Exercise improves mental health

Ladies Doing Exercise in the 1920s_eleoscounselling_depressionuk

What the experts say

Relaxation is good for the mind; it helps de-stress. But going to the gym can have a similar effect. The BACP, the British Association for counselling and  psychotherapist, issued a statement last year stating that people who exercise three times a week are less likely to suffer from depression. Furthermore, if one does suffer from depression exercising three times a week can have a marked effect on any recovery.

The bodies antidepressant


It is a well-known fact that the brain produces its own antidepressant endorphins or happy hormones. Endorphins are a powerful antidepressant with no’s side effects.

The Royal College of psychiatrists has an interesting web-page ;I have put a link to the bottom of this page.

Their findings suggest that exercising helps you sleep better; you be less anxious and able to concentrate as one of the many benefits of regular exercise.

Anybody who exercises regularly  will know the enormous sense of well-being one gets and the feeling of being more energetic.

Benefits for people with PTSD

There is evidence to suggest that, when one focuses on one’s body when exercising this helps your nervous system become more mobilized. Having a nervous system stuck in neutral is one of the symptoms people with PTSD often report.

Paying attention to one’s body and the way is working and being aware of one’s muscles joints, and movement is one way of putting the nervous system back into gear.

There is no suggestion by any of these leading authority that one should go out and start running marathons. If you don’t have time 10 to 30 minutes of exercise regularly, certainly have major benefits to your mental health.

Often having a negative self-image is one of the symptoms of depression. Exercise not only has physical benefits, but there’s also a sense of being more in touch with one’s body, through the process of physical exertion; one notices one joint more, muscles.

Support system

In the height of depression,  it is often said one feels that one cannot face the world. Exercising alone can have its benefits, but what if one starts to exercising groups, there’s the added advantage of meeting new friends and thus increasing your support network, to help you in those times when you cannot meet the world.


One of the fears people who suffer from panic attacks is breathing heavily, so some forms of exercise may increase certain anxieties. This doesn’t mean that one cannot take regular exercise. Yoga, tai chi, and mindfulness meditation, also play their part in increasing your well-being.



Now that summers here it’s time to dust off those running shoes, put on some Lycra, and exercising at least three times a week.

An act of kindness in a hard-nosed world.

Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863It Is often thought that we have to be hard-nosed to be successful in this world. Often people perceive kindness as a form of weakness and vulnerability. Nothing could be further from the truth. An act of kindness signals an incredible inner strength that is often never fully appreciated by others.

The story goes that Abraham Lincoln was hosting a dinner party at the White House. One of his guests poured his coffee into his saucer and blew on it before drinking. I’m sure you can imagine the fine ladies and gentlemen seated nearby were horrified at this social faux pas. Nevertheless, the story goes that, for a moment, the room was filled with an embarrassing silence.

Amazingly Lincoln took his own coffee poured it into his saucer and for the rest of the evening drank it straight out of the saucer, surprisingly everybody in the room followed suit. Therefore, one small act of kindness saved the White House guest an unbelievably embarrassing situation. This thoughtful gesture of one of America’s finest if not the finest president sets an example of kindness.

An act of kindness in life

It wouldn’t be surprised find out you never heard of Stephen Grellet, a French-born Quaker who died in 1855, a relatively minor historical figure except for these few lines which are likely to be remembered forever “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I do or any kindness that I show to any human being let me do it now”.

Who can you be kind to today?

Each day we have an opportunity to show a small act of kindness to people whether it’s spending a moment talking to someone and asking them how they really feel, rather than be satisfied with a “fine”.

Painkillers may give help to people with suicidal thoughts.

PANews BT_P-14c26646-8ab4-49bb-abc5-6a5e61e6bbdb_I1A recent article in new scientist magazine suggests research undertaken by a joint team of scientists working in America and Israel, have had some success in helping with clients overcome suicidal thoughts. The participants in the study were given painkillers (buprenorphine). The research suggests that there is some improvement in people’s thinking.

In this small study carried out in the US, by this joint team, participants were given the painkiller buprenorphine, because the low risk this carries from an overdose, also, the doses were kept low to carry less risk to the participant. Preliminary results show that people improved their mood on pain relief medication and were able to cope adequately with life.

It is thought that buprenorphine act on a number of opioid receptors in the brain, scientists of unsure which receptors exactly, but there is a promise that giving suicidal patients buprenorphine, may stave off the thoughts of taking their own life’s.

As yet GPs, psychiatrists and mental health professionals have nothing to help clients with suicidal idealization. This research may help thousands of people in the UK. The idea of a pharmaceutical which patients with suicidal thoughts could take to quell these suicidal thoughts has been asked for over 20 years by mental health professionals. Although this research is in its infancy, it certainly shows promising’s signs.

According to the phone helpline charity, the Samaritans   4,722 people in the UK took their own life in 2013, with the largest figure being in the male population at 3,684.

Suicide biggest killer of men between the age of 18 and 34, according to the Samaritans figures.


Love the most enduring thing.


Sad passing

Within the last week, I was to hear about the sad passing of a childhood friend’s father, he had been unwell for a short time, finally passing away, after a short stay in hospital. It may be a sign of my age, but I’m attending more funerals than I am weddings, these days. The man in question really invested in his family, particularly taking an active interest, in my friend’s hobby.

I’d often wish my own father was like this, actively engaging with his sons and having a common bond with them, such as a hobby.

Recently I have been struck by a posting that has been put on Facebook. Which was a copy of the last words of Steve Jobs, the Apple supremo. In which he talked about his work, his wealth and his fame as being worthless, realising that his own pursuit of wealth had made him, what he calls a “twisted being”. Jobs talks about love being the most enduring things, in life.

Paraphrasing Jobs, he talks about material things being lost, but the only thing that will endure is love.

Investing in family

My friend’s father invested in people, particularly his sons. He was a very practical man, but always had time for people.

In 1924 Bill Havens were almost guaranteed to win an Olympic gold medal for canoeing in the Paris games. Nevertheless, with this in mind, he was to learn that his wife was likely to give birth to their first child, whilst he was away competing. His wife was keen for Bill to attend the games, but Bill didn’t want to miss the birth of his first child. Bill was to stay at home and watch his first son Frank being born. There were times when he wondered whether he would have achieved his gold medal, but never regretted seeing the birth of his first child.

Just like my friend’s father, Bill poured his life into his son. After 24 years the Olympic Games were being held in Finland. This time it was Bill’s son Franks turn to compete for the gold medal, in canoeing. Frank was to telegraph bill with this message “thanks for waiting around for me to be born, I came home with the gold medal”.

 Are you neglecting family?

For Bill Havens family always came first. As with Steve jobs, Bill Havens realised that accolades tarnish, the same way the gold medals do. Are you neglecting your family today? If so think about it, neglecting them may have grave consequences?

Maybe it’s time to live life like every day was our last?

eleoscounselling_making each day count

Life with purpose.

Undoubtedly, Prof Stephen Hawking has one of the most brilliant minds. He has often been compared to Albert Einstein. Unfortunately, Prof Hawkins has a degenerative disease called motor neuron disease, which is left him virtually paralysed, his famous talking computer has become his voice, and is now instantly recognisable because he is now unable to speak. Fortunately, technology has given Prof Hawkins a way of communicating his brilliant thoughts to the world. Nevertheless, before he became ill, he described his life as pointless, that’s right! Before he became ill, Prof Hawkins, one of the most brilliant minds, to have lived, called his life pointless.

It has been well documented that he drank too much and did very little work, but on discovering that he had perhaps a few years to live Prof Hawkins suddenly became focused, his life suddenly had a meaning.

The meaning of life?

Victor Frankel a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps and eminent psychotherapist, in his book man’s search for meaning says this “for the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day-to-day and from hour to-hour what matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning for a person’s life in a given moment”.

One can often lose touch with what life actually is. If we lived each day as if it was our last, the simplest things would have more meaning. We often overlook the most important things in life in pursuit of personal goals such as money in the bank, a bigger house, bigger car, and a glittering career.


If we were to live as each day was our last, the laughter of the child, a beautiful sunset, the company and love of friends and family or just walk in the woods, would have so much more meaning. It is often said, that the most miserable people in the world those who believe that they have an entitlement; that life owes them something. On close observation, a person like this never seems to be happy, because they never believe they are getting what they deserve.


The Dalai lama in his book the Art of Happiness makes an interesting comment saying that the “true antidote for greed is contentment”.

 Making each day count.

As we come to the close of the year, maybe it’s time to consider what things are precious to us, it is often at New Year that we re-evaluate our lives, and make resolutions for the New Year, perhaps one of those could be making each day count?


Is it time you de- stressed ?????

Christmas; a tifogme for re-evaluation, and de-stressing?

Christmas and New Year is often a time when we take a good look at what happened the previous year. Also, it’s a time when we rest, and spend time with our family. But for some this is not so.

As we fast approach the Christmas season, we thought it may be good to look at tiredness, and how there are two distinctive types.

The two types of tiredness are not too dissimilar to different types of clouds, the large clouds you see on a sunny day, or spring clouds bringing rain. The other is the type of cloud that predicts a storm front or sometimes bad weather, high winds, and all too frequent hurricane force winds.

The first type of tiredness is normal, it’s temporary and it comes after you finished a good job. Furthermore, after a time of rest, you bounce back ready to go again.

The other type of tiredness is a type of chronic fatigue, this builds up over many months, of stress and strain. Unfortunately, this type of fatigue doesn’t manifest itself as exhaustion. In fact, it is often masked by frantic activity, alongside impulsive behavior. Here are some of the signs to look out for.

Six warning signs that you’re stressed, and need to rest.



  1. If You or someone you know is finding it difficult to relax over a meal or coffee. They may be a sense that the person has to get on with something, but seems to lack direction or planning.
  2. If You or someone you know is finding themselves checking and rechecking emails, constantly looking, at their mobile phone tablet or laptop.
  3. If Your office desk, or workplace is piled high with literature, that you are about to read, designed to keep, you or someone you know one step ahead of their competitors, but it never seems to get read.
  4. If You or someone you know is not having time off, as it seems impossible to have a break or they may be constantly keep putting off having days off work.
  5. If You or someone you know may be having trouble sleeping.
  6. If You or someone you know, has spent any time “escaping” this may be drinking, eating too much mind sitting watching television.

If any of this sounds familiar? Then maybe it’s time you took some time off and re-evaluated.


Stresses is like boiling a frog


The truth is that stress is rather like boiling a frog, if a frog is put in a boiling pan water, it will jump straight out. The frog knows it’s hot and has enough sense to jump out of the boiling water. But if you put a frog lukewarm or tepid water, put it on the stove and slowly turn the gas up the frog and stay there till its boiled alive.

Stress can be quite like this, sometimes we don’t know we’ve been stressed or tired until we have a break.  Sometimes we can be poisoned by the belief that we are doing good things by working hard, but actually there is a point of diminishing odds.


Overindulging at Christmas: is your brain fooling you?

overindulgence at Christmas_eleoscounselling blog



As we are fast approaching the season for overindulgence, overeating and over consumption of alcohol. We thought it would be good to look at how food alters your mood.

Latest research in mood and food


It has been well recognised and researched, that certain foods, can alter your mood, but how much of that is actually true? In recent research published by Prof Kathy Magnusson at Oregon State University.

Prof Magnusson’s research has found that feeding animals, a sugary diet can cause changes in their gut bacteria, Prof Magnussen found that there is a direct correlation to cognitive ability- the ability to adjust to changing situations, and diet.

The significance of this is important, as your gut bacteria, actually weighs as much as your brain. It has been postulated that these microbes can actually affect your mind. Research carried out, using rats and mice, found that when rodents were fed a particular food type (a broth), containing a microbe that is linked to reduced signs of stress and anxiety It was found that the mice show less signs of stress, the more signs of well-being; this particular microbe is known to release an anti-anxiety neurotransmitter GABA.

Two reward systems, in food consumption: one based on mood the other based on want

Scientists have found that we have two basic systems, regarding food one of them is hunger, the other one is reward, the hunger system, is generated by hormones from your gut, and from fat cells, which sends information to your brain, telling your brain that you are hungry. Conversely, the reward system is more concerned with the type of food you eat, the key to this is a dopamine pathway which seems to respond more strongly to foods which are high in fat and sugar, scientists postulated this is because historically, certain types of food would only be available at certain times of year, and the and sister would stock up on, high calorific foods knowing that it would be unavailable later on in the year. Unfortunately, our modern environment, has an abundance of such types of food high in fat, sugar and calories. When studied in an MRI scanner, researchers found that certain areas of the brain light up when certain foods are offered, these are usually high in calories and thus greater activity in the brain’s reward center.

Do your genes predict that you will be obese?

An interesting byproduct for these studies, is that scientists now have discovered that the hunger and reward system are not too dissimilar, as there is now a growing awareness of how interconnected they are. Genetics has a lot to do with, our propensity to overeat, maybe something to do with a gene called FTO; strongly linked with weight gain. Scientists predict that there is a 70% increase in becoming obese should this gene be present in a person.



A recent study also showed that people with a higher level of a hormone called ghrelin, which is released by the gut, when we become hungry, also has a great deal to do with increased weight gain. The study found that, an increased level of this hormone, tells the brain that you’re still hungry, even after you’ve eaten.

MRI studies of this group, with increased levels of hormones, of found something quite startling, in that, this group of people’s brains responds differently when they show pictures of food, with increased activity in the reward area of the brain; the reward pathways and these people have been shown to be weak. Thus the drive to seek out more and more food.

Think again before overindulging

So, at this time of overindulgence, is interesting to bear in mind whether you are actually hungry or not, or is your brain fooling you.



The true cost of couples/relationship therapy

On average 120,000 couples divorce, in the UK every year. This would be no surprise to most, but what if those couples had gone to couples therapy, before they started legal proceedings?



The financial cost of divorce and the price of couple’s therapy


The cost of the court alone is £340, with legal fees averaging around £1200, and that’s if there’s no property involved. This figure can escalate if the couple, argue about parental access and who sees the children when and where, and who owns what as far as property is concerned.

On average couples therapy will cost £60 a session. You may say this is expensive, but looking at the cost above, one would say that it’s worth a try before you and your husband or wife embark on divorce proceedings.

Often couples do not have what is called irreconcilable differences, just a difference of opinion. This easy to forget when lawyers get involved that the couple once loved each other, and thus could fall in love again, with each other.

Simply talking to someone about your relationship.

Is often found in couple’s therapy that simply talking to someone that’s not emotionally involved and is non-judgemental, helps the couple to think clearly about their relationship, and map out a new direction going forward. Furthermore, if the couple and up splitting often, therapy allows for all the unfinished business, the couple may have, to be aired.

Of course, if there are children involved, then there’s the emotional wrench of one of the partners leaving the family home, it would be unjust and unfair to put a value on this, but the emotional pain alone, could be avoided, may be, if the couple came to couples therapy.


Returning back to the financial cost, simply doing the maths, if the couple were to have six sessions of couple therapy at £60 per session that’s £360, if a couple get divorced the court fees alone are £340. In the cold light of day, it is surely worth giving couples

therapy a chance.

How long does couples therapy take?

It may be that the couple stay longer, in therapy than six sessions, anecdotal evidence suggests that couples that do have more than six sessions, have a relationship that can be repaired, and differences that can be overcome.

How do I get couples therapy?

If after reading this you feel that you and your partner may need couples therapy, then there are many online directories of local councillors, who can offer couples therapy.



Can birth order dictate your chances in life?

The idea of, your place in your family dictating your chances in life, re-emerge with several new studies, looking into the effects of birth order, in families.

sibling rivalry_eleoscounsellingFamily order nature or nurture?

Francis Galton, a half cousin of Charles Darwin, first coined the phrase “nature or nurture”. Galton, in 1874 suggested that it was only the firstborn sons that would exclusively, become England’s finest scientists. This may well in the case in Galton’s time. Indeed, firstborn sons would always be the air to any title, money or land in the 1800s. Indeed, if one had been born a first son one may have been raised with a sense of entitlement, to such things, not so today?

Family order dictates your mental health?

One such study looking at the effects of birth order looked at survival rates; one only has to look at the animal kingdom to see that birth order can often have life or death consequences. A study carried out in Norway, which looked at 600,000 people, discovered that the oldest sibling is a greater risk of committing suicide than his or her sibling, with the likelihood of suicide greater in men than in women.

Sibling ranking and IQ?

A further study carried out of 250,000 Norwegian army conscripts, found that the eldest brother in a sibling group has a 2.3 higher average IQ, compared to his younger siblings. An interesting caveat to this study, is the research carried out by Petter Khristiansen, at the University of Oslo. He looked at males whose older brother had died. He found that this affects the IQ ranking of the surviving, next in line sibling; the study’s results suggested that when one moves in sibling ranking, ones IQ rises. Khristiansen, suggests in his study, that this is something to do with University places.

Family order even makes a difference in your  Immune system!

Furthermore, a study carried out by Matthew Perzannowski at the University of Columbia in New York, found that children, aged between four and five, with older siblings, are less likely to go to the emergency room due to an asthma attack, it is thought that a principle called hygiene hypothesis occurs, in effect being exposed to viruses, bacteria and fungus in early childhood may increase the immune system, effectively younger siblings more exposed to pathogens, brought into the home by older brothers or sisters, thus less prone to allergies than their older family member.


Retail therapy? The truth about shopping addiction.

There’s no such thing as a shopaholic right?



You will often hear people call themselves Shopaholics but what actually is a Shopaholic? Although it’s not classified, as an addiction, in the DSM 5, (diagnostic and statistical manual revision 5; the Bible, for medical, and psychological illness.)  There is certainly some evidence to support, the idea of compulsive shopping as an addiction, so much so, that the DSM, may have cause to reclassify their diagnosis.

Oniomania, or shopping addiction, is considered to affect 8% to 6% of UK adults, that’s approximately 8 million people. The idea, that shopping addiction affects women more than men, is supported by research. Nevertheless, if you include, sports equipment, electronic gadgets and computer accessories and software, etc., there is also a prevalence of addictive shopping within men.

The popular idea of shopping being therapeutic, and the idea of being a Shopaholic as something humorous, soon falls away when you consider the real consequences of this compulsive behaviour. Often, the addict is left with crippling debt, severe depression and anxiety. More often than not, as with other addictions, the person with the shopping addiction will start to lose the respect of their loved ones, because of their addiction. Thus increasing their sense of loneliness, which in turn causes the Shopaholic to re- engage in negative or addictive behaviours.

So what drives, shopping addiction?

As with some other addictions, shopping is an easing of negative emotions or psychological pain such as anxiety, sadness, worry and, indeed, loss and loneliness. Shopping, for the addict, as with other behaviours provides an escape, from those feelings which at times can be overwhelming.

Much like any addiction, purchasing and owning, material items, can make the addict feel complete, and give them a sense of euphoria that makes them feel “normal”.

A study carried out at the Tilburg University in the Netherlands found that often loneliness, is one of the key components, of addictive shopping, and tends to make people more materialistic; the study found, there may be a link between hoarding and compulsive shopping, but the two disorders are unique in themselves.

So what is the solution, to shopping addiction?

What’s the answer to shopping addiction, is it simply to reject the inherent need to accumulate material goods; fundamentally is our stuff really that important to us, as human beings?

Letting go of some material possessions is akin to a traumatic event, since for some people this is like letting go of a part of themselves. Disaster victims who have had their homes swept away, often report confusion of identity, in brief their possessions gave them a sense of self.

How do people with compulsive shopping, seek help?

So how does someone with a shopping addiction overcome the anxieties, and concerns of life, without compulsive shopping? Talking to professionals, such as a psychotherapist/counsellor can assist a person becoming, more in contact with themselves.

Often people, will follow the same pattern, having insight into breaking patterns in life is one of the key components, in psychotherapy/counselling.

Having someone to talk to, who is non-judgemental, is a completely unique environment, and one, that has helped thousands of people. This is fundamentally what counsellors/psychotherapists offer.

If any of the issues raised in this blog resonate with you then maybe it’s time to see someone, who can help you such as a psychotherapist /counselor.