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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 4

Hi there – welcome to the fourth day of our self care advent calendar. So now you should be dressed, clean, well fed and have ventured outside.

Keep it up – every day – yep, I said it, every day.

But here’s one that you can do for just one day (sort of). I want you to make a December/Christmas bucket list.

If you celebrate Christmas this is a great idea to make sure you are getting the most from the holiday season. If you don’t celebrate Christmas you can still join in by creating a list of all the things you want to do this December.

I want you to make your own, but I’m going to give you mine so that you can use it for inspiration.

Christmas Bucket List

  1. Decorate the house
  2. Make a Christmas tree ornament
  3. Watch a Christmas film (Elf for me)
  4. Donate to a food bank/homeless shelter
  5. Take silly Christmas photos
  6. Take a drive and look at the Christmas lights
  7. Write and send Christmas cards (with proper messages to those I care about)
  8. Make a drink Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows in
  9. Make a Gingerbread house
  10. Make some seed and nut fatballs to feed the birds
  11. Make the house smell like Christmas (baked apples, cinnamon, cloves, sandalwood and oranges)
  12. Take some stuff to the charity shop
  13. Sing loudly to Christmas songs
  14. Go for a long walk in the country
  15. Dry orange slices
  16. Make some Christmas cookies and give them to the neighbours
  17. Snuggle up by the fire with a good book
  18. Wear fluffy socks
  19. Drink some mulled cider
  20. Go Ice skating
  21. Kiss someone you love under the mistletoe
  22. Wear a Christmas jumper
  23. Have a pamper day – hair, nails and feet looking their best for Christmas parties
  24. Donate to an animal shelter – food, toys or bedding
  25. Eat a candy cane
  26. Decorate the table for Christmas dinner

 

So as I said – this one is a one off. You just need to do all the things on it, and that could take all month!

Only put things on the list that YOU want to do – don’t try to fit into anyone else’s expectation of what you should or shouldn’t be doing. It’s your list.

Also whilst I would love for you to do all the things on your list, you may not get them all done, and that’s OK – there’s always next year, or maybe you could just extend it into to January….it’s all flexible. It’s your list, your life and your experience – do it any way that works well for you. Having said that, it there is something that you’ve put on your list that you never get round to doing, ask yourself why. Is it because you didn’t really want to do it in the first place? Or maybe you do want to do it but can’t quite fund a way to make it happen…If that’s the case you need to make a plan and make it happen. Your Life if Your responsibility – make the things you want to happen happen.

So go forth and get on with your amazing Christmas Bucket List.


Sometimes we can all do with a little helping hand to get us moving. If you need help with motivation or planning, maybe you could use the help of a therapist or life coach. We’re out there and happy to get you where you want to be.

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5 ways to make a positive introduction

energy

We’ve all been there. We need to introduce ourselves and we want to make a good impression, but how do we do that?

It starts before you even open your mouth.

Decide what comfortable looks like

Firstly, you need to get your energy right. Don’t get weirded out by the idea of personal energy – it’s not some strange construct about chi or laylines, it’s just the ‘vibes’ we give out. I’m sure some of you are reading this and thinking ‘what utter nonsense’, but think about this for a second…have you ever walked into a room where nobody has said a word, but you can tell that there is tension – that things aren’t right…that’s the energy I’m talking about. In reality it’s probably a combination of body language and our subconscious minds. We pick up on all sorts of small signals and they give us a feeling of right or wrong, good or bad, safe or dangerous, comfortable or nervous.

When we meet people, we want them to think certain things of us and feel a certain way about us. Unless we have ulterior motives we probably want them to like us – to feel comfortable and at ease. So how do we achieve this? Let’s start by thinking about the sort of people we feel comfortable with…are they nervous or self assured? Are they  relaxed or uptight? Are they highly strung or laid back? Are they vigilant or unaware? Generally people feel comfortable with people who seem comfortable themselves. They seen confident, self assured, relaxed and happy.

I you don’t feel it- fake it

So we want to appear to be confident, self assured, relaxed and happy. If you feel that way then you are already most of the way there, but what if you don’t. The easy answer is fake it. Most people aren’t very good at telling if someone is genuinely confident, or just pretending to be, so fake it ’til you make it. Think about your body language. Imagine someone who feels the way you want to feel and think about how they look. What is their posture like? How about their eye contact? Are they fidgeting? Do they have a prop? What are their hands doing? If you can picture it, then you can copy it. Maybe you could even imagine floating into their body and assuming their mannerisms…

What if it all went perfectly?

Sometimes the reasons we feel anxious or nervous are because we have thought about all the things that could possibly go wrong. We go over and over the situation, thinking about what mistakes we might make or all the negative things people may think about us. Unfortunately, rather than helping us to prepare, this just makes us fearful. This in turn affects the energy. How comfortable do feel around people that are scared? I know it can be easy to think about all the worst possible outcomes, but with practice you can start to think about all the things that could go well. What if they really like us? What if it goes perfectly? These thoughts lead to confidence and a positive feeling.

Be realistic

When we meet people, what ever the situation, we have some hopes about how it’s going to go. If it’s a job interview, we want them to give us the job. If it’s a date, we want them to want to see us again. If it’s a new job we want to fit in with the new team and become liked and valuable. As much as we hope it will go perfectly – what if it doesn’t? Is it life or death? Will we have another chance to change things? Being confident is not about believing that everyone will like you, it’s about knowing that you will be OK even if they don’t. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself and relax!

Enjoy it

The nicest people to be around tend to be those that just enjoy the company of others. So put your best foot forward, relax (or pretend to) and enjoy the opportunity. Who knows where it could take you?

If you struggle with social situations or have problems with confidence and self esteem there are many ways you can get help. Hypnotherapists like myself are ready and willing to help you to feel how you want to, either through hypnosis or through a myriad of other psychological tools and tricks. Don’t suffer unnecessarily –  make the change!

 

 

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Leap Year 2016 – Your Bonus Day

Hello shiny happy people.

Today is a bonus day – What are you going to do with it?

If you had to work today and you’re on a salary- that kind of sucks for you, because you’re working for free today. If however you are paid hourly, you’re earning BONUS money today – what will you spend it on?

You could spend it on food and rent and normal stuff, but where’s the fun in that? That’s not BONUS time.

Why not treat yourself to something you wouldn’t normally do

-buy some organic food

-book a therapy session

-get a facial

-try an art lesson

or then again, maybe you could use your bonus to give someone else a bonus

-donate to charity

-give to a homeless person

-help out your local animal shelter

-give to a food bank

Then again, maybe you’re not working at all – so you have bonus time!

Wow, what a treat!

What have you been putting off that you could get done on your bonus day?

Or then again maybe you’ve been getting bogged down with stuff and you could use your bonus day to give yourself a break?

Or maybe there’s something that you think you’d never do – maybe today is an opportunity to be daring?

Who Knows? Not me!

The one thing I do know though, is that time is precious. Don’t waste it, don’t expect it and act as though today could be your last day – one day you’ll be right and it would be such a shame to look back at time you could have enjoyed but didn’t quite find the time.

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How are you going through life?

I heard someone talking on the TV this morning. They had been married to a man who was an outspoken atheist and was killed by religious extremists – she herself had been severely attacked at the same time. The interviewer asked her how she coped now. She relayed something her husband said to her – ‘when I’m travelling along in my little sail boat and the waters seem to big or to dark, I look up and I find you, ready to pull me along’. I just stay who I am, solid, and keep going.

As a hypnotherapist I’m very interested in peoples metaphors. It has been said that our metaphors are actually a direct line to our subconscious. The words we choose, the way that we express ourselves, often has little to do with a deliberate thought – we just say what we feel. When that expression comes in the way of a metaphor it can be very revealing.

So I ask the question – How are you going through life?

Are you the centre of your own universe?

Are you travelling through an environment? If so what is that environment like? Is it scary or friendly? Is it free or constrained?

Are you on the ground or on water or in the air?

Are you in charge of your journey?

Have you got things or people with you?

If you are stuck – how can you become free?

If you are let loose – how can you take a step in the right direction?

What is around you?

How does this relate to other things?

Is there anything else that you notice about your metaphor?

What does it mean to you?

It doesn’t just work with your journey through life. You can use this metaphor process for anything. Maybe you want to think about the blog you are writing, the relationship you are in, your work life or business…what ever you want to think about.

It’s worth thinking about this for yourself, but it’s even better to talk about these things with someone else to see what their perspective may be on it…maybe a friend, maybe a therapist….that’s up to you.

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My Happy Jar

My Happy Jar

This is the latest post about my Happy Jar. It’s been a little while since I posted an update on this, but don’t worry there’s still plenty going in the jar 🙂

The Happy Jar is a way to look back and remember all the little things that make us happy.

The idea came from a nice story I once heard about a woman who had a jar. Every time she thought of something that made her happy, she would jot it down on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. Whenever she felt down, or fed up, she would go to her jar and find all the things that made her happy. Some things were big things, events that happened that she could look back on and smile, but most were little things that she could cherish and maybe even recreate to make her feel better.

So here are a few things from my Happy Jar this month.

A pink sunrise (yes I know, red sky in the morning – shepherds warning, but it’s still pretty)

Catching up with old friends at a house warming

Seeing friends happy – on a new journey, full of excitement and anticipation.

Fresh Blueberries in my porridge for breakfast.

A gift to myself being delivered.

The smell of freshly cut grass after it has rained.

Seeing my old dog act like a puppy when she finds a new walk.

Listening to an album I haven’t played in years (and still remembering the words).

Sprouting seeds.

Finding an old friend on social media.

Getting my nerd on with a friend.

Finding out that some amazing shoes I want actually come in my size (I’m 6ft tall and have size 9 feet)

Getting great feedback from a post

Getting caught in the rain and running for cover (then getting home and dry!)

Rediscovering a joy in drawing.

I know none of these things are amazing, there is nothing earth shattering about them, but all of them have made me smile and brought a least a little joy to my soul.

What will you put in your happy jar this month?

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Magical Metaphor

I’m over the moon to be writing about metaphors. You know – metaphorically speaking.

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

Metaphors are also described as figures of speech, allegories, parables, analogies, word pictures and symbols.

They creep into our everyday life without most of us even noticing.

Have you ever really been as sick as a parrot? (I didn’t even know parrots were particularly prone to sickness).

Do you ever get run off your feet?

Have you ever actually been on cloud 9? (or clouds 1-8 for that matter)

Does your head get foggy? (or rainy, snowy or windy?)

When was the last time you said something was amazing or awesome? When was the last time you were genuinely amazed or in awe?

Is the world a stage?

Have you ever drowned in debt?

Metaphors are everywhere.

Personally I rather like looking out for them? When you start to spot them you can start to notice the language people are using with regards to their metaphors – it can be quite revealing.

As a hypnotherapist I deal a lot with metaphors and symbolism. The subconscious mind is much better at changing things if you give it symbols to work with.

You might want to give this little exercise a go.

Let’s imagine you have something coming up that you feel uncomfortable with. Maybe it’s a test or exam, maybe it’s a meeting that you are worried about, maybe it’s a conversation you are not looking forward to having. What ever it is try to think of a symbol that represents how you feel about it at the moment. The symbol can be a shape, a colour, a character, an object – whatever works for you. Now think about a symbol that represents how you would LIKE to feel about it – easy, relaxed, confident – whatever is best for you.

Once you’ve got the new improved symbol in your mind, make it destroy the other, less useful symbol. It can squash it, rub it out, fade it away, blow it up, burn it down, screw it up and throw it away – what ever suits you – just make your new improved symbol the only one that left afterwards.

Now – ask yourself how you feel about the thing that you were concerned about….

…better?

Using this technique along with hypnosis can and does make powerful changes for people – you should give it a try – it could leave you feeling on top of the world!

(metaphorically speaking of course)

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The Harry Potter approach to fear

spider phobia

I’m guessing most of you have seen at least some of the Harry Potter films.

If you haven’t, go and check them out immediately – they’re ace!

In one of the films the students are asked to use a spell to defeat a monster that manifests itself as the young wizard’s greatest fear. For one of them, the greatest fear they had was that of spiders.

Arachnophobia.

It’s pretty common.

The way that the creature is dealt with is by using the ‘Riddikulus’ spell. You imagine it being as ridiculous as you can.

I think they’re onto something here.

Can you honestly be scared of something that you find funny?

If you’re scared of spiders, try giving it a silly name, with a funny voice. Hear it talking to you asking to be your friend. Put it in some strange outfit or think about it being drunk or scared. Play with the ideas in your imagination.

The weird thing about your subconscious (well, one of the weird things) is that it has trouble distinguishing real memories from imagined ones. If you play around with this concept often enough it starts to remember spiders as silly and funny rather than scary.

Now, isn’t that ridiculous!

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What are you defined by?

I read this cool post today… You are not defined by from The Persistent Platypus.

It talks about not being defined by your past, but by what good you do in the world – so what are you defined by?

For me it’s my little Family – my Partner and my Dog – they are my world and I hope I make them happy.

It’s also my friends – I have a small group of friends who mean a lot to me and a large group of friends that I have the most tenuous of connections with – but they are all important, as is the impact I have on them, so I try to make it positive.

It’s also my work. I’m lucky enough to do a job I love which helps people every day. As a Hypnotherapist I help people to make positive changes in their lives. Whether it’s helping them tackle personal problems or helping them achieve goals, I know I make a difference.

It’s also my community. I smile and say hello to people as I walk my dog. I chat to the people who serve me at the supermarket. I help out neighbours where I can. It’s not much, but when everyone does this we all get to live in a better place.

Am I changing the world – No.

Am I changing things for people – Yes.

I used to work in a bar. I’ve always been a chatty soul, and will happily make conversation with almost anyone. I’m sure it annoys some people.

After I stopped working in bars I started working for a Financial Institution. I was stood at the reception desk one day when a guy came up to me and asked if I used to work in a local bar. When I confirmed that yes, that was me, he asked if he could shake my hand. I laughed and said ‘of course’ – then asked ‘Why?’ His answer will stay with me for the rest of my life.

He said ‘I was suffering from depression. I had decided that I couldn’t go on any more and that I was going to kill myself. I was working up a bit of Dutch courage by having a drink in your bar, and you started chatting to me. It was the first conversation I’d had in ages. I decided to wait a bit before going through with the suicide. I came in every day for a week, and you always had a chat with me as I stood at the bar. That was 6 years ago, and I have never felt better than I do today. I promised myself if I ever saw you again I would shake your hand for saving my life’

I could tell you that I remembered these conversations, but I don’t. They were of no importance or significance to me at all. We probably talked about the weather or what had been on TV the night before. They were nothing to me – but everything to him.

Don’t undervalue a smile and a chat. Don’t think you don’t make a difference.

You do.

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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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5 ways to stop a panic attack

Panic attacks are horrible.

They can be terrifying, debilitating and disabling.

They can also be treated.

There are drugs that doctors can prescribe to help manage them, but there are also less invasive solutions that can be even more effective, like hypnotherapy.

Panic attacks are created in your brain. I like to think of them as a mental allergic reaction.

Think about an allergy such as hayfever.

Your body sees the pollen as a threatening alien invader and goes into defence mode. It makes your eyes itch, your throat get scratchy and sets off your bodies immune system as though it’s under a full blown attack. The truth is, the pollen is harmless and the only unpleasant thing is your own bodies response to it.

The same happens mentally with a panic attack. Things are floating around your brain, thought, ideas, scenarios. Your subconscious feels threatened by something and goes into defence mode. it makes you hyper alert, increases your senses and dumps a load of adrenaline into your system in case you need to run. This makes your heart beat faster, increases your blood pressure, makes you breath faster and that in turn can make you feel light headed and dizzy. Your palms may sweat and your mouth becomes dry. All of these symptoms inly increase the anxiety and the cycle starts making it worse and worse.

So, how do you stop them.

1. Educate yourself.

Research what panic attacks are. Understand them. If you know why you are feeling this way it can take lots of the fear out of it and stop you entering the panic cycle.

2. Be aware of your triggers.

Try to notice where you are, what you are doing, what you are thinking about, who you are with, what you are feeling etc when you have a panic attack. By being aware of your triggers you can start to work out what it is that you are uncomfortable about and try different things to manage that. I do not advocate changing your life to never come across a trigger, but I do advocate knowing what your triggers are and working with a therapist to find better ways of managing those feelings.

3.Train yourself.

If you have regular panic attack you have begun to train yourself to follow a pattern. A follows B follows C.

for example – I notice that my chest feels a bit tight, then I can’t get my breath, then my heart starts beating really fast, then my fingers start to tingle.

When you are relaxed and calm think about the first symptom of a panic attack – bring it to mind, feel it in your body. If you can bring it on them you can let it go too. Train yourself to feel that feeling and then let it go.

4. Breath.

One of the common symptoms of panic attacks is a feeling of breathlessness and hyperventilating. Just learning to control your breathing and making sure that you breath out slowly with each breath can stop a panic attack in it’s tracks.

5. Get help.

If all of these steps don’t work for you, it’s time to get some help. There are plenty of therapists who can help you be free of these awful experiences forever. There is no shame in getting some support to get rid of them. If you had persistent headaches it would be a good idea to consult a doctor. If you get persistent panic attacks, it’s a good idea to consult a therapist.

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