Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?

Have you ever felt that you were just a bit more sensitive than those around you? A pint of  beer leaves your head Stressed womanswimming. A cup of strong coffee sends you through the roof. Itchy socks have to be replaced. Sometimes all you want is to be on your own, in a dark, quiet room. And of course you feel guilty and a failure for wanting this. You feel that there is definitely something “wrong” with you.

So here is the good news. Maybe there is nothing wrong with you. It could be that you are one of the 15-20% of the population that has a very finely tuned nervous system, and are what has become known as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). The concept was first talked about in the mid-1990s by Drs. Elaine and Arthur Aron. Elaine Aron went on to write the international best seller ‘The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You‘.

Having felt easily overwhelmed since childhood, the idea had real resonance for me. It also explains why hot, cold, alcohol, any external stimulus seemed to affect me more than others. I can now proudly call myself an HSP.

Elaine Aron developed a simple questionnaire to help you determine whether you are an HSP. Try the questionnaire here.

The Pros stressed manand Cons

The Pros: HSPs are extremely sensitive on all levels which makes them empathic, creative and highly attuned to what is going on around them. They make great therapists, artists, musicians, but also visionary leaders – their highly attuned senses making it easy for them to understand other people and situations.

The Cons: This same sensitivity can make the world an overwhelming experience to the HSP, where too much information can be received by the person. This can lead to burnout and exhaustion.

The cynical amongst you may say that everybody is sensitive and we could all do with some decent downtime in an increasingly frazzled world. I think this is definitely true, but there does appear to be a scientific consensus that the HSP does actually exist on a biological level too.

I enjoy working with HSPs and often find that helping clients reframe their life, allowing for their individual gifts and weaknesses leads to a much more satisfying life. If you suspect you could be an HSP, or just feel frazzled in a busy world, please do contact me.

© 2016 Arieh Kronenberg

Images courtesy of stockimages & nenetus at

Winter Blues

Most of us are aware of something called Seasonal Adjustment Order or SAD, and have probably in the depths of another dark, endless winter wondered whether we are suffering from it.

Winters can be a very challenging time and it is easy to suffer from low mood during the dark, cold months. The media over the past few years has been highlighting the “most depressing day of the year” Apparently Blue Monday is the 3rd Monday in January, or not, if the Guardian is right.

SAD is a mood disorder that happens during specific times of the year, normally winter. Symptoms include an increased need to sleep, tiredness, depression and a tendency to over eat. The medical causes are not clear. Theories range from a lack of serotonin to the over-production of melatonin in dim light conditions.

Countries with lower light levels are worst affected. In Finland the rate of SAD is 9.5%. Surprisingly the Icelandic people seem to not be too affected by SAD, possible as a result of the high levels of fish they eat, which has a high Vitamin D content.

Light Therapy appears to be an effective treatment for many. This involves sitting in front of a very bright lightbox most often emitting ‘full spectrum’ white light for 30-60 minutes per day. Read a personal account here.

Even if you do not suffer from SAD here are a few ideas that could raise your spirit.

5 tips to beat the Winter Blues

This causes mood enhancing chemicals to be released and will generally increase your energy and mood. Walking is a good option giving  the added benefit of being out in the light.

As temping as it is to stuff yourself with carbohydrates and comfort food it could be far more useful to resist and stick to the well established rules of a healthy diet – plenty of fruit and veg, fish (particularly oily fish), wholegrains, beans, pulses and lean meat. Try vegetable soups, casseroles, and plenty of garlic.

Vitamin D can help boost Serotonin levels. A fish Oil supplement could also be helpful. A general multi vitamin and mineral supplement may also help. See a qualified nutritionist for expert help.

Try to get outside as much as you can and , if possible expose your skin to achieve maximum benefit form the available light. Lightboxes are now generally available to help if you feel you need them.

Tickets for concerts

Go Out
Book some concerts, theatre or sporting events that you can look forward to. Pin the tickets somewhere visible to remind yourself of what you have to look forward to.


Stay Home
We are mammals so probably do need to sleep more in the winter. So maybe that feeling of wanting to hibernate is OK. Get a good novel, watch those DVDs you have sitting on the shelf, phone a relative or friend. Stay in and make the most of it. Winter will be over soon .

Legal stuff

This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.

© 2016 Arieh Kronenberg

Five More Fathering Tips (or what I wish someone had told me years ago)

Bad Behaviour, not Bad Person
If you need to discipline a child always remember it is the behaviour that is bad, never the child. A subtle distinction to you, but massive to the child who could easily internalise that they are “bad” if told too much.

Positive language
Choose your words carefully. If you keep repeating “don’t spill your drink” to a child it will only think of spilling its drink. If you use positive language like “the drink stays in the cup” you are giving a positive reinforcement to the child, and an accident is much less likely to happen.


Sort yourself out
Having kids can very easily tap into your own insecurities. This could easily lead to you behaving like a child to your child. Not a good idea! So you need to sort out any psychological hangovers you have left from your childhood so that you can genuinely be adult with them.

Boundaries & Discipline – Just say NO
As a forward thinking, liberal dad disciplining your child can seem a difficult challenge. It can be helpful to rethink boundaries, not as a punitive and restrictive experience for your child. Boundaries give a child safety and allow them to explore the edges of what is safe and what is not. That’s why they keep pushing. They are waiting for you to say STOP. Then they know where the edge is. Remember you are a dad, not a mate.

Deferred gratification
In her intriguing book “French Children Don’t Throw Food”, Pamela Druckerman discusses the French way of bringing up kids. This partly involves teaching children and even babies to wait, rather than pamper to their every need instantly. Although this can appear a bit harsh, Druckerman maintains that this is teaching children a valuable life skill – being able to regulate their own behaviour.

© 2016 Arieh Kronenberg

I work with many fathers of young kids to help them through this transition in a creative and fulfilling way. To find out more contact me.

Fatherhood for Beginners

It is often assumed that having a baby and suddenly becoming a father is the most natural thing in the world. But this is an area that many new dads struggle with. Particularly the increasing number of dads sharing, or in some cases, doing the majority of childcare.

Often they face this challenge in isolation. Compare this to their female partners who through antenatal, baby and toddler groups are out there busy networking, sharing their difficulties and learning from each other. Men on the other hand are often not natural group joiners and a sense of pride or fear can keep them separate.

Added to that, men, often coming from a workplace that encourages logic and problem solving skills, can feel completely out of their depth with a baby or toddler that exists much more in the imaginative realm and has very little concept of logic yet.

So how can play and creativity help us be better dads? Here are a few tips for developing a better relationship with toddlers and young children.

Five Creative Ways to Become a More Relaxed Dad

Enter the Child’s World
Don’t expect them to enter yours just yet. You may need to ‘get your hands dirty’ and join that scary world of imaginative play!

Maybe at the moment bedtime goes something like this: You tell your four year old daughter that it is time for bed because it is late and she has a busy day tomorrow. This is all very logical, but probably not making very much sense to her. Even the concept of ‘tomorrow’ can be quite abstract for a child.

So a more imaginative approach might be suggesting that you play “butterfly bedtime”. You can be the daddy butterfly and she can be the baby butterfly. You can flutter your way up the stairs, do butterfly wash and teeth brushing, then have butterfly stories in bed. She will love it, and probably you will as well. You get the idea. Use what is real and important to them.

The Great Outdoors
When the kids are running round the house shouting and jumping on things, remind yourself that they are not actually being naughty. Although this is not great behaviour indoors, if they were out in nature it would be completely fine. So rather than telling them off, try explaining that this is not how we behave indoors, but it is fine for them to do it in the garden.

Better still, take them out to the local woods or fields and join in with them. It is our job to socialise our kids – let them know what is OK behaviour in which context. Socialisation is about letting them know what is expected of them within our society, not punishing them for doing what comes naturally.

Cook Together
The food we cook and eat together can help define and strengthen a family. Kids love learning and getting their hands dirty so cooking is ideal. Homemade pizzas, meatballs, and fish fingers can be great fun to make and, having been involved in the preparation, the kids are much more likely to eat them.

You can find more great kids recipes on the BBC GoodFood Website.

Say Sorry
When you get it wrong – say sorry. You are probably occasionally going to loose it with the kids. Be big enough to apologise and explain what was going on for you – you are tired, stressed, angry. kids deserve an explanation and this can make a huge different to them.

All You Need is Love
And finally… Don’t worry about getting it wrong occasionally. You can make a lot of mistakes and still be forgiven by your child if they feel you love them. So tell them you love them. Apologise if you loose your temper, and remember kids pick up on your atmosphere, so if you are sad, don’t tell them you are happy. This mismatch can be confusing and scary for them.

© 2016 Arieh Kronenberg

I work with many fathers of young kids to help them through this transition in a creative and fulfilling way. To find out more contact me.

Depression – the last taboo?

Stephen Fry - Time to Change

Is it my imagination or has depression become quite trendy lately?

I was at my gym the other day and saw this poster of Stephen Fry. It started me thinking about how attitudes to depression have really changed lately.

It may have started with Stephen Fry coming out – not as gay, but as bipolar. Fry became mental health charity Mind Champion of the year in 2007 for his excellent documentary The Secret Life Of the Manic Depressive. In this he bravely explored his own experience of bipolar disorder and spoke to others of their experiences. These public displays by celebrities, while dismissed by some as merely publicity seeking, have a huge effect on how the general public view mental health. Here was a very successful, hugely popular and highly functioning person admitting to mental health problems. What a great way to update old fashioned stereotypical images of mental health.

Or maybe it started earlier. In the 1990’s Diana, Princess of Wales’s public admissions of self-harm and eating disorders allowed anyone suffering from these illnesses to share more openly what was happening for them.

Earlier this year Freddie Flintoff, ex-England cricket captain presented an amazing documentary on the BBC about his depression. Freddie Flintoff – Hidden Side Of Sport showed Flintoff trying to understand his depression which had paralysed him while captaining England during 2006-2007. The film had him talk to a host of internationally famous sports stars, all revealing their own stories. I felt that Flintoff and the other contributors were particularly brave. Within the world of professional sport, where everyone is a winner, there is not normally room for this type of self-reflection.

Freddie Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff reveals battle with depression and alcohol dependence – Article in The Guardian

The times they are a changing
In the documentary, Piers Morgan, ex-editor of the Daily Mirror, was interviewed by Flintoff. Morgan admitted that during Flintoff’s troubles he found no sympathy for him at all. He mocked him in the Daily Mirror – Flintoff was captain of England. What right did he have to be depressed? Morgan now reflects that this was an unfair way to treat him and admits that his own lack of understanding was at the root of the mocking.

The recent tragic suicide by the Welsh national football manager Gary Speed was handled in a much more sensitive way by the media. Within the football profession as well it was taken seriously. The PFA (Professional Footballers Association) acted immediately by sending out 50,000 booklets offering advice on depression to all ex-players. Now that seems like a great improvement to me.


Time to Change is an anti-stigma campaign run by the leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.