Tag 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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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 17

Welcome back – it’s so lovely to see you here again.

Self care is important. When you don’t take care of yourself you are letting yourself, and those around you, down. How you are affect how others are.

A lot of what I’ve written about during the first part of this self care advent calendar has involved just focussing on yourself. I make no apologies for that – you are important.

Although what I am about to suggest today may seem as though it’s more about other people, it’s still about you. It’s about how it makes you feel, how you think about yourself.

I would like you to be proud of yourself, to think about yourself as a good person. So, what do you need to do in order to feel that way. I’m sure you have answers of your own, and they may be the most important things for you to work on, but I’m going to suggest one way that seems to work well for me and lots of others.

Random acts of kindness.

If you haven’t heard of this concept before, it’s kind of self explanatory. You do something nice for someone random. Ideally this isn’t someone in your social circle, they’re not a friend or family, they’re not even someone you work with – just a random stranger.

Sometimes it’s nice to see how people react to your kindness, sometimes it’s best just to do it and move on.

I would LOVE to know some suggestions for random acts that you could or have done, but in case you’re struggling for inspiration, here are some of my easy favourites.

  1. Leave some change in a vending machine.
  2. Give to a food bank.
  3. Give a stranger a flower.
  4. Give a stranger a compliment.
  5. Top up a parking meter.
  6. Leave a positive note for someone.
  7. Send an anonymous gift.
  8. Give some socks to a homeless person.
  9. Send someone a drink in a bar.
  10. Read a random blog and tell them something nice about it.

I’m not a big fan of concepts like law of attraction or Karma, but I do think you get what you give. The more positivity and love you put out into the world, the more will com back to you. Try to engender the feelings you would like to have in others and it may find it’s way back to you. Even if it doesn’t come back from the people you pass it too, it may come back in the way you feel about yourself.


Our self esteem is incredibly important. The way we feel about ourselves in one of the most important factors in our health and wellbeing. Don’t believe me? Things like loneliness have as big an impact on your life span as smoking, and if we don’t have good self esteem we can struggle with relationships and feelings of worth. Although it may seem like something you just have to do or not do, things are never that simple. Our subconscious mind can get some poor programming which can be corrected. If you struggle with self esteem, getting help from a hypnotherapist could be the best thing you ever do.

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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 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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How to have a Stress Free Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be a lovely holiday – friends and family celebrating, joy to the world, peace and harmony – so why do so many people end up feeling incredibly stressed?

Did you know that the suicide rate increases dramatically at this time of year? Also the divorce rate soars in early January. How sad that this season creates so much unhappiness.

I think most of the problems are caused by expectations. You want it to be perfect. You want to feel loved and love in return. You want everyone to get along.

So my first tip is…

Manage your expectations. If you have a group of people coming together, don’t expect the all to get on. There will be friction (especially if there is alcohol involved) so expect it and have a plan to deal with it. That plan could be just to let it go, not to worry about it. It could be to plan an activity or game that will keep people occupied. It could be about mediating and finding common ground – whatever it is , have a plan, but also accept that your plan may not work out how you want it to.

If you are going to be alone you still need to manage your expectations. At a time of year when everyone is talking about how important family is, how great it is to be in a relationship etc etc you need to own your singleness. I’ve been alone at Christmas a few times – sometimes it’s been utterly depressing, sometimes it’s been awesome. That tells me that my happiness doesn’t depend on whether I’m with people or not, but it does depend on how I feel about it. Don’t dwell on what you think it should be, accept what it is and make the absolute most of it. Plan something wonderful for yourself. If you have the money, go away, book a trip, do something you’ve always wanted to do. If you’re broke, get your favourite snacks in, plan a personal pamper day, grab the cosy blankets and a good book/film and enjoy it (all the while thanking your lucky stars that you’re not spending the day running yourself ragged trying to please a load of unappreciative family who will just have a fight and ruin your day anyway)

Which brings me to tip 2

Plan and Prepare. Try not to give yourself too much work to do on the day. It might seem a little over the top, but a little planning goes a long way. Write yourself a list of things that you need to do for YOUR Christmas. I can’t give you a list as everyone’s Christmas is their own, but think about furniture that you need, food that you want, games that you want to play, decorations you want to have, gifts you want to give, how you want to wrap them, people you want to see, cards you want to send. Do as much as you can as early as you can. Leave NOTHING to the last minute. Last minute = stress. Avoid it where possible. Cards can be written, addressed and stamped now. Some food can be prepared and frozen. Online shopping lists can be created. Get on it now – not only will it reduce your stress, but you’ll also feel amazingly smug and well organised when you hear about other people stressing.

Despite what I’ve just said, you also need to remember tip 3

Keep it simple. Your job is not to put on the most elaborate Christmas celebration that has ever existed. You don’t have to handmake soaps in the shape of wrapped Christmas presents, you don’t have to cook like a gourmet chef, you don’t need to buy everyone a uniquely thoughtful gift that speaks to their soul. Sometimes a scented candle or some bed socks are OK. Pre prepared food still tastes great and most people will be happy with the slightly dodgy Christmas TV and a nap after dinner.

Which brings me back to expectations and tip 4 is

It’s also OK to manage other people’s expectations. As a business owner I know how important it is to manage other peoples expectations. If I tell you I’m going to do something, I need to be able to deliver that. If I don’t deliver, I disappoint. If I do what I said I was going to do, then my clients are OK with that. If I exceed what I said I was going to do, everyone is happy. So, underplay what you are going to do and over deliver.

My final tip for today is

Don’t try to do everything yourself. This is a double edged sword. Firstly, by delegating tasks you avoid the stress of having to do everything. That’s a win. The weight of Christmas is not ALL on your shoulders. The other side is that your guest may actually really enjoy contributing to Christmas. It makes them feel involved and gives them a chance to show that they can make something wonderful too. If people offer to help, don’t get defensive. They are not trying to tell you that they don’t think you can do this. They just want to help and to be involved. Let them. Christmas does not belong just to you.


All of these things will help to keep things a bit calmer, more relaxed, under control. However some people will still struggle with stress at this time of year. Please, however you feel, don’t let seasonal stress get to you. If you can manage it yourself- fantastic. If you can’t please get help. There are lots of professionals around who can help you to feel the way you want to feel, to live the life you want to live. As a hypnotherapist I help people all year round, but stress, anxiety and loneliness are more prevalent at this time of year ( and weight loss is more prevalent in January!)

Here’s to your stress free Christmas

 

 

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How to write an effective To Do list (and a Not to do list)

I bet you have a ‘to do list’ – maybe it’s written down, maybe it’s just in your head, but I bet you have a list of things that you want to do.

It could be a list for the day

It could be a list for the week

It could be a list of things to do before you’re 50

It could be a bucket list

We all do it, and it’s not a bad thing. It helps us to be focussed on what we want to achieve and how we will do it. Which is great – up to a point. That point is when the ‘to do list’ becomes a burden. It becomes another thing that’s stressing us out.

So what can we do about it?

Well one of the first things you can do is to prioritise it.

Split your list down into sections.

Start with 3 things that HAVE to be done today.

This achieves a couple of things. Firstly it does that focussing thing again. You will be much more likely to achieve a small list of things that are important, than a great big list of things that you can postpone. Secondly, you will feel better when you start to tick things off that list. That in itself can give you motivation to keep at it. Now I know some of you will be saying that your ‘Have to be done lists’ are much longer than 3 items long, and I’m sure that’s true, but if you really had to put just 3 things down what would they be?

Secondly go with 3 things that you would like to do today.

These are not desperately important things, but things that you would like to get done. If you make it to these things – fantastic, Well done you – you probably deserve a treat of some sort – has someone put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea? By achieving anything on this list you are doing well. You may even be ticking off things that would be on tomorrows must do list – that’s great! You are such a winner!

Thirdly have a Not to do list.

This list is just as important. Maybe the things on it are time wasters – hobby jobs that you do even though you don’t have to. Maybe they are completely unproductive like playing Candy Crush or watching rubbish daytime TV. What ever they are, they are not helping you to tick off the important things on your list. Get rid of them until your to do list is done.

Finally have a Done list.

Don’t forget what you’ve achieved. Celebrate the fact that you have completed tasks that were important to you. If you don’t do this you can sometimes feel that you’ve worked all day for absolutely nothing. If that is how you feel, why would you want to do it all over again the next day? By recognising what you have achieved and the impact that has on your goals you can feel rightly proud of yourself.

So you’ve done it – you have your list. What are you waiting for? Get on with it already!

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Food Phobia – Fussy Eating and it’s causes

Most of the people I see as a Hypnotherapist come to me for something to do with food.

For the vast majority of those people it’s that they would like to not eat so much of it. They want to change their relationship with food so that they are in charge and so that they can easily say no to junk food and eat in a more healthy way.

For some people it’s that they would like to eat more. They either have some obsessive compulsive behaviour around food (separating foods out, liquidising food, not allowing foods to touch, feeling sick at the thought of eating certain foods etc. etc.) Anorexic and bulimic behaviours also fall into this category but are often more complicated and have underlying emotional issues that need to be resolved alongside them.

A lot of people that fall into the ‘eat more’ group have had a negative experience when eating food. Quite often that was a choking incident and it has left them with a fear of eating. Almost all phobias are learned responses. We can learn them from the people around us (you tend to find that kids who have parents who are scared of spiders will continue that phobia themselves), or we can learn them through experience (something scared us, hurt us or upset us in some way). The initial scary event is often referred to as the sensitizing event of the phobia. Normally this is followed up some time later by a confirming event. Let’s say for instance you choked on a piece of steak. That initial choking is the sensitizing event. The next time you go to eat steak, you remember that you choked last time and are a little apprehensive. This causes your mouth to dry up, your throat to tighten slightly and your heart rate to increase. You notice this and it causes increased anxiety which in turn causes the anxiety to kick up a notch. The increase in adrenaline in your system makes you feel a bit queasy – like that sick feeling you get before you go on stage – but you link that churning stomach to the steak.  Now you have a phobia.

One of the common mistakes parents make when they have a child who is a fussy eater is to accept this behaviour. They can start to accommodate the child’s preference for this or that or their dislike of certain foods. By changing the foods that they give the child, they are confirming that they had a reason to refuse it in the first place. This in effect becomes confirming behaviour and leads to food issues. The other common mistake is to fight with the child and attempt to make them eat it. Now the confirming event is that every time the food that they don’t like is put in front of them, there will be stress and confrontation.

So what do you do?

Current thinking is that the best way to deal with a child who is a fussy eater is to continue to give them the foods they dislike if you are having them as part of a family meal. If they choose to leave them, don’t make a big deal of it. They just get less food. If they see their parents and siblings enjoying that food they are much more likely to give it a try and they have no negative associations with it.

If you are an adult who has developed food phobias in the past – get help! The world of food is an enjoyable one. As with any other phobia Hypnotherapy offers great success in getting rid of it for ever – what are you waiting for?

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What causes Stress? – Environment or how we handle it?

hypnotherapy for stress coventry

Have you ever noticed that some people can get stressed out over the slightest thing, whilst other people can seem to thrive in really high pressure environments?

Yet we still hear people say that they were in a stressful job, or a stressful situation.

Now don’t get me wrong, certain circumstances and issues can be difficult to deal with, but it’s how we deal with them that either gives us stress or doesn’t.

One of the common causes of stress is around control issues.

If you are trying to manage and control every aspect of a situation, and feel responsible for all the outcomes and how it will effect all parties involved you will undoubtedly be feeling the stress. One of the biggest lessons we all have to learn if we want to eliminate stress from our lives, is that we have little, if any, control over what happens.

Let me say that again – we have little, if any, control over what happens.

A lot of people are going to disagree with that statement. so let me add a little more to it.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t prepare/train/practice – of course you should, that’s how you get good at things.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to avoid dangerous risks – of course you should, if you want to live a long and healthy life.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t plan – of course you should, otherwise you will be met by unexpected problems at every turn.

What I’m saying is, after you’ve practised, planned and assessed your risks, you have to let go.

There is always a certain amount of rolling with the punches, things will go wrong and people will be unpredictable – and that’s OK.

If you’re someone who feels a lot of stress – here are a couple of tips which may help you to manage it better.

1. Plan, prepare, practice.

Get yourself ready for what ever the situation is that you are stressed about.

2. Breathe

Being stressed and uptight will not help you to make good decisions. Take a minute or two to breathe – slowly and steadily, making sure your out breath is always longer than your in breath. Some people like to count to 7 on each in breath and count to 11 on each out breath – personally I prefer to breathe in as normal and then blow the air out slowly through pursed lips to control my breathing. This simple act changes your body chemistry and allows you to feel calmer and more relaxed.

3. Ask yourself – What is the worst that could happen?

Unless you are in very unusual circumstances the situation you are in will not be life and death. If something goes wrong – so what? It may not be ideal, but it’s probably not worth giving yourself a heart attack over! You know what -even if it is life and death, you can still remind yourself that you are doing the best you can – and nobody can ask more of you than that.

4. Imagine it’s a year from now – do you still care about whatever it is you are stressing over?

If the answer is no, it’s probably not worth worrying about now either.

Stress is a killer – avoid it where you can. If you struggle with this on your own, consider seeking some help – it’s definitely worth it!

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Everyone said

Here’s my weekly poem – I hope you enjoy it

It Couldn’t Be Done

BY EDGAR ALBERT GUEST

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
      But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

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