Boosting low mood in a Pandemic

As we move into 2021 and towards a more hopeful life offered by the freedom of a vaccine, many of us are trying to adapt to the lack of certainty of when this freedom will land at our door. We have been struggling with understandable worries about our health, the people we love, the work we may have when life begins to return to ‘normal’ in a pandemic. What will normal look like for you? Being proactive about our stress levels can be difficult at a time when so much of our ‘normal’ has been turned on its head. Survival mode means dealing with the immediate needs of food & shelter, paying the bills and keeping ourselves and our loved ones alive.

At times of high collective stress, the most primitive part of the brain is activated, the amygdala, which orients us to signs of danger in the environment. This helps us to deal with threat, but it is also exhausting when it is over-stimulated. This is the reason we feel exhausted by 6pm and good for nothing but the sofa although activity levels may have been much reduced over the past three months.

Our sense of control is undermined as our lives are circumscribed by events beyond our control. Try the suggestions below, daily, to build your coping skills as into summer.

Practice autogenic training: this is the term given to a system of relaxation where you control physical tension by concentration on six different areas of focus such as, heaviness in your arms and legs, warmth, breathing, heartbeat.

Practice abdominal breathing; inhale and exhale deep into the abdomen, preferably through the nostrils regularly throughout the day. Download free relaxation files on Practice at least 3-4 times per week.

Grounding: Practice keeping your feet on the ground. If we constantly move on the balls of our feet, we become ‘ungrounded’. Remove your shoes when you have an opportunity and notice your connection to the earth.

Get outdoors; Even if mood is low and you lack energy, it is critical to get some natural light, your Vitamin D and fresh air on a regular basis.

Find an affirmation/coping statement: Repetition of a phrase that means something to you, will influence your subconscious mind for example ‘I am calm and in control’. ‘This too will pass’. ‘These are tough times. My best is good enough’. It takes about 30 days to create a new habit, so repetition is crucial.

Find a ritual: make a deliberate effort to create a psychological winding down space that helps you to switch off at end of the day. If insomnia is a problem for you it is important to create a sleep environment that supports, you to unwind. Talk to your GP who may prescribe short-term medication and check out for more information.

Aine Egan, MIACP is an accredited counselor available for online or phone counseling. Limited face to face from appointments from February, subject to public health guidelines.


Remote Counselling Sessions available

Following the introduction of Level 5 public health restrictions in Ireland, all counseling sessions are being offered remotely. Whether you prefer to talk face to face or shoulder to shoulder, at a time of COVID19 the pressures in many homes has been accelerated. Remember the greatest gift you can give yourself is the permission to seek support. The greatest gift you can give another is to share your story.

If you are struggling with anxiety, low mood, and find it difficult to see change ahead, it may help to talk to an independent talk therapist. Counselling sessions are available via video or phone. Feel free to get in touch if you have any queries.

Counselling for Anxiety


Living through Tough Times

Living through A Pandemic

Our experience of living through a pandemic has meant dealing with a series of losses that few of us could have predicted in January. Collective stress has been extreme over the past six months and it is difficult not to be impacted by this tension in the ether. As human beings, we do vary in our attitude to risk, attitudes to authority, and the degree to which we seek safety in our lives. However, it is normal to resent fundamental changes to our lifestyle because a) it is not of our choosing b) there is the reality that no one in authority can tell us when all this will end. Some of these losses include;

Loss of Social Contact

The normal ways of connecting with others, chatting, meeting on the street, and organizing our social lives and celebrating life milestones have been severely damaged. We are tactile creatures and we need physical touch. Evidence shows that those who give and receive regular hugs tend to have higher levels of well-being. Zoom is no substitute for this contact.

Loss of Freedom

The element of spontaneity and choice in our freedom of movement has been curtailed. This is difficult for many. Humans seek novelty and variety in their lives and removing this is harsh. If your home feels more like a prison than a safe haven, it is going to be a very tough time.

Loss of Security

The need to feel safe and to forward plan is an innate need for most of us. Making plans is extremely difficult at the moment. Health security is spotlighted for the foreseeable. Anyone who wants to protect their health and worries about the vulnerable people they know will struggle. Losing a job and concerns for future income sources feeds financial insecurity. Work changes that are not of our making can lead to feelings of powerlessness and anxiety.

Loss of Loved Ones

The death of someone we love at a time of COVID, whether directly as a result of the virus or other reasons, is extremely difficult. We find comfort and meaning in ritual and being close to those who are ill and dying. This has been sabotaged in a pandemic. Community support matters at times of painful loss.

Loss of Meaning

We are meaning-seeking creatures. We seek to make sense of our lives by seeing the meaning and purpose in our experiences and relationships. When change is rapid and seemingly random it can undermine this sense of meaning and be psychologically unsettling at best and at worst very frightening. In the wise words of Victor Frankel, ‘We can tolerate any How in our lives when we understand the Why’.

Loss of Clarity in our Roles

The merging of home and work, work and school has challenged many. Loss of clarity in our roles and location boundaries is tough. Am I a parent? Am I a teacher? Am I a colleague or carer? Time and role conflicts will set us up for heightened stress.

If you are feeling overwhelmed give yourself permission to seek out a trusted professional. Remember it is an act of profound courage to share your story with someone. Take a look at If you are worried about a minor, see and

See for options.

Aine Egan, MIACP is an experienced psychotherapist who blogs at


Counselling in time of COVID

Counselling support in confidence

We are not living in ‘normal’ times. None of us could have predicted the challenges we are faced with in a time of pandemic. The situation since January has required us to adapt to different work lives, home lives, much reduced social contacts and a much higher level of fear in our contacts with others. Anxiety is a normal response to such dramatic change on many different levels. Our capacity to meet others, chatting and honoring people who are ill and dying has all been sabotaged over the past 6 months. Counselling support may help you if you are feeling overwhelmed;

  • You are concerned about your irritability, lack of tolerance, and poor concentration when you need it.
  • If you have been bereaved in the past 6 months you have to deal with grieving in ways that are tough without community, family, social support. Feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety are normal at all the losses we have had to cope with since March.
  • If you are struggling to function and meet day to day responsibilities.
  • You are struggling with low mood, have lost your motivation and sense of hope. You are experiencing somatic symptoms of stress; insomnia, unexplained aches and pains, IBS, hair loss, loss of appetite.


Online Counselling

One of the people I turn to when looking for inspiration is Melodie Beattie and her meditations in the Language of Letting Go. This morning gave me a smile when I saw the theme for 21 April is one called Waiting.
‘We do not have to pressure ourselves by insisting that we do or know something before it’s time. When it is time, we will know. We will move into that time naturally and harmoniously. We will have peace and consistency. We will feel empowered in a way we may not today. Deal with the panic, the urgency, the fear; do not let them control or dictate decisions.
Waiting isn’t easy. It isn’t fun. But it is often necessary to get what we what’.
If you are feeling overwhelmed online counselling or phone counselling is available in confidence, You do not have to struggle alone


Carl Rogers and Counselling Approaches

One of the most influential psychologists in the 20th century was Carl Rogers, a man who had a profound influence on our understanding of how people evolve and grow. Rogers founded person-centred counselling

Counselling Wicklow
Conditions of Worth

following a lifetime of studying what he described as the ‘core conditions’ or values that enabled personal exploration & growth; congruence, unconditional positive regard and empathy. Rogers held an optimistic view of human behaviour, that as humans we have an innate need to realise our potential and become ‘fully functioning’. He suggests that obstacles arise when there is a mismatch between our inner worlds (the authentic self) and our external environment (the false self).

Conditions of Worth
Through the process of socialisation, in family and society, we learn what behaviours are acceptable and personal qualities that are valued. We learn how to ‘fit in’ with our environment. Over time this can lead to the creation of a false self which meets the demands of the environment and draws approval from those around us. Self-worth that feels conditional, for example on achieving academic excellence, sports achievement or on maintaining a certain personal appearance can generate a shaky sense of self if these conditions change.
Rogers used the term ‘congruence’ or genuine to describe someone whose inner world reflects their outer experiencing. When we learn to be our ‘authentic selves’, we are less governed by the values of other people or institutions but operate from an internal centre of responsibility. Unconditional positive regard is fundamental to healthy growth, none of us is perfect or infallible and in order to be authentic, we need to know that regardless of mess-up’s or behaviour we retain a core worth. Some of the markers of ‘fully functioning’ are having a positive self-concept and
o understanding and accepting all parts of our personality
o being reality-oriented; we do not seek refuge in fantasy, addictions, or denial of problems
o we take responsibility for our own lives as adults
o we recognise and express our capacity to live creatively & spontaneously
o we seek out validating relationships & environments that help us to grow
o we become more capable of living in the present
Rogers stressed that the ‘fully functioning’ state is an ideal and a dynamic one, a state of realising that we are always ‘in process’ and evolving through life. What matters most is the continual striving and seeking growth in a way that does not stagnate after setbacks but that feeds our learning and helps us to try and try again.


Talking Solutions Holiday Time

Talking Solutionss
Counselling in Wicklow

Time off calling. The office is closed until January 02 2020. For emergencies contact the Samaritans 116 123 or Pieta House 1800 247 247. For self-care exercises check out and
Look forward to meeting you in 2020. Confidential counselling support available in Greystones and Arklow.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,

may the clarity of light be yours,

may the fluency of the oceans be yours.

And so may a slow

wind work these words of love around you,

an invisible cloak

to mind your life.

©John O’Donoghue

Anxiety Counselling

What is Counselling?


If I had a tenner for every time, I was told counsellors ‘just listen’, I would not be a wealthy woman, but I would have a decent holiday out of it! Counselling is a collaborative process where a safe, confidential, non-judgemental space is provided to help explore personal struggles.
Research indicates that talk therapy can be highly effective in supporting people struggling with anxiety and depression and life changes such as retirement, illness, relationship break-up and bereavement. Often a close death can activate feelings of previous losses and unresolved grief although we may not be conscious of this connection. If your struggles are impacting on your quality of life, your relationships or fear and hesitancy is causing you confusion then counselling can be a powerful process to support change.
While different counsellors vary in the degree to which they emphasis technique or behaviour, all will have as the primary intention to empower and support improvements in their client’s well-being.
Confusion is Normal
Ambivalence is a normal position when we are at a transition or crossroads in life. We ask ourselves where do I go from here? Maybe I don’t need change? Can I muddle along? Is the status quo okay? This treadmill of repetition can go on for many years and if often takes a crisis to provoke change. Stepping out of our comfort zones is always an act of courage. Counselling is not a quick fix but is a process for the courageous that takes time and effort to reap real rewards.

Although it is common to be unclear when we start counselling what we would like to achieve through therapy, your therapist will support you to explore your life and its uniqueness and over time gain clarity on subjective well-being goals. The comparison curse means we can be mired in comparing our lives to others and berating ourselves for not measuring up. It is a measure of some emotional maturity when we stop this comparing and recognize our lives are always different, contextual and unique. When we understand, express and have confidence in living our own values this comparing to others tends to fade.
This is why counselling always differs from a chat with friends or family. The effective therapist will not have an ‘agenda’ and will create enough psychological space in the counselling room for you to explore these fundamental questions. Our friends and family will always be partial and have their own agenda in relationships.

The best qualities of a great friendship exist when we find a therapist we trust; supportive, empathetic, honest, challenging and possibly even fun. But conversation is always purposeful, supporting you to improve the relationship you have with yourself, gaining self-awareness, personal insight, confidence and self-acceptance.
So yep, counselling is a lot more than ‘just listening’!. Get in touch if you want to talk in confidence.

Anxiety Counselling

Counselling for Depression and Anxiety

Get the support you deserve

One in four of us will struggle with our mental health at some stage of our lives. Sometimes, it is reactive, a response to a difficult life event such as bereavement, divorce or redundancy. Sometimes it does not make sense, we may struggle to understand low mood and why it persists. In these situations, counselling can be helpful. If switching off is a problem for you, it can impact on your energy and perhaps your tolerance levels with family and work colleagues. Feelings of depression can be very isolating and we struggle to believe that change is possible.
Counselling aims to help you understand why and how depression may be occurring at this time. When we are depressed our thoughts and perceptions can become exceptionally negative, bleak and defeatist. This thinking, in turn, contributes to a lower mood and we get caught in a downward spiral. There may be core beliefs which frame our thinking such as I’m a worthless person or Nobody likes me. Depressed people also tend to ruminate, going over and over a problem, leading to paralysis by analysis.

Depressive episodes that are recurrent will take time and commitment to change. However, holding on to hope is very important. The use of cognitive therapy is well researched and will often be combined with medication. By learning strategies to counter the depressing thinking, cognitive therapy will help to prevent depression returning. A counselling process will support you to examine interpersonal relationships and identify ways in which established patterns of relations may be affecting how you feel about yourself.
One of the common features of depression is a vicious ‘inner critic’, that internal voice that tells you are hopeless or undeserving of support. Introducing a therapeutic space to reflect on how you talk to yourself and introducing some kindness and self-compassion can prove transformative over time. Building a process of change begins which small achievable steps which lead to a sense of achievement gradually, critical if we struggle with inertia or indecision.

Research indicates that those who live with a lifelong partner with depression are at risk of struggle themselves. If this is you, it is really important to seek support. If you want to learn more, I would recommend reading ‘Depressive Illness: The Curse of the Strong by Dr.Tim Cantopher. Appointments in Greystones and Arklow, Co. Wicklow.


Counselling for Teenagers in Wicklow

Counselling for young people can be a very powerful learning process and useful for many teenagers who may be struggling. You may be reading this as a young person or you may be a parent worried about someone you know. You may be judging yourself harshly for feelings of being overwhelmed or confused. Life throws many curveballs at us and seeking support in a counselling relationship does not mean you are weak or lacking someone. Nor does it mean you are ‘going mad’ in some way.
Reaching out to talk to someone is an act of profound courage. Many normal people seek support at different stages of their lives and the safe, supportive, confidential environment of a counselling space can be very powerful in helping us to process these hurdles.
Young people must handle major, physical, social and emotional changes in their lives. They may also struggle with some of the key questions of identity formation: who am I? where do I fit in? How do I handle the pressures I am feeling? Even with a loving supportive family, it can be difficult to talk honestly to those we are closest to. We may protect others from our truth, our reality.
Peer support is critical in our teenage years and if we feel we have lost this or our friends do not meet our expectations it can lead to strong feelings of social isolation and loneliness. If you have experienced parental separation or divorce or bereavement during your teenage years this change can create major adjustment problems. Parental consent must be given. Counselling can help you to become your best self and let go that which no longer serves you.