Emotional December

I don’t know about you, but my Christmas spirit has been missing this year.

Last year, the best I could do was delete my social media accounts and shut the world out. Nurture and creativity were my allies last year and are likely to be so again.

December tends to get me evaluating the relationships in my life. Which ones are working? Which ones could I put more energy in to? Which ones don’t put enough energy in to me? Which ones do I miss the most and which ones would I miss if they were gone tomorrow?

This year, I am missing my daddy. He has been gone for more than 5 years and this year feels tougher than ever without him. (Time is not a healer, clearly, for me.)

In many ways, he was my relationship role model. Though we would often clash, he taught me what matters. Time and love. He made time for everyone. He would be visiting someone different on all of his lunch breaks. He knew how to make people feel special and cared for. He couldn’t bare to be away from his granddaughter for more than a day, so he would be on my door step at 6.30am after finishing a night shift. There was nothing my dad wouldn’t do to cram in some time with the people he loved. That’s who I want to be for my children and their children to come.

One thing my dad did that I will never do though, is leave myself out. When you forget to take care of yourself, or make yourself less of a priority, you burn out.

I may be not be feeling festive but that’s okay. Right now, I’m feeling stressed and emotional as hell. So first things first, tuck myself up on the sofa with a duvet, a hot chocolate and some trashy telly to re-charge. Hopefully if I stay there long enough, my Christmas cheer will know where to find me.

I hope your Christmas is whatever you need it to be.

Love, Morgan

 

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Is your stressful work-life making you ill?

In 2013/14, 11.3 million working days, were lost due to workplace stress, anxiety and depression. It is undeniable that our mental health, as a nation, is suffering and our work lives, can be a cause of this.

When our careers are going well and our workplace is a happy place, our self-esteem is high, we have a sense of achievement and colleagues who we feel safe with. We can go home and rest or play easily. Stress, anxiety and depression do not come home with us or follow us in to work. We experience life’s inevitable bumps and roller-coasters, without our sense of self-esteem, being destroyed.

Self-esteem comes from having a sense of belonging; believing that we are capable and knowing our contributions are valued. A happy work-life can help us to tick all of these boxes and provide us with an income that supports our home-life and recreational activities.

Unfortunately, the workplace is often plagued with long working hours, high expectations, and unmanageable pressure, along with misunderstandings, complicated or toxic relationships. Our ability to cope and achieve – our self-esteem; can all be diminished and leave us feeling trapped. Feeling stressed, anxious or depressed leads to poor physical well-being. Some of the physical symptoms are fatigue, dizziness and headaches. Having these symptoms can cause worry and distress, adding to the original issues and pressures.

Causes of workplace stress include

  • High workloads; with unrealistic deadlines making people feel rushed, under pressure and overwhelmed.
  • Insufficient workloads; making people feel that their skills are being underused.
  • Lack of interpersonal support or poor working relationships leading to a sense of isolation.
  • Being asked to do a job with insufficient experience or training.
  • Difficulty settling into a new promotion, both in terms of meeting the new role’s requirements and adapting to changes in relationships with colleagues.
  • Concerns about job security, lack of career opportunities, or level of pay.
  • Bullying or harassment.
  • Blame cultures where people are afraid to get things wrong or to admit to making mistakes.
  • Poor physical working environment, e.g. excessive heat, cold or noise, inadequate lighting, uncomfortable seating, malfunctioning equipment, etc.

How employers can help

  • Ensure fair and realistic expectations and workloads are in place
  • Have regular appraisals and check-ins with staff to discuss what’s going well and what could be better. Give them an opportunity to talk about anything that may be troubling them.
  • Have appropriate bullying and harassment procedures in place and adhere to them.
  • Make sure all staff take holiday that they are entitled to.
  • Be open and supportive to employee’s emotional and physical needs.
  • Know what support is available for yourself and your employees.
  • Outsource administrative and accounting work to reduce workloads, or to cover holiday/sick leave.
  • Create a safe working environment.

Workplace stress is often inevitable. Finding support and reflecting on the situation, can be crucial in moving forward and finding healthy ways of coping. When you choose counselling, as your way of coping, it can provide new perspective and insight.

When working with clients who are struggling at work or with relationships I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power. My goal is to empower people to help them find their own way forward. By increasing your understanding of yourself and others, you can take back some control, over your life. Counselling can bring forth choices and strengths that you didn’t realise you had.

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You’re there for all your friends, but who is there for you?

counsellingYou take care of everyone else’s needs. It is your role in your family, your friendships and perhaps even your workplace. If somebody needs something, they turn to you. You know exactly how to be a good friend to others; it’s your role and you’re good at it.

So what happens when you need someone to be there for you? Is there another person in your life who is also good at this role? Perhaps not. You have become so good at taking care of others needs that you barely know what you’re own needs are any more; let alone find time to take care of them.

Relationships are not always balanced. Not everyone has someone in their life who they can talk to about their feelings and needs safely and without repercussions.

Often, people become so good at nurturing others, that when they do talk about their own ‘stuff’, somewhere in the mix they become the one doing the listening again.

It can be hard to be vulnerable with others, especially when you are used to you being the ‘strong’ one. You end up leaving feeling just as burdened and confused.

You might find yourself taking care of others because it is easier than taking care of and regulating your own emotions. If this is the case, you can find yourself surrounded by people who have a lot of drama in their life, are extremely draining, or perhaps even abusive.

If this is you, you might find it helpful to explore who you are in relationships and find ways to create a healthier balance. It can be really useful to take some time to reflect. Taking care of yourself when times are tough can also be very helpful. If you would like me to help you do this, I would love to hear from you.

Some tips for taking care of yourself:

Take up a hobby you enjoy or rekindle an old one.
Exercise (this is one of my own favourite outlets).
Join a class.
Book a massage/sports massage/beauty treatment or spa day (another firm favourite).
Join a support group.
Journal how you are feeling.

 

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The Story of Forget-Me-Not Counselling

The Beginning

Back in 2010 my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A Macmillan Nurse encouraged him to talk about his feelings and experience. She said “what’s your story; it’s important to tell your story”. This nurse inspired me to find a career helping people to talk about their story (and all the feelings we don’t want to acknowledge we have), to support them through difficult times.

Five months later, pregnant with my second child, I began studying to become a counsellor. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t the best of timings. There were unexpected bumps (the size of Everest) along the way. But I did it. I am proud to say that I hold a Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling, I am a Registered Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. I now volunteer as a counsellor for Suffolk MIND in Ipswich and have opened up a counselling practice, working from counselling rooms in Felixstowe and Ipswich.

Why Open a Counselling Practice?

With cuts to mental health services, limited counselling approaches in the NHS, counsellors working for free (I’m one of them) in agencies, the counselling profession has widely been put into private and voluntary sectors. I love volunteering, but it costs me. Working privately means that I can offer a flexible service and cover my expenses.

I want to provide a service that I am passionate about and helpful to my community. I love interacting with people  – engaging in conversations about what counselling is and what I can offer. Working privately enables me to engage with the community in a way that is not possible when working in an agency.

It’s important to find a counsellor who is the right fit for you. If I’m not the right counsellor for you, I want to help you find the right one. I want you to have a successful counselling experience – whoever it is with. 

Morgan Horton, MBACP

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