Sorry I haven’t been in touch for ages…there is no excuse.
There was a bout of depression that nearly got me, but I will tell you about that later.
I have just returned from a holiday in Thailand that included bathing and feeding Elephants. Seeing the process of their “poo” being turned into paper.
Learning the secrets of Thai cooking at a cookery school in Chiang Mai. Then travelling further south to explore some of the islands and their beautiful beaches. Experiencing the healing effects of Thai massage.
Why would I now feel depressed?
I became very aware of the negative internal chatter in my mind. Part of me was imploring another part of me to stay upbeat. But I couldn’t. In fact, feelings of negativity had me sinking fast!
I was feeling depressed. Why?
Was it that my wonderful holiday was over? That I’m still grieving? Maybe I was just overwhelmed by my workload? Or perhaps it’s Brexit?
What soon became clear is that the WHY does not matter. Continually exploring the ‘whys’ only brings more negative thoughts to the surface. Changing my state became my priority and doing this quickly, my goal.
Here is what I did to fight the depression
The first and most important thing was to change the “internal chatter.”
At the risk of this sounding like a plug for one of my self-help downloads, I started to listen to Stress Free With Confidence. This is a hypnosis program I made almost thirty years ago. After just two days I noticed my thinking had changed quite dramatically and as a result, found myself smiling again.
My thoughts were brighter. When a negative thought arose it quickly switched to a positive one. The change was automatic and the good thoughts began to flow again.
More importantly was the shift in my feelings and I felt more upbeat.
This helped me to get moving.
Exercise helped me move forward and invigorated me. Walking activates the heart and lungs and changes the way you breathe. When you change the breath it will often change the way you think and feel. A couple of walks in my local park and surrounding streets really helped.
So did reaching out for support from loved ones and close friends whom I was able to share my feelings with. It’s so important, in fact essential, to reach out. Call someone. Talk about it.
Yoga always gives me the space to gain insight into my feelings and this awareness helps me to “catch” myself before I fall too far. I did a slightly longer practice each day.
Having re-booted the stress free programme in the back of my mind, I also started juicing again which boosted my energy.
I applied a great Ayurvedic treatment and gave myself a top-to-toe sesame oil massage before languishing in a bath. This felt nurturing and nourishing.
Sometimes just one small change can make a huge difference to the way you think and feel.
For example if your job requires sitting at a desk all day, get up regularly and move a round. Take the stairs rather than the lift where possible.
I love that quote …“Think you’re enlightened? Spend a week with your family!”
For many, family is the messiest part of life. People just won’t do what we want them to do will they!
Christmas holidays often mean spending prolonged periods of time with people who can push your emotional buttons, so what’s your plan to survive Christmas and the strong opinions or personalities that can arise at this time? Check out my tips below.
The Christmas holidays are a perfect time to develop a regular mediation habit. Start with 5 minutes, building to 7 and then 10 minutes a day by week two. Along with enormous health benefits, at this time of year meditation can offer you the perfect excuse to get away and give yourself some much needed time and space. Check out my other blogs or click here for simple meditation techniques.
2. Breathe To Alleviate Boredom
I remember someone telling me of their dread of the office party and the boring conversations they had to endure each year. If you get stuck with the office bore try practising a simple breathing technique whilst they’re talking to you. Keep looking at the person and subtly bring your awareness to your nostrils, silently count One on your next inbreath, two before you breathe out, three as you exhale and four before you breathe in again. When you’ve counted 5 ‘whole’ breaths in this way make your excuses ” well, it’s been great catching up and I want to talk to …. now, enjoy the rest of the party” and run!
3. Develop compassion.
If step 2 seems a bit harsh, maybe you can develop the art of active listening? You’re with the office bore again (except you no longer refer to them in such a way) imagine you can drop down into a very peaceful space within and begin listening with an open heart, i.e. with absolutely no expectations, no desire to escape and without a need to fix them, question them or judge anything they say. Good luck with that!
4. Boundaries. Where are yours?
What is your tolerance level for a particular person? So for example you don’t get along with your sister can you sit open-heartedly listening to her for 5 minutes or 10? What and where is your limit? It’s important to know yourself in this respect. Think about these interactions ahead of time. Once you’ve reached your tolerance level with that particular person have an “I need to get up and get some water”statement handy, so that you can change your position and your state. Plan ahead, is it possible to arrange to sit next to someone you do enjoy talking to?
5. Booze. Is it time to monitor your intake?
At what point might you say something you could regret? If two drinks leave you merry and sweet but four make you a bit mouthy… perhaps you need a plan. Think ahead. How do you want to feel when you wake up after you’ve been out partying? When you look back over the previous evening’s events do you want to be happy with your ruminations or will you be cringing because of something you said or did? Will that extra drink make the difference? Plan ahead and decide when enough is enough. Before you go out think about an alternative to alcohol get a really clear picture of it in your mind, for example imagine a nice glass of sparkling tonic water with a shot of lime cordial and a twist of lemon, or a pot of freshly brewed coffee.
Christmas is an especially good time to be thoughtful, kind and generous to others but I hear so often of people (usually women) who have run themselves ragged trying to make the perfect Christmas for others only to end up ‘coming down with something’. So be kind to yourself first, it’s then easier to give authentically to others. Make time for you and as you give yourself a bit of space ask yourself “what do I want, what do I need.” When your cup is full there’s a tendency to only want for the good of others and if you’re okay, you’re in a better position to take care of others.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs, visit the site and purchase products I really value your feedback.
Wishing my family, friends, clients, yoga students and readers a great Christmas and all you would wish for yourself throughout 2019.
Reactions to stress are stored in the mind and body, they shape our perceptions and view of the world.
Constant repetition of the fight, flight and collapse response takes its toll on the immune system and leaves us susceptible to illness, disease. Similarly mental responses to stress include anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance and phobias.
Therefore self-care on more than just one level is vital to our health.
More importantly, finding ways of controlling our reactions to stress mentally and physically, rather than allowing it to control us, is essential to being a well being.
I should know I’ve been a stress management expert for many years and my clients know that even one small change makes a huge difference to the quality of life and can help you cope better.
50 Signs of Stress:
…And also the solutions to combat stress and freegifts to help you deal with it.
Anxious, apprehensive, frightened, fearful
Excessive feelings of shame or embarrassment
Depressed or generally low
Helpless, out of control
Experiencing intrusive thoughts or images
Experiencing loss of confidence
Thinking the future is bleak
Unable to concentrate
Constipation or diarrhoea
Change to menstrual cycle
Frequent colds or other infections
Feeling faint or fainting
Headaches or migraines
Rapid weight change
Sweating or clammy hands
Tightness or pain in chest
Thrush or cystitis
Vague aches or pains
Increased tiredness or fatigue
Aggressive or passive behaviour
Clenched fists or jaws
Comfort eating or loss of appetite
Compulsive or impulsive behaviour
Disturbed sleep patterns
Increased alcohol or caffeine consumption
Poor time management
Reduced work performance
Withdrawal from supportive relationships
Too busy to relax
Stress management is something that has to be built into and made part of each day.
Furthermore, repetition is the mother of all skill and stress management requires practise.
You wouldn’t expect to go to the gym now and then to have a strong, toned body and it’s the same with maintaining a calm, relaxed state in the face of stressful events and triggers.
Firstly you have to know the difference between stressed and calm. Practise a Progressive Relaxation. Do it Now!
Simply tense every muscle starting with your face, screw your eyes up, your mouth, neck, shoulders arms etc right the way throughout your entire body, tensing until it’s almost unbearable then slowly release and enjoy the feeling of gentle relaxation spreading through your body.
Secondly repeat this as often as possible so that you train and engrain the right responses to stress.
Finally, stop the stress reaction more quickly by recognising tension and stress as it’s creeping in. Consciously pay attention to that knot in your shoulder or tightness in your neck, use it as a trigger to start the relaxation response.
Because stress increases when we forget to breathe properly humming and whistling will help you to breathe better. A whistle or hum is effectively an exhalation.
Try it now, you’ll notice that you take a bigger, slightly longer inhalation after you’ve whistled or hummed. Increased breath means more energy and a calmer state and better equanimity of mind.
Most importantly reprogram your mind to combat stress while you sleep. The Stress Free With Relaxation program allows your subconscious mind to absorb positive suggestions and counter daytime stress triggers.
Maximum effort required, put in earbuds as you drop off to sleep. Return On Investment = Feeling rested and refreshed with a positive state of mind and wellbeing. Effortless!
When Louisa was younger she used to love people watching with her sister when they were in the car. They would take it in turns to pick out a stranger who they would judge and criticise for something, each trying to out-do the other with insults.
When she was older Louisa felt more and more uncomfortable indulging in what had once felt like harmless fun.
She’d reasoned as a teenager that it didn’t hurt anyone because the strangers couldn’t hear them and it eased their boredom.
Years later however Louisa recognised that the discomfort she felt stemmed, not only from being mean to innocent strangers, but also because of what it told her about herself and her attitudes.
What our judgements say about us
If you can be unkind about a stranger, how mean are you to yourself? Do you spend a lot of time criticising the way your friends and colleagues behave? Then you’re probably harsh and critical about yourself.
Judging others means you’re judging yourself. When we point the finger of blame or judgment at another, you’ll notice three fingers pointing back at yourself. We levy a much heavier burden of judgment on ourselves when we judge others.
In life we tend to attract mirrors of ourselves, in our partners, friends and colleagues.
Look at the things in others that you like or dislike, love or hate, you’ll discover that they are aspects about yourself that you are not owning.
Consider the one thing that you find most abhorrent, something you believe you would NEVER do – be very careful, because you almost certainly house some aspect of that deep within your psyche!
So the next time your inner Judge starts pointing, be kinder to yourself and curl those fingers into a yoga mudra (gesture). Bring your thumb and index finger together and slowly repeat the words ‘I am peace, you are peace, there is peace’
Judging takes up a lot of psychic energy and takes us away from the here and now. Next time you catch yourself judging, distract your mind by singing the lyrics to a favourite tune.
Constant judgements mean that we are not accepting what is, which creates conflict and creates mental turmoil.
Sack the Judge and treat yourself a to a mental holiday. Discover more peace and positivity when you retrain your brain with my positive thinking book and audio.
There, I’ve said it these are some of the charming names attributed to women experiencing menopause. Women who have reached a stage in their lives where they are no longer able to bear children. Names mainly levied on us by the patriarch of the past.
The reality of course is that Women are wise and when we realise that pretty much everything that walks the planet is born of woman, we are in fact Creators, Goddesses even.
When we consider the pain and suffering women endure to give birth to humanity, shouldn’t women be honoured, respected and revered at every stage of life?
Some stories portray the crone or hag as disagreeable, malicious, or sinister often with magical or supernatural abilities that can make her either helpful or obstructive. Well that’s pretty much true of all of us really, men and women.
And as if creating, birthing, nurturing and child rearing isn’t enough, woman have the menopause to look forward to with it’s myriad of symptoms.
There are hot flushes, dryness, sleep problems, excessive tiredness. Oh and then there’s the rapid mood swings, along with that wonderful feeling that your brain matter has been swapped for a cauldron of cotton wool!
Want to know about more symptoms? Google NHS menopause for more information.
Because so many of you have asked me to write about the menopause what I offer you here are my tips and beliefs for dealing with this phase of life.
It’s a time for cleansing on many levels and clearing out the crap!
Many women at this stage realise that they can no longer live incongruently or out of sync with themselves, it just doesn’t work anymore.
People, jobs, gatherings and even friends that were tolerated in the past have no place during the menopause.
Maybe the description of Crone as disagreeable, unpleasant and ugly arises because during the this phase, women often wont tow the party line anymore.
In menopause women are no longer prepared to bend and mould to the ideals of another or even their own earlier scripts.
Many women I’ve worked with yearn to return to themselves, to be more authentic and congruent, done with their roles and labels.
Some want peace, some want fun, or to be heard, whilst others crave adventure. It’s time to do it differently.
So let’s welcome the menopause and treat women in this stage of life with a reverence for their innate wisdom and knowledge.
We teach other’s how to treat us.
Like all things, that which we seek outside of ourselves must be found within first. What can you do today to welcome and revere yourself?
The Hot Flush
I remember the first hot flush that roared up my neck and face like an inferno. Feeling distinctly uncomfortable I got up to distract myself when someone brought me a glass of cold water. Its was a kind act of awareness, considerate and thoughtful. One that remained with me.
After that I learned to stay present with flushes, other than to reach for a glass of water. You’ll also find an ice pack or a packet of frozen peas on your pulse points pretty handy at this point.
Instead of running away from or trying to avoid this physical phenomena, I urge you to stay with it. Dive into the feeling, embrace and welcome it in, there’s a wisdom in it somewhere.
That Which You Resist Persists.
I hear you say that’s all well and good but what if I’m in a meeting or an important event? Same advice – stay with it. Everything reaches a peaks and has to subside. The more you panic or try to stem it the more fierce it can seem. If you’re fidgeting around mopping your brow and looking uncomfortable people will notice more. Imagine you’re loving that feeling of warmth.
12 Tips for coping better with Menopause
1. When you feel a flush rising, aim to stop what you’re doing and sit down. Slowly sip a glass of cold water until it passes.
2. Allow yourself time and space to yield to the feeling. You’ll notice that when you do this, that the feeling passes more quickly.
3. Try this lovely yoga breathing exercise called Sitali. This is the version I practice and it must be done sitting in a well ventilated space. Not standing on the platform of the station or in a room blasting out air-conditioning.
4. If sleep disturbances are your main issue and you keep waking up or struggle to get off to sleep, treat yourself to my hypnosis audio program Sleep Well Now or read up on the tips in my book The Art of ZZZ’s
5. Where possible allow yourself some quiet meditation time on a daily basis.
6. Gentle yoga stretching such as yin and hatha yoga are ideal for personal practice. I prefer to practice and teach fluid movements with weight bearing poses and attention to the breath.
7. Yoga lowers blood pressure, counters stress and can alleviate pain and discomfort, do a littel each day.
8. Your temperature can go up and down like a fiddler’s elbow during the menopause, so invest in a proper silk pashmina, it will keep you warm when you feel chilly and cool when you’re hot! They’re also great for mopping up the excess schvitz!
9. Keep a fan in your pocket or bag it gives you a sense of control when your body heats up.
10. The homeopathic remedy Sepia worked brilliant for me, minimising symptoms such as brain fog and tiredness.
11. I’ve practised Ayurvedic principles for many years and found Pukka Herbs’ Aloe Vera juice to be the best. It’s cooling, great for the skin and helps with problems like constipation. It also acts as a carrier taking herbs to body parts that need them.
12. I would drink a shot glass of aloe vera morning and night and take the herb Shatavari – also from Pukka, which helps to combat the dryness that can come with menopause.
There’s a notion that we’re no longer in our masculine warrior phase, out there chasing and hustling a living. It’s time to sit back into the powerful energy of the feminine and allow ourselves to receive.
The feminine energy is depicted by the moon and in the same way that it’s cool brightness can throw light across a darkened sea. This can be a time of enlightenment as we take time to ‘be’ and receive our inner wisdom.
Naturally we’re all different and these are just things that worked well for me I hope they help you. Share your tips with me on my Facebook page thestresshacker or in the comments section below.