4 reasons why the man cave matters for mental health

the man caveIs escaping to your man cave a joke in your house ?  Well here’s four reasons why it’s brilliant for your mental health.

1: It’s a place to be alone.

Life is loud don’t underestimate the value of being on your own, surrounded only by your own noise. Choosing time on your own builds mental energy and resilience for life.

2: It’s a place to be purposeful.

Your man cave might be a garage, your Xbox or the garden shed. Wherever it is, it’s a place you go to be purposeful, where your attention is absorbed into a task and you get the satisfaction of completing a project. Focussing deeply on your hobby brings welcome perspective on other parts of your life.

3: It’s a place to connect.

Your man cave, as all men know, is a space away from everyone. Except… those people you invite in. You might game with friends; talk carburettors and pistons with mates or drink homemade brew with other homebrewers. These connections are incredibly valuable to your mental health; those you invite into your space are people you connect deeply with and can turn to when the going gets tough.  The depth of relationship is more important than the quantity of friends.

4: It’s a place to remind you of your value.

There are so many ways in which we can lose our sense of value and in your man cave you set your own rules and measures. It’s a place where your self-worth increase and as the unconquerable master of your own space you can go on and master the world outside.

Sometimes your man cave isn’t always enough. So, our expert counsellors are ready to help anyone, regardless of their gender, to find their strength, value and purpose again.

Get in touch today – we’d love to help you.

You are not alone: finding help in the face of suicidal thoughts

Often, when you have suicidal thoughts, you can think “I am alone.”

We absolutely recognise how difficult things may be for you at the moment, and you may feel that things will never change, that you can’t tell anyone one what’s going on inside or that it all feels too much to manage. Please remember that you that you are not alone, you may feel very lonely, but you are not alone.

There are people you can talk to who will listen without judgement.  Below, there are the details of many support services that are there for you.  If you feel able to have a look whilst you are feeling okay it can be useful to store phone/ text numbers into your phone so you can easily access support if you are struggling you could give them a different name (for example store Young Minds Crisis Messenger as YM).  It can also be useful to have the contact information of some 24 hour support such as Young Minds Crisis Messenger and Samaritans.  We would recommend you saving the details of more than one as support times may alter or be busier due to COVID-19.

If you are in crisis and do not feel you are able to stay safe then you can call 999. If you are too distressed to speak and you are on your mobile phone and remain quiet the operator may ask you to cough or tap the phone (so they can make sure the number hasn’t been called by accident). You will then be asked to press 55. This will put you through to their silent solution service. Remember you are NOT in trouble – they are there for you.

If you feel suicidal you can go into the accident and emergency at your local hospital.  If you don’t think you can speak then write down that you are struggling and having suicidal thoughts and just hand over the piece of paper to the receptionist or one of the team.

In the video below, Annie (one of our young people’s counsellors) gives you a great way of working out who is there to help you, 24/7. And below the video, you can find all the links to different organisations able to help you through.


YoungMinds logo

Young Minds Crisis Messenger is a free text service provides 24/7 crisis support if you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need support. It is simple to text them, you could just put something like ‘I am struggling’ and they will message you back.

You can find out more about them here – or text YM to 85258.


Papyrus is a charity dedicated in supporting children and young people under 35 who are having suicidal thoughts. They are open weekdays 9am-10 pm and weekends & Bank Holidays 2pm-10 pm.

Papyrus is also there for you if you are an adult or young person worried about someone experiencing suidical thoughts.

Visit their website, text them on 07860 039967 or ring them on 0800 068 41 41.


Childline logo 2018.png

Childline is a charity you can call or chat with.  For the 1-2-1 chat you need to be registered – it only takes a few minutes but it is a good idea to do this when you are feeling okay so you can quickly access it if you are struggling.  Childline is not 24 hours at the moment (this may change). You can chat to a counsellor between 9 am and midnight (you can not join live chat after 10.30 pm).

Find out more here or call them on 0800 1111.


the lowdown - supporting young people

If you live in Northampton The Lowdown runs a crisis cafe once a week for anyone aged 12-18. You do not have to go to the cafe at the moment – you can chat to them remotely as well.

Check out their opening times on their website.

Back to Home

Another crisis cafe once a week is run by Youthworks in Kettering for anyone aged 12-18.

You can go to the cafe – just ring ahead, or find out more on Twitter. Visit their website or ring on 01536 518 339.


Camhs live image

CAMHS Live is a run by the child and adolescent mental health service in Northamptonshire  and you can live chat with them on weekdays. It is for Young people 13 years and older and parents or carers wanting advice and information about emotional wellbeing and mental health services.

Visit their website to start a live chat with them.

Mindfulness Resources: Recommended by our counsellors and you

Mindfulness is a great way of understanding and processing our emotions, particularly in times of high pressure, change and intensity – like this Covid-19 pandemic. These resources are a collection of recommendations from our counsellors, trustees and you! If you have a resource you would like to recommend, please get in touch with us on Facebook.

For Adults

  • 50 Ways to Feel Happy by Vanessa King. “There’s chapters on resilience and exercise and loads of fun things to do.” Recommended by Rachel, one of our trustees.
  • St Peter’s Centre for Mindfulness – purchasable podcasts on the practice of mindfulness. Recommended by Anna on Facebook.
  • Headspace for Adults – an app for Android & Apple devices. Recommended by Kerri on Facebook.

For Children

  • My Little Happy Book by Kikki K. Recommended by Max.
  • You Are Awesome by Matthew Syed. Recommended by Rachel,  one of our trustees.
  • Secret Science by Dara O’Briain. “Explains how stuff works like hormones and planes, deals with procrastination & what happens to your brain when you play video games!” Recommended by Rachel,  one of our trustees.
  • The Happy Self Kids’ Daily Journal by TheHappySelf. Recommended by Gemma.
  • Headspace for Kids – an app for Android & Apple devices. Recommended by Kerri on Facebook.

Negotiating Difference

A lot has been written about why people fall in love.  It’s the first question I ask couples that come to see me.  Sometimes it’s simple: “We’re good friends and it felt right to move to the next stage”.  For some it’s a physical attraction or finding someone they can talk to about anything. For others it’s that feeling that they are ‘safe’.

A partnership is two people coming together, both with their own personality. There are a few differences I’ve observed that can lead to misunderstandings and frustration. And right now, during lockdown, these can be even more obvious than they were before.

To help in understanding these differences I’ve used the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator, a well-known tool for assessing personality types (it’s important to focus on the descriptions rather than the definition of the words – they are different):

  • ‘Intraverts’: People who get their energy from being alone, sitting on the sofa, reading a book or going for a walk. They will leave a party early because they become emotionally tired & need to be alone; they aren’t anti-social!
  • ‘Extraverts’: People who get their energy from being with others. When extraverts are emotionally tired, they will suggest going to the pub or a club to relax and recharge. Much more comfortable in large groups it allows them to re-charge their batteries.
  • ‘Perceiving’: People who know what needs to be done and are happy to do it although will rarely have a plan as to when. They are much more likely to wait until the last minute as they will find more ‘interesting’ things to do.
  • ‘Judging’: People who love lists and hate surprises! There’s always at least a rough plan in their head for the rest of the week or the holiday.  They are methodical and get frustrated if their list isn’t completed in time or someone suggests at the last minute that they could do something completely different.

So, how does this play out in relationships?

Some time ago a couple came to see me …

He was an Extravert and Perceiving style with a senior job that involved a lot of daily administration.  If he didn’t do the administration every day, it would get out of hand and as a ‘P’ this was a daily challenge.  By the end of the week he would be emotionally exhausted and in dire need of meeting people to recharge his emotional batteries.

She was an Intravert with a senior job that wasn’t just emotionally exhausting but physically exhausting too.  At the end of the week when she wanted to recharge her batteries, she preferred to go home and be left to herself to read a book and let the world wash over her.

So, at the end of the working week, each wanted the other to join them in their ‘down time’ and it was causing conflict.  I explored their differences with them and they started to understand how their needs were the opposite of each other. They came up with their own solution: he went to the pub with his friends. She would go home and sit on the sofa chilling out.  He would come home after an hour or two and they were both to enjoy the weekend together.

If you’re experiencing conflict right now, consider whether it is to do with your personality types. How can you make space for one another’s needs during the current crisis?

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out – and that’s what we’re here for! Find out about couple counselling today and how it can help you overcome your conflicts – and emerge stronger as a result.

How things change: relationships under construction

I have a ‘postcard’ in my hallway that reads ‘The road to success is always under construction”.  I often tell my clients that applies to your relationship too.

Most relationships start off lighthearted, full of joy and expectation.  We ‘fall in love’ for all sorts of reasons and with that person everything is possible: sharing a hobby or travelling, enjoying sport together, amateur dramatics or gardening.  For some, it’s having a career, for others it’s getting married and having children.

Initially it looks like a straight road that you can choose to travel down at speed or just amble along and admire the view.  And then, after few years, the road begins to twist and turn and you find you must change gear, slow down or even come to a stand-still.

So, what twists and turns have my clients told me about?  Marriage, the first child, promotion, moving house, someone close dying, the ‘in laws’, redundancy, moving town, children leaving home, unfulfilled career ambitions and now the unexpected challenges that coronavirus has brought such as social distancing and limits on our day to day life.

Each one can change our perspective on life.    And all this happens alongside our own life-stages, our twenties and thirties, the big ‘0’ birthdays through to mid-life (crisis, what crisis!) and retirement.

The good news is that all these twists and turns can be negotiated with change, goodwill, generosity and patience.  However, we are not always prepared and able to fulfill the emerging needs in our partner or sometimes we simply don’t know how.  And that’s where help from a Relate counsellor can help couples emerge stronger and better placed for the future. Find out how we can help you and your partner.

Bereavement during Covid-19

Relate counsellor Dee Holmes gives her advice for those who have experienced bereavement at this time. More and more of us are being affected directly by loss due to COVID-19, and Relate Northampton are here to help.

Experiencing a loss during this season of lockdown is particularly traumatic. If you’re grieving a loved one and need some help in the process you’re going through, we’re here to help you.

Contact us today to book an appointment, or find out about individual counselling sessions.

Looking after your child’s mental health: Good mental health during coronavirus

We and our children are having to come to terms with not being at school or seeing their friends, being separated from vulnerable family members, and for some not completing qualifications they’ve been working hard on all year.

As parents, we can do so much to help our children develop good mental health practices. Here’s a few tips to get you started:

  1. We must look after ourselves. Children are like sponges – they often pick up on emotions and conversations around them without us really noticing. They look to their parents or carers to see how they should feel. If we’re taking care of our own mental health, we are signalling to them that they need not be worried or anxious.
  2. Make sure they have space to voice any worries or concerns they have. Often these are unfounded. Talk through the facts with them in an age-appropriate way. Talk about why we’re doing things a bit differently at the moment, so that they understand why they’re not going to Scouts or seeing their school friends.
  3. For younger children, why not start this week drawing pictures of different emotional faces? Talk about how our bodies feel when we experience these emotions and different words we might use to describe the emotions. Giving them language for their feelings can help start a positive conversation.
  4. Think creatively about your child’s social interaction. Make a plan with their friends’ parents for regular video calls, email communication or letters. Provide plenty of safe outdoor time in parks, woods and countryside trails. Set them challenges to stretch and occupy their growing minds.
  5. Children thrive on routine, so establish your own for them. It doesn’t have to be very rigid, but knowing how the day will start and end and what the set features of the day are will really help. Make sure to include plenty of simple reward moments so that they know when they are doing a good job.
  6. Make the dinner table a coronavirus-free time. Don’t allow it, or its impacts, to dominate the dinner conversation. If you’re in self-isolation and running out of conversation, get everyone to set a few questions like “if you were going to build a house on the moon, what would it look like?”. Put them a pot and draw one every meal time.
  7. Make sure that you and they understand this is not forever. Although we don’t know when things will return to normal, we know that they will. Help the whole family to find creative ways of enjoying the novelty of these strange times – while knowing that things will return to normal.

At Relate Northamptonshire, we are experienced in counselling children through difficult times. If you need help with your child, please get in touch. We aren’t meeting clients in person at the moment, but are holding telephone and webcam appointments. We’re here to help you support your child. Call us on 01604 634400.

Caring for your community: Good mental health during coronavirus

Anxiety has a powerful pull. It pulls us into ourselves and our immediate world. It occupies our energy and our attention, and becomes the lens through which we see everything else.

A great antidote to anxiety therefore is to look out for others. We all have vulnerable people in our communities, and a part of the purpose of social distancing is to protect the physical health of these people.

However, there is so much we can do from over 2 metres away that will also protect their mental health.
  1. Identify a few vulnerable neighbours you want to look out for. Drop a note through their door with your number inviting them to give you a call if they want a chat or need some help.
  2. If you pass them on the street or see them over the garden fence, make an effort to say hello and ask how they are from a safe distance.
  3. Do you know that Daisy at number 9 loves needlecraft? Pick up a craft magazine while doing your food shop. Perhaps Phil & Margaret love puzzles – give them one of yours so they’ve got something new to do.
  4. Make a list of those you know who are elderly or vulnerable. Every day, create something – a letter, a card, a picture – and post it to them. It can really brighten someone’s day to receive something in the post. It’s also a great activity to get the kids involved with. Have they created something as a part of homeschooling? Let them choose someone off the list to send it to.

Don’t overburden yourself with all the houses on your street. Choose your most immediate vulnerable neighbours and make it your mission to help them through the next few months. It will lift your mood too!

If you’re struggling, whether you’re vulnerable yourself and self-isolating, or feeling overwhelmed by it all, we’re here for you. We can’t see you in person, but we can book appointments for telephone or webchat. Get in touch to find out how we can help you through this time: 01604 634400.

Practice Peace: Good mental health during coronavirus

Just as much as bad habits can feed anxiety, good habits can build peace in us. When you start avoiding a fear-feeder, replace it with a peace-builder.
  1. Start the day the right way. Make sure that the start of the day isn’t a potential fear-feeder like reading the news or browsing social media. Meditate, do a simple Pilates or Yoga video, practice mindfulness techniques, write a list of 5 things that you are grateful for… There are so many ways to start the day the right way.
  2. Exercise is an excellent way to stay both mentally and physically healthy. Whether you go for a walk, a run or exercise at home, make the effort to do some exercise every day.
  3. For every cancelled social engagement, plan a phone call instead! Video chats are the next best thing to meeting in person, especially with a group.
  4. Get out into nature every day. It can just be a bit of weeding in the back garden – or a bike ride or walk further afield. Notice and enjoy the spring. Spending time in the natural world is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, so use it!
  5. Arts and crafts can be deeply therapeutic, whether it’s baking, sewing, painting, cross-stitch, woodwork, DIY… All of these things require focussed attention and are absorbing in their very nature. Is there something you’ve often wanted to try? Now is a great opportunity.
  6. When you are out and about, try to actively greet everyone you see: look them in the eye, smile and say hello. Simple connections like these remind us that we are not alone. And if you have time, stop to have a chat about anything and everything. It’s good for you and for them!
  7. You could even set yourself a challenge: learn a language or a skill, expand your knowledge on a topic, design something. Having a challenging but achievable goal gives a positive purpose and focus to your day.
  8. Dig out those books you’ve never had time to read. Reading is a great way to escape into a different world for a while, whether fact or fiction.
There are so many other things you can do to practice peace. Don’t try and do them all – choose a few that capture you. And share your methods with others to encourage them too!
We aren’t seeing clients in person at the moment, but you can book a phone or webchat consultation. We are here for you. Just ring 01604 634400.