also help you to feel less stressed. By budgeting in advance, it may also prevent you from any additional stress from bills arriving after Christmas or being in further financial difficulty in the New Year.

 

Seek professional help: If you find yourself feeling stressed on the run up to Christmas it may be helpful to access some support for yourself or before your stress and anxiety levels become worse, as a preventative strategy, rather than when it has escalated to feeling unmanageable. At any stage counselling can help to address stress-related issues before and during times when you feel under pressure. You can access therapy through your GP, your workplace or you can access it privately.  

 

Author - Myira Khan (BACP Accredited Counsellor and Supervisor in Leicester and Online)

Myira Khan Counselling www.myirakhancounselling.co.uk


by Myira Khan 30 Oct, 2016

Dealing with the winter blues and SAD (seasonal affective disorder)


So the clocks have been changed and we now find ourselves entering a time of shorter days, longer nights, cold and chilly weather.


For some of us the shorter daylight hours can have a major negative impact on our mood and well-being, leaving us feeling sad, depressed, grumpy, lethargic or generally out of sorts. This can leave us wanting to hibernate, with thoughts of cuddling up on the sofa, under a duvet sofa, in front of the TV until Spring.

 

This is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). It is the impact of the shorter daylight hours and lack of sunlight upon our mood, leaving us feeling depressed.

 

Approximately 21% of the UK population suffer from the milder symptoms of a change in mood without serious affects, known as the ‘winter blues’.

 

A further 8% of the population suffer from SAD, which impacts on everyday functioning and causes symptoms such as depression, over-eating, poor social functioning, anxiety and lethargy and can have a serious impact on the person’s work, social life and relationships. A diagnosis of SAD usually occurs after 3 consecutive winters of experiencing a combination of the symptoms.

 

Thankfully, there are some simple, practical steps we can all take to keep our wellbeing on track during this time, whether we suffer from SAD or the winter blues.

 

Exercise: Bad weather and lack of daylight can be easy excuses not to exercise. However exercise can help to lower our stress levels and improve our mood, so don’t let the weather or early nights put you off. This can be a time to switch to activities such as yoga, swimming or the gym, where the bad weather or daylight won’t as easily demotivate you as getting outside for a walk/run or bike ride.

 

Get outside: Lack of daylight hours and the early nights can dramatically impact upon our mood, energy levels or motivation. Although we may be put off to exercise outdoors we can still help our mood by spending some time each day outdoors and in the natural daylight. This could be going for a short walk or spending some time in the garden.

 

Get a SAD light lamp: Some people find the use of a SAD light lamp during the winter months to be effective. The lamp effectively replicates sunlight by producing the bright white light lacking in natural daylight over the winter months. The bright light helps to regulate hormones, which affects our waking/sleeping energy levels as well as our mood, helping us to feel less depressed or lethargic.

 

Maintain a healthy diet : It can be easy to turn to warming winter ‘comfort’ foods as well as indulging in rich foods and drink over the festive period. Whilst this can feel ‘good’ or ‘soothing’ to us, it is important to maintain a balanced diet, which includes a balance of all food groups, rich in fruit and vegetables and low in fat and sugar. This can help us to feel energised as well as making us less susceptible to colds and viruses which are more common over the winter months.

 

Keep socially active: Keep up with your social activities, hobbies and interests. Make an effort to stay in touch and meet up with family and friends. It can be very tempting to head straight home after work and tuck yourself up on the sofa in front of the TV for the evening or stay indoors all day, particularly when the weather is cold and there is a lack of daylight. Make the most of the opportunity to socialize and spend time with others. This may include making new friends through a group activity such as a reading group, sports club or adult education classes/workshops. Adult education colleges hold one-off classes or introductory courses, which allow you to learn or try out a new skill, whilst meeting people and making new friends at the same time.

 

Talk about it : If the winter nights, lack of daylight or bad weather are affecting your mood, you don’t have to keep this to yourself. Share how you feel with your partner, family member or friend (someone who you feel safe or comfortable talking to). You may find this supportive and can help to lift your mood.

 

Treat Yourself: If you find yourself homebound and not able to spend time outside or with others, this doesn’t mean you can’t plan fun activities. Do something indulgent for yourself – have a warm and relaxing bath, read a book or watch a favourite movie – or even start a new project/hobby. This can help alleviate feeling isolated or ‘stuck’ indoors.

 

Seek professional help : The start of winter can have a significant impact on our mood and well-being. It may lead to a form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Counselling/therapy can help and support you by providing a safe, confidential space to explore your feelings and concerns as well as supporting you through this time of the year. You can access therapy through your GP, your school /workplace or you can access it privately.  

 

Author - Myira Khan (Counsellor)


About Myira:

Myira Khan is an Accredited Counsellor in Leicester providing both face to face and online counselling through her private service: www.myirakhancounselling.co.uk

Myira was awarded the Deputy Prime Minister's Mental Health Hero Award in February 2015 (the East Midlands regional winner) and went on to be announced as a Woman of the Year 2015.

Myira is the Founder of the Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network ( www.mcapn.co.uk ) which supports Muslim counsellors throughout their training and career development as well as working to end stigma and break down barriers around mental health within BME and Muslim communities.

 

Myira Khan Counselling www.myirakhancounselling.co.uk

Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network www.mcapn.co.uk

by Myira Khan 18 Jun, 2016

Coping with Father’s Day.

 

Father’s Day can be a special day of celebration with your father or as a father but what if this day reminds you of the difficult relationship you have or have had with your dad? What if your father is not around or has passed away? There is an expectation that it is a happy time for everyone, but for some it’s a time “to get through” and endure, with a longing for things to get back to the ‘normality’ of everyday.

 

Father’s Day can trigger a wide range of intense feelings, for a variety of reasons, such as the loss and grief from a father’s bereavement, separation from dad due to geographical distance, parent’s separation or breakdown in our relationship with our dad. The day can bring an intense spotlight on the nature of our relationship with our father.

 

If Father’s Day is difficult for you, give yourself support and self-care, to help you through the day.

 

Here are some tips on how to survive and cope with Father’s Day:

 

·         Honour your feelings: Recognise and acknowledge your genuine feelings. All feelings are real and your experiences are valid and important. Just because feeling sad, hurt or angry is not reflected in the media or ads does not make them any less real or important.

·         Express feelings creatively: By keeping a journal, writing a letter to your father or child, or creating a photo album/ memory box with keepsakes of your loved one supports expression of feeling.

·         Plan ahead: Find ways to support yourself by planning what to do on that day, such as an activity which honors your genuine relationship and feelings. This could be visiting a shared memorable location or carrying out a family tradition, if the day is about honouring a deceased loved one.

·         Decide what is best for your own self-care: If the day brings up feelings of a difficult or painful relationship, choose and decide what you want to do on the day itself, which is best for your self-care, rather than what is expected of you. Choose if or how you want to spend the time to celebrate the day with your father.

·         Talk about it : If the day is affecting your mood, you don’t have to keep this to yourself. Share how you feel with your partner, family member or friend (someone who you feel safe or comfortable talking to). You may find this supportive and can help to lift your mood.

·         Treat Yourself: If you feel that the day will leave you feeling left out of the celebrations, this doesn’t mean you can’t plan fun activities for yourself. Do something indulgent – have a warm and relaxing bath, read a book or watch a favourite movie – something that is comforting and nurturing for your own well-being.

·         Avoid social media: It can sometimes feel that other people’s lives are splashed all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc and on Father’s Day  this can be felt more acutely, as we can be overwhelmed with seeing how other people are having the ‘perfect’ day amongst their family and loved ones. This can lead to comparisons between our internal feelings of loneliness, sadness or loss and other people’s external images of their happiness and joy, which may lead to feeling worse about our experiences and relationship. By limiting/avoiding social media sites, this can help to prevent the comparisons between you and others.

·         Seek professional help :   Most importantly this is a time to take care of your wellbeing and to keep yourself safe. If the day or your relationship with your father triggers painful feelings, which are overwhelming or difficult to cope with, seeking the help of a counsellor or psychotherapist could be extremely useful to support and help you work through your relationship.

 

Author: Myira Khan - Counsellor

 

About Myira:

Myira Khan is a qualified counsellor in Leicester providing both face to face and online counselling through her private service: www.myirakhancounselling.co.uk .

Myira was awarded the Deputy Prime Minister’s Mental Health Hero Award in February 2015 (the East Midlands regional winner) and went on to be announced as a Woman of the Year 2015.

Myira is the Founder of the Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network ( www.mcapn.co.uk ) which supports Muslim counsellors throughout their training and career development as well as working to end stigma and break down barriers around mental health within BME and Muslim communities.


by Myira Khan 01 Jun, 2016

Walking for Mental Health and My Walking Challenge for 2016

 

We all know that waking is good for our physical health but it is also great for our mental health and there is no better time to look after ourselves and start some self-care than now.

 

There are so many benefits of walking, including:

 

·        Helping to collect your thoughts.

·        Releasing endorphins which lift your mood, with 88% of people seeing an overall improvement in mood after going for a walk (according to a study by Mind).

·        Reducing your stress levels.

·        A soothing activity which reduces anxiety and depression.

·        A fantastic natural anti-depressant shown to be as effective as anti-depressant medication for treating mild to moderate depression.

·        Walking with someone else or in a group can help to overcome feelings of loneliness.

·        Helping you to be physically fitter and can be a positive step towards greater self-confidence and positive body image.

 

Walking also gets us out into nature and can be a very therapeutic and spiritual experience. Walking for me feels as if I’m on holiday where I start to immediately feel more relaxed and stress-free, as if I am miles from home, from work, or from any stress I have. For me walking is a process of being in the moment, being mindful of my environment, and letting go. It’s a tranquil and spiritual experience for my mind, body and soul.

 

And there has been no better time for me to start walking again as we’ve just had National Walking Month and there were plenty of amazing walks to choose from. I’m also spoilt for choice as I’m near to both Rutland Water and the National Forest, and I have had the pleasure to visit both during the past few weeks, so it’s been the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and explore the wonderful nature right on my doorstep!

 

Walk 500 miles Challenge


To keep me motivated on my walks I’ve signed up to the #walk 500miles challenge (set by Country Walking magazine) to walk 500 miles (between 1st May until the end of 2016). This should help me to clock up the miles and get me out to as many different beautiful walks and scenery as possible!

To find out more information about the #walk500miles or #walk1000miles Challenge or to sign up to the challenge yourself, see here for further details: https://display.engagesciences.com/display/container/d/f28d4b95-c6e6-4d45-a9bf-ce6e8dd5a2df/details

 

I will be blogging my #walk500miles Challenge progress throughout the year, so you can also check out where I’ve been walking, photos of my walks, how far I’ve managed to walk each week and how it’s felt! If you are doing a walking challenge or any other challenge/project for your own self-care and mental health, I would love to hear about it! #walkingformentalhealth #natureastherapy #walk500miles


by Myira Khan 20 May, 2016

Communicating with extroverts and introverts


I’ve mentioned throughout by blogs this week that communication in relationships is important. This is so you are able to share your thoughts and feelings, establish boundaries and express your needs to create safe, secure and healthy relationships.

 

However our communication styles differ and misunderstanding or miscommunication can lead to disconnection between people, leaving you feeling misheard, ignored, not understood or rejected. Not a happy place to be in a relationship.

 

One way to help improve better communication between yourself and other people is to understand the difference in communication styles between introvert and extrovert personalities and then how to communicate more effectively to the different personality types.

 


Extroverts may:

-        Share their energy, feelings and excitement with all those around them.

-        Equally enjoy speaking to others either in one to one or group situations with ease.

-        Feel re-energised by their interactions with others.

-        Prefer speaking to others rather than through written communication.

-        Think out loud and so reply to quickly to questions or respond quickly to events going on around them.

 

Introverts may:

-        Share their energy, feelings and excitement with those close to them.

-        Prefer to speak to people one to one.

-        Feel re-energised by taking time out from social interactions and spending time in their own thoughts.

-        Prefer to communicate through written modes rather than speaking out loud.

-        Need time to process their thoughts first before sharing with others, and so may take time to respond to others.

 

 

 How to effectively communicate to an extrovert, if you are an introvert:

o  Have an awareness of an extrovert’s think out loud communication process. This doesn’t mean you need to respond directly to everything they say or that you need to respond in the same way. This is the way that extroverts process their thoughts, by talking out loud through the process.

o  Pay full attention and actively listen when they are talking. They need to know you are listening without judgement, so they feel safe to be able to talk out loud.

o  Allow for pauses and give yourself time to process what they have said.

o  Be clear and direct in what you want to say. It doesn’t need to be a think out loud process however you may wish to communicate that you are thinking or reflecting upon what has been said and how you are feeling.

o  Be aware you may feel overwhelmed by how much or how quickly a person talks and it may feel as if you are being talked at rather than a two-way interaction. It is ok to jump into the conversation and voice your thoughts or feelings and to be heard yourself.

o  Be aware you may feel depleted in your own energy levels after what may feel like a deep conversation. Take time for self-care, to re-charge yourself.

 

How to effectively communicate to an introvert, if you are an extrovert:

o  Have an awareness of an introvert’s thinking first-share second communication process.

o  Allow space for the introvert to process thoughts before jumping in.

o  Pay full attention and actively listen when they are talking. They need to know you are listening without wanting to say something and giving them the space to process the conversation.

o  Take time in the conversation to explore the topic, rather than asking lots of questions ask one question and let them process the question and respond.

o  You may wish to communicate via written notes, emails and texts, as a way to share your feelings and thoughts with them.

o  Pick an appropriate time to have ‘deeper’ or serious conversations, as this will drain them. If they are already tired at the end of a long or difficult day, they will only become more exhausted during the conversation, which may lead them to shut down and not talk at all.

 

The points above are not to see others as one-dimensional or defining people just under the extrovert- introvert dimension, but as tips to help you to understand and communicate more effectively with others, if you feel that your communication styles differ, which will hopefully lead you to having closer and healthier relationships.



Myira Khan

Award-winning Private Counsellor (Leicester and Online) www.myirakhancounselling.co.uk

Founder of the Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network (MCAPN) www.mcapn.co.uk

Mental Health Heroes Award Winner 2015


by Myira Khan 19 May, 2016

Boundaries

 

As mentioned in Tuesday’s blog on Relationships: Feeling Connected , a healthy relationship includes having established and respected boundaries. This means that not only are you able to put boundaries in place within the relationship but that they also maintained and respected by the other person. This is a very different experience to an unhealthy relationship, where boundaries are put in place but the other person chooses not to respect the boundary.

 

So what do we mean by boundaries?

 

A boundary is a “line that marks the edge or limit of something”. It is the distinction of ‘I’ and ‘you’ within the ‘us’ of the relationship. Without boundaries there is a blur between the two people of ‘I’ and ‘you’, with the space between them only containing ‘us’, which leads to feeling confusion, resentment, disregarded and dissatisfaction.

 

Boundaries provide clarity, as they distinguish between ‘I’ and ‘you’. By establishing boundaries you are living and behaving from a position of ‘I’, being clear of your ‘self’, living with congruence about  who you are, your beliefs, values, passions, interests, ambitions and dreams, i.e. what you want from life and how you want to live your life. You are focusing on yourself from a place of self-care, self-respect and value.

 

How to set healthy boundaries:

 

Have self-awareness: Have an understanding of ‘I’, your likes / dislikes, your beliefs, values and interests. Knowing yourself better helps you to understand who you are in a relationship, what you are bringing to it, why you are in the relationship and what you want/ need from the relationship.

 

Clear communication: This is vital in any relationship as you can’t expect your partner to know what your boundaries are or for you to know theirs. It is important to start talking openly and clearly with your partner of what your boundaries are. Explain what you are able to give or do for your partner in any given situation. Talking about your boundaries is a great way to make sure that you and your partner’s needs are being met. This helps to build the safety and trust in the relationship.

 

Express your needs: When you relate from a position of ‘I’, you will create a greater awareness of your own needs and be able to express them clearly to your partner and visa versa. No-one is a mind-reader and neither you nor your partner should expect your own needs to be the same as each other. It is an opportunity for both of you to share a mutual understanding of both your needs and expectations in the relationship, so that chances of misunderstanding and disconnection are limited.

 

Speak from ‘I’:  In sharing your needs and establishing / maintaining boundaries, speak from the position of ‘I’, i.e. “I need…”, “I would like…”, “I feel...”.  This helps you to identify, own and express your needs without pushing the responsibility of your needs or any changes you want in the relationship onto your partner. It will also help to make your partner feel less defensive, whereas if you were to say “you need to…”, this can be felt as a criticism or accusation that your partner needs to change or that they are solely responsible for your feelings in the relationship.

 

When boundaries are not established and respected, the distinction between ‘I’ and ‘you’ becomes blurred.

When this happens you may:

·        Become unclear of your own needs

·        Become distracted or focus upon your partner and their needs

·        Put your own needs secondary to your partner’s, which leads to feelings of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, isolation or depression.

·        Lower your own expectations of fulfilment in the relationship

·        Accept the minimum in terms of love, care, attention from your partner

·        Lose focus on yourself and self-care

·        Become manipulated or easily convinced to do anything for your partner and their happiness.

·        Become unable to say no or set limits for yourself

·        Put up with inappropriate or abusive behaviour

 

In these instances, there is no clarity of an ‘I’ and ‘you’ and the focus of the relationship can tip heavily into the favour of ‘you’, whereby ‘I’ and your needs and happiness become invisible.

 

In healthy relationships there is an equality and respect, from both partners, for ‘I’ ‘you’ and ‘us’.  The tips above may help to you re-balance the partnership. You may feel that accessing professional help may help to support you in understanding yourself, your needs and your relationship.

Couples counselling may help you to understand, explore and work through any underlying issues that may be causing the miscommunication, expectations and misunderstandings in the relationship. Couples counselling would be a safe space for both of you to share your own feelings, thoughts and concerns with each other and to also hear from the other partner’s perspective of how they experience the relationship. Sharing your thoughts openly will help you to work through and resolve the underlying concerns as well as how to move the relationship forward.



Myira Khan

Award-winning Private Counsellor (Leicester and Online) www.myirakhancounselling.co.uk

Founder of the Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network (MCAPN) www.mcapn.co.uk

Mental Health Heroes Award Winner 2015


by Myira Khan 18 May, 2016

Relationships and Loneliness


Relationships are fundamental to our well-being. The quality of our relationships, how we socially connect to our family, friends and community, is instrumental to the quality of our physical and mental health. The more we are connected to others in healthy relationships, the more healthier and happier we are and the less we suffer from mental health issues.


It is through our relationships that we develop and evolve our own sense of self/identity, our belonging in communities and be able to healthily meet our own and other people’s needs of us.

 

Feeling disconnected to others can lead to feelings of anxiety, despair, loneliness, depression, isolation or a downward spiral difficult to get out of, which are all a significant impact upon the state of our mental health.

 

A 2014 survey by the Office for National Statistics found Britain to be “the loneliness capital of Europe”, with UK residents both less likely to have strong friendships and less likely to know our neighbours, compared to other European country residents.

 

Although loneliness in older people has been acknowledged, it is now becoming more widely recognised that loneliness exists amongst young people. A 2010 Mental Health Foundation report found loneliness to be a greater concern to younger adults. Compared to the over 55’s generation, 18-34 year olds were more likely to feel depressed due to loneliness, more likely to feel lonely often and more likely to worry about being on their own.

 

With the strong link between loneliness and the impact upon our mental health, there is a great need to help ourselves in improving the quality of our relationships to better our own mental health.

 

Tips to overcome loneliness:


Honour your feelings: Recognise and acknowledge your loneliness and associated feelings. All feelings are real and your experiences are valid and important. Wanting to have fulfilled connections and relationships and working to achieve them is a positive and healthy way forward.


Find new connections: Accept that you want to make new friends or social circles but don’t put pressure on yourself to do so. Join local groups, where you already share an interest or attend a class that may be a new interest to you. Be open to new interests and activities and go along to experience what it is like. Meeting people and making new friends then becomes a secondary or built-in goal, as you focus on the activity or interest and how much you are enjoying being a part of the group/class.

 

Volunteer: Local charities, groups and services welcome volunteers and you could to volunteer for a particular charity or organisation, which you are passionate about. This will give you the opportunity to meet and connect with new people as well as helping others, which can boost your feelings of self-worth and usefulness, and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

 

Take care of yourself: When feeling lonely or isolated, it can be easy to blame ourselves or something on this painful or sad feeling. Instead, by giving yourself some self-care, honouring your feelings and being kind to yourself, this will help you to feel better about yourself. Do things and activities which will help you to feel good about yourself. Rest, eat healthy foods, go to the cinema/theatre/museum, join a local group which matches your interests, or go for a bike ride. Do what feels comforting and safe for you. This may also open up opportunities to meet new people, feel a part of a group or feel connected to others.

 

Seek professional help :  Most importantly this is a time to take care of your wellbeing and to keep yourself safe. If being alone leads you to feel extremely low or anxious, or even when you are around other people, you feel a profound sense of loneliness that will not go away, seeking the help of a counsellor or psychotherapist could be extremely useful. Therapy offers you a safe, confidential place to talk with a professional about your feelings and concerns. Therapy can help you work through your problems, as well as make you more resilient and better able to cope with life’s ups and downs.

 

 

Loneliness in a relationship

 

There can sometimes be the assumption that we ‘shouldn’t’ feel lonely when we are in a relationship because we expect or at least hope that we would feel happy, loved and cared for when with a partner. In relationships we look for these heart-felt, meaningful and significant connections, which may be sensed as if the other person ‘gets me’ and I ‘get them’. It’s a two-way connection of being accepted, understood, respected and loved by each other.  Sometimes when we feel we are busy having to juggle work, family and friend commitments, it can start to feel as if a gap appears within the relationship and both or one partner feels disconnected from the other. This in turn can feel as if we are isolated, ignored or unloved by the other and therefore leading to feeling lonely in the relationship. However once you recognise that feelings of loneliness, isolation, sadness or other hurtful feelings stem from feeling disconnected to your partner, you can then find ways to re-connect to them.

 

Tips on how to overcome loneliness in a relationship:

 

Communication: it is important to start openly talking to your partner again, to share how and why you are feeling lonely. Explain how you are feeling and what is/ is not happening in the relationship that is making you feel lonely.

 

Break the cycle: when you feel lonely, it may feed further loneliness, by stopping you from socialising with friends and family members and this can be a downward spiral or vicious cycle, which will only reinforce your feelings of loneliness and isolation. So take up those social invitations and spend time in the company of others, where you feel happy and connected to others.

 

Honour your feelings: Recognise and acknowledge your loneliness and associated feelings in the relationship. All feelings are real and your experiences are valid and important. Wanting to have a fulfilled connection with your partner and working to achieve that is a positive and healthy way forward for both of you.

 

Time for yourself: If you are feeling lonely in the relationship, look at how you spend your time and check if this is a contributing factor for feeling lonely. If you have a lot of free time, where you feel bored and feel you have nothing to do, this may lead to feeling lonely, wanting to spend more time with your partner to fill your time or feeling isolated in the relationship if your partner is unable to spend as much time with you as you would like. Use your free/ spare time for yourself. Keep busy working on your own goals, dreams and ambitions, which will help you to feel valued, fulfilled and good enough within yourself and therefore less lonely.

 

Get professional help: If you are feeling lonely and isolated in the relationship, accessing professional help may help to support you in understanding your feelings. Counselling will help you to explore your feelings and any underlying concerns you may be experiencing in the relationship, which is leading you to feel lonely. Couples counselling may help both partners to understand, explore and work through any underlying issues that may be causing the disconnection in the relationship. Couples counselling would be a safe space for both of you to share your own feelings, thoughts and concerns with each other and to also hear from the other partner’s perspective of how they experience the relationship. Sharing your thoughts openly will help you to work through and resolve the underlying concerns as well as how to move the relationship forward.

 


Myira Khan

Award-winning Private Counsellor (Leicester and Online) www.myirakhancounselling.co.uk

Founder of the Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network (MCAPN) www.mcapn.co.uk

Mental Health Heroes Award Winner 2015


by Myira Khan 17 May, 2016

What is a relationship?

 

The definition of a relationship is “the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected” or “the way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave towards each other”.

 

We all want to feel intimately and closely connections to others and this need for close connection is not only good for us, it is important for our physical and mental health.

 

Healthy Vs Unhealthy Relationships

 

It is important to note that being in a relationship or feeling connected to another does not automatically mean that the state of the relationship is a healthy one.

 

A healthy relationship includes:

·        To feel closely connected.

·        To feel accepted.

·        To feel supported.

·        To be respected.

·        To be heard.

·        To feel safe and comforted.

·        When needs and wants are effectively communicated and fulfilled appropriately.

·        When boundaries are established and respected.

·        When trust is present and active, whereby thoughts, feelings, fears and concerns are shared and accepted without judgement or ridicule.

·        No abuse (physical, mental, emotional, psychological) is present.

·        Self-care is present and active, and encouraged for one another.

·        Being able to be yourself genuinely.

 

 

An unhealthy relationship can include the absent or opposite of the healthy relationship list above. A main difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship is the distinction of a relationship based upon equality in a healthy relationship opposed to an unhealthy relationship, which is based upon power and control of one person towards the other.

 

An unhealthy relationship may include behaviours, which exert power and control, such as insults, accusations of cheating, limiting your contact with others, making decisions on your behalf, physical violence or threats. It also includes a lack of boundaries within the relationship or a disrespect of any boundaries that have been set. For example, this may be checking the other person’s mobile without their consent or knowledge or checking up on the other person’s whereabouts, i.e. not respecting their privacy.

 

Feeling disconnected to others or in an unhealthy relationship can lead to difficulties or feelings of anxiety, despair, loneliness, depression, isolation or a downward spiral difficult to get out of, which are all a significant impact upon the state of our mental health.

 

 

Tips for healthy relationships:

·        Communication: Share your thoughts and feelings and allow yourself to be heard and listened to. The bond will be strengthened when you communicate what is going on for you.

·        Listen: Also be there for others; listen to their thoughts and feelings. Build a relationship of mutual support, care and love. Communication is a two-way process and can only be effective if you and others can both share as well as listen to the other.

·        Be non-judgemental: Listen to others without judgement but with equality, care and respect. This builds a trusting and safe relationship without fear of rejection, dismissal or experiences of shame or humiliation.

·        Focus on the other: Give your time and attention to others. We can be easily distracted by other things going on around us, checking our emails or glued to social media for the latest updates or tweets. When spending time with others, we can show how important the other person is, by focusing on them and giving them our undivided attention. This demonstrates our love, care and respect for the other person and how much we value them (i.e. they are more valuable to us than a Facebook update). Imagine how you would feel to be on the receiving end of someone paying you their undivided attention.

·        Make time: Put aside some undisturbed time to spend with your loved ones. Living a busy life can easily find us not having connected or spent quality time with a family member, friend or group. This doesn’t have to anything extravagant or expensive. It could be having lunch together, watching a film, going for a walk or anything else that would be an enjoyable time for you together.

·        Establish and maintain healthy boundaries: This is not about being selfish but creating a relationship in which equality and respect is valued for yourself, each other and the relationship. A healthy relationship requires space. This includes a balance of quality time together as well as apart, to be able to fulfil your own needs and for them to meet their own needs.

 

 

Myira Khan

Award-winning Private Counsellor (Leicester and Online) www.myirakhancounselling.co.uk

Founder of the Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network (MCAPN) www.mcapn.co.uk

Mental Health Heroes Award Winner 2015


by Myira Khan 16 May, 2016

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (16-22 May) and this year’s theme is relationships.


Relationships are fundamental to our well-being. The quality of our relationships, how we are socially connecting to our family, friends and community, is instrumental to the quality of our physical and mental health. The more we are connected to others in healthy relationships, the more healthier and happier we are and the less we suffer from mental health issues.

 

It is through our relationships that we develop and evolve our own sense of self/identity, our belonging in communities and be able to healthily meet our own and other people’s needs of us.

 

Every day during Mental Health Awareness Week #MHAW16 I will be blogging about different aspect of relationships, including our understanding of the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, understanding our own relationship/ attachment patterns, how to improve and build better relationships, and not to forget ourselves, how we can have a healthier and kinder relationship to our own self.


So keep an eye out for my Mental Health Awareness Week blogs every day this week, to learn more about building better and healthier relationships. http://www.myirakhancounselling.co.uk/blog


by Myira Khan 04 Mar, 2016
Mother’s Day can be a wonderful day of celebration with your mother or as a mother, with your own children. But what if this day reminds you of the difficult or lack of relationship you currently have or have had with your mum? What if Mother’s Day only brings up painful feelings for you? Below are some tips on helping you to cope and get through the day.

It’s hard to miss the fact that we’re nearing Mother’s Day, with shops, products and adverts all aimed at making the day perfect with a picture of the ideal special occasion spent in the company of our mother or as a mother with our immediate family. There is an expectation that it is a happy time for everyone, but for some it’s a time 'to get through' and endure, with a longing for things to get back to the ‘normality’ of everyday.  

Mother’s Day can trigger a wide range of intense feelings, for a variety of reasons, such as the loss and grief from a mother’s bereavement, separation from mother due to geographical distance, parent’s separation or breakdown in our relationship with our mum. The day can put an intense spotlight on the nature of our relationship with our mum, as we all have a mother (whether a biological, adoptive or foster mother) and we each have a relationship with our mum. No matter what the status of the relationship is, there is always a way in which we relate and have feelings towards her, whether negative, positive or indifferent.

If the relationship is difficult, tense or conflicted, this can cause further pain when the reality of the relationship does not live up to the idealised picture of how a ‘mother’ should be and the role she has. It can leave us feeling disappointed, hurt and angry when we feel our needs for unconditional love, support and security are not being met by the nurturing or caring mother we want or need.

Mother’s Day can also trigger feelings and thoughts of what it is to be a mother. For women without children, wanting children, unable to have children or those who have grieved children, the day can be particularly difficult when all thoughts are focused upon our role as ‘mother’ and it being linked or associated with sad or painful experiences rather than the idealised expectations of ‘motherhood’. It can bring feelings of failure, shame or loss at not being able to be the mother you want or wanted to be.


If Mother’s Day is difficult for you, give yourself support and self-care, to help you through the day.

Here are some tips on how to cope with Mother's Day:

  • Honour your feelings:Recognise and acknowledge your genuine feelings. All feelings are real and your experiences are valid and important. Just because feeling sad, hurt or angry is not reflected in the media or ads does not make them any less real or important.
  • Express feelings creatively:By keeping a journal, writing a letter to your mother or child, or creating a photo album/ memory box with keepsakes of your loved one supports expression of feeling.
  • Plan ahead:Find ways to support yourself by planning what to do on that day, such as an activity which honours your genuine relationship and feelings. This could be visiting a shared memorable location or carrying out a family tradition, if the day is about honouring a deceased loved one.
  • Decide what is best for your own self-care:If the day brings up feelings of a difficult or painful relationship, choose and decide what you want to do on the day itself, which is best for your self-care, rather than what is expected of you. Choose if or how you want to spend the time to celebrate the day with your mother.
  • Talk about it : If the day is affecting your mood, you don’t have to keep this to yourself. Share how you feel with your partner, family member or friend (someone who you feel safe or comfortable talking to). You may find this supportive and can help to lift your mood.
  • Treat Yourself:If you feel that the day will leave you feeling left out of the celebrations, this doesn’t mean you can’t plan fun activities for yourself. Do something indulgent – have a warm and relaxing bath, read a book or watch a favourite movie – something that is comforting and nurturing for your own well-being.
  • Avoid social media:It can sometimes feel that other people’s lives are splashed all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc and on Mother’s Day this can be felt more acutely, as we can be overwhelmed with seeing how other people are having the ‘perfect’ day amongst their family and loved ones. This can lead to comparisons between our internal feelings of loneliness, sadness or loss and other people’s external images of their happiness and joy, which may lead to feeling worse about our experiences and relationship. By limiting/avoiding social media sites, this can help to prevent the comparisons between you and others.
  • Seek professional help :  Most importantly this is a time to take care of your wellbeing and to keep yourself safe. If the day or your relationship with your mother triggers painful feelings, which are overwhelming or difficult to cope with, seeking the help of a counsellor or psychotherapist could be extremely useful to support and help you work through your relationship.


Author: Myira Khan - Counsellor
You can catch Myira on BBC Radio Leicester's Breakfast Show on Mothering Sunday (6th March) from 7.40am, discussing Mother's Day and the difficulties the day can bring and how best to deal with it.

To listen to the show:  http://bbc.in/1QRQdTE  

Myira was recently on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour (Wednesday 2nd March 2016) discussing ‘Is it inevitable you’ll turn into your mother?’ You can listen again here: http://bbc.in/1LUDs9x


Myira is a qualified counsellor in Leicester providing both face to face and online counselling through her private service: www.myirakhancounselling.co.uk
Myira is also the Founder of the Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network www.mcapn.co.uk  which supports counsellors (trainee and qualified) through their studies and professional career/ development, as well as working to end stigma and break down barriers around mental health and counselling within BME and Muslim communities.

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