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10 Steps To Stay Stress Free After Lockdown

Going back to work after lockdown will have it’s challenges for sure. Because there’s a tendency in life to cling to the familiar, to feel safe and secure, change can feel threatening. Are there steps we can take  to feel more in control and stress free after lockdown?

Read on for some suggestions on how to make your re-integration as stress free and smooth as possible.

Indeed let’s also remember, that whilst the more extrovert among us may be excited at the prospect of returning to work and re-engaging with an audience, other’s may well
dread the return to work for that very reason! Just the act of interacting with gregarious

Outgoing Personality
Stress-free and ready to go!

colleagues can be draining, anxiety provoking and far from stress-free for those with more introvert tendencies.

Rather than worrying about what might happen,  aim instead, to discover how to ring fence yourself and reduce the risk to your mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Write a personal risk assessment and find stress-free solutions for your particular situation. Have a look at some of my suggestions below

You may wonder, can there be certainty in such uncertain times?

Perhaps a level of acceptance is a better state to aim for than a sense of certainty because we are in a state of flux and futures are uncertain for many of us.

Yet the fact remains, we want to feel in control and there is so much in life that we have no control over,  the sooner we accept this, become flexible and adapt, the less stressful life will be.

Taking Charge of life
Stress-free and back in control

How can we handle the stress of not having control? In this link I explain the Circle of Influence and Circle of Control a tool that facilitates the discovery of personal ways to feel empowered and stress-free.

In fact, something as simple as learning a gentle breathing technique can quell a rising panic allowing you to regain self-control in the middle of a meeting or on the train going to work.

 

Before returning to work make a list of some of the things you are in control of.

Below are some tips about how to stay stress free after lockdown.

1. Consistent Clear Communication

This might be expressing to your line manager/supervisor/boss that you’re struggling with an aspect of the return to work. If you find it difficult to verbalise, write a private and confidential email outlining your concerns.

Likewise where possible, suggest one or two solutions to the problem you’ve identified, such as split working from home/office. Changing hours or asking for clarity on the troubling issue.

This way you take both the problem and the solution to your boss, who may also be struggling with issues.

2. Listen to yourself first

Your body will give you very clear signals of discomfort and distress if you tune-in and listen.

Try this, a minimum of 5 minutes quiet time each day can be enough to pick up on a tightened chest, or a churning stomach. If your body is light and buoyant all is well. Feelings of heaviness, constriction are not good signs, what do you think that’s telling you?

Pay attention to these feelings and aim to explore and address the issue causing these problems, talk them through with a trusted friend, colleague or engage a therapist or coach.

We know that there is a global collective grieving at this time but what we don’t know is who is grieving, or what or whom has been lost. It could be a loved one, a job or an income. Never has there been more of a need for kindness, compassion and understanding.

 

3. Listen and be prepared for emotion

Besides listening,  know that we can’t fix other people’s stuff so don’t even try! What you can do is offer people time and space to listen, really listen and it’s one of the kindest gifts we can give another. Even identical twins suffering the same loss will experience their bereavement differently, so we should never presume to know what someone is feeling or when.

It’s much easier to ask them, “How are you?” and then listen, you may pick up the signal immediately that they do not want to talk about it or maybe if you stay quiet for just that tiny bit longer, they will share something with you.

Again, prepare yourself to be uncomfortably comfortable in the face of emotion. People who you least expect to be emotional may break down and cry in your presence. Be with them, hold the space for them and resist the temptation to hand them tissues, put an arm around them or placate them with platitudes.

Consequently they  are more likely to benefit and recover quickly if you don’t react in this way. That’s empathy and compassion and can help them enormously.

4. Find Your Balance

Aim for balance and work out how you can achieve that? What do you need to do to re-energise? Do you need to stop and give yourself a short break to move around for example? Are you the type of person who needs to eat a little and often to keep your energy high? Are you sipping any water regularly? Is your head feeling hot? Perhaps you need to take the EarPods out of your ears to give them a rest.

Make a list of resources you need to keep with you to help you to feel balanced and in control.

5. Ask yourself good quality questions

“What do I want. What do I need to feel more balanced now?” Listen to your response, that’s your prescription, your wisdom so why not take your own advice!

6. Work Smarter

Because many people will be returning to a backlog of work and since multi-tasking has been debunked,  avoid that! Instead aim to spend longer at the outset and create a clear plan of action.

Besides prioritising tasks with a simple A,B,C,D method  which will quickly provide order, you’ll also have a more realistic view of your workload.  This will give you greater sense of control. You will also be in a better position to manage your expectations and communicate your position to colleagues or staff.

7. Set Realistic Goals

In addition to creating  a schedule of work, aim to set small pragmatic goals. In your planning phase work out roughly how long each task will take, block that time out in your diary/calendar with the time span. This keeps goals realistic,  also schedule in short breaks, to stand up and stretch, have a comfort break or a drink.

As a result of  utilising steps 6 and 7 you offer yourself an opportunity to validate your efforts and recognise your achievements. In this way you’re not waiting around for someone else to pat you on the back. Say ‘Well done”  and reward your good behaviour with a treat. A luxurious bath, a walk with a friend or carving out some time to read a book.

8. It’s OK to say No

Furthermore practice saying a good, clear No try saying it  out loud now! You can be pleasant but firm when you say No. “No, I already have more than I can realistically handle” No I simply do not have the available time. No, it’s not my responsibility, I cannot take that on” Get used to that word in your mouth and throat.

In fact I often have clients’ practice saying No in front of a mirror in as many different tones and volumes as possible. Add to this good body language, such as a firm hand extended away from your chest with a big “No” should you need to communicate your position more clearly, will speak volumes.

9. Connect At Your Own Pace

You’re either itching to get back out with friends and family or feel the need to connect slowly.

First it’s your business is to know what you want and need. Secondly negotiate with yourself to establish what feels right and manageable for you. Thirdly practice out loud explaining to your friends and family how you need to proceed and see how you can arrive at a workable compromise between their expectations and yours.

10. Recognition And Validation

Finally, Be Your Own Cheerleader. Just be kind and loving to yourself. You will get the best from yourself by being supportive and gently encouraging. Watch out for the inner critic, sack your ‘Judge’ and pump up the volume on your balanced assertive adult self!

There is no ‘right’ way to do this only the way that is right for you, so aim to honour and respect your needs and keep your communication honest clear and consistent.

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The Mistakes of International Women’s Day

So here we are in International Women’s Day 3021 – yes you read that correctly – and the pay gap has finally balanced out. Well you’ve got to have a dream haven’t you?

You Said Mistakes, What Mistakes?

It’s Time For Balance

Just one of the mistakes is that in most countries there is still a substantial gender pay gap that according to some reports https://ourworldindata.org/economic-inequality-by-gender could take 100 years to balance out.

And lucky for you that you’re not female working in agriculture in rural India where they are purportedly underpaid by as much as 34%

Why should women work more and get paid less?

Want to know another mistake? It’s this, despite women collectively being at the forefront of the race to combat Covid-19 – we’re talking health care workers, scientists, doctors etc – globally they are still paid 11% less than the men in their fields.

Men, we  also need your voice here, to speak-up and speak-out for your female colleagues who are being  undervalued, undermined, underpaid and mistreated. We are your mothers, sisters and daughters, help us fight this worldwide  inequality.

How can you support International Women’s Day?

https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/international-womens-day?gclid=Cj0KCQiAs5eCBhCBARIsAEhk4r6W3ecsZmAFPxC0IsL_WugloPqMg

Also on a local level you can help the women in your community by supporting their businesses. Aim to buy their products, use their services and recommend them to others. You can do this by sharing in social media and word of mouth.

Never tear down her Crown, always straighten it and champion each one another.

On a personal note self-care is a must check out my SCABTS in a past post… these are ways to take care of yourself.

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Open Heart Therapy

Release Old Hurts

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? Heal Your Heart

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.Release Old Hurts

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.

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‘Open Heart Therapy Workshop’ Personal Development

Open Your Heart Therapy

In 2004 I ran my first personal development ‘Open Heart Therapy’ workshop and whilst successful, I sensed it was ahead of it’s time.Open Your Heart

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?

Testimonies:

“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

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5 Great Ways To Get Through Lockdown

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!

Grow Up

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 here now 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.

5. Forgiveness

Forgiveness

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!”