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6 Survival Tips For A Stress Free Christmas

How to cope with Christmas

Surviving Christmas Stress:

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 theyHow to cope with Christmas!

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.

1. Meditation

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.

6. Kindness

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.

Remember if you know of anyone who might benefit, my shop is stocked full of hypnosis programs designed to boost confidencecounter stress, deal with anxiety, sleep problems and other issues. Psst! Pass it on please…

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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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How To Lose Weight While You Eat?

Rather smugly I thought I had swerved all the colds and flu’s quite successfully this year but finally a bug got me! After a recent unpleasant chest infection it’s been a joy to rediscover my taste buds and the pleasure of mindful eating once again.

So, how do you lose weight while you eat?

Lose Weight While You Eat? Mindful Weightloss - The Stresshacker - Sue SmithMindful eating isn’t just for yoga retreats and it’s not restricted simply to the actual eating of a meal either. You can start mindful eating anytime. From the moment you plan your next meal to the shopping, selection and preparation of a dish. All of it can be done mindfully.

The reality is we can only think of one thing at a time and when we so-call multi-task, we’re really just diluting the other thing(s) that we’re aiming to do. So have a shot at being mindful of your next meal.

Mindful Eating… here’s how:

Slow down. Breathe and focus your attention inward for a moment and ask yourself

“What do I want, what do I need to eat that is healthy and will satisfy all my taste buds?” 

Keep repeating this question slowly to yourself until the answers begin to bubble up. You can also add… “that is easy and quick to prepare” or… “ that will give me lots of energy and vitality”

Trust your mind and what it knows.

At a deeper level your mind is processing millions of bits of information every second, you absolutely have some good quality answers to these pertinent questions so trust your mind and it will serve you well.  As the thoughts surface you might find it’s often the first two or three ideas that are the most helpful.

Shopping for food:

Aim to spend a few moments really looking at the produce, touch it if possible, check in and sense if you’re choosing well for yourself or are you making a hasty choice because you’ve left it until you’re hungry? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

When preparing the food:

Think of cooking something simple like an omelette, take a moment to feel the eggs between your fingers, notice how it feels to break the shells, observe the colour of the yolk. Now spend a moment thinking about the chicken that laid it and the people involved in the food chain that brought it to you.

Notice the movement of your hand as you whisk the eggs  catching air into the mixture and how it feels to slowly pour it into the pan. Can you see the moment when the colour change?  Watch how it slides out of the pan onto the plate. Catch the aroma in your nostrils and as you breathe it in, does it create a reaction in your mouth or your stomach?

This might sound a bit time consuming but the fact is you’re probably thinking something whilst you’re cooking anyway, so why not think about what you’re doing to the exclusion of all else?

You might just notice something of importance to you.  You might decide to buy different eggs next time because the yolk looked too pale for example and the source of your eggs might be something for you to re-consider.

Eat peacefully:

Finally, when actually eating your meal even if it’s a just a sandwich, aim to do so peacefully, eat in silence, free from distractions, so no radio, TV, phone or computer.  Smell your food and notice any physiological reactions, such as the increase of saliva in your mouth before you start eating. As you take the first mouthful how does your gut react?

This may sound laborious but it’s just different, it actually increases the pleasure of eating and the possibility of weight loss!

After a silent meal during one of my yoga days a student told me “I noticed how fast I was eating and slowed myself down, usually I would have eaten a lot more but strangely I felt as if I’d had enough to eat even before I’d finished!”

According to the World Health Organisation in 2016 almost 40% of men and women were overweight. Along with a plethora of other reasons mindless eating has to play a part in this epidemic. It’s probably no surprise to know that many people start losing weight when eating mindfully. Give it a go and share your story with us here at thestresshacker.com to inspire others.

We’ve given thestresshacker homepage a new look and as part of launching that we’re offering a 25% discount to the unique online course Mindful Weight Loss the code NEWYOU will only be active for one week so grab yours while it lasts.

Thanks for reading.

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How Do You Like Your Love?

Are you lucky in love? Do you feel loving and loved?How Do You Like Your Love? - The Stresshacker / Sue Smith

Sometimes when we lose confidence we  shut down in areas of the body to protect ourselves. Many a person who has been hurt in a relationship will unconsciously create an invisible barrier around their heart to protect themselves from being hurt again.

Later they feel frustrated because they can’t find a loving relationship. It’s confidence that’s needed, the confidence to love the self first, before being able to open up again to someone new.

Love and compassion begin at home.

How Do You Like Your Love? - The Stresshacker / Sue SmithWhen you love yourself fully and freely it’s easier to love others boundlessly. So fill your cup, practise better self-love and nurturing now.  Be kind and gentle to yourself and treat yourself with the love and respect you would afford another.

Here’s an exercise that will start the process and help you to open your heart.

Take a moment to think about someone you love… it’s OK if that’s your dog or cat!  Think about what you would say to them if this were your last opportunity to let them know how much they mean to you.  If you can’t think of anyone you love. Imagine how it would feel to really love someone. Imagine a flow of warmth circulating around your chest and flowing out to that someone special.

Come on do it now … just see how it feels to write down exactly what you would say, express your love as openly and honestly as you can without restriction. Remember write don’t type, it’s an entirely different and more positive experience when we put pen to paper.

Turn it around now and pretend someone has sent this letter to you, read it out-loud to yourself seven times. Really anchor these sentiments.

What we say to ourselves becomes true for ourselves. It’s true and that’s because the bigger part of your mind (the other 90%) absolutely believes what it’s told. That is such a valuable piece of information I have to repeat it. YOUR UNCONSCIOUS MIND BELIEVES WHATEVER IT IS TOLD!

Affirmations work! Really they do, but don’t take my word for it practice them yourself and see the results… try the following

“I am open and receptive to a warm loving, respectful relationship”

“I attract a positive loving man/woman into my life”

“All my relationships are harmonious”

The more resistance you feel to saying affirmations the more likely you are to need them and do you know something? It really doesn’t matter whether you believe them or not because your unconscious mind does.

Once upon a time you didn’t know that 2 + 2 = 4 you repeated it often enough to know that it was true. You also didn’t know your alphabet until you practiced it over and over. If you’re good at reading, it’s because you read a lot! Repetition is the mother of all skill.

Affirmations work!

… “My heart is open and receptive to love and happiness” go on try saying it a few times; notice how it makes you feel. Good Right!

According to author Professor Richard Wiseman in his best selling book The Luck Factor you make your own luck.

Set about making your own luck by building the confidence and self-belief you need to find love. Take the short cut to building self esteem by listening to my Super Charge Your Confidence program and then top it up by reading my popular eBook Super Charge Your Confidence. Seven Simple Steps To Boost Your Confidence Self Esteem and Control

If you’re struggling to find love and feel blocked or numb around your heart area, practice these two yoga stretches on daily basis.

Yoga Technique 1: The Windmill

Stand with feet hip width apart soften the knees raise your arms out to the side at shoulder level and keep them there.  Keep your hips facing forwards and turn your trunk and arms to the left, keeping your arms straight and at shoulder height, fix your gaze on the fingers of the back hand. Turn back to the centre and repeat to the right. Keep your gaze fixed on the fingers of the back-hand. Repeat 10 times. Stop if you feel dizzy

Yoga Technique 2: The Chest Opener

Stand with feet hip width apart and bring your arms behind your back and clasp hands together. Draw your shoulder blades together and imagine you could slide them down your back toward the floor, now lift and lengthen up through the front of the body and take a gentle stretch backwards sending hands and arms toward the floor but keep them in touch with the back body. DO NOT take your head back unless you are certain that you have no problems with your neck.

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International Womens Day

International Women’s Day (IWD) aims to raise awareness of issues of inequality and the marginalisation of women around the world. It celebrates the social, cultural and political achievements of women globally.

I grew up in a family with very strong female role models. Both grandmothers had a strong work ethic and believed themselves to be powerful and in control of their lives. Mum worked hard so that she could pursue her passion of travel, sometimes running 3 jobs at a time to afford our holidays. international women's day - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith

Yet with all this power and self-belief cursing through my genes I found myself in extremely disempowering situations whilst growing up. I later realised that to feel truly in control, powerful and strong I had to find peace. Interestingly the earliest documented International Women’s day was on 8th March 1909 when women in Russia demonstrated for peace, oh and bread!

Hopefully we know by now how important it is to support other women but how do we support and empower ourselves?

To be truly empowered I believe we need to be SCABT! And not necessarily in the following order

Support Women Around Us

We need to give ourselves the support and care that we would be willing to give someone who we truly loved. That would mean listening to ourselves, to what we really know deep down inside. Making time to hear our inner truth about our lives, situations, relationships and health challenges for example.

That support might be in the form of caring for ourselves in simple ways, like taking time to languish in a candlelit bath rather than a quick shower. Or maybe by engaging the help of a professional or taking some time away alone.

Congruency – In Harmony

What’s that I hear you ask? You’ll know that you’re congruent when you’re confident and comfortable with yourself where ever you are and pretty much in any situation. For many this comes naturally with the wisdom of age, if you’d rather get there sooner do some work with a therapist or counsellor.

Ask yourself this powerful question “What has to happen for me to feel more comfortable with myself inside and out where ever I am” keep brainstorming this question until you arrive at some good quality answers. Then take your own advice!

Alignment – Of Heart & Mouth

When we’re in alignment everything flows naturally, life becomes easier and we feel balanced and centered. Alignment translated means, a straight line or in correct relative positions. If your heart is aligned with your mouth and mind you will be to speak your truth comfortably and to express your own ideas without fear of judgement. If you’re aligned and in tune with your gut instinct you’ll trust that over and above what you might be being told for example.

Are you sufficiently aligned to express your thoughts or emotions when necessary or do you feel you have to hide how you’re really think and feel?

Struggling with this? Then get my hypnotherapy audio guide support, Assertiveness Now and take the short cut to feeling more at home with your truth. You will also find that a regular yoga practice helps with physical alignment, which in turn encourages more harmony in your mind and body.

Bravery

Owning our truth and growing ourselves up emotionally can be a daunting journey and we need the bravery of a warrior to do so.

How do you become brave? One tip I’ve always used is to look at the worse case scenario. Take yourself mentally to the absolute worse thing that could happen and then explore how you would cope with that. What steps would you take next to deal with the most awful outcome? Often we realise that although not ideal, we could manage that next stage so long as we are true to ourselves.

I often remind clients that if they only had themselves to rely on for the rest of their lives, they will probably be fine!

Truth and Time

To find peace, to be congruent and comfortable, assertive and strong, we need to spend time alone with ourselves to listen in. This can be in the form of simple quiet time without reading, watching or listening to anything and allow inner thoughts to float up to the surface. It might be by using the ‘daily pages’ technique that Julia Cameron proposes in her best seller The Artist’s Way. Meditations and repetitive exercise can provide the space to hear your truth.

Whatever you choose, enjoy moving toward a more empowered you and do please share your thoughts here for others to learn from.

Also please look at our products and courses in The Stresshacker store to help assist you with your journey.

International Women’s Day – 8th March – For more information you can also visit www.internationalwomensday.com