COUNSELLING BLOG

Posts tagged mental health

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The thing about life is that you must survive. Life is going to be difficult, and dreadful things will happen. What you do is move along, get on with it, and be tough. Not in the sense of being mean to others, but being tough with yourself and making a deadly effort not to be defeated.
Katherine Hepburn

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Some Interesting Facts on Personality

We each have our own personality – that unique part of us that makes us who we are. It affects every aspect of our lives - from who we date, to what we study, to what we like to do. So what do we know about personality?

1. Birth order can affect our personality: We discussed this a bit in a previous post. There are traits we associate with being a first born (being bossy, motivated, high achievers or more driven); with being a middle born (being friendly, people pleasers, and quite skilled negotiators); and being a last-born (being amusing, more laid back, and also less responsible). Empirical research supports these norms and trends.

2. There are Five Core Personality Traits: These are measures of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.

3. Personality remains stable through life: The research findings are less conclusive here. It may be that some core traits are less susceptible to change. However, traits which seem less fixed and less stable over time include anxiety levels, friendliness and eagerness for novel experiences.

4. Certain personalities are more prone to disease: There appears to be a link between one of the “big 5 traits” (neuroticism) and proneness to developing headaches, asthma, arthritis, peptic ulcers and heart disease. There is also a link between having a Type A personality (and, in particular, scoring high on the hostility levels) and developing cancer and heart disease.

5. Our personality affects our personal preferences: The impact here is surprisingly far reaching. It includes: our choice of friends and partner, our taste in music, our political preferences, our career choices, our preferred holiday destinations and so on.

6. People can tell your personality from your facebook profile: Interestingly, although you might expect people to project an ideal online identity, research indicates that facebook profiles actually tend to convey our real personality. Sam Gosling, a key psychologist and author, has explained this in the following way: “I think that being able to express personality accurately contributes to the popularity of online social networks in two ways …First, it allows profile owners to let others know who they are and, in doing so, satisfies a basic need to be known by others. Second, it means that profile viewers feel they can trust the information they glean from online social network profiles, building their confidence in the system as a whole.”

7. There are a number of factors that contribute to personality disorders: An estimated 10 to 15% of adults are diagnosed with at least one personality disorder in their lifetime. Factors contributing to the onset of these include: Genetics, relationships with family and peers, inheriting high levels of sensitivity, childhood abuse and experiencing a trauma.

8. Your pet may reveal your personality: Many people consider themselves to be either a “dog person” or a “cat person”? Research into pet preference and personality indicates that dog lovers tend to be more extroverted and greater people pleasers, whereas cat lovers tend to be more introverted and curious.

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How to Cope with Change

1. See it as a process, not a one time event. When you make a change in your life, there are lots of small adaptations to be made. It takes time to process and adjust to those changes – so be patient with yourself.
2. Change the way you think about change. Try to see it in a positive light. Even although there are lots of negatives and challenges, you’re likely to benefit in the end.
3. Face your feelings, and especially the negative ones. If you don’t, they’ll simmer beneath the surface and make it harder for you to cope. Feelings are neither good nor bad. They just are. If you feel bad, you feel bad!
4. Notice any areas where you have control as that will help you to feel less trapped or boxed in.
5. Pay attention to your thoughts and attitudes – and choose to look for the positives, and to frame uncertainties in a hopeful way.
6. Stay in touch with people who care, and can act as a support in this time of change.

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Effective Exam Writing Tips

1. Make sure you read and understand the Instructions: This is absolutely crucial. A lot of students are keen to rush ahead and so they quickly skim over the exam instructions. Then, later, they discover that they did it wrong! For example, do you have to do every question on the paper, or do you only have to select a certain number? Is there a penalty for guessing – so is it better not to guess? (For example, because you lose an extra point for each answer you get wrong).
2. Read through the exam and divide up your time accordingly: For example, make a note of the number of questions there are, and notice what the different questions are worth. This isn’t wasted time as reading through the questions will actually start to activate your memory. Then decide which questions will be easy, and which will take more time, and mentally allocate your time accordingly. Also, allow some time at the end to review what you have written, and do some corrections if you think you’ve made an error.
3. Work through each question systematically: Slowly read through the questions, and underline key words. Make sure you check to see if there’s more than one part. Make sure you’ve fully understood what you’re being asked to do then plan what you will do before you start to write things down.
4. Attempt every question: It’s better to do something than nothing at all. You might get a few marks for thinking along the right lines. If you’re running out of time, then resort to bullets points. You’ll cover more by doing that than writing complete sentences.
5. What if your mind goes blank? Take a few, slow deep breaths and try your best not to panic. It’s important not to let your anxiety take over. Take control of your thinking by reassuring yourself that will pass in a moment – and is natural in exams. Repeat true, positive thoughts like “you’ve worked hard and are ready” and listen for your breathing – as it starts to slow.
6. Review what you’ve written and make corrections if they’re needed: Leave some time to go over your answers at the end – but don’t change what you’ve written unless you’re sure it’s wrong. Also, look out for blank spaces, for question you have missed, and turn over the last page – in case there’s something at the end!

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Dealing with Feelings of Shame and Worthlessness

Shame is a deep-seated feeling and conviction that something is inherently wrong with us. And although this FEELS true it is based on faulty thinking, and is therefore something we can challenge and change. To break free … take one thought (such as I am defective, inferior, worthless or deserve to be rejected) and then ask yourself the following questions:

1. What convinces me this thought it true?
2. What is the evidence against it?
3. Is there one time or occasion when it hasn’t been true?
4. Why was it not true at that time?
5. What would someone who REALLY knew me and loved me say to contradict that negative thought (the thought that I am defective, inferior, worthless or deserve to be rejected)?
6. Who would I be, and what could I achieve, if I let go of that negative thought?
7. What’s the worst that could happen if I let go of that thought?
8. What is the best that could happen if I let go of that thought?

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