Blog

Sleep and quality of life

Blog post – 5th July 2019

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Do you know why great quality of life and sufficient sleep go hand in hand?

By Renata Taylor-Byrne (Copyright 2019)

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Introduction

Front cover for websiteSome people, like Donald Trump, denigrate the value of sleep, and try to get by with five hours per night.  But more developed minds take a very different view:  For example, Warren Buffet has said:

“When forced to choose, I will not trade even one night’s sleep for the chance of extra profit.

The good news I want to remind you of, (which you may not be aware of), is that there are some wonderful, strengthening things that happen to your body and mind when you have sufficient sleep:

It keeps your weight down and reduces cravings for food.

It improves your memory and makes you more creative.

It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke.

It protects you from dementia and cancer.

It makes you look more attractive.

It helps you protect yourself from colds and flu.

Sleeping babyYou feel happier and less depressed and anxious.

But where’s the evidence? you might ask.

And my reply is this, taken from Matthew Walker – (Why We Sleep, 2017) – who has been researching sleep for over twenty years:

“The evidence supporting these claims (above) has been documented in more than 17,000 well-scrutinised scientific reports to date.”

And here’s the bad news: if you don’t take your sleep needs seriously, then here are some of the negative consequences of insufficient sleep:

Your emotional intelligence plummets, as does your ability to have empathy for others. Furthermore the motivation levels of employees are reduced by sleep-deprived managers.

Full cover for publicity, jpeg

Your appetite and weight level increases.

Your immune system is weakened.

Cardio-vascular health is very negatively affected.

Emotions fluctuate. With lack of sleep, your pre-frontal cortex (or conscious brain-mind) stops working effectively, and you become more emotionally volatile, making rash choices and irrational decisions.

Fertility reduces.

Moments of absolute unconsciousness (called ‘Micro-sleeps’) take place, whether you are driving or standing still; or operating machinery; creating dangers for yourself and others.

Your ability to memorize new information plummets.

For more information on the vital importance of having sufficient sleep, and how to obtain it, please follow this link: https://abc-bookstore.com/sleep-better-feel-better/

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That’s all for now.

I hope you find this helpful, and have a good night’s sleep! 🙂

Best wishes,

Renata

Renata Taylor-Byrne

Coach-Counsellor, at ABC Coaching and Counselling Services.

Email: renata@abc-counselling.org

Telephone: 01422 843 629 (UK: +44)

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Diet and exercise affect mental health

Blog post: 4th July 2019

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Diet and exercise are at least as important as philosophy of life in determining how we feel!

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Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling, July 2019

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Diet,exercise book coverOver the years that I’ve been providing counselling and therapy services to individuals and couples, I have had to keep broadening my understanding of the nature of human beings.

I was originally trained as a Rational Therapist (REBT), and tended to focus exclusively on the self-talk of the client.  I had bought into the idea that people are upset by what they “tell themselves” about their negative experiences.

Then I came across clients who did not seem to have any obvious psychological reason to feel depressed or anxious, but they were. This led me to realize that many people suffer from ‘gut dysbiosis’, including Candida Albicans overgrowth, which (we now know) also causes ‘leaky brain’, which allows toxins from the large intestine to get into the bloodstream, and from there, into the brain; disrupting brain chemistry, and causing symptoms of anxiety and depression, in the main; but theoretically also, anger; and who know what not.

I also found that some people were anxious because they were over-consuming caffeine or sugary foods; and not consuming enough calming foods and drinks (like Brazil nuts, and Camomile tea).

Out of these realizations, and others, I began to build, and to constantly amend, my own stress and anxiety diet, which I shared with my clients, when appropriate.

And some clients had such sedentary lifestyles that they became anxious or depressed, because of the lack of exercise-induced production of endorphins (or ‘happiness chemicals’); and exercise-assisted washing of stress hormones out of their systems.

Eventually, Renata, my wife and professional partner, did some research on the role of diet and exercise in the experience of anger, anxiety and depression; and we collaborated on a book in which we put her research, and my stress and anxiety diet, together; plus some work we’d jointly done on exercise.

The book is titled, How to Control Your Anger, Anxiety and Depression: Using nutrition and physical activity.***

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There are six parts to this book:

Diet,exercise book coverThe first part deals with diet and nutrition and how they influence anxiety, anger and depression.

The second part of the book deals with physical exercise and how it can affect these common emotional problems.

The third part is a description of my ‘stress and anxiety reduction diet’ and offers guidelines for understanding different types of diets and their effects.

The fourth part shows some of the key findings from the science of nutritional deficiency, and the role of inflammation in the creation of depression.

The fifth part is a summing up of the key findings of the book, so that you can spot the most useful material that you can use for yourself – or for your clients, if you are a health-care or psychotherapeutic practitioner, counsellor or psychologist.

And the sixth part is our attempt to coach you through the process of habit change (including controlling alcohol consumption; changing your diet; or increasing your physical activity); and to give you a map to guide you through the process of accessing, learning and applying the transformative information in this book.

You can read a page of information about this book here:

https://abc-bookstore.com/diet-exercise-mental-health/

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That’s all for now. If you buy the book, I hope you find it a helpful resource, and that you enjoy it.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Email: jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

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Albert Ellis blames his golfing client for his emotional upset

Blog Post – 2nd July 2019

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Albert Ellis and the Unhappy Golfer: A critique of the simplistic ABC model of REBT

by Jim Byrne

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Front cover, Ellis and the Golfer3In his 1962 book, introducing Rational Therapy to the world, Dr Albert Ellis presented his now famous – or infamous (in my view) – ABC model. When Ellis uses this model with an unhappy golfer – who came to him because he was unhappy about the fact that his golfing peers did not like him –  he uses it to claim that the golfer “upset himself”, rather than being upset by the fact that his golfing peers clearly did not like him.

Ellis has railed against Sigmund Freud, and claimed his Rational Therapy work to be a great step up from Freud’s theory; but what they both have in common is a kind of ABC model.  Ellis’s is explicit.  Freud’s is implicit.  Freud (in the parts of his work that I have reviewed) argued that his patients were not upset (or neurotic) because of their family of origin, but because of their ‘phantasies’ about members of their family and others.  In other words: A = Actual social environment.  B = beliefs or phantasies. And C = neurotic (emotional and/or behavioural) consequence.

But what Ellis and Freud overlook is this: The ego (or personality) of the client is created out of years of cumulative, interpretive experience of being treated in specific ways by mother and father, and others.

And Ellis takes none of this into account in trying to understand why his golfing client might be upset (or terribly unhappy) about being rejected (or not liked) by his golfing peers.

We are not ‘belief machines’, as Ellis thought.  We are much more complex than that. For example: Our brain creates an internal map (or movie) of every aspect of our felt, physical existence, (and our feelings about those sensations), which is managed from an area of the brain called the insula.  According to Giulia Enders (2015), “It may be time to expand René Descartes’ proposition along these lines: ‘I feel, then I think, therefore I am’.” (Page 133).

We were feeling beings from the beginning.  Our socialization and education added on aspects of thinking to our feeling nature; but we continue to be feeling beings.

Ellis claimed to be influenced by John Dewey.  However, John Dewey, a famous American philosopher/ psychologist/ educationalist, published a book, titled ‘The Need for Social Psychology’, in 1917[1]. And in this book, he describes humans as “social animals”.  More specifically, Dewey wrote that, in social psychology, “our problem” is two-fold:

(1) “…to know the modifications (brought about) in the (brain/mind) of (humans) by the fact that the elements of (human) endowment operate in this or that social medium”; and:

(2) “on the other hand, we want to know how control of the environment may be better secured by means of the operation of this or that native capacity”.

In other words, we want to understand the interactions of organism-and-environment – or the B (where B = body-mind) and the A (or environment) – as a bi-directional process[2].

But Ellis relates to his golfing client as a unidirectional ‘individual’, responsible for his own shape and form; his own feelings and attitudes; as if he had fallen from the sky!

And the ‘therapeutic environment’ that Ellis provides for his client is highly directive, ‘controlling parent’, which is most likely to promote the emergence of either a conforming child ego-state, or a rebellious child ego-state; neither of which is going to work very well on the golf course of tomorrow!

It would have been much more helpful if he’d contrived to produce an environment (in the therapy room), for the unhappy golfer, which evoked a growing adult ego-state; a seeker after self-correction (of any social-relationship errors; and so on).

I have written in detail about the mistakes Albert Ellis made in dealing with his golfing client, in my recent book, Albert Ellis and the Unhappy Golfer.***

Please take a look at this page of information.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

https://abc-counselling.org

https://abc-bookstore.com

https://ecent-institute.org

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Endnotes:

[1] Dewey, J. (1917) ‘The Need for Social Psychology.’  Psychological Review, 24 (1917): 266-277.

[2] Dewey (1917) wrote: “Henceforth it is, I submit, pure wilfulness if any one pretending to a scientific treatment starts from any other than a pluralistic basis: the complexity and specific variety of the factors of human nature, each operating in response to its own highly specific stimulus, and each subject to almost infinite shadings and modulations as it enters into combination and competition with others. The conception of social psychology resulting from this mode of approach becomes essentially one with that set forth by Professor W. I. Thomas in his paper on the province of social psychology at the St. Louis Congress of Arts and Science in 1904. On the one hand our problem is to know the modifications wrought in the native constitution of man by the fact that the elements of his endowment operate in this or that social medium; on the other hand, we want to know how control of the environment may be better secured by means of the operation of this or that native capacity. Under these general heads are summed up the infinity of special and difficult problems relating to education on the one hand and to constructive modification of our social institutions on the other. To form a mind out of certain native instincts by selecting an environment which evokes them and directs their course; to re-form social institutions by breaking up habits and giving peculiar intensity and scope to some impulse is the problem of social control in its two phases. To describe how such changes take place is the task of social psychology stated in generalized terms.”

lifestyle counselling and coaching

Blog post – 2nd July 2019

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Lifestyle Counselling deals with the whole person

The Lifestyle Counselling BookMost systems of traditional talk therapy only deal with the ‘mind’ of the client, and the language function. Gestalt therapy deals with the body in terms of muscle tension; and Multimodal therapy allows for the effects of drugs and medicines on the body-mind.  But up to very recently – when E-CENT counselling created Lifestyle Counselling as a comprehensive, holistic practice – counsellors did not take account of the diet of the client; how well they slept; how much exercise they did; and so on.

On 17th March 2018, we published our book, Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person: Or how to integrate nutritional insight, exercise and sleep coaching into talk therapy It began selling immediately, and has continued to do so.  Books do not normally sell so well via social media publicity.  So why is this one selling so well, on a steady basis?

The answers can be summarized like this:

  1. Lifestyle counselling is an idea whose time has come!
  1. Some bright counsellors can see that this is the future of counselling and psychotherapy.
  1. It is now obvious that the counselling client is a body-brain-mind in a social-economic-environment. Not a talking head!

So things have begun to change.  It is less than twenty years since the emotional revolution overtook the cognitive revolution. And it is less than ten years since the first signs of nutritional psychiatry began to emerge.  And it is less than 2 years since the first book on Holistic Counselling in Practice emerged: dealing with diet, exercise, self-talk, attachment, affect regulation, relaxation and sleep science.

This is the future of counselling.  This is the emerging revolution.  Join us.  Take a look at lifestyle counselling and coaching for the whole person…

That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

https://abc-counselling.org

https://abc-bookstore.com

https://ecent-institute.org

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Sleep, health and career

Renata’s Blog Post No. 60

9th September 2018 (Updated on 4th January and 8th June 2019)

Copyright © Renata Taylor-Byrne, 2018-2019

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Renata’s Coaching Blog: Why you must ‘safeguard your sleep’!

Does your job entail dealing with people all day long?  If so, then your sleep level really makes a difference – and here’s why:

Introduction

SAFEGUARD YOUR SLEEP AND REAP THE REWARDS:
Better health, happiness and resilience

By Renata Taylor-Byrne

Why do I think you should safeguard your sleep, in a culture which is increasingly sleep deprived?

Essentially, if you do not get enough high quality sleep, your physical and mental health will suffer; as will your quality of life, level of happiness, and relationships at home and at work.

In this blog, I want to explain the connection between sleep quality and quantity, on the one hand, and your level of emotional intelligence, on the other.

And I also want to explore the importance of emotional intelligence to your career success and self preservation.

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Sleep and interpersonal intelligence

You need to be able to face the working day with energy and stamina, and to have enough vitality to fuel your ability to read and understand the non-verbal and verbal messages you get from other people; and to be able to manage your interactions with those people constructively.

This kind of social/emotionally intelligent ability to read nonverbal communication is an extremely valuable set of skills in the workplace: whether dealing with customers/clients or colleagues

This vitally important skill set includes:

– understanding how the other person is feeling;

– having the ability to spot the beginnings of conflict situations;

– being able to restore calm; and:

– having the ability to negotiate with, and successfully handle, other people, so that they feel respected, listened to, and understood.

Front line people skills

Emotionally intelligent people-reading is also very important in our personal relationships: with family members; people who provide services to us; and relationships with work colleagues.

However, emotionally intelligent reading of the nonverbal signals given off by other people, and diplomatically responding to them, is not a fixed set of skills, that you learn once and for all, and can then deliver or utilise, whenever you like, under any kind of personal circumstance.  In fact, you need a great deal of energy and stamina to perform these tasks effectively.

The key elements fuelling this energy and stamina include what you eat, and how well rested you are.

The inside story

But we are not just interested in the feelings of other people, when we talk about being emotionally intelligent. We are also concerned with what’s happening inside you as you deal with people in the workplace? It’s very important for your health and well-being to be able to recognise and acknowledge your own emotions and feelings as well, and be able to accept them as they take place.

Then you need the skill of being able to constructively manage your feelings so that they are dealt with in a therapeutic and constructive way.

This range of skills, I have just described, make up the skills of emotional intelligence, and here is a definition from Drs. Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves:

“Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognise and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behaviour and relationships”.[1]

There is growing research to support the belief that the most effective people in work and home relationships are those who are more emotionally intelligent.  And there is also evidence accumulating that those individuals who lack emotional intelligence, tend to get themselves into trouble in work, at home, and even in legal actions!

The case of ‘who gets sued’

Here’s an example of what happens when people don’t develop their emotional intelligence:

It comes from research conducted by Levinson, a medical researcher, into medical professionals (specifically surgeons,) and malpractice claims by their patients. When malpractice lawsuits are investigated, it has emerged that

– there are doctors who are error-prone, and who do not have legal claims or complaints made against them by their patients,

– but there are also highly competent doctors whose behaviour prompts patients to sue them frequently.

What is the difference between them?

Patients, according to Gladwell (2005)[2], don’t sue for inadequate treatment they have received. Instead, they sue because they have received inferior treatment, “…and something else happens to them”. (page 40)

The additional factor is the personal treatment the patients receive in their communications with their health professionals; which includes the health professional’s non-verbal manner with clients.

The research by Levinson

As part of her research investigations, Levinson recorded hundreds of conversations between one group of surgeons and their patients. One sub-group of the surgeons had never been sued, and the other group had experienced having legal action taken against them at least twice.

She spotted these differences between the two groups when she examined the recorded conversations: the non-sued group spent more time (approximately three minutes longer) with each patient. They took care to outline what would happen while the patient was being examined, and they made it clear that there was space for any questions. They listened fully and attentively to the client, and engaged in humour and light-heartedness with them.

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Then Nalini Ambady, a psychological researcher, did some more sophisticated research on the recordings of patient/doctor conversations, and focused in on the emotional tone of the conversations alone.

The outcome, which totally surprised the judges and Ambady herself, was that using these categories enabled a pattern to quickly become apparent: it was possible to predict which of the surgeons were the ones being sued, and which surgeons were not. The results were clear: a surgeon with a dominating voice was most likely to be in the sued group. And a more attentive, solicitous voice would mean that the doctor was in the non-sued group.

This outcome revealed the importance of tone of voice:

“The most corrosive tone of voice that a doctor can assume is a dominant tone”. (Page 43)

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What has sleep got to do with maintaining and developing emotional intelligence?

Experiments have shown that, without sufficient sleep, our ability to regulate (manage and control) our emotions is reduced. Lack of sleep affects our frontal lobes which are vital for managing our emotional reactions and keeping our feelings under control.

As well as tone of voice being a very powerful communicator which, if unregulated, can result in dire interpersonal results, there is also the importance of being able to read the facial expressions of others: When we sleep at night, the parts of our brain which assess non-verbal messages and facial expressions are rested and reinvigorated by rapid eye movement sleep (REM). This means that when our brains are refreshed the following day, we are able to see the subtle changes in micro momentary expressions and our ability to assess accurately the emotional states of the people around us is back to full strength.

Front cover for websiteMatthew Walker (2017) described an experiment which showed how lack of sleep affected this crucial skill. The experiment was as follows: participants came to his sleep laboratory and had a long, restful night’s sleep. Then the next morning they were shown a lot of pictures of one person’s face. The facial expressions in the pictures varied from very hostile and aggressive, through to less emotional, calm and friendly facial expressions.

There were distinct, yet small changes in the facial expressions of the person shown in the pictures, but the main feature of them was that there was this range of facial expressions from friendliness and warmth through to anger and strong dislike.

As the participants looked at the faces they had their brains scanned by a MRI machine (which uses radio waves and strong magnetic fields to create quite detailed pictures of the brain). The task they were given was to assess each picture in terms of its friendliness or hostility, or in other words, how threatening or welcoming the facial expressions were.

The second stage of the experiment involved the participants performing a similar facial expression assessment activity. This time they were sleep deprived, and significantly, weren’t allowed to have REM sleep.

Half of the participants had the full night’s sleep experience followed by the picture assessment, and then were sleep deprived the following night, and then performed the assessment procedure.

The other half of the group had the sleep deprivation condition first, and then assessed the pictures, followed by a full night’s sleep the following night, and did a visual assessment process afterwards. In each experimental condition, there were different individuals chosen to display the full range of emotional expressions, so the facial expressions had not been seen before in previous pictures.

Participants who had experienced a good night’s sleep with REM (rapid eye movement sleep) in it, had no difficulties in sorting out the different facial expressions from each other, from the range of friendly to menacing facial expressions. They performed this task inside the MRI scanner and their assessments were accurate.

Front cover for websiteThere was a variation in the quality of the REM sleep, which the participants experienced. And those who had the superior quality of REM sleep showed that they were very well equipped to understand the messages from the pictures.

But the participants were then put in the second condition of the experiment: they were deprived of sleep (in particular, REM sleep) and then had to enter a MRI scanner and describe the emotions they could see on the pictures they were given, of the different facial expressions. And this time the participants found it much less easy to differentiate between the varieties of emotions shown on the collection of facial expressions.

Because of their lack of sleep (including REM sleep) they had lost the ability to quickly spot emotional states shown on someone’s face. They saw facial expressions of kindliness and welcome as hostile and menacing. Walker (2017) considers that the removal of REM sleep had affected the ability of the participants to assess others’ moods accurately:

“Reality and perceived reality were no longer the same in the “eyes” of the sleepless brain. By removing REM sleep we had quite literally removed participants’ level-headed ability to read the social world around them” (Page 217)

Why do we need REM (rapid eye movement) sleep?

REM sleep replenishes the brain’s ability to assess the level of seriousness of situations requiring emotional intelligence. It is crucial for those occupations that demand that workers perform their duties at night, to be aware of the importance of getting enough sleep prior to working, so that they get REM sleep.  This includes nurses, doctors and staff in the support services, the police and also other shift workers. For example, medical and nursing staff need their emotional intelligence to be at a high level to assess the level of pain that a person was experiencing, or their reactions to a new type of medication.

Front cover for websiteHere is an example of the effects of lack of sleep:The Daily Express of Tuesday June 26th, 2018, had as the main news item on its front cover: “Exhausted Doctors act like drunks” and described the effects of long hours of work and insufficient sleep:

“Tired and overworked doctors have an adverse effect on patient safety and the NHS must shift how it looks after the mental and physical health of its workforce”, was a comment made at the British Medical Association’s conference in Brighton. And the branches of the BMA in the City of London and Hackney division put forward a motion to the conference to consider:

“After twelve hour shifts doctors have been tested and behave as if they are drunk in terms of concentration and judgement. The doctors tested had no idea that their judgement was impaired.”

Conclusion

Lack of sleep can really affect our ability to assess situations around us accurately, and people who are working on the front line in the policing, security and health and caring services need to be well-rested as they perform their jobs, as the evidence shows. Their behaviour has a very powerful, knock-on effect on their clients and members of the public.

That’s why a decent night’s sleep is essential if you are working with people the following day, and want to be as well-prepared, and as capable as possible.

In addition to the importance of emotional intelligence in work, we must also take seriously the important effects of sleep deprivation, or sleep insufficiency upon relationships at home.  A lot of broken relationships could perhaps have been preserved and improved if the couple had taken sufficient care of their need for at least eight hours of good quality sleep each night!

SAFEGUARD YOUR SLEEP AND REAP THE REWARDS:
Better health, happiness and resilience

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That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Renata

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Lifestyle Coach-Counsellor

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Email: renata@abc-counselling.org

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[1]  Quotation by Dr Travis Bradberry and Dr Jean Greaves in an article entitled: ‘About Emotional Intelligence’ Available at: http://www.talentsmart.com/about/emotional-intelligence.php   Accessed 25/06/2018.

[2] Gladwell, M. (2005) Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. London: Penguin.

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Writing as therapy and personal development

Blog Post No. 175

By Dr Jim Byrne

15th September 2018 (Updated on 8th June 2019)

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Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2018-9

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Dr Jim’s Blog: Transformational Writing: How I wrote a new life for myself – and how much better I feel as a result…

But overall, I’ve had some significant degree of therapeutic writing in my life for many years now.

The benefits over the years have sometimes been obvious – as when a new creative idea comes out of my Morning Pages – gets developed in subsequent pages, over a period of days or weeks – perhaps writing for 30 minutes each day.  This process has resulted in many blog posts; web pages; articles; academic papers; books; as well as answers to difficult questions; and creative problem-solving solutions.

Most recently, I’ve had a breakthrough in getting an insight into a fundamental problem with my personality-structure. The problem was with my (non-conscious) *DRIVERS* – or animators, which turned out to these: ‘Be Perfect’; and ‘Hurry Up’!

Because I’ve unearthed these stress inducing urges, I now feel I have a new degree of *mastery* over those stressful drivers of my feelings and behaviours; and a growing sense that, the more I slow down, and the less perfectionistic I am, the more productive, creative and happy I become!

To get to this point, all I had to do was to utilize a couple of the (more than 20) techniques that I wrote about in my book, *How to Write a New Life for Yourself*.

To read some more, please take a look at the information page, by clicking the following link: *How to Write a New Life for Yourself.***

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That’s all for today.

Best wishes,

Jim

 

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

Telephone: 44 1422 843 629

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