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In 1948 the World Health Organisation(WHO) was founded. Of its principles, the first is:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Yet, even today, many people struggle to achieve balanced health. For those lucky enough to have physical and even social health, mental health is often lacking. Despite mental health issues affecting 1 in 4 people (25% of the population of the world), it remains a taboo and stigmatized subject in society. 350 million people in the world suffer from depression.  These people are not odd “crazy” strangers, they are often amongst your closest family members, colleagues, and friends. So common are mental health challenges, that there’s absolutely no reason why it is not viewed as a normal, regular, yet managable condition.

Whilst some of these affected will need the help of specialists in order to function and maintain their mental health, we can all take basic steps to look after ourselves. Just as we invest in a healthy diet, gym memberships etc to maintain our physique and physical wellness, we can do similar things for our mental health. Both share exercise, diet and sleep in common.

When our physical health suffers we often feel the effect quite quickly in the form of tiredness, or even pain. With mental health, the signs can often be rather more subtle. For that reason, it is important that we frequently “check in with ourselves“. Daily self-monitoring and reaction to the changes we observe can be beneficial and helps with the identification of changes to our mental health. When changes are detected, or even before, we can learn numerous coping techniques to assist with the most common challenges such as depression and anxiety.

When we notice changes in our mental health that can’t simply be addressed by refocusing our thoughts or implementing healthy coping techniques then there is an abundance of help available in the form of psychotherapists, counsellors, peer support groups or even talking to family, colleagues, and friends.

Aspire Counselling is here to help when you need to talk or learn how to understand how you feel.  Psychotherapist and Counsellor Maria Luedeke specializes in empowering individuals, families, couples and teams in the corporate workplaces to achieve their goals and live fulfilled lives.

You can find out more or book an appointment with Maria at Aspire Counselling by visiting https://aspirecounselling.net or by going directly to our online appointment booking page.

Exercise, Sleep, Nutrition – tackling depression

On world health day 7th April, Maria shared with website Patients Engage 3 lifestyle habits that can support those affected by depression.

The following content was first, published on Patients Engage.  Read the original article here: https://goo.gl/HXVzQ3

According to the World Health Organization, there are over 350 million people globally who suffer from depression. Sadly, it is one of the most prevalent of mental health issues in the world. Maria Luedeke, Counsellor & Psychotherapist, CTRTC, stresses the urgent need to engage in a discussion of individually empowered self-management strategies.

Depression has a cyclical effect. Those with chronic illness are more susceptible to it and those with depression have a higher risk of other medical issues. This can become a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape from. Prioritizing physical self-care such as sleep, nutrition, exercise and medical conditions are imperative in breaking and prevention of this cycle.

Exercise

Exercising can be a powerful anti-depressant. Research has shown that consistency is more important than quantity in improving mood disorders, so it is more beneficial to walk daily for 10-15 minutes than to do a 3-hour workout once a week. Choosing an exercise that is enjoyable and fits well into daily life is also essential to maximize the likelihood of adherence. Ideally, exercise should be done first thing in the morning or at least 3 hours before trying to sleep.

Sleep

Sleep is an area that is often cited by depressed individuals as problematic. Many feel constantly fatigued, have disrupted sleep cycles or are unable to sleep/wake at typical times which interferes with their ability to function normally in daily life. Sleep hygiene is an important skill to learn in general for good wellness and becomes integral when managing depression. Establish regular sleep and wake times and be consistent with those throughout the week. Avoid electronics 1-2 hours before bed, this includes phones, iPads, computers and TVs as the blue light emitted from these devices stimulates brain activity at precisely the time we are trying to induce relaxation. Reading on a Kindle or iPad can be done by adjusting the backlight to a softer setting but online reading should be avoided as it is too tempting to flip back and forth between websites and “surf” which is another brain stimulating activity that should be avoided at bedtime. Those who have difficulty falling asleep can try progressive relaxation exercises or deep breathing exercise; both of which induce relaxation and calm.

Nutrition

There are numerous studies about the link between nutrition and mood. One such study by Harvard School of Public Health found that women were 41% more likely to suffer from depression when they regularly ate processed grains, sugary sodas, and red meats. Improving the quality of food eaten eliminates blood sugar spikes and dips that are linked to mood spikes and dips, can increase energy and brain clarity. The Indian Journal of Psychiatry states that patients with depression generally have inadequate nutritional intake, particularly foods high in essential vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Ensuring good nutrition, avoiding skipping meals and reducing high sugar foods can support mood stability.

Psychosocial Care

Practicing healthy physical habits is one piece of managing depression. Paired with Intellectual, emotional and spiritual self-care this is a power approach of depression treatment. Psychosocial therapy and medication are integral components and should not be dismissed but empowering individuals with proactive self-care practices dramatically improves the positive outcomes of depression and mood disorders.

Maria Luedeke is Director of Aspire Counselling Pte Ltd, Singapore. Maria is a highly qualified Counsellor and Psychotherapist with educational qualifications from U.S. and Australian institutions and possesses a Certificate of Clearance from the Singapore Government authorizing her to work with children and adolescents in all settings. 

If you are affected by depression and would like to know more, or want to book an appointment with Maria you can go to https://aspirecounselling.net or click here to go directly to our appointment bookings page.

Featured in Expat Living – January 2017

Aspire Counselling is featured in Expat Living Singapore, published 11th January 2017, read Maria’s thoughts on Cultural identify crisis and marital issues affecting expats

Read the full article at http://www.expatliving.sg/counselling-singapore-issues-exp…/

The following is an excerpt from the article:

Cultural identity crisis

Moving into an unknown culture can be a confusing, stressful and frustrating experience for both adults and children as they are suddenly made to adapt to a new way of life or set of values. Being far away from home and without family support can also create stresses of their own. Culture shock can cause symptoms like extreme homesickness, an abnormal change in appetite and depression.

Treatment options:

You can attend individual, couple or family therapy where counsellors can help you develop coping strategies for cultural adjustment issues. They can also assist you with any other underlying or coexisting issues such as marital strain or mood disorders.

Marital issues

Issues in a marriage can develop or become more pronounced during cultural adjustment periods. Both partners are experiencing high levels of stress as they get accustomed to the new environment, roles, cultural expectations and jobs. Excessive travel, loss of former careers and long work hours can add to daily frustrations of beginning a new life, creating temptation, loneliness, resentment and sparking arguments between spouses.

Treatment options:

You can go for individual or couple counselling sessions where counsellors can provide a framework for you to work through difficulties.

Aspire Counselling

1 Tanglin Road, Orchard Parade Hotel, #03-03
6570 2781 | aspirecounselling.net

Find out more about how Aspire Counselling can help under these circumstances at http://aspirecounselling.net or by calling 6570 2781

Life is not always easy, in fact it often feels as challenging as having to walk a tightrope to get to where we want to go. We all have goals and dreams, but how we respond and how well prepared we are for when the going gets tough defines whether or not we achieve those goals.

Often we may even feel that we don’t have any other choice but to give up. We end up feeling stressed, even depressed or suffering from anxiety when things don’t quite go as expected.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Resilience and empowerment

It is possible to develop a resilience that will help you achieve your goals and reach fulfilment. Part of this involves learning and implementing techniques that will empower you to get yourself through the more difficult days and continue driving towards your goals.

If you are prepared and believe that you can get the best from yourself then you will be more likely to have the resolve to keep moving forward. To find out how you can be empowered to stand up to the challenges that life may put in your way, then Aspire Counselling would be happy to help you.  Psychology and counselling are not something to shy away from, in fact they can be key to empowering you.  Our therapies include Choice Theory Reality Therapy (CTRT), Lead Management, Mindfulness, Solution Focused Brief Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

You can also visit our website to book an online or face to face session with us. http://aspirecounselling.net

Contact Aspire Counselling at info@aspirecounselling.net or call 6570 2781 to find out more about our services for men, women, adolescents, couples, families and corporates.

This article from Caitlin Ainsworth writing on The Mighty, describes what many of our clients can feel. They struggle to get out of bed and from the outside they are percieved to be lazy and unfocused. At times they may also see themselves this way. In the article referenced below, Caitlin describes how life feels to her. You may even recognise yourself in what Caitlin describes.

“Have you ever felt like everyone around you was living a full life? Not to say they are — or you are not — but I’ve found sometimes through my own pain it can seem like everyone else has nothing to fight off. I wake up every day with immense dread that I’m no longer asleep, or worse, that I’m not finally dead. I finally find the courage to get out of bed five hours after my alarm goes off to go to the bathroom and maybe find some food, but after that I’m back into my nest of blankets and pillows that once in a while seems to guard me from the monsters in my head — the monsters that surround me.”

Read more at https://buff.ly/2gzxBBx

Do I have to continue like this?

Too often these struggles lead the individual to feel guilty and that they aren’t normal. However, you should know that it is not an unusual feeling. Also, it is not something you need to feel guilty about. In fact, when feeling this way you need to make sure you are kind and compassionate towards yourself. We know that you are trying and doing your best.

We can empower you to live a fulfilled life and achieve your goals

Aspire Counselling is here to help in these circumstances. Our passion is to help empower people to lead fulfilling lives. We would like to help guide you towards ways that you can help yourself, whether you are suffering from depression, anxiety, bi-polar or any other condition. We can show you techniques that you can use to help you achieve your goals, whatever they are.

Contact Aspire Counselling

Contact us at http://aspirecounselling.net to find out more about our services and book an appointment.  You can also call us on  6570 2781 or email on info@aspirecounselling.net

The Thinkstock image accompanied the article when it was published on The Mighty on 22nd November 2016

Couples counselling

Couples and Relationship Counselling

Romantic relationships are an integral part of our lives. They can bring the best out of us, as well as the worst. They are intricate and constantly evolving. Communication is an integral part of romantic relationships. Whether you are dating, living together, or married; communication is at the core of any relationship.

Couples counselling and therapy ( including relationship counselling and marital counselling ) can help find effective ways to communicate openly, build/re-build trust, deepen loving connections and establish positive boundaries in a safe, supportive non-judgemental environment.

Some of the issues couples and relationship counselling can assist with are:

  • Infidelity – emotional and/or physical
  • Addiction
  • Grief
  • Parenting
  • Divorce
  • Pre-marital counselling
  • Life Transitions Counselling
  • Intimacy Issues – emotional and/or sexual
  • Dealing with a partners anxiety, depression, stress etc.

 

Online Video or Face to Face Counselling – Singapore Couples Counselling, Marital Counselling, Relationship Counselling

Aspire Counselling – book an online or face-to-face counselling, psychotherapy session and get instant confirmation of your appointment at https://aspirecounselling.net

For further details email info@aspirecounselling.net or call 6570 2781

  • Singapore Relationship Counselling
  • Singapore Couples Counselling

#couplescounselling #relationshipcounselling #relationships #family #marriage #singapore

Even the best jobs can lead to burnout. The harder you work and the more motivated you are to succeed, the easier it is to get in over your head.

The following article appeared on LinkedIn Pulse, and was written by Dr Travis Bradbury.  The image shown accompanied the original article and is from Getty.

The prevalence of burnout is increasing as technology further blurs the line between work and home. New research from the American Psychological Association and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reported the following:

  • 48% of Americans experienced increased stress over the past 5 years
  • 31% of employed adults have difficulty managing their work and family responsibilities
  • 53% say work leaves them “overtired and overwhelmed.”

A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) poll found that “burnout from my current job” was one of the top reasons that people quit.

Burnout can get the better of you, even when you have great passion for your work. Arianna Huffington experienced this first hand when she almost lost an eye from burnout. She was so tired at work that she passed out, hitting her face on her desk. She broke her cheek bone and had to get four stitches on her eye.

“I wish I could go back and tell myself that not only is there no trade-off between living a well-rounded life and high performance, performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder and giving. That would have saved me a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout and exhaustion.”   –Arianna Huffington

Burnout often results from a misalignment of input and output; you get burnt out when you feel like you’re putting more into your work than you’re getting out of it. Sometimes this happens when a job isn’t rewarding, but more often than not it’s because you aren’t taking care of yourself.

Before you can treat and even prevent burnout, you need to recognize the warning signs so that you’ll know when it’s time to take action. Here they are, in no particular order.

Health problems. Burnout has a massive, negative impact upon your physical and mental health. Whether you’re experiencing back pain, depression, heart disease, obesity, or you’re just getting sick a lot, you need to consider the role your work is playing in this. You’ll know when burnout is affecting your health, and you’ll just have to decide whether your approach to work is worth the consequences.

Cognitive difficulties. Research shows that stress hammers the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive function. Executive function impacts your memory, decision-making abilities, emotional control, and focus. When you notice that you’re making silly mistakes, forgetting important things, having outbursts of emotion, or making poor decisions, you’re likely burning out.

Difficulty with work and personal relationships. Stress bleeds over into everything you do, particularly how you interact with people. Even when you feel that you’re keeping your stress under control at work, it can rear its ugly head at home. Often it’s your relationships that suffer. Stress makes many people more likely to snap at others, lose their cool, and get involved in silly, unnecessary conflicts. Others are more inclined to withdraw and avoid people they care about.

Taking your work home with you. You know that sickening feeling when you’re lying in bed thinking about all the work that you didn’t get done and hoping that you didn’t miss something important? When you can’t stop thinking about work when you’re at home, it’s a strong sign that you’re burning out.

Fatigue. Burnout often leads to exhaustion because of the toll stress takes on your mind and body. The hallmarks of burnout fatigue are waking up with no energy after a good night’s sleep, drinking large amounts of caffeine to get you through the day, or having trouble staying awake at work.

Negativity. Burnout can turn you very negative, even when you’re usually a positive person. If you find yourself focusing on the down side of situations, judging others and feeling cynical, it’s clear that negativity has taken hold and it’s time for you to do something about it.

Decreased satisfaction. Burnout almost always leads to a nagging sense of dissatisfaction. Projects and people that used to get you excited no longer do so. This dip in satisfaction makes work very difficult, because no matter what you’re putting into your job, you don’t feel like you’re getting much out of it.

Losing your motivation. We begin jobs in a honeymoon phase, seeing everything through rose-colored glasses. When you’re in this phase, motivation comes naturally. In a burnout state, you struggle to find the motivation to get the job done. You may complete tasks, and even complete them well, but the motivation that used to drive you is gone. Instead of doing work for the sake of the work itself, your motivation stems from fear—of missing deadlines, letting people down, or getting fired.

Performance issues. People who burn out are often high achievers, so when their performance begins to slip, others don’t always notice. It’s crucial to monitor your slippage. How were you performing a month ago? Six months ago? A year ago? If you see a dip in your performance, it’s time to determine if burnout is behind it.

Poor self-care. Life is a constant struggle against the things that feel good momentarily but aren’t good for you. When you experience burnout, your self-control wanes and you find yourself succumbing to temptations more easily. This is largely due to the way that stress compromises your decision-making and self-control and also partially due to lower levels of confidence and motivation.

Fighting Burnout

If you recognize many of these symptoms in yourself, don’t worry. Fighting burnout is a simple matter of self-care. You need good ways to separate yourself from your work so that you can recharge and find balance. The following will help you to accomplish this.

Disconnect. Disconnecting is the most important burnout strategy on this list, because if you can’t find time to remove yourself electronically from your work, then you’ve never really left work. Making yourself available to your work 24/7 exposes you to a constant barrage of stressors that prevent you from refocusing and recharging. If taking the entire evening or weekend off from handling work e-mails and calls isn’t realistic, try designating specific times to check in on emails and respond to voicemails. For example, on weekday evenings, you may check emails after dinner, and on the weekend you may check your messages on Saturday afternoon while your kids are playing sports. Scheduling such short blocks of time alleviates stress without sacrificing your availability.

Pay attention to your body signals. It’s easy to think that a headache is the result of dehydration, that a stomachache is the result of something you ate, and that an aching neck is from sleeping on it wrong, but that’s not always the case. Oftentimes, aches and pains are an accumulation of stress and anxiety. Burnout manifests in your body, so learn to pay attention to your body’s signals so that you can nip burnout in the bud. Your body is always talking, but you have to listen.

Schedule relaxation. It’s just as important to plan out your relaxation time as it is to plan out when you work. Even scheduling something as simple as “read for 30 minutes” benefits you greatly. Scheduling relaxing activities makes certain they happen as well as gives you something to look forward to.

Stay away from sleeping pills. When I say sleeping pills, I mean anything you take that sedates you so that you can sleep. Whether it’s alcohol, Nyquil, Benadryl, Valium, Ambien, or what have you, these substances greatly disrupt your brain’s natural sleep process. Have you ever noticed that sedatives can give you some really strange dreams? As you sleep and your brain removes harmful toxins, it cycles through an elaborate series of stages, at times shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams). Sedation interferes with these cycles, altering the brain’s natural process. Anything that interferes with the brain’s natural sleep process has dire consequences for the quality of your sleep, and you need adequate, quality sleep to avoid burnout.

Get organized. Much of the stress we experience on a daily basis doesn’t stem from having too much work; it stems from being too disorganized to handle the work effectively. When you take the time to get organized, the load feels much more manageable.

Take regular breaks during the workday. Physiologically, we work best in spurts of an hour to an hour and a half, followed by 15-minute breaks. If you wait until you feel tired to take a break, it’s too late—you’ve already missed the window of peak productivity and fatigued yourself unnecessarily in the process. Keeping to a schedule ensures that you work when you’re the most productive and that you rest during times that would otherwise be unproductive.

Lean on your support system. It’s tempting to withdraw from other people when you’re feeling stressed, but they can be powerful allies in the war against burnout. Sympathetic family and friends are capable of helping you. Spending time with people who care about you helps you to remove yourself from the stresses of work and reminds you to live a little and have fun.

Bringing It All Together

If these strategies don’t work for you, then the problem might be your job. The wrong job can cause burnout in and of itself. In that case you’ll have to decide what’s more important: your work or your health.

How do you beat burnout? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, TIME, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

If you’d like to learn how to increase your emotional intelligence (EQ), consider taking the online Emotional Intelligence Appraisal® test that’s included with the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 book. Your test results will pinpoint which of the book’s 66 emotional intelligence strategies will increase your EQ the most.

No matter who we are, or where we were born, each of us has an absolute right to a fulfilled life, and to achieve our goals. An equal right to a life without prejudice and constraint. Those who have, or have had mental health disorders have just the same rights.

During the course of their lifetime, many will face challenges. In fact so many will encounter mental health disorders at some point in their lives, that is should be treated as being normal. Normal as in, it can happen to anyone. Normal as in, it will likely affect about 25% of the population at one point or another in their lives. Being as “normal” as it is, it is important that those affected can achieve their goals and live their lives in a fulfilled way.

If you or someone you know is affected by a mental health issue, do seek help. With the correct guidance, it is possible learn to overcome the obstacles that appear to be in the way. By addressing the root causes, and learning how to cope with and manage what is affecting you, you can be empowered to achieve what you want to achieve.

Aspire Counselling – book an online or face-to-face counselling session, and get instant confirmation of your appointment at https://aspirecounselling.net

For further details email info@aspirecounselling.net or call 65 6570 2781

Relationships are shown to be the key to a happy life

Did you know, there are a number of practical strategies you can use to increase your psychological wellbeing. One such strategy is to nurture relationships.

Research suggests that personal relationships have the greatest impact on your satisfaction with life. Try to dedicate time and energy into nurturing relationships with your friends, family or co-workers this week!

This above first appeared on Black Dog Institute

Relationships are repeatedly highlighted as being key to a happy life. Yet we so often neglect them and under invest in them. Aspire Counselling specialises in Couples Counselling and Relationship Counselling and can support you in maintaining a successful and dynamic relationship. Whether you are focused on growing your relationships with friends, family or colleagues we can help.

You can visit our website to book an online counselling or face to face couples, relationship counselling session with us. http://aspirecounselling.net

Contact Aspire Counselling at info@aspirecounselling.net or call 6570 2781 to find out more about our services for men, women, adolescents, couples, families and corporates.