Improving your Sleep

One of the most common underlying factors that can contribute to sleep difficulties is anxiety and stress, both of which can trigger anxiety and stress can be seen as potential triggers that disrupt sleep patterns and lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep. Many people may find themselves ruminating over recent events, future events, decisions to be made, filled with anxiety, dread, or restless.  

Understanding the link between anxiety, stress, and sleep can help people identify the root causes of their poor quality sleep.

If you want to improve your sleep, you might consider some of the following tips:

  • Consistency: Sticking to a regular sleep schedule will help to regulate your body's internal clock and can improve your quality of sleep.
  • Relaxation: Engaging in a calming bedtime routine can help you to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
  • Comfort: Creating a comfortable sleep environment for yourself, this can reduce any physical discomfort and promote relaxation for better sleep.
  • Reduce: Reducing activity on mobile phones, tablets, and other devices will give your brain a welcome break from the the blue light technology that disrupts your sleep patterns, including the speed of videos and information to your neural networks. 
  • Limitation: Try avoid drinks with caffeine and alcohol before you go to bed, this can prevent sleep disruption and improve sleep quality.
  • Stress-management: Managing stress through relaxation techniques can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation for better sleep.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can improve your overall health and well-being.
  • Patience: Improving sleep habits takes time and consistency, and it's important to be patient and persistent in order to see results.
  • Avoidance: Avoiding daytime napping can help get a better sleep at night.
Seeking professional help for persistent sleep problems or ongoing insomnia, may help improve overall quality of life.

Carol Duffy  

Trauma Treatment Planning - what is it?

The process of treatment and planning of therapy often involves three distinct phases, each with its own set of goals and interventions. These phases are:

  1. Stabilization Phase: The first phase of trauma treatment planning focuses on establishing safety, building trust, and stabilizing the individual's emotional and psychological state. The primary goal is to help an individual feel secure enough to begin processing their traumatic experiences. Interventions during this phase may include safety planning, mindfulness techniques, relaxation exercises, and education about trauma and its effects. 

  2. Processing Phase: The second phase of trauma treatment planning involves processing the traumatic experiences and memories. The goal is to help an individual gain a deeper understanding of what happened and how it has affected them, as well as to desensitize them to the trauma. Interventions during this phase may include, somatic psychology, sensorimotor psychotherapy, tracking the levels of arousal in the nervous system, cognitive restructuring,  and other trauma informed techniques.

  3. Integration Phase: The third and final phase of trauma treatment planning focuses on helping an individual to integrate their experiences into their larger life narrative, and to develop new coping skills and strategies to help them move forward. Moving from a place of survival to thriving. The goal is to help the individual feel empowered and able to resume normal functioning in their daily life. Interventions during this phase may include psychoeducation, addressing social supports, and integration of learning, including the link and balance between cognitive understanding, and somatic awareness.  

Trauma treatment planning is not a linear process, and individuals may move back and forth between these phases depending on their individual needs and progress. Trauma informed treatment is tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual.

Carol Duffy 

Anxiety : what is it ?

What is anxiety ?

Anxiety can be both an emotion and a feeling, depending on how it is experienced and understood.

From an emotional perspective, anxiety is considered a complex emotion that includes feelings of apprehension, fear, worry, and nervousness, among others. These emotions can be triggered by a variety of internal and external stimuli, such as stress, uncertainty, or danger.

From a more physiological perspective, anxiety can be experienced as a feeling or sensation, often manifested as a tightening in the chest or a feeling of unease in the stomach. This feeling may be accompanied by other physical symptoms, such as sweating, shaking, or rapid heartbeat.

Overall, anxiety involves both emotional and physical components, and it is considered a complex psychological response to a perceived threat or danger.

How can anxiety affect our day to day lives ?

Anxiety can have a significant impact on an individual's daily life. It can cause a range of physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and muscle tension, which can be uncomfortable and interfere with daily activities. Anxiety can also lead to difficulty concentrating, social and occupational impairment, and sleep disturbances, which can negatively affect a person's overall well-being. Avoidance behaviour, irritability, and negative self-talk and self-doubt are also common features of anxiety. Seeking support from a mental health professional can help individuals develop coping strategies, challenge negative thought patterns, and develop a greater sense of self-awareness and control over their anxiety.

Can psychotherapy help with anxiety ?

Psychotherapy can help with anxiety by providing individuals with coping strategies, relaxation techniques, and tools for managing their anxiety symptoms. Therapists can help individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns that contribute to their anxiety and provide support and guidance for gradually facing and overcoming feared situations. Additionally, therapy can help individuals develop a greater sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance, leading to improved emotional regulation and a greater sense of control over their anxiety.

Carol Duffy Psychotherapist 

Digital Detox

Online usage has soared over the last number of years, and even more so during COVID. During this period many people have moved aspects of their lives online. People no longer are just searching for information, but are shopping, working, socialising, accessing a vast range of services, including medical consultations and health care services.    

This increase of online activity, social media usage, and reliance on TV's, Laptops, Phones, Gaming Consoles, and a range of other devices has had a huge impact on the neurocircuitry of  our human brains.

Multiple studies have found strong links between heavy online activity, compulsive usage of devices and social media engagement, with an increased risk of anxiety, depression, loneliness, hyperactivity, sleep disruption, irritability, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts.

What can we do about this?  

Everything that we do become a habit, and if you are looking at your phone enough, it will become a habit. To changes habit, we need to break those habitual cycles with replacement behaviours and better coping strategies. 

Your brain is seeking reward, and will be invested in engaging in something that feels good. Start small and consistent, and begin with interrupting the old habit with the new habit you want to form. Habits are formed through repetition. 

If you find that you are constantly picking up your phone every time an add comes on tv, or there is a pause in conversation, put your out of reach of your hand. Maybe put it in a different room so that you have to get up and move to get the phone. Turn off some of your notifications, Delete some of your apps. Ask yourself,  is this adding to my life?

Watching too much TV or Gaming? Perhaps make a deal with yourself before you watch TV or turn on that Gaming Console, put a time limit on how long you are going to spend.  Perhaps you might set yourself a timer to help. Consider what you will do after the time is up: what else are you interested in? walking, reading, baking, listening or moving / dancing to music, spending time with your children, a pet, friends, gardening, stretching? 

Everyone has to start somewhere. Be consistent, and most importantly, is follow through. 

Finally, give your brain, eyes, and body a rest from the screens, be new, be you, with a digital detox.

Carol Duffy, Psychotherapist.

Life After Sports

The life of an athlete or sports person is filled with striving, momentum, excitement, career and being in the spot light. But what happens when you have to retire, whether through age, fitness, exhaustion, or injury.  The change can be dramatic, with many athletes struggling to adapt to regular life afterwards. 

Ceasing the demands of rigorous training, athletic performance and peak fitness, can leave anyone who has left their sporting career reeling from the experience of sudden loss.  The transition into a life that no longer requires the level of dedication, determination, and commitment, along with the loss of a community spotlight, can evoke strong feelings of depression, emptiness and an acute loss of identity. 

Athletes and Sports persons are often portrayed by the media as, being able to take on any challenge and to be mentally tough, leaving it difficult to speak about how life has dramatically change and the impacts on psychological and cognitive wellbeing. 

You have a right to get support like anyone else. 

Carol Duffy, Psychotherapist