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Life in lockdown – The impact it has on our mental health

Life in lockdown

With all the excitement we initially felt about the year 2020, we only reached mid March and then suddenly we are faced with the impact of the world being in crisis as a frightening Covid 19 virus surfaced. 

The virus spread globally at a super speed with the heavy impact of the largest and most dangerous “Supercell” tornado.

The overwhelming confusion, chaos and uncertainty of being in lockdown and faced with a silent killer leads to feelings of anxiety. 

We become addicted to watching the news for guidance, reassurance and information as we are sent into a “grief” like state for a while.

We try to digest what is happening to make sense of it all as we feel so disorientated.


How do I adapt to life in lockdown?

I tried to figure out how this instruction for “lockdown” would play its part in our lives.

Of course, none of us were mentally prepared in any way and naturally there are the logistics of changing our lives in such a dramatic way. 

A challenge for parents who no longer have outside support and are trying to home school for the first time.

NHS workers, key workers and carers are faced with all this emotional distress without the luxury of having the time to digest and reflect on how to manage it.

Straight out to work in really difficult conditions feeling scared as they are facing the reality and trauma of seeing people die from Covid 19.   


The effect lockdown has on our mental health

We have been in lockdown for 8 weeks now with still so much uncertainty about when it’s all going to end.

Without clarity and with so much chaos and uncertainty, along with the fear of illness or worse still death we can feel immensely threatened. 

This can lead us to feeling anxious, angry and on an emotional rollercoaster leading to low mood or depression.

When we become triggered by an event such as this our “threat system” is activated. 

This threat system that I am referring to is called the Amygdala, our fight or flight response. It’s purpose is for threat detection and protection so we need the Amygdala but we don’t want to overuse it.


Looking for solutions rather than focusing on the problem

After an initial short period of loneliness, boredom, low mood, anxiety and guilt about “what I SHOULD be doing,”

I retreated into myself to reflect and I decided I can use this period as a self healing and growth spurt.

New activities to keep me sane include:

Daily Joe Wicks workouts which has resulted in me valuing exercise even more and raises serotonin levels/endorphins

I’ve baked cakes valuing eating cakes even more (I concluded the 2 things balance each other out)

Mindfulness walks out in nature which includes Vivary park and beyond over Cotlake Hill, Netherclay nature reserve and Long Run

Meditating on a daily basis which reduces stress, anxiety and develops the prefrontal cortex, known as the “soothing system” 

House party and Zoom meetings with friends including those I have not connected with in years. 

Before all this happened who knew about online Apps such as House party, Zoom and TikTok?

Colonel Tom Moore has become a legend as he raises £32 million for the NHS as the momentum continued with much media coverage as we all needed this positive and uplifting man to help us all feel anything other than utter despair.


Reflections and resources available

There has never been a bigger challenge for our society and indeed the world in my lifetime than this current period of lockdown. 

It’s okay to feel low, anxious, negative and pessimistic about what the future holds.   Just be mindful that you don’t want to get stuck there …  

You can always aim to look for a positive solution, sometimes it can be helpful to discuss it with someone who is calm and rational.

Connect with friends & family preferably by video rather than just texting, exercise, meditate, bake, cook healthy meals, walk in nature, cycle .. 

 Alternatively you could write a journal so you can reflect on this period in your life.

One day we will look back on this period in our lives and reflect back based on what we have stored in our memory.  Life before and during lockdown!

– What sort of memories are you making right now? 

– Are you reaching out if you need emotional or any other kind of support?

– How has this period of self reflection helped you think about your life, what could you change and what solutions are available to you?

-How do I/we adapt to life in lockdown?


There is a quote: “This too shall pass”  and it will, hold in there as it’s a really tough period we are going through.

Reach out for support and don’t keep things bottled up.  There are plenty of people out there who will support you if you allow them to .. 

If you feel you may need some professional support then please do get in contact with me to discuss your situation.  

Text/call me on 07967 753460 or message me by using the contact page.

The link if you fancy giving the Joe Wicks workouts a go. Highly recommended!
A recommendation for a meditation to reduce anxiety and stress!

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Feeling anxious and constantly worrying about everything?

Anxiety is on the increase, especially for our youth. As part of the human condition, we live in a world that offers a lot of uncertainty and there are many different aspects of life that will affect us in many different ways. Most of them are outside of our control or influence:

Politicians and Government bodies making decisions about our future
The erratic and unpredictable weather patterns
Ill health, dying or the death of a loved one
Ageing and our physical appearance

Being liked and gaining other people’s approval
Finding employment
Redundancy, being laid off or not enough regular work
Heavy workload and not enough support which presents itself as stress
Inflation and the general cost of day to day living 
Replacing items due to wear and tear 
Children’s safety or empty nest syndrome as they grow up and leave 

The list goes on, I’m sure you can all add a few (or a lot) of your own ..

So what does worrying about all these things do?


We can worry until the cows come home (sorry I am a farmers daughter) but worrying about things going wrong doesn’t actually solve anything.  Negative thinking creates neural pathways in our mind which sadly also has a negative impact!

The type of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy i’ve trained in (Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy) uses a simple formula to help you manage your anxiety by finding the irrational belief.  In keeping with simplicity, it’s called the ABC model.

So what does the ABC stand for?

A – Activating event/trigger (The situation that triggers you)
B – Belief (Our interpretation of the event)
C – Consequences (Thoughts, emotions, symptoms, what you feel like doing and your behaviour)

How do I find out the irrational belief?

You don’t need to, that’s for me to help with as i’ve had all the training so i’ll be working collaboratively with you to discover it. It can be quite tricky to find but we will dig it out!

Firstly we work together to look at the A. The situation which happened or the event/trigger (Ie. Suffering with ill health)
We then jump over to the C as we investigate the consequences of what’s happening (Ie. I felt anxious, I had tummy ache, tight chest, felt sick and kept looking online to see what I may have based on the symptoms I was experiencing)

Then we work towards discovering what the B is.
The irrational belief (I MUST have certainty there is nothing seriously wrong with me and that I will be okay) which is actually causing the emotions (I.e Anxiety which explains all the worry)

B causes the C

Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them – Epictetus.

By working together I will help you to change any unhelpful beliefs you hold and educate you on how to manage your emotions better so they don’t control you.

If you would like to know more about CBT and the way I work and to discuss your situation, then please get in touch by calling, texting or sending me a private message.

Tel: 07967 753460

I’m based at Beaux Health and Wellbeing, 20 The Crescent, Taunton and also at Cranleigh Gardens Medical Centre, Bridgwater and for those who are further away, I also offer appointments on Skype. 

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We don’t talk about depression. I don’t want to appear weak!

I want to reach out to the guys out there who are struggling to make sense of how you are feeling and not being able to articulate it for fear of appearing to beunmanly”.

Feelings, emotions, depression .. Yuk, we don’t talk about that stuff. It’s too girly right?

Sorry to break the stigma, but here’s why you are wrong.

For as long as you are a human being who has a brain, you will have an amygdala which is an almond-shaped set of neurons located in the limbic centre of your brain which will create emotions such as anger, anxiety and disgust. 

The amygdala is responsible for the “fight or flight” reactions you have (which come in really handy when you need to flee from a very dangerous situation). We need the amygdala as it’s useful, the message is “Better safe than sorry” but it can be overused.

So here is the paradox:

As long as you are bottling up all these feelings and emotions, it’s likely that you are behaving in a defensive way that’s not particularly helpful. Ie. Drinking too much, self medicating, taking drugs, overeating on junk food, womanising or withdrawing from friends, family and the world in general.

Some questions for you to answer:

Do you honestly believe it’s a good idea to ignore these emotions and feelings?

How’s this working for you so far? Has 2018 been a good year?

What impact is it having on your work, your relationship, friendships and family?

These aren’t the behaviours of a “manly gentleman” so I would conclude that if you want to make a positive change in your life, it’s time to be brave and open up. It’s about saying “actually I am struggling and I would like to address some of these issues as I am not coping as well as i’d like to”.

You are not a failure/unworthy/a loser/an idiot/disgusting/no good/worthless or any other labels you may use against yourself as you feel hopeless and helpless.

These are just some of the unhealthy irrational beliefs that could do with being examined with the help of a professionally trained therapist.

– Psychotherapy is about giving your mind the same attention you would give your body if you wanted to improve your muscle tone and fitness. Let’s just call it a “mind gym”

– It’s about opening up and sharing this stuff you’ve been carrying around and then feeling better for offloading it to someone who really listens and “gets it”.  You are not alone in feeling this way.

– It’s about being brave enough to look at these emotions in a helpful and supported manner rather than dismissing them and wondering why they aren’t going away on their own or keep popping back up.

– It’s about feeling safe, supported, understood and having the time to address your negative thoughts so you can finally seeing a positive outcome for your future.

If you want to have a brief chat about your situation, please get in contact with me after all 2019 is a new year and maybe, just maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Please do not suffer in silence – Call or text me on 07967 753460

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Coping with grief or loss.

Anyone who has lost a loved one or someone who was very dear to them will be familiar with the natural response and intensity of grief.

I lost my dad in April of this year when he very sadly lost his brave 7 year battle with cancer. I admired the strong man that he was as he persevered with radiotherapy, medication, chemotherapy and blood transfusions, all of which involved countless hospital visits accompanied by my mum without him so much as complaining.

He put up a good fight. I guess he felt he had a lot to live for, after all he was happily married, had a lovely home and was very loved by family and friends.

As a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, I knew that I needed to accept my reality. My reality at that time was that my dad was dying and I acknowledged that the conditions were extremely difficult. Anyone who has watched someone they love die of cancer or any other terminal condition will understand the heartbreak and the feelings of being ineffective, indeed complete hopelessness as you watch them suffer and waste away.  I felt like everyone was trying to “act normally” on the outside whilst inside we could all feel our heavy hearts shattering.

So when he did pass away after a couple of very intense and difficult weeks, my initial reaction was one of relief. It was over …. phew… the pain, the suffering, the heartbreak of watching him suffer from so many ailments and of course the heavy burden it took on my immediate family as we cared for and supported him.

Unfortunately we can get stuck if we don’t accept our reality. The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages are part of the framework that makes up our journey in learning to live with the person we’ve lost.

For me, well I have experienced a different kind of grief losing my dad than any previous experience. It felt like a huge, forceful wave that came out of nowhere and battered me to the shore leaving me feeling mesmerised, shocked and incredibly sad.

There is no right or wrong way to feel and it’s helpful to accept “it is what it is”. However, I can’t help but feel that loosing a very close family member is a completely different type of grief.

This time I allowed myself to love so dearly and it was for much longer as naturally we shared my lifespan together. I appreciate him for the loyal family man that he was. He was stable, generous, kind and a considerate soul.   

He provided for, loved and protected me and in return he received a huge chunk of my heart. 

The only people who think there’s a time limit for grief, have never lost a piece of their heart. Take all the time you need.

If you are suffering with any kind of grief or loss and need someone who can listen attentively and help you work through your feelings, please do get in contact with me.


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Am I worthy of love and belonging?

Question: Am I worthy of love and belonging?

How would you answer this question?

Does that depend on whether you are in a loving relationship, being loved by friends and family, or being valued and appreciated for who you are and what you do.

All of these share one characteristic, they are part of your outer world and all it can do is mirror your inner state of being in love back to you.

Whatever you are on the inside is always reflected in your reality, in the people and situations that are part of your journey.

I spent most of my twenties and thirties analysing my disastrous love life. On the inside I suffered with anxiety, shame, low self worth and an ingrained belief that I was a failure (now and then resulting in very mild depression). My reality taught me some very difficult life lessons.

Fed up, lonely, disappointed and at my wits end, I hit rock bottom back in 2012. I needed help, so armed with sheer determination and courage along with a profound realisation that I was creating this reality (blaming others ran its course until this point), I decided to face my shadow self and seek out Avy Joseph as he was recommended to me by my flatmate for improving self worth.

So there we have it, I was introduced to a pioneering form of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy called Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT for short). It took just 6 counselling sessions to change 3 irrational beliefs that I had been carrying around for approx. 15 years +

Some of the insights I now have and will share with you.

  • You and I are worthy of love and belonging 
  • We would prefer not to be negatively judged by others but if we are we can accept ourselves regardless
  • There are always going to be girls/guys out there who are prettier/more handsome than you and I
  • Be yourself and be authentic. You are who you are.
  • We are human beings. Therefore, we are unique individuals with strengths, weaknesses and a constellation of traits and abilities.  

Sometimes we need to hit rock bottom before we are motivated to change. It can be slightly scary facing your shadow self and seek help but it’s the most effective and transformational thing you could possibly do to change your reality for the better.

If you want to gain some useful insight by having counselling, then seek out a CBT therapist like myself and take the first step.

You can contact me by phone, email or Skype for a free confidential consultation about your own circumstances.

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Worried, feeling worthless & wondering how your life will turn out!?

According to a survey carried out by the Independent a year ago, here are the top 10 things people worry about:

10. I seem to be generally unhappy

9. Paying rent/mortgage

8. Worried about my physique

7. Wrinkles or ageing appearance

6. Job security

5. Financial/credit card debts

4. My diet

3. Low energy levels

2. Worried about my savings/ financial future

1. Getting old in general

So it looks like we all seem to value youth/agility, looking/feeling good along with financial security.

The good news for me right now, is that I can genuinely say I am not worried about any of those things.

I look after my health, my parents taught me the value of money so I try to avoid debt and I have spent a vast amount of money on improving my mind by investing in counselling and completing 3 years counselling training in CBT/REBT.

Hmm… This is all working out rather well…

However, saying that….  Things aren’t black and white and with my 40th birthday approaching soon, I really do have to take into consideration this milestone may trigger off at least 3 of the 10 things listed above!

If my memory serves me correctly, my 30th birthday triggered off the following unhelpful irrational thoughts:

Oh my god how awful, I am single.

I have no boyfriend, no-one loves me

No children to love me when i’m old and lonely

No house of my own as I am still renting and can’t get on the property ladder until I meet my man

Without all these things, I am worthless

In hindsight, this wasn’t helpful!  Telling myself that I am worthless!??

10 years later, I would hope I am not only older but also wiser. I now know I am worthy just because I exist and I don’t rate myself based on my achievements.

I may not have a few of the things I had hoped for but my healthy rational mind will support me whatever happens.

Sometimes you got to stop worrying, wondering and doubting. Have faith that things will work out. Maybe not how you planned. But how they were meant to be.


I’m based in West Monkton, Taunton. You can contact me by telephone, email or we can work together by Skype (dianeknight_CBT)


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REM is not just a band. REM = Sleep!

Did you grow up listening to REM in the 80’s like I did and not have a clue what REM meant? We didn’t have google back then and to be honest I was only interested in the songs and learning the lyrics so I could sing along (badly).

REM stands for Rapid eye Movement, which occurs after the first 4 stages of sleep.  It happens approximately 70 minutes after falling asleep and follows in approx. cycles of 90 minutes, with each cycle including a larger proportion of REM sleep.

During a night of sleep, one usually experiences about four or five periods of REM sleep.

Sleeping at the right times and for the right duration help train the body to recognise when to step up serotonin production. We all need serotonin, this is the neurotransmitter responsible for the mood we are in and has links to the prevention of anxiety and depression.

Rapid Eye Movement is essential for processing our thoughts and experiences we have had that day. If you wake up remembering you have had some weird lucid dreams then you know you have reached REM. You can look up your dreams on to try and make sense of them as they tend to carry a meaning!

Interestingly enough did you know a newborn baby spends more than 80% of total sleep time in REM.  I wonder what they dream about?

Substances that affect the functioning of the central nervous system to inhibit REM sleep include 2 standard alcoholic drinks, cannabis, sleeping tablets such as valium and any type of antidepressant. They all have a detrimental effect on getting the essential REM sleep we need in order to solve the emotional content of your problems.

So we go to the doctors who tend to prescribe antidepressants for anxiety and depression, numb our feelings by drinking alcohol when we feel stressed or take sleeping tablets for insomnia.

I’m wondering how helpful these methods are when they actually interrupt the sleep pattern so we don’t gain the benefits of reaching the stage of deep sleep, which is REM?

Whilst I appreciate peoples circumstances and environment can play an important factor, here are my top tips for reaching REM and improving your memory, problem solving skills and emotional & physical health.

1. Sleep hygiene is crucial. Ideally you need a nice comfortable bed, a dark room with no blue lights from electronics or wifi, a good routine when it comes to bedtime and try and wind down before you go to bed.  A thriller or a discussion which heightens bodily arousal would best be avoided.

2. Peace and quiet. The longer you sleep without interruptions the better, you will experience longer periods of REM sleep if you can get a good nights sleep. How about investing in some good earplugs, blocking out your partners snoring or the cats fighting outside.

3.  Avoid committing to a late night and an early start, what you really need is to give yourself an opportunity for an early night or a lie in.

5. Hot or cold environmental temperatures can reduce the proportion of REM sleep so its worth investing in a decent duvet or a quiet fan to regulate your body heat.

6. If you do wake up and struggle to get back to sleep, take a break and have a cuppa then head back to bed to try and catch up. If you can go back into a deep sleep then you will benefit immensely.

And if all that doesn’t help, another option for you is you to raise your serotonin levels before you go to sleep and that means exercise, whether it’s running, swimming, dancing or anything else that comes to mind.

The choice is yours!

Overcome Dental phobia with CBT.

Close shot of a person's mouth undergoing treatment at the dentistImage copyrightThinkstock

People with a dental phobia are more likely to undergo treatment without sedation if they have had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), research suggests.

The research, published in the British Dental Journal, looked at 130 people who all feared dental treatment.

All had talking therapy, and more than three-quarters went on to have treatment without sedation.

The research was carried out by King’s College London.

Patients with a dental phobia are often sedated to allow them to become relaxed enough to have work done to their teeth.

‘Set goals’

Such individuals are also more likely to put off going to the dentist, and as a result experience more dental pain and have poorer oral health.

But getting sedated “does not help them to overcome their fear in the long term”, according to the author of the research, Prof Tim Newton.

“The primary goal of our CBT service is to enable patients to receive dental treatment without the need for sedation, by working with each individual patient to set goals according to their priorities,” he said.

The research looked at 99 women and 31 men who attended a therapy clinic at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

Three-quarters of the group had a “dental phobia”, while the remainder had a specific fear of one aspect of dentistry, such as injections or the drill.

Of all the patients, four-fifths (79%) went on to have dental treatment without the need for sedation, while 6% had their dental treatment under sedation.

The average number of therapy appointments required before a patient received dental treatment without sedation was five.

“Our study shows that after on average five CBT sessions, most people can go on to be treated by the dentist without the need to be sedated,” Prof Newton said.

Dentist Ben Atkins told BBC News that during his 23-year career he had only ever referred two patients to have treatment under sedation.

“Personally I take it as a failure if I have to do that, because good dentistry should be all about communication with your patients and you should be able to talk any fears through,” he said.

“It’s about putting the patient in control. These days, dentistry should be 100% pain free.”

“The patients I have known who need sedation are sick at the very thought of dentistry and often won’t even show up, unless they’re desperate.”

Andy Parkin, 40, from Lancashire, said his phobia “started at a child and then got worse throughout my teenage years”.

“The first sign I realise I’m getting out of control is my palms start sweating while I’m still sitting in the waiting room,” he said.

“The key to overcoming it is talking things through and finding a dentist who is receptive and having an honest dialogue with him.”

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Generic shot of anonymous man on a couchImage copyrightThinkstock
  • based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle
  • aims to help you crack this cycle by breaking down overwhelming problems into smaller parts and showing you how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel

Source: NHS Choices

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How am I going to cope?

We have the answers inside of us but when we are feeling down and lost we don’t always have the capacity to look for the answers or maybe we would prefer to shut ourselves away from the world until we feel stronger as we can’t cope with seeing people.

Some may worry about coping with loneliness in the future, uncertainty such as the perceived threat of loosing a loved one or being abandoned.   How will I manage alone and isolated?

Worry, worry, worry.  What if thoughts circulating around in your mind. Loosing out on precious sleep when you are already exhausted, drained and irritable.

Anxiety is an unhelpful emotion in this context as you are so preoccupied with unanswered questions and negative thoughts your mind isn’t clear enough to be able to access the answers or to take positive action.

It’s not surprising that fear and anxiety is so prevalent and it all feels so gloomy.

This year there have been numerous plane crashes, terrorists attacks and government cut backs.

It’s very difficult for people and some struggle to cope which then leads to mental health problems.  As a precaution, be careful which newspapers you read and how much news you absorb as the media tends to be negatively biased.

ISIS seem determined to provoke fear and separatism by launching terror attacks on innocent people. They are getting so much media coverage. I wonder if this is helpful?

However, we do need to keep things in perspective. Be brave, reach out to those who are suffering loneliness or grief. We are human beings. There is positively as humanity has surfaced once again as we come together during this time of grief.

We can cope, we have coped and we will cope.

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I MUST do well. It’s a recipe for disaster.

I hope I pass my driving test. I really want my partner to love me forever. I really hope my guests enjoy the meal I’ve spent all day preparing.

If we didn’t have hopes and desires in life, what sort of world would we live in. Quite a depressing one i’m sure as the future would seem so bleak without any hope, sense of achievement or dreams for what the future may bring. Desires are healthy and useful.

But what happens when we are more rigid in our thinking by demanding of ourselves that we MUST do well and win the approval of others.

We become more self conscious and we compare ourselves to others. We may work extra hard and longer hours to impress the boss. We may fear negative judgement about our clothes, level of education, achievements and popularity.

Suddenly we find we need to be the perfect all-rounder and want to do and be everything!

All this worry can lead to a meltdown or a mid life crisis. It’s no wonder you see so much evidence of mental health becoming a publicised topic with an emphasis on mindfulness to reduce high levels of anxiety.

What happens when you get a cooking bowl out and mix a heaped tablespoon of desire with a heaped tablespoon of pressure along with all the ingredients for the ideal outcome and cook it for 30 mins at 200c with the judgement I MUST do well. Well, in my own experience, it’s a recipe for disaster!

What you are making here is a rigid, inflexible demand telling yourself “I MUST do well”.

If you find yourself worrying about all these things, you may need some assistance.

1.  Adopt a more realistic accepting stance by questioning the truth in that statement. Is it true that you MUST do well? How about you would prefer to do well but it doesn’t mean you MUST do well.

2. If you tell yourself how awful it is when you don’t do as well as you MUST, what impact does this have on you and achieving your goal?

3. Nobody is perfect and nobody has a perfect life.  We are all imperfect and there is no shame in admitting that.

4. Be compassionate to yourself, talk to yourself in a kind caring way. We don’t need to give ourselves a hard time if we don’t do as well as we would have hoped for.

5. Just do your best. You are good enough exactly as you are!

I hope these tips help you next time you catch yourself overreacting, I’m here if you need any further help or assistance.   Counselling in the Taunton Deane area.

Tel : 07967 753 460

Skype: dianeknight_CBT

Email: [email protected]

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