Conflicted Christmas and Unhappy New Year, The solution

Blog post – 6th January 2020

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How to fix a conflicted Christmas and an Unhappy New Year aftermath…

By Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

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Introduction

Selective Focus Photography of Three Smiling Women Looking at White and Brown DogWe are here, and it is now.  And it seems this now, where we are, is the same now we were in before the Christmas and New Year fantasies arrived to try to sweep us off our feet.

Of course, Christmas and the New Year are a great opportunity for families and friends to get together, to share food, and exchange gifts, and to be happy and relaxed, away from a tough working year.

I hope you are one of the many people who has enjoyed the festivities; the special foods; the parties; the gift exchanging; and any spiritual significance the festivities had for you.  (And even if you could not afford the special foods, and the gift exchanges, etc., I still hop you had a happy and peaceful time over the holiday period!)

I hope you are not one of those unfortunate people for whom Christmas turned into interpersonal conflict; unhappiness; and strained relationships.

The Holiday Fall-out

Every year, around this time, I see at least one or two individuals – and sometimes a married-couple or two – who have had a miserable Christmas or New Year event.  And so I have a lot of experience of dealing with those kinds of upsets.

Woman And Man Sitting on Brown Wooden Bench

In 2016, I wrote a pamphlet about How to Beat the Christmas Blues, in which I described my system of “re-framing adversities” in order to restore your sense of happiness and peace – even while conflict is going on, and in its aftermath. I subsequently wrote a book on How to Have a Great Relationship.

But this year, in the run-up to Christmas, I decided to write a book about How to Resolve Conflict and Unhappiness – Especially during Festive Celebrations – which would be helpful to individuals and couples – and families – throughout the year; because conflict and unhappiness can arise whenever families and friends congregate anywhere, at any time.  It is true that Christmas seems to be the main contender for the title of “the unhappiest time of year (for a minority of people”) – and as “the biggest surge in divorce petitions” (again, affecting for a minority of couples).

My solution to holiday conflict and unhappiness

Front cover 1In this book, I have presented a very powerful ‘technology’ for overcoming emotional distress – regardless of the cause.  I have also included special advice for couples about how to communicate so as to avoid conflict – or to manage that conflict better; plus special sections on insights into how to communicate more effectively with loved ones; and how to understand and improve your own ‘conflict style’.

I have provided a page of information about the content of this book on the ABC Bookstore Online.  Click this link for more.***

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Best wishes for a Happy 2020 (which is here and now).

Jim

Jim Byrne

cropped-abc-coaching-counselling-charles-2019.jpgDoctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Email: jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

Telephone: (UK: +44) 01422 843 629

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Carl Rogers and person-centred counselling and therapy

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Counselling Blog Post: Sunday 8th December 2019

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Carl Rogers and Person-Centred Counselling: Some critical reflections

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2019

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Introduction

Carl RogersThis is the second blog post, in a series of posts, about systems of counselling and psychotherapy.  Last week I wrote about Freud’s system of psychoanalysis****; and today I want to reflect upon a few key elements of Carl Rogers’ system of Person-centred counselling.

At first glance, there could not be anything more wholesome than something called ‘person-centred counselling’.  Being ‘person centred’ sounds laudable, and beyond the need for any kind of reflection or inspection.

Although my first experience of counselling and therapy involved primarily the neo-Freudian approach to psychoanalysis (in 1968), I also had a couple of encounters with Carl Rogers’ person-centred, or client-centred approach.  My first experience of the person-centred approach was working with two individuals, in Bangladesh, who had been through some training and therapy at Big Sur, California, in the mid-1970’s. They had worked with Carl Rogers, and I picked up a flavour of their ‘non-directive, humanistic approach’ to life by osmosis.

On becoming a personThen, in 1979, back in the UK, I stumbled upon Roger’s book, ‘On Becoming a Person’, which I enjoyed enormously.  (Later, I realized that it was somewhat amoral – or lacking in moral sense – in that it elevated the needs of the individual above the social relationships found in a situation, in every case, as a matter of principle; whereas, in my moral judgement, social commitments and responsibilities are also important, and have to be balanced against the needs of the individual, on a case by case basis).

My third experience of Rogers’ system was when I studied for my Diploma in Counselling Psychology and Psychotherapy. During that period, I studied a range of counselling systems, including the person-centred approach (at a time when I was more involved with the rational/cognitive approach – as distinct from my current system of emotive-cognitive embodied narrative therapy).

In this blog, I want to review a couple of elements of the person-centred counselling approach, and to clarify where I differ from that approach.

Carl Rogers and the client’s ‘self-conception’

According to Richard Nelson-Jones[1], person-centred counselling gives first priority to the idea of the client as the possessor of something called “a subjective self-concept”. This is equivalent to the ‘ego’ (or the ‘I’, or ‘sense of self’) in Freudian and neo-Freudian psychotherapy.

Nelson-Jones, Theory and practice of counselling and therapyFor Carl Rogers, the creator of person-centred counselling, the subjective self-concept, when it’s psychologically healthy, is a result of the ways in which the individual perceives and defines themselves. By contrast, when they internalize the values of others, this is seen by Rogers as a ‘distorted sense of self’, which is psychologically unhealthy. This perspective of Rogers’ is reminiscent of Jean Piaget’s view of the individual as essentially capable of autonomous activity from birth, with an urge (which Rogers calls the ‘actualizing tendency’) to explore the world.  But this is completely unrealistic, which is why Piaget’s perspective was eventually replaced (for most educational psychologists) by that of Vygotsky, who recognized the role of ‘instruction’, and other socializing influences, upon the shape taken by the developing child.

Rogers’ mistake was to think that a child could be independent of its parents’ influences – which it cannot be. Every child comes into existence, mentally, as a result of having parents (or parent substitutes) who relate to it and educate/socialize it.  In E-CENT[2] counselling, we see the emergence of the ‘individual self’ as a dialectical (or interactional) process of relationship between the ‘cultural mother’ (initially) and the ‘biological baby’, out of which comes a sense of socialized identity. (See my eBook on The Emergent Individual).

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The Emergent Social Individual:

Or how social experience shapes the human body-brain-mind

The emergent social individual, jim byrneBy Dr Jim Byrne

Copyright © Jim Byrne, 2009-2019

The E-CENT perspective sees the relationship of mother-baby as a dialectical (or interactional) one of mutual influence, in which the baby is ‘colonized’ by the mother/carer, and enrolled over time into the mother/carer’s culture, including language and beliefs, scripts, stories, etc.  This dialectic is one between the innate urges of the baby and the cultural and innate and culturally shaped behaviours of the mother.  The overlap between mother and baby gives rise to the ‘ego space’ in which the identity and habits of the baby take shape.  And in that ego space, a self-identity appears as an emergent phenomenon, based on our felt sense of being a body (the core self) and also on our conscious and non-conscious stories about who we are and where we have been, who has related to us, and how: (the autobiographical self).

Learn more about this book.***

E-Book version only available at the moment.***

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The baby is always a social-baby

For Rogers – unrealistically – the baby has a capacity to engage in ‘the organism’s own valuing system’, which can produce elements of self-conception, which are independent of the values of mother and father and others.  But this proves to be a completely unrealistic idea. Every baby is shaped by its early social environment.

Of course there is a back and forth exchange between the child and the parents, but the parents have a huge power to influence and control the baby and its emerging values and behaviours; while the baby has a limited capacity to influence the parents’ values and behaviours.

And, of course the child does go through a set of biologized stages of development – such as the ‘terrible-twos’; moving towards peer influence and away from parent influences; then puberty; and eventually leaving home; etc.  But the social environment bears down heavily upon all of those developments, and produces a ‘synthesis’ of ‘individual/social being’, or ‘socialized selfhood’.

The individual is always connected to a social environment, both internally (in memory) and externally, in present time relationships (at home and in work, business, etc.), and in terms of cultural rules, expectations and social possibilities.

There is no place for a ‘pure individual’ (or pure ‘self-conception’) to emerge or to stand in the real world. We are social beings from first to last.  From soon after birth until the last breath is drawn! We live inside of social stories.

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Processing Client Stories in Counselling and Psychotherapy:

How to think about and analyze client narratives

Processing client stories in counselling and therapy, jim byrne.JPGDr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

The Institute for E-CENT Publications – 2019

Copyright © Jim Byrne, 2019. All rights reserved.

Of all the systems of counselling and therapy, the main ones that pay attention to the body of the client include Gestalt Therapy, and my own system of Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (or E-CENT for short).

In E-CENT counselling, when a client arrives to see us, we see a body-brain-mind-environment-whole enter our room.  We agree that this person will begin by telling us a story about their current difficulties; but we recognize that this story is affected, for better or worse, by the quality and duration of their recent sleep patterns; their diet (including caffeine, alcohol, sugary foods, and trans-fats in junk food); and whether or not they do regular physical exercise; and other bodily factors.

However, in this book, we will mainly focus upon the client’s story or narrative; and perhaps remind ourselves occasionally that this story is being told by a physical body-brain-mind which is dependent for optimal functioning upon such factors as diet, exercise, sleep, and so on. We will focus upon the question of the status of autobiographical narratives; and how to analyze the stories our clients tell us.

Available as an eBook only.***

Learn more about this book.***

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Forcing the client to therapize themselves

Right-brain communicationBecause Carl Rogers didn’t understand the inescapably social nature of the so-called ‘individual’, he created a system of counselling in which the client is left to ‘self-manage’ their therapeutic journey, with the counsellor providing nothing but a ‘mirror’ and ‘sounding board’, both of which provide essentially or primarily non-verbal feedback under the false banner of being ‘a facilitating environment’!

What was Rogers’ justification for creating and practicing such a passive form of counselling? According to Richard Nelson-Jones[3], Rogers believed that it was the quality of the interpersonal encounter with the client that was the really important element in producing a healing/growing/liberating effect on the client.  However, the nature of the interpersonal environment produced by person-centred counselling is largely right-brain to right-brain nonverbal communication.  This is helpful, and potentially healing, up to a point. (See Daniel Hill’s book on Affect Regulation Theory)[4]. However, human relational encounters normally rely upon both left-brain (language-based) communication and right-brain (non-verbal) communication.  And Rogers discounts the value of left-brain, language based communication, because, back in 1940, he had a bee in his bonnet about how mainstream counselling was ‘too directive’!  (It seems to me that Rogers system is too passive, and Albert Ellis’s system is too directive; which is why we have developed a ‘middle way’, in the form of E-CENT counselling.***)

The power of social pressure

Carl RogersParadoxically, Rogers did understand the power of social pressures and influences upon the individual, outside of the therapy room. Indeed, in an article in 1940, he pointed out that if an individual was facing too many adverse social factors (pressures and restraints), then therapy was unlikely to work, because what the person needed was “a radical change of conditions”. (Cohen, 1997, pages 93-94)[5]. (There is, of course, a lot of truth in this insight, as we have seen in the huge increase in mental illness – depression, anxiety and more extreme conditions – since the advent of neoliberal economic policies, introduced by Thatcher and Reagan, produced huge social and economic problems based on inequality and insecurity[6].)

However, the fact that some (or perhaps most) of my clients may be facing intractable social pressures outside of the counselling room, in their daily lives, does not justify me in declining to engage my left-brain, and linguistic communication, during my counselling sessions with them. It is, after all, normal for human beings to utilize both their left and right brains: their language and their feelings, in all forms of human communication. So it seems perverse for person-centred counsellors to exclude meaningful, language-based, left-brain communications when dealing with their clients.

The E-CENT approach to counselling communication

ecent logos 3The model of communication that I utilize in my emotive-cognitive, embodied narrative therapy work is similar to that described by Stephen Covey[7] as follows:

Habit No.5: “First seek to understand (the other person); and then to be understood (by them)”.

Carl Rogers includes the first part of this habit or principle; but he excludes the second; and thus it is not true or full communication that he advocates or uses with his clients.

Here is a little more detail about Covey’s Habit 5:

5 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Use empathic listening to genuinely understand a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving.

The Habit 5 is greatly embraced in the Greek philosophy represented by 3 words:

1) Ethos – your personal credibility. It’s the trust that you inspire, your Emotional Bank Account.

2) Pathos is the empathic side — it’s the alignment with the emotional trust of another person’s communication.

3) Logos is the logic — the reasoning part of the presentation.

The order is important: ethos, pathos, logos — your character, and your relationships, and then the logic of your case or argument.

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What Rogers omits, from this model, is the Logos, or Logic; the reasoning process.

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The centrality of two-way communication

When a client seeks my help, I put a lot of time and energy into understanding their understanding of their problem.

Then I put a lot of effort into helping them to understand my understanding of their understanding (of the nature of their problem[s]).

None of this is about hard-and-fast concrete facts; but rather of my story about their story about their experiences.

And out of this dialogue, it often happens that I influence them more than they influence me – which is the right way around for a therapy encounter. Since they are very often struggling with problems of which they have only recently become conscious; and since I’ve been studying and consciously wrestling with similar problems for decades, it would be perverse of me not to seek to influence their undeveloped understanding with my tried, tested and developed understanding.

Rogers reason for non-directive counsellingRogers thought that therapy was ‘too directive’ and, as a reaction against it, he developed a completely non-directive system of therapy (which does not involve fully-human communication – as explained above). But he was wrong to think that a non-directive form of therapy would ‘liberate’ the ‘inner self’ of the client, because the ‘inner self’ of the client is precisely the ‘socialized self’ which carries the wounds that need to be healed.

Non-directive therapy neglects the responsibility of the therapist to re-parent, or re-educate, the client, using left and right brain engagement. (See Hill, 2015).

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The E-CENT approach to therapy

So what does Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT) offer instead of the non-directive listening of Person-centred therapy?Front cover Lifestyle Counselling

In my book on Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person***, I describe my perceptions or anticipations of every new client as follows:

  1. I do not know who this client will turn out to be; or how complex their case might be; or how I should begin to think about them. I have to wipe my mind as clear as possible of preconceptions, which, of course, is an impossibility for a human being. (Our preconceptions reside at the non-conscious level, and we most often do not know what they are! And without our preconceptions we would be gaga! We would literally not know what anything was).
  2. This client will be a body-brain-mind, linked to a familial social environment (in the past) and a set of relationships (in the present).
  3. They will be subject to a range of stressors in their daily life, and those stressors will be managed by a set of coping strategies (good and bad – resulting from the degree to which their emotions are habitually regulated or dysregulated [where dysregulated means over-aroused or under-aroused).
  4. This client will have been on a long journey through space-time, sometimes learning something new, and often repeating the habitual patterns of their past experience/conditioning. They will be aware of some of their emotional pain, and unaware of much of it.
  5. This client will have some kind of problem, or problems, for which I have been identified as an aid to the solution.
  6. This client will come in and tell me a story; and another story; and another; and will want me to make sense of those stories; so they can escape from some pain or other. And that is part of my job. But a more immediate, and important part may be to be a ‘secure base’for them[8] – to re-parent them.
  7. This client may or may not be aware that their body and mind are one: a body-mind. They may not realize that, to have a calm and happy mind, they need to eat a healthy, balanced diet; exercise regularly; manage their sleep cycle; drink enough water; process their daily experiences consciously (and especially the difficult bits [preferably in writing, in a journal]); have a good balance of work, rest and play; be assertive in their communications with their significant others; have good quality social connections; and so on.
  8. This client may have heard of ‘the talking cure’, and believe that all we have to do is exchange some statements, and then I will say ‘Take up thy bed and walk!’ And they will be healed.

They may not know that the solution to their problems is most likely going to involve them taking more responsibility for the state of their life; being more self-disciplined; learning to manage the ‘shadow side’ of their mind (or ‘bad wolf’ state); learning to manage their own emotions; manage their own relationships better; manage their physical health, in terms of diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation, stress, and so on; and to manage their minds also. Clearly, they are not going to realize any of these necessary developmental challenges if all I do is LISTEN!

For more information about this radically new approach to helping people with bio-psycho-social problems of everyday living, please see my book on Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person***.

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Finale

Dr Jim's office2Clearly, Carl Rogers had a very simplistic model of the human body-brain-mind-environment which we call ‘a counselling client’. To help a client to resolve their emotional, behavioural and relationship problems is normally going to take a whole lot more than listening, listening, listening!

The bottom line of my approach to counselling, therapy and coaching is this: I occupy the central ground between the extremes of Carl Rogers’ non-directive approach, and Albert Ellis’s Extreme Stoical and overly-directive REBT.***

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That’s all for now.

cropped-abc-coaching-counselling-charles-2019.jpgBest wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

drjwbyrne@gmail.com

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Endnotes

[1] Nelson-Jones, R. (2001) Theory and Practice of Counselling and Therapy.  Third edition.  London: Continuum.

[2] E-CENT = Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy, developed by Jim Byrne, with the support of Renata Taylor-Byrne.

[3] Nelson Jones (2001); page 98.

[4] Hill, D. (2015) Affect Regulation Theory: A clinical model.  New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.

[5] Cohen, D. (1997) Carl Rogers: A critical biography. London: Constable.

[6] Wilkinson, R. and Pickett, K. (2010) The Spirit Level: Why equality is better for everybody.  London: Penguin Books.

And, as explained by Dr Oliver James:

“Nearly ten years ago, in my book Britain on the Couch, I pointed out that a twenty-five-year-old American is (depending on which studies you believe) between three and ten times more likely to be suffering depression today than in 1950. … In the case of British people, nearly one-quarter suffered from emotional distress … in the past twelve months, and there is strong evidence that a further one-quarter of us are on the verge thereof.  … (M)uch of this increase in angst occurred after the 1970’s and in English-speaking nations”.  People’s beliefs have not changed so much over that time.  This is evidence of the social-economic impact of the post-Thatcher/Reagan neo-liberal economic policies!

Oliver James (2007) Affluenza: How to be successful and stay sane.  Page xvi-xvii.

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[7] Covey, S.R. (1999) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the character ethic. London: Simon and Schuster.

[8] In attachment theory, a child is seen to use his/her mother (or main carer) as a secure base from which to explore its environment, and to play.  If the child’s stress level rises, or s/he becomes anxious, s/he can scurry back to mother for a feeling of being in a sensitive and responsive relationship of care and reassurance.  This reassurance can also be sought and given nonverbally from a distance.  And in counselling and therapy, that role of being sensitive and caring, and reassuring the client, is also seen as providing a new form of secure base from which the client can explore difficult and challenging memories and feelings.

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The paradox of bamboo flexibility for a human being

Blog Post: 16th November 2019, Updated on 2nd February 2020

By Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Title: The Bamboo Paradox: Flexible body, resilient mind, and wisdom in action

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Hello and welcome to this little blog post about human resilience.

Dr Jim, Oct 2019I am planning to write a newsletter in the next few days, but I thought it might be interesting to share my latest interest with you.  This is my interest in the extent to which a human can model itself upon a flexible bamboo.

This is how I introduce my thinking in the Preface of my new book, which will be published very soon:

At the age of thirty-four years, I woke up.  Woke up for the first time.  Became conscious of the fact that I was living a life that did not really work for me – which had never really worked in a fully satisfactory way.  At that point, I began to seek wisdom – to examine my life – and to explore better ways of living a fuller, more satisfying life.

In this book, I want to share some of the fruits of my journey towards wisdom, happiness and health.

This is a book about how to take care of yourself in a difficult world; so you can be happy and healthy, successful and wealthy. Your physical height, weight, muscle bulk and so on, are not the most important determinants of your ability to be strong in the face of life’s difficult challenges.

In many ways, your ephemeral mind – supported by a well-rested and nourished body – is the best measure of your potential for resilient coping with stressful challenges.  For example, the humble bamboo is often the thinnest plant in the forest or jungle when a tropical storm hits; but it is often the only plant left standing when the storm is over.

A, Front coverIf you develop some bamboo-like flexibility, you can become as strong and resilient as you need to be, even if you are thin and light and less tall than the average person.

This is how the qualities of bamboo are conceptualized by one business-person:

“Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance.  It suggests resilience, meaning that even in the most difficult times… your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances.  Take putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly”. (Ping Fu: ‘Bend, Not Break: A life in two worlds’).

Like a bamboo, you can learn to bend in strong winds of change or challenge; and to sway in the frequent breezes of trial and tribulation. You can develop a solid foundation, but one which allows you to stay flexible, and to respond to the forces that assail you with a judo-like yielding and returning. Bend in harmony with the forces around you, without resisting rigidly, and thus avoid being broken.  Go with the flow, when the flow is irresistible; but swim against the tide if you need to, when the tide is not too powerful. Eventually, the forces around you may grow tired, and you will be fresh and ready to move forward, when resistance is at its lowest.

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo … survives by bending with the wind”. (Bruce Lee).

To be like the bamboo, you must not just be well informed about how to use your mind – like an ancient philosopher – but also you must be well fed, well rested, happily related to at least one significant other person; and rooted in some kind of family, social group and/or community.  You need to be involved and rooted in your home community, but free to take whatever individual action you need to take, so long as it is moral and legal.

A, Front cover“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo”- according to Jodi Picoult, an American author of fiction – “far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance”.

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Of course there are flaws in each of those quotes above – limitations and exaggerations – which eventually lead us into paradox, or self-contradicting beliefs and actions, which I will explore later. But the point is to celebrate the near perfect combination of strength and flexibility to be found in bamboo, and to try to emulate that strength and flexibility in our own difficult lives – when appropriate – as individual human beings.

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The first major limitation of comparing ourselves with bamboo is this: In western science, the world is divided into three major classes: animal, vegetable and mineral. Clearly, bamboo belongs to one of those classes (vegetable) while humans belong to another (the animal).

Bamboo is rooted to the spot, while humans, and other animals, move around the world.

To build a bridge from the vegetable world of bamboo, to the animal world of human individuals, let me introduce a transitional entity – a little duck in an endless sea.

Donald C. Babcock has written about a little duck – “something pretty special” – which is out on the ocean; cuddling down in the swells; and riding the waves.  Out beyond the surf by one hundred feet[i]. …

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***For more on this, please click the following link: Preface to Dr Jim’s new book on Bamboo Resilience.***

cropped-abc-coaching-counselling-charles-2019.jpg~~~

That’s all for now.  Newsletter coming soon!

Best wishes,

Jim

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[i] Babcock, D.C (2003) ‘The little duck’. Quoted in Josh Baran (ed) 365 Nirvana Here and Now: Living every moment in enlightenment. London: Element. Page 157.

Power naps for health and happiness

If it’s good enough for John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill, then it’s good enough for me:

The little-used booster of resilience, energy, concentration and memory:

Having a daily power nap

By Renata Taylor-Byrne, Lifestyle Coach/Counsellor

29th October 2019

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Introduction

Peaceful girl and sleeperKennedy and Churchill were famous for taking a nap every afternoon, which helped them to cope with their stressful roles in life.

One Japanese company executive, whose company has nap rooms for staff, stated that: “Napping can do as much to improve someone’s efficiency as a balanced diet and exercising.”

So, take a power nap every day, and watch your life improve.  It will change your mental and emotional functioning radically, and improve your physical health

In this article I want to explain the full value of having a short nap each day, including why it’s so good for your body, brain/mind and personal and professional performance. I will outline the research which proves the value of naps. And I’ll describe the measures recently taken by companies in the US, Japan and elsewhere, to increase productivity in their staff, based on the research findings about napping.

Ignorance about sleep science

Silly-replacementMost of us have never been fully educated about our daily sleep patterns when we were younger, (at school or by our parents), simply because the research findings about sleep weren’t available to the general public: the knowledge stayed with the experts, in the Universities.

William Dement, who was a pioneer of sleep research, in America, said this in 2000:

“For nearly half a century, a huge reservoir of knowledge about sleep, sleep deprivation and sleep disorders, has been building up behind a dam of pervasive lack of awareness and unresponsive bureaucracies”.

In addition, you may not be aware of our real, unchangeable biological nature as human beings. Our culture and society is dominated by very powerful commercial forces which don’t want you to realise it either – they want you to consume, consume, consume: new mobiles, new cars, new clothes, holidays, TV programmes late into the night, computer games, new gambling games, etc. The last thing they want is for people to realise that they have very real physical and psychological needs – like the need for sleep, rest, and family contact-time – which subtracts from ‘consuming/buying/surfing time’! Where’s the profit for sellers in this ‘down time’?

One executive director of an internet company is reputed to have said: “Our major enemy is sleep”.  That is to say, people who want to seel to you, also want to keep you awake! Even if that proves to be bad for your health and happiness!

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

Our need for sleep

Here’s the bottom line about sleep: We have an inbuilt, unchanging, fundamentally biological pattern of sleep and rest, which is ‘bi-phasic’: meaning that there are two times every day when we human beings are genetically hard-wired to feel the need for sleep.

The first sleep phase begins in the late evening, and lasts throughout the night until after dawn has arrived.

The second phase occurs in the mid-afternoon, after a lunch-time meal. This reduction in energy after a meal at lunchtime is called a ‘post-prandial’ slump (because ‘prandial’ is the Latin for ‘meal’).

We experience this afternoon drop in energy and alertness regardless of the culture that we were brought up in, or the part of the world that we live in. If this daily pattern of energy reduction is accepted and integrated into our working lives then there are massive benefits for everybody. (In an industrial or commercial context, that means employers and employees).

Keri quoteWhat your school teachers and parents were unable to tell you in detail was that sleep is very, very important for your proper functioning as a human being. (William Dement considered that there were three essential factors for health: healthy sleep, good nutrition and physical fitness). But your parents and teachers were unable to tell you more fully about sleep. This was because the information wasn’t available to the general public for many years after all the scientific reports gained from researchers (using special electrical equipment to measure sleep in human beings), had been collected and analysed.

Now we have the benefit of a lot of information finally being available to the general public, and we can therefore reap the benefits of the work done by generations of sleep researchers.

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

But how can people take time out for naps?

Apparently, before the Industrial Revolution, most people took naps; and the reason they did that was because of the way the human body evolved. And before the invention of electric or gas-fuelled lighting, people slept at night and during the daytime.

Here is one valuable opportunity for a nap: The great benefit of travelling by public transport means that after a hard day’s work, or at other times, you can simply get on the bus, or train, find a seat and start to relax and recover from the day’s hassles, as the driver does all the hard work of dealing with the traffic, or the track signals.

With practice, slowly relaxing your body will mean that you can fall into a light and refreshing sleep which will recharge your batteries. Even a six minute nap can enhance your ability to figure out problems and improve your memory (Edlund 2011)[1].

What a nap does is helps your body to relax, and switches on your ‘built-in tranquiliser’ (Jacobson 1976)[2] When you relax, your inbuilt ‘parasympathetic nervous system’, (also called your ‘rest and digest’ mechanism), helps you to recover from the stresses of the day. Healing also takes place; and the nap gives your brain time to process all the information you’ve been bombarded with during the day.

For those of you who drive, you would need to carve out the time after you get home from work, unless you are able to find a convenient time during the day.

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

Here is what the sleep researchers found out about the effectiveness of napping:

Napping and work efficiency and effectiveness:

In 1995, NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration organisation, in the US, which conducts research into spaceflight, started investigating napping. The reason for this research was described by Plenke (2015)[3] as follows:

If you screw up a task in space, not only can it be costly for life but it costs you millions of dollars.”

NASA was deeply interested in whether there would be any benefits for their astronauts from adopting naps during their working days.

What they found was that if you had a nap that lasted approximately twenty-six minutes, then the effect of this nap would improve your work productivity by 38%.

Referring to this 1995 study from NASA, which he co-authored, National Transportation Safety Board member and fatigue expert, Mark Rosekind (1995), also wrote that your 26 minute nap would increase your level of attentiveness and vigilance by 54%![4]

Research on naps in the American aviation industry

David Dinges and Dr Mark Roskind researched the importance of naps when they were working with the American aviation industry. They wanted to find out how pilots, who fly long journeys across the world, could be helped by the napping process.

The crucial area they wanted to solve was the problem of how flight crews could deal with the sleep debt which accumulated after they had been flying for three or four days on a four-stage transpacific route: The pilots had been having moments of total unconsciousness (called micro sleeps) throughout the final minutes of each of the flights and especially significant, in the final ten minutes, as the plane was being manoeuvred for landing, before reaching the runway!

The end of a sustained period of flying, such as an overnight transatlantic flight, is the most dangerous time during the plane’s entire journey. Apparently 68% of plane crashes take place as pilots land a plane, because of sleep deprivation caused by the long journey, plus mental deterioration, and micro sleeps (or moments of complete unconsciousness). But it was known that micro sleeps occurred frequently during night flights.

What the NASA research team did was to measure the effects on flight crews of having naps in the cockpit, whilst another pilot was flying the plane.

They created two research groups out of the flight crews they were investigating:

– 1. In the ‘Naps’ condition: the flight crews were given a scheduled forty minute rest interval, with the time it took them to fall asleep being measured (called ‘sleep latency’). This averaged 5.6 minutes, and the average amount of sleep was 25.8 minutes. There were no other rest periods given during the other three stages of this four-stage plane journey.

– 2. In the “No Naps” research condition:  when the flight crews were in the final ninety minutes of the flights, they had a total of one hundred and twenty micro sleeps, and they had twenty two during the last thirty minutes of the flight. (Remember, micro sleeps are moments of total unconsciousness, when the individual has no awareness of what they should be attending to!)

When the results of the two groups of flight crew’s performances were compared, what was observable was the very marked difference in the work functioning, and the concentration levels, of the flight crews:

– In the ‘Nap’ condition, there was a reduction of 34% in the times that the crew members lost their concentration, and their response times improved by 16%.

– And in terms of micro sleeps, in the final ninety minutes of the flight, the ‘Nap’ condition crews had thirty four micro sleeps recorded, but there were no micro sleeps in the final thirty minutes of the flight!

This was clear evidence of the value of a rest period during the flight:

It was apparent that if the pilot had a nap near the first section of the journey, then they would be able to minimise the number of micro sleeps as they neared the end of the flight, much later on in the journey. (The evidence used in this research study was gained from the researchers having attached electroencephalographic electrodes to the pilots’ heads.)

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If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

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Naps can counteract sleep deprivation, to some extent

Men sleeping on undergroundAnother team of researchers, (David Dinges, Mike Bonnet and their colleagues) have investigated the benefits of naps, and have used the term “prophylactic” (or ‘preventative measure’) to describe the benefit of taking (early) naps in preventing (later) problems.

If you know that you are going to be (unavoidably) deprived of sleep for a considerable length of time, then a nap (or two) can really help. Dingle and Bonnet discovered that a single nap of thirty minutes, before having to be awake all night, as an example, can improve the energy and concentration for a person through the night. And if a twenty four hour period of sleep loss is anticipated, then resting from sixty to one hundred and twenty minutes can be a performance-enhancement strategy.  (But this kind of extended wakefulness will still have negative effects, in terms of accruing a sleep debt; and micro sleeps are likely along the way, which could be very dangerous, for the sleeper and others.  And if this kind of sleeplessness happens often enough, then physical disease and mental deterioration are inevitable!)

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

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Naps don’t make everybody feel better

An aspect of having a nap which researchers have discovered, and which needs to be accepted by anyone who wants to use naps, is that – even though naps improve work performance, energy level and the ability to focus, for many people, on average – some people don’t feel refreshed and rejuvenated after a nap.

Why is it that some people don’t feel the benefit? Dement (2000) has the answer:

“Naps improve objective performance more than subjective performance. Just as we are not very good at perceiving how badly we are affected by sleep deprivation, we don’t seem to be very good at perceiving the benefits of a nap.” (Page 375).

Dement quote 1He thinks that the reason for this is the phenomenon of ‘sleep inertia’, which is the state of drowsiness and lack of focus we can experience after we wake up from a nap. It lasts for a short while and then wears off. William Dement (2000) states that his strategy for overcoming this is to have a coffee straight after a nap so that he can recover quickly.  (But please remember the negative effects of caffeine on your nightly sleep!)

When the US Federal Aviation Authority was advised of the research findings, in the mid-1990’s, they decided that the term ‘power nap’ would be the best term to use to describe this health and safety intervention near the beginning of long-distance flights.

Nap rooms and productivity

Eric Markowitz, senior reporter at Inc.com, in a blog post entitled, ‘Should Your Employees Take Naps, (2011)[5], gave examples of businesses in the US which have taken on board the research findings about the value of naps. He described how, in 1995, Craig Yarde, who founded Yarde Metals in Bristol, Connecticut, discovered that some of his employees, fatigued by the shifts they were working, had fallen asleep at work. (They were working very long shifts).

As a consequence of this discovery, when Yarde designed the new office space for his company, he included a nap room, with couches for his employees. Yarde stated that when he started this innovative system for his staff, not only did people think that he was insane to do such a thing, but some of his employees felt the same way as well.

“People thought we were just completely nuts”, he said.

But in 2011, fifteen years after the experiment started, the annual turnover of his company had increased to $500 million, and the staff has grown to 700, with branches along the east coast of America. Each of their new premises has its allocated sleep room!

Yarde is convinced that naps increase productivity and is quoted as saying: “It’s funny how these things go. It went from being totally ridiculous to being cutting edge right now”.

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

Nike and Google

Nike and Google have adopted a realistic approach to fatigue and sleepiness in an employee, (which can temporarily affect their productivity). They have taken on board the research findings from NASA, by having designated relaxation rooms where there are ‘nap pods’. The pods are elongated, padded seats for an individual worker. The pods have a protective metal hood over the head and shoulders of the sleeper, so they are safe from disturbance when they sleep.

Eric Markowitz (2001) in his blog also described the views of James Maas, a sleep expert and Cornell University social psychologist, who also acts as a consultant on the relationship between sleeping and productivity for Goldman Sachs, IBM, Blackrock and Harvard. He thinks that if employees are exhausted and lethargic in the workplace, then this can strongly affect their ability to concentrate; to remember information over the long term; and that their reaction times are negatively affected.

Overall, the advantage of taking naps is massive, especially if you work in an occupation where you have to work long shifts, or you know in advance that you are going to be short of sleep because of taking a long journey, or have a very full working day ahead of you.

What you get from a napping period is the chance to catch up on lost sleep; boost your mental energy reserves; and recharge your batteries for dealing with people and unexpected challenges – constructively and skilfully. And with the regular use of naps, there are also physical health benefits.

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

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Naps in Japanese companies

Walker sleep deprivation quoteBecause of the increase in ‘karoshi’ – (a Japanese word meaning ‘death from overwork’) – the Japanese government and major companies have started to take action to stop this rise.

The Guardian journalist, Justin Mc’Curry (2019), describes how it’s estimated that £108 billion pounds (GBP), each year, is lost to the Japanese economy because of the effects of sleep deprivation. He describes, as an example, what a Japanese IT Service Company called ‘Nextbeat,’ has done to improve the health and well-being of their staff: In 2018 they  established two “strategic sleeping rooms”, one for females and one for males, at their company headquarters in Tokyo[6].

In these sleeping rooms there are relaxing scents in the air and outside noises are blocked, so nothing can spoil the peace in the rooms.  And no phones, tablets or laptops are allowed in. The staff are encouraged to relax and unwind on settees.

Emiko Sumikawa, one of the executives of the company board, has stated:

“Napping can do as much to improve someone’s efficiency as a balanced diet and exercising.”

Also the employees are encouraged to follow a 9.00pm (!) finishing time, and large amounts of overtime aren’t allowed.  (They clearly have a long way to go to achieve a 35 hour week, which would be ideal for human health, mental and physical!)

The Health Ministry of Japan now recommends that all working age people take a nap of up to thirty minutes every afternoon.

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

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Research on naps in Greece

Further evidence of the value of taking naps, or siestas, has been found by Manolis Kallistratos, who is a cardiologist at Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, which is a southern suburb of Athens.

He carried out the study which consisted of monitoring the effects of a regular afternoon nap on 212 people (with an average age of 62), who had been treated for high blood pressure.[7]

What became apparent was that this regular afternoon period dropped patients’ blood pressure by 4%, when compared with those patients who did not have an afternoon nap.

Kallistratos considered that the benefits to those patients who participated in the napping experience were as valuable for the reduction in blood pressure as those patients who had minimised their salt consumption or alcohol intake. And because of this alteration in their lifestyle, he considered that this could restrict the likelihood of a heart attack by roughly 10%.

The results of his research, when compared with the outcome of the use of drugs prescribed to reduce blood pressure, showed that these chemical solutions achieved results “only slightly better”. His study was scheduled to be presented at the American College of Cardiology, Scientific Session, in New Orleans, USA, late in 2019.

And in 2007 the results of a 6 year study of Greek adults discovered that those who took naps for a minimum of 3 times every week, reduced their heart attack rate by 37%. (And the biggest gain was among middle aged men).

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

 

Final comments

In my own career of thirty years plus, as a college tutor, where I taught night classes as well as daytime classes, I found that my napping habit sustained me throughout this often stressful time.

Having the great good fortune of not driving a car, I could simply get on the bus home after a day’s work and immediately relax! If I’d just been teaching a night class, I was able to nap on the bus journey home and wake up just as the bus pulled into Hebden Bridge, where I live. (And amazingly, I always managed to wake up at the right time.) Then I would feel refreshed after my long day’s work!

Matthew Walker makes a recommendation that you may find very useful: He considers that if you have a nap after 3.00pm, then you run the risk of making it more difficult to sleep when you go to bed. Before that time, however, it can be a valuable way of catching up on missed sleep. (Walker, 2017).

To sum up: Naps can counteract sleep deprivation, to some extent.  They reduce the sleep debt. And according to George Dvorsky, a senior staff reporter at Gizmodo:

“Power naps can … boost our brains, including improvements to creative problem solving, verbal memory, perceptual learning, object learning, and statistical learning. They help us with maths, logical reasoning, our reaction times, and symbol recognition. Naps improve our mood and feelings of sleepiness and fatigue. Not only that, napping is good for our heart, blood pressure, stress levels, and surprisingly, even weight management.”

And a final quote from Matthew Edlund, MD, (2011) who is an award winning expert on rest, body clocks and sleep:

“Lots of patients tell me they can deal with others much more happily if they have had a nap. It can have a big impact on the effectiveness of an organisation over time”.

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

If you try out the sleep enhancement strategies you’ll enjoy your sleep more, and improve the quality of your sleep, your memory and your stamina! And the benefits are free!

~~~

Renata Taylor-Byrne, Lifestyle Coaching/Counsellor

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, UK

Email: renata@abc-counselling.org

Telephone: (44) 1422 843 629

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[1] Edlund, M. (2011) The Power of Rest: Why Sleep Alone is Not Enough: A 30 Day plan to reset your body.  New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

[2] Jacobson, E. (1976) You Must Relax. London: Unwin Paperbacks.

[3] Plenke, M. (2015) ‘The Science behind why we should all be taking naps at work.” https://mic.com/articles/126102/naps-at-work-increase-productivity#. Dvh0yEdjZ.  (Date accessed: 17/09/2018).

[4] Rosekind, M. R., Smith, R.M., Miller, D.L., et al (1995) Alertness management: Strategic naps in operational settings. Journal of Sleep Research, Volume 4(S2), Dec 4th, 1995: Pages 62-66

[5] Markowitz, E. (2011) ‘Should your employees take naps.’ Online article: https://www.inc.com/articles/201108/sleeping-on-the-job-should-your-employees-take-naps.html. (Date accessed 20/09/2018)

[6] Mc’Curry, J. (2019) Japanese firms encourage daytime naps to counter epidemic of sleeplessness. The Guardian Newspaper. Page 20, 8th January 2019.

[7] Smyth, C. (2019) ’Give it a rest: Doctors say siesta brings down blood pressure’, The Times Newspaper, March 8th, 2019.

[8] Walker, M. (2017) Why We Sleep? The new science of sleep and dreams. London: Penguin/Allen Lane.

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Sleep links to health and happiness

Blog Post No.61

Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap the Rewards

By Renata Taylor-Byrne

12th June 2019

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Introduction

Callout-1This blog post could just as easily have been called “Sleep better, feel better; act better; live longer; be healthier” – because all of those outcomes, and more, are a direct result of having an adequate amount of sleep of good quality, every night of your life.

But what is an ‘adequate’ amount of sleep?  We live in an era in which sleep is under attack from a number of quarters, including:

– Sleep distractors, like late night TV; internet attractions; mobile phones; tablets and laptops in the bedroom; the 24 hour city; and so on. Plus:

– Sleep disruptors, like financial stress; work strain; long commutes to and from work; ‘presenteeism’ (or staying later at work), because of the fear of redundancy; rampant, unrealistic ambition; widespread alcohol availability; excessive use of caffeine; sugary diets; and so on.

Warren Buffet on sleep

This blog includes a description of what I cover in my book, and the value it can have for everyone if they want to improve their sleep, and their happiness, and their health.

Here’s an example of the sort of information that’s in my book, which shows how sleep has a massive impact on our lives. I’m going to describe a short research study which shows the importance of naps, and why I researched sleep for over two years to get this information across to the public.

Chinese research with adolescents

Class-sleepingI read some fascinating research results in an article in The Times newspaper last Saturday which shows very clearly why, if we all get more sleep, it really benefits us.

The title of the article was: “Students should have a nap between classes.”

It seems British school children are stressed and over-tired, with a knock on effect on the quality of their lives and their academic achievements.

By contrast, Chinese scientists have been exploring the value of naps in school!  They conducted research with adolescents – 3,000 children who took part in the study that I saw. They were all 12 years old. They were allowed to have a snooze of between 30 and 60 minutes in length, at midday, and, according to the article, this is quite routine behaviour in China.

The researcher collected information by asking adolescent children questions about their level of contentment, and how often they napped and also their teachers’ assessment of the students’ academic ability and their general social behaviour in school.

These findings, from the journal, Sleep, show clearly the value of naps:

– There was a 7.6% improvement in academic performance in the children who napped 3 or more times a week, and:

– when their behaviour and IQ was measured by the researchers, it was found that they had:

  1. a) fewer problems in their behaviour,
  2. b) a higher IQ, and
  3. c) a higher level of grit and self-control.

To summarise the findings, Rhys Blakely stated: “12 year olds, who slept at midday, were found to be happier and cleverer.” The Times, June 8th, 2019, page 20. (Blakely is the science correspondent for The Times newspaper).

In a nutshell, the key finding was that students benefit from having naps between classes; just as NASA in the US in 1995, (wanting to know if their astronauts would benefit from having naps), discovered that naps increased your attentiveness and alertness by 54%).

Sean-Stevenson-quote

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What have I included in my book?

What kind of information have I got in my book? Here is a breakdown:

I present key research findings about the nature of sleep; the importance of sleep; the promoters and spoilers of sleep; and the supporting evidence from various studies, which are important to know about, if you care about the health and wellbeing of yourself and your family.

I included a lot of techniques for improving sleep quality; and these are clearly and simply explained.

Also, you need strategies for safeguarding your sleep in social pressure situations and these are described with clear examples.

Huffington-sleep-quote.JPGThe impact of lack of sleep on body weight is outlined – inadequate sleep leads to weight gain! – with the relevant research results; and also there is an outline of how lack of sleep reduces emotional intelligence, with examples from the workplace and home situations.

A simple yet powerful model for changing habits is described, so that you can start to work on changing your sleep behaviour.

And I describe how important it is to be well-rested before receiving new information that you have to learn off by heart. Memorising information depends on sufficient sleep, and the links are made clear.

The inescapable power which nature’s patterns of light and darkness have over human behaviour is explained.

I also describe the kinds of foods and drinks which sabotage sleep, as well as those which help to enhance sleep.

There are several different ‘chronotypes’ – (or individual patterns of wakefulness and alertness [larks, owls, etc.) – found among humans, through scientific research; and these are described; as are the implications for the ideal type of work schedule for you, based on your chronotype.

This book is easy to read; written in straightforward language; with a glossary of essential technical terms at the back.

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The value of this book

Sleep-book-image
Link to book description

What would you gain from reading my book on sleep?

This book explains very clearly the tried and tested techniques you can start using immediately to improve your sleep. These sleep enhancement strategies will have a positive impact on your happiness; your sense of autonomy; and develop closer, more emotionally intelligent relationships with others.

Also, if you are a student, or need to learn a lot of information for your work, extra sleep will have a very beneficial effect on your memory.

My book shows the ways to block the sleep thieves that are operating all around you – (dietary, mental, social and environmental) – so you feel better, happier and more in control of your life.

It gives you essential information to show you how healthy and nutritious sleep can be restored without financial costs.

childre-reading-at-nightYou will know how to make your bedroom a sanctuary where you can recover fully from the day’s stresses; and understand why siestas and naps are so beneficial that the Japanese Health Ministry now recommends that people make sure they get one every day!

Your relationships at work and at home will be transformed by the extra energy, patience, and emotional intelligence that you will find from having sufficient, high quality sleep.

This book will show you the effects of lack of sleep on the ability to read other people accurately, its effect on empathy and how morale and motivation at work is negatively affected by sleep-deprived managers.

Sapolsky-insomnia-callout

The myth that you need less sleep as you get older is examined, and the reality of teenagers needing more sleep is explained. And the positive research results from American schools, which have experimented with later starting times, is described.

If you want to improve your happiness and health, and your are skimping on your sleep at the moment, then this book could be a great boon to you!

For more information about this subject, please see my page of information about my book: Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap the Rewards.***

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That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Renata

Lifestyle Coach-Counsellor

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

ABC Bookstore Online

Email: renata@abc-counselling.org

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couple relationships and abusive behaviour

Blog Post

8th December 2018

Dr Jim’s Blog: Couple relationships and the problem of abuse…

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In this blog post, I want to present the core of a case study from my recent book on How to Build a Successful Relationship,  It involves a emotional abuse in a couple relationship.

Case study: Debby and Tom in conflict:

Unhappy coupleDebby D came to see me, in my office, on a cold, wet November morning. She looked undernourished, pale and sad.  She told me that her partner, Tom, had refused to come with her.

Indeed, he objected so much to the idea of couple’s therapy, and verbally abused her to such a degree, that she had promised not to proceed.

But she had come to see me anyway, because she was desperate.  She and Tom had been together for ten years, and there had been trouble from the start.  He treated her horribly; criticizing her approach to housekeeping, and her makeup.  He frightened her so much that she had started biting her nails.  Then she developed an obsessive-compulsive urge to scrub her hands until they bled.

I explored her history of relationships, working backwards from Tom, via two other serious relationships; and back to her relationship with her mother and father; and her parents’ relationship with each other.  Every single one of them had been abusive!

Debby wanted me to show her how to make Tom be more reasonable.  It took a few sessions for me to get to the point of using the ‘Best Friend Question’ with her:

Best Friend callout“Debby”, I said.  “Suppose your best friend had exactly the same problem.  She came from a disturbed family background; she had three difficult relationships, in which her partner was verbally abusive with her; what would you advise your best friend to do?”

“Kick him out!” said Debby, without a moment’s pause.

I then asked her: “If that seems to be the right solution for your best friend, is it also perhaps the solution for you and Tom?”

At this suggestion she shuddered: “But then I might lose him completely!” she protested.

“But what would be wrong with losing a partner who is abusive with you?” I asked.

“I don’t want to lose him”, protested Debby.  “I love him.  I just want him to change!”

I then tried to teach her the concept of ‘logical consequences’.

“Suppose I decided to steal food items from shops”, I began.  “What do you think would be the logical consequence?”

“You’d most likely get caught, eventually”, said Debby.

“And what is the logical consequence of getting caught?” I asked her.

“You would get a criminal record”, she suggested.

“And what if I got a criminal record, but I persisted in stealing food from shops.  What then would be the most likely logical consequence?” I asked her.

“You would most likely end up in prison”, she told me.

“Okay”, I said.  “I agree with your understanding of logical consequences in this case.  Now let us take another case”.

“Okay”, she agreed.

“Suppose a man got married to a woman, and then he began to be very critical of her housekeeping and her makeup.  What do you think the logical consequence would be?” I asked her.

“He would destroy the relationship!” she responded.

“And suppose he destroys the relationship, and his wife sticks around, and he keeps on being verbally abusive with her. What then would be the most likely logical consequence?”

“She would have to leave him”, suggested Debby.

“Okay”, I said. “If that is the logical consequence in a generic case of ‘a man and his wife’, surely that must also be the logical consequence in the case of Debby and Tom?” I asked her.

She looked defeated. She looked down at her hands.  “But I want to keep him!” she insisted.

Small 3D image of covers“Well, let me sum up the situation then”, I said.  “You and Tom are in an abusive relationship, at least on his side.  The logical consequence (or karmic debt) that Tom should earn is for you to leave him.  But you protect him from this karmic debt, by sticking around and internalizing his abuse; and transforming his karmic penalty into your own obsessive-compulsive suffering. And not just obsessive-compulsive suffering, but also sadness and depression, and a sense of despair, and self-hatred”.

Debby and I revisited this conversation several times, over a period of weeks…

…End of extract.

For more of this case study, please take a look at the information page about this book: Top Secrets for Building a Successful Relationship.***

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That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling, ABC Coaching and Counselling Services, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 8HJ

Email: jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

Telephone: (44) 01422 843 629

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