Monthly Archives: February 2016

What to say when your friend tells you they’re depressed

In her guest post today, Julie Nicholls from Body Mind Coaching shares with us her experiences of what to say when your friend tell you they’re depressed.

Picture this: you have agreed to meet a long standing friend – you’ve not seen for a couple of months. Over a coffee, the usual chat goes on then your friend says: ‘oh I’m so depressed!’ What do you say?


Well at that point you might be tempted to say something you think will make them feel better. Such platitudes as: ” you’ll be all right it’s – just this horrible weather” or “you’re just having a tough time at the minute”, or “tell me about it…” then proceed to talk about yourself. This is often the way we brush off something we’re not sure how to handle.

If you really care about your friend (and if they’re your friend then I hope you do) and you want and feel strong enough in yourself to help them, then there are some things you can do and say which can make a difference to them and to your relationship with them which hopefully will help them out of what can feel like a dark and lonely place.

Depression can feel like a dark and lonely place 

In the beginning

To start with, the most important thing is probably to say and do nothing. It may seem odd, and you might be tempted to put your arm round them to comfort them, but this pause is really powerful. It shows that you are really listening and taking the time to absorb what they have said, rather than ready with what you want to say or do to make it better. If they then don’t say more of their own accord, ask something like: “is there anything more you want to say about that” then sit and listen.

Listening skills

And when I say listen, I mean really listen.

Many people are resorting to counsellors, coaches and therapists of one type or another because they feel they’re in an environment where they aren’t heard – this doesn’t mean they have no one to talk to, on the contrary sometimes. It might be that everyone is giving their opinion and not giving a chance for your friend to really express what they feel. Of course many therapists are trained to listen, but you don’t have to be a therapist to be able to help, just a friend with the time to listen. A rare commodity these days.

It’s important to find out how long they’ve felt the way they do, as this will determine the severity of the situation is. If it’s is recent it might be that they just need to get things off their chest, which could make them feel a whole lot better. It’s not that they’re actually depressed, they just haven’t felt heard, I mean properly heard, in a long time. They use the term ‘depressed’ because that is what it feels like but, it doesn’t mean they are clinically depressed.

It’s a feeling thing

It’s the way we feel when there’s a sense that we can’t share what is going on and often have conflicting ideas and feelings which we are battling with. It’s a real feeling and no amount of rationalising or ignoring will change it and it whatever is going on has to be faced and acknowledged.

When we don’t know what to do with our feelings (I teach my clients how to express them safely) or have no one to share them with, it can seem easier to put a lid on them and hope they will go away. Unfortunately this doesn’t work and eventually, like a pressure cooker, the valve has to be released to let the steam out or it will blow. I say: “the feeling of being de-pressed is because not enough is ex-pressed”.

So give your friend time to say everything they want to say and be quiet. Don’t interrupt when you think you might have a solution for them – they are not yet ready for that at this stage. And, don’t judge – you don’t know what’s going on and can never fully know as you’ve not had their life.

If having shared everything they want to, they still can’t see the wood for the trees for themselves, the next thing to figure out is can they make changes on their own with you pointing them in the right direction. Or are they in need of additional support. They may not have the energy or motivation to do this on their own – especially if they’ve felt this way for some time.

Ongoing support

If you can commit to it, arrange to meet up regularly – weekly or monthly. Perhaps some sort of rota could

be arranged with mutual friends? It’s important to make sure your friend isn’t getting worse and becoming in need professional help. You’ll be able to suggest some of the following areas they might want to explore and encourage them to let you know how things are going.

Wheel of life chart

When I work with my clients, I always start with a wheel of life chart. This is like a bicycle wheel with all the spokes on it. Each spoke represents just one area of a person’s life. Aspects such as: partner, each child, each parent, the house, work, the environment at work, physical health etc. Each area is then scored on a 0 to 10 scale with, zero being in the centre and ten on the outside rim. Once the chart is complete it becomes much easier to see which area to deal with first. The area with the lowest number if improved will have the greatest effect on the whole chart, i.e, your whole life.

This chart is something you could work on with your friend. It’ll help them become clearer about their situation and why they might feel the way they do and also help you understand your friend better. Over time it will also be a way of noticing improvement. It can be difficult if one improves from a three to a five to realise progress is being made. It is so easy to get disheartened because it’s not feeling like a ten and therefore stop doing the things that are actually helping.

You may notice that all the areas score a three or four. This is quite common in women, especially those with children and a job as they rarely make time to do things just for themselves. The needs of the children and the sense that they often feel solely responsible for the housekeeping, means they put their needs last and feel selfish if they take time out. The ‘to do’ list is longer than ever seems achievable and guilt sets in. Even worse, the inner voice that put us down is louder than the one that praises what we have done well.

Learning to say no!

It’s also very common because women find it harder to refuse requests. Generally we like to please and feel that if we say no to some extra work, helping at a community event, church meeting or school fete we might not be liked or seen as not caring.

In view of this, it’s important for you to help your friend recognise and acknowledge to themselves what they are good at and what they are achieving. What things can they say no to in order to be able to say yes to giving time to activities that benefit themselves. Allowing themselves to have the’ deep-rest’ they deserve.

Keep praising them for any steps they take to improve their situation. Not a British thing, I know, but that’s partly the problem. We’ve been taught to minimise our own successes. Taking time for ourselves is seen as selfish and we forget that if we are not well then everyone around us suffers as a consequence. Not acknowledging ourselves and our achievements can lead us to forgetting them altogether. This is very disheartening and it’s not surprising our spirits become low despite seemingly having everything.

No.1 priority

The priority is for them to take time out and to put themselves on the ‘to do’ list. Help them realise that, without them, the rest of their world falls apart, so making time for self-care is not selfish but crucial.

At first it may be just a monthly thing but building up to once a week. It may be something as simple as having time for a long soak in the bath, going for a swim, to dance or sing whatever works for them to fill up their tank. Is there something they’ve always wanted to do?

Pay attention to, and enquire about the following areas that might be part of the problem. Put it as a question rather than a statement. For example: rather than “I have noticed… ask them “have you noticed… It will help them focus their mind on areas where they may have made some changes without realising and simply going back to what they used to do will help them get better.

Dietary factors

What are they eating? Have it changed their diet recently? Are they now relying on comfort foods, such as refined carbohydrates and sweet things?   It’s vital that they get protein, whole grain carbohydrates and Omega 3 to help their brain function at its best and also avoid the sugar spikes which then lead to a low. Fish and linseed are good sources of Omega 3. If they decide to take capsules then it’s best to choose Omega3 on its own as the western diet already contains more than enough Omega 6. (For more on this see my 6th Jan16 post

Feeling SAD

Does your friend spend most of their time indoors; in the car then the office, then at home preparing meals doing homework with the kids? They may be getting a touch of SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Suggest going for a walk round a park at lunch break or sitting outside whenever possible. If they’re not on medication – including the pill, then St John’s wort can help to lift their mood, though they must read more about it and possible contraindications before deciding to use it.

Mr Motivator

Is it lack of motivation, rather than depression? If they don’t feel engaged in their work, they can be bored even if they have too much work and don’t feel they ever get to the end of it. It’s possible that their work is no longer inspiring or challenging anymore so they’re missing a sense of satisfaction and achievement.

Alternatively it might be that there’s been a change in their circumstances that they are having difficulty adjusting to. It’s easy to become stuck in how things used to be rather than embracing the change and seeing the benefits. You can help them find the positives that have come from the change in question.

Mood swings

Have they noticed if it is connected to their monthly cycle? At this time it’s much more likely we’ll feel overwhelmed if there are any ongoing, unresolved issues. Acupuncture or homeopathy can help re-balance the hormones and body making it easier to take the steps needed for long term change. As mentioned earlier self care is really important and having a massage can help re-connect with oneself and ease some of that tension that is building up because of the changes in the hormones.

Unfinished business

A further source of your friend’s woes might be unfinished projects taking longer than expected.  For example a house move, decorating or a work project.  It may be they are not seeing an end to their situation. Help them keep focused on the everyday small steps they have taken or can take to move things forward. Here again it’s about encouraging them to see progress where they can’t.

Often it’s not big radical things that are needed to make a positive change; small steady regular little changes will have a long lasting impact. If you can take time to listen, help and encourage your friend to look after themselves like they would look after their best friend, (the way you are demonstrating – we learn through copying after all) then they will become their own best friend and will have a skill to help them through tough time for the rest of their life.

You can read more self help tips for various health issues and keep up with my talks and workshops on my blog

For a wheel of life chart or an introductory consultation for help with your health issues at no cost to you, over the phone or Skype please contact me: Julie Nicholls 01793495551

Become more confident. Now!

Become more confident. Now!

We all want to be more confident in our professional lives but what does it mean and how do you become more confident?

If I asked one-hundred women “what does confidence mean to you” I’m sure I would get very different responses from all of them and indeed there really is no right or wrong answer.

When I think of confidence in the workplace the aspects listed below come to mind. However if you asked me tomorrow I would quite possibly come up with different ideas.

What does confidence mean?

  • Belief in oneself
  • Willingness to express one’s view
  • Feeling supported by colleagues
  • Permission to make mistakes
  • Seeking out opportunities


Through my coaching I have found that women, generally speaking, aren’t as confident as men. And there are a number of reasons for this.

Listed here are just some of the challenges that women have said that they feel they face in the workplace and which can knock their confidence.


  • Pre conditioned beliefs:  Women can feel that men are more confident, are better at certain tasks and therefore feel they won’t be listened to or that they don’t feel worthy.
  • Male dominated environment: It remains the case that certain industries are male dominated.
  • Not encouraged to lead: This could be an historic challenge from when they were at school or university.
  • Lack of experience in speaking out: Many women may not be experienced at public speaking or talking in the board room so feel self conscious when they are called to do so.
  • Recruitment: The wording in the job description may be more suited to a man’s strengths so straight away may put women off.

So, now that we have looked at what confidence can mean and why women may not be as confident as men what can you do about it?

I strongly believe that you can change your mindset and become more confident enabling you to achieve anything that you want in your professional life.

Below are some tips on how to become more confident.

Five Tips to Greater Confidence

      1. Turn off the negative chatter  – you may call it the gremlins or the inner voice. Whatever you call it everyone has one and it’s sabotaging your success.
      2. Set your goal – be specific in what you want to achieve. I am always amazed when I sit down with clients and ask them what they would like to achieve from their professional life and they don’t know. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for then how will you know the right steps to take to get there?
      3. Make an achievement list – every Friday afternoon I sit down and write everything that I have achieved that week. It reminds me of how much I have managed to get done that week and puts me in a positive frame of mind for the weekend.
      4. Get an Executive Coach – I can’t recommend enough how much it helps having someone that will support you in overcoming what’s holding you back and achieve what you really want out of life.
      5. Step outside your comfort zone – once a week do something that you feel uncomfortable with so that your comfort zone stretches. If you don’t like public speaking put yourself forward at work to do a presentation. Once you’ve completed it you will realize it wasn’t nearly as scary as you thought it would be.

You are more likely to achieve your goal of becoming more confident if you take an action NOW.

So, before you go put on the kettle, check Facebook or reply to that work email do one thing that will help you get more confident.

I love hearing about your success stories so do drop me a message at and let me know how you get on.

I just gave you 5 tips on how to resign, it would be good to hear which one stood out to you the most and why. Please feel free to like my Facebook Caroline Arnold Coaching page where I share further tips.

Caroline Arnold, Executive Coach


Caroline Arnold 

Executive Coach

M: 07886 794 742

T: @carnoldcoaching

F: Caroline Arnold Coaching







Change your mindset to change your body…

In her guest post today, Amy shares with us her experiences of the importance of mindset

Change your mindset to change your body…

When you’re getting started on a new fitness regime, or trying to break through a plateau if you’ve been on your fitness journey for a while, your mindset becomes hugely important to your results and progress. The problem comes when people exercise because they hate their body, but I would encourage you to exercise because you LOVE your body. The human body was designed to move and performs at it’s best when you treat it well with regular exercise and nourishment through good nutrition.

This negative mindset can be difficult to shift and while you might feel that all this self loathing is a good strategy for motivating you it’s actually very poor and can result in a cycle of unhappiness and comfort eating. It might get you through the odd workout on a bad day but in the long term you will be more successful if you quash the negative chatter in your head and introduce a positive mindset around exercise and your body. Ask yourself if your current thinking strategy is working for you? If not, it’s time to start working on some positive thought processes.

Learn to love the body you are in now and you will start to enter a whole new realm of motivation and good feelings. It’s not easy and trust me I’ve been there but when you achieve this you will end up in a much happier and healthier place. This will be hard especially if you have spent years being unhappy with your shape, but learning to appreciate the body you have will get you in the right frame of mind to take good care of it, which is going to lead to you getting fitter and healthier.

Living in a negatively pit and beating yourself up will not get you closer to your goals. Stop thinking about the things you aren’t and be thankful for the things that you are. Stop ruining it by telling yourself you can’t achieve something when you haven’t even properly committed and tried yet. Stop criticising yourself and hiding behind all the reasons why you think you can’t reach your goals. You must be more positive and appreciate what you are and the life you have.

Whatever shape you’re in, there will always be someone out there who would love to swap bodies with you. Seriously! Having the physical ability to exercise is huge and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Your health is your biggest asset and those of us who can exercise are very lucky. So enjoy it, your body is amazing.

Top tips for a positive mindset…

  • Say daily affirmations to yourself: I AM capable…I AM determined…I DESERVE this…I AM determined, happy and POSITIVE.
  • Go in to every workout remembering that your body thrives on movement. A workout is like taking the dog out for a walk – she will love you for it.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself – give yourself a break – remember no one is perfect.
  • Be realistic with what you can achieve.
  • Ignore negative people around you – they will try to sabotage you – forget what other people think.
  • Accept yourself even when you’re not at your best
  • Stop comparing yourself to other people. There will always be someone who is fitter and leaner than you but constantly comparing yourself will damage your self esteem and get you nowhere.

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