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4 Ways to Improve Mental Health

As it’s Mental Health Awareness Week you might have anticipated a blog from me on this subject.  Self-acceptance and self-love are two main keys to better mental wellbeing but…

How do you accept yourself if you don’t like who you are?

In my work over the years I’ve learned that people dislike themselves for all kinds of reasons from experiences such as negative programing in early childhood, through to bullying, abuse, unfulfilled dreams and disappointment in relationships. The list is endless.

However one of the main reasons for lack of self-love and acceptance is FAGS. Carrying the emotional burden of Fear, Anger, Guilt and Shame plays a huge part in self-loathing.

Most of these emotions reside in your body rather than your mind. Check it out, the next time you feel a bad feeling, try to locate the place in your body where the feeling appears to live. For example you may notice that fear lives in your stomach, throat or chest.

The fact that these emotions do not grow up, that they remain as raw and intense as when they first occurred, is the reason why so many people appear to get stuck in the past. Triggered by a bad feeling they are catapulted back into an old miserable memory and find themselves thinking, feeling and acting low.

Because all of this appears to happen outside of conscious control, it can cause depression, anxiety and panic attacks. These negative feelings create other negative patterns of behavior people talk about feeling little and disempowered and stuck in states of regression. On the extreme end of the spectrum some withdraw inside whilst others resort to self-harm. As I return to my original question.

How do you accept yourself if you don’t like who you are?

Here are 4 tips for maintain positive mental health

1. Let’s start by establishing one simple fact. You are unique. There is no one else in the world exactly like you. You are special, an extra ordinary one-off! It’s true! As a result you are irreplaceable.

Please read that sentence over and over again, repeat it out loud. Then stick that sentence in that special compartment in your mind that deals with multiplication and wait for it to replay itself right up into the front of your mind.

2. Developing the ability to gently observe oneself is an essential component in the integration of negative memories

  1. Hypnosis with a qualified experienced hypnotherapist (me!) will help. Ask your hypnotherapist to teach you self-hypnosis.
  2. Develop a regular practice. Start with 10 minutes and day and build-up, as you feel more comfortable.
  3. Attend an 8-week course.
  4. A regular yoga practice will enable you to observe yourself from a more peaceful perspective. British Wheel of Yoga for a list of teachers.

3.  When we need to heal the body needs safe touch because it carries deep tension as a result of bound-up emotions. Find a good qualified body worker. There are many different types of massage, from clothed massage in Shiatsu, or gentle aromatherapy, to sports massage or deep Rolfing. Find what suits you.

4. Movement. If you’ve never experienced it try a 5 Rhythms class or workshop and shake off your stuff. Failing that, make sure you’re alone, put on a favorite track that you once enjoyed dancing too, or could imagine dancing to and turn it up. Get up, close your eyes, and begin to move your body. Keep practicing until you feel like you want to move more. When you feel ready open your eyes and dance like crazy.

According to The Mental Health Organisation 78% meet the criteria of the most common mental health issue in the UK of anxiety and depression. If you’re one of those suffering my heart genuinely goes out to you. Just putting one foot in front of the other some days can be the biggest challenge so some of my suggestions such as No 4 may be akin to asking you to fly as well!

Please keep your chin up, look up at the sky and breathe. Wrap your arms around yourself and gently rub your arms and whisper, “It’s going to be alright”. Self-soothe and care for you because you are special. You are unique. You are irreplaceable. I care about how you feel and others do too.

I’ll end with my favorite quote by Oscar Wilde “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

Please share if you think this may help someone.

 

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A DAY OF WELLBEING

Want to know what I’ve been up to this week?

On Thursday I woke up with a violent migraine, an aching body and not much in the mood to drive for an hour to the spectacular gardens of RHS Wisley.

Efforts had to be made as it was my partner’s Birthday so I lay in bed and listened to my own Healing Now download which triggered the energy needed to make breakfast and drive us via the M25 into Surrey… it was my treat.

I couldn’t have made a better choice! The beauty and elegance of the gardens at Wisely is staggering and within ten minutes of going through the entrance I experienced a tremendous sense of peace and wellbeing.

A one point I sat for ten minutes of eyes open mediation … bliss!

You really can’t beat nature when you need a little soothing and healing. Being surrounded by the full spectrum of vibrant colours, with the sound of gentle water running from miniature waterfalls accompanied by birds singing, was only surpassed by the subtle waft in the air of perfume from the flowers.

It was heart warming to see so many people volunteering their time to create a place of such beauty. It has a really strong sense of community there. I overheard a couple talking, they were financial contributors and had a sense of ownership and pride about the place.

We watched people enjoying picnics, drinking coffee and eating ice cream in the cafe’s.

We smiled a lot! It’s a place that melts tension and brings peace.

A limb of yoga known as Ayurveda suggests that most people benefit from being surrounded by nature.
Why not make a weekly date to bathe in nature, whatever the weather, you can wrap up warm or peel off layers as you go out to your local nature reserve, woodland or coastline and spend some quality time soaking up the blues and greens of the earth.

I wanted to share a little of my day with you so take a moment to watch the clip and allow your eyelids to be heavy as you watch the screen and breath in for three and out slowly for five. You can watch and replay this as often as you like for a de-stress and mini energy boost. Enjoy!

Sue

 

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JUST A MOMENT…

JUST A MOMENT

Isn’t that what life is? Just a moment or should I say a series of moments. It’s true. If you really think about it, five minutes time, tomorrow or next week hasn’t happened yet and two minutes ago, yesterday or ten years ago is the past. So the only bit that’s real is now! Enjoy it!

Looking back and realizing what a great evening that was or anticipating the enjoyment of a forthcoming holiday is something we all do. Whilst it’s pleasant to reflect on the past and future, we may be in danger of actually missing out on the moment, the here and now, the present.

If you’re one of my yoga students you’ll know that I’m always directing your awareness to the presence of the ego mind. This is the part of the mind that is in charge of filtering. It sifts and sorts, categorizes and labels and is an essential part of our thinking. Without it we would all be bonkers!

Although an essential part of the mind, the ego can take over, acting as if it’s the only ‘mind’. It can gather steam with its labeling, comparing, judgments and criticism and before long it’s the only part of our inner dialogue that we hear.

If your ego mind is very busy and loud it will drown out deeper intuitive thoughts from your Self. These thoughts could be considered as natural perceptive ‘gut instincts. They have just as much, if not more value. They wish to serve you in the pursuit of being the ‘best’ you. They may for example alert you to a health issue that you are not paying attention to, this pushes you to take the necessary action that could be preventative.

Think of it like tuning a radio. If you only ever listen to Radio 1, how do you know that radio 4 exists, with all its amazing programs and information?

How do we access this deeper intuition you might ask? By being present is the answer.

Being here now equals less stress. If we want to enjoy life more and feel less pressured we need to make a conscious effort to be in the moment. Being present requires being ‘psychologically awake’ and more conscious.

Here’s How.

Take a moment to notice what you can see right now around you. Now notice every single sound near and far. Next observe what you can feel… hungry, happy, and irritable, the fabric of your clothing, the air in your nostrils, the wind on your face and so on.

Practice this as often as possible so that you become the observer… the watcher… the listener… then you may wonder ‘who am I’?

Enjoy the Easter break I wish you lots of light, love and peaceful presence.

 

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THE WAKE UP CALL

Are you ready for a change of scene?

Had enough of your current job?

Feeling Burnt Out?

The Wake Up Call

 If you feel like you can’t continue in your current existence, you are not alone. Every year thousands of people reach a point where they can no longer continue working in the same way, with the same people or in the same job or industry.

You just wake up one morning and know that it’s time for a change.

I was in my mid-twenties when I reached that point. I had come to hate my job, the industry and I didn’t like most of the people I worked with either.

I felt trapped by the money,  I had a mortgage from the age of 22 and the notion of walking away from a well paid job seemed totally reckless.

I was run down, stressed and miserable and as a result became pretty unwell. After the third spell in hospital, I recognised this as a massive nudge from somewhere deep inside, to wake me up, shake me up and take responsibility for changing my life. I realised I was waiting! Waiting for something to happen. Waiting for someone else to make my life different.

This was at the start of the self-help movement and I read hundreds of books to help me find the confidence and methods to make those changes.  I developed a habit of getting clear about exactly what I wanted and then applying certain steps to make sure I got it.  I’ve retrained in a number of different fields, Psychotherapy, Hypnotherapy, Yoga, Reiki. I’ve become an author, a blogger and a jazz singer. I’ve since spent the best part of twenty-eight years helping  thousands of  people to redefine themselves, to follow their hearts and launch new careers. You can do it.

Want to know how? Here are my starting steps when I want to make change.

Firstly create some space where you can be still and quiet and ask yourself the following questions.

  1. What one thing am I really good at? What one thing do I seem to do naturally well?

Now ignore the voice that throws up the negatives and keep asking yourself  that same question until you get some good answers.

I remember thinking defeatedly ‘I’m not really good at anything, there’s no area in which I excel.’ But I stuck at it and eventually a little voice said “You’re good at talking to people” It was true, I could stand at a bus stop and a total stranger would tell me their entire life story, then get on the bus and say “Do you know I’ve never told anyone that!” Eureka. That was it… the only thing I could come up with!

Yet that simple answer started a whole new career  for me which I still love and enjoy with every cell in my body.

When you’ve come up with a couple of answers write them down, stick them on the back burner.  The process is starting.

   2.  If I didn’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks. If I didn’t have to worry about money or how I would pay my bills. What would I do for work?

Again, ignore all the negative, whiney head trash that wants to bring you down. That’s your ego battling for position! Write down the stream of positives that come to mind, such as … “I’d work with animals, I’d travel the world, or I’d be a yoga teacher”  Now put those ideas into the pot on the back burner.

In a few days some ideas will begin to brew. Watch out for them and write them down.

When you get some idea, some direction that doesn’t contain a negative, you’re ready for the next step.

3. Just suppose (imagine) you were going to do that thing… the idea that you thought of, how would you go about it? What would be your first step of enquiry? Can you google some information?

Can you find someone who’s doing what you’d like to do or has what it is you would like to have? 

If so call or email them and ask if you can buy them, a coffee or lunch, explain that you would like to ask them some questions about their work. Be honest and transparent. Naturally some people will say no, but many are flattered be asked and want to help.

First gather this information. Gradually all the ideas, information and knowledge come together and you will  feel excited. This is your cue.  If it’s a feeling in your heart GO FOR IT!

Find a way to make this happen. Go back to learning, take that course in your spare time, negotiate taking some time out of the workplace. Do what you have to do to kick-start your new career. When it’s something you feel passionate about, trust me, it will not feel like work. You will  be happy to be up to the early hours of the morning writing your plans, or studying, because you know that you are working toward something really meaningful to you. Something heartfelt and positive.

When you live, breathe and talk about your dreams you bring a powerful energy to it that will attract a similar resonance. If it’s your dharma (your calling) doors of opportunity will open for you, you will be wafted along pathways that will support your calling. You will meet the right people at the right time who will share similar dreams and values.

DO NOT share your dreams with people who criticise, judge and search out the negatives in your plans. Why would you. You need to believe in yourself and your dreams.

If you need additional inspiration or support to get you over your fears about making change, grab your copy of my book Super Charge Your Confidence and the accompanying download of the same name from my shop.

Let me know how you get on.

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RAPE OF THE HEART

Many years ago, I did some work with the dynamic authors and couple therapists Helena Lovendal and Nick Duffell. This is where I first heard the term ‘rape of the heart’. A phrase afforded to the men who as boys, became the confidante and major source of emotional support to their mothers.

This can happen for a variety of reasons, though fundamentally as a result of the father being absent whether literally as in dead, estranged from the family, unavailable due to work commitments or more often emotionally absent. This coupled with needy or emotionally stunted mothers, sets the scene for a ‘rape of the heart’.

Similarly to girls, boys have a heightened awareness and sensitivity to their mothers needs. By the time a boy is 5 years old, he is said to know all of his mothers unfulfilled dreams and heartaches. This is mentally confusing and emotionally too much for their hearts to bear. In an effort to survive psychically, they detach themselves in favour of climbing trees and kicking footballs.

In this detachment they shut down their hearts for protection, not wanting to continue the painful connection because ultimately they cannot meet the needs of their mother or fix her pain. The fact that it is not their place to do so, is beyond their comprehension. The already emotionally overburdened boy, carries a sense of guilt for not being able to be the ‘man’ his mother needs.

Disappointed and disillusioned with the ‘absent’ husband,  the mother can unconsciously or consciously place both insidious and overt demands on her son to ‘hold the space’ emotionally for her.  This makes contributes hugely to the later failure in his relationships and the subsequent emotional and psychological pain and torment that can plague his life.

Fast forward 30 odd years. The boy, now a man, is in a troubled relationship. Sitting in front of me with his partner, I ask what they want from therapy.  He says with a pained expression “I just want her to be happy” she says with frustration “ He doesn’t get me because he never really listens to me”. Neither of them can understand what went wrong. Both tell me how much in love and happy they were in the beginning. They thought they were a perfect match.

Naturally it will take time for them to explore their dynamic and to understand some of the more subtle issues in their relationship.

If he is able to grasp the concept that the closer he and his partner become and the more intimate their relationship, the more threatening this feels for him at a deeper unconscious level. His visceral memory associates closeness and intimacy with the deep emotional wound of not being ‘enough’ for his mother.

As his partner opens up to him, expecting connection because for her, this is the foreplay, the intimacy.  He instinctively pulls away and shuts down. He is fearful that he wont be able to  ‘fix’ his partner, so it’s easier for him to disconnect.   As this unconscious reflection plays out in their relationship it threatens their connection.

Once he gains understanding and insight of this unconscious programming, he can start to clear the mental fog of confusion and become more congruent. In time he learns to feel more comfortable with the intimacy and improves his communication with his partner.

If you have found this article thought provoking please feel free to pass it on to anyone who you think would be interested too.