Category Archives: General

Love and Relationships – the gulf between expectation and reality


As soon as Christmas cards leave the shelf in the New Year sales, they are quickly replaced by Valentines cards – a swathe of pink and red hearts, promising true love and romance.  It’s the stuff dreams are made of – finding a soul mate who will love you forever, warts and all.  But with 42% of marriages in the UK ending in divorce, this dream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and the reality just doesn’t match up.  The question is …. Why?

Perhaps the answer lies in the gulf between the expectation and the reality.  When we’re fed the Valentines message no one deigns to mention putting the washing on, going to the supermarket or cleaning out the cat’s litter tray.  In my relationship, all of those jobs have to be attended to – they are not generally accompanied by swooning or protestations of love – even though we do love each deeply.  The romantic ideal forgets to mention that life with your significant other will undoubtedly include some, quite frankly, mind-numbingly boring activities that just have to be attended too.  We’d all prefer to be lying in a gondola in Venice at all times but that won’t get the ironing done!

That doesn’t mean that you and your partner can’t be one of the relationship success stories (and there are still lots of people celebrating many happy years together) but being a realistic romantic is the key:

  • Enjoy the romantic hype – and the romantic moments when they come along. Just don’t expect them to be there all the time – remember you can have too much of a good thing anyway.
  • Recognise that everything in life takes effort – start putting some into your relationship.
  • Don’t expect perfection from your partner – you can’t provide that so why expect it from someone else?
  • Remember that you’re different people and that you won’t agree on everything or do things in the same way – enjoy the differences because without them life would be a bit boring!
  • Enjoy doing things together – but take time for yourself as well – you’re still an individual not just part of a duo.
  • Life is busy but try and make time for each other and have some fun because too much time focusing on the detritus of life is what kills off many relationships.
  • Be supportive – and expect the same back.
  • Don’t forget to have sex! It’s a great stress relief and a nice reminder of the fact that you actually do quite fancy this person that you watch telly with every night.
  • Lastly, if it’s not working anymore, be honest – perhaps it can be fixed but perhaps it’s time to move on – only you know the answer to that. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, life is for living!

Good luck

Judith x


Happy New Year!


It’s the New Year – a time when we make a new start, make plans for change and look to the future.

For many people, these changes take the form of New Year Resolutions … sometimes heralding significant change and sometimes broken by the second week of January!

What many people overlook, however, is the potential to make changes where it really matters – in your emotional health and well-being.

How about these for starters:

  • Think about what you like doing – and then do more of that – it’s not selfish to spend time on yourself.
  • Become your own best friend.
  • Realise you don’t actually have to spend time with toxic people who make you feel bad about yourself – you can let those people go without a backwards glance.
  • Create a positive attitude … being happy is a positive choice.
  • Stop making excuses not to do things – there’s never a perfect time for anything!
  • Spend some time working out what you really want from 2017 – and then stop procrastinating – go for it.
  • Have more fun! It balances out the sometimes unavoidable boring bits!
  • Approach things head-on – burying your head in the sand when it comes to the practicalities of life (work, money, debt etc) isn’t helpful in the long run.
  • Tailor your resolutions to YOU – most NY Resolutions are a re-hash of what you think you SHOULD be doing, not what you actually WANT to do!

Good Luck!

Judith x


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How it feels when the chicks have flown the nest …

As a mum of two young adults, ‘empty nest syndrome’ is something I have personal experience of … one of my ‘children’ is already at university and it won’t be too long before his sister follows behind.  It’s a time of confusing emotions – pride, happiness, worry and loss.  We all want the best for our kids and want them to have the best experiences that they possibly can.  We also know that parenting is about bringing up our children to be self-reliant, happy, caring adults … we know that right?  So why is dropping them off at uni so hard..?  Because it really is!!  Whether it’s your first child, your last child or your only one, there’s no doubt that this really is a biggie.

My son is now in his third year – I’ve come a long way since, two Septembers  ago, a friend asked me how I was in the street, and I burst into tears and had to be escorted to a café for a tea and a chat (Thank you Fiona!).   Two years on and things have changed – I still don’t like drops offs and I still really miss him but, aside from that, our relationship remains pretty much unscathed – he’s still my son, I’m still his mum and we still have the same conversations, silly arguments and share the same sense of humour as we always did.  And that’s the nub of it … when your kids go off to uni, there’s this anxiety and fear that everything will change.  As it is, what really changes is geography – it takes a bit of getting used to not washing someone’s clothes, helping with homework or arguing about what TV programme to watch and you undoubtedly WILL miss your baby.  But the important things really CAN stay the same.  I know that I’ll be trying to convince myself of that this time next year when my second one goes … but I also know, from personal experience, that it is true and it will be ok.

Me and my boy!

Good luck!


Perfection is over-rated … the art of being happy on ‘just good enough’ …


Any parent with children born in the last 20 years or so will recognise the literary phenomenon (!) that is Horrid Henry and his ‘perfect’ brother Peter. For those readers who don’t, basically Perfect Peter, as he is dubbed, is this amazingly good child who never puts a foot wrong. He is clever, well-behaved, polite and … well, just perfect in every conceivable way possible. Is he the most interesting character in the book? – no; Does he has the most fun? – no; Is he the happiest character? – no; Is he the most likely to suffer from anxiety-related issues? – YES …maintaining perfection is just REALLY hard work!

Because perfectionism is not good for us … perfect’ is an adjective which doesn’t reflect reality, yet it is thrucloudst upon us frequently, inviting us to fail at every turn. Sadly, many of us buy into the allure of the ‘perfect’ and wonder why we feel so much anxiety trying to reach it … and so disappointed with ourselves when we don’t.


Targets, objectives, assessments, performance management at work, for example, can all conspire to set parameters for us which can add to pressure and actually be counter-productive. There’s no harm in striving to do well, of course, but often targets are set in an unrealistic way which set people up to fail. Sometimes, it can be a simple as being straight with your boss and saying that you need a bit more time for something. Or just having the strength to say ‘No’ for once. Funnily enough, I left a profession heavily reliant on targets … only to make my own targets for myself in my own business. The difference is that my targets are realistic and, although sometimes challenging, achievable. I also changed my mind-set … ‘failure’ became an opportunity to do something in a different way, a step towards a goal rather than reaching it immediately.

The workplace is just one area where we try to live up to sometimes unrealistic expectations. How many of the women reading this, are working mums …..trying to be the perfect employee AND the perfect mum?? Yes, it’s true that, as women, we can have a great career and a family these days but do we have to be ‘perfect’ at both? Of course not! Do we allow ourselves to shrug it off, dust ourselves down and try again when it all goes tits up? Not as often as we should!


So how do we fight against the Perfectionism myth and minimise anxiety …?

  • Strive to ‘do your best’ rather than achieve perfection … unless you are super-human, the latter really isn’t achievable on an everyday basis.
  • Be realistic when setting yourself targets or expectations and sometimes have the courage to question the expectations given to you by other people. Work out what is possible … and what isn’t and be prepared to stick to that if necessary. You might surprise yourself by achieving much more – and that’s a wonderful bonus!
  • Try to strike a balance between what you want to achieve and accepting what is – there is still room for ambitious hopes and dreams but everything isn’t black and white and it’s perfectly acceptable to reach a compromise.
  • Break down your targets into small steps – that way you’ll feel that you’re achieving lots of things along the way to your final destination. Rome wasn’t built in a day … good things take time!
  • Most of all, be kind to yourself. You are amazing just the way you are – perfection is way over-rated!!

Good luck!

Judith, Bluebell Therapy



Come fly with me..!

It’s that time of year – almost British Summer Time, the occasional ray of sun peeking out from behind the gloom and of course, holiday adverts on the telly! For lots of people, the thought of that week in Spain signifies a bit of excitement, enough to keep them going through the unpredictability of Spring weather in the UK. But for others, it can mean anything from a surge of anxiety to the resignation of yet another holiday in Cornwall. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cornwall … but it’s nice to think that you can dance the tango in Buenos Aires too if you want to!

Flying really is a big issue for many people. It can prey on our vulnerability – anxieties and fears about death, natural disaster, and nowadays, even terrorism … it’s not surprising that it’s one of the most common phobias. And it’s multi-faceted, with elements of claustrophobia, vertigo and agoraphobia – it really is a catch-all phobia!

Sufferers describe the feeling of terror as ‘paralysing’ …. Fear of the process of flying and also anxiety that the fear will take over and cause public loss of control.

So what can you do to help yourself?

  • Tell your travel companions if they don’t already know … they will want to support you. It also means that, if you have a panic attack, you can prep them as to the best things they can do to calm you down and you won’t feel so embarrassed about it.
  • Practice ‘grounding yourself’ – noticing 5 things that you can see, hear, touch, etc in your environment. This can help you if you’re feeling anxious or panicky but focusing on your surroundings can also help you to divert your attention so that you remain calm in the first place.
  • In the same way, engage with those around you – have a chat to your friends and family, acknowledge your anxiety but don’t focus on it, instead re-direct your attentions into something else – activities such as puzzles, reading etc will help you to take your mind off your fears.
  • Try deep breathing, exhaling slowly in a controlled way. A good way to practice this is with some bubble mixture. To be able to blow big bubbles, you need to blow out slowly and gently. I often use bubble mixture to enable young clients to practice their calm breathing but adults can do it too. It’s not silly if it helps and no one sees you practicing at home!
  • Just reciting statistics to someone to ‘prove’ that flying is safe just doesn’t work – if it did, then no one would be fearful of flying. Phobias just don’t work like that. Hypnotherapy, however, is a fantastic way to overcome fear of flying. A therapist will take you through every element of the journey (from booking the holiday to landing!), replacing the fear with feelings of relaxation. It really does work!

In the words of a recent client:

“I can’t thank Judith enough. Every year, we book a holiday because I don’t want to let the family down. I worry for months before we go and while we’re there, I worry about the journey home! This year, I’m looking forward to it. I’m feeling excited about the whole thing and we’re even planning an extra weekend away. I’m no longer limited by my fear and it feels liberating! Thank you”

If you’d like hypnotherapy for your phobia, please contact me at or call 07599136677.

Happy Holidays!

Judith x


How to beat exam stress!


Most of us love the arrival of Spring and Summer …. But for students, whether they’re doing GCSEs, ‘A’ Levels or university exams, the warmer weather can only mean one thing …. Exams!  Nobody likes them, many people hate them and they are the cause of major stress among young people.   And with the ‘testing culture’ ever more entrenched in primary schools too, the pressure is even greater.

So what’s the answer?

Unfortunately exams aren’t going away anytime soon but there ARE things that you can do to make life a bit easier for yourself around exam time.

Here are 8 ways to reduce exam stress:

  1. Plan ahead! You’re never going to cram a couple of years’ worth of notes into your brain the night before the exam – it’s just not possible! The best way to revise is to make yourself a timetable, which sets out when you’re revising each subject and also includes free time, doing stuff that you enjoy. Just like you can’t cram in everything in one night, you also can’t spend every minute of every day working. Balance is the key!
  2. Remember that you are an individual. Work out the best times, places and ways for YOU to revise … your preferences may be completely different from your friend’s – that’s fine as long as it works for YOU!
  3. Keep your energy levels up by eating well.Olympic athletes can’t perform on a can of Coke and a Curly-Wurly …. and you will be doing the brain equivalent of running a marathon, which means you need to be on top form!
  4. Exercise and fresh air really does do you good! A change of scene and a walk round the park or (my personal favourite) a bit of salsa dancing or Zumba really does re-charge your batteries and helps with a healthy dose of perspective …. Exams ARE important but you have a life too!
  5. Yes, you do have time to sleep …! In fact it’s essential if you don’t want to find you’re falling asleep in the middle of a quadratic equation or a history essay.
  6. Talk it through. You may feel that you are alone in feeling stressed about exams but around 700,000 students take their GCSEs every Summer – that represents an awful lot of adrenaline, fear and anxiety. Talking helps – with friends, parents, teachers, school counsellors.
  7. Watch out for symptoms of stress … get to know yourself and your own triggers. Start to watch out for stress-related symptoms in your own body – they may be headaches, tummy aches, breathlessness – everyone is different so you need to learn to know when you’re getting stressed so that you can take some time out and relax.
  8. Treat yourself .. because you deserve it! Do nice things, go out, pamper yourself, acknowledge that exams are hard and you are a superstar for working hard and getting on with it.


Lastly, remember that worry is not a productive emotion. You CAN do something to help your performance in exams beforehand….but once you’ve taken them, move on and enjoy your Summer. Worrying won’t affect your results one way or the other! And results (good or bad) don’t define who you are …. Good Luck


Bluebell Therapy are running an exam stress hypnotherapy course after Easter – please see for further details.

Procrastination – the art of keeping up with yesterday!

img1 A couple of days ago I finally got round to doing my tax return. Having put off this dreaded task for a matter of months, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was … and so hugely relieved it was finally done that I could have danced round the living room in mad abandon. Having said all this, there are many other less pressing things that I have managed to fit in whilst covertly avoiding any contact with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate …. I have twiddled about on my facebook page, spent hours re-arranging my book shelves, tidied my desk and even managed to do a spot of decorating … all in the name of procrastination. Done properly, as any expert will tell you, you can even learn to put procrastination off until the very last minute …

On a more serious note, however, real procrastination, like any self-defeating behavior, can become extremely life-limiting and can lead to people experiencing really negative emotions such as guilt, inadequacy, stress and depression.  It’s perfectly normal to have a bit of a ‘blind spot’ to a particular task but it’s not emotionally healthy to procrastinate on a regular basis.

So why do people procrastinate? There are many reasons including:
• Poor time management/organizational skills
• Task overload.
• Anxiety about the task.
• Feeling overwhelmed.
• Low self-esteem and concerns about failure.
• Avoidance of things which you simply don’t like doing.

Emotional issues like low self-esteem are more difficult to overcome than organizational skills and that’s where counsellors and therapists can help …. but there are lots of things that you can do yourself too …

• Focus on your successes to boost your confidence – you really CAN tackle that task, you really ARE up to the job!
• Spend some time thinking about what approach suits you and your personality when tackling tasks… and develop strategies that suit you.
• Remind yourself that, for the most part, the task is to your benefit. A university essay, for example, is all part of the degree that you chose and that will ultimately benefit you. You don’t really HAVE to do it, you CHOSE to do it.
• Break down the task into manageable chunks, which don’t seem so scary on their own … but build up quickly so the job is done!
• Accept that you have to do it and promise yourself a reward on completion.

Perhaps you’re still trying to decide on your New Year Resolutions..? Whatever they may be,good luck and we hope you have a fabulous, fun-filled 2016!


Happy New Year from Bluebell Therapy!