Category Archives: Stress

How can I be happier?

A lot of people ask me ‘How can I be happier?’

Before that can be answered there are a few things that need to be defined. Firstly, what does happy mean to you? Then, how happy are you right now?

To me being happy equates to being content. If that is your goal I think you can be happy for much of your life. Others have told me that to them being happy is feeling joy. For people with that definition, happiness is fleeting and they will experience happiness for short periods, fairly infrequently.

Do you seek joy every moment of your life? If so, I fear that you will be perpetually disappointed. Even if your life moved from one amazing moment to another, you would quite quickly stop experiencing joy. Joy is an extreme emotion. It’s the thin end of the wedge, the edges of the bell curve. For brief moments it lights our life, but we cannot feel it all the time.

If your definition of happy is contentment, you will feel ‘happy’ much more of your life. This in turn makes you feel grateful and lucky, which leads to feeling even happier with your lot.

So, one way to be happier is to lower your expectations of what happy means.

Then we need to look at how happy you are right now. If you had to scale it between 1 and 10, with 1 being extremely unhappy and 10 being as happy as you can be, where would you score yourself? The chances are you are somewhere between 4 and 7. If that’s the case, you can probably do things to make yourself feel more happy. If you are at the extremes of the scale it can be harder to make a difference.

Obviously, if you are already on a 10, it’s going to be very difficult for you to feel happier than you are right now – there’s literally nowhere left for you to go. Awesome!

If you are at the other end of the scale, down in the 1-3 group, you are in a fairly dark place. There are lots of reasons that this may be the case. Firstly, something awful may have happened in your life. Loss of a loved one, bullying and poor health can put you in this place. All of these are things which take some getting over. Yes, there are professionals out there who can help get you through this time and support you with psychological strategies, but they are still difficult things to deal with. If you felt happy during one of these experiences, I would suggest there is other work to do.

Other reasons that people can feel deeply unhappy are anxiety and depression. These are two different issues which can be very difficult, but are also eminently treatable. With talking therapies people can work through these life limiting issues and get back to regular levels of happy – not happy all the time – just regular happy.

This brings me onto the final idea around wanting to be more happy. There is a regular level of happy. If you are happy all the time, you may have a problem. If you are unhappy all the time, you may have a problem. Even the best adjusted most balanced people experience happiness and unhappiness. It’s normal and natural. If you want to be happy all the time, you are setting yourself up for disappointment – which leads you to be less happy! There are things that steal our happiness, and we can work on reducing them, but if you love, you will experience loss. If you achieve, you will have to deal with defeat. Ups and downs are all part of the rich tapestry that is our complicated life.

My tip for today is be grateful.

Experiments have repeatedly shown that being grateful is one of the key things that makes us happy. Write down three different things every day that you are grateful for. It’s easy to start with big concepts like being alive, having a home, waking up this morning, but as time goes by you have to look for more detailed, smaller reasons to be grateful. Things like a good cup of coffee, a smile from a neighbour, enjoying a TV programme, somebody liking your blog post or even a positive comment…all of these things make me grateful, which is why I experience happiness every day.

Wishing every one of you a happy, healthy day. I’m so grateful you’ve taken the time to read this x

www.talktherapies.co.uk

p.s. If you are looking for a daily mindfulness tip/exercise follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/talktherapies 

 

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How do I help someone with addiction?

One of the most frustrating things on earth is watching someone you love throw their life away on an addiction.

It seems like nothing you say or do gets through to them. In fact the more you try to help them, the deeper they seem to sink into their addiction.

Sometimes that’s just annoying. Other times it’s a life and death situation.

If someone is addicted to coffee, you may not approve, but the chance are they’ll be ok. If they’re addicted to smoking, it may well be killing them, but it’s happening slowly and it may or may not affect them. If they’re addicted to alcohol, illegal or legal drugs they could be in more imminent danger. If they’re addicted to starving themselves, you may be watching them die.

Yet, despite this they don’t seem to be able to get their heads around the damage that they are doing to themselves. It’s as though the connections between what they ‘know’ is happening and the consequences to them are entirely gone.

I know this from personal experience.

I was a smoker for 17 years. I started when I was 21 (entirely old enough to know better) and quit 5 years ago. I can remember people saying to me “you know it’s bad for you right?” as though I was a moron or lived under a rock or something. People on the street would come up to me and say things like “It’ll stunt your growth you know”. I think they thought that was funny as I’m 6ft tall and a grown ass woman. My mum (an ex smoker) hated the fact I smoked and would ask me repeatedly to quit.

None of that made any difference.

It wasn’t about education either. As I said, I started smoking when I was 21. I was working as a microbiologist in Liverpool having been to University studying Biochemistry. I knew what smoking did to a body. I knew what it ‘could’ do to me. The thing was, it didn’t really do anything nasty at first. It was just a laugh with mates when we were out drinking. By the time I’d developed a smokers cough, I was already well into the addicted part.

So what made me try to quit? For me it was my best friend. I was complaining to her about people moaning at me about smoking and she said “So, are you just going to smoke until you die?” That was it. No attitude, no lecture, just a question. A question I had to think about. As I thought about it over the next couple of weeks I realised I didn’t want to die a smoker. I could visualise what my old woman self would look like smoking and coughing, wheezing along, maybe with an oxygen tank….and it horrified me. So then I had to think, well if I don’t want to die smoking, I’m going to have to quit at some point. Why not now? I mean it’s not like it’s going to get any easier?

Here’s my advice.

Don’t

  1. Don’t Nag – it’s annoying and it just makes people dig their heals in.
  2. Don’t lecture – it just makes the person being lectured at think up opposite arguments, which then helps to persuade them that what they’re doing is OK
  3. Don’t promise rewards for abstinence – study after study has shown that offering rewards convinces the psyche that it must mean that thing they are being asked to do is difficult.

Do

  1. Model the behaviour you want them to adopt. If you have someone in your life who is drinking too much, don’t drink around them. Don’t make a thing of it, just don’t do it. If you do what you are asking them not to, it just normalizes it for them and they think you’re an idiot.
  2. Spend time with them. Show them they are loved and worth loving. One of the main reasons people self harm (and addiction IS a form of self harm) is because they don’t like themselves very much
  3. Do fun stuff that distracts from their addiction. The more good stuff they have going on in their lives, the less room there is for bad stuff.
  4. Ask questions. Get them to think about what they are doing, in their own time, in their own way
  5. Be prepared for the fact that you may never get through to them. Ultimately you have to accept that it’s their life to live.

One final note – don’t forget to look after yourself. Don’t get obsessed with their addiction. It won’t help you or them. Take care of yourself and model healthy, social behaviour. It’s more powerful than you know.


If you or someone you know has an issue with addiction, get help. You do not have to deal with this on your own. There are plenty of support groups online and in person. There are also thousands of professionals out there who can help you.

Good luck on your journey

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Am I addicted?

Have you ever wondered if you are an addict? Chances are that you probably have some form of addiction or another. If you smoke, drink daily, can’t start the morning without a coffee or end dinner without dessert then you may have an addiction.

An addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.

So let’s think about that for a moment. We know smoking is harmful to us so it’s easy to see that as an addiction, but other things are sometimes more difficult to see that way. Did you know that you should go at least 3 days a week without drinking any alcohol in order for your liver to recover? So drinking alcohol every day is damaging, even if it’s only a small glass of wine with dinner. If the idea of giving up booze for three days a week is uncomfortable – you have an addiction.

How about sugar? We know that too much sugar in our diet causes obesity and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Still fancy a doughnut? Then you, my friend, are addicted!

Is there such a thing as a healthy addiction? Looking back at the definition, no there isn’t, but it’s not quite that simple.

Some people go to the gym every day. Exercising is good for us right? Yes, of course it is, but exercising every day is not. Your body needs time to recover and heal from exercise too. If you can’t have a rest day, you have an addiction. If you are exercising against doctors orders, you have an addiction. if you are exercising when you are unwell, you have an addiction. If you are exercising on an injury ….you guessed it.

How about a healthy diet. If you read my blog regularly you will now that I am always banging on about eating healthily. Veggies are good for you, nutrient rich food is important, eat you fibre blah blah blah. But if you are out with friends and can’t order off the menu because there’s nothing on it you can eat (and you don’t have specific allergies related to the foods) then you may have a type of addiction. It’s known as orthorexia, and it’s where people restrict their food choices in an unhealthy way.

Addiction is everywhere. I would suggest a few things.

First – Recognise your own addictions. If you don’t know you have them it’s very difficult to do something about them. Look at your day in a critical way and ask yourself is there any part of it that you would be unhappy if you couldn’t do. Then ask yourself – is that a healthy habit?

Second – ask those you love, and who love you, for their input. You may be surprised that they come up with things you may never have thought of. Things like excessive personal hygiene, excessive cleaning, watching too much porn and gaming often come up from other people.

Third – Try to change your routine to cut out your addiction.

Finally – Remember PEOPLE QUIT STUFF THEY ARE ADDICTED TO ALL THE TIME. Let that sink in for a moment. Just because you are addicted now, does not mean that you have to stay addicted. Yes it will feel uncomfortable. Yes it will be tricky and Yes, you CAN do it.

If people can quit heroin, you can quit smoking. If people can quit crack cocaine, you can quit sugar. I know you like it – they probably liked their heroin too.


Some people can kick their addictions on their own, and I would always suggest that as a first try. If however you struggle, that does not mean you have no other choices. Get support and help to quit your addiction from professionals who have the skills to help you.

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Quit Smoking Day 8 March 2017

https://www.talktherapies.co.uk

Hello you beautiful people!

Hands up if you’re a smoker….

Wow, that sucks for you. I know because I was a smoker for 17 years.

Let me list some of the many reasons it sucks…

  1. It’s seriously bad for your health – I mean seriously bad. Not only is it likely to shorten your life significantly, but it will also reduce your quality of life. Reduced blood flow can cause blindness, teeth falling out, amputation and stroke. Lung problems are almost a given and heart disease and cancer are likely. But you knew all of that right – I mean it’s not like you live under a rock.
  2. It’s expensive – now I’m all for spending your money on things you enjoy, but seriously, how much do you enjoy smoking? Work out how much you spend on smoking a week, then multiply that by 52. Chances are you are looking at thousands.
  3. You are constantly restricted. You can’t smoke here, you can’t smoke there. You are always being told where you can and can’t smoke.
  4. If you smoke in public, people are silently judging you all the time.
  5. You will occasionally have to go longer than you are comfortable with without smoking. Maybe it’s at work, maybe a friends home, maybe a flight, but there will be times that you cannot smoke for one reason or another and it will cause you stress, anxiety and discomfort.
  6. You kind of smell bad – all the time.
  7. The people that love you worry about you constantly
  8. If you have kids in your life they are learning from you. You are teaching them that smoking is a positive thing. Even if you tell them constantly that it isn’t they learn from your example far more than what you say. They see you smoke when you are stressed – they learn that smoking is good to calm you down.
  9. You are always thinking about whether you have enough cigarettes/tobacco. Do you need to make another trip to the shops? Will you have enough for the next day?
  10. Your self respect is not where it could be – trust me when I say, I have never felt prouder or more capable than the moment I realised I had quit smoking forever!

I could go on and on but I think you get the idea.

Now for the good news – You can be free from this crappy habit.

It is entirely possible for you to decide today that you will never smoke again and do it. It’s literally that simple. You will go through a couple of days of feeling a bit awkward, feel itchy and unconfortable and maybe have a short temper. So what. That might sound a bit tough, but that’s all you need to go through – a couple of days of feeling unconfortable. No pain, No agony, No awful consequences. After 2 days the nicotine will be out of your system and if you decide to never put it back in again, you will slowly but surely feel better and better. It will get easier and easier. Within a couple of weeks you will have got rid of the habit too and will think about it less and less.

Quitting smoking is easy. You just don’t put another cigarette it in you mouth.


I tried to quit smoking for years – unsuccesfully. It wasn’t until I tried hypnosis that it all fell into place. If you want some help getting free of the evil weed, give me a call.

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Addicted to Self Harm

self-harm-awareness

Today is self harm awareness day.

What does self harm mean to you. To me it can mean anything from cutting and burning yourself to smoking, drinking, overeating and promiscuity. I should know – I’ve done all of them at one time or another.

I want to start with the first examples I gave. Cutting and burning. To someone who’s never done this, it can seem alien and ridiculous to even think about never mind do.

The best way I could explain it was that it was a way of getting the inside pain out. When I self harmed in this way I was in a pretty dark place mentally. I felt lost, alone and scared. I was socially anxious (thought the people around me probably wouldn’t recognise that) and had real issues about self worth. I didn’t like myself very much and treated myself accordingly. The problem was, these internal wounds couldn’t be seen. Also they couldn’t heal. By turning them into outside wounds, I felt like I was taking some control. I could see them. I could understand them. I could watch them get better. They were not a cry for help. I kept them private and never shared them with anyone. In fact, the first time someone challenged the cuts on my arms, was the last time I did it.

Then came the second phase of my self harm. I self sabotaged. I quit university. I drank, smoked, took drugs and ate rubbish food. All in the name of ‘enjoying myself’. The problem was, it didn’t help. It numbed me a little, which I thought was useful at the time, but it didn’t fix anything.

The big question is – what does help?

For me it was a lot of little things. Working on forgiving myself, accepting that I wasn’t perfect and so shouldn’t hold myself accountable to insanely high standards. Being kinder to myself, becoming my own supporter instead of my personal bully. Accepting that I wasn’t going to feel good all of the time, but that also meant that I wasn’t going to feel bad all of the time too.

These things started to allow me to take care of myself instead of harming myself. I started eating better, quit smoking, stopped drinking (well mostly) and worked on my mental health through Mindfulness and meditation. I became more honest with myself and accepted who I am. I became strong enough to ask for help. And I got help. Help from my partner (who is awesome and amazing), help from my friends and help from people who know about this stuff.

I feel grateful every day that I survived this phase of my life and am now somewhere so much better. I also feel grateful that I went through it. Was it nice? NO! Was it useful? Yes, because it has given me more empathy to that problem than most people will ever have and it has given me the ability to be truly happy and grateful that I don’t feel like that anymore.


If you, or someone you know, is suffering in this way and using self harm as a coping mechanism, start with kindness. Encourage them to get help and support them through this.

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How to be kind to yourself

www.talktherapies.co.uk

February is heart awareness month and as I wrote yesterday, I’m focussing on the relationship side of this subject.

I strongly believe that you will not have the best relationships you can if you don’t have a good relationship with yourself, and unfortunately, it’s one of the hardest ones to get right as we don’t get good feedback on it.

Some people are too hard on themselves – way harder than they are on other people. They persistently tell themselves that they aren’t good enough, that they’re stupid, that they’re lazy, that they don’t work hard enough, that they’re not pretty enough, that they’re fat, that they’re ugly. Can you imagine if you spoke like that to another person? I think, at the very least, you could expect them not to want to hang around with you.  Why would you spend time with someone who constantly abuses you?

Some people don’t care enough for themselves. As a hypnotherapist I see people all the time who smoke, who are overweight, who don’t exercise. When I ask them how they would feel if their kids smoked, ate rubbish or didn’t do any exercise they are horrified. They want the best for them, but don’t appear to want the best for themselves….

Some people don’t protect themselves. They take stupid risks with their health. They starve themselves, or dramatically overeat. They take drugs. They put themselves in dangerous situations. Again, they would be really upset to think of someone they loved in that situation, but it’s OK for them….does that mean they don’t love themselves?

So how do you build a relationship with yourself?

Easy – the same way as with anyone else.

Start by being interested. Question yourself and your motives. Find out what is really important to you. Help yourself to achieve that.

Support yourself. Be kind, be understanding, but also be challenging. Stretch yourself without being mean to yourself.

Be a good friend to yourself. You can be your own inner bully or your own cheerleader. Think about what can go right, how brilliant things can be.

Stop being a hater. Don’t hate yourself – ever. Not any part of yourself. Hate is a horrible, destructive emotion and it doesn’t help anyone. I don’t care if you don’t love your thighs, or you skin. I don’t care if you don’t like the way you react in certain situations. I don’t care if you aren’t thrilled with your weight. Work out how to change it, but don’t hate it.

I believe that when you get this stuff right you attract people to you. Self confidence is attractive. That means you draw people towards you who enhance your life. It also means that you don’t need people to complete you so you stop hanging on to people who don’t add anything to your life.

So, whatever your relationship status, spend a little time thinking about your relationship with yourself. Are you being a good friend? How can you be better? What changes are you going to make? What positive effects could that have?

As ever, I would love to know your thoughts on this – why not drop me a comment?


If you’re interested, why not follow me in instagram, twitter, facebook or check out my website.

 

 

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Blog Plans for 2017

Happy New Year!

Well, after a lovely Christmas break, I’m back to the blogosphere….How are you all doing?

Personally I love January, because I love new starts. They are full of opportunities, possibilities and potential. They also scare me a bit because of this – when everything is a possibility it can all be a bit overwhelming – there’s just too much to choose from, and in my humble opinion, you do have to choose. Anyone that tells you that this year is the one where they will eat healthy, exercise regularly, look amazing every day, make a million dollars, have the perfect relationship with their friends and family, start a new business and find inner peace is expecting a little bit much, don’t you think?

Even if all you’re planning on doing is growing your blog audience or blogging every day, it can still be a big expectation. There are so many things to blog about, but how to choose? Sometimes there is so much possibility I can’t narrow it down, sometimes I can’t think of a single thing. What to do?

For me it starts with a plan. Plans don’t have to be set in stone, they are a starting point. Write yourself a plan, but know that it can and probably will change.

The next thing I do is think about what I want to talk about – broadly speaking. As my blog here is all about happiness, health and hypnosis that needs to be at the fore of my planning – what large topics fall under that remit?

So this year I’ve decided to dedicate a month to a topic. I started last year. December was all about self care, and I wrote it like an advent calendar with a different post every day from 1 to 25. It worked quite well for me and those that follow my blog. It gave me structure and motivation to write (I’d promised after all) and it gave my followers a reason to check in – they knew what to expect. If it wasn’t something they were interested in they could take a pass, but if it was, they knew to come back every day for more.

In the same vein here are my ideas for Blogs I will be writing each month for 2017.

January – Diet

February – Relationships

March – Addictions

April – Happiness

May – Food

June – Anxiety

July – Exercise

August – Depression

Sept – Different therapy techniques

Oct – Dec TBD – I’m open to suggestions here, if you would like me to cover a topic that falls under the title of Happiness, Health and Hypnosis, this is your chance to put forward an idea! Just leave me a comment.

See anything there that you think you may be interested in – make sure you click follow to get them when they come out!

Once I’ve narrowed it down to topic areas, I find it easier to think about topics related to each big theme. Take diet for example. I can look at nutrition, staying satisfied, types of food that keep you feeling fuller for longer, diet myths, healthy goals, body image, small changes to make a big difference etc etc. So now we both know what to expect 🙂

Starting tomorrow the rest of my January blogs will be dedicated to diet. Getting right and making it easy. If you want to make sure you see them, you know what to do.

See you soon – let’s make January an awesome start!

 

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 24

It’s the day before the day!!!! Happy Christmas Eve!

Todays Self care idea is quite a simple one. Remember why you started.

Tomorrow ( and tonight ) may be full of tasks that you are doing on behalf of other people. Maybe it’s travelling with small children, maybe cooking for the family, maybe putting together toys. All of these can can be a little frustrating – especially if we don’t feel appreciated for it. If that happens, try to remember why you did it in the first place.

The chances are that the reason you were doing it, was to make that other person happy, not to get appreciation. So, appreciate yourself for doing something nice and leave it at that. If you get appreciation (or reciprocation) from the other person then you should be thrilled, but not expect it.

Another reason you should remember why you started is if you are trying to stick to an exercise plan or diet over the next few days. Nobody’s saying you can’t enjoy yourself, just don’t go crazy and undo all the good work you’ve been doing up until now.

Have an amazing Christmas everyone x

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 23

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder – what do you see that you think is beautiful?

All too often we neglect to see the beauty in what’s around us. In nature, in our home, in our friends and family, in ourselves.

Beauty is all around you if you take the time to look for it.

There aren’t many people in the world who can look in the mirror and honestly say that they see beauty there – and that is a terrible shame. Of course we don’t all fit into society’s pattern of what beautiful looks like (which by the way changes dramatically depending on which society you are in) but we all have beauty in us.

Is there a part of your body that you are unhappy with? Maybe you think it’s too thin, or too fat….Maybe you think it’s too saggy or too taut…..Maybe you think it’s too big or too small….Whatever it is you are finding fault with doesn’t really matter, because my self-care challenge for you today is to find a way to love it, to appreciate it, to find its beauty.

There are several methods that I find useful with this sort of challenge. I have fat ankles -let’s use them as an example.

Reframing

Ok, so my ankles are a little on the chunky side – on the upside they are sturdy. They don’t cause me any pain and they support my body. They are flexible and strong enough to keep me balanced and allow me to walk and run anywhere that I want to. I may not look as good as I would like to in a skirt, but I did get to walk all over New York last month (110,000 steps in 4 days) and explore an amazing place in person. In balance, I would rather have chunky ankles that support me, than pretty ones that don’t.

The lotion method

Now, this doesn’t work for every part of your body, but it’s good for things that are covered in skin. The idea is that you but yourself a nice bottle or body lotion. Something that smells good and that will condition your skin. You then make a commitment to yourself to use the lotion on the body part you dislike every day. Spend time rubbing the lotion in and thinking about that part of your body n as positive a way as you can. By the time you have finnished the bottle, you should have better feelings about that part or you.

Ask for feedback

Quite often the part of ourselves that we dislike most doesn’t even register as a thing with other people. I’m quite self conscious of my ankles, so I tend not to wear skirts ot shoes that show them off. When I pointed this out to a friend of mine she laughed at me at told me there was nothing wrong with my ankles and that I was being silly. That gave me the confidence to buy a dress I wouldn’t normally have done, wear it and then get lots of lovely compliments about how I looked.

Work on it

If the part of you you’re not so keen on can be improved with diet or exercise, why not give it a go? I carry my weight a little differently than most people, and even when I’m not overweight, I have larger legs than most. However, despite it being the last place to go, when I lose the weight, the ankle do slim down too – not as much as I’d like, but they do slim down. Maybe I could try some different exercises that would stretch and lengthen them too – Now there’s a thought…

So, I’m off to research ankle exercises. What will you be doing today?



It can be difficult to change how you feel about yourself particularly if you have body dysmorphia. Hypnosis is a great tool to help change your feelings about yourself so that you can see the positives in your amazing body. Don’t suffer unnecessarily – get the help you need to feel great.

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 22

Continuing our theme of looking at self care and the senses today we shall be thinking about touch.

What sort of things do you like to touch? Cool things? Warm things? Soft things? Hard things? Rough things? Smooth things?

Have you ever even thought about how touch affects how you feel?

If I’m feeling bad one of the ways I can make myself feel better is to be around (ideally surrounded and engulfed by) warm fluffy things. Like getting into a bed that’s had the electric blanket on or with several hot water bottles, or sitting under a blanket with big warm fluffy socks on. Or getting dressed in clothes that have just come out of the drier or off the radiator. I am the queen of cosy town.

There is a danish word that has no direct English translation. The word is Hygge and it sort of translates to ‘feeling warm and cosy in the company of good friends’ and often involves blankets, slippers, fires, candles and frequently alcohol. For me, hygge, is a desirable state.

When I’m feeling stressed, down or just worn out, I try to make time to feel better. I know that might seem like an obvious thing to say, but more often than not people will carry on regardless. They think that the way they feel cannot be affected by something as simple as taking some time out to create a different environment, so the put their heads down and just plough on.

So my self care challenge to you today is to think about how things make you feel, how you would like to feel, and how you can create an environment that supports you feeling the way that you would like to feel.

 

 

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