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SW France Life Concerns

Struggles in SW France are not unusual.  Katie Gardner is a fully-qualified CBT Counsellor and 10-year expat based on the border of 47/24.  She is here to answer your questions.



Katie Gardner

Jenny P writes

With all this wine and French bread I am piling on the pounds, mostly because I sit at home all day.  I can’t face going to a gym or exercise class on my own.  I fear that depression may be setting in and the eating is getting out of control?

Hello Jenny,

From your question it is apparent that you are aware that lack of exercise is exacerbating the low feelings you are experiencing. In order to remotivate yourself, and to avoid getting overwhelmed, start off with just a simple 10 minute stroll each morning. Try to stick to the same sort of time every morning and tell yourself, it’s only 10 minutes, I can do this. Then focus on what you can see, hear, smell and touch; if your mind wanders to those things causing you distress, bring your focus back in again. If that’s too much to start off with, some simple stretching exercises can trigger endorphins which will naturally give you a boost. Once the endorphins start popping perhaps enlist the help of a friend, make a plan with them, this will also make you feel less isolated – perhaps that’s partially what might be going on here? Planning ahead will give you a goal, even if you see a glimpse of increased energy and motivation that, in itself, will help. Trying to cut back on the carbs and vigorous exercise is too much to try to achieve all at once. Start small and build.


Struggles in SW France

Exercise with a friend will help motivation

Adrian D writes

My self-esteem has plummeted following an accident that has left me unable to work.  I feel useless, old and finished. How can I raise myself up?

Hello Adrian

Ah yes, the “compare and despair” cycle! How your life used to be vs how your life is now. This can be a real rabbit hole and it is the comparisons that lead to negative self-talk, which increase your anxiety and stress. Now’s the time to rethink what you want from your life in this new chapter because that, truly, is what it is. Make a list of what your strengths are and those things you enjoy doing and give you a buzz. Assess each one for the level of confidence they engender. What do you have time to do now that previously you didn’t? Your self-worth was, presumably, fairly strongly linked to the sense of purpose and achievement you gained from your work. So now’s the time to develop a new schedule: when you are used to planning your entire day around your job, it can be very disconcerting to go from that straight into having a totally unstructured day.  It is that that needs a complete rethink and restructure. The more someone does something in their life that they can be proud of, the easier it is for them to recognise their self-worth. Find a new sense of purpose.  Maybe you can do volunteer work related to your former career?  Or maybe you’ve always cared deeply about a particular cause?  Finding a new way to provide meaning for your life will restore the sense of purpose that you once found through work. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument or to travel more, even if only day trips? Now is the perfect time. You have the freedom. Go for it!

Struggles in SW France

Take up a new hobby

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First published in the May/June 2019 issue of The Local Buzz

Images: Katie Gardner and Shutterstock