Coping with The Winter Blues

This time of year is tough for many people. Short days cold, wet weather are a long way from the colours and warmth of summer, often leading to depression, or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Useful tips: What would you enjoy on holiday? Curling up with a good book,  cooking colourful meals such as stir fries, or a spicy curry?  Having time to chill out, or maybe to try a new form of exercise? Try bringing some holiday activities into your day, even for a short time- maybe look at a favourite photo during a coffee break. Lifting your mood by dong something you really enjoy- singing along to a song on the radio, or dancing to a favourite holiday tune.


The weather may be grey, but bringing colour into your life can give you a break from the endless greyness of winter and lift your mood. Wear something colourful for fun, brighten your make-up, paint your nails, wear comedy socks! Dig out your holiday photos for some happy memories and to remind yourself that summer will come- soon!



The Equestrian Counsellor-Your Horse and You

In our sessions, we will  focus on gaining a better understanding about your horse and about yourself. Sessions will include ‘talking therapy’ without the horse, to gain understanding about yourself, and issues going on for you. We will also work with your horse, to improve how you function together.

Horses mirror our feelings and our unconscious processes- being with them and developing a relationship with a horse is very special. Taking time to really notice what is going on for you in relation to the horse develops self-awareness and helps you to understand how you function.

Learning about how you come across to a horse can influence your own life skills: in relationships for example, how you cope with stressful situations, perhaps in work or sports environments. The possibilities are endless.

Horses are very aware of non-verbal communication- our body language, how calm and confident we are, or not. This applies to all aspects of horsemanship – whether we are riding or handling them, or simply in their presence. They pick up things about ourselves we are not even aware of!

We can discuss what comes up for you, and time will be spent on common issues that can turn horsemanship from a pleasurable experience into a nightmare!

I can offer a ‘package deal’ of 6 sessions, for example, starting and finishing with you on your own to notice and understand the change in your relationship with your horse.

50 minute sessions cost £40 each in the ‘package deal’ (travel costs may apply)

Focus on Fitness

Focus on Fitness

Do you find yourself trying so hard to get something right that you become tense and frustrated with yourself? You may be so desperate to lose weight/ get fitter/ be better, for example, that you lose sight of being self-aware and doing what is best for you.

Focusing on the here and now, being present ‘in the moment’ calms the mind and relaxes the body. Exercise is not just about pushing yourself to your limits mentally and physically: it also needs to fulfill the ‘feel-good factor’ for you. Exercise should be a balance of aerobic work, stretching, balance, movement, breathing techniques, and enjoyment.

How do I Focus on Fitness? 

We will work on slow movements, focusing the mind on each one. Movements are based on tai chi and yoga, stretching and breathing, bringing a peace to working with your body rather than forcing it to do what is unnatural. Improving your posture is a key element to well-being. Focusing on yourself is about enjoying the moment and to see yourself in a kind and positive way, learning techniques that can be used for a short time each day to introduce calmness into your life, reducing the body’s signs os stress such as high blood pressure, feelings of panic, shortness of breathe and so on.

What happens in a session?

You will be standing/sitting on a chair or lying on a mat- whichever you prefer. We will check your posture and focus on your breath to start with to calm your mind- and to slow down a ‘busy’ brain. We will work through the body releasing tension, aiming for a deep sense of peace and relaxation. We will spend some time on relaxing each part of the body in turn, focusing on breathing techniques. We will progress gradually through simple movements to calming music aiming to create balance between mind and body.

dougald arms overheadbody stretchclaire child pose

Sorry-the beach setting is not included!!

Contact me for more information.


Counselling and Reiki in Devizes

Great News! I am a member of the Therapist Team at Life on Top

 at  The Healthy Life Co.

Therapists are located on the top floor of their shop at

4, The Little Brittox, Devizes SN10 1AR.


What I can offer:

Claire Ballardie Dip.Couns. MBACP, Reiki Master Practitioner

 I believe that physical and mental health are very closely linked and have an overall impact on wellbeing: Low mood- low energy, low energy-low mood. Talking therapy (counselling) helps you to explore issues that are affecting you, and to gain clearer self-awareness. The body can be greatly affected by emotional distress, and balancing its energy flow with Reiki encourages a sense of deep relaxation and promotes both emotional and physical healing.

Therapy sessions can be either counselling or Reiki, or a combination of both.

Meditation calms a busy mind, and there is time to experience this relaxing technique as part of a full reiki or counselling session.


As a counsellor, my role is to provide a safe place for you to explore your feelings: providing an outlet for emotions brought up by life events, such as bereavement, or coping with anxiety and depression brought about by the struggle of day-to-day life. Low self-esteem and lack of confidence can get in the way of personal growth. Counselling is about having someone to talk to you can trust, who is non-judgemental and works with you to understand your world.

I work in an integrative way, bringing together different therapies that are beneficial for you personally. I offer short or long term counselling, depending on individual needs.

Therapies I use:

  • Person-centred (about you)
  • Psychosynthesis (understanding yourself)
  • Dream-work
  • Imagery
  • Gesthalt (body awareness)
  • Transpersonal (spirituality)
  • Psycodynamic (childhood)


Our initial 30 minute session is to intoduce you to the counseling process and how we can work together. Further sessions lasts for 50 minutes. We will agree the number of sessions, on weekly basis at a set time.

Counsellling can help with (for example):

  • Anxiety, stress
  • Depression
  • Bereavement (people or pets)
  • Relationships and family
  • Life events
  • Eating Disorders
  • Menopause
  • Low self esteem
  • Loneliness
  • Divorce & separation
  • Affairs and betrayal
  • Spirituality
  • Trauma


Price of Counselling:

Initial session £20 (30 minutes)

Further sessions £40 (50 minutes)



Reiki (Universal life force energy) is an ancient technique, re-discovered by Dr Mikao Usui a Japanese theologian, in the 19th century. It is used to provide that extra boost for the body, promoting the flow of energy helping the body heal itself naturally.

During a treatment, I will channel this energy through my hands and use it to rebalance the chakras, or energy centres.

Reiki is a non-invasive, complementary therapy using the energy that flows through all living things, which Eastern medicine has worked with for thousands of years. You will be fully clothed lying on a couch or sitting on a chair. I will place my hands just above or lightly touch, different areas, concentrating on where the energy is most needed. Your body will take as much energy as it requires. It has the ability to heal itself, but sometimes this healing process becomes weak, or blocked. Your energy can be affected by stress, anxiety, life events, or illness. Reiki helps to bring balance to your mind, body and soul, encouraging deep relaxation, promoting self-healing.

I offer Reiki as a one-off session, or combined with counselling sessions.

Reiki can help with (for example):

  • Anxiety and Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Poor circulation
  • Balancing emotion
  • Immune system
  • Digestion
  • Respiratory issues
  • Skin problems
  • Migraine
  • Menopause
  • Insomnia


Price of Reiki:

Taster session £20 (30 minutes)

Full session £40 (50 minutes) 

Contact Claire:

Telephone: 07710 420357





Beating the Winter Blues

The aftermath of the festive season: tired decorations and wilting trees consigned to the recycling centre, exhaustion from the effort of keeping the peace between family members, or from travelling miles to see as many relatives as humanly possible.

For some, being single at this time is a pleasant relief, but for others it can be a lonely and desolate time of year.

Building time for yourself into each day is so important for your self-worth, fading the ‘merry-go-round’ of festive frenzy to a distant memory. Try to slow down, and to be mindful of everything you do – focusing on one thing at a time and doing it well, and slowing your breathing, can bring a sense of calm and achievement to daily chores.

Exercise can be a really good way to bring balance back into you life- physical movement is as good for your mind as your body.

Sharing problems with someone you trust, who has been through similar circumstances and will not judge you, is so important for your self-esteem and to feel that your are not alone. A close friend, family member or a qualified counsellor can be really supportive.

Claire Ballardie Dip.Couns. MBACP

Find out about counselling with me

sunset boat


Exercise Classes


If improved fitness, energy and strength are on your fit list, you’re in luck. These unique classes are part exercise, part dance but all fun. Your future fitness is at your fingertips.


The system’s winning mix based on yoga, remedial health exercises and movement, achieves good posture and balance through exercise and maintains it through movement and dance.


FLexercise , which used to be known as the Women’s League of Health and Beauty, has played a key role in keeping women of all ages fit since the 1930s.

Classes focus on core-control, strength, balance and fitness. Teachers worldwide combine exercise and dance to carefully selected music in a way that is suitable for all levels of fitness and ability. The classes are great fun as well as a very effective way to improve your fitness.

Teachers carefully plan classes to suitable music, which helps to inspire you to perform the exercises – and lifts 
the spirit. Floor-work or chair-based exercise can also be incorporated into the class. Your individual needs will be assessed and by your teacher.

Classwork is suitable for all levels and abilities – you 
can work at your own pace, and move on to more advanced work when you are ready. The exercises can be as hard- working and physically challenging as you want them to be.

The exercises and movements are beneficial to your personal wellbeing. Over time they will improve your balance, agility, co-ordination and rhythmic ability as well as your stamina, strength and suppleness.

Classes are great fun and a good way to meet new friends. Socialise and mobilise- come along and give them a try!

Here are my class details:

Green Dragon 28, High Street Market Lavington SN10 4AG (in the function room behind the pub)

Monday evenings 6.45 – 7.45pm

Wednesday mornings 10.30-11.30am

Time for tea/coffee and a chat afterwards? Get to know your class mates!

The Old School, Church Street, Market Lavington SN10 4DG

Friday Mornings 10.30-11.30am

Time for tea/coffee and a chat afterwards? Get to know your class mates!

The Wyvern Club, 51 Church Walk Devizes SN10 3AA

Monday mornings 10.30-11.30am



Tarot and Psychotherapy

Carl Jung, was a pioneer in psychotherapy, worked with myths and symbols, and the relevance of dreams as being a window into the unconscious mind.

The images on Tarot cards are symbolic, and their meaning can be interpreted in many ways. What is important as a therapist is to explore with the client what the images and archetypes means to them, and how it makes them feel, what it represents. For example, when looking at a tarot card closely, notice what you are drawn to as being the most obvious image- how does it make you feel? What does it bring to mind for you?  Looking more closely at the card, what does each thing represent, either in the past or present? Reading tarot cards is not about predicting the future, but to recognise elements about yourself, your thoughts and feelings around the images, and what they symbolise and mean to you at the moment.

What is an Archetype?

An inherited pattern of thought or symbolic image that is derived from the past collective experience of humanity and is present in the unconscious mind of the individual, such as Gods or Godesses, the image of a hermit, or a fool.

Personal development can get ‘stuck at any stage in our lives. Using tarot cards in therapy can help to tap into the unconscious processes, and to explore the ‘stuckness’, maybe seeing things from a different perspective, can precipitate a change in our fears and self- doubt, to put back what was missing in our psychospiritual development.




What is mindfulness?


Exercise Benefits for Mental Health

How many of us suffer from anxiety or depression? These are the most common mental issues that are faced. Exercise relieves stress and tension by releasing the feel-good hormones (endorphins), which gives a sense of calm and lifts your mood.


As well as improving your energy levels and improving sleep and digestion, exercise helps you to feel positive about yourself, increasing your self-esteem, which is a useful tool in coping with life on a day to day basis. The sense of achievement increases self-worth and lifts your mood, reducing stress and improving resilience to life events.


Learning how to stretch and relax your body also calms the mind. Controlled breathing and focusing mindfully on how you are moving helps to prevent a ‘busy brain’ from worrying about day-to-day concerns. Music is a great way to lift your mood, and brings a sense of enjoyment to getting fitter. Improving co-ordination improves concentration and dexterity.

It can be difficult to be inspired to exercise alone, so joining a class is a great way to meet new friends if you are feeling lonely. The social aspects of coming to a class are just as important as the physical ones. If you enjoy exercise, you are more likely to make it a regular part of your lifestyle.

Making exercise part of your daily life, combined with eating sensibly contributes to a long, healthy life and challenges the stigma of mental health.

So, if you know someone who may benefit from coming to a FLexercise class, but feels intimidated by taking that first step, offer to bring them along. You never know, you may make a new friend.

Exercise Classes



I Met a Squirrel

Well, a funny thing happened yesterday. I was in the garden, watching a squirrel with a hazelnut in his mouth, perched on the fence. He seemed to be contemplating a good place to hide his find. He froze, motionless as he noticed me. I stood very still, and became aware that my heart was really racing. ‘Funny,’ I thought- ‘I have just walked up the steps, but I can’t be that unfit!’

As I looked at the squirrel, I noticed that his little chest was quivering. I had a strange sensation that I was sensing his heartbeat fluttering in my own heart. I calmed myself by slowly and consciously breathing. As I felt my heart beat return to normal, the squirrel twitched his nose, and lofted a front paw. He stayed put, but no longer seemed to be afraid. This was a very precious moment of connection with such a pretty creature until he was frightened away by a passing dog walker. I seegarden-statue him each morning, busy in the garden, so hopefully we can meet up again.