Are you in need of a boost for your wellbeing? It might be reassuring for you to know that this is the season for feeling grief and sadness. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the season of Autumn relates to the organ of the lungs which emotionally hold grief. Although separate organs, the heart and lungs are interrelated by the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. This means that any ‘affair of the heart’ such as loss, upset or conflict can be the trigger for grief. The heart affects the lungs, and the lungs affect the heart.
So, what can we do to boost our wellbeing at this time? Move!
Here are three ways to improve our wellbeing. We need to move stagnant energy (Prana, Qi or Ki) out of our lungs.
Try some shoulders shrugs individually and both together. Shrugging acts as a pump to move stale energy and encourage better circulation try it now, where-ever you are, can you feel the lungs moving?
Stand up and relax your whole body and shake your arms, bend your knees, and straighten your legs, repeatedly, shaking off any negative energy through your hands and fingers, like a tree losing its leaves in the autumn.
Take your arms out to the sides float your palms up toward each other and back down again and repeat. This simple movement opens the sides of the lungs brings a bit of energy to your intercostal muscles (that sit between your ribs) and lift both heart and lungs. You’ll feel instantly brighter and more energised.
As Autumn is a season of ‘dryness’, you may have noticed your skin feeling dry and crepey (not creepy!) at this time. To remedy this, set some time aside for self-care. Get some sesame oil (it’s naturally the warmest oil) and heat it. I place mine into a plastic bottle and then put it into a stainless-steel cup of hot water. When it’s warmed, begin to gently massage your body, including the nostrils, ears fingers and toes, including your nails. Allow half an hour for it to soak in before having a bath or shower. NB if you oil your hair, which feels amazing, you will need to put neat shampoo on your hair before the water or it will be difficult to get the oil out. Not only will you feel nurtured and comforted, you will also sleep well, so best done at night. Repeat once or twice a week.
Autumn is a good time to boost your immune system in preparation for winter so remember, that there are lots of resources and programmes available in the stresshacker shop to make life more manageable for you.
People often ask me how to deal with Stress at Christmas time and there areways to cope, so read on…
But first things first. If you have been or are going to be a client, Yoga student or customer at my little shop at The Stresshacker, thenTHANK YOU!I really value your support and to show my appreciation I attach a small gift that has HUGE worth. You can unwrap it at the bottom of the page.
Do You Find It Hard To Be Honest?
One of the reasons people struggle with stress is because they have difficulty in telling the truth. I’m not suggesting you’re a liar but do you find it challenging to be up front about the way you feel?
Let me give you an example, Martin dreaded the thought of spending the Christmas break with his family. Whilst he enjoyed Christmas day with his Mum, Dad and Sister, the thought of the wider festivities on Boxing day, filled him with horror.
Why? Martin is an introvert and finds it extremely uncomfortable to engage in crowds, family or not! He avoids social gatherings at work and with groups of friends for the same reason.
After some coaching, Martin became sufficiently comfortable to own his truth, that he would rather stick pins in his eyes than attend the family party!
He decided to honour his truth and explained his level of discomfort to his family. In his eyes, being with them on Christmas Eve and Christmas day was desirable, reasonable and for him, a compromise but he would not go to the party. Being firm in his decision formed part of his coaching.
The outcome was interesting, his mother found it hard to understand, as an extrovert and somewhat of a people pleaser she attempted some emotional blackmail with Martin, but he was prepared for this and stood firm.
It was made easier by the fact that his father (also an introvert but hadn’t realised it!) praised Martin for being forthright and wished he’d been able to do the same!
His sister also empathised and thought he was right to speak out. His mother didn’t really ‘get him’ but wanted all to be well and was happy to make excuses for him with the extended family, which of course was more her issue than his.
By being honest with himself first, Martin was able to explore what needed to happen to find Christmas a less stressful and happy occasion and to live a more congruent life.
If you’re struggling to be more up front you’ll find Assertive Empowerment Now an easy way to sharpen your skills, it’s a training download that I created, you can get yours here Meanwhile here are 5 Tips To Deal With Christmas Stress
1. Give yourself Space. Create a short Mediation practice that takes you out of the situation into another room. Even 5 minutes now and then will give you time to relax and reset.
2. Use the 6 Healing Sounds. This amazing little technique can cool a hot temper and soothe stress in seconds. It’s an ancient tried and tested Qigong practice that I have recorded for you as a gift.
3. Use the 6 Healing Sou…no only joking but really, it’s that good and all you’ll need to calm your stress. It will also help you if you suffer from insomnia.
4. Exercise. Get up and move! It’s a bad habit to sit for long periods of time. Take a short walk 20 minutes is fine. Or swing your arms up over your head and clap your hands together 50 times. Then hold onto a surface and swing one leg back and forth 50 times, repeat on the other side. Don’t take my word for the incredible benefits from this. Do it and see for yourself.
5. When the kids or family are driving you mad, HUM! Yes, Hum. Breathe in through the nose and feel the gentle vibration on your lips as you hum. When we get irritated and stressed we tend to hold our breath. Humming encourages letting go and balanced breathing.
I’ve had quite a few messages from people who are struggling with anxiety about the attack on the Ukraine and I doubt anyone could fail to be affected by it.
But here’s the thing, if like me you are highly sensitive it’s a bad idea to listen, read or watch too much of the reporting. It is a trigger for anxiety, it really can have a negative and detrimental effect on your health and wellbeing.
Isn’t that just being ignorant?
I’m not being an Ostrich or selfish when I say that I limit how much of it I allow into my world. I have made myselfill in the past with anxiety by worrying and feeling anxious about things I have no control over.
These are some of the things I advocate that will give you a sense of control (instead of panic)
Take Gandhi’s advice and “Be The Change You Want To See Happen In The World” (Apparently he didn’t phrase it quite like that but you get the gist) Practise being peaceful, in this way you lessen inner conflict?
If you believe in prayer, pray.
Quieten your mind and body with a simple meditation of bringing your attention to your breathing hundreds of times throughout the day. Given you’re a microcosm of the macrocosm Be Peace.
If you actually want to do something, dig deep and donate even the smallest donation will be of help to the Ukrainians in their time of need.
Remember the ‘golden hours’ that set you up for how you’re going to feel during the day, are the first hour in the morning and the last hour at night.This is NOT the time for catching up on the news, lunchtime or sometime through the day is better.
I went online to Etsy Ukraine.com and purchased some digital products in an effort to support.
Campaign when and where you feel able to.
If you need additional help to stay calm, relaxed and free from anxiety try Stress Free With Confidence the hypnosis MP3 that will ease your stress.
Finally if you’re still feeling stressed consider doing some research on the wonderful Ayurvedic herb Ashwaganda. The benefits include helping to reduce inflammation, combat stress and anxiety, improve memory andhelp balance blood sugar as well as boosting muscle strength. Personally I found it really helped improve the quality of my sleep.
Thats all for now and thank you if you’ve taken the time to read to the end.
When a client asked “What is Open Heart Therapy?” We went on to talk about the effects of being emotionally hurt, I think most of us have some experience of this.
Does anyone sail through life without being wounded at some point?
When we feel hurt, scared and rejected the natural response is to withdraw, close down and push away in order to protect ourselves.
This shutting down often takes place in the heart area. It can be a gradual closing down from small childhood hurts to a more sudden snapping shut after a major rejection.
The fall-out from this ‘protection’ can be devastating and one of the consequences is poor communication. In our efforts to keep ourselves safe, we can end up closing down in the throat area, meaning that open honest conversation is a no-go.
Instead of juicy heartfelt conversations that lead to real intimacy and healthy relationships, important dialogues left unsaid will have negative effects. Couples I’ve worked with talk about avoiding direct eye contact, instead talking about mundane things like the weather or “What’s for dinner.” Humour can also be used to avoid genuine connection or worse still, no conversation at all as couples polarise to opposite ends of the bed, room, home or country.
Rather than searching or waiting impotently for someone else to provide the magical key that will open our hearts and free our speech, it is possible to take control and do it ourselves.
In a secure environment we can gently work on the business of improving our relationships, with ourselves first and then as a natural evolution, with others.
The benefits of this heart work are manifold as we learn to accept our unique selves and practice self-love, we can breathe more easily, feel authentic, empowered and more comfortable in our skin.
When we fill our own cup first, we have more to offer others, you cannot serve from a depleted cup.
Back in 2004 I ran the first ‘Open Heart Therapy’ workshop in Holmes Place and a few times since then but NOW definitely seems the right time to open up the heart chakra and get the other centres energised and spinning.
If you’re ready for the ‘Open Heart Therapy’ challenge you can book your space on this Saturday’s workshop Registration closes Friday 5th March 2021 at 1.00pm. Book here or drop me an email at Sue@thestresshacker.com to join us.
In 2004 I ran my first personal development ‘Open Heart Therapy’ workshop and whilst successful, I sensed it was ahead of it’s time.
So many people are saying it’s the right time for personal development and the success of last weeks Open Heart Therapy workshop proved it for me.
But what does Open Your Heart even mean? As a therapist of 30 years I know too well how people shut down when they’re hurt. Whilst that’s no revelation, it is interesting to recognise that it’s the people closest to us who are capable of hurting us the most.
It’s the friends, family, lovers and partners who we allow to get close, those who we open our hearts to that we can feel most wounded by.
When we are honest and open-hearted we can be vulnerable. If betrayed and hurt in that space then naturally we lose faith and can be loathe to experience that again.
If you burn your hand when you put it into a fire, ouch! It hurts. You’d be crazy to do it again. The same kind of things happen when we’re hurt emotionally.
Fundamentally the heart is a pumping muscle which can tighten and contract like any other muscle in the body. With sufficient reason(s) to become restricted, it can metaphorically, close down and because it’s a muscle it can’t judge and can shut out people who haven’t hurt you.
The consequences of emotional numbing in the heart can have the knock-on effect of deadening passion in other areas of life, we can feel drained have that “whats the point, who cares” type of thinking .
In addition, being emotionally blocked can also inhibit our ability to speak our truth openly and assertively.
This is because the energy centres above and below the heart are adversely affected. We can feel weakened energetically, loose will-power and find it hard to fight addictions or stick to a healthy lifestyle.
These are good enough reasons for personal development and attempts to heal the heart.
The thing is muscles need stretching and exercising and this is what my Open Heart Therapy workshop offers it aims to help you to move forward and heal the past if you’re ready. Are you ready for some personal development?
“It totally met my objectives, mentally and physically.” DB 12/02/2021 “It also made me very aware of the impact of parents’ behaviours on their children…Yes, would definitely recommend…” NS 14/02/2021 “I’d like to say it was very good the workshop today, very beneficial and very well put together…I have already recommended it to other people!” MF 12/02/2021 “It went really quickly – I would like to do it all over again!” SB 15/02/2021
How are you? It certainly feels like we’re being tested on so many levels in these changeable times.
I’m sure you know that among other things, stress is a feeling of not being in control which can trigger all kinds of emotional, psychological and behavioural problems.
But how to deal with it? One of the main keys to dealing with stress is to develop flexibility so that we improve our bounce-ability factor and become resilient.
Dare I say the most flexible tree is the bamboo because of it’s ability to bend easily in the wind and then stand tall again.
How can we become more flexibile? Well I could say take up yoga, develop new hobbies, improve your way of thinking by listening to hypnotherapy programmes. But better still, find your own ways.
Write down 10 things you could do to become more flexible mentally and physically.
Along with sending you my good wishes for the holiday period I want to offer a couple of approaches to help manage stress, anxiety and any other difficult feelings.
Please do the exercise, as it’s experiential, it will only that will take about 7 minutes of your life and it may prove valuable. Try it now.
1. Sit somewhere away from distractions and close your eyes. 2. Repeat the following words to yourself silently and mentally. “Be” “Just Be” repeat this periodically until you find your breathing slowing and a sense of quietness beginning to emerge.
You might find the next bit challenging and counter intuitive on one level but just go with it.
3. Invite the negative thought/feeling/emotion into the quieter space by simply saying “I welcome… (anxiety, frustration, sadness, headache, stomach churning or whatever.)
4. Imagine them as an unexpected, slightly unwanted guest who’s arrived at your door but your good manners dictate that you’re going to invite them in anyway!
5. When you’ve repeated ” I welcome” let’s say anxiety in, notice where it lives. Do you feel it in your chest? Or stomach for example.
Don’t get lost in the thought or feeling and don’t get too involved, stay mildly detached, you’re merely observing it.
6. After a few minutes of this, welcome in the opposite feeling/emotion/thought. So you might then say silently “I welcome peace and calmness” again repeating it several times.
Notice what peace and calmness feel like and where these feelings sit in your body.
Another odd thing to suggest but do it anyway…
7. Begin to move back and forth between the words “I welcome anxiety and tension” then “I welcome peace, calmness and tranquility”
8. Finally after doing that for a couple of minutes, imagine you can step back away from the opposites and repeat silently “Be” “Just Be”
Let me know how that works for you.
The second gift I would like to offer is a free mind/body training that will lead to a more relaxed in control you.Download it and practise it until you’re able to do it anywhere anytime on your own. It’s my gift to you along with my fervent wishes that you be well and happy.
It’s a tried and tested method that with repetition will give you a greater sense of control in your world.
If you are going to get through the 2nd lockdown with your mind intact and with a stronger bounce-ability factor it may well be down to you and you only!
Before you read this, grab a notebook… this could be your most valuable resource as the weeks go by.
I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, DON’T text or type, WRITE. There’s something about engaging your mind and handwriting simultaneously that makes these exercises much more powerful.
What if it’s true that no-one knows what you need better than you?
Then all you need to do is answer these questions and take your own advice and follow your own prescription.
1. Stop Scaring Yourself!
How do you do this? Write down 7 or more things that you think that make you feel worried, anxious and scared.
Include any pictures, images or past memories that you constantly revisit, you know, those things that help keep you in a state of fear.
Now write down as many ways that you could stop yourself from doing this, for example “I could choose different thoughts” (write down those different thoughts).
Choose different images, find pictures in magazines that are uplifting and positive. Put them where you’ll see them regularly, if that’s not possible stick them inside a cupboard or wardrobe door. Look at them a lot.
Create New Movies: Re-run any memories or flashbacks that are negative but this time with a positive outcome. For example if you have pictures in your mind in which you are the victim, now see the perpetrator(s) being disempowered in as many ways as possible.
Keep running the new images with brighter colours for example seeing a bully as smaller, insignificant and dis-abled from their bullying ways. Regularly revisit this new ‘memory’ until you feel bored with it.
When you do this exercise always leave yourself looking bigger or taller stronger, more empowered and assertive.
2. Pull Yourself Together
Look again at the image of the Russian Dolls above and remember that you carry all of you inside. This means that more often than not your scary thoughts have nothing to do with the here-and-now!
It’s true; you may be having “What if” thoughts that have no bearing on your current situation. They could be coming from a younger you. Equally so you may be constantly spending time in the future worrying about what could happen tomorrow, next week or even a year from now.
When we consider that truly the only bit that’s real is now, why are you spending your valuable energy roaming back into the past and forwards into the future?
If you really stop and think about this, it means that you’re constantly cheating yourself out of time and the ‘now’!
The chances are that every anxiety provoking thought is either about something that’s already happened or something that might happen. Practice being herenow more frequently and one way to do this is to link something to a scary thought.
For example you’re thinking “ What if I can’t pay the next heating bill”
Shout inside your head “Get Up And Shake Off” Now stand up, feet apart and shake your hands and arms. Quickly! Shake each foot and leg … just like swimmers do before a race, shake off the excess adrenalin. Do this for a minute then take a deep breath and as you breathe out make a loud “Haaaaa” sound repeat twice.
That’s it! Do it every time you have an anxious thought, this way you’re changing your ‘state’ empowering yourself and getting back to the present.
3. Laughter Is The Best Medicine.
Remember who and what makes you laugh. Find as many films, jokes and books that make you laugh. Be sure you talk to the friend who makes you laugh (the one you have that chemistry with) regularly.
4. Exercise More
You must be sick of hearing this by now but someone has gone to the trouble of researching this and there’s tons of evidence to show that a brisk half an hours walk does wonders for the mind and body.
If you need a goal see how quickly you can reach a destination each time you walk.
If you need motivation buddy up (at a distance) or meet your walking buddy a location for incentive.
See what the NHS has to say about the benefits of exercise.
If you’re beating yourself up for something you did in the past that was wrong perhaps it’s time to forgive.
Mistakes are valuable ways of growing and learning, just ask a Scientist, they constantly get it wrong, until they find the right way.
What I’m saying is, it’s normal to screw up you’re not perfect and never will be!
If you hurt others by screwing up and you feel brave enough and it’s appropriate, then contact them and tell them how sorry you are for the pain or trouble you caused. Don’t look for forgiveness from them, that’s your business but aim to make amends if and where you can.
With that done, if you can be sure you will not repeat that behaviour then forgive yourself and practice forgiving yourself until your wrongs sit more easily with you. You do that by saying “your name… I forgive you, you are forgiven now.”
It’s remarkable how many people beat themselves up for years for things they’ve done. I’m obviously not condoning bad behaviour but if you’re genuinely remorseful, would never do that thing again… then be kind and gentle to yourself and forgive.
If you need to take a short break away from the family or just to reset remember to help yourself to my 7 Minutes of Zen download…this is what one person said “It’s fabulous!”
You may have been wondering where I’d got to and why I haven’t written many blogs recently. Thank you for emailing and asking it’s prompted me to let you know that in the spirit of mental health awareness I have been taking care of my own wellbeing.
At the start of the pandemic in March like many, I began working from home, with clients online and teaching zoom yoga classes, my working week soon became busy. As a result I found myself pretty much cooped up in one room for quite long periods of time.
Although I’m fortunate to have a great view of some trees and sky the fact remains it’s a small room.
To counter stress, the threat of any mental health issues and to keep active, I started cycling and got hooked!
I love the freedom it offers and have discovered places in my area that I didn’t know existed. This activity is so good for the mind because cliché or not, it is true that a change is as good as a rest.
As a result, I have developed more resilience on all levels in addition to feeling fitter; I’ve improved lung capacity and muscle strength
Is your main trigger for frustration technology?
Early on in Lockdown, I had some really frustrating IT issues, at one point my entire website was wiped, boy did that stress me out! In an attempt to stop myself from throwing the laptop out of the window and to protect my mental health and wellbeing, I took off on my bike instead.
And this is when my mental health awareness kicked in
because within 10 minutes I observed a complete shift in my thinking and noticed that I was simply enjoying the moment. Looking at the trees and breathing in the fresh air I felt free and happy. I’d let all that tension and aggravation go by changing my activity.
But how do you make that kind of shift in your wellbeing if you don’t happen to like cycling I hear you ask. The answer is to change your activity sufficiently to alter your emotional state, which will in turn will affect your mental health positively.
Fortunately there’s a really easy solution and that’s yoga.
I’m not even talking about poses or sequences here. I’m talking about Yoga Nidra the practice sometimes called deep yogic sleep.
Here’s how it works, by regular practice we train the body to relax quickly and develop the ability to step back and observe the impact that certain thoughts, ideas and images have on the physical body.
As such we develop awareness, more self control and as a by-product better mental health. Yoga Nidra teaches us to detach from things that can trigger unwanted emotion (unless someone wipes your website that is!) helps us to develop mental resilience and to feel more empowered.
I know the issue of weight loss isn’t for everyone but I’m making an effort to avoid using the C and ‘L…down’ words as I figured you’ve read enough of that elsewhere.
We’ve had a macrocosmic shift which means there’s been a lot of microcosmic shifts i.e inner changes for everyone in the way that we work, play, think, feel and behave. And nowhere more than in eating habits.
After reading about the misery that so any people are experiencing, (not just from feeling isolated or homeschooling! ) but more around their increasing weight I thought it was time to share some weight loss tips.
These simple tips will help you to get back on track and help you to feel better
As business guru Brian Tracy says “If You Fail To Plan You Plan To Fail” so have a light meal and sit down with a pen and paper. Do this now, write out your breakfast, lunch and dinner menu for 14 days. It’s OK if you repeat certain meals.
Be sure to include protein for breakfast, think nuts, cheese, meats. Lots of high fibre fruit and veg. You can eat celery, tomatoes, radishes, cucumber for breakfast with a couple of slices of cheese you know.
Before each meal drink a large glass of room temperature water.
NEVER SHOP on an empty stomach
NEVER SHOP without a plan (that’s your list)
This should start to help you get on track again. There are many more tried and tested tips and suggestions Mindful Weight Loss can be practised by anyone.
If you want to join the Mindful Weight Loss course for an unbelievably great price, buddy up. Bring a friend and you both pay £49.50 bring three friends and you all pay £33 bring four … and you all pay £24.75 contact me now. Although this is an exclusive offer just for my lovely Stresshacker subscribers please feel free to forward to your friends if you’d like them to enjoy the offer too.
It’s not even about being able to lose weight so much much as the horrible beating up that most of us do about putting on a few pounds. Trust me we will never get the best out of ourselves if we’re listening to the negative head trash. A daily diet of criticism, judgement and blame bring feelings of frustration,guilt and shame. Stop that!
Self-love and kindness that’s the key
For some the word mindfulness has begun to feature more largely in life. The slower pace (for some) has enabled us to become mindful and present in our daily activities such as walking, shopping and cooking.
First take a breath, consider the meal that you’re making. Secondly consciously, that means ONLY thinking about what you’re doing in the moment, take out all the ingredients – even if it’s just a snack.
Thirdly set about preparing this meal in a loving way. Approach this as if it is the last meal you will ever make for someone you love dearly. That could be your cat, child or lover, it could be someone from the past or someone who has passed, find that person/pet and generate feelings of warmth and love that you have/had for them. Approach the making of that meal with the most loving feeling that you can pull up in your heart and mind.
The entire time you’re preparing it, imagine sending thoughts of love. Wish them peace, protection, good health, joy. Wish them freedom from stress, anxiety or danger. Now imagine them sending that back to you… receive those feelings back from them, do your best to feel them. All the while making the meal. That’s it!
This will be one of the tastiest meals you’ve ever eaten. Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself.
Meanwhile you might want to see what the NHS recommend for weight control https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/12-tips-to-help-you-lose-weight/
Chaos and unrest are necessary ingredients for change and I doubt that any of us have escaped change so far this year.
Working as a psychotherapist, coach and yoga teacher I’ve learned that there is a time of turmoil and confusion when we learn something new. It stirs up and unsettles what we thought we knew.
Space is required whilst new neurological pathways are carved out adjoining new learning with old. Updating the software if you like.
We can see this as a macrocosm and a microcosm in the world right now. The quicker we learn and understand that things need to change, the more quickly life can settle down again as a recalibrated, refined and improved version.
Please Accept My Invitation And Join Me Today In A Global Mediation For World Peace And Healing.
At 16:10 today (ten past four) today clear a space, in your home, garden or out somewhere in nature.
Sit upright (laying down may encourage you to sleep!)
Either keep your eyes open with a soft gaze or gently close them.
Allow your mind to quieten. Try this way… imagine an expansive blue sky with soft white fluffy clouds passing by… constantly imagine yourself as the blue sky and the thoughts, the clouds, you can’t stop them but you don’t have to hang onto them or investigate them in any way. Just observe each thought as it passes.
Periodically bring your awareness to your inhalation and exhalation.
Stay quietly meditating like this for 15minutes.
Know that you and I are sitting together with thousands of other like-minded souls around the world at exactly this time to co-create peace and healing in individuals and mother earth.
You may wonder why this time? Well there are powerful astrological reasons for meditating today at exactly this time … reasons that I do not profess to fully understand here’s a link to get you started if that’s of interest though.
https://www.lunarplanner.com/2020/index.html I do hope you’re able to find 15 minutes to join me today.
If you are interested in listening to my podcasts please follow this link to listen https://anchor.fm/stresshacker the next few episodes are all about mindfulness. Please feel free to share them with your loved ones and anyone else who will enjoy them.