Free online Connecting Circle
During the Covid19 pandemic, many of us are facing unprecedented changes and challenges. Anxiety levels are rising and taking care of our mental health has never been so important.
To support in building resilience and solidarity, I offer free online Connecting Circles, as a safe space to come together and share our experience, thoughts and feelings.
For more info on Connecting Circles, please visit my Circles page.
How can Coaching and Psychotherapy help during Covid19
The topic of mental health has risen in popularity over the past few years, from being a taboo subject for many, it has now become a one of the most common topics portrayed by the media in times of Covid19.
How can psychotherapy and coaching help you during a global crisis?
Unlike talking to a friend or family member, talking to a psychotherapist or life coach offers you the opportunity to discuss your thoughts and feelings with a professional practitioner who is external to the dynamics and situations that you are challenging you.
While it is important to recognise that psychotherapists and life coaches have different trainings, they will both support you in gaining further insight into a specific area of your life. In very general terms, psychotherapy usually focuses on more in-depth work, addressing your past to understand your present better while coaching focuses on your future and on how you can act differently in your present to achieve your future goals. Hence, in your work with a psychotherapist, you are not expected to know what the end goal of your sessions will be as sessions often have an exploratory nature. The therapeutic and coaching relationship both offer you opportunity to find your own answers and solutions and start dealing with difficulties more effectively.
By interacting with a psychotherapist or coach, you can gradually start seeing things from new perspectives and develop a sounding board for your deepest thoughts, fears and emotions. Psychotherapists and coaches will not spoon-feed you with answers or advice. They will support you in finding new answers to your questions by promoting self-reflection and deeper insight in relation to your behaviour and thought patterns. For this process to occur, it is important for you to find a therapist or coach who you feel you can trust, and who is going to be able to walk along side you while you venture on this rich and often complicated journey of self-exploration.
As most people will be avoiding contact as we face Covid19, accessing online therapy or coaching can be a very easy and efficient way to get support and invest time in yourself development.
If you’d like to learn more about the difference between coaching and therapy, you can read my article on how I combine creative psychotherapy and life coaching in my practice here, or visit Pebbles for more resources on therapy, coaching and wellbeing.
Date: 9th April 2020
Coping with change in times of COVID19
Managing anxiety in times of COVID19
Managing the anxiety that these uncertain times brings isn’t easy. Being forced to stay inside might sound like an introvert’s dream come true, but given the situation and that everyone is panicking, it’s far from a fun and relaxing time for anyone.
If you're feeling low and anxious due to isolation or drastic lifestyle changes, don't worry it's absolutely normal. Here are a few simple tips to maintain good mental health in the time of COVID19. For starters let’s give ourselves some credit, we're here and we're coping thus far. Let's take a few deep breaths and make space for some self-compassion. Then let's brace ourselves for what will be a time filled with challenges and possibly also great learning.
1. identify your stress triggers, this is key when dealing with the unknown and the anxiety that can come from it. Working out what stresses you out can help you anticipate problems and think of ways to solve them. Even if you can’t avoid these situations, being prepared can help you cope with them better. Keep a log of when you feel stressed or overwhelmed and what the situation was at that time. Once you know what is causing the stress you can make a plan to deal with it. Think of why certain things cause you stress and notice any recurring thoughts that trigger a stress response.
2. be aware of the effects of isolation, not being able to socialise as before and connect to people around you as much as you’d like is threatening our basic human nature. As humans we are social beings and isolation can be extremely detrimental for our wellbeing. To combat isolation call your friends, FaceTime, Skype them, rant, gossip, laugh! Engage with colleagues on non-work related topics on Slack, video calls, etc. Call your family and friends with some regularity — you’ll probably need it, and so will they.
3. build emotional resilience, create space in your routine for down time. Try to foster a balanced lifestyle and make time for activities you enjoy doing as much as possible. Get creative and use this time as an opportunity to do all those things that you've always said you needed more time to do. Here are just a few ideas: getting through your reading list, painting, trying out new recipes, taking online courses and boosting your knowledge and cv, meditate. Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help you gain perspective on issues and help you to feel calm, cool and collected. Regular meditation is proven to reduce stress and boost concentration.
4. organise your time, create (realistic) to-do-lists, always start with something you’ve already done and cross it out. This will make you feel good! Identify the best time of the day for you to focus on different tasks and use your time effectively. Try not to do too many things at once and remember to schedule in regular breaks. Reward yourself at the end of specific tasks with a pat on the back. Always do your best to keep personal and professional time separate so as to foster work/life balance.
5. finding balance, if you feel that your mental health isn’t in a good place, don’t be ashamed to share with your loved ones and if need be, seek professional help.
Following these tips will help you find ways to cope with challenging situations, whilst replenishing your sense of wellbeing. Finally, reminding ourselves that we can all do something to reduce the possibility of contagion can also support our sense of control in such times.
For extra info on the Coronavirus you can contact or read:
NHS 111 online coronavirus service NHS 111 Online - What to do coronavirus (COVID-19)
NHS Coronavirus advice for travellers
Government Action Plan
For a bit of humour and a few laughs click here
For bite size meditation click here
Author: Sarah Speziali, Chief Therapist at InsideOut
Date: 18th March, 2020
Top tips for working from home
Being a remote worker myself, I wish someone had told me the challenges that I’d be facing in stepping into such an exciting new professional dimension. As much as I love the flexibility and freedom it offers, I think we’d all agree in saying that it also can prove to be one of the most challenging experiences you’ll have to face in your career. Juggling the personal and professional aspects of one’s life in the same space, while managing your workload alone, without being able to bounce off ideas whenever you feel like it, isn’t something you transition into overnight.
So how can we make the most of the great opportunities remote working offers and also be mindful of the risks it can present to our wellbeing?
Remote working literally means you’re away from a place where other work is happening, you might be part of a remote team, be part of a remote company, or working from home due to the Covid19 pandemic, whatever is your case, the concept of remote work remains the same it implies a being away from somewhere or someone. This element highlights the biggest challenge remote working presents to our mental health: isolation.
As many people appreciate medium to high levels of regular human interaction, working alone and remotely can prove to be quite difficult to adjust to. In order to fully embrace the positives of remote working, it is key to pay attention to how your mental health and emotional health is responding to the transition into a remote role. If you feel a sense of emptiness in not connecting to people face-to-face, act swiftly and as early as possible to create opportunities to connect to others, even if virtually.
To prevent suffering from isolation in your remote working role:
Isolation is not the only challenge remote workers face. When you’re in the office working with colleagues or your boss, you always know when the working day is over. However when you work remotely, it’s harder to set time-boundaries and structure to how you’re going to tackle your workload. So how can we have a clear definition of done?
It’s important to remain flexible, while bearing in mind that having a clear structure to your day can really make a difference. It’s easy to check your emails in bed or let that last task drag all the way into your personal time at the end of the day, try to avoid this from becoming a habit. Setting clear boundaries is key to managing a work/life balance when working remotely.
Here are a few useful tips that will help you have a great remote work practice:
When to work?
Where to work?
People adopt a remote lifestyle for many reasons. By experimenting and asking for advice from others who work remotely, you may discover a side of yourself that's able to flourish due to newfound flexibility. Enjoy it and make the most of it!
Author: Sarah Speziali, Chief Therapist at InsideOut
Date: 9th April, 2020
Journaling during Covid19
The Covid19 pandemic has changed our lives dramatically and it’s completely understandable if we feel confused and overwhelmed at times. Writing your thoughts and feelings down is a great way to contain your sense of anxiety and gain a new prospective.
Journaling can help you maintain positive mental health and reduce your stress levels by providing a healthy way to express yourself. It helps you feel more in control and enhances your sense of awareness.
The focus when journaling compared to keeping a diary, is less on what you’re doing and more on how you are feeling during a specific period of your life.
Especially when dealing with stress, the act of writing helps as it requires cognitive and rational effort and hence helps to counterbalance those moments when we feel swept off our feet by the intensity of our emotions. Through writing your thoughts and feelings down you are allowing yourself to express what is alive in you and are making time to reflect on what you’re experiencing in the present moment.
Journaling can be used as a mindfulness activity, as well as a creative outlet.Going back and reading your journal can also help you notice triggers and details that you might have missed when you were in the midst of it all. In time you might also notice any shifts you’ve made, or any patterns of behaviour you weren't aware of or which you might wish to change.
Let's start journaling!
Writing regularly creates a space for self-reflection where you can more easily identify negative thoughts and behaviours. It supports you to prioritize, identify triggers and find ways to deal with them better. Once you’ve identified what you find challenging, you can more easily create a plan to solve the issues and enhance your wellbeing.
The pure act of writing will offer you an emotional outlet and will foster your creativity. You can also use your journal for drawings, doodles and collages. These are all great ways to relax your mind and enhance positive mental health.
Author: Sarah Speziali, Chief Therapist at InsideOut
Date 9th April, 2020