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STRESS! 50 Signs and Symptoms and a free gift

Help identify and deal with stress

Reactions to stress are stored in the mind and body, they shape our perceptions and view of the world.

STRESS! 50 Signs and Symptoms and a free gift
Stressed and tense

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 free gifts to help you deal with it.

Psychological signs:

Feeling angry

Anxious, apprehensive, frightened, fearful

Excessive feelings of shame or embarrassment

Constant Cynicism

Depressed or generally low

Guilty

Helpless, out of control

Experiencing intrusive thoughts or images

Day-dreaming more

Experiencing loss of confidence

Mood swings

Nightmares

Obsessive thoughts

Reduced self-esteem

Suicidal thoughts

Thinking the future is bleak

Unable to concentrate

Worrying more

Physical signs:

Breathlessness

Backaches

Constipation or diarrhoea

Change to menstrual cycle

Frequent colds or other infections

Feeling faint or fainting

Headaches or migraines

Indigestion

Muscle twitches

Palpitations

Rapid weight change

Skin complaints

Sweating or clammy hands

Tightness or pain in chest

Thrush or cystitis

Vague aches or pains

Increased tiredness or fatigue

Behavioural signs:

Accident-proneness

Aggressive or passive behaviour

Clenched fists or jaws

Comfort eating or loss of appetite

Compulsive or impulsive behaviour

‘Checking’ rituals

Disturbed sleep patterns

Eating/talking/walking quickly

Increased alcohol or caffeine consumption

Irritability

Poor time management

Reduced work performance

Smoking more

Withdrawal from supportive relationships

Too busy to relax

Stress management is something that has to be built into and made part of each day.

STRESS! 50 Signs and Symptoms and a free gift
breathing

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!

Finally, get your free gifts in the shop at thestresshacker.com

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Judging Ourselves and Others: How To Break The Habit

Pointing Finger of Judgement

Are You Sick Of Judging?

Judging ourselves and others can become a habit.

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.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Menopause Made Easier

Menopausal Mad Witch Hag Crone!

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?Menopause Made Easier - Sue Smith, The Stresshacker blog

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.

Menopause Made Easier by Sue Smith The Stresshacker blog

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.

Effortless Being

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.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Anger Management

Ever wondered why you’re so quick to anger?

Losing it‘ signifies much deeper underlying issues such as loss and grief.   Anger forms part of the bereavement cycle?Anger Management The Stresshacker Sue Smith

When I discuss this with clients I’m often told “But I haven’t had a bereavement. I just flare up for no reason.”  Yet they’ll go on to identify loss. Loss of their dreams, a relationship or a part of themselves in childhood.

The emotion of anger usually covers fear and the bottom line is that fear centres around feeling unloved or unloveable.

Many a child has felt humiliation and shame at being shouted at and rejected by an angry parent however temporary.

Whilst parents are not saints and don’t come equipped with the perfect parent handbook it’s safe to say that most parents intend to do their best.

Women appear to adjust to parenthood more quickly as they navigate bodily changes and fluctuation in emotions during pregnancy.  Whereas men’s bonding often starts when the child is  older.

Both will grieve the loss of their previous lifestyle – their job, friends and colleagues. It’s natural to feel anger in these circumstance.

In Psychotherapy, Transactional Analysis is a model that  suggests that we have 3 main parts in our psyche.  The Parent, Adult and Child.

Your guide book for how to be a parent is a direct result of how you were treated by your parents. What they said and did becomes your inner map, voice and reactions.

You may blindly follow your guide book or totally reject it by doing  the opposite.  More commonly people cobble together bits of both in an effort to ‘get it right‘.

All that’s needed is a trigger. You’ve asked your child patiently for the fifth time to pick up their towel from the bathroom floor, the anger explodes and you’re shouting and screaming at them.

You don’t have to be an actual parent to follow your map either. When you get angry with yourself and judge yourself harshly? That inner critic is your parent part.

How does a child feel, who’s been bullied?  Worthless and unloveable.  Your inner child feels exactly the same after an internal battering.

How To Manage That Anger

The key is to develop a healthier adult part.

Risk being vulnerable and explore your losses. Make time and space to have more authentic honest conversations with trusted friends, partners and therapists.

It is possible to diminish anger and bear the losses. It is possible to feel in control and to like how you talk to yourself and others.

Here’s a few starting points that will help.

Develop the tools of mindfulness. Use your breath to ground you in the present and to stop you reacting like a victimised child or a volatile parent.

Work on rebuilding your self esteem so that you are more able to tolerate the emotions.

Do you want a shortcut to that? Update the software of your mind and listen to Stress Free With  Confidence, or Assertiveness Now rapidly reprogram your subconscious mind to build a stronger autonomous adult part.

Let me know your thoughts.

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How Can I Make Changes In My Life?

Ever felt stuck in a rut ?How Can I Make Changes In My Life - The Stresshacker Blog

Making one simple change could be enough to boost your wellbeing

Wellbeing is said to be a state of being comfortable, healthy or happy. A measurement might be how contented you are from one day to the next with your life.

But have you ever had the thought “Oh no,  what am I doing, how have I ended up here again!”  You know, those times when you find yourself repeating negative behaviours and habits or when you just can’t seem to stop those repetitive, rubbish thought patterns that bring you down? Sound familiar?

The cause is usually down to old conditioning and programming, time for a software update perhaps?

The daft thing is, on our journey through life and at any given moment in time, we have an abundance of choices,  yet we still tread the same old path, trotting out the same old excuses that keep us feeling stuck.

Using the metaphor of a car to illustrate, imagine you drive a car through a field one day, carving out a set of tracks and then tomorrow you drive the car down the same tracks you would only have to do it a few times before  the car would automatically slot into the tracks because they’re there and it’s the path of least resistance.

How Can I Make Changes In My Life - The Stresshacker Blog
Robot

It’s the same with our thinking. It’s far easier to run the same old thoughts each morning rather than make the effort it takes to create new healthier thought pathways. Most people robotically repeat the same routines and patterns each day without even knowing why they are doing so.

This is like a weird amnesia in which we forget that of course it’s possible to change your mind.  You can choose a different thought. You can change a behaviour. You can choose a different course of action. There are always other pathways that can be carved out so that you can drive the car to a different destination.

If you fancy a boost to your wellbeing, here’s 5 steps to help;

  1. Think of it as waking up and becoming more present. Move into a space where you can observe the choices you’re making in each moment. Instead of allowing every thought and action to be generated by you at an unconscious level, learn to become a witness to your thoughts so that you can make decisions  more consciously.
  2. How? I hear you ask. Slow down! Slow your thoughts down, you can train yourself to do this by slowing your breathing down. Breathing is an unconscious activity, we don’t usually say “oh okay I’ll take a breath now” it happens automatically. We can have anything between 17’000 and 30’000 breaths a day, so naturally you cannot observe every breath or you’d go bonkers! However when we gradually become more conscious of our breathing, watching it, listening to it and feeling the simple rise and fall of the chest or diaphragm,  we can begin to slow it down. When our breath is slower our thoughts will also slow down leaving us with an improved sense of wellbeing.
  3. In this space of  feeling calmer and more in control, ask yourself “What will the consequences be if I make this choice? Will it make me feel happy and fulfilled? How will it affect others around me?”
  4. To get the answer,  listen within and sense the response from your body. Does it feel bright, light, expansive and uplifting? Or is there a sense of heaviness, darkness, tightness and gloom? Develop patience, stop hurrying everything and really tune in.
  5. Are you in touch with your gut instinct? Can you sense what your heart really wants. It’s easier to listen to your body’s wisdom for the answers because the mind carries programme after programme of early conditioning such as people pleasing, resisting, putting other’s first or constantly asking the opinion of others out of habit rather than trusting your own innate knowledge. Put simply, does this choice feel good or bad. Keep repeating this process until you arrive at the choices that sit more comfortably with you.

One of the quickest ways to update your mental and emotional software and create new positive programmes to boost your wellbeing, is the regular use of simple hypnotherapy programmes, check out the range of programmes on offer in my shop here.