Are You Ready To Date Again?


Fed up being single?

Feeling lonely when you are single is common for many people. In fact, it’s normal at times. Do you find yourself alone and lacking compared to your doubled friends’ evenings together? Do you wish you also had someone to go running with, lie in with, or snuggle on the sofa with? It’s worth taking the time to ask yourself what you want. Really want. Do you want some fun with no commitment? Do you want something longer term? Or do you want Mr, Ms, or Mx Forever?



On the rebound?

It’s best to wait at least several months after a breakup before you start dating again. This gives you time to reflect on what happened in your last relationship. There are always lessons to be learned from what happened before and it’s good to give yourself time and space to think about this and talk it over with someone you trust.



Are you truly over your last partner?

Do you feel angry every time you think of them? Or do you still hold a torch for them? – privately hoping that you will hear from them and the relationship can be rekindled. Either way if you find yourself thinking of them often you may not be over them and it could be too early to start dating again. Chances are you will constantly be comparing any new people you meet to your last partner. Everybody is unique and when you are ready to appreciate someone very different from your last partner that’s a good sign. When you are happy single: you can enjoy your own company and time spent with friends and family you are in a healthy place and are ready to date again.



What do you want?

It’s important to be honest with yourself and work out what you are seeking. Once you’ve established what you are ready for at this stage of your life, you need to work out how you are going to find your match. Hook ups and someone for fun are easier to find and there are plenty of apps and websites which can help you find someone like-minded.


Many people meet their long-term partner online dating. It works, you will have fun, meet people and hopefully meet someone special. But before you get started it’s wise to think about some of the complications of dating.



3 Complications of Dating


  1. Dating Takes Time

Putting yourself out there takes time. You will need to write a profile and find or take some good pictures. Once your profile is live the work starts. You will need to view profiles and contact people. Getting to know them is time consuming. Be prepared to spend at least an hour a day communicating with people whilst you are actively looking. Once you start meeting people for dates it will take even more time out of your week. Dating can take up as much time as you choose, but it can feel like a full-time job at times, especially if you are focussed on finding a successful date over a limited number of months.


2. Dating Takes Energy

As well as time, dating takes energy. It’s best to leave launching yourself out there until you have the enthusiasm for it. You’ll need to have enough ooomph to be and sound interesting yourself and be interested in others. Also, you’ll need to have the vitality to care about how you come across, in personality and also in appearance, e.g., making some effort with your outfits. It’s good to understand that you are unlikely to find Mr, Ms, or Mx Right initially, so you are going to need energy and enthusiasm to stay in the game…


3. Dating Takes Resilience

Following on from needing energy and enthusiasm you are also going to need resilience. Dating is a numbers game, and it takes staying power. You need to realise that you are probably not going to meet your ideal future partner on your first date. There are bound to be knockbacks and rejections and disappointments. People do not always come across as they initially present themselves, which can be frustrating. I’m thinking of the guy who sports silver fox hair and plenty of laughter lines, but his profile photo showed brown hair and was taken several years ago.



It takes grit to keep emailing new people when you have been ghosted several times. It may begin to feel like work; like wearing the same outfit for all first dates to keep things simple. I’ve even heard of people who make a note of which outfit they wore for which date with which person to avoid repetition!


The Rewards

In essence, if you think you really want someone special and are willing to put in some effort and commitment it will be worth the effort. Just like dating, relationships, take a lot of time and commitment. So, getting good at dating can be great practice for getting good at being in a relationship. The rewards are high. Having a partner for fun, friendship, sex, support, and companionship is very rewarding for a lot of people. It may be hard work getting there but it can be well worth it in the end.


How to Manage Anxiety – in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Anxiety has risen exponentially since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and at times it can feel overwhelming. Everyone needs a certain amount of stress to get stuff done but when this anxiety becomes unmanageable, we need to act.


If you are suffering from one or more of the symptoms below you may be experiencing a period of anxiety.


Signs of Coronavirus Anxiety


  • sleeping badly


  • palpitations


  • panic attacks


  • constant worry


  • feelings of overwhelm and not being able to cope


  • prolonged headaches


  • ongoing constipation or diarrhoea


  • disturbing dreams or nightmares



If you experience a panic attack, then it’s important to focus on your breathing. You need to find ways to ground yourself and assure yourself that in this moment you are safe and well.


5 Ways to Recover from a Panic Attack:


  1. Breathe deeply
  2. Concentrate on your feet on the ground, move them, or stamp to feel into them
  3. Say the day and time out loud
  4. Describe what you see in the room you are in and why you are there
  5. Tell yourself that you are safe


Then focus on your breath and see if it has slowed down and you feel calmer, if not continue with the above until you do. As soon as you can, find someone you trust to talk with about what just happened.


With so many of us out of work or unable to carry out our usual activities in the pandemic we have more time than normal to worry about the pandemic and ruminate on it. Distracting ourselves and keeping busy are healthy ways to pass the time:


Ways to Keep Busy in the Coronavirus Pandemic


  • online courses
  • online fitness classes
  • crafting
  • baking
  • diy
  • reading
  • gaming
  • chats with friends and family
  • declutter and reorganise cupboards and drawers
  • make photo books
  • online dating
  • socially distanced dates
  • walks
  • bike rides
  • volunteer locally


anxious woman


Long term anxiety is concerning. It’s important to have routines, feel connected to people and have a reason to get up in the morning. This can feel challenging. It’s vital to be aware of how you feel and notice when you start to be anxious. Once we realise, we are feeling anxious we can do something about it.


6 Ways To Reduce Coronavirus Anxiety


  1. Take some deep breaths
  2. Spend time in nature
  3. Do something you enjoy eg read a book, watch a movie
  4. Take some exercise, preferably outdoors
  5. Talk to someone
  6. Practice daily mindfulness meditation


We need to be easy on ourselves. Many of us are exhausted and covid adds an extra layer of anxiety to other issues we may struggle with. It’s normal to have good days and bad days and even good and bad hours within a day. We need to give ourselves permission to allow that to happen and roll with it, whilst taking good care of ourselves.


How to be Kind to Ourselves Practically in the Pandemic


  • Take a bath
  • Listen to music
  • Nap
  • Dance
  • Watch comedy box sets
  • Watch daytime tv guiltfree
  • Curl up with a book


How to be Kind to Ourselves Emotionally during the Covid Pandemic


  • Practice saying no, when you feel overwhelmed
  • Lower your expectations for yourself and understand that your best is good enough
  • Be kind to others
  • Laugh, enjoy the moment
  • Reach out to others when you feel lonely
  • Focus on something positive, be grateful for anything you can think of


ways to manage coronanvirus anxiety


Working with Anxiety in Psychotherapy


Anxiety can also be a reaction to underlying issues that have been around for a long time.  For example, we feel anxious when we have an important work meeting coming up.

The immediate anxiety can be relieved practically by being very well prepared and organised and thinking through all the possibilities of the meeting and what that could involve.

But this may not be the end of the matter.  Anxiety can be a signal that something deep seated is troubling us.


Discovering the Root Cause of the Anxiety


Anxiety is often a reaction to underlying distress that has been around for a long time.  If we are able to explore what the underlying distress is about, we may be able to discover the root cause of the anxiety.


For example, reflecting on the above meeting scenario we realise that there is one member of staff that we find difficult to manage and who we try to avoid.


If we look deeper into this situation, we realise that we have a fear of confrontation generally.  Through talking in therapy we discover where our fear of confrontation comes from.  This gives us an understanding of our anxiety and fear of confrontation and a different perspective on it.


Going forward we can choose to behave differently in confrontational situations.  In time, the anxiety decreases, and we naturally become more confident.


Once the underlying distress has been uncovered and talked about it can reduce its power over us reducing the anxiety in the long term.


One Day At a Time

But for most of us it’s about getting through one day at a time. Finding something to make us smile every day. On a cold morning I passed 2 very old women 2 metres apart leaning up against the bank, coffee in hand, not talking but eyes closed, faces turned towards the sun, drinking in the warmth. For now, we need to take comfort where we can and hold onto the hope that eventually all things shall be well and there will be a life after this covid pandemic.



Christmas in the Time of Covid


The festive season can be challenging for many people but this year especially it will be difficult for most of us one way or another. We will have to make do with phone and video calls to stay in touch with people who we would normally be with. We will be posting presents rather than giving them in person this year.  Christmas parties are cancelled and celebration plans altered or abandoned altogether as guidelines and advice shifts daily. It’s a confusing and unsettling time and will be lonely and sad for many including those who are isolating, in an unhappy relationship, are bereaved or depressed. These feelings have been prevalent since March in the UK but they can be exacerbated at celebration times.


Things We Can Do


We can start by allowing ourselves time to work out how we feel.  This is always the first step to change.  This may take some time, especially for those of us who find getting in touch with our feelings difficult, but once we are aware of how we feel we can do something about it.



  1. Communicate.

If plans need to change or difficult choices need to be made about who to spend time with it’s best to let people know as soon as possible.  Talk things over and decide what you can manage to do, how you can do it and where you can do it.


  1. Prioritise Your Relationship.

If you are in a relationship give yourself time together away from the hectic run up to Christmas.  Boycott all Christmas talk and catch up with how you both are. Buy a take away meal or vat of popcorn and snuggle under the blanket on the sofa in front of a movie.


  1. Pamper Yourself.

Take some well deserved time out for you.  We need to be ok with ourselves before we are able to give to others.  Give yourself a chance to recharge your batteries.  Find an online yoga class, meditate, or just unwind in a hot bath with plenty of bubbles, candles and a glass of mulled wine.


  1. Get Enough Sleep.

Neuroscience proves that sleep is the body’s way of repairing itself.  Whilst asleep our brain restructures its connections making sense of the previous day’s information and storing it to memory.  Go to bed at your usual time as often as possible.  You will need all the rest you can get so that you can get everything done and still have energy left to enjoy yourself.


  1. Give Something Back.

Research shows that depression can be relieved by giving something back. Whilst this is more challenging in the pandemic it’s possible to check on an elderly neighbor, give more to charity or encourage children to choose a current toy they could give away to a charity shop to make some room for this year’s presents.


  1. Old Fashioned Fun.

Take the opportunity to switch off the technology for a few hours. Spend some quality time together, play board games, cards, go for a walk.


  1. Try Something Different.

As this year is going to be different in so many ways why not break the usual routines? Get rid of the need for washing up and book your Christmas dinner out or ring the changes and order a spicy Thai take away.


  1. Reflect And Resolve.

Reflect on 2020.  What has gone well and not so well for you?  Think about what you might do differently in 2021.  What steps can you take to improve your health, lifestyle and happiness?


The objective is to feel ok with who we are and what we do over the festive period.  Our time off is precious and we need to be true to ourselves this holiday, striking the right balance between celebrating and also making time to unwind and recharge after this difficult year.



Being Made Redundant


Losing our job or business can be devastating.  I am reminded of a poignant part of the film The Full Monty when we see the redundant manager of the steel works, Gerald, getting ready for work each morning, pretending to his wife that nothing has changed because he cannot face telling her that he’s lost his job.


Losing our job can affect us in many different ways: anger, shame, sadness, let alone worrying about the everyday practicalities of our new found situation and how we’re going to replace our lost income.


The practicalities obviously need sorting as soon as possible such as seeking legal advice, sorting mortgage or rent payments and applying for any benefits we may be entitled to.


However, the emotional side of our new situation also needs attention:





We may be in shock to begin with.  We may have known that our redundancy was coming up but part of us has denied it, not wanting to face the truth.  But when this happens in reality it becomes unavoidable, we have to accept it whether we like it or not.





Anger is a very natural reaction to our bad news.   We may be angry at our manager, boss, shareholders or the company who is taking us over.  It’s important not to take our situation personally.  If we are feeling angry then this is a good sign because it tells us that we are at the start of the grieving process.  It’s important to get in touch with these angry feelings, and feel them, whilst obviously not acting them out by becoming abusive or violent.  Exercise and being outside are great ways to relieve pent up feelings of anger and frustration. Get advice and support if you feel you have been unfairly treated but otherwise give yourself time and space to feel the anger and it will move on and turn into a different feeling.



Sadness and Regret


Once our anger begins to subside we may start to feel sadness and have some regrets.  We may wish we had time to finish a project we were involved in.  We may start to miss our colleagues and some of our daily routines.  This is very normal and to be expected.  Even the most stressful job will have had some aspects to it that we found fulfilling.  It is healthy to acknowledge this sadness and regret and to realise that there were parts of the job that we enjoyed.




Finally, we need to accept that this is the situation we are in now.  We need to use our support group to help us through this change and to share our plethora of feelings about what has happened. If anyone we know has gone through a similar experience their support can be especially helpful.  Then we need to begin to think about what we want to do next. What will be our next move?  How are we going to get started?  What help can we enlist to get us going?  In fact maybe losing our job can be a powerful opportunity to make positive changes in our lives.





Time alone is necessary for our mental well being. When we spend time by ourselves we are able to rest from the stresses and strains of everyday life, give ourselves the mental space to process our thoughts and then re engage with others in a more relaxed way afterwards.


However, during the pandemic many of us are spending more and more time alone and the number of people experiencing loneliness has risen dramatically. And it’s totally understandable.


Many of us are now working from home and missing face to face time with colleagues. Natural moments in the day we take for granted aren’t currently happening: times such as “water cooler chats”, having lunch breaks and laughs with work friends and catch up chats at the beginning and end of meetings.


As more of us need to self-isolate pressure is placed on increasingly anxious homes. Parents who are self-isolating, especially single parents, are finding it tough. There are no face to face opportunities to talk with adults during the day and we can begin to feel cut off from others and miss adult conversation.


A short period of loneliness can be managed but there is a tipping point at which the amount of time we spend alone begins to become unhealthy. A prolonged period of loneliness can lead to lack of self worth and esteem, lack of energy and apathy in daily tasks, reliance on technology for all forms of communication and depression. So it’s important to be aware of how we are feeling and to reach out for support if necessary.


Once we realise we are feeling lonely and it’s becoming uncomfortable it’s important to take action before it affects our mental health.


Here are some ways to tackle loneliness:


  • Get up, get fully dressed. Not just in lounge wear but dress as if you were heading outside for a purpose.


  • Find one thing to do each day which requires you to leave the house and feel more connected to the world outside


  • Find someone to talk with, maybe reconnect with people you haven’t been in contact with for a while, make a phone or video call to someone every day


  • Start a journal to get your thoughts and feelings out of your head to stop recurring negative thoughts


  • Get distracted: immerse yourself in a box set, comedy series or good book


  • Arrange a socially distanced walk or bike ride with a friend or family member outside your bubble


  • Spend some time day dreaming about what life will be like next summer when the weather is better and we’ll be able to go to more places and meet people more easily


  • Play your favourite uplifting music, and have an impromptu crazy dance whilst no one’s watching


  • Shop locally so that you can meet and speak with people, even if it’s just the shop staff


  • If you are finding your relationship intense or difficult book an initial session at Relate or find a couples counsellor to help you work out ways to communicate better in this difficult time


  • If you are recovering from a breakup be gentle on yourself and give yourself permission to recover


  • Spend quality time with a pet and/or children or hug a cuddly toy as a comfort


  • Take up a new hobby, language or course which will give you a new focus and where you may meet like minded people


It can be challenging to engage with others when a part of us doesn’t feel like it but remember we only need one person to talk with to reduce our loneliness. So start with a smile and a hello and see what happens……


SAD in Lockdown 2


Many of us are thrown out of kilter for a day or two when the clocks fall back. However, for some of us the loss of daylight hours can throw us off balance for a substantial amount of time and this can have a powerful effect on our mood.


What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is now a recognised condition for which GPs can prescribe medication. Shorter daylight hours can lead to an increase in natural melatonin in our bodies which can make us more drowsy and sleepy during the day. With less sunny days we are also exposed to lower levels of serotonin which may make us more lethargic than usual and cause us to feel down more often.


Research in the US has shown that 1.4% of people who live year-round in Florida are affected by SAD compared to a much higher 9.9% in Alaska.


What Can We Do About It?

  • Become aware of our energy and contentedness levels by tracking our sleep, moods, tiredness and libidos and comparing them to how they were earlier in the spring and summer
  • Keep active and get outside as often as possible
  • Eat healthily: comforting, warming soups and casseroles at the end of the day, consider investing in a slow cooker and do the preparation in the morning when you are feeling fresh
  • Buy a daylight lamp or a daylight alarm clock: 30 minutes exposure in the morning is recommended to compensate for the lack of sunlight during the winter months
  • Be kind to yourself: snuggle up under a blanket with a movie or boxset, enjoy a hearty roast dinner, or light the candles in the bathroom and have a bubble bath with a glass of your favourite tipple.


As much as we may want to escape to the sunshine to combat our SAD symptoms, it’s not possible for any of us at the moment so we need to make the best of what we have at home. Finding ways to embrace the winter and seeking contentment and moments of joy and fun whenever and however we can in our everyday lives should be our overall aim this winter lockdown.



The Colours of Life


During Autumn, in between the rainy spells, it’s good to get outside and appreciate the changing foliage around us. Autumnal colours are warm and earthy; the burgundy of a conker, the bright orange of pumpkin flesh and the rich browns and reds of falling leaves.


Colours are an important part of our life, whether they are in nature, our clothing, our home decoration or our food.


We choose colours for many different reasons, consciously and unconsciously. Darker, sombre colours for when we feel down or tired, a splash of red for confidence in our outfit for a job interview or date or shades of green as a relaxing colour for our living space.


The beauty of colours in nature can have a profoundly positive effect on us, lifting our spirits and grounding us in the here and now. As children we experience a rainbow as something very special. The story of Noah and the flood is important to Muslims, Jews and Christians alike and this year like at the end of the flood, we’ve seen the rainbow represent gratitude and hope in the pandemic.


Colours have been used to distinguish personality types. In Ancient Greece, Hippocrates categorised people into one of four personality types based on the proportion of their bodily fluids. By the early 20th century the psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Carl Jung had developed Hippocrates’ theory into four personality types based on colour. According to Jung, people’s personalities are, broadly speaking, either red, yellow, blue or green:


  • Red personality types are typically bold and ambitious


  • Yellow personality types are cheerful and positive


  • Blue personality types are typically more relaxed and calm


  • Green personality types are caring and hopeful


The Myers-Briggs personality test and the Insights Discovery Method are contemporary developments of Jung’s colour types which are used in corporate settings worldwide today. Personally, I think that someone’s personality is more complex than just being defined by one or two categories but such tests are useful places to start thinking more about our internal worlds and how we think, feel and behave.


As well as people’s various internal worlds of personality colour types we also have the external palette of our different coloured hair, skin and features. Diversity makes life interesting. As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life. By embracing all colours, in every aspect of our life, we live a richer and rewarding one.


Moving Home


Moving home is generally acknowledged to be a majorly stressful life event. Whether you’re moving into a rented house or buying your own home, moving house is always more involved than we first envisage.


The excitement and fantasy of living in your new home will fire you up with the necessary energy and bravery to begin with. Imagining your possessions around you in a new space can be exhilarating. However, the reality, commitment and gravitas of the process soon becomes apparent and begins to feel daunting. All sorts of unexpected events can create hurdles along the way and it’s important to keep things in perspective.


Here are some ideas for managing the stressful parts of moving home:

  • Give yourself more time than you think you will need for packing up your current possessions and furniture
  • Feel in control and know that you are an important cog of the wheel in the process, keep communicating and be assertive with estate agents and solicitors, if necessary
  • Be organized and keep designated folders for relevant paperwork and emails
  • Share out and delegate tasks so you know who is doing what and no one wastes time duplicating errands
  • Ask for help with responsibilities like viewings, packing, childcare and unpacking
  • Communicate daily with your partner / family / support network, try to restrict discussions about your move to one comprehensive catch up so that moving home doesn’t take over every other aspect of life.
  • Keep the move in perspective. Have quality time to relax and have fun – go for a bike ride, autumnal walk or have a family day out.
  • Pay for as much help as you can afford, such as: packing, moving and cleaning the old and new properties.
  • Factor in time to say goodbye to current neighbours and friends; it’s important to give good friendships the farewells they deserve, these relationships will inevitably change to some extent.

Here are two checklists to help you with the practicalities of moving: ‘Money Saving Expert’ and ‘Help I Am Moving’.

Relocating can stir up many emotions, including good and bad memories of times in the old home. This next phase of your life will bring new opportunities and relationships. Embrace this new chapter whilst also acknowledging what you are leaving behind.



Loss, Bereavement and Mourning


Loss occurs when we lose something that is precious to us. It usually refers to a person, for example – the death of a loved one, but it can also denote many other circumstances such as:


  • Grown up children leaving home
  • Being made redundant or leaving a job
  • Divorce or the end of a relationship
  • Infertility
  • Moving house


What Happens When We Experience Loss?


Depending on the circumstances, our first reaction to loss is usually shock, even if we knew it was coming. This may manifest itself in feelings of numbness and disbelief. We may end up feeling spaced out, dizzy, forgetful and experiencing bad sleep patterns. It’s important to acknowledge what we are going through and to look after ourselves by ensuring that we get as much rest as possible and avoid exhaustion by only doing what is absolutely necessary to get through each day. If possible, we can lean on other people we love for support, catch up on sleep and give ourselves permission to do whatever we think will nurture us.


How Can We Get Over A Loss?


If we can acknowledge the gravity of our loss then we will be able to accept and process it more healthily. Anxiety and depression can result from unprocessed feelings – in loss this is usually the pushing down of sadness and anger. As uncomfortable and scary as these feelings can be, it is better for us to stay with them so that they can move on. Many of us bury our feelings by distracting ourselves and trying to forget what happened because we are consciously or unconsciously afraid of them. But suppressing our emotions only builds up trouble for later. Repressed feelings may develop into full-blown depression or uncontrollable anger which spits out at inappropriate times. It is far healthier to try to stay with these feelings. If we can bear to acknowledge our emotions they will pass and we will soon feel something else.


Another reason to ensure that we process grief is that each loss can bring up feelings linked to an earlier bereavement. Going to a loved one’s funeral may unconsciously bring up memories and feelings from an earlier loss. If we don’t process earlier losses in life, current bereavements can feel overwhelming.


Bravery and time spent acknowledging a loss, feeling the anger, pain, sadness and hurt and sharing it with someone we trust is vital to our recovery. Acceptance and the ability to move on from the loss will be quicker and permanent if we are able to do this.





Whilst on holiday in Greece I was struck by the importance of the Olive Tree. Primarily by its beauty: the ancient dark gnarly trunk in contrast with the silvery sage and bright green leaves almost translucent in the sun. But also by its centrality to Greek culture and economy.


Whilst wandering through an olive grove I noticed how olive trees also provide an ecosystem for neighbouring flora and fauna: rabbits hopped merrily, yellow butterflies and bees rested on the cowparsley below, while swallows darted above the canopy.


I was reminded of the similarity of the holm oak, another Mediterranean tree which is very happy at my home in Bournemouth. My thoughts moved to the holm oak in my garden and the view my patients have of it from my consulting room. How its branches wave around on windy days and yet it stays firm with its strong roots and trunk pinning it to the spot.


My holm oak tree is a metaphor for resilience in life. The trunks and roots give it a strong base, representing many things: in a healthy childhood this base is provided by our parents and the early start we had in life. If our childhood was challenging we may have been lucky to have been given other roots at that time or later on in life, such as a supportive extended family, friends, partner or therapist. This strong base gives us strength and a belief in ourself which allows us to develop and mature knowing that we are ok.


This strong base supports the branches. So to extend the holm oak metaphor further, when the branches wave around on windy days and challenges appear, for example: loss of a loved one, unemployment, or loss then the branches are held in place by the trunk and root system. So we rely on our stable base to keep us secure at our core and we feel we can adapt to what happens to us without it overwhelming us. Our stable base allows us to be resilient and we know that we will survive what is happening to us.


Our aim is to live as the olive tree with flexible branches that can bend but remain in place with a solid core sense of self.