Concerned that tensions might run high over Christmas dinner?

We’re in a turbulent political climate, with a snap election scheduled for mid December, and the uncertainty around Brexit weighing heavy on many. 

In response to this we’ve launched a new service where friends and families can call upon a trained relationship counsellor to act as a mediator, and help navigate potentially awkward or heated conversations around Brexit and politics.

All experts facilitating this service, are not only trained in relationship counselling and mediation, but are also highly knowledgeable in general politics, the politics of the European Union and Brexit. They are trained to remain impartial while mediating, and instead will focus on how to rebuild relationships and offer advice on how to navigate a debate without it escalating. 

This service is available nationwide, due to the remote nature of the role and is expected to cost £30 for up to 30 minutes, but as with all Bark services, the professional sets the final price. The service will run for the three before Christmas, in the hopes that any differences are solved before the festivities begin!

To hire a Brexit mediator, click here.

If Brexit isn’t an issue in your household, we have other counsellors onsite who can support you in other areas of your life, like relationship, bereavement or family counsellors.

Eco-anxiety is on the rise – how can you manage it?

Eco-anxiety, or ‘a chronic fear of environmental doom’ is an affliction that is affecting an increasing number of people across the world, with extensive studies proving that climate change is not only impacting our planet, but also our mental health.

So, we decided to look into our data to see if it supports the external research, and unsurprisingly, it does. We discovered that demand for eco-anxiety counselling has increased by 48% in the last year, with 29% of requests being made on behalf of children. 

In response to these startling findings, we’ve worked with some of our counsellors to produce a guide on how to manage eco-anxiety. 

Find a Support System

You’re never alone. There are thousands of people that feel just like you do. Speak to friends and family members who empathise with your anxious feelings, or join a community online to speak to other like-minded people. 

Being involved in a community is proven to help fight the feeling of isolation and loneliness, especially if people in your current circles can’t relate to how you’re feeling. 

A problem shared is a problem halved and joining the right community will at least empower you to share how you’re feeling.

Make a Change

If sharing how you feel isn’t enough, then perhaps it’s time to take action.

You can partake in some form of activism, and feel comforted in the thought that you are making a difference, be it big or small.

Popular options include reducing the amount of mass produced food you eat, and instead buying more local seasonal produce, and switching from fast to sustainable fashion. Doing things like buying reusable water bottles and coffee cups are easy wins to start making a difference. Switching to glass, aluminium or other products that are infinitely recyclable can also help to ease some of the guilt associated with modern life. 

If that isn’t enough, or you’re already doing all you can at home, being vocal about your cause or even joining in with organised (peaceful) protests can help you feel like you’re gaining some control back of your emotions. 

Practise Self-care

Anxiety can take its toll on you. Make sure that you are taking time out for yourself in whichever way you feel is most appropriate.

A sense of escapism is often useful when feeling overwhelmed or anxious, so getting lost in a good book or film are effective ways to ‘zone out’ and relax. 

Curate the Content You Consume

With a culture of 24/7 news and social media, it’s really easy to get bogged down with all of the information we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Try and switch off the news every once and a while and when it comes to your social media, try to follow positive accounts that align with your values or inspire you.

Therapy

The symptoms of eco-anxiety can overlap with symptoms of general anxiety disorders and as such can be treated in a similar fashion. If your eco-anxiety is becoming so detrimental that it’s becoming difficult to perform everyday home or work life tasks then asking a professional for help should be your next step. Ecopsychology is a method of therapy where a professional can help you explore your own wellbeing, feel more connected to the planet and your relationship with it.

Try to Protect Green Spaces

There are several community groups all over the UK that allow for like-minded people to come together and maintain green spaces. Well-kept green spaces are a fantastic way to help protect the environment, because they act as flood protection, help to absorb carbon dioxide and provide habitats for wildlife. By volunteering your time to maintain these spaces, you’re having a direct impact on your local environment, and not only that, regular exposure to green spaces can improve general well-being and is even used as a treatment for mild depression.

Don’t Feel Ashamed

Some things just cannot be helped and that is okay. The world needs millions of people doing a little bit than a handful of people living the perfect zero waste life. If you are doing all that you can, and feel as though you cannot do any more, then you have done enough – try not to feel guilty about what you can’t change. Just keep living in line with your values and spread your message where you deem it appropriate.

For Children

It can feel overwhelming having a child who is struggling with anxiety, but all of the above tips can be applied to them as well. Many children feel anxiety because they feel out of control, so empowering them to make the changes they are passionate about will go a long way to easing the symptoms of eco-anxiety. 

A few simple things that can be incorporated into their everyday life include:

– Getting them involved in the house recycling

– Join a wildlife trust where they can get involved with the conservation of green spaces

– Grow food and herbs in an allotment or your garden

– Teach them to knit or sew so they can make their own clothes/accessories

– Help them be more energy efficient at home, like turning plugs and appliances off when not in use

– Help them up-cycle furniture and encourage them to donate old toys to charity

– Instead of travelling by car, walk, cycle or get public transport with them

It’s important to explain why all of the above actions are helping them make a positive change, if they don’t understand the purpose of an activity, it’s unlikely to have a positive impact on their eco-anxiety. Also be mindful to be sensitive and calm when talking to your child about the environment. 

If you or your child needs support; why not reach out to one of our on-site counsellors here.

Kai Feller, co-founder of Bark.com, said,

“While the science around Climate Change cannot be denied, the growing trend of eco-anxiety is something that can and should be managed, particularly when it comes to children. It’s important that those who are suffering from any form of anxiety are taking the time to look after themselves and get the support they require to allow them to live their lives as best as they can during challenging times.

“At Bark.com, we pride ourselves on being able to offer the services people need,when they need them, and our wide network of counsellors and therapists have helped countless Bark.com customers over the years.”

Is your pet great at comforting others? Now it can be paid £50 an hour to do so!

Animals are a source of enjoyment, comfort and relaxation for us, no one can argue with that. Science now substantiates the positive impact they have on our mental* and physical wellbeing**, so as a professional marketplace that’s facilitated thousands of quotes for therapists and other forms of counselling in the last twelve months, we decided to launch a dedicated Pet Comfort category. 

Whether someone is suffering with anxiety, high blood pressure or stress, this new service enables people to hire any manner of pet for one hour or more, so they can interact with them and alleviate their symptoms. When we say any manner of pet – we mean it, including, but not limited to, birds, snakes, lizards, llamas, goats, dogs, cats, horses and rabbits.

The Comfort Pet service is aimed at all ages, and depending on the pet owner, can include home and office visits, or onsite visits where participants travel to the pet’s location. Participants can also opt for group or one-to-one sessions, depending on the capability of the Comfort Pet and its owner. 

Comfort Pet providers can earn up to £50 an hour, however like with any Bark.com service, the provider sets the price. 

If you think your beloved animal would make a great comfort pet, sign up here by typing ‘comfort pets’ in the text box.

If you’d like to hire a comfort pet, you can do so here, simply type in ‘comfort pets’ in the search box along with your postcode.

Just a few things to note before signing your pet up for the service – 

The owner must be present during the comfort sessions, and must be able to demonstrate they have full control of their pet(s) at all times. Bark.com recommends that before a session begins, the comfort pet and its owner meet with participants to agree what will be covered in the session and to ensure the pet is comfortable with the environment. Bark.com also recommends a contract is written up which agrees the terms of the pet and participant’s interactions, including what is deemed as inappropriate behaviour by both parties and that both parties take full responsibility for their behaviour. 

Kai Feller, co-founder of Bark.com said,

“We are a country of animal lovers, and with research proving the health benefits of interacting with them, and a host of amazing pets out there, it made sense to expand our current therapy offering with Comfort Pets. 

“Many people appreciate and understand the benefits of spending time with animals, but for some it’s not always possible. We also want to make sure we offer a wide variety of pets, in part so the service can be completely tailored to each individual that uses it, but also to combat the rise in animal allergies in the UK. Everyone should be able to benefit from spending time with their very own Comfort Pet, no matter their circumstances.”

**https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0b013e31829201e1 

*http://patastherapeutas.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/MetaAna%CC%81lise.pdf

Are you a Love Island fan? Have you been questioning your own relationship since watching the show?

If you answered yes to the above questions, then don’t worry, you’re not alone. Since Love Island aired at the start of June we’ve seen a 41% spike in people requesting couple’s counselling. What’s more, our counsellors have reported a recent trend of more people seeking their help for unfaithfulness and feelings of insecurity and jealousy, or in Love Island terms a partner’s ‘head has been turned’. 

We doubt that this surge in demand, our counsellor’s feedback and Love Island being on air is a coincidence. In fact we think there’s a strong correlation between the three. 

According to one of our counsellors, it’s not unusual for viewers to draw parallels from a show they’re engaged with, and for it to spark some kind of action. Sometimes watching reality TV can initiate a ‘light bulb’ moment, where the viewer so strongly relates to what is happening in the show’s narrative, that they decide to seek help or do something about it themselves. 

One thing is for sure, love it or hate it, Love Island is very effective at highlighting the interpersonal relationships people experience. 

In response to this trend we’ve launched a specialist counselling category, where troubled couples can receive expert advice on how to work through the issues that arise when a partner’s ‘head has been turned’, or another Love Island-related relationship issue. 

The category is specifically aimed at fans of Love Island who can relate to issues the show’s couples face or have faced. This can include the ‘Molly-Mae, Tommy and Lucy’ love triangle, where a friend is overly familiar and expresses their feelings to someone in a committed relationship, the ‘Curtis epiphany’, where someone is attracted to someone they’re not in a relationship with and begins to question their feelings, or the ‘Michael facade’ where someone appears to be pretending to have feelings for their partner.

All of our Love Island counsellors have prior knowledge of the show, and the various narratives, so they can easily dissect your love woes depending on which scenario you most relate to. The sessions can be delivered either in person or remotely, and will cost around £50 an hour.

You can hire a Love Island counsellor by clicking here, and can select any of the following:

  • Love triangle
  • Feelings epiphany
  • Inappropriate behaviour
  • Gaslighting
  • Rejection
  • Feelings Facade
  • Other

If none of the relationship problems listed relate to your situation, you can simply click ‘other’. 

If you’re a counsellor and would like to join Bark.com, click here.