Hope and possibility are always there

When in the midst of winter the snowdrops start to flower, as they are here now, there’s a sense of the first shoots of spring whilst it’s still being cold and grey, like an image of hope and possibility for us. It can seem for some that all there is is grey when in reality new beginnings are already there. Spring buds are already forming. Daffodil shoots are growing. The cycle of nature is already in action for the next opening to its own magnificence. As they say, behind the clouds the sun is always shining. Having hope and possibility … Read more

Psychological pain and suffering are not necessarily illnesses

With yet more signs of increasing stress, depression and anxiety amongst many people, it can be quite tempting to cast it as the spread of “mental illness” in society were it not that this term can be highly misleading. It is therefore heartening to read of highly-placed people cautioning against the over-use of the term. The “medical model” is a common approach to pain and suffering, treating conditions like depression and anxiety as “mental illnesses”, with the implication that they can be “diagnosed” and “treated” with medication. Psychiatry is typically based on this approach, although not all psychiatrists would agree … Read more

Happiness may not be the best goal to pursue

Attempts by governments to foster happiness in the population seem to have been hitting resistance. This is not only because of the well-known tendency of the population to tire of particular regimes over time and look for a change but also that the very happiness agenda itself has been controversial. It’s been pointed out that an over-strong emphasis on happiness as a desirable quality can actually have a dispiriting effect on those for whom being happy is something they are really struggling with. Even the supposed champion par excellence of happiness, Dr Seligman, has in his latest book Flourish moved … Read more

Weathering the depression in our minds to find new light

Sitting in a local Costa Coffee, I’m watching the rain pouring down. While no doubt typical in meteorological annals for May, it must be depressing to experience this day after day. People’s moods can seem to be linked to the weather, and prolonged bad weather may seem to contribute to depression, as a return to sunny weather can lift people’s spirits. So too can the sheer effort of getting about and doing things when faced with getting an utter drenching may seem to contribute to stress, let alone the prospect of being flooded out. While there’s a debate as to … Read more

Feeling overloaded by data

Feeling overloaded by data is a widespread phenomenon that’s having a big impact on people’s work lives, and one might even add personally too, as with stress, anxiety and depression. Do you find your self feeling overwhelmed with the mass of tasks, activities and areas of focus you need to attend to on your computer? Like you know you have to make a call shortly and yet you’ve just had an email about something you’re doing that’s gone wrong and you can’t find the relevant file. Then there’s a text from someone close to you and someone has just dropped … Read more

Our sad times can have something to teach us

Today is sometimes referred to as “Blue Monday“, on account of it being apparently the saddest day of the year, or so it has been dubbed. It is said that the gloss of Christmas and the New Year has faded, people have debts to pay off and pay day is still a while off, it’s a long time till the next public holiday, the nights are dark and seemingly go on forever, we some of us don’t get much sunlight on our skin and thus not enough vitamin D, and other aspects of winter. Not surprisingly there are those out … Read more

When the chill descends, our hearts are warm

As I write, there is a clear blue sky outside and the air is frosty, with a white sheen covering everything. Snow is forecast for northern and eastern England and winter seems truly upon us, earlier than “usual.” There’s a way that when winter sets in, we retreat inside, physically and metaphorically. We close the shutters to keep out the cold and we protect ourselves from that which we don’t like. There’s also a psychological shutting down, as though the spirit retreats and closes in on itself. I have already commented before that winter is a time when those who … Read more

Reaching a crisis or a turning point in your life

What might need to happen for you to trigger a re-evaluation of your life? Often it’s some form of mid-life crisis – except it seems this is now happening to much younger people. It is being suggested by a recent survey that people’s “mid-life crisis” even starts as early as the mid-30’s, due to work and relationship pressures. It is being said that the age group 35-44 is more prone to feelings of loneliness or depression. Traditionally such a crisis was associated with the 40’s age group but the research found that it is starting earlier. This fits with our … Read more