Mental Health Advice

Apr 24, 2020 | Passions


Julia and her good friend Jonathan Hoban really explored the many dimensions of the health benefits of the outdoors during lockdown in an interview on Instagram. Click here for an overview of the interview.

TOG asked him how he met Julia. He told us,

“After seeing her on TV, I followed Julia on social media, and responded to her tweets which I always found to be helpful, and always got to the heart of the issue, consistently.


On topics such as walking in nature, and how it can help empower and heal us, we have views in common. Julia invited me onto Talk Radio, which she was hosting at the time, and our professional relationship developed from thereon in!”

Jonathan, author, psychotherapist, business coach and expert speaker, is a professionally registered member of the British Association of Counselling Psychotherapy (MBACP) specialising in areas addiction, anxiety disorders, depression, anger management and trauma work.

He has worked within the NHS, treatment centres and corporate companies around the U.K, predominantly in the City of London extensively over the last ten years with great success.

His book ‘Walk With Your Wolf’ is a part-memoir, self-help and life coaching book that explores the restorative power of nature; he coined the phrase ‘Walking Therapy’ and has pioneered it since.

His expertise on Walking Therapy is second to none and provides other therapists with Walking Therapy Training course, overseen by the BACP ethical framework team.

Health Benefits – Q&A

Jonathan and Julia explored the many dimensions of the health benefits of the outdoors during lockdown in a recent interview on Instagram. Julia addressed the key issue of the moment and the effect it’s had on the lives of individuals, couples, and families. The impact embraces feelings of being isolated, powerless, trapped, living in fear. Jonathan considered the depth of those feelings aroused and offered insightful comment and advice on how to cope during lockdown:

1/ JB - It’s OK for us to feel stressed in these unprecedented times isn’t it?

JH – yes of course…

Especially so given our current climate: With many of us feeling:

• Powerless and out of control

• Feeling that our liberty has been taken away in many respects

• Feeling trapped & confined in our homes, which for some can create frustration, or a stressful family dynamic

• Feeling overly protective & worried about our families and finances, the financial climate, and where this will all leave us.

• Unable to have physical contact with friends and family

• Sitting with a strong feeling of uncertainty and fear of the unknown

• Along with  fear of catching covid-19

So given all that …..yes it’s reasonable

2/ JB/ So….What happens in the body and mind in these circumstances?

Essentially our cortisol, noreprinephine,(which are stress hormones) along with adrenaline levels are greatly raised, and this makes us hyper vigilant, over reactive, frustrated,  stressed or angry. Which after a prolonged period of time IF not MANAGED properly can lead to burn out, and what I’m calling LOCKDOWN BURNOUT, along increased anxiety and fear.

3/ JB – It’s perfectly natural isn’t it?

YES, it’s PERFECTLY NATURAL.  Whatever you do….DO NOT suppress what your feeling. This is  ABSOLUTELY the correct PRIMAL, SURVIVAL responses for our body to have given our current climate. So my first piece of advice is simply

• Acknowledge how you feel, and how your body is reacting.

• Do not ‘REPRESS OR SUPRESS’ your ANXIETY or FEELINGS OF FRUSTRATION. Like a pressure cooker with no release valve, EVENTUALLY you will EXPLODE or IMPLODE. And I’m going to give some TIPS in a little bit of how to communicate this BETTER.

• DO NOT SHAME yourself or feel GUILTY for having  it. Because, IF WE DO THAT, we are not taking our body and mind into consideration. In fact, we’re ignoring it. And I think many of us know what it’s like to be ignored, right. And in the same way, our body will rebel and communicate to us, that by being ignored it’s  feeling HIGHLY IRRITATED, STRESSED AND AGGRESSED, and it’s voice will get louder and louder the more you ignore it.

This is where we will start to have more negative thoughts patterns, we will start to catastrophising the worst case scenarios, and start making assumptions about ourselves and others, make rash decisions.. ALL


4/ JB - I have found building a routine invaluable - ME time is important isn’t it? Shouldn’t feel guilty

JH – It’s VITAL during lockdown and of course there’s no need to feel guilty, it is in fact a FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT. We need ORDER, if we don’t have ORDER, we have CHAOS, and our life becomes unmanageable, along with our emotional and psychological well being. When we’re tired, it becomes impossible to manage feelings and as a result our behaviour becomes irrational.

• DIARISING, creating a ROTA (especially where HOME SCHOOLING is concerned) sets a VITAL BOUNDARY for the day ahead. If we do this WE ALL KNOW what’s COMING UP, were all on the SAME PAGE, we can all grab some ME TIME, get that much needed HEADSPACE, and  allows a family in living in CLOSE PROXIMITY to be able to work as a TEAM, and RESPECT each other’s needs. In this climate of UNCERTAINTY we need CERTAINTY and a PLAN OF

ACTION for the DAY AHEAD is ESSENTIAL. I can’t EMPHASISE this enough.

• KEEP YOUR OWN PERSONAL SPACE TIDY. TIDY SPACE, TIDY MIND. Get your kids involved, it will help give them structure, and this is an ESTEEMABLE DUTY, for all, and helps connect you as a team. If you live alone, a structure and list of chores to occupy yourself, is even more key to maintain a healthy mindset

YOU MUST ….DIARISE IN TIME TO SELF REGULATE &/ OR REGULATORY ACTIVITIES, TO HELP CALM AND SOOTHE, MIND & BODY –  This needs to be TOP OF THE LIST. If YOU are NOT ABLE REGULATE your own feelings, how can you possibly be expect to regulate your kids feelings and behaviours when they arise.

In a busy home with lots of noise, Gaming OR Time spent on tech, or mobiles  ISN’T regulating, in fact over stimulates the brain. It’s called  AUDITORY AND RETINAL OVER-STIMULATION, and leaves you feeling OVERWHELMED, IRRITATED AND AGGRESSED.



• When we walk OUTSIDE…we CONNECT with nature, our PRIMAL ENERGIES, and AUTHENTIC SELF. We can hear and feel ourselves breathing. When we feel the SUN ON OUR FACE, the WIND IN OUR HAIR, or even the RAIN on our skin. We feel alive and connected to something greater than ourselves that provides and instant sense of perspective. Even walking on your own, you don’t feel alone anymore and get an instant sense of belonging. After all, we’re primal beings it’s where we come from. It’s a part of us as much as we’re a part of it.. AND  being SURROUNDED by nature, (in your garden, planting seeds, doing crafts or playing games with your kids) it is INSTANTLY calming, because we’re in a SOOTHING, NURTURING, NEUTRAL, NON- JUDGMENTAL ENVIRONMENT.

5/ JB if we don’t put things in place – what happens?


• We become more REACTIVE

• Our decision making process becomes WORSE.

• We feel then feel OVERWHELMED which increases stress hormones, that leads burnout, and what I am calling LOCKDOWN BURNOUT.

• Our lives become unmanageable. Unmanageable for us and unmanageable for everyone else around us.               

6/ How do we manage our feelings of anger and frustration in this time of close proximity?

When we SHOUT or are PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE towards,  it’s extra unwanted noise or stress we need during this time,, and leaves us feeling more unheard and unseen.

Therefore we need to find more sophisticated ways of communicating and observing how we feel.

1: TRAFFIC LIGHT SYSTEM: I love to use a traffic light analogy of green, amber and red lights within the body.

•Anger has spectrum of low level to higher level. And this is very useful to be AWARE of. 

• Low level is more sulking, petulance that if not seen or recognise by ourselves, it gets suppressed. AND THEN it will intensify, and  become more high level. SO, FRUSTRATION, ANGER, REBELLIOUS ANGER, and RAGE .

• We need to first identify when we are feeling low level anger, and this would be GREEN. If we are not aware of how we feel, we can we possibly communicate it. If we don’t communicate it, we will internalise our anger and this will then move to AMBER.

• We need to communicate our feelings on either of these lights. If we are on amber, we are more easily triggered, and if it triggers, WE THEN  hit the RED light.

• So TAKE SOME TIME OUT TO SIMMER DOWN, STEP BACK. TIME will help to gain some PERSPECTIVE rather than being instantly REACTIONARY.

• When we hit the RED LIGHT, we communicate irrationally. We, can’t hear what the other person has to say, and everything becomes noise, chaos and is completely unproductive of time, emotional resources, and we end up feeling drained.


2: NAME THE FEELING .Before you communicate what you feel angry or frustrated at make sure you’ve had time to think about what it is EXACTLY you wish to communicate.

• SO AGAIN….STEP BACK, TAKE SOME TIME OUT and be REALLY CLEAR on what you wish to communicate and WHY?

• The PROCESS of writing down how we feel, can help us find the words and clarity of what we wish to COMMUNICATE.

• AND THIS, helps us develop an EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY. If we don’t we can PROJECT our AGGRESSION on to others, and this isn’t fair. We ALL need to be accountable and answerable for how we’re feeling. Don’t do the BLAME GAME, it won’t end well.

3. Often It’s the ANTS not the ELEPHANTS ….the LITTLE NIGGLY THINGS  that can become the most irritating when living in close proximity

.• So we need to CHOOSE OUR BATTLES WISELY, an, try to let the LITTLE THINGS GO, &  CONSIDER what will add VALUE to the situation.

  Arguments are an ENERGY DRAIN. If we are drained it’s harder to manage our emotions. We then become more REACTIVE, which keeps us in a VICIOUS CYCLE. So once again choose your battles wisely.



•We need provide each other with real FOCUS and ATTENTIVENESS to address what the other person has said.  so they feel SEEN, HEARD, TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION, and don’t feel IGNORED.

• DO NOT have IMPORTANT discussions when tired OR you’re in the middle of something else.

• DO NOT, have important discussion when drinking alcohol.

• DO NOT try to QUICKLY FIX or USE HUMOUR to diffuse a tense conversation.  This will always  DIMINISH the importance of what the other person is trying to say. Best to WALK AWAY. It’s a CLASSIC.

3: TAKE YOUR EGO OUT OF IT – We’re all in the same boat. And we have to learn QUICKLY how to develop a thick skin, and LET IT GO. (Free floating anxiety, ether, match)

• DO NOT TAKE EVERYTHING TO HEART OR TAKE IT PERSONALLY. It’s easy to do so if you’re a SENSITIVE person like me. And being locked in a confined space will only exacerbate this.

4: BE ASSERTIVE WITH A GENTLE TOUCH – softer tonality, and calmer mannerisms. No scouling or facial contorting. It’s not a good look.

• When you WALK OUTSIDE.., SMILE at others, say GOOD MORNING. Make that CONNECTION, and don’t IGNORE or SHRUG away. and keeping your vibe light can have a tremendously positive effect for those around you. We can choose to add a lot of WEIGHT to the situation, or TAKE IT OUT. And this RULE both inside and outside the home.

5: CALL A FRIEND TO DE-BRIEF – This really helps, but choose the RIGHT person, to talk about the RIGHT ISSUE, with. So we feel seen, heard and understood. If you live alone, having this SUPPORT NETWORK is vital, along with REACHING OUT and ASKING FOR HELP.

6: REALLY TRY TO EMPATHISE – To do this effectively, ONCE AGAIN..




• ACKNOWLEDGE that you’ve heard them and you UNDERSTAND. Even do so, when you DON’T sometimes. Put YOUR PRIDE down for a second, and FOCUS on the other person NEEDS.

7: BREATHING TECHNIQUES: 4-7-8 breathing technique


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