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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 15

10 days to go until the big day….Not long now.

Hopefully you are almost ready for Christmas at this point. If not maybe today could be a day where you get closer to it, or if you’re really organised, get ahead of the game.

I’m not looking for you to do any specific task today, but I would like you to do something you have planned in for tomorrow or the following few days.

Sometimes we can all feel that all we are doing is playing catch up. We are constantly chasing our tail or just putting out fires – whatever your preferred metaphor.

So today is your chance to get ahead of plan and feel really good about it.

As I’ve written before, when we achieve things we are more likely to achieve other things. When we complete a task ahead of schedule we not only get a greater sense of accomplishment than when we do it on time, but we also are more likely to crack on and get some other stuff done. As an added bonus, we also avoid the stress of having things overdue. Win Win.

It’s really as simple as that. I’m about to take my own advice and get ahead of the game by writing tomorrows advent post and scheduling it to be published tomorrow.

Let’s catch up then – it’s going to be a good one.

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 14

Two weeks into December – it’s going fast.

Hopefully you’re feeling a little more organised after our day yesterday – I know I am.

I feel like I did something good – maybe I need a reward? Maybe you do to?

Today – treat yourself.

Part of self care is rewarding yourself for a job well done. If you’ve been following this months posts and completing them as you go, then you’ve done a good job. If you’ve not read any of them (yet) then you may well have done other things that need a little reward. Then again, maybe you haven’t done anything that needs a treat….but maybe you deserve one anyway? Only you know that.

What constitutes a treat?

For me there are a couple of rules.

  1. It must not be something you do every day. That’s not a treat, that’s a routine.
  2. It should be a little indulgent.
  3. You should enjoy it.

That’s it. It doesn’t have to cost money, it doesn’t have to take loads of time, it doesn’t have to involve giving up on other promises that you’ve made to yourself (like eating healthily) and it doesn’t have to involve anyone else – but it can if you want it to.

Some of the things I like to do include…

Turning off all the electronics, snuggling under a blanket and spending a few hours reading a book I like.

Doing my nails nicely. Maybe even cracking out the nail art and sticking a few sparkly bit on there.

Looking after my feet – the full pedicure experience. Soaking them in hot water with nice bath salts in, giving them a good scrub, filing the nails, lots of lovely foot cream and finishing with a lovely nail varnish.

Lighting candles or incense and making the house smell gorgeous.

Going out to a restaurant for a really amazing meal.

Having a box set binge – getting loads of episodes of a great series and watching them back to back (most recently Gilmore Girls – thank you Netflix!)

Putting on an album that I haven’t listened to for ages and have a crazy (private) dance to it.

Going to the beauty department at a local store and getting a free makeover.

Organising a catch up with friends.

Some of these things cost money, some do not. Some of them will appeal to you, some will not. The idea is not for you to do the things on my list, but to create one of your own. You should choose things that fit with what you want to do. How you want to indulge yourself.

If you think about traditional advent calendars, they tend to contain chocolate behind every door. I have a little problem with that. Apart from the fact that you probably shouldn’t be eating chocolate every day (it’s a treat not a staple food group) it’s so samie…the same thing every day just doesn’t cut it. Think of treats that you really want and use them sparingly, but make sure you use them…You’re worth it!

 

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 13

I hope that you enjoyed doing nothing yesterday (and if you didn’t, why not?) Take a little time out to do nothing today as well, and tomorrow, and the day after etc etc.

One thing I would like you to think about doing today is having a sort out.

Clean out a drawer, a cupboard, a wardrobe or the garage (if you’re feeling particularly adventurous you could even attack the attic)

Even the most organised types have a drawer or box where all the junk goes and most of us need to sort things out on a fairly regular basis to make sure that we don’t get lost in an avalanche of things falling out of a certain cupboard in the house.

There are many ways of decluttering and organising, you only have to have a quick search on pinterest to find lots of hints and tips for sorting your stuff out. One method that I particularly like is the Marie Kondo method. Basically what you do is form a pile of the items you want to declutter – clothes for instance – then pick each one up in turn and ask yourself it brings you joy? If it does keep it, if it doesn’t get rid of it.

As a massive fan of the Gilmore Girls I was super excited to watch the new season – a year in the life. Lorelai’s Mum goes through a big life change (no spoilers here) and tackles the Marie Knodo method of decluttering, and it’s brilliant to watch. A woman who has everything that money can buy, but finds little joy in so much of it. Yet the things she does find joy in are the things to pay attention to.

A while ago I read something that struck a chord with me – trying to make yourself happy by buying more stuff is like trying to deal with your hunger by strapping sandwiches to yourself. Having stuff does not make you happy. Sometimes not having stuff can make you unhappy – but that’s a bit different, and shouldn’t be confused. so, look at the things around you a decide if they bring you joy.

When we have a good declutter a couple of things tend to happen. Firstly we feel pretty good about ourselves. It’s good to feel organised and on top of things. Secondly, if we recycle or donate the things we are getting rid of we can feel good about that too. Thirdly a lot of people find that having less stuff give them a clearer head and a more relaxed frame of mind. All of these things are good self care.

What’s stopping you? A clear out before Christmas will help you to feel better, and depending on what you donate  you may end up making someone else’s Christmas a lot better.


For most of us decluttering is something we just need to do every now and then to keep things straight, but for some it’s a real problem. If you are, or know someone who is, a hoarder, then you know how serious this can be. Hoarding is a psychological problem that can be helped but is very difficult to deal with on your own. Get help from people who know how to support you.

 

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 12

So what have I got planned for you today?

Nothing. That’s right not one thing.

No, I’m not being lazy. No, It’s not that I can’t think of things to do.

I want you to do nothing.

Give yourself a break. There is an idea that being busy is good, and it can be, but so can being still. Particularly at this time of year it can seem that the list of things to do is never ending and there is always something for you to do. People will often tell you how busy they are with the shopping and the cleaning and the cooking and the cards….as though that makes them good people or something.

I don’t care how busy you are, you need time out. If all you can manage is 10 minutes, take 10 minutes. If you can take 30 minutes, that’s better. If you can take 30 minutes every day, that’s brilliant. If you can take 30 minutes every day in nature, then you my friend are taking good care of yourself. Well Done.

I’ve talked quite a lot about making mental space. It’s not that I can’t think of other things to write about, it’s that I think this mental space idea is incredibly important and often overlooked. It’s all too easy to dismiss this. We often think we don’t have time – but this is when it is most important. There is an old saying ‘everyone should spend 20 minutes a day sitting in a field, unless you’re busy, then you should spend 40 minutes’. I know this sounds counter intuitive but it’s exactly right. The busier you are the more important it is to make space.

Sometimes when we are busy we can become unproductive. Have you ever had so much to do that you really don’t know where to start? I know I can start rearranging things – moving things from one pile to another, making lists but never ticking anything off, stressing about how I’m going to fit everything in. When this happens, I stop. I breathe. I remind myself that the guy rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic never saved any lives. I think about what’s going to make the most difference and I get on with that.

I was chatting to a friend of mine the other day who said she was so busy that she barely had time to sleep. That worried me. As well as taking time to do nothing, you really must make time to sleep properly. Sleep is not doing nothing, nor is it unproductive. Sleep is essential to our mental health and is one of the things that can have a knock on effect to lots of other areas of life. Did you know that you eat more and make less healthy choices after a poor nights sleep? Did you know that sleep deprivation has an equivalent effect to alcohol on your responsiveness? Sleep is so important!

So , today, plan in your hectic schedule a little time to do nothing, and enjoy it.


If you are having trouble with your sleep you really need to get on top of it. Talk to a doctor or a hypnotherapist to see what you can do to improve things – and remember do what you can without chemicals, but know that medicine has an important place too!

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 11

How are you doing? Are you where you want to be? What would be different if you had started doing things differently a year ago?

Would you be thinner? Richer? Calmer? Fitter? Healthier? In a different job? In a relationship? Out of a relationship? In your own home? Running your own business? Selling your own book?

The thing is it’s not too late to do this….where could you be this time next year?

Do you have a dream? Well stop dreaming and make a plan.

That’s your task for today. Make a plan for something you want to happen in your life.

Start with a goal, then think of the three main things that need to happen to get you to your goal.

Then break down the three things you need to get done in the same way. Repeat until you have a good idea of the steps you need to take to get you to your goal. The more you break it down, the more detailed your plan will be.

Once you’ve written down the plan, assign some dates to when you will get things done by. Mark it on a calendar for next year so you know what you want to be doing. Hold yourself accountable for hitting your deadlines. You may not always make them, and that’s OK, but know what you’re aiming for.

Think about who you can involve to help you? Can they be part of keeping you on track?

What might get in your way? If you can think of anything that could derail your plan, you can probably think of a way of getting around it too. Good planning involves thinking about obstacles and how to bypass them. It also involves contingency plans for those things that you didn’t see coming.

I know making the first steps can be the hardest part when you are working towards a long term goal, but put a little faith in yourself and be brave.

Who knows where you’ll be or what you’ll be doing this time next year.

 

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 10

Look as us – we’ve made it to Day 10! Way to go!

So how shall we celebrate getting to double figures on our self care journey?

How about some exercise?

Exercise is an important part of self care and so is knowing your limits. Don’t push yourself too hard but do what you need to to improve your health.Also, don’t be fooled into believing exercise has to involve going to a gym – it most certainly does not.

Let me be clear, if you have a gym membership, that’s brilliant – make sure you use it. You don’t get the benefits just by paying for it each month. You have to go and exercise.

But if you’re like me and the thought of going to a gym brings you out in a cold sweat, then you may have thought that exercise wasn’t for you and that was that. Not so young paduin – there is much you can do that will bring you both physical and mental benefits.

Let’s start easy. Put some music on that you enjoy and move your body to it. If it’s fast and frantic, brilliant, you’re getting a cardio vascular work out. If it’s slow and steady, brilliant you’re gently working your core and improving your balance. You are also creating some mental space which is so important for a healthy mind.

Maybe you’d like to do something more productive? How about cleaning the house. Change the beds, go crazy with the duster, clean the windows, mop the floors, scrub the oven. A little more cardio (the faster you work the more your heart rate increases) and a clean sparkly home as a benefit! Also if you start to think of cleaning as your chance to care for yourself and your home, you might start to like it a little more.

Do you have a garden that could do with some attention? From weeding and mowing the lawn to digging holes and clearing ponds, the level of exertion varies, so choose what is right for you. By doing this you take care of yourself, your garden and all the ecosystem that thrives within it.

We could even get out of the house for a bit and use a walk to the shops or to work as another situation where we can exercise, create mental space and enjoy being outdoors? Maybe the walk is a more leisurely one at the weekend to a restaurant or museum that you fancy going to?

If you’re feeling really energetic maybe you could go for a run…or maybe even go to a class. Yoga and pilates are great forms of exercise without the puffy sweaty bits. If you don’t fancy pulling unusual poses in public there are plenty of youtube videos, dvd’s and digital streaming of lessons that you can follow.

There are options available for all levels of fitness and ability. Just do a little something that works for you. It all counts towards your self care.


If you struggle with motivation to get started on, or maintain an exercise program, you may find that hypnotherapy could help you get into the right frame of mind.

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 9

Welcome my lovely troupe. We are currently ho ho ho ing our way through December and spending each day making sure we survive (and maybe even thrive) during the festive season.

A few of the previous posts have focused on creativity. Making things, making habits, making plans etc. So today, I want to flip that on it’s head and think about destroying something.

How can destroying something be a an act of self care? By destroying something that is negative.

We all have bad habits. Go on, admit it – you do too.

They might be habits that have a bad effect on our health, like smoking, drinking or eating junk food.

They might be habits that have a bad effect on our mental health, like worrying, putting ourselves down or listening to that negative voice.

They might be habits that have a bad effect on our relationships, like gossiping, ignoring phone calls or taking people for granted.

You get the idea.

Generally I prefer to work on creating positive habits, but breaking negative ones can be just as important. It’s difficult to lift yourself up if you are constantly being dragged back down by your behaviour.

You may think that it’s too difficult to change your bad habits – particularly if that habit is addictive – but it is possible to do it.

One of the ways I help people to change negative habits is to help them frame it positively in their mind. Let’s take smoking for example. It is more difficult to quit smoking than it is to be smoke free. Quitting has lots of negative connotations. Losers quit. I’m no quitter. What will I be missing out on? Freedom has lots of positive connotations. Free, costs nothing, escaping, choices. Just a simple word change can make the whole process so much easier.

Another way to make things easier is to think about what you will gain rather than what you will lose. Taking smoking as an example again. What will you gain by being smoke free? Peace of mind that you’re not actively causing health problems? A load of money? Fresher breath? Not having to worry about where you will be able to smoke? Not needing to think if you have enough cigarettes to see you through. What will you lose? Nothing? An addiction? Cravings (non smokers never crave a cigarette)?

As you may be able to tell from the fact that I’ve used smoking as the example, I think this is the number one habit people should be working on being free from, but you should work on what is important to you.

Make the changes you want to in your life – Imagine how fantastic you will feel a year from now when you look back at today – the day you made your life better.


Many people struggle with breaking habits on their own. If you’ve tried and failed, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it just means that you could do with a little help. The good news is Hypnotherapy is a great tool to help you to be free from those unwanted behaviours. If you want to ‘quit smoking‘ but struggle on your own, get the help you need.

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 8

How quickly did that first week go? Welcome to week 2 of our Self Care Advent Calendar.

Where shall we begin?

How about building on that creativity that we started yesterday? This week, let’s try to create something less physical – let’s create a new habit.

Did you know that it is generally accepted that if you do something every day for 21 days you will create a new habit. That means there is just enough time for you to create a new habit before the end of the year.

I want you to think back to January. Did you make any new years resolutions that you haven’t quite got around to yet? It’s not too late – you can still make it happen.

So what sort of habits should we be making?

Well you could do worse than reflecting on the things we covered in Days one, two, three, four, five, six and seven of the advent calendar. Was there anything in there that you would like to establish as a daily habit?

Maybe it’s something else that you want to do. It doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure it’s something useful to you that makes you and your life better.

This month I am focussing on Self Care, so what habits could you create that would most benefit you? Here are my top 5 suggestions

  1. Meditation

I know this takes practise before you start to see positive results from it, but it’s worth the effort. Creating mental space in your life will help you to be more resilient and better able to cope with whatever life throws at you.

2. Yoga

Depending on the type of Yoga you choose this can involve meditation, but also helps you to be physically strong and flexible which again supports your resilience.

3. Mindfulness

This has similar benefits to Meditation but is easier to practice in day to day life. When we really focus on being in the moment we can alleviate a lot of stress and anxiety from our lives which has amazing physical and mental benefits.

4. Self Hypnosis

What a fantastic way to achieve the things you want to in life. Take control of your subconscious and make things happen the way you want them to.

5. Organization.

Ok so, this is a bit of an odd one. When you get into the habit of being organized – planning and prepping your life – you might be surprised at the difference it makes. It’s effects can be many and varied. One impact tends to be that you will feel less stress. Knowing what is happening and knowing you are prepared for it can get rid of a lot of worry. Another impact can be an improvement in your diet and exercise. By planning your food and knowing what you are going to eat you tend to make better choices than you would if you decided what to eat when you are already hungry. By planning in your exercise (and maybe organising other people to be involved) you are more likely to complete it. It can also have a financial impact. Less impulse buys + more planned budgeting = more money in your pocket!

One final note on this one – don’t be too ambitious. Create one achievable habit and build on it. Make a commitment to yourself to create one new habit and stick to it for at least 21 days before you even think about trying another one. Slow and steady wins the race!


Some of the most beneficial habits can take a little bit of help to get started with. If you are struggling to change there people out there who can help. There are lots of therapists available with lots of different techniques and tricks to get you where you want to be.

 

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 7

One week in and where are we? Well hopefully you’re up, clean and dressed, well fed, you’ve been outside, you’ve cleaned up, made a plan and even started decorating…and maybe feeling pretty good about it?

So how are we ending out first week of Self Care?

How about tapping into your creativity.

Now, creativity is a double edged sword. On one hand it can create beautiful, imaginative, original things. On the other hand, it can create catastrophic thoughts and stories of doom and gloom.

Overthinking is a form of creativity – but it’s not one that I think you should be focusing on, so let’s harness that creative spark in other ways. Some are blessed with talent. Some are naturally creative. Some are not. It doesn’t matter – you can still flex that creativity muscle and get some benefit from it.

Do you write Music or Play an instrument? – Write a song

Do you Paint? – Paint a portrait or landscape that you love

Do you Bake? – Make a cake to give to a homeless shelter/ neighbour / friend (or just eat it yourself)

Do you Cook? – Create a 3 course menu for a special occasion and try it out

Do you Knit? – Knit some bobble hats for a charity shop

Do you Sew? – Make an outfit or if you sew like I do, a napkin.

Do you Write? – blog, write a short story, send a card

Do you Vlog? – Do a vlog to help someone

Do you Draw? – Create some illustrations

Do you Sing? – Record a new version of your favourite song

Can’t do any of those things? That’s OK there’s still plenty you can do. Put together a new outfit, decorate a room, put together a mood board, do some papier-mâché, colour in a picture, decoupage, finger paints, modelling clay…..whatever you fancy. Just play and make something. It doesn’t have to be good. You don’t have to show anyone. Just be creative in a good way rather than a negative one.

As I said, over-thinking, catastrophizing and worrying are just ways of using your creativity and your imagination in an unhelpful way. When you catch yourself doing it, try to redirect your creative impulse into something better. If you feel like you really need to spend some time worrying, try to designate a set period of time in which to to do all of your worrying. Think you can get it all out of the way in 10 minutes? Give yourself 15 – but not a minute more. It can take a little practice for the continual worriers out there, but keep practising – you’ll get on top of it.


As a Hypnotherapist I see a lot of people with anxiety and depression.  Anxiety is often caused by a misdirected creative impulse that people can’t curb. If you find yourself in a situation like that, please get help as soon as possible. Not only is it unnecessary for you to suffer with this, it’s important to get help sooner rather than later. Although it is Never too late to change, it’s easier when it hasn’t become normal behaviour.

 

 

 

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 6

We’ve made it to day 6 – Woo hoo!

So just to recap, were up, clean and dressed, well fed, we’ve been out into the big wide world, we’ve got a plan for the month and we’ve had a clean up…aren’t we doing fabulously?

So what does today bring? A little sparkle that’s what. Or maybe not depending on your tastes…it’s up to you really.

My suggestion for today is to put up a decoration or two. If you celebrate Christmas, this is a lovely time of year to decorate your home with a few sparkles, but even if you don’t it doesn’t mean you can’t put up some special decoration. Maybe you’re celebrating something else and you could decorate for that or maybe this isn’t any special time for you, but you could still decorate with a beautiful photo or some fresh flowers…

It really doesn’t matter what you choose, but making a space beautiful has a positive impact. You fulfil an internal need to be creative and you respect your space by making it attractive.

Personally I like my decorations to have a little meaning behind them. When we go away on holiday I try to pick up Christmas decorations that will remind me of happy times. We recently spent a long weekend in New York and it was amazing. We bought a little Santa ornament at a Christmas shop just by Carnegie Hall and today I put it up in front of the clock in the living room. Now every time I look at the time I get a little positive memory of our wonderful trip – good eh?

There is also something kind of nice about taking some time over things. As I wrote yesterday, it’s important to make time to create some metal space. Doing things in a mindful way is an opportunity to do this. Instead of rushing through your decorating, take time over it. Avoid other distractions and hold the objects that you are placing. Notice how they feel, how they look, how they smell. What memories do they bring up? What thoughts do you associate with them? How will you feel when you place it just right. Really focus on each thought and emotion and see them for what they are – just thoughts and feelings. You don’t have to act on them. You don’t have to keep them. Just notice them and let them pass…when you can do this with all your thoughts and feelings, you can eliminate stress and anxiety from your life completely, so it’s well worth practising.

When you’ve put up your decorations, take time to enjoy them too. Sit back and admire your work. Invite a friend around so that they can tell you how gorgeous it all looks. Ask the neighbours round for a coffee. Whilst it’s good to do these things for yourself, it’s also good to share them.


A lot of people suffer with overthinking, worry and anxiety. Mindfulness can be a great way to deal with these intrusive thoughts and to learn how to master them. There are classes happening all over the world and online, so it’s worth spending some time getting to grips with this incredible technique.

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