Guest Author - Sarah Counter, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist with Outlook South West
Have you wondered why cows have 4 stomachs? They belong to a group of animals called ‘ruminants’. They ‘chew the cud’ and go through several processes to repeatedly break down their complex food sources. They are what is known as ‘ruminates’.
Do you have expectations that are unrealistic? The late psychologist, Albert Ellis, said, “there are three musts that hold us back: I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy." These expectations may look reasonable enough. However, if you hold them too tightly they really can hold you back.
Change is inevitable. It can also be unsettling. It is also part of life. Why do so many of us do get angry when things change? Firstly, change often take us by surprise. We aren’t ready for it. In the words of Baz Luhrmann, “The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday”.
Some people are really down on themselves. They seem to have a constant nagging voice that is always being self-critical or planting a seed of doubt in whatever they do. This constant doubting and self-denigration makes a person anxious and miserable.
In stressful moments we have no control over our racing heart, our surge in blood sugar, or the levels of stress hormones in our body. However, there are two things which can counteract the levels of anxiety which we do have control over. Firstly, taking slow, deep, ‘belly’ breaths can slow our body’s anxious state. The second thing we have control over is our smile.
Last year I hit the grand old age of sixty and I have to say it knocked me somewhat. Reaching forty and fifty had hardly touched me. But I wasn't ready for sixty. This got me thinking about the psychological aspects of growing old.
Do you recognise the phrase, ‘Put some elbow grease into it’. It generally implies that your efforts are a bit lacklustre and you need to apply a more oomph.
Now, as a psychologist, I wonder whether we need to apply some ‘elbow grease’ in our life. Do we expect the good things in life to be delivered on a plate? Do we give up too easily? Does modern life make us too soft?
Why is committing to exercise so hard? We all know that it will make us happy, reduce stress, improve our health and prolong our life. Even though it is a real ‘no-brainer’, many of us struggle putting it into practice.
Can you get through a whole day without complaining? I don’t mean the justifiable protest at getting shoddy service or goods. Instead, I mean the more day-to-day moaning and whinging about other people or the world in general.
We all have the potential to make tiny changes in our lives. From building fitness, to learning a language or how to dance, through to practicing meditation or yoga. The possibilities are endless.
Have you noticed the big increase in articles in the media telling us “how to be happy”? It’s a great idea but there are some problems to consider. Firstly, aiming for short term pleasures can bring happiness, but this can soon fall flat and often brings a heap of unwanted long term side effects.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder is the name we give to people who worry too much. Now, everyone worries, but an estimated eight percent of us, or 36,000 adults in Cornwall, worry so much that they lose sleep and feel physically ill with worry.
How often do you experience a real sense of gratitude? This can be either having a sense of being grateful for just being alive or being thankful to others around you for what they bring to your life.
Depression, unlike ordinary sadness, is something that we can’t just snap out of. It is a life-sapping condition that takes a heavy toll on our ability to live a normal life. And unfortunately it is on the rise and, at a conservative estimate, will be affecting 20,000 adults in Cornwall this year.
Whichever way you look at it, getting older in years is a process involving an inevitable steady decline. That’s the bad news. Is there any good news? One good thing is that many large scale studies would suggest that, on average, levels of happiness and contentment can rise as we get older. We tend to savour and appreciate life’s precious moments.