Children’s Mental Health Week

It’s Children’s Mental Health Week and today I’m sharing our Young Thriver of the Year Alice’s story. Alice’s mum contacted me as she was really struggling with emetophobia, which was negatively impacting on her education and friendships. Alice worked really hard and after completing The Thrive Programme has completely transformed her thinking and beliefs and is now thriving. Here’s what Alice’s mum Laura said about their journey to overcoming emetophobia.

‘The phobia took over everything and Alice was unable to enjoy any aspect of her life. She wore travel sickness bands 24/7 and begged me for travel sickness pills every day. Situations that she deemed dangerous were avoided and this included attending school. Alice was desperate to attend school and see her friends but she just found it too difficult. At her lowest point she was housebound and having several panic attacks every day. We tried all the usual routes to help her, taking her for CBT, attending CAMHS and consulting our GP. Nothing seemed to help and Alice was becoming more despondent.

I discovered The Thrive Programme and we started to have regular sessions with Thrive Programme Coach, Kat. I was inspired at how committed Alice was thriving and could see positive results straight away. Every week she challenged herself more and I could see her confidence starting to grow.

Fast forward a few months and Alice is a different child. Delighted to say that she is back at school full time, playing sports, shopping with friends, using public transport, eating out at restaurants, going to the cinema and sleeping well at night. Alice has taken control of her life and at 13 years old has shown a resilience and tenacity that I can only wish to have one day. Alice is an inspiration to others and has proved that you really can make positive changes to your mental health and thrive’.

If you are worried about a young person who is struggling with anxiety, fears or phobias, take a look at Success Stories to see other young people’s testimonials or Contact Me to arrange a free introductory session.

Tip No. 7: Get Some Extra Help!

Sometimes we all need a little extra help! If you’d like to learn more about overcoming your emetophobia and learning to thrive please contact Thrive With Kat. I offer a free, informal consultation session for anyone interested in working through the Thrive Programme. Or check out my website (link in bio) for more info!

Tip No. 6: Manage Your Stress Levels

How well are you managing your stress levels?

Imagine stress as what you experience in the moment, and anxiety as the stress you create about something in the future or the past. Either way they are both created by the way in which you are reacting to events, rather than by the events themselves. Being frightened and running away from something genuinely terrifying is a really important reaction to have. If we are conditioned to be hyper-sensitive to perceived threats however, and we don’t believe we’d cope well in a certain situation, we’re going to react with stress and anxiety because we perceive the threat as genuine. This is why people with phobias react to non-threatening situations as if they were real… they are real to the sufferer.

If your general stress level is quite high, it stands to reason that you’re more likely to ‘go into the red’ more quickly than someone who’s general stress level is quite low. Imagine a ’stress-o-meter’, with a dial numbered 1 to 10. 1 is completely relaxed, 10 is ‘in the red’ and very stressed. Most people have a level that they can get to and yet still stay relatively calm and in control. If they can stay below this number, they’ll prevent themselves from getting really stressed or anxious. Whereas if they go above this number, they’ll get stressed very quickly, begin to lose their perspective and find it much more difficult to calm down and think rationally.

It’s useful to be able to gauge your stress levels and actively manage your thinking so that you can keep yourself calm and in control. But what do you do if it all goes a bit wrong? Then you need to hit the reset button. If you’ve got yourself stressed, angry, upset or anxious, you can reset to a much calmer emotional state quite easily and quickly, by following these three steps:

🔸Recognise – that you have got yourself stressed, and that your ’stress-o-meter needle’ is in the red.
🔸Realise – that you have created this state by the way in which you have reacted to events – even though you might not know how you’ve achieved this right at this moment.
🔸Reset – your thinking and attitude by telling yourself ‘everything is alright’ and ‘I can cope with this’.

Tip No. 5: Stop Brooding

Do you often lie awake at night, unable to sleep because you’re worrying, analysing or constantly thinking about something? A brooding thinking style is characterised by frequent worrying, over-thinking, and going over the same thing in your head again and again.

You probably already know if you have this thinking style as you will habitually be thinking ‘What if….?’, imagining the worst case scenario over and over in intricate detail, and analysing every single option before making a decision.

Sometimes spending time thinking about a situation can be helpful, leading to creativity and new ideas. However, spending time looking at potential problems makes them seem bigger, scarier and more impossible to solve.

Brooding is about control: it feels helpful but it isn’t. It gives us the illusion that we are dealing with a situation when all we are doing is focusing all our attention on our problems, creating anxiety and stress. We tend to brood and worry when we feel powerless. If you work on building the belief that you can influence much of your life, you will start to feel more powerful and be less likely to worry about things.

Plus, have you noticed that when you are busy at work or school or with friends you don’t tend to worry? When you find yourself over-thinking (about emetophobia, lockdown or anything else) make a conscious effort to fully and actively engage with something else and you’ll soon break the cycle of worrying.

Tip No. 4: Mind Your Language

Our words and the language we use can play a huge part in shaping our thoughts, feelings and reactions. If the words we say to others, or we think to ourselves, are negative, dramatic, or catastrophic this leads us to create lots of stress, fear and anxiety.

Words also create and reinforce our beliefs, and our beliefs and thinking in turn affect our words. So if we constantly tell ourselves things like ‘being sick is the worst thing in the world’ we are reinforcing our belief that this is true, making it bigger and seemingly more difficult to change.

If you speak and think in negative words you will lower your mood, anticipate negative outcomes, make yourself stressed, reduce your self-esteem, increase your social anxiety, and contribute to your feelings of powerlessness. If you use and think in positive words you will feel powerful, anticipate positive outcomes, create less stress, increase your self-esteem, reduce your social anxiety and contribute to you feeling more powerful and in control.

Taking control of our language and self talk is something we can do at any time (even during a global pandemic). To start making a change think about the words and language you use over the next few days and note if this is positive and helpful. If not can you change it for something that is? Remember to think about your self talk, or internal voice, as well as the words you say out loud!

Tip No. 3: Look For The Positives

At times like these it can be difficult to see the positives, particularly when social media and news coverage constantly bombard us with negative and catastrophic headlines and stories. This, unsurprisingly, can lead us to think in less positive and powerful ways resulting in an increase in our unhelpful thinking. The good news is you can take control of this by limiting time spent ‘doom scrolling’ and choosing to focus instead on the positive things about yourself and your life. By making the choice to consciously look for the positives (no matter how large or small) you can change your attitude towards the day, the current situation, and how you view yourself. Try making a list of 10 positives each morning and set yourself up with a thriving, can do attitude for the day. Why not make number one on your list ‘I’m taking positive steps to overcome my fears and anxiety’.

Tip 2: Set Realistic Goals and Daily Routines

Working towards small short term goals, as well as having longer term ones, can have a massive benefit on your mental wellbeing and self esteem. Why not try something different over the next few weeks and give a new hobby or activity a go? Think you could never be a runner? Prove yourself wrong and try a programme for beginners! Or if you want to read more this year then set aside some time each day for this. It doesn’t have to be a lot but the sense of achievement will be worth it.

Remember when setting goals and challenges to be realistic and keep any pesky perfectionism at bay. Working with people we often hear things like ‘I’m not doing well enough’ or ‘I’m not progressing fast enough’. This can demotivate you and stop you from trying (think of all those past broken New Year’s resolutions). Set small realistic goals that you can achieve if you put in a bit of effort and you’ll soon be on your way. Perfectionism can also cause problems if you’re trying to juggle lots of different things (like home schooling while working from home!). Be realistic and go easy on yourself. No one’s expecting you to be able to bake the perfect banana bread while simultaneously learning a new language and teaching your kids!

If you’re currently working through The Thrive Programme remember to make sure you put aside some time each day to focus on Thriving, as consistency is key! And if you’ve been thinking about starting then why not take this time to really commit to getting over emetophobia once and for all?

Tip No. 1 – Keep Challenging Yourself

Emetophobia often leads to us creating a large number of avoidance and safety seeking behaviours, which we think we need to stay ‘safe’ (or to stop us from being sick or feeling anxious). These can include things like only eating certain foods, not going to crowded places and excessive hand washing amongst many others. Although we think that these behaviours and habits make us feel better, they actually stop us from challenging ourselves and learning to cope with things that seem scary.

Of course, during lockdown we have to get a bit more creative with how we challenge ourselves, but there’s still plenty that you can do! Why not make your own list of tough but manageable challenges that take you out of your comfort zone and help build up your coping skills. Here are some ideas to get you started or comment with your own lockdown challenges.

🔸Not checking the use by labels on food

🔸Cooking new recipes

🔸Trying food you wouldn’t usually eat (like chicken)

🔸Eating a takeaway and ordering something different or new

🔸Learning a new skill or trying something you wouldn’t usually do

🔸Watching TV programmes, films or videos where someone is sick