Intuition Counselling & Psychotherapy

Counselling & Psychotherapy In South London

5 ways to feel good for free and why they work


Things have been very busy recently and so I missed writing last month’s blog post.  I definitely had to make sure I was being mindful to take care of my own mental health which can mean prioritising things so that space can still be created for self-care.  This isn’t always easy and sometimes you have to slow down to speed up which can go against the grain.  Anyway, as I am very aware that we do not grow up in a vacuum and world events around us can have an impact on us mentally such as the current cost of living crisis in the UK (I know there are many more)., I wanted to write about how we can look after ourselves whilst feeling the financial pinch? 


Here are 5 no particular order: 


  1. Mindfulness and Meditation 


When we feel anxious or stressed, the body goes into hyperarousal because we are feeling threatened and although a totally natural response it can feel pretty scary and overwhelming.  Hyperarousal is otherwise known as the fight/flight or freeze response. The reason you can feel physical sensations such as increased heart rate, feeling hot and shortness of breath when you feel anxious is because your automatic nervous system is being activated.  This is why it could be wise to tend to the body first to start thinking more clearly. 


With increased mindfulness also comes an increase in self-awareness which can go a long way to starting to notice your stressors or anxiety triggers which can help you feel empowered to tackle them. Mindfulness can just mean a walk where you notice your breath and your surroundings to stay present. 


Meditation can be a useful tool as it normally incorporates breathwork which is a good way to self soothe and self-regulate. Our breath is something we all have the power to control.  Meditation can be done at any time of the day or night and for as little or as long as you want.  Remember meditation is a practice and therefore try to let go of any expectations you may have, it is ok for thoughts to drift in and out, sometimes saying a mantra in your head such as ‘breath’ can help you to return to focusing on your breathing. 


 2.Get moving 


Some mental health issues such as depression can come with feelings of lethargy and tiredness.  Opposite to anxiety, when feeling low, your body goes into a state called hypo arousal and growth cannot take place in this state,  I know this can be easier said than done but incorporating movement in your routine can help with low mood.  It doesn’t have to be a high impact HIIT workout.  Trying a walk, some stretching, yoga, tai chi (moving meditations) can have benefits and has been proven to help with mild and moderate depression. 


In fact, I personally don’t recommend doing high impact everyday as that can be stressful on your body which can lead to injury therefore stopping you from continuing to move.  Life is about balance, the ying and the yang.  However, challenging yourself if you are that way inclined is not a bad thing either if it helps keep you motivated!  Some local councils offer free fitness sessions, it could be worth looking and there are loads of free fitness channels on YouTube for whatever floats your boat. 


3. Positive Data Logging/Happiness Jar 


This is a CBT technique of logging 3 positive things that happened that day before bed.  You could try extending this to something like a happiness jar (a jar kept with happy memories from during the year that you then look back on at the end of the year, or a point that suits you).  Why this helps as when we are experiencing mental health problems, we tend to view things in a negative light and can provide ourselves with ‘evidence’ of the negative.  It can be all too easy to remember the negative things that have happened that day and that can reinforce our core beliefs (what you believe about yourself). 


Creating space and taking time to recognise positive experiences on a daily basis can improve mood.  Just an idea, but this could be made into an experience in itself, a ritual so to speak with some uplifting music in the background, scented candles or breathwork before or after.  Finding the positive on a hard day can feel really difficult or if you are not used to it, could feel self-indulgent or cringeworthy but yet again, try to let go of any expectations and just see what comes up for you.  If it does feel like a really hard task to do, maybe the work is figuring out why. 


4. Create a wellness routine 


Wellness looks different for everyone, a lot of us have an inkling (or more) of what we enjoy doing.  Think about your personality and natural rhythm, what your day currently looks like and what you would like to change or keep.  If you’re a morning person maybe there are wellness rituals you can incorporate into your morning, or if you’re a night owl maybe it’s before bed.  If you have trouble sleeping, maybe there is a way to create space to wind down before bed.  if you feel that afternoon slump and find it hard to concentrate – could a walk or a stretch help pick you up? 


Are you lonely?  Could some sort of free or low cost class be a way to connect with others?  Are you putting too much energy into others and feeling drained – is there a way to create some space for yourself? 


There are many different ways to put some wellness into your day be it on a daily basis or less frequently.  Only you know what you need and when but it is something to think about seriously as our bodies were not designed to go into flight/flight or freeze or the emergency stress response frequently and it can lead to burnout.  Burnout can sadly lead to a host of other mental and physical problems due to the impact it has on the immune system.  Prevention is better than a cure. 


5. Check your thinking – self compassion 


The way that we speak to ourselves impacts the way that we treat ourselves as a result and sometimes that voice isn’t very helpful when already dealing with a lot.  I feel like a huge misconception we can have is that if we ‘tough love’ ourselves it will somehow help us to cope better.  It can make change and growth harder and also keep us in that stuck place. 


I’m not suggesting you go and look in the mirror and say ‘I love you’ though affirmations can be powerful to create change (but can feel like a big leap).  What I am inviting you to try is noticing the way that you think and how those thoughts then contribute towards creating certain behaviours.  Are you telling yourself you can’t do something or saying yes instead of no as you are worried about what others may think or carry self doubt? 


Be honest with yourself, is the way you talk to yourself harsh or unhelpful?  It can start with trying to recognise your inner critic and this can be difficult as it can be so normalised that the voice isn’t viewed as critical.  But once recognised, try and tune into how that inner critic makes you feel and maybe think about how you would like to feel.  Now comes the time to challenge that voice, flip it on it’s head and talk to yourself differently – it can feel really uncomfortable at first but testing this out is the only way to know what could happen if you do something different.  Sometimes it can be helpful to imagine what a close friend would say to you in those moments or how you would talk to one of your children or loved one. 


I know it isn’t easy to talk nicely to yourself at times especially if that is all you have known but it can make such a difference towards healing and change.  There are lots of subtle and not so subtle messages in society designed to make us pick ourselves apart, compare and carry guilt and the best form of resistance can sometimes be to have joy and love ourselves regardless. 



For all of the above there are thousands of free resources available on YouTube.  I am aware that not everything will feel accessible to everyone (e.g. for those with mobility issues) but there are also resources that take that into account.  These are just 5 suggestions to try but of course there are lots of other ways to take care of your mental health but I hope they have given you food for thought. 

I just want to highlight one app I recently started using called Balance, it is free for the first year and you can find it in the Google Playstore and iTunes store.  It is a really intuitive app that individualises your meditation plan according to your individual needs and it teaches you lots of different meditation skills.  Of course, there are several other great meditation apps out there but through experience I really rate the Balance app.


Thanks for reading my latest blog post – as always take what you need and leave what you don’t.  I trust you to know what that is. 

Take good care your yourself. 


Get in touch

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about how counselling and psychotherapy work, or to arrange an initial assessment appointment. This enables us to discuss the reasons you are thinking of coming to counselling, whether it could be helpful for you and whether I am the right therapist to help.

You can also call me on 07442168406 if you would prefer to leave a message or speak to me first. I am happy to discuss any queries or questions you may have before arranging an initial appointment.

All enquiries are usually answered within 24 hours, and all contact is strictly confidential and uses secure phone and email services.